As they walked across several wooden bridges that connected different treehomes and walkways it became more and more clear that this village was on a far larger scale than they initially realized. Towards the entrance of the village was a sort of clearing that looked like it was made by the elves themselves and didn’t grow this way manually. Perhaps it was to set up a marketplace of sorts or hold meetings. The trees did cover the clearing, so from above there would probably seem to be no change in foliage. Then once you climbed up the initial stairways it revealed a whole network of houses and bridges that, because trees blocked your vision quickly, continued all the way until they were out of sight.
They were being led towards a large building that seemed to be built completely around the largest tree trunk here, in a complete circle. It was made out of logs, and Cobal wondered how sturdy this construction would have to be for none of it to fall down.
Eventually they made their way to the door and after knocking and waiting for a moment they were let in.
The inside, contrary to what Cobal expected, didn’t look like a house, but more like a town hall.
Some people were stationed behind desks and two guards were sitting at a table, drinking tea. When they entered one of the people from behind a desk came towards them. It was an older man, probably nearing retiring age.
“Mirgia, what can I do for you?”
The elf that brought them here replied. “We found these people on the outskirts of town, they’re looking for Dionil.”
The elf that had come towards them looked them over and lingered on Mana. “So she’s the one?” He asked.
The elf named Mirgia replied. “So it seems.”
“Very well, follow me.”
They followed him as they walked through two doors and eventually reached what looked to be a meeting room. “I’ll retrieve lord Karnisal for you.”
Mirgia put down his bow in the corner and sat on one of the chairs in the corner, presumably meant for a guard like him to watch over any meeting happening.
“Please, have a seat.”
“Who is lord Karnisal?” Cassandra asked.
“They’re the leader of Milinia.” Mirgia replied, not elaborating.
They waited for a few moments before an elderly elf entered the room. Cobal knew that elves lived a very long time, so for an elf to be elderly meant they’d lived for hundreds upon hundreds of years.
“Sorry to keep you all waiting. My name is Karnisal Milinia, founder and leader of this elven village here in the Liriath Forest.” They looked at Cobal. “I take it you’re the young prince from Blueyerd?”
Cobal nodded. “Cobal Blueyerd, third prince of the Blueyerd Kingdom at your service.”
They nodded, then shifted focus to Mana. “It’s easy enough for me to recognize greatness when I see it. You must be the lady Mana.”
Mana blushed and nodded. “That’s me.” She said nervously.
“We have much to discuss, child, I’m glad you found your way here.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but could I ask you something?” Cobal asked.
“Of course, just give me a moment.”
They looked at Kimi. “It is an honor to have a spirit visit us, may I ask your name?”
“I’m Kimi’thania, the lesser spirit of music.”
“It’s an honor.” They looked at Cassandra.
“And you are?”
“Oh, I have no titles or important roles, I’m just Cassandra.”
They laughed. “Everyone has an important role, some are just more acknowledged than others. But I welcome you all to our village.” They turned back to Cobal. “As for your question, now is acceptable.”
“I’ve never met an elf before, but everything I’ve heard about you is that you’re much more skilled crafters, mages, fighters, hunters and pretty much everything than humans. I’ve also heard that you live a lot longer than we do?”
Karnisal nodded. “I myself am a little over eight hundred years old. Young Mirgia here is nearing his late hundreds.”
“Then have you met Might?” Cobal asked.
“Of course, Might stayed in Milinia for about a year. We trained him and taught him much about her world, as we plan to offer to Lady Mana as well. You asked for Dionil right? It makes sense that his name is the one most known amongst humans, as he traveled alongside Might for a while, and was initially his teacher.”
“So he is here?” Mana asked.
Karnisal nodded. “Dionil lives a little walk away from town, in the Oda clearing.”
Mana’s ears perked up. “Excuse me, what is this clearing called?”
“The Oda clearing. It’s named after Might’s name from his previous world.”
Mana’s eyes went wide. “I know that name.” She thought for a second. “Well, I suppose many people had that name, but someone from the Oda family was very famous back in my world. We learned about him in history books. Did he give a first name?”
Karnisal thought for a moment, then shook their head. “I don’t believe he ever told us that. He was a skilled fighter when he arrived here though.” Karnisal chuckled. “I remember the lad being extremely prideful. Talking about how his family had so many great rulers and warriors. And his way of fighting was so different from ours that even though Dionil served as his teacher, Might himself would also teach the young warriors of our village how to fight.”
“That sounds like he might have been related to the Oda we learned about in history books, but perhaps not the same person.”
“Perhaps. You could always ask Dionil, he was a lot closer to Might than I ever was.”
“How do you live so long?”
They all looked over at a curious Cassandra. “I can’t imagine living for hundreds of years.”
“That’s because you’re only in your twenties,” Kimi said.
