The visitors arrived just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. Just prior to their arrival most of the camp was still asleep. Once they stepped foot onto the white sand, though, the ones that had been asleep were asleep no more, for the cries of the early risers spread quickly.
I was an early riser - though a quiet one. I have always been one to awake at or near dawn since I was a kid. My responsibilities make it even worse now. There are always too many things to worry about and too many people to fuss over. And, now I would soon have three more.
I stood on the threshold of my tent, rubbing my forehead with my eyes closed. I wanted to delay whatever was going to happen next. A small part of me was clinging to a hope that all was not lost. Good could still come of all this. Peaceful relations were still possible. Would they be in a few minutes, though?
A sailor ran up to me, saying, "They are asking to speak to the ones in charge."
I smiled. "I guess that would be me, don't you think?" The sailor looked worried as though I expected a reply out of him. "Don't worry. It was just a rhetorical question." The sailor still looked worried. I smiled again. I suppose he didn't know what the word rhetorical meant.
I took a deep breath to steady my nerves and then walked toward the visitors with a sense of purpose. At least, I hope my walk looked like it had purpose because depending on how the visitors responded, I had no grand purpose, much less a plan.
The visitors stood tall as if they had never slouched in their life. Two stood behind the one in the center whose blazing orange eyes were the first things that caught my attention. From her features I guessed she was a female, though I wasn't certain of that.
Her skin was pale and stretched tight as if she was use to running daily, like a mailer back in the home country, running from town to town, delivering messages of great urgency. Her expression was mostly blank, though I could sense a certain sterness right underneath the surface.
When I came closer, she spoke. "Are you the one in charge?"
I tried not to hesitate in replying. "Yes, I am Captain Jack Spoonwell."
"Well, Captain Jack Spoonwell," she stated with an outstretched hand pointing toward the sea, "you must leave now."
I wasn't sure if standing my ground was the best notion, but I tried it anyway. "We just got here, and we have no plans of leaving anytime soon." I raised my hands, palms facing her, hoping that she took it as a gesture of peace. For all I knew, though, it could have been a declaration of war.
She looked at each of her companions in turn. One of them said something to her in a language I did not understand. There was a short conversation between the three of them and then the main visitor looked back at me.
"What is your purpose here?"
"We are explorers," I replied quickly, though in the back of my mind, I knew we were more than just that. "We are in search of new lands and new people. It seems we have found both." I tried to keep my tone light, but I was getting nothing from her expression except a feeling of controled irritation.
"We are not explorers," she stated simply. "We do not wish to find new people, and we are quite familiar with all of the lands, including the one you come from." She paused to think. "I believe you call it Aerithna." The slightist hint of a smirk was visible as she spoke the name of our home land.
"It seems you know more about us than we know about you," I said diplomatically. "I wish to learn about you."
Before the main one could reply, one of the others spoke up. "We are the Elves of Gyra."
Elves must be the plural form of elf, I thought. That mostly confirmed my suspisicions from the night before. And, the look the main one - main elf - shot at the other elf who had spoken, spoke volumes, more than her words ever could.