Of elves high and lowA collab between Greenie & Fetzen
Valenwood... If he had not been forced to live here for a number of years that was increasingly laborious to count Vraurdoin's Altmeri nature would have burst out in a fit of displeasure. The air ? Who said that one needed stone or wood in order to build something... It felt as if some kind of sadist had cast a spell aeons ago in order to turn it into an infinite pile of invisible bricks so thick it was. The water ? No need to worry about a lack of it, but there was an important distinction between just 'water' and 'drinkable water'. He didn't want to scorn the infrastructure of his elven brothers, but even in the finest offices it had always felt as if no amount of reservoirs and piping could ever eliminate that certain taste of it. The taste of the morass. Maybe those born
here were immune to it, but he certainly wasn't. And then the roads or rather the lack of them. On one hand he silently admired those living here for still being able to have an economy here, but on the other hand everything was crying out 'Inefficiency!' towards him.
None of this was to be heard off Vraurdoin though. Whenever those thoughts came crawling up into his consciousness en masse he tried to hammer them back down into the abyss they belonged to. He still was some sort of guest here, not anyone to criticize things harshly. And perhaps he had just stayed in those fine offices for too long and forgotten that things weren't totally bright when one had to live on the street on the Summerset Isles either.
He had heard of the festival and decided to join it. Yes, a big crowd with many opportunities for spies and other sorts of attentive people to hide in and watch, but also just as many opportunities for him to blend in and remain unknown. Well... as good as someone of his stature could blend in anywhere anyway. Vraurdoin had dressed himself in his second set of everyday clothes, the one that hadn't become completely dirty over the course of the past few days. A white linen shirt, gray-ish trousers of similar making and a pair of simple leather boots would have to suffice.
As he wandered along the edge of the crowd, absently chewing upon a straw of grass he had picked up somewhere, his eyes already focused on the tables bristling with food. So much of it! Even if it contained ugly water... he couldn't resist. Patience was demanded however if one didn't want to push people aside in order to get through quicker.
"Quite a crowd, yes? This one thinks it must be as much a task for one as tall as yourself to easily make way through as it would for her." The statement came from not too far away, voiced by a small, olive skinned bosmer in a green and blue tunic, along with subtle face marking. Nimriell had been standing at the edge of the crowd, leaning against one of the many trees surrounding them. She had been contemplating another snack when her bright eyes caught sight of the Altmer. Not that he wouldn't have been noticeable as he towered over her, even at distance. Even among Bosmer she was considered a bit smaller than usual, and it certainly was the same with her khajiit family, so she was quite used to it.
"This one is Nimriell," she offered with a curve of her lips. From his attire, it seemed to her that he had probably visited Valenwood before- she had seen other less prepared people who would dress in highly inappropriate clothes for the hot and humid weather that had to be endured in the jungles. "Would this one be wrong in guessing you've been here before?"This one ?
It was a minor subtlety, but it stroke Vraurdoin’s attention. Didn’t only Khajiit speak about themselves this way ? The Altmer turned his head to look at the woman from more than just the corner of his eyes, but that didn’t change anything about the fact she clearly was a Bosmer as well. He decided against addressing this observation right away, saving it for a later moment instead. For now Vraurdoin struggled with the idea of crouching down in order to spare them both craning their necks, but it just seemed to be a little too awkward.
“Greetings, Nimriell. I am Vraurdoin and yes, I’ve in fact been living in Valenwood for quite a while by now.” That was the truth, but not a very specific one. It was perfectly safe to tell so much he thought. Maybe he should just relax. “It’s my first visit to this festival though. How about you ?”
"A little embarrassing but it is this one's first time at this festival as well," the Bosmer admitted with a nod, casting a glance at the crowd by the food stalls. "Nimriell had passed through before, but never long enough to actually enjoy the sights and sounds." She nodded towards a merchant's tent, making note of what was being sold before looking at Vraurdoin once more. "This one's family were travelling merchants, Baandari; we didn't stay in one place for too long."
She was quite curious why an Altmer might have been living in Valenwood. An emissary from Summerset perhaps? A wandering scholar? Perhaps a merchant? She was an open book herself, but from experience she knew that many wouldn't like pointed questions like that. "Whereabouts in Valenwood have you been? This one was born in Reaper's March but lived mostly in Malabal Tor."
