The elf was out the door shortly after Arthon and Yondrin, leaving the others to prepare the goods and supplies they would need for their journey. Salindrel had learned from his master to come to the meeting hall already prepared to move onward and so did not need the recess. Bow slung neatly across his back, he walked quickly through the town heading for the west. The elf hoped to find a tree, orient himself towards his home grove and meditate for a while on his recent failings. He hoped to perhaps even link with Immeral through the roots and seek his advice.
It was not long before the druid found what he sought, clambered gracefully to the top and sat to commune with the world surrounding him. However, despite great effort, he was unable to ascertain a route by which to connect with his master. Despite that, even a few minutes of quiet and peaceful reflection served to calm him and to some extent, prepare him for whatever trials lay ahead.
Nearby branches spoke to him of the half-elf’s approach long before he could sense it himself. Marietta, was that her name?, he thought, thinking back to their previous interactions. He seemed to recall that she had had several interactions with Ember. Positive ones. A shiver ran through Salindrel’s body as he thought of that tiefling woman. Perhaps Marietta would be able to aid in mending their relationship. He wasn’t sure, but it was worth a try.
The elven druid hopped down from the tree, landing lightly on his feet and strode toward his new companion. “Marietta, was it?” he said as he approached. “I see you are early as well. What do you think of our companions?” He attempted to keep his tone light and conversational, not wanting to offend another member of their collective. However, it did seem to come across as stiff and formal despite his best efforts.
Marietta glanced up at the sound of Salindrel’s landing, eyes flicking from the suddenly appearing elf to what had been his arboreal perch and back again. For a moment she returned the man’s odd gaze, her expression neutral as she inspected him. Elves were not uncommon in Keken, but most of them lived beyond the limits of the city, in Piege proper. She wondered, though she had no true desire to give voice to the question, if Salindrel could tell her mixed heritage. He had seemed quick enough to judge, when confronted with Ember, but it was hard to say what he made of half-elves. In her experience, Marietta had found elves tended to pity her, a condescension that was more than a little grating at times.
She shifted slightly, taking the stave of her unstrung bow between both hands and gently rolling the wooden length back and forth with a soft sigh. “I think we are very different, all of us. And I hope that is enough to see us through whatever is ahead.” It was, perhaps, not the answer the elf might have wanted, but it was diplomatic enough to try and smooth over the earlier confrontation. And if Salindrel pressed… Well, she would have to figure something else out if he wanted more.
Salindrel let out a low chuckle. “‘Different,’ eh?” he replied, letting a small smile touch his face. “How very diplomatic of you. That sounds very similar to what my master would have said in this same situation.” Salindrel turned his head slightly, cocking an ear to listen to the wind whistling through the trees as he stared off into the distance, speaking as if to himself, “Would that I had the sense to be as diplomatic as Immeral is…” His voice trailed off as he became lost in his memories for a moment.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, he turned to face the forester, pulling his vibrations away from their ever-present ebb to cascade upon her form, giving him his clearest look at who this Marietta was. She seemed to be an elf - or at the very least elven in appearance. But the weapon she carried was the most surprising part, seeming to be several times larger than he would expect from one of her stature. “And you, Marietta. What sort of weapon is that? It looks rather unwieldy.” He released control of his powers, letting them return to their previous flow.
The ranger frowned, a swift, fleeting expression that flitted across her face before vanishing. It was… a very strange question. Her fingers stopped the gentle spin of the stave, falling into place around the weapon’s grip as she returned the elf’s regard. “It is a bowstave, a war bow.” For a moment she hesitated, but in truth she could not stop from asking, as rude as doing so might be. “Salindrel… are you... blind?”
Another low chuckle was drawn from the elf. “I had thought that much to be obvious, given my eyes, but I suppose I should not take such things for granted,” he said in a slightly playful manner. Then suddenly, his brow furrowed as a thought crossed his mind. “However, I assure you that I am fully capable of facing any creature or being that may stand in our way. My lack of sight will not hinder me from being of use on this expedition.” His body tensed, suddenly self-conscious that this one, who had recently been named as the second-in-command, might send him home before they had even begun.
Marietta blinked, sensing the slight change in the elf, a sort of coiling tension. It took a moment to put a finger on the reason - or the most likely reason - for Salindrel’s sudden unease. The ghost of a smile crossed her face, quick as the frown that had passed by moments earlier. “Salindrel, it is not my place to say if you come with us or not, nor Yondrin’s. The only thing that you should worry about for the moment is getting in Ember’s way.”
There was no chuckle this time around. Salindrel took a deep breath, letting himself unfurl, but remaining cautious. “I plan to give her a wide berth for the time being, I can assure you.” His voice was back to its original intonation. “I apologize for any trouble I may have caused. I really did not mean for things to go as far as they did.” A nervous bow was the only thing the elf could think to do as he delivered the apology, hoping he hadn’t jeopardized his position. He had no way to know what Marietta would say to the orc about this conversation, or about his condition. Perhaps he had become too familiar with her before. The druid took a few steps back after righting himself. “It seems the others might arrive soon,” he lied quickly. “I thank you for the brief, but informative, discussion.”
The forester’s eyes flicked briefly towards the road, but if someone was coming they were as yet beyond the reach of her senses. Blind he might have been, but the elf had some way of knowing what was going on around him. That was a mystery beyond Marietta’s understanding for now. Still, it was not a bad thing to know, and… hopefully Salindrel would be more careful of the tiefling when the party ventured on. Her lips twitched, though the smile never quite made it to full life. Perhaps he would be more careful, and perhaps Marietta would convince Ember to let bygones be bygones. Either way she inclined her head respectfully to the elf. “May the wind guide your step and the stars light your way.” It was something her mother had said, at least, that was what her father had always told her. An elven farewell, perhaps, or maybe nothing more than a personal fare thee well.
Marietta drew back, one hand rising to draw the hood of her cloak up about her face. It hid the tears that stung at the back of her eyes. Betimes it was like that, when she thought of the mother she knew only from the second-hand stories passed along by her father. Sometimes the thought brought tears to her eyes, other times she felt nothing. As embarrassing as it could be, she silently thought the tears were better.
The elf stopped at the sound of her words, and a slight smile graced his face. He repeated her phrase in his native tongue, bowing to her in return. With one fluid movement, he turned quickly and retreated back to his arboreous sanctuary. As he came close to the gnarled trunk, he heard a shift in the wind and with hand on the bark, spoke to the tree: more of their number approached.