“The wicked are terrible indeed,” the elder said. “We must ensure that does not happen here as well.”
“You are right,” Peter replied. “It would be a terrible thing for it to happen here. Do you think that whatever is creating the noir beasts has an interest in destroying the forest?”
“We know so little,” Nashtra told him, “that is that is as possible as any other explanation. Still, I doubt that it is the forest that anybody is after. I have a feeling that there is more interest in the crown of Summerlay.”
“Either way,” the elder went on, “we cannot lose the crown as an ally. It would mean losing our trade agreements.”
“And from that, much of our food supply,” Nashtra added.
The others nodded grimly in agreement. “Is your forest not able to produce enough food?” Bayani asked.
“You could say that,” Nashtra replied. “You know about the energy that runs through our forest. It makes a makes it hard for much of what grows to be readily edible. Some of us are able to eat anything that we come across, but for others it is too dangerous unless it is process in a certain way. It is true what you must be thinking, that this is a strange place. Our numbers used to be very small, and it used to be that most of us were able to eat whatever grows here. That all changed when we began to trade with outside villages. Since there was more food for those who could not eat the things that grew in our forest, more of them were able to survive, and since they eventually took mates, there are also more of them now.”
“Our numbers have thrown a lot over the years,” Elder Ennestral continued. “I have watched so many young elves come into the world. There are many more mouths to feed now. So many, in fact, that would be very hard to feed all of us without the food that we import from the outside realm.”
“It sounds very risky,” Himeko noted, “to have your population based on such trade.”
“What else are we to do?” Ennestral asked. “I cannot imagine limiting our numbers just because of food.”
Himeko nodded in agreement. Then she added, “what do you export when you trade for the food?”