You've heard tales of the horrors that Elf-kind have visited upon the Dwarves in the past century, but you can't bring yourself to believe any of it right now. The stories of Elves ripping fortresses apart stone by stone with walking tree-men, crops blighted and refusing to grow even deep below the surface, enchanted singing arrows impaling Dwarves from miles and miles away...
Surely Darkerdaffodil couldn't be one of those
elves, could he? He seems too sweet, too kind to bring about such destruction. You're even starting to doubt whether or not Elves really ARE cannibals! Maybe it was just a rumor spread by the misinformed, like that time you heard that a magical cheese-making-wizard would be visiting the mountainhome. It turned out that it was just a regular traveling wizard, doing lame magic tricks like making a cheese wheel disappear. You've never been so disappointed in Cheese-Wiz in your whole life.
You tell Darkerdaffodil about all the crazy elf-stories you've heard over the years, like how they eat each other and worship trees. That's so lame, right?
Darkerdaffodil looks away, his shoulders slumping.
"I'm afraid that's all true, Misty. Well, at least partly true." He takes a moment to collect his thoughts, then points up the road.
"Do you see Flowerplucker up there? She's a Druid and an ambassador for our race, though she may be a fragile, naive young thing and I may be twenty years her senior. For you see, she was blessed by the great Force with the power to give life, where most of us can only take it away. She is an older soul, and I suspect that after her passing she may rejoin us again in life as a Greater Soul."
"You see young Misty, our mission is not one of trade alone. Shielddawn has been deforesting the countryside in their industrious pursuits. They've cut so far and so wide that soon they will start to encroach upon the pine forest to the east, where we make our home. The deforestation must be stopped, or soon the land will cry out and the trees where our children sleep will fall to Dwarven axes. And while it does pain me to see trees fall, we Elves realize we cannot impose our will on others, so we've come bearing a compromise. If your kind can limit themselves to the lives of only a sixty trees a year, the land will have a chance to regrow and replenish itself.
It is not a pretty compromise, but we know that we cannot judge Dwarves for their needs and beliefs any more than they would judge us for living amongst the trees. We can not expect a culture so different from ours to hold the same values, especially not after so many years of bloody conflict."
"We Elves believe that we; you, I, the birds in the forests, the fish in the sea, are all of the same. When we die, our bodies go to the world and our souls return to the great Force. There our souls mingle and exchange with one another, until it is time to return to the world with a new body and a fresh essence.
Why does your kind find it so strange, then, to consume the discarded shell of a soul? It is so wrong for my ancestors to nourish me even in their passing, for my enemy who wished harm upon my person to heal my wounds in his death? I know to forgive my enemy, but I will not shed my shell at his wish. And, if I must, I will relieve him of his mortal coil if he were to insist, but I will do so with regret. Young souls like us who walk and talk have not yet achieved perfection.
Trees, however, are the shells of Greater Souls and have achieved this perfection. They live life harming none, giving to all. Their fruits nourish us, their branches provide shelter, their leaves shade. They are the ideal, and to see them forced wrongfully from this earth fills every Elf's heart with sadness. We live in harmony with these Greater Souls, and though it saddens us to see others do differently, we know we must respect their beliefs. For if we did not, how would we be any better than they?"
"The great Force saw fit to make many of us who think and see differently, perhaps to test us and encourage us to work with one another. If that is the great Force's purpose, then we must strive to make peace possible."
You sit for a minute and let that sink in. It's...different than what the nun told you, and you're not really sure what to make of it. You want to explain to him about Armok and the giant Anvil in the sky, but he believes in this "great Force" thing so much that you're not sure you have the heart to tell him he's wrong.
Because, well, he is
wrong. He has to be. Dwarves have believed in Armok since time began, it would be silly to think that the world wasn't recreated over and over again.
"That's...interesting," you finally say.
"I know you believe different, young Dwarf," he replies. "But that is not reason for our races to fight. Through peace, we may both grow stronger and achieve enlightenment."
You nod your head slowly. Elves are...weird.