Prof didn’t feel it fair to be called a cave-dweller now (and monkey), he even read that thrice-cursed Rule Book, and there was absolutely no mention of showing others your imaginary parchment. Or that other could view it without your consent.
“Of course you can see the parchment of others!” Shinead continued “The vezető of each territory, in your languages it would maybe mean leader, commander or lord, can see anyone’s who enters the territory without permission. In many places, the leader’s advisers and military commanders also have the right to do so. And the judges, too. Oh, and there are Perks for it too.”
“OK, I get it.” So Lady Jotabor was able to see Prof’s abilities. Probably even Captain Bela could have done so “So no one could have infiltrated your clan except another red elf.”
“Since you claim no one else was aware of your mission and the documents, but only a clan member and only a Red Elf can be a clan member, what could be the reason for a Red Elf to infiltrate your clan or prevent documents from reaching the Greens? To harm the clan?”
"The vast majority of my people are members of a clan; by law, we can't harm each other, only the enemies of the elves. That is, everyone who is not an Elf.”
"I see, are there any independent Reds?"
“There are no independents, only those who are not clan members. Alone a Red alone doesn’t live long, they definitely need to join an organization.”
“So, either a non-clan member infiltrated your Clan, or the other Clans have decided that you are enemies of the elves.”
"The latter is impossible, but the former not so much. But I see what you mean. We have little contact with the Blacks to begin with, they would not be affected by the alliance of the Reds and the Greens, and the Blues would even be happy for it. If we dismiss an intrigue inside the court at the Greens, only the Yellows remain. They would have the opportunity, power, and interest to prevent an alliance.”
Shinead let something important slip, it was about an alliance!
“You left the White and Silvers out. But I don't understand what's wrong with an alliance?”
The elf girl looked at Prof angrily as she realized she had let information slip, but finally sighed.
"Neither of those matter much. The Whites don’t live in the Domain and the Silvers doesn’t concern themselves with politics. As for the alliance, you should understand the history and politics of the Elves. In short, we are being squeezed by the younger species from several angles. You Humans are to the East, mostly the Empire, North and West we have the greenskins, and more recently to the South, the lizards from the sea."
"Fortunately, we can deal with the Northern and Western directions with the help from the Beastfolks, in the East the Empire is occupied for the foreseeable future, but in the South we are alone. The Yellows have focused on the East, the Humans, for the last few centuries, and it has even been suggested that an ally should be sought there against the lizards. If the Greens and the Blues, together with the Reds, would support a main effort in the South, the High King would have to change his position and give up his Eastern and interests and contacts."
"That is, he would lose power. For the Yellows, the only thing worse than change is loss of power."
“Do I understand correctly: the High King would rather give up the southern front just so he doesn't lose power in the short term? He would lose even more power in the long run!”
“You're a Human, for us elves, short- and long-term means something else. Especially to the High King. The southern front, as you call it, will hold for centuries, during which time anything can happen, but if you give up Eastern interests, you will not be able to influence what happens after the fall of the Empire. People will remember that we let them down. Other powers will be able to fill the space.”
“After the fall of the Empire? As far as I know, the Empire is fine, thank you very much!”
"That’s not entirely true even now, but we're talking about a fleeting two or three hundred years here! In such a short time I will probably not even be a mother, and the High King will certainly still sit on his throne.”
"If it’s not that pressing, why is it important to turn South?"
"We've waited twice, against Humans and the Greenskins with the result that the Domain shrunk to a fragment of its former glory, the Whites are holed up in the North and the Greens aren’t doing well either. If together with the Blues we manage to get the Greens to focus on the South instead of the West, we can get rid of the lizard threat in its infancy. Reinforced with the Blues, we can take care of the Greenskins after that, and eventually we can stop the Humans as well!”
Prof was familiar with the setup. Half a dozen great powers (in this case species) are trying to get positions in a limited area, along tangled lines of interest and connections. All there was to wait for was some self-proclaimed world savior to protect the aliens and hug the trees. Or kill off everyone else. Or something similar. Yay, World War on Arkadia!
