Unsurprisingly, moving a huge number of people takes a lot of time. The preparations started both among the elves and among the faeries immediately, and the first groups of faeries went through the arch Neleh erected almost immediately. The queen of the faeries was among the first to go through to start negotiations with Nimue, along with some of the best of the faerie’s nature mages. The nature mages carted along a lot of seeds, and were planning on using their magical powers to jump start the production of food in Jao’e’Tinukai. Taking along seeds took a lot less space than carrying food. Some of the mages also took along saplings of their great trees, to start the long work of growing a forest on the border of Jao’e’Tinukai. This forest would help in allowing a large amount of faeries live in a relatively small area, as the trees allowed the faeries to build their cities in several layers vertically.
Neleh set the threshold of the arch up with a constantly burning Flames of Life, so that every faerie that stepped through the arch was cleansed of the disease along with anything they were bringing along. Once they entered the Nexus, there were members of the Order guiding them to the various arches, so that all of the faeries wouldn’t crowd in one place and would instead be spread around the duchy. A big portion of them of course went either to Nan Yanoi or the site of their growing forest to help with their new homes. The Order members working as their guides were the people furthest along in their training, and were being tested for their ability to work with people and complex circumstances.
Nimue had arranged for a few other sites outside the Jao’e’Tinukai duchy, but those would be used as the need arose and were still kept as backup. The process of faeries going through the Nexus took weeks, mostly because it took that long for the faeries to gather near their capitol city, which is where the arch was located. It also didn’t help that Neleh couldn’t go everywhere to heal the faeries, so some of the faeries had to take their sick people with them to the arch. Neleh had tried to teach the Flames of Life magic to some of the faeries, but had failed as she had expected. The casting of that spell required the kind of understanding of both fire and biology that the faeries simply couldn’t manage it. The faeries did however do well with the magic required to construct buildings in Nan Yanoi, so Neleh was freed from that duty.
As the faeries required less healing, Neleh managed to free herself long enough to pay a visit to Zamekh at the dragon mountain. Neleh had no way to contact the dragons on the faerie continent, as they were spread out and generally withdrawn, so she left the job of warning them to Zamekh. The disease wasn’t contagious to dragons as far as Neleh knew, but it still was a good idea to warn them to avoid trouble later. As the demons had avoided the faeries after the start of the disease, it was the demons that lived on the elven continent that finally found out about the faerie exodus.
The demons were quite displeased about what was going on, but were quickly silenced when Nimue informed them that the elves were aware of them getting help from a third party to spread the disease in the first place. It had turned out that the Harbingers on the faerie continent had been the ones spreading the disease, and the two of them had walked straight into the trap Neleh had left them. As they set off the alarms Neleh had liberally placed around the faerie cities, Neleh sent her death spirit Morael to deal with them. The first one was captured and questioned, while the second one was simply killed. The first Harbinger had revealed that the demons had not quite known what they had agreed to. The Harbingers had promised them victory, but the method had not been something the demons appreciated. The Harbinger didn’t have any knowledge about the activities of the others, as they were kept separated on purpose, and had died when Neleh had tried to force out the names of the lost-deities behind them. Apparently that information was protected by heavy magic and any questioning pertaining to that would lead to the death of the prisoner.
Neleh had some suspicions on that, but hoped that she was wrong about it. Some of the lost-deities were a lot more famous, and they were mostly famous for being tricky to resist. There were three reasons for a lost-deity to become well known, if they survived the defeat of the Enemy. The first one was the most simple; the power of that particular lost-deity was great enough to make it famous. The second method was for the followers the lost-deity had gathered to be particularly powerful. The third one was for the lost-deity to be particularly effective at taking over worlds for any reason other than the first two reasons. Maybe they were good at turning the population of the world against each other. Maybe they had forces that while not being all that powerful, were almost impossible to resist. Forces relying on necromantic powers were a good example. While they might not be all that powerful by themselves, every battle bolstered their numbers, leading to a tidal wave of death.
Neleh honestly hoped that they would face the first two types of lost-deities, because she was much better at fighting against them by herself. The third type would require a lot more effort by the people of this world.
