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When Dalitso had opened his eyes once again, he would lay gaze upon a sudden feast upon the head table only—a plethora of what appeared to be roasted venison, birds, eggs, greens, some sort of thin wafer—enough to feed a bit more than a small family. The table had suddenly been adorned with some of the small flowers that littered the pathways, bringing beauty to where there was once solemnness. It was as if it was a rebirth of life upon the cold stones.

“Yes, I am the oldest.” There was a small, dragging pause after the sentiment, and Dalitso may have caught the Queen’s wistful and averted gaze for a moment. “My brother Hiram’nyar is the Council’s favorite and the one preferred to take the throne, but he deferred to me as an elder. My father… was a respected Elvatian, and is missed. However, towards the end of his life, he made some… unorthodox decisions, decisions that I have chosen to uphold as his last wish.”

She took a few steps towards the head table, surveying the abundant blessing before them with a faint smile. “The path of life in Urdu—or in Ivory, as it is called by those outside of it— revolves around the preservation of the natural order. For millennia we have kept most out because the intentions often revolve around the exploitation of abundant resources. To take, without giving anything in return.” She lifted a hand gently to the food on the table, gesturing for him to go ahead.

“The forest provides generously for those who seek to do it harm, but only more so to those who have sworn to preserve its life.” The ancient spirits of the Deepwood had also come to her aid, once they had chosen to take shelter there. Elvira would only feel such a strong sense of obligation, a conviction to protect that which has been such a sanctuary for their kind. And now, to Dalitso, his caravan, and the remains of Delilah’s army.
Dalitso (played by Serverus) Topic Starter

Elvira had answered him and Dalitso appreciated the sound of her gentle voice. There had been so much silence as of late; perhaps that was why he did not sleep as well. He was used to chaos. Albeit her story brought him a great comfort. Even after his eyes opened again and the plates of food now sat before them; in his mind he knew it was a bit much for just the two of them, so he showed her his human discipline.

He sacrificed his hunger a little while longer to enjoy this sweet moment. He wanted to prove to her that he was no savage. Whilst his stomach still growled achingly before her like a lion. Dalitso had great respect for her land and her hospitality. “So your father had some slight controversy, interesting,” he tried to forget the food. Instead he listened.

Elvira shared more arcane knowledge as she stepped forth towards the dining table. Her skin was tanned naturally from the grace of the sun, it was beautiful, ethereal, comely, elegant, probably tender to the touch, with no visible imperfections; indeed her very feet were designed with grace and perfection. Dalitso poked his curious mind; but did not want to pry and embarrass himself with so many questions—instead he listened.

He listened until he thought that she had finished. He remembered how when he woke, he called out to the spirits of this forest; perhaps they had heard him; or maybe Elvira even heard him or they told her; this explained why she was not treating him like a human, but sharing something she probably never would have shared with any non-Elvatian before. Or maybe she was this way with all the humans and he was just now learning this.

“I refuse to do this place harm. Such a lovely forest, I’d rather help preserve its life. But I can not speak for my other companions.” he stepped closer to her, side by side. He observed all of the food and it looked delicious. He just found her company to be more satisfying. “The heart of a human is wicked and deceptive among all things, so no one can truly know it.” this was an ancient saying, from a wise warrior king, from Aceba, named Nazir, who conquering many kingdoms. “I’ll be honest with you, Elvira. Ever since I touched the demons hand I don’t think I’ve been much human since. I don’t even think I’ve aged. Speaking of which, how old are you?”
The warrior before her was so earnest and frank, so willing to speak his mind before her. Aside from the majority of the council who despised her, and her own siblings there were few who would speak to her in such a way. Free with words spoken from an honest place in the bosom, yet keeping the intimacy of a friend. It was a comfort to know that there was someone who was not considered as family as a heartfelt supporter. That quieted her in a way that she couldn't describe, lifting a small weight from her heart.

His question made her look up in mild surprise. After a moment or two, she laughed, bringing a couple of fingertips to her soft, thin lips. It was a soft sound, not deep nor airy but rich in its own middle ground. "I am well-aware that I have not interacted with many humans, but is there not a human adage that a woman should never be asked her age?" she teased. In fact, was it Joseph who had said it? Who knew. There were too many more pressing thing to deal with. She gestured for Dalitso to seat himself as she did so before the food. He must be famished. After all the fighting and the period of travel, rest had been paramount. Nourishment was now the next priority.