“I think I’ve never been so far to the Northwest. I come from pretty much the opposite corner, Grahtwood. I decided to settle over to Valenwood because I wanted to get to know the world, but as you might have already guessed I spent most of my time here so far on… learning the culture ?” His face produced a slight smile and grin. “Sometimes the environment here is a little harsh to us Altmeri people.” Yes, that was an acceptable cover story and it wasn’t even completely
So she was associated very much with the Khajiit then ? He didn’t know all too much about those, but that only helped to boost his curiosity. “Aren’t the Baandari some sort of Khajiit traders or the like ? Excuse me, I don’t know that much. How does it come that you ended up with the Khajiit ? You even speak like one sometimes!” Part of him already wanted to try the impossible and call back his spoken words, full of fear that they might be too provocative.
"Ah, Grahtwood. This one has been there on occasions." But once again, she had never stayed there quite long enough before moving along to different pastures. Growing up with a merchant family meant she had visited many places, but there was never much time for tourism or entertaining oneself, especially when she had to help with most of the physical aspect of their small caravan.
For a moment she had been lost in the thought of her parents' tents above her head, but she was brought back to the present by his next question. "Ah." She couldn't help but chuckle, though she quickly stopped to clarify why. "Nimriell doesn't mean to offend, just she's been asked this question many times today. Which is not surprising, of course, this one is indeed a Bosmer. Her parents passed when she was just a kitten- ah, baby, so their travelling companions, a Baandari family, adopted this one and raised her like their own child." She paused, giving the tall man a nod and smile. "And yes, we are indeed traders, travellers. This one has wandered through Valenwood and Elsweyr only, but there are many who head out even further."
“You are not offending. It is just a quite unusual thing, so I couldn’t resist asking. Just like everyone else I guess.” Vraurdoin’s eyes briefly wandered towards the tables bristling with food again. He felt hungry - and whether this was actual hunger or merely hunger induced by greed on sight did not matter for him at this point. “So you won’t stay here for long ? Well, I probably won’t either. I sort of have given up living a stationary life so to speak. Things are much more interesting if you keep moving, aren’t they ?” He smiled a bit, hoping that this rather generic explanation would keep his conversational partner satisfied.
“Are you hungry ? Because I am! I’ve been looking at the buffet for quite a while now and it only became more and more attractive. Maybe our chances of getting through to it quickly are better if we join forces ?”
“This one thinks that’s a good idea,” Nimriell replied with a grin, leaning away from the tree and standing up straight, brushing at the back of her tunic so there weren’t any stray leaves or bits of bark on her. “Staying stationary isn’t what this one is quite used to, but it can be comforting at times to know there is some place to return to if things go awry, or when this one’s parents simply became too elderly for the wanderer’s life. We would return to the Baandari Trading Post.”
She started towards the crowd, though at a slow pace, waiting for the Altmer to come along as well. “This one hopes for something sweet to eat,” she declared, silver eyes attempting to peer at the food through the gaps between the people.
Vraurdoin felt anything but surprised about Nimriell hoping for sweet stuff. After all she was used to Khajiit traditions probably, so they might very well have taught her the Khajiit way of food as well. “I’m sure we’ll find something. The question is if we’ll do so at the same table or not. If not we’ll have to either split up or find our way through the crowd twice
No, he wasn’t looking forward to that at all. However it seemed that a very comfortable number of people automatically decided to make way for them as they felt the Altmer approaching, even though gently. Was that because they were afraid of his size or because they mistook him for a higher ranking representative of Altmeri authority here in Valenwood ? He himself knew all too well how easy it was to piss one of those guys off and that doing such almost never had a particularly good outcome.
They ended up at one of the tables full of food and Vraurdoin reached for a pile of jerky. No need for anything complicated! He just picked a few pieces, stacked them in his bare hands and shoved the whole agglomerate into his mouth, starting chewing intensively. From his perspective he had a better overview over the various offerings than Nimriell probably had, so he also was able to detect something that looked like it contained sugar. Still chewing he grabbed the whole plate and held it in front of her nose.
Nimriell paused in her steps, eyes a little crossed as she looked at the plate before stepping back to properly inspect what was before her. "Now that smells delicious, this one's mouth is watering already." She took hold of what she could only guess was a sticky sweetroll and took a bite, smiling as she was rewarded with a sweet yet spicy taste, reminding her of her mother's cooking. Looking up at the much taller elf, she smirked when she realized all he had eaten was the jerky.
"You shouldn't deprive yourself of something tasty," she pointed out, nodding to the still laden plate. "This one believes you should have a taste as well." Even as she spoke, her eyes shifted slightly, noticing that crowd was still giving them a little bit of a berth. “Hm…” She looked up at Vraurdoin, a spark of mischief in her eyes as she attempted to elbow him. “This one thinks the others have mistaken us for scary beings, or perhaps worried about their pockets lightening.”
