“Thank you for seeing me.” Oneida bowed to Talaeshin, knowing that elves shunned skin-to-skin contact.
The foremost expert on orc history being an elf was unsurprising. Their long lifespans had made elves lore-keepers long before there had been historians. This one answered in a tone of cool disinterest, “Yes. You were very persistent.”
“This is important. May I…?” She waved a folder into the room and after getting a nod of permission slid past a big box standing partly in the was to the nearly empty desk. On it she laid out notes and photos of old human bones taken on site of an archaeological dig.
While she worked, Talaeshin said, “Few people treat matters of an extinct species as urgent.”
“History is important,” she answered without thinking. “And I wonder if history is wrong. These photos—”
“And wherever did you get those?”
“The dig at Crane Mountain, where they wanted to build a new hotel,” Oneida evaded, “but the important thing is that that there were toothmarks on those bones much too narrow for orcs, no matter what the press spreads already. Someone else needs to review this, of course, but if it’s true, it’s a strong argument for examining remains from older sites.”
Nodding, Talaeshin said, “No respect for the rest of the dead.” He raised his hand to forestall Oneida’s protest and continued, “Do you have any speculations what creature left these toothmarks?”
Forcing herself to not shrink back, she said, “One set at least is definitely elven. It seems… interesting.”
“No? But don’t you see—”
“You fail to see, naturally, that this is not news.” Talaeshin’s tone grew sharper. “History is what we allow to be written down, and this we won’t.”
He made a sharp downwards gesture and Oneida found herself mute and rooted to the spot. She had never believed the stories about elves wielding magic. She thought she should panic, but her heartbeat was slowing down.
“You are right. Orcs were, in fact, mostly herbivorous.” He laid a hand on her shoulder and lowered his face to hers, smiling. “I, on the other hand, have inherited a recipe from my grandmother I would love to try on you.”
Based on the prompt "What if elves were actually horrible, and orcs were decent, but the elves have better PR so they've just managed to convince people of the opposite? " by Elizabeth Barette aka ysabetwordsmith
For decades Chirrd had lived among humans and goblins for curiosity's sake, and to share what he had learned with his clan. He had not anticipated that one thing he learned by its very nature could not be shared.
It was not apparent right at the start, because he was lucky enough to first run into some of his close old friends. All of their joy about the meeting bolstered his confidence.
Once they had reached the village, he was the centre of attention. Even the few elves who at first had not been interested in hearing his stories contracted the curiosity of the rest. Chirrd started into the tale he had, in his head, rehearsed so often on his way home.
It collapsed very quickly, as his audience picked up on incongruencies where the tint of his feelings did not mesh with what he said. Their confusion was mirrored and amplified in his own mind, and mingled with his own embarrassment. He had gotten used to not sharing his soul, and having secrets. The concern for his wellbeing from his closest was swept away in a wave of disappointment and disapproval.
"I'm sorry. It's too much." When he hurried off, nobody followed him immediately. It meant he had some time to wonder just how something that had been as natural as breathing felt obtrusive now, fearing the answer might be that something was wrong with him.
When two of his friends found him, his shame and fear deepened their concern for him. Chirrd could feel their sympathy, and it calmed him, even before the first word was spoken. Evshi drew him out with questions, Ashas listened patiently.
Describing what it had been like to live among soul-blind people, who were obsessed with appearances because that was all they had, brought back the memory of how terrified and lost he had been at first. How could he have forgotten how it felt to share love? He could not ask that, but burst out, "How can I fear my clan? My family? It makes no sense."
"I think you just need time. Take things slow. Being plunged in such an excited crowd right on the first day... As you said, it's too much, all at once," Ashas' said.
It rang true. Chirrd's gatitude brightened their mood.
Tarci and Reena had been as close as sisters, but things had changed. It had started slow, but once it had been known that Tarci was pregnant, Reena started avoiding her. It was hurtful and confusing, but since wondering did not help, Tarci waited for an opportunity when they were alone, and asked.
"Why won't you talk to me anymore?"
Reena averted her eyes. "I'm sorry, I..." She shook her head. Tarci trembled. She was afraid of them domehow drifting apart entirely, but her old friend reached out and held her hands. "I was afraid of telling you something, of hurting you. That's why I avoided you."
"I'm worried now, so you might as well tell."
Reena sighed deeply. "It is not really my place to - yes, I will tell you, let me finish. It's not my place to tell you what to do with your life, but, your love... Oh, how can I say this. When I look at him, the spindliness, the long, narrow face, the bright eyes, the way he moves quickly when he moves, but not at all when he stand still... He's just so weird. Beautiful, but beautiful like a waterbird, not a man." She must have noticed that it gave Tarci a little sting, and went on, "He's nice enough to talk to, mostly, and I'm sure you know your mind, and I wish both, all of you happiness." With a shrug she ended, "I just don't understand how you could bed an elf."
This conversation was weird indeed. As the awkward pause caused by Tarci's attempt to figure out if she was angry grew too long, Reena muttered, "Not my concern, I said."
Tarci smiled crookedly. "At least we're talking again."