Stave was seated on one of the couches. The wolf was curled up on the other end of it. Tyrrae sat on the couch opposite.
“Tyrrae,” he said in greeting.
“Stave,” she replied.
He grinned. “So they were talking about me!”
Tyrrae felt he didn’t need to know the details of the conversation. Instead, she asked him, “What is the difference between elf and not elf?”
He laughed. “Besides the ears?” He fondled his own smaller round ears.
“For one thing, we tend to be heavier and more robust. I can carry more than the average elf, and I tend to be more energetic. Most of these folks will take a nap after lunch. I won’t need it. But they have time to spend napping- elves tend to live about 10 times as long as the average human.”
“That’s what I am, sweetheart.” He grinned again. “We can out breed the elves too. Most elven couples only have 2 children or so. Humans like larger families.”
“Like flies, compared to bats.”
“Uh, yeah.” He stopped grinning at that.
“Why are you here?” Tyrrae asked.
“Do you know, not one person has come right out and asked me that?” He laughed again.
Tyrrae found his emotional displays wearing. No wonder they were discouraged.
“I came for adventure. Because I want to know if the stories are true.”
“If elven women are as beautiful as they say,” he leered at her.
The wolf growled without even lifting his head.
“And so far,” he continued, “I do believe they are. Particularly that young lady you named as Tira. I hope to meet her properly.”
“Where I come from, a young man does not approach a lady. He requests his parents negotiate with her parents for their betrothal. Any contact with a maiden casts suspicion on her firstborn and is not to be tolerated.”
The wolf lifted his head and looked at Tyrrae.
“Where I come from a young man picks any woman he pleases, and nobody blinks at first born or otherwise.” He stopped smiling. “But there is much to be said of friendship between a man and a woman, and these may transcend things like love or dalliance.”
“I am going to need a new dictionary,” Tyrrae said. “You seem to make sense, yet you use words which I cannot comprehend.”
“This is rather a bit of culture shock for you.” He laughed. “To think a Dark Elf in the home of one of the Wood Elf tribes! Don’t stay too long or the High Elves will come down from their Tower and scourge you!”
“Go slow for the sheltered then. What are these labels for elves? Do you mean the Divide?”
“Of course!” He laughed harder. “Centuries ago, maybe millennia, we don’t know! The elves were one people. But long before humans came into being, they divided. We are among the wood elves now- the tree dwellers, they seek harmony with nature and all that entails. These can interface with the occasional human that enters their land, and their welcome is standard. Go in peace, stay in peace, leave in peace, and these elves don’t mind. Occasionally one or two will get wanderlust and travel, but most cannot abide towns or ocean travel. Can’t get a dwarf on the ocean either, and I don’t blame them either.”
Tyrrae wanted to ask what an ocean was, or a dwarf, but she’d started him talking and felt she’d learn more if he continued.
“But the High and Mighty Elves! Oh, they are terrible. They live for themselves, for their arts, and for their mischief. They do not leave their tower often, unless exiled. Then they are bitter, haughty, and rude. They are taller and slender, and if anything paler than the wood elves. As white as you are black, I think. I am glad I don’t know a lot about them.”