5: Elaria - Part Twenty-Two
Felanar looked at Alessa in wonder. He was used to simple songs with simple music, such as were sung at the inn or while working. He had never heard anything as complex as this before. He told Alessa this and also said that he would try to learn to appreciate such music. At that, Alessa smiled again, but not as broadly and with a hint of having something else on her mind.
“You are kind to compliment them, Felanar. I enjoy such music and it satisfies my soul at times. Yet I wish my people were known for more than their love of music and languages and nature. There was a time . . .” Her voice trailed off and her eyes seemed to look far off. For a few minutes they both stood there in a silence broken only by the faint sound of the singers slowly rising and falling on the wind. Alessa’s thoughts finally returned to the present and they slowly walked back home.
“What is it, Alessa?” asked Felanar. “There have been several moments when you have talked about the past like that. What bothers you?”
“What do you know of the history of my people?” Alessa responded.
“Very little, I’m afraid. I’ve read books of history, but they were written by men and now that I see Elaria with my own eyes I can see that much of what they wrote was simplified, or even wrong.”
“Do you know of the battles fought by the elves?”
“I’ve heard of them, yes.”
“No, always long ago it seems.”
“That’s correct. My people were ever ready to lend a hand to anyone in need, and to fight for what is just, whatever the cost. We would not hesitate to send troops into battle even in the far eastern realm of the dwarves, if needed. But look at us now, withdrawn, rarely straying from our island home. We sing about the past, but we do not act like our past. Ever since the breaking of the throne in Tranith Argan, our people have fallen back and now increasingly live in the past, not the present, nor look to the future with confidence.”
“Why?” asked Felanar. “I would think an army of elves would fear no one.”
“We would not,” answered Alessa, “but numbers can overwhelm even the bravest of warriors. Our people are long-lived, but not numerous. We focus inwardly, on the world and all that is in it. Men focus outwardly, on numbers and they multiply beyond reason – I’m sorry, Felanar, I do not mean to insult.”