Vraurdoin felt something impacting the side of his belly region. “Hey!” he exclaimed towards her, losing a few small fragments of chewed jerky as he had not yet finished it. “I’d say just let them mistake us. As long as it’s only scary beings I don’t see much of a reason to worry.” and he grinned. That was indeed true, at least from his point of view. Being mistaken for a man-eating monster probably was less dangerous for him than not being mistaken at all but his true identity being revealed instead…
“I can just tell them that my hands are too big to sneak into their pockets, and you can tell that you’re too small for your hands to reach their pockets!” Having said this, he picked one of the sweet rolls off the plate and put it back onto the table, albeit at a place that was much easier to reach. “Hmm, tastes unusual, but good! Have you seen any chairs?”
Nimriell let out a small chuckle at his exclamation, though she stifled it with a quick apology, knowing it had probably surprised him more than anything else. "Ah, this one sorry. However, don't be too hasty in thinking she may be too small to get what she wants- she is Baandari after all!" The hint of cheekiness remained, though it was well hidden as she shaded her eyes to look for someplace to sit, hopefully away from the crowd. She was used to being around many folks, that was the life of a merchant after all. However, she felt that though the Altmer was friendly enough, he'd probably prefer to relax a bit away from the general hubbub.
"How about over there?" Nimriell pointed to a small clearing a little away from the bouffet, where there only seemed to be a handful of people who were minding their own business, probably seeking a little peace and quiet themselves.
The left corner of Vraurdoin’s mouth jerked upwards slightly as he heard Nimriell’s words. “If you want to get something out of my pockets please tell me. I could lift you a little to make things easier…” The elf started walking over towards the clearing casually, already scanning the area for a nice little patch of grass to sit down. The one he ultimately decided for had a tree nearby, its trunk thick enough for both of them to lean against it easily.
“It’s not even swampy here! I’m… kinda disappointed. Did they drain all the water for the festival beforehand or is this a natural occurrence ?” he said while sitting down, patting the ground right next to him for her to sit down as well. Then Vraurdoin revealed that he had not left the previous place empty-handed, but presented Nimriell with another sweetroll for her and another bunch of jerky for himself.
Nimriell shook her head but she was really finding herself amused by the hidden cheekiness of the Altmer, who it seemed had not received the memo that High Elves were meant to be stuffy folk who looked down their nose at most others. Giving him a grin, she happily accepted the sweetroll as she sat down, stretching out her legs while she took a bit of the sweet treat.
“Nimriell thinks that if you follow the coast, you may be able to find the swamps you’re looking for,” she commented once her mouth was no longer full. “Though this one also has to admit that it’s nice to have dry grounds to sit upon while watching the sea. Where she’s from, there are streams and rivers, but nothing as open as the coast over here.” She looked at him curiously, wondering where Vraurdoin had originally come to Valenwood from.
“Are you from the Summerset isles?” she asked after a moment.
“Yes.” and Vraurdoin nodded, happy that, just once, he could tell the truth flat-out instead of having to develop some kind of workaround quickly. “Like pretty much all Altmer, I think. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of my kind here in Valenwood were not born here, but came here either voluntarily or by assignment.” He started feasting on the jerky.
“I hate swamps. They just make moving more difficult, give you illnesses you haven’t even heard before and stink. I’d much more prefer a desert than a big bog, but still… Valenwood does have its nice places, too. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here.” The elf noticed that Nimriell apparently had already finished her second piece of lunch. “Need more ?”
"And this one thought you were actually serious about being disappointed," Nimriell told the Altmer with a chuckle. "You would enjoy Reaper's March or even this one's home of Malabal Tor then. Or perhaps even Elsweyr, where this one's brother lives. It is quite dry and sandy, yet equally beautiful."
She shook her head at his question. "Nimriell thinks she may have eaten a little too much today," she admitted. "This one has a sweet tooth, and it's only due to hard work and walking that she isn't quite round." She finished off the rest of her sweetroll and leaned back on her hands, letting out a satisfied sigh.
"If this one ever crosses the sea, perhaps she will visit your homeland. Nimriell one has heard from others that is is quite beautiful there, the trees, the water, even the animals."
“My homeland ?” Vraurdoin had trouble not to add something to Nimriell’s last words that was about its humanoid inhabitants not being so nice in general, but suppressing that kind of statement was of utmost importance for his own long-term survival. “Maybe I can accompany you there once the time has come…”