As the first golden rays of dawns summer sun permeate through the thick trunks and dense foliage, they stream through the vast and lush forest. The morning dew glistening like thousands of diamonds on emerald silks.
A group of Elvhen are gathered on the forest floor, three lay asleep on bedrolls covered by worn, thin varying shades of green blankets. One is sat up awake, watching over the party. Beside her an ornate dark wood staff that is very much within her grasp. Keen ears and eyes study the sounds and movements that encompass the forest. Watching and waiting for anything out of the ordinary.
She raises a hand and shields her eyes allowing them to adjust to this new light, her eyes attuned to the darkness for the last few hours . She gladly welcomes the break of day, her watch now over. Gazing up toward the canopy, the mysterious olive and honey eyes take in the wonder of this sacred place. The forest was waking up, the chorus of birdsong filling the air bringing the promise of life and another busy day.
Stretching her arms above her head she yawns and breathes in slowly and deeply, allowing all her senses to take in this new morning. She scrapes her chocolate unkempt hair out of her face and fastens it back. Revealing her Vallaslin, the faint brown tattoo delicately curves up her high cheekbones.
Beside her are the dying embers of last night’s fire, and her now rousing companions. This group of Dalish elves were no stranger to mornings like this. They had formed a small party of adventurers assigned by their Keeper it was no small feat. For 6 years they had travelled all across Thedas searching for ways to recover their lost heritage, mapping out places as they went, finding lost lore, ruins and any clues to their past.
A sad and unjust history had befallen the Elvhen. Yet still the Dalish people persevered. They recovered, taught and kept their kins traditions of the old ways as alive as they could. This small band of adventurers together took their responsibilities of seeking this out very seriously. Here they were in the great forest of Arlathan searching and seeking out its lost city and any other trace of their people they could find. The lands of Elvhenan seemed now like a legend, a vague memory of early history lingered they sought so desperately to recover what traces they could find.
Getting to her feet Erelani, headed toward a small spring a short distance away from the camp and quenched her thirst, she filled up her tattered and worn waterskin. Rummaging through her pack she pulled out a small piece of linen cloth, inside dried fruits, nuts and berries which she happily savoured.
This small group of four each bought their own individual skills and talent to the seemingly unending mission. Erelani was an adept mage, powerful, intelligent and compassionate, strong willed and had the conviction to stand up for what she believed in, a trait she inherited from her beloved parents. Being away from their loved ones was not easy and each member had family waiting at home, though this just cause, gave them strength to continue.
Today was the day they return home after weeks away. They were a half a day’s walk from home where the Lavellan clan had pitched their aravels and made camp for the last few months. The quest for knowledge, persecution from humans and the controlling and domineering chantry made sure Clan Lavellan didn’t linger too long in any place. Time had not healed the wounds and the elvhen still suffered at the hands of humans, treated as savages. Mages were treated equally as badly, feared and persecuted, forcibly controlled,killed or worse! A magical elf was the stuff of nightmares to the outside world . Magic was feared deeply, a hate instigated by the humans beloved chantry.
Clan Lavellan however had some dealing with the shemlen, they had a few small outposts which they traded their superior wooden crafts in for much needed supplies. They were always cautious and traded with known merchants keeping their trade circles small, business pleasant and more importantly swift.
As Erelani pondered home, a tall and handsome elf got to his feet. His long dark hair falling down his back, showing off his broad and powerful shoulders. Nerien was the groups warrior, there were few that matched his sleek and dexterous moves and his incredible skill with dual blades. Whatever trouble came their way with his skill and deftness threats were eliminated quickly. He smiled and nodded toward the mage as she sat enjoying her delicious breakfast. She lifted her hands to offer the delicious treats and he kneeled down beside her, helping himself to some of the red berries. “Each morning, I awake here I feel more and more connected, it pains me to leave” sighed Nerien. Erelani smiled at him, eyes full of understanding. “Your father will be glad to see you back, and you to see him my friend. It won’t be long, and we will be in this beautiful forest again. I’m hoping we can head along the stone trail next time” said a hopeful Erelani. Both sat quietly contemplating their next trip.
“Good Morning” beamed a bright eyed Shiani the group scout and master archer. Her blonde hair glistening in the morning sun. “I bet your looking forward to getting back Erelani, a certain elf will have been missing you” she said with knowing wink! A small blush crept over the mages pale and freckled face. Her smile gave her away, she was looking forward to the reunion . “I’ll be glad of a proper wash” giggled Erelani in return. Shiani began to tidy her bedroll and organise her pack. “Well I’m certainly looking forward to getting back, its been a while!” stated Shiani. Sending the three into a fit of laughter. “That’s all you lot have on your brain”, replied a sleepy and still prone Yaren. “and all you think about is those tomes and scrolls” replied Shiani. “pssh” slurred Yaren, “The search for knowledge is a befitting and demanding mistress”. “Indeed “said Nerien as if to put the conversation to bed.
Yaren slowly got himself to his feet, put on his robe and sat quietly studying his latest mapping. His cartography skills were remarkable and was an asset to his people. “I wish we had found more this time, it doesn’t seem like we’ve managed to get anything done and I hate to return empty handed” said a disappointed Yaren. “Nonsense, you’ve mapped out a huge area, we located a new trail, and taken out the threat of those blighted wolves! It’s been eventful.” Insisted Nerien. “Next time we’ll get lucky” encouraged Erelani.