It was only a matter of time before the word about the faeries being healed reached the ears of the celestials. They sent an emissary towards the faerie capitol immediately in the hopes of learning the way to heal those infected. Several of the high level celestials that had taken part in trying to make peace between demons and faeries had contracted the disease. The aura of the celestials managed to dampen the effects of the disease somewhat, but could not heal it. While the aura was magical, it mostly strengthened the body instead of attacking the disease. As a result, the disease progressed more slowly, but it did progress.
Anauel was shocked to find out that the faeries didn’t have a way to heal those diseased either. Instead it was Neleh who was responsible for healing them. She had personally avoided getting the disease, but several of her friends hadn’t been so lucky. The emissary of the celestials had requested Neleh to come to the celestial’s cities to heal those infected, but had been sent back in a rather rude fashion. Neleh’s answer could be summarized with: “I’ve got my hands full with healing the faeries and handling their relocation, so fuck off!”
Anauel was aware that Neleh held a grudge towards the celestials due to the celestials not stopping the attack on the Sun Palace, and that dislike resulted from the reason Anauel and the other celestials had made the decision. Their reasons had been flimsy at best, and the resulting civil war, which the celestials had kind of been hoping for, had resulted in the death of Selvaria. Azrael had given them reports on Neleh’s exploits, and there was a certain amount of dread mounting among the celestials as her powers grew. Someone with that amount of power holding a grudge against them was bad no matter how you looked at it.
Anauel decided to personally go and appeal to Neleh, and took Azrael along in the hopes that the relations between Neleh and Azrael would smooth things over. The celestials were already quite close to the faerie continent, as they had gathered all the sick people in the city closest to it. It still took them a week to finally find Neleh, as she was constantly on the move, and the arch was not open to be used by the celestials.
“Well, if isn’t the Chosen of Alarae. What brings you to this part of the world?” Neleh asked a little sarcastically.
“You know why we are here.” Anauel answered calmly.
“And I’m also pretty sure I already gave my answer to the previous emissary. Perhaps it’s a hearing problem? No matter, I can repeat myself one more time. I already have my hands full. Expecting me to solve all the problems of the world is a little much.” Neleh replied, the acid clear in her voice. She was repeating some of the reasoning Anauel had used to justify not saving the Sun Palace. “It’s a little much to expect me to handle everything. I have a duchy to run.”
“So you’re just going to let all those celestials die?” Anauel asked getting a little angry, completely missing the irony.
“As opposed to letting a whole host of faeries die instead? There’s only one me, and a lot of people who got the disease. Any time spent traveling to your flying cities and healing the celestials, is time not spent helping the faeries. It’s not just the healing either, I have to oversee the exodus of over a billion beings. I don’t know if you quite realize the effort involved.” Neleh replied, returning to the sarcastic tone.
“Oh and there’s no other people able to oversee the exodus then?” Anauel asked, still angry. She was not in a mood to be reasonable, as she was worried about her friends.
“Yeah I don’t know if you realized, but we have to make sure the faeries don’t bring the disease to our lands. Kind of defeats the whole purpose. This also concerns the wellbeing of the people of my duchy, as getting an influx of people this large is quite taxing. It is theoretically possible for me to take some risk that might result in problems with the economy side of things, and leave it to some of the people working with me. I happen to have the ability to save the lives of several innocent celestials. It’s a good thing I don’t have any reason to not help those celestials, like for example the celestials being in a similar situation before, where they could have saved the lives of a large number of elves, including my sister, and deciding against it for no real reason. Oh wait!” Neleh emphasized the end of her words with a pointed look at Anauel.
“Isn’t that a little petty of you, to be so vindictive?” Anauel asked a little defensively.
“I’m sorry, what? You celestials at your lofty perch play games with the lives of thousands of elves, maybe hundreds of thousands, including the life of my sister, and I’m petty for choosing the good of faeries and my own people over the lives of you pigeons? And this is you asking me for a favor? I think were done. I might have been amenable for some level of trade in favors, but I just lost that interest. Go back to your sky city, and watch it turn into a necropolis.” Neleh turned to leave.