Karnisal put out his hand. “It’s alright, it’s a valid question.” They looked out one of the windows where fireflies flew by. “Some creatures like flies only live for a couple days. Most animals live a few years, and humans live almost a hundred years in some cases. Then there’s certain sea animals that live even longer. The elves and dwarves have been blessed by their gods with long lives. The dwarves have been blessed with strength beyond that of most humans, and us elves are nimble and wise.” They stared out the window for a little longer. “Most of us are, at least.”
They turned their attention back to the group. “What made you come here? I haven’t heard anything about humans summoning another hero yet, so I can’t imagine you’ve been here for long.”
“It’s been a little bit more than a month now,” Cobal said. “Our court wizards summoned Mana here and I was put in charge of training her.”
Karnisal squinted. “So they deemed her too weak and sent you off as a babysitter.”
“And I thought I was direct,” Cassandra said.
Cobal glared at her. “At least you’re aware.” he turned his attention back to Karnisal. “As much as it pains me to say it, there’s truth to your statement. I’ve only heard about Might in stories, but everything I’ve heard paints him as a force of personality and a powerful fighter rivaled by none. The court wizards expected someone similar to show up this time around.” He looked at Mana, but couldn’t say what he wanted to say.
“Instead they got a weak woman with anxiety and no real powers,” Mana filled in the blanks.
Cobal felt ashamed of himself at that moment, and mostly because he didn’t disagree with her.
“Your court wizards don’t have a great eye for talent. Putting that aside, the gall of these people to summon someone from a different world with the expectation that they’ll do their dirty work, only to basically abandon them the moment they arrive here.” They sighed. “I’m not surprised though, Might had his questions about the way the kingdom operated. He used to say the weak were in charge and the strong were suppressed.”
They exchanged a glance with Mana.
Cobal got confused. “I’m not sure I know what you’re getting at.”
Karnisal pondered for a moment before replying. “I suppose they would paint themselves in a better picture.”
“History is written by the victors,” Cassandra remarked.
Karnisal looked at her impressed. “Very wise for someone so young,” they said.
“Mana taught me that.”
Karnisal clapped their hands together. “I don’t want to dump an entire pile of information on your heads right after arriving. Mirgia will point you to an empty house you can use for the foreseeable future. You’ll get your weapons back in the morning, assuming you don’t stir up any trouble in the meantime. Go find Dionil and see what he has to say to you. After that we can talk more if you wish, he lives within walking distance so it’s easy enough to get back here.” Karnisal looked at Mirgia. “Will you walk them there in the morning?”
“Certainly, Karnisal, it would be my pleasure.” Mirgia got up. “Would you please follow me to your lodgings for the night?”
They all got up. “Thank you for your time, Lord Karnisal,” Cobal said.
All four of them did a slight bow before they left.
Mirgia led them across several bridges until they reached what looked to be the outskirts of town. There was a small house there that looked well kept although a little bit dusty.
“I hope you find it to your liking. I will find you in the morning, but take your time. I have a late shift so I won’t be there early.”
“Thank you for your hospitality,” Mana said before Mirgia disappeared down some stairs.
As they all stood there for a moment they collectively let out a sigh. “Well that went better than expected,” Cassandra said.
Kimi started opening the door already. “Once I realized they were elves I figured we would be fine. There’s many mentions in our history that elves are kind and fair folk. They also seem to be fond of the previous hero, so that definitely helped our case.”
Mana looked around. “This place really is beautiful though, it’s no surprise that Might stayed here for a while. As far as I’m aware there’s nothing like this in our world.”
“Well, we’ll have some more time to admire the place, since if Dionil really lives nearby we might be here for a little while.”
Mana nodded. “Let’s go inside and get some rest, I can’t wait for a proper bed.”
They all went inside to find a place to sleep. Cobal stayed quiet through most of it, thinking about all the things Karnisal had said. The old elf had been kind on the surface, but there was definitely a hint of anger that he didn’t quite hide well enough. Cobal could only imagine his family had done something to Karnisal or his people in the past that he wasn’t aware of. That feeling of not knowing why people didn’t like him crept up again and it was an extremely unpleasant feeling. He found himself sitting on the porch in front of their lodgings for a while. It wasn’t quite as late yet and although it had been a busy day, he didn’t feel like sleeping quite yet. All around him the village was alight with lanterns and fireflies. He could see some figures moving about from house to house as everything slowly got quiet. It didn’t pass him by that several folks were guarding the village boundaries and he wouldn’t be surprised if a few of them were instructed to keep a close eye on their party. It didn’t bother him too much though, they would do the same back home if they had unfamiliar visitors. Eventually he felt his eyes tire and went to bed as well. The house was already quiet with the other three having gone to their sleeping quarters already. He turned off the last lantern before laying down and falling asleep relatively quickly.