the circle

(Continuation of story that started on June 28th.)

Part XI

“What I don’t understand,” exclaimed Earoff, wagging his bushy beard and swinging his hands about in animated, short-tempered bewilderment, “is why we are all sitting around in a circle on the ground with little cups of tea and looking at this — this — thing!”

“Easy there, Grumpy.” Lewy played idly with a snowy white flower in her silvery hair that looked pale golden in the afternoon sun, “It’s just a map.”

“Just a map.” Estiya echoed.

Indie pushed her hair out of her brilliant blue eyes and turned amiably to Lewy.

“Interesting attire, I must confess. The shape-shifting must be a great advantage…”

“I always wondered if violet hair looked a little peaky on me…” she touched her hair tentatively as it turned a violent pink that gradually cooled down to a vibrant and regal magenta.

She blinked rather blankly with her hand still touching her hair and looked around at the partly horrified, partly amused faces around her. Estiya slowly raised her hand, possibly to point at the hair, and paused halfway up, gaping, as it proceeded to  turn into a violent orange.

“Alright. That’s enough.” stated Reina, hardly hiding her smile. “Whether the rumors are entirely true or not is to be decided by this council in the next hour and there is little time to dally. And to answer your question, Grumpy, was it? We’re sitting around on the grass because it’s soft and warm and pretty.”

“I’m Earoff. Ear-off.” he brought two fingers above his right ear and made a quick slicing motion, “See?” he frowned at everyone in the party looking comically challeging, “And what is that — thing?” he exclaimed again, this time, pointing accusingly at Lewy’s orange hair, whereupon Indie and Lewy dissolved into peals of helpless laughter, and Estiya and Reina shared an exasperated sigh.

A confused swirl of fine silver glitter and awkwardly out-of-place soap bubbles enveloped Earoff and wiped his ever-present frown off for a half second.

Elis, one of the more affable of the Elvenfolk, stepped out looking as ecstatic and dramatic as ever.

“‘Evening ladies,” he proclaimed, bowing low down to his quick and nimble feet, almost bumping hind-first into Earoff. He turned hastily around looking vaguely apologetic and greatly amused, “Always a pleasure, Earoff.”

Earoff mumbled under his breath and frowned determinedly at the grass in front of him.

“Now that we are finally all here,” Reina said with a pointed glance at Elis, “May we begin with the constructive part of the council?” Her exasperation was far from subtle.

Elis promptly propped himself right next to Earoff, who, evidently aghast at the very prospect, scrambled hastily towards Lewy on his right, halting abruptly as he noticed her now-turquoise hair, and tentatively settling himself in the middle of the space between the two with a cautious distance on either side. He carefully glanced at the highly entertained faces on either side as if he were waiting for one of them to burst into a frenzy of fireworks as he tried to tuck his head between his shoulders. Estiya watched the proceedings, evidently amused and Lewy turned solemnly to Indie, who sat to her right, and seemed to be striving to keep a vaguely straight face.

When the council finally looked at least moderately satisfied with the seating arrangement, Reina spoke again, this time, with a sense of determination and graceful authority,

“The maps are changing and we do not know how or why. They haven’t changed in lifetimes. This council has been called forth to establish a course of action to recognize possible dangers and to take appropriate action.

“All of us here have some information that none of the others have.”

T. E. Pyrus

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