Anauel was about you scream another argument after Neleh, before being struck at the back of her head by the flat of Azrael’s blade, knocking her unconscious. “Please. For my sake, and the sake of our friendship.” Azrael said pleadingly prostrating on the ground.
Neleh turned back, and saw the unconscious Anauel and prostrating Azrael. “I wasn’t kidding about being tied with the matters of the faeries. If I help you, it will cost me and my duchy. Make it worth it. I’m willing to listen to you, and I would heal you if you were sick, but this is not simple enough to be a favor between friends. If we come to an agreement, will she honor the terms?” Neleh asked, pointing at Anauel.
“She will. She can be reasonable, but she’s crazy with worry, because many of the sick people are her oldest friends. What will it take?” Azrael asked relieved. She knew Neleh well enough to know that if she was willing to negotiate, then it was only a matter of finding suitable terms.
“First, before I heal a single celestial, I need an oath by both of you, made in the name of Alarae, that you will abide by the terms. I don’t need empty promises that she might decide to renege on once her friends are safe. Second, I need you to move the city with the sick celestials close to us. I don’t have time to spend days flying back and forth. Third, I need celestial mages in my duchy, helping with the faeries. We need both magical and material help. These three are easy; the next two are the hard ones. I want the celestials to heed my call once. If it’s a call to battle on our behalf, then you will do it. I will limit this to only once, but it has to be unconditional. And finally I want Anauel to apologize in person, both to the Sun Elves and my mother. Not a fake non-apology, but a proper apology that she means. If I’m not happy with the apology, then she will do it again until I am.” Neleh said with finality.
Azrael had to think for a moment. Neleh was right, the first three were easy, but the last two were much harder. Anauel would have to throw away her pride, which would be hard for the powerful celestial, and the call made by Neleh could result in more celestials dead than would die of the disease. On the other hand Azrael knew Neleh would only call them if she had a good reason. “Deal.” Azrael finally said.
‘Four down, four to go.’ Neleh thought to herself.
“Neleh honey, can you explain to me why there’s a group of celestial here, apologizing to me?” Asheara asked through magical communication.
“Oh she already got there. And what do you mean group? There was only supposed to be one. The red winged one known as Anauel to be precise.” Neleh asked surprised. Anauel was cheating, spreading the shame on several people.
“Anauel was here too, but she apologized with three other celestials. Judging by their wings, rather high ranked celestials at that. So what’s the deal?” Asheara returned to the original question.
“Yeah, I needed the celestials to think that I blamed them for the death of Selvaria, to drive my bargain with them through. One of the terms I set for the celestials for healing them, was that Anauel had to formally apologize to you and the Sun Elves.” Neleh explained.
“Why would you need them to believe that? I mean, I know you’re not happy with the celestials, but I know it’s not because of Selvaria. Blaming them for her death is a bit of a stretch.” Asheara asked a little confused.
“It makes for a bigger emotional impact if they think I hold them responsible for the death of a relative, than if they knew I simply dislike their methods. I needed them to commit to my call to arms when we need them against the forces of the Enemy, so I had to take any advantage I could get. We might end up needing all the races.” Neleh said with a little chuckle.
“You’ve got the naga and celestials covered, that I know of. Faeries will most likely be amenable seeing as you just saved their race and we’re housing them at the moment. I’m guessing you have some plans for the elves? How about the others?” Asheara asked.
“I have a reason to believe the elves won’t be a problem. I’m already leading a duchy, and according to the Eternal Empress I’ll become the empress of the elves in the future. Demons are something of a problem at the moment, as they’re not all that happy with me. I’m pretty sure dragons will fight the Enemy anyway, no matter what I do, seeing how Satai is pushing for it. We also have the dragons at the mountain that we have friendly terms with. I think the solution to humans lies with the two princes, though it’s still open how we can use that. Beastmen I have no idea about. I’m hoping time will present us with an opportunity.” Neleh mused.
“That’s not much of a plan yet. I’m used to you having better plans than that.” Asheara laughed.