Elvira selected for herself some of the grain wafers and a few mushroom caps stuffed with what looked to be meat and spices. Enough for a snack, but nowhere near a meal. She took a small, neat bite from a mushroom before setting it down again. "But as for that answer, a thousand solstices and nineteen score have passed for me. It may seem like much, but for the Elvatian a thousand and half is roughly only middle age." She would not help but pause with her own disturbed and pensive thoughts as she picked up the fine, thin goblet with the light yet tart cider. It had been because of such differences that some of the Council disdained the idea of working with humans. With their short lives, memory of truces did not live on so long, and it seemed like such a waste of time and effort. But if only in this moment, their goals aligned. Their need had begun to outstrip their culture's pride.

Dalitso's eyes hardly ever left her, and she paused to tilt her gaze to him more fully. "I can only imagine you have questions, and I shall do what I can to answer them." She offered him a faint smile.
Dalitso (played by Serverus) Topic Starter

Her laughter, as soft as it was, soothed him from his moment of nervousness. It felt like a real conversation now. Like she was his friend and not just the Queen of this great forest. When she jested about a human’s old truth, he smiled at her. She was correct in her thoughts, if she assumed that his ecru hues had studied her; indeed, even with all the food around, his eyes never left her comely visage. “Ah, a human’s adage is nothing more than a myth, or superstition,” he grinned. “Or maybe I am just out of touch with humanity,” he shrugged.

When Elvira took her seat, he found a seat across from her, so he could sit, but not break the intimacy shared between them. He sniffed his goblet and took a sip of the tart cider, from a golden chalice. It was more masculine than thin, with a wider design. The burn from the drink purified the acids inside his stomach. He purposely avoided any meat. But took a piece of fruit and bit into it. The juice flushed down his brown lips like honey. His teeth were in good condition, as if they were preserved. Thus his unnatural ecru irises would convince her that he was no longer human.

He was intrigued when she finally decided to confess her age. When she spoke of answering his questions, he frowned a bit, only playfully. He did not want to burden her with a boring conversation. Maybe the other humans were used to intriguing her with questions, but Dalitso was a traveled warrior, a beast that had his own story to share. “Not at all. I prefer watching you eat. You can learn a lot about a Lady by the way she eats,” he jested; only to take another tender bite of his fruit. “There is something I need to tell you. Few know this. The Valkryn Demoness, Chi...”

That was when the trees that shielded them from everything outside of this eating place, was momentarily disturbed. A force of wind blew against their garments and the magical blockage was reopened. An Elvatian of the Queen’s guard scurried upward to ruin their moment with news. “An orcan militia has advanced on our outpost. My Queen, we are under attack. But do not worry, we can handle this. It is only twenty Orcs. You do not need to join the fray. But as your guardian, I am only here to inform you. Continue with your guest,” the tree blockage went back into position and they had privacy once more.
The message was delivered quickly, and just as quickly the messenger had departed. However, the Queen’s gaze had dropped, and the small smile had faded to a touch of pensiveness. For a moment, Dalitso might have believed that the comment had made her upset. But then she breathed life to another chuckle. “I must apologize for the interruption, Dalitso… it seems that my soldiers are in need of more history lessons,” she teased. She then turned to explain to the Aceban. “In our capital, or in the other outposts of Ivory, the ancient magics have long since been stripped away.”

She held up her hands, and golden magics weaved themselves into wispy shapes, into a glade of trees with soldiers before them. “In those places, the forest is defenseless without it. And such is our word.” She placed her hands together as if in prayer, dispersing the golden magic. “Vara i’ er ya ona,” she recited with a touch of reverence. “‘Protect the one who gives’.”

With an amused smile, she then lifted her hands to gesture to the clearing about them. “But we dine today in the heart of the Deep, an ancient sanctuary that has been untouched until now.” She lifted her hand, and as if in affirmation, there was a twittering that didn’t sound all avian. It was almost as if a chirruping, overlapping set of whispers. “The forest comes alive in the Deepwood. It protects us here; vara I’ er ya ona is not a necessary principle in this place.”

