The forest was ancient. Some of the trees looked like they were thousands of years old, they were huge, gigantic, some were greater that even the greatest palace she had ever seen, and she had seen many palaces.
Naisha had been to the deepest halls of the dwarves, to the most archaic settlements of the orcs and to the largest cities of mankind, even to the proliferous city-state that was known simply as The City.
But something like that she had never seen. The realms of the elves was his area.
The man that was walking infront of her looked not one day older than she did, but he was easyly five-times as old as she was.
"Eldin?", she asked.
He turned hsi finly cut face with the pointed ears and the almond-shaped eyes at her.
"What can you tell me about the Woodelves?"
"Not much, that you do not know already.", he said and started walking again.
"The woodelves are one of the three great elven races. The others are..."-"The Darkelves and your people the Highelves, yes I know that.", she interrupted him.
He sighed and went on:"They live close to nature, closer even than the most conservative orcs. The last time a Woodelve was seen outside this forest was 278 years ago, and as far as I know that was just a single scout. We can hardly tell how they will react to us, or our plea. So...where do we have to go now?", he ended and she took out one of the strange, magical items they were equipped with. It was a small apparatus, that was shaped like a compass, but instead of containig a magnetic needle it was filled with liquid with a single bubble in it. Normally the bubble was at the edge showing them the way to the desired location, but now the bubble was standing still in the middle of the apparatus.
"Strange...according to the navigator it is right here.", she looked left and right, but didn't see a single house.
"Is the navigator flawed or broken?", Naisha was concerned.
"I don't think so.", he pointed upwards.
Her eyes followed his finger. Over them, in the trees, there were houses, build in and around the trunks of the trees on several levels. Houses in different trees on the same level were conected, by bridges. Some bridges had been crafted from wood, some simply consisted of two or three tree branches that grew together over the years. Different levels of houses were conected in a similar way, either by crafted or grown stairs. And there were MANY houses. This was an entire city in the trees.
Naisha was stunned, almost thrilled, by the scenery. She was so amazed that she did not even realise, that some of the elves on the trees pointed their bows - at her.
She noticed it only when she felt the prick in her back.
"Stay where you are.", said a voice behind her with a heavy accent. She raised her armes and saw another woodelves, pointing a spear at Eldins.
She experienced something strange. Eldin and his adversary were looking down at each other, it was as if two forms of arrogance were clashing.
Contrary to common believes, not all elven races were the same and there were many differences and difficulties between them. Naisha knew that the darkelves were looking down on the highelves as soft-hearted weaklings, while the highelves were pitying the darkelves as ignorrant warmongers.
This seemed to be similar. Eldin said something in Elvish, a language she did not understand, but arrogance was universal, even suppressed arrogance. The woodelve drew back his spear and pointed in a certain direction. He stayed closly at Eldin's side as he started walking. Naisha was pushed forward and she followed Eldin and the others.
They were lead to a cavern under one of the trees. Naisha wanted to enter, but one of the woodelves stoped her.
"No weapons.", he uttered.
"No you don't understand.", said Naisha and raised her hands "We don't want to harm anyone."
"No You don't understand.", countered a female elve "This place is sacred to our people, no metal may enter."
"Oh...", Naisha understood and started to drop her weapons.
She dropped her kukris, and her pistols, and her throwing-knives, and her hidden daggers, and her machete, and her thief's tools, and so on...
As she dropped the last piece someone said:"No harm, huh?"
The women pointed at Eldin:"Now you."
"I don't use droppable weapons.", he responded and entered.
Inside was a small cavern, that was lined with roots and rock. A group of elves was sitting inside. The elves were dressed in cloakes made out of animal hair, feathers or even leaves.
"What bringes you here?", asked the an elf on the other side of the cavern without introducing himself.
"You use magic to grow the forest and keep expanding it.", replied Eldin. This was not a question.
"Yes, and?", asked the elf again.
"For your own good we demand that you cease your expansion at once.", proclaimed Eldin in a tone, that Naisha felt to be too aggressive. She grimaced. The elven leader was not amused either.
"Demand? Who are you to demand such things of us."
"Who we are is not of importance, important is only that it is for your own good.", Eldin was not very friendly and thus not very convincing either.
"And what will happend if we do not "cease our expansions"?", the leader asked coldly.
Naisha decided to de-escalate the situation.
"If the wood grows any fourther, it will grow into heavily urbanized areas. The lords their might take this as an aggression and answere with acts of war.", she explained.
"Let them.", said the elven leader and made a dismissive gesture "If they do, we will gather our allies and likewise answere with war." He was quite determined, but Eldin just laughed.
"Your allies? And who are these allies that you want to gather? The dwarves? The haven't set out for war in decades and they won't start for you. The orcs? Few of them know that you are here. Us? My people won't aid you in a conflict you've caused yourself and neither will the dark ones."
"Then will call on the Emperor himself. I'm sure he will understand that nature does not care for borders.", the elve leaned back with a triumphant smile in his face.
Eldin and Naisha looked at each other.
"You have no idea, do you?", she asked.
The answere was a frown.
"You really have no idea.", said Eldin. He was baffled.
"About what?", the elven leader wanted to know. Now he was concerned.
"There is no Emperor anymore.", answered Naisha hesistantly. "The last Emperor disapeared last year, under mysterious circumstances. The empire is divided in several kingdoms again."
In the face of the elven leader Naisha could see how shocking it was te learn that the world around you had changed completly in you absence.
"Thank you for letting us know.", he said and raised a hand "You may leave now, farwell."
Eldin left without looking back or saying goodby. Naisha bowed and left aswell. Outside she hastily gathered her tools and weapons again and followed Eldin who was already walking away.
The walked in silence for sometime, but then she had a question.
"Eldin?", she asked.
"Yes?", he said without looking back.
"Why didn't he tell us his name?"
Eldin shrugged:"Maybe because his druid circle did not use names, because nature does not care for names. Or maybe because he expected us t read his mind and just know his name. Or maybe because he was an ignorant fool..."