OT Wee! More necro!
She looked around as the men dispersed. Many still remained in the clearing, but they had lowered their weapons. Lining the platforms were even more faces, including children. One face in particular drew her attention. He must have been the strange man the women were discussing earlier. Even from this distance, she could tell that his ears were small and round. He did not emit the same suppressed power that Lily had, rather he had another aura about him, like he would dearly love to murder herself if he had the chance, but would not do so while she was under the village’s protection. Honor it seemed was stronger than any of his other urges must be. This was a weakness she could understand. But honor compelled her not to exploit it.
One of the young women she had saved stepped out of the basket and approached her. Her hair was dark and her skin was pale. Tyrrae felt she was looking into a mirror with reversed colors. “I’m Tira. I suppose you heard us talking about how to enter the village.”
“It was rather foolish of you to discuss your defenses outside of them.” Tyrrae was pretty sure the Queen would have anyone guilty of such an offense killed over a long period of time, publicly. They also would be lucky if their entire house was not given the kiss of the knife and the ashes scattered on the wind.
Tira grimaced, but she waved it off. “Our customs are fairly commonly known. Every wood elf village has similar customs.” She smiled. “You have not seen all of our defenses, nor will you. You have been welcomed in, but you could be prisoner as easily as guest. Unless you become One of the Village, you will stay an outsider and we will keep most of our secrets.”
Tyrrae bowed her head. “That is wisdom.”
“Come then,” Tira bade her follow to the waiting basket. Other baskets were now being raised and lowered, with both goods and people. She showed Tyrrae how to enter balanced, and where to sit. The wolf leapt in with practiced ease. “Our people have lived in the trees since the Divide. We prefer the natural world than the cold stone spires of the high elves.”
“What’s a tree?” Tyrrae asked.
Tira had a giggling fit. Even the wolf snorted. It took her a little while to realize Tyrrae was serious and to stop laughing. “What’s a tree! You’re surrounded by trees!” She pointed at a trunk. “That’s the main trunk of the tree. That’s a branch. That’s a leaf. It’s all around you- what on earth did you think they were?”
All mirth left Tira. “So it is true. You did go underground. And it was long ago enough to where you have forgotten the world above.”
“I am not understanding. What world above? What underground?”
“Oh heavens. You are a babe in the wilderness, and I have no idea how to explain.”
“I am no child. I am of betrothal age.” Tyrrae’s tone was chilling.
“Bother. Don’t be offended,” Tira replied. “Of course you are of age in your culture, but you know nothing of the world outside it! I suppose I’d be just as lost in entering your world.”
“You’d be dead already, had you spent this much time in our place.” But her words had no more edge to them. “If you managed to pass the sentries, you would have encountered more warriors. Surrendering only gives the quick kiss of the knife. Fighting would earn you respect, but surviving that is very difficult.” Unbidden came memories of Lily fighting wave after wave of warriors, until the Queen herself had called enough. Lily had not attacked first; she had waited to be attacked and then shown no mercy. Tyrrae had not realized Lily was capable of such violence, but now she understood why Lily was allowed among her people. She realized the memory came from the drops of Lily’s blood within her. She shuddered slightly.
Tira shuddered too. “Then I am glad that it is you who came to us, and not me to you.” The basket bumped the edge of the platform. Again, she showed Tyrrae how to remain balanced and exit gracefully. The wolf helped balance the basket with his movements as well, and leapt out after them.
“I’ll give you a small tour. Some of these platforms will remain off limits to you, particularly since many are private homes. You understand that concept yes?”
Tyrrae nodded. “Yes, we all have our own homes. We all favor privacy.”
“We’re rather open here, but some privacy is preferred for families. This platform is the eating and meeting platform. When we don’t meet below, we meet up in here. Your meals will be directly in the guest house. We don’t eat here as a group very often, but bachelors and other workers often come for a communal meal.” Briskly she walked through the platform, dodging branches and waving at various people. She led the way to a narrow bridge and across it. “Be careful with our bridges. It’s a long way down.”
“At least you can see the bottom. Some chasms don’t have visible bottoms. There’s just so much light here, and that might be a difference as well. Depths don’t usually bother me.” Tyrrae had no trouble with her balance. It was true about the chasms. The moat between the Queen’s quarter and the rest of the Underdark was very deep indeed, and only a few bridges were wide enough for more than one at a time. This one was wide enough for two to pass by, but not comfortably.
“It’s day time. The sun’s out. Of course there is light! Be happy it’s behind clouds at the moment, or it would be much brighter.” They reached the next platform. “This is various shops. The booths change daily, for those who wish to have a booth, or a place to work on their trade. You are welcome to speak to all here, and shop if you wish.”
Tyrrae thought of the small bag of silver coins. However, she could not think of anything she could possibly want for sale. There were carvers, tailors, and more, both male and female. She noticed a few other bridges leaving the platform and going to others, now that she knew what to look for.
Tira stopped at a smaller bridge. “This is the way to the guest cottage. I’ll come back for you when the Loremaster is ready to talk to you.”