“What can we do?” Prof, in truth, couldn’t be interested in the Elves’ internal political moves any less, and even the future of the Local Humans wasn’t very high on his agenda, but he felt an inner urge (call it love or hornyness) to help Shinead. And he had no better things to do anyway.
"I have to warn the Clan first. If the Yellows really got a spy in and got the scrolls, they will set an example!”
“All right, show me the way!”
“There's only one problem. A living Human has never entered the territory of the Clan, and I will not bring one in either.”
"It's okay, I'll camp at the border and wait."
“What makes you think I'm coming back?”
"First of all, you owe me a life and haven't paid it back yet. Secondly, without me, you wouldn’t have had a chance to articulate the suspicion and warn the clan. That means, you owe me for that as well. Thirdly, this case is not over yet, an outsider will surely come in handy later.”
Shinead thought for a moment, then nodded.
“I'll get my stuff and we can go.”
Prof set off after the elf when he noticed a glint in the water out of the corner of his eye.
“Wait a minute.” He waded into the lake and, after a little searching, lifted a strange dagger out of the water. Both edges of the forearm-length blade were razor sharp, and the tip curved slightly upward. Prof could not decide whether the dagger should be used primarily for stabbing or cutting, both options were given. Examining the blade up close, he noticed a fine decoration on it, but he could not determine its material. It looked like very good quality stainless steel.
“My dagger! You found my dagger! Give it to me!”
"Nice weapon," Prof said, turning it around thoughtfully. [Valuation] didn’t give any concrete feedback, only indicated that the weapon was worth at least a hundred silver.
"Yes, it is. My grandmother gave it to my mother, and she gave it to me. Give.”
Prof wondered for a moment what he could ask the elf girl for such a family heirloom, but in the end he handed it over without further ado. You might feel good for ten minutes, but she would surely present the bill after that.
Afixed to the point or the edge of a blade.
He was surprised to see Shinead bow, spreading her hands in an intricate pattern.
“Tartozom neked! Megint! Nem fogom elfelejteni!”
Shinead turned around, went back to her pack, and without any concern about showing skin changed the peasant trousers she had received at Smallgrovewell to a pair of deep-red, body-fitting, running pants (at least on Earth Prof would have called them as such). It emphasized her legs and butt nicely - Prof became more and more in love (or horny). Shinead gathered up her belongings, nodded toward Prof, and headed for the woods.
“We have to hurry, try to keep up!”
Prof tried to, but he started to fall behind almost immediately - since he had eighteen Points in Agility and Shinead still let him look like standing still, the girl had to have at least twenty in the Stat. Luckily, five minutes later, Shinead slowed down to wait for Prof, it was less fortunate that she did it with a contemptuous expression.
"I forgot you people are so slow. I will be forced to run slower! Come on!”
Prof wanted to bet that Shinead hadn't forgotten the difference between their speeds, but just wanted to make her superiority clear. Prof wasn't sure if there was any saying in Arkadia one shouldn't race with elves, but one would have been justified in any case. Shinead held back the pace afterwards, but Prof still had to force himself.
The Elf ran for four hours right in front of Prof, and whenever Prof pressed the pace a bit, the girl also accelerated. Prof only tried this a few times, on the one hand he wanted to save his energy, and on the other hand the view was much better from behind: the shapely ass and legs hidden in tight pants were not the worst sights in the world. And Prof had no idea where they were going. By the end of the fourth hour, the girl had finally slowed to a normal walking pace.
“Do you see that hill?” She pointed to a rocky outcrop, perhaps a mile away. "We're going to camp there. If we can keep up the pace, we will arrive at the border of the clan territory tomorrow night. You will be camp there, and I'll warn the others. If all goes well, I'll get back to you in two days.”
“What should I do for two days in the middle of the forest?”