“If anything, the guardians shall apprehend the orcs before my men may even get to them. You…have met them,” she finished with some uneasiness, reminding him. Oh, how she wished that Zamora not have caused such panic, as perhaps she would still be here with them. She fell silent for several moments before finishing the subject. “The trees themselves will shelter us. But alas, we cannot stay for too long…”

She paused again, dipping her head to him lightly, reminiscent of a bow. “Again, I must I deeply apologize for the interruption of my men. What was it you were to mention about the Valkryn?”
Dalitso (played by Serverus) Topic Starter

He felt his appetite shatter at the warning of an Orcan invasion. In his mind, he was ready to put down his fruit tray and help her people fight. For a moment, it seemed as if Elvira wanted the same, whilst her smile of warmth returned and she spoke of the historic trials of the Elvatian magic stripped. Magic had a complicated existence, he thought. He knew that many arcane abilities were banned in some of the human societies. And now the Drow brought Necromancy to her Forest, one which was forbidden by the Afgarian people.

"First the undead, now Orcs. It seems you will never have peace unless we put these Orcs down for good," he relaxed in the chair, his eyes saddened for her.

Then she reminded him of his last words, before the intrusion. He knew they were at war and they could not tarry here in this mystical paradise for much longer, so he would have to be brief with her, for the sake of time. "I will try to explain this as easy as I can. I still do not understand what I have become. But the Valkryn, the Tigress, who now cares for Commander Delilah, is bound to me. Many years ago, my mother had a secret relationship, a love a affair with Chi's master. He was a powerful wizard who did not see my father's murderous blade coming in the night. My mother laid on her own sword after her lover was killed. I used the same blade and slit my own father's throat. This intrigued Chi and the Valkryn has not left my presence since. It has been over two hundred years. Those in my company, the gypsy girls, I rescued them from my father's caravan; they have not aged with me. We are cursed to live as immortals, bound to this loyal demon. All because of my rage. I do not regret what I have done, Chi has been a valuable companion. I just needed you to know that I am not a normal human. I come from the bloodline of the Al'Shadye, Assassins of the Sands, the first humans to walk Aceba."

The morning sun reflected off his milk chocolate colored skin, like bronze, his ecru irises, everything about him looked like a man in his early stages. But there was a wisdom about Dalitso that stood out from the normal, as if he had seen many things in this life. Things that had shaped him for the trials that he would face ahead. "I gave you my word that I will help find the cure for Delilah, but I also do not wish to leave you stranded in this war. If you will have me, I would like to fight beside you and help you push the Orcan invaders back. If you do not have peace, I do not wish to have it. I wish to know your suffering, so together we can overcome it."
"My reign has been... more tumultuous, certainly, than so many of those before me," the Queen admitted with a rueful smile before she lifted a goblet from the table to sip lightly. There were many causes of the controversy that had been her rule. Being a daughter to ascend as a queen with a clash of ideologies would certainly be seen as an imposter and an enemy to the tradition that she still sought to uphold despite. Magic lay in the hands of those who wielded it... a powerful tool that could move mountains.

She tilted her head quietly as Dalitso began to tell his story. While he had spoken in quick and precise sentences, the depth of the tale had not been lost and Elvira watched him with some note of subdued and thoughtful awe. Of course, there had been myths of other tribes that had been touched by the incorporeal in ways that changed them forever. Until this moment, they were simply that--myths. For some time she had felt that the Aceban warrior had something curious about him--and this would explain it. Most humans were so rooted in their own lives--it was inevitable for a people that lived such short lives. There was not enough time for them to know much outside of themselves. But as he had just explained, Dalitso was different.

"I would be, honored--to have you by my side," she nodded. "Urdu is in dire need, and I can only be grateful that the gods have shifted our paths so as to cross..." She closed her eyes for a moment, composing herself. The weight of all that had been entrusted to her was incredibly great. With Delilah's life hanging in the balance, they had so little time. It was such a shame.

Elvira waved a hand over the bountiful feast that lay before them and each dish folded in on itself, each spread folding inward to wrap the food in a small, leafy parcel. After some soft words to the air, some transparent specter shifted forward to whisk away these small parcels, flitting them elsewhere amongst the trees and out of sight like a bunch of strange birds.