The three took care of their individual needs, ate a light breakfast, tidied camp and got themselves ready to leave. They all took a quiet moment to reflect on the beauty of this wonderful and sacred place they had called home for the past few weeks. “May our darkness turn to light; may we endure our struggles and all that is lost return to us” solemnly said Yaren. “Blessed is Arlathan” replied the whole party. With a heavy heart they made there way out of the forest. Erelani turned around lingering a moment longer than the rest, kneeling she put her hand to the warm and rich earth and made her peace with leaving. “Farewell, may Mythal guide me back” she whispered. As she closed her eyes she felt the energy of the earth warm her heart. Leaving was always hard, a deep and ancient connection pulled the Elvhen to this place that was so cruelly taken from them a great tragedy and the place where life for all Elvhen changed forever. The grief and sadness felt when they left was always trying and leaving here was harder each time, it was almost as if the very forest mourned their absence from their homeland. However their family kept them coming home. One day they would be ready for all Elvhen to return.
The party pressed on for many miles, the further they got from Arlathan the easier it got and the less heavy their hearts felt. The party spoke little and what words were spoken were solemn and heartfelt. Each respecting each other’s need for reflection and anticipation of the arrival home. Soon they reached a hidden but familiar path, a magical ward hid the entrance. Shielding and protecting the Lavellan from outside threats. Home was now just a couple of short miles away. Halfway along the path Erelani stopped. “I’m going to get washed up before heading home” she said eagerly. “Don’t want to put her off with your traveller’s scent do you” laughed Shiani. Erelani cheeks flushed and she nodded at her friend. “I’m heading to the fire spring, if you want to join me” replied Erelani earnestly to all her companions. Contemplating for a moment and taking a moment to look at themselves they gently declined the offer. “I can’t wait any longer I wonder if Merith has made any pies today” shrieked a clearly hungry Yaren.
Bidding her friends farewell she veered east off the path following a small stream along a narrow bank until it came to a small rocky outcrop. The rocky terrain provided a natural horseshoe formation around a small hot spring. Trees circled the area and wild flowers bloomed all over. Checking around for no sign of anyone. She removed her pack from her shoulders, and opened it, pulling out a small red purse, inside was something Erelani never left home without. Her perfected blend of salt, soapwort and fragrant oils. Bathing was a pastime this travelling elf really did enjoy. Most of her brethren were happy with a dip in the cold river. But something about the hot water, it soothed muscles, calmed the mind and made her feel happy and clean this soon became a home coming ritual for the mage.
She slowly took off her brown cloak, placing it over a large boulder, on which she then sat. Next, she slowly unlaced her long boots revealing dainty ankles and red and sore looking feet. She was glad to take these off, her feet were hot, and tired and the promise of a warm soak sent a wave of anticipation through her. Normally she would be barefoot through the forest but Arlathan’s disturbing past sometimes uncovered sharp and broken bits of its unjust history in the weaponry left there from ages past. An elf had to be careful and stepping on a old sword or dagger fragment wasn’t a risk the party took.
Standing up she quickly scanned the area again to make sure she was alone. She peeled of the tunic and waistcoat revealing round heavy breasts a narrow waist and wide hips. It was said that somewhere along her lineage was human blood (though this had never been proven and no real thought was given to it). For whatever the reason it gave the women in her line softer rounder bodies and not quiet as lithe and agile as the rest of their kin. Bending down she took off her trousers revealing strong yet soft legs, a round and fleshy bottom.
The call of the hot spring was answered with much delight by the mage. Loosening her dark and dirty hair she set it free, allowing it to sit along her jaw framing her heart shaped face. She climbed in slowly taking care to check the temperature was safe and lowered her aching limbs into the hot water. The heat and weightlessness that her body felt was almost hypnotic she could feel her self relax and switch off from everything. Before she became too comfortable, she took her pouch and began to sprinkle some of the herbal salty mixture into her hand, rubbing them together created a fragrant lather and she started with her hair working it into a lather and releasing half of the forest with it. Next, she sat up and carefully washed her body taking her time and making sure she’d covered it all. She then submerged herself below the water for a few seconds, freeing the suds from her now clean body.
As she sat at peace, in the warm and almost healing spring. She closed her eyes and let herself enjoy her much needed solitude. There she stayed for some time, until an uneasy feeling washed over her. She wasn’t alone. Slowly she moved to grab her staff, propped up against the edge of the spring. The cracking of a branch underfoot, sent the elf into a defensive stance. Ready to use her magical energy at the threat, she paused.
Through the clearing came the quiet and gentle footfall, and a familiar and welcome face. Breathing out a huge sigh of relief Erelani visibly relaxed and cast down her staff. Beaming from side to side and looking rather delighted stood a beautiful raven-long haired elf, she wore a golden circlet upon her crown. She bore a Vallslin to Sylaise the hearth keeper over her right eye, a red brown ink which amplified her bright emerald eyes. Her beautiful and delicate features were a sight sore eyes and Erelani couldn’t take her eyes off her.
“Could you not have come to see me first” teased Cerine. Laughing Erelani replied “I think you would have sent me packing, the forest and travel did not make me very appealing”. “I lie with you when you’ve been with the Halla, and luckily for you I don’t have a keen sense of smell” insisted Cerine. Standing up and heading over to the edge to greet her, Cerine motioned at Erelani to wait. Slowly and meticulously she began to remove her robes, all the while maintaining eye contact. Until she stood bare and vulnerable before the smitten and very awakened Erelani. “Gods, I have missed you Cerine” remarked a breathless Erelani.