Chapter 24 (14th of Vashi in the year 6199)

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The blade drawn up in front of her face and bisecting her vision, she paused, each of her green eyes staring down whatever was on each side of the edge. She visited her frustrations on a thin, low-hanging branch. There was not even the slightest hint of resistance as the sword cut right through the wood with ease and the leafy appendage of her non-threatening foe fell to the ground.

"Has that tree hurt you?" Sayra's voice startled the former thief. "Is that why you attack it?"

Sheala swung around, glancing around and then up to see the elven woman perched on a high branch. Her blue cape fluttered with the slightest movement. Upon being recognized, Sayra leapt from her perch and vanished, just as she had done when Sheala had first met her. Once more, she reappeared inches off the ground and touched down with the lightest of steps.

The First Daughter retrieved the severed branch. With the care of a mother, the silver-haired elf held it back from where it had come, her hand covering the gash. Sayra uttered a prayer in elven. "Allae fae sha." Then, removing her grip, revealed the wood was whole once again. The elf turned to Sheala still with questioning eyes.

"It's just a tree," the ex-thief explained, using the sword as a crutch to lean on with its tip down in the dirt.

"To you perhaps. But in all living things in nature live the fairies," she countered. "When you hurt the tree, they too hurt and weep. As the First Daughter of the House of Tynara, it is I who they call out to in pain." Several small balls of blue light appeared from the bark and Sayra touched one as it moved about. "All is well," she spoke to the lights, "you have nothing to fear. The Child of the Storm is our friend."

They glimmered and faded back into the bark.

"Great," Sheala huffed. "I guess there goes practice." Resheathing her weapon the catch popped over the crossbar with a click

"I can not believe that you would harm a harmless thing for your benefit," Sayra spoke with a tinge of disgust. "At least not without praying for its forgiveness first. The fairies hide us from the outside world and keep Lord Hedric's forces at bay. We must treat them with respect."

Lord Hedric. The name bit into Sheala's soul. He had caused her father's and mother's death, and she knew that now. She wanted revenge. "Yeah, well I've got a little present for Lord Hedric and I plan on delivering it personally." She clamped her hand on the hilt of her sword.

"That weapon is not meant to be an extension of your hate." The fairies sensed Sheala's anger, and so did Sayra. "You mustn't let passions and rages guide your moves, Child of the Storm."

"I have a name you know," Sheala reminded and sniped at the elf with a sarcastic bite. The name 'Child of the Storm' had really, really, really begun to grind on her nerves.

"Utao nii es Stoam. That is your name to me and my people."

"Well, I won't answer to it any more."

Sayra smiled. "Very well then. Ambassador Stormband. As was requested last night. I am sorry to have offended you."

Sheala nodded with satisfaction. "So, I know why I get to carry a sword, not being elven and all. Same rule as with the food. Right? But how is it you are armed?" She motioned to the weapon hanging once again at the First Daughter's side. The same one she had been seen wearing when they had first met, but conspicuously absent last night. "Anthony said that elven women don't carry weapons. The whole protectors of life thing."

"My beloved insists that I protect myself. It is not something that the Ava El'brim approves of, however." She drew the razor thin blade out. It was also made of the same silvery metal as Sheala's sword. "But, because Ittan is to be my husband? And it is his council that I will keep? Then my mother must abide by his wishes. Even if she finds it distasteful. Other than Hewre, I am the only elven woman you will see bearing a weapon."

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