"I know our time here has been short, dear warrior, but we must return. Though the guardians may watch over us, we must not overstay our welcome." She gracefully stood from her seat, and after a moment, offered her fair, slender fingers to the larger man.
Dalitso (played by Serverus) Topic Starter

It had been chaos for the both of them, so it seemed. Two different worlds of tumultuous uncertainty. One was born into the politics of rulership and one was born into the violence of hardship. And now the gods of Obelus would dare unite them together. The most amazing thing was that when they were together, there was peace and they may have even enjoyed each others company. No egos. No conflict. It seemed almost like the fairy tales, Dalitso's mother would read to him as a boy about elves. Albeit his mother was wrong. The elves were not as harmonious in spirit as the stories told them to be; like gay children dancing and singing around the trees. This was a stereotype. The Elvatians were a broken people. After so many centuries of war how could they still find the voices to sing. There was nothing soft about them. They were honorable woodlanders who would kill to protect their crown and land. So when the Queen said that she would be honored to have him at her side, he stood from the table and knelt to unsheathe his scimitar and place it on his own shoulder.

"I am yours then. No longer free to roam as I will, but me and my house are now bound to your service. My Queen, Elvira Teliek'vhran, I will serve you in this war and the wars to come. You have my sword. You have my life and you have my love," he stood from the ground to sheathe his blade.

Afterwards the horrifying specter whisked its way toward the table. The food and everything began to fold as the ghostly being removed it all like an illusion before them. This terrified Dalitso as if she had sent an assassin to kill him. He had never fought a ghost before, or whatever it was, it was death and he did not expect it to come today, especially after he had given his life to her cause. He shivered a bit, having fear for the first time since coming to this northern land. Then Elvira spoke to him. Her sweet words brought him back to reality; that he was safe in her home. The specter was gone and the Queen stood to offer her hand. Dalitso had never seen a hand so beautiful before. He was hesitant at first, as if undeserving. His own muscular fingers slowly inched towards her flesh, like a beast. He was afraid he would hurt her with his burnt flesh. But when he touched her skin, it was soft, yet he felt a strong grasp take him and lead him away from this place of peace. From this day forward she was his Queen.

"Orcs!" Sanze cried as the horns were blown and her scimitar now flared with fire. The Elvatian guards of this outpost had taken position at the gates of the tree city, cutting down the hordes of Orcan that trespassed. Skilled archers defended also from above, in the trees, each arrow precise as it took off the limbs of each who did not see it coming. Indeed more were coming for the gates than reported.

"Where is Dalitso?!" Zosa cried.

"Probably still sleep," Pela jested; Nahita smirked in agreement.

"No, he is with the Queen. I seen him walk away with her into some strange place. I followed but could not go further," Sanze said.

"You do love him. That is sad because you know he loves her," Zosa said.

"He would never betray my heart to love a foreign Queen," Sanze said. "When Lozita died, I grieved. She was a sister to me. But I know after her I was his favorite so he was sure to love me the same."

"Dear Sanze, my sweet girl. That is not how love works. It is not automatic, or forced by some rule of order. He loved Lozita and she is gone. Now his heart is free to love who he chooses. If you love him you will accept that," Zosa spoke.

The Orcs now pushed through, aggressively cutting down Elvatian numbers. Even the finest archers could not contain the hordes.

"Defend yourself!" Zosa said as two Orcs rushed near her. Her fiery blade caught one of the Orc's longsword as the steel clashed and sparked. The other was cut in the back by Sanze. The Orc burned to ash. Zosa in a tough fight, kicked his crotch and used her space to bring her smaller scimitar across the Orc's throat. Black blood sprayed the grass as he burned to crisps. The gypsies leaned in with their famous blades of roaring Hell Fire, only to help protect this Elven outpost...
"Then let us return to the others together."

The Queen and warrior, hand in hand, took a mild pace back to the camp. Even with the threat of Orcs, Elvira was as gracefully unperturbed as ever, as if it was so little of a concern. "The Orcs may come, yet the ancient power of the Deepwood will shelter us," she nodded, a quiet conviction in her steady tone. "It has done so before, and it will do it again. Mortal forces, even those as long-lived as us elves, stand little match against the eldritch…” she trailed off, for a few moments in pensive thought as she cloaked herself in the comfort of the fact. “But yes. We cannot stay forever. The ancients only allow so much of their blessing..."