“It’s a problem of time. The timeframe is too long for half-measures, since we have no idea how long it will take before we need them. A half-hearted agreement will be forgotten if we try to get it too early. I’m also limited in my current methods. I have some possible ideas, but nothing too concrete. Besides, the situation can change too many times between now and then to make too detailed plans. We can only gather our strength and wait for opportunities to present themselves. If it seems like the opportunities aren’t forthcoming, then we might have to make them.” Neleh said with a sigh.
The exodus of the faeries turned out to be an event that took months to complete. This was within everyone’s expectations, and the support from both celestial and faerie mages made things a lot easier than it seemed at first. As a sort of an apology for Anauel, the celestials really came through with their support. In general, the celestials were also really thankful for getting many of their important people healed so even if Anauel wasn’t all too happy with how things went, the celestials in general were almost eager to help with the faeries. They also wanted to form better relations with Neleh, as her influence was becoming clearer.
One of the details that Nimue managed to negotiate with the queen of the faeries was the agreement about local authority preceding any faerie authority. Jao’e’Tinukai especially had a large population of faeries, including most of their royalty. If there would be problems, then strictly speaking many of the faeries would outrank Neleh. The agreement instead gave preference to the authority of the original ruler of the area, so Neleh was still the ruling authority in the duchy. The faerie’s concerns were heard, and many of the issues between faeries were solved by the faeries themselves, but the final decision was always for Neleh to make. Seeing how effective Neleh’s reforms and methods were, the faeries got over their initial wariness really quickly.
Although the vastly increased population of the duchy also consumed a lot of goods, the addition of the faeries also gave a huge boost to the duchy’s economy. Many of the reforms Neleh had made were dependent on manpower and magic, so they were scaled back before the faeries arrived. With the arrival of the faeries, and the help of the celestial, both of those issues were solved and the reforms went ahead full steam. The faeries also brought along new resources. One of the things lacking in Jao’e’Tinukai were proper forests for lumber, herbs and game animals. The new forest the faeries were creating was still a bit too new for use in that fashion, but would be a good source of resources in the future. The trees grown by the faeries were also of higher quality than normal elven wood, which combined well with the elven craftsmanship for great products.
The first of the Order were also passing their final trials by the time the exodus was over. The effectiveness and professionalism of the Order brothers and sisters was impressive to both faeries and new immigrants of other races alike, and the Order got a large amount of new recruits to train. The physique of the faeries made them less suitable for the martially focused first Order, but they were perfectly suited for the fourth Order, which focused on information gathering as scouts, rangers and spies. The faeries also provided much needed members for the third Order containing priests and mages, whereas the elven mages were less inclined to become members of the Order due to their privileged position and priestesses were all members of the temples, unless the Order found them young. The second Order in charge of support and logistics didn’t care about race at all.
The fifth Order was kept a secret as far as possible. Its existence was known, but people weren’t aware of its focus, reach or members. The fifth Order kept gathering the most gifted members of the Order that also possessed a suitable personality. Neleh gave Shiori training similar to them, but more tailored to her specific abilities. Once the training of Shiori and fifth Order would be finished, they would work as the hidden force of the duchy. Their first mission among the Sun Elves had been highly successful, and showed great promise and the effectiveness of their training.
The years preceding Neleh’s eighteenth birthday were filled with great growth, both for the duchy and its people, as well as Neleh’s own authority. As the economic and military power of the duchy kept growing, so did her say in the matters concerning all elves. Neleh herself also solidified her reputation and authority among the elven populace outside the duchy. She was considered to be a hero by the common people. Her words also carried a lot of weight in the imperial court, as well as Empress Nimue. Neleh caused Nimue a lot of trouble, but was also a source of reliable strength and support. Neleh was also gaining a fair bit of reputation among the temples of Elune, as her actions to save the faeries and lead her duchy were being described as inspired by the goddess. Neleh didn’t mind that impression, and neither did Elune, so the rumors spread.
Of course, all of this caused a fair bit of distress and anger in certain circles, and this would also start to come to surface after Neleh’s birthday. Starting from the time right before her birthday the following year promised to be one of great change.