Hepalonia spends the spring months on her new hobbies: writing small, alchemy, and runic magic. There is something else of interest to her lately, too, but she is not sure how to research romantic relationships with humans here in the village. Things between Tric’s parents suggest there could be some issues she needs to be mindful of. She decides to seek out the storyteller Breda. After exchanging pleasantries, Heppa comes right to her point. “May I ask you some questions about humans?”
“Certainly. There are some humans with stories about them, but humans aren’t capable of the same level of great deeds as elves are. They just have such short lives,” Breda says, with a pitying shake of her head. “They can’t accomplish as much.”
“Has anybody ever actually courted a human?” Heppa asks.
Breda is not too surprised by this question. The village is not very big, and word has gotten around about a human with falcons. “There was an accomplished human, I think by the name of Tallin. He united a bunch of people in the Northlands, further north even than the Great Forest. As part of all that, he banded together a bunch of different species along the way, and that included a group of elves who were helping to revitalize some of the land up there. One of them ended up marrying him. They did have children, though those children didn’t accomplish the same level of great deeds, so I don’t know what further became of that line.” Breda is silent for a moment, thinking. “I don’t actually know whether those children would even be able to have their own children. Yes, elves and humans are physically compatible in many ways, but so are horses and donkeys and a mule cannot have foals.”
Now that is something that had not occurred to Heppa before! She momentarily wonders how she might go about investigating this, but while she has Breda’s attention, she needs to stay focused on the topic at hand. “So did you ever court a human?”
“I’ve had adventures in my time,” the older elf replies. “I’ve certainly enjoyed the company of a human or two, but I’ve never had anything I would view as a sustained relationship. More dalliances here and there, really. It’s just easier for everyone involved.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, because the humans are just going to die in a few decades anyway. You don’t want your heart torn out over and over again. Although, on the other hand, it’s not a long-term commitment, so that has some advantages.”
“But Uncle Anador…” Heppa’s voice drifts off when Breda’s eyebrows spring up. The storyteller glances around, checking if anyone else is within earshot. Heppa is a little surprised. Mother only forbade me to discuss this topic with Daddy, right? Anador was a noble, so it makes sense that Breda would know something about him. There is no harm in asking questions out here away from the house, is there?
“Let me give you some advice, Heppa. Feel free to enjoy your youth, but don’t let the humans endanger the forest. You’ve always got to keep the forest first in your mind. I traveled around a bit in my younger days, adventuring. That’s the ideal way to do it. Those humans I dallied with, they’re off in towns or countrysides far away. No threat to the forest coming from there! And human ways are different from elvish ways. You have to keep a firm sense of self and make sure they don’t change you.”
But what Breda does not say is not to have a relationship with a human or that it is a bad idea to do so. That is Heppa’s main take-away, and she appreciates that Breda is not judging her in any way for being interested in this topic.
Breda continues, dropping her voice a bit. “Now, your uncle Anador is the perfect example of what not to do. There was a good deal of contention with those humans moving in and taking over land that is part of Estbryn Forest. Anador got emotionally entangled with the other side of this conflict. Not wise.” There is a whole level of scandal around Tric’s father that Heppa had not anticipated at all! She continues listening, soaking it all up. “But who was going to tell Anador what to do? Volas? That would have been the only person he might have listened to. Anador was pretty headstrong.”
Heppa wonders whether defying High Lord Volas on this matter would have gotten Anador kicked out of the forest, had he lived longer. But he died during the withdrawal from Hisanham when the undead attacked, so there is no way to know. “So it was a conflict of interests?” Heppa asks, making sure she understands what line was crossed.
“Yes, the elvish presence on the border was—from some elves’ perspectives—to encourage the humans to move on. From other elves’ perspectives, it was to come to a peaceable agreement and arrangement. Anador maybe took that view a little too far.”
Have dalliances, Breda seems to be saying, but not in the forest. And do not bring humans into the forest… Of course, Heppa and Tric are doing exactly that. Kachen should be arriving any day now.