Het Wald was a city of green. Massive trees were everywhere, adapted into living buildings by the elves. The temple of Demeter was no exception.
The priestesses squeezed into the entrance, feeling the smooth bark of the door frame as they did so. The inside had rooms built in a circular pattern with a staircase in the very centre of the ground floor.
The three of them were greeted by a blue-haired elf in green robes. “Peace be with you,” he said. “I am Lowe, a priest here. What errand brings Athena’s faithful here?”
“We’re passing through on a pilgrimage to Drahaven,” Sylvie explained. “My pegasus has an injured wing. I was told that you might be able to help her.”
Lowe whistled. “A noble creature. I was not aware that Athena’s priestesses had tamed them.”
“We haven’t, as a group,” Inés stated. “The three of us just happened to befriend some on our journey.”
“Oh, I see,” Lowe said. “You must have great hearts. Please, show me the patient.”
They led him outside and he carefully looked over Demure’s wing.
“It is not a severe injury,” he mused. “I can repair the damage, but it will take some time. Please, go out into the city and amuse yourselves. If you return in three hours time, this lady will be well.”
“Sounds fine to me,” Inés said.
“You two go ahead,” Sylvie said. “I’ll stay here with Demure.”
“I understand,” Inés said. “Serena, let’s check out the city, give Blitz and Dusk a tour and find a place to stay for the night.”
“Sure,” Serena said.
“If I may,” Lowe interjected. “We have some rooms for travelling priests and priestesses. They’re humble, but good. Perhaps you’d like to make use of them? Of course, we can make room your flying friends as well.”
“We graciously accept,” Sylvie said.
“Then we’ll come back by nightfall,” Inés said.
The marketplace wasn’t as unusual a sight. Elves sat on the ground with blankets laid out to demonstrate their wares.
“It looks like so many other markets,” Serena said.
“Not quite,” Inés stated. “See those couriers running around everywhere?”
Serena nodded. The couriers were carrying carts full of goods to various merchants. “They sure are working hard.”
“They have to,” Inés said. “The merchants keep their goods at home and employ couriers to bring them more stock throughout the day. Busier merchants hire several. Most merchants who sell that many wares would just open a store, but elves consider that a waste of trees.”
“They really love their trees, don’t they?” Serena said. “I think it’s kind of amazing.”
“Seems a bit extreme to me,” Inés stated. “It takes so much time and effort. Plus there’s a lot of wildlife just running around. That’s gotta be a nuisance.”
Blitz let out a sharp neigh.
“I’m not talking about you or any other pegasus,” Inés said.
“Maybe she feels a kinship with other wild animals,” Serena suggested.
“That’s…” Inés began.
The two of them turned. Several armoured elves were chasing a young elf as she bolted through the marketplace. Inés noticed the emblem of a unicorn and large tree on the armour of her pursuers.
“What do you suppose that’s about?” Serena asked.
“Don’t know,” Inés said. “But I’ve gotta find out. Those are the king’s personal guards!” She mounted Blitz. “Wait here.”
Blitz flew her into the air. They kept low and darted for the fleeing elf.
“Go as fast as you want, just watch out for low branches,” Inés said.
Blitz dashed forward. Inés almost fell off during the initial surge, but quickly grew accustomed to it. They soared over the heads of the guards and quickly closed in on the fleeing woman.
Inés dropped from Blitz and landed atop their target, pinning her to the ground. Blitz landed right beside them.
“You were told to stop,” Inés said. To her credit, the young woman did struggle but Inés was far too strong for her.
The guards quickly caught up. One of them stepped forward and bowed, removing her helmet. She had curly pink hair and fair features. “Thanks for the assistance, Priestess,” she said. “My name is Lais Elivy, Captain of the Royal One’s guard.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Inés said. She dragged her prisoner up. “So, what’d she do?”
“Captain…” one of the guards began. Lais raised her hand to silence him.
“She attempted to assassinate our Royal One,” Lais said. “Priestess, I ask that you come to his residence with us. I would ask your further assistance.”
“Sure,” Inés nodded. “Just let me get my companion and we’ll hear you out.”