She glanced over at the warrior. No doubt he would fret. If her own soldiers panicked, and were not so well-versed in the old ways that they would fear of enemies truly surviving this place, then what more would a foreigner? Elvira gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “Fear not, Dalitso. You shall see. The Deepwood is not without power.”

She then looked up at the distinct touch of magic in the air, as well as the displaced sound of hoofbeats as a horseback figure came to approach them along the serene trail…

The air seemed to shift. The forest itself seemed to release a long sigh that reverberated just at the low end of hearing. The trees would grow and twist, freeing beings that meshed from the trunk to step free. Vines twined like a myriad of snakes forming armor and structure upon these warriors, who towered several feet high and roared at the Orcs charging around and past them, the subsequent thundering stampede making the ground shudder. These warriors charged, swinging axes of petrified wood that grew directly from their arms. And the vines beneath their feet lashed out to seize the Orcs, to begin to tear them apart as gruesomely as the fate that had befallen Zamora the dragon…
Noah Ryan (played by Syaoran555)

Riding astride Tempest, No'ä swiftly made his way from the Camp toward the nearby Shrine. Given how troubled and upset she had been when she had first arrived, he figured Elvira would most likely be there. Of course, he himself was somewhat troubled as well at the news of Dezus' betrayal and the spawning of Undead upon their shores...even if it didn't really seem out of the realm of possibility for him. Even with all the amount of time that he had spent with the Royal Family through the many annums of his close friendship with Prince Hiram'nyar, Dezus had been aloof, often locking himself in private and conducting his own experiments. Princess Lillenærhune had been afraid of him, and Prince Parya'theïn hadn't liked him one bit. He himself had had a few small misgivings but it hadn't really his place to say anything, especially when one considered his own origins. And when Lord Marcus Faerus had discovered that the Drow's experiments were him dabbling in forbidden magics, all, it seemed that Lilly and Parya had been right to feel the way they had.

Also, to only add to the pile of things they needed to worry about, the Orcs had been brazen enough to try to raid the very heart of the Deepwood and attack the camp. He thanked every deity he could think of for the presence of the Tree Guardians. Things would have gone far worse for the camp if they hadn't been there. It was because of their efforts that things were now well enough in hand that he could go find Elvira and deliver news of a missive from Welden'eve he had received early that morning. He urged the Raiü on down the trail, and after a couple of minutes finally felt...not one aura but two: the familiar presence of his friend and Queen, Elvira, and the newer presence of the Aceban, Dalitso. Barely a moment later, he rounded a bend in the trail, and saw the two of them walking towards him, hand in hand. Strange, honestly, but it wasn't his business. When he saw them, he told Tempest to stop, quickly dismounting and jogging over to Elvira and Dalitso.

Once he reached them, he stopped, nodding to both of them.
"Vira. Dalitso," he said, looking between the two of them, offering a lightly tired smile. "I'm glad to have found you here." He ran a hand through his hair before he continued, his expression turning a bit serious. "Anyway, while I'd love to exchange pleasantries, I'll instead just cut right to the chase," he said, his voice now starting to mirror the tiredness in his previous smile. He ran a hand through his hair before he spoke again, this time directly addressing the Queen. "This morning I received a general call-to-arms from Welden'eve. It seems Parya is in need of reinforcements."

No'ä then did his best to try to hide a bit of a wry smile as it almost forced its way onto his face. He shook his head before continuing.
"Also, As I'm sure the both of you know, we came under attack from a contingent of Orcs - joined by some of the very undead you spoke of - who decided they would be extra bold and try for the foolhardy: breach the Deepwood, and mount an assault against the camp." The corner of the Colonel's mouth twitched upward ever so slightly. "A couple of them actually managed to get close, but were quickly dealt with, one or two of them by your group," he said, looking at Dalitso before returning his attention to Elvira, his voice becoming more solemn. "We waited for the rest to approach...which is when we started to hear the agonized and terrified screams of our would-be attackers being torn apart. Whatever ones remained tried to retreat, only to be slain as well, or so I would assume by their disappearing auras." He exhaled through his nostrils. "It would seem the Guardians of the Deepwood are carrying out their duty quite well."

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