Ludo looked upon the Hutaakan with a sceptical look upon his face, “Miklos, Hasan, listen carefully to his words for untruths and deception. I have seen first hand how culture and refinement can easily decieve those who seek the truth and justice. Dont forget the tracks from the dead bodies lead us to these natives of this valley, and in my book, actions always speak louder than fancy words!”
“These are Elfriends of long ago, and we must treat them with the respect they deserve,” insisted Hasan. “Spare the humans, to be sure, but send them away. These nobles mean no harm,” the elf continued, turning to their tall captive, “but have worked across the ages for the commonwealth. They are due our respect.” Finally, the elf addressed the captive directly, “I am Hasan of the Elyan, Prince of Radlebb Wood. We come bear grim tidings, and we come to seek a boon. Great evil arises beyond this vale, and it would infiltrate your fastness. My people stayed, protected within their own bounds for eons, until we grew weak. Let that fate not befall you. These, my friends and I, would take up your tools, to use beyond these bounds on your behalf. Come now, and take us to see your people’s fate, and what they hold onto today of your true ways. We respect those ways, but you must allow us to know your tale, travel your paths, and be your spearhead in the realm beyond.” The elf finished with a grand gesture signifying the world.
Feldard gave a bit of a harsh laugh. Of course the Hutaakan would speak some variant of elven. Don’t all ancient races speak elven? he thought in bitter wry amusement.
“Wise elf, I take heed of thy cautionary words,” replied the Hutaakan. “Many ages ago, our race ventured out of the valley and into the lowlands. For generations, we lived in peace and brought cultural enlightenment to the uncivilized. When the gnoll hordes invaded, our peaceful nature was no match for their inhuman savagery. We had no choice but to retreat to our sacred homeland or face extinction.”
“After we withdrew from the outside lands, our race hath remained secluded here in the valley for ages. We continue to take great measures to remain secluded not just for our own protection, but also to protect the outlands by faithfully carrying out our sacred mission lo these many years. Thou arrival here appearest to be most fortuitous, for thou may help us regain control over the dark forces that hath been unleashed by these vile warmongerers.”
He nodded slightly as Miklos and Hasan interpreted the Hutaakan’s words. While Feldard was often of a mind to be wary, he found himself accepting the Hutaakan’s words readily enough. It did not surprise him in the least that the Traldar were invaders to this valley and that the Hutaakan were normally peaceful, but forced to defend themselves.
Silent though he remained, there was just one question that begged to be asked: Was the invasion by the Traldar at all associated with the Sons of Night; or were the two completely separate?
Feldard had no clue what Hasan said to the Hutaakan. “Hasan, ask him when the Traldar began their attacks.”
Ludo scowled in frustration, he could see that the fancy words of the Hutaakan was winning Hasan over. Typical, high born gentry were often fooled with fancy words and flowery diplomacy, rather than looking at the facts. Ludo could not decide if the Hutaakan was telling the truth or not, but another old saying from his father came to mind, ‘a true diplomat has as many faces as the moon’ and knows when to reveal them. This Hutaakan was spinning a grand tale to Hasan.
He could tell that the Tralder were confused why they were all tied up, and their confusion was slowly turning to anger. Great he thought to himself, more enemies, just what they needed.
He angrily exclaimed, “Hasan you would lose your crown in a game of cards versus a blind, deaf court fool. You have revealed our mission thereby allowing the Hutaakan to hide if they so wish what we seek or to lead us into a trap. Your grandiose honesty could be placing our mission at risk”. You have to learn when to reveal your cards and when to bluff. Do not be blinded to the truth by prejudice.
Stephan was dismayed at Hasan’s words. Actually, he could not fathom what the elf meant by “worked across the ages for the commonweal” and “take us to see your people’s fate.” ‘People!’ he thought. Since when are jackal headed men people?
“The Traldar, too, Hasan, may be friends of long ago to some folks. Tell him, Hasan, that we saw the Hutaakan ambush the Traldar.” Stephan was not adept at diplomacy. “Tell him that we seek peace between the Traldar and Hutaakan. Tell him, Hasan.” He looked at the elf, his eyes narrowing ever so slightly.
Miklos nodded in agreement with Ludo’s initial thoughts of caution. “Hukataan.” he said in the common tongue of men. “Do not anger my friends but pretending not to know the tongue of men. It is plain that a cultured society at war would first learn the speech of their enemies in order to defeat them or at least parley,” His eye’s darkened. “I was half convinced that you were the injured party in this affair, but it seems deception is not unknown to you. I would know the truth from you in plain speech, or you are not the cultured people I took you for. Answer me this, how long have you been at war? Who started it and most importantly, why? Your answer may decide the fate of this valley.”
Maruc kept an eye on the Traldar he was tending. “Very astute Miklos, indeed they must know the common tongue, by the ravages of this valley alone this conflict has been raging for years. To a folk with the power to create mighty golems it would be a simple thing to converse in an unknown tongue very swiftly.”
Hasan addressed the Hutaakan in Elvish again, “Say your truth, and be at peace. Despite their rash words, these humans have shown themselves trustworthy many times. Speak now.”
“We are loathe to speak with the tongue of the Wreckers for it is the language of war and aggression.” He said, still speaking in Elven. Then he reluctantly switched his speech to the something akin to the Traldar dialect, but much more sophisticated. “Ve have lived vit these barbarians since the gnoll invasion. They accepted our most kind offer to accompany us on our retreat into the sacred valley. We have shared the valley with them ever since, providing them peace an’ knowledge, but their aggression has grown over time and at last their true nature betrayed them.”
“Some months ago, they attacked and expelled us from the Great Temple where we perform the sacred rites. Now, the wreckers have unleashed a great evil. We have been made to resort to war to regain access to the temple so that we may once again bring the dead to rest.”
Maruc spoke to the warrior he was treating, “Is that not so Traldar? And what say you? When did the Traldar enter this land and why?”
The Traldar was still weak, but hearing the Hutaakan made his blood boil.
“Tho mutts ar liars! Th‘ave made slaves of Traldar. Tho call us Wreckers! Thar civilization be built ‘pon tho backs a’ Traldar! Now ve bring revolutia! Thar priests unleash tho dead, but Traldar vill not be defeat!”