“Thank you all,” the old man said. “If you would allow me to introduce myself, I am Ennestral, elder of the Village of Eleran. My grandson’s great-nephew brought you here only in part because it was on the way to the capital city.”
“Your grandson’s…” Peter repeated, his tone incredulous.
Nashtra nodded. “The village elder is my family as well as my leader.”
“But to be so distantly related,” Peter went on. “How is that possible?”
“In the stories where you come from,” their long-haired guide replied, “are there any elves who live for a long time?”
“Sure!” Cerys cut in. “In fact, Tolkien’s elves are practically immortal.”
“Oh not them again,” Peter groaned.
“Don’t mind him,” his sister told the others. “As far as the rest of us are concerned, it makes sense for elves to have longer lifespans than humans. Please, go on.”
“Thank you,” the elder replied. “In all truth, we are very concerned about Summerlay. While we here in Vathalloin are safe from the noir beasts than roam the human lands at night, we are also concerned that they are part of a greater plot.”
“What do you mean by Vath… Vathal–” Cerys tried to ask.
“Vathalloin,” Nashtra repeated for her, “is our forest. What the humans call the Forest of Spark, we call Vathalloin.”
“You say it so beautifully,” She told him.
Nashtra smiled a knowing smile. “Why do you think that we prefer the proper name?”
Cerys chuckled a little, then remembered that th elder had wanted to say something important. She looked to him and let him continue.
“Should an evil force take power in Summerlay,” the elder said, “it would only be a matter of time before our forest, too, was threatened. Besides that, we have allies among the humans, and none of the elders of the forest would allow undue harm to come to them.”
“And that is why you intend to help us on our quest?” Bayani asked.
“Yes, young one,” the elder replied. Whatever your message is, it must get t the capital without delay. Even our chief shaman has spoken of the importance of your quest.”