Elwyn Serfiz was stoic as he surveyed the wreckage. He was hard pressed to remember a time when the wielders of the Baiyin had not destroyed his people as they saw fit, but he knew he had lived through such a time. He nocked an arrow into his bow, still wary in the aftermath of the battle, and stepped from his treetop vantage point.
No, it had not always been this way, and there was no need for it to be this way now. This… was a profitless crime. The sylvan elves had never expressed any interest in the cities and towns of the strictly human-inhabited realm the Baiyin held sway in, so the “pre-emptive” strikes against their land was ridiculous on a number of levels. And this…
The archer walked through the battlefield, crouched low, ever vigilant. The formerly pleasant grove was now filled with ashen and blackened logs and great smoking bonfires. Even now, he could feel the wildlife reacting to the destruction of the habitat. Insects and worms scurried under his every step as snakes and rabbits fled for new burrows. The birds and larger animals had already left, gone by the time the first shots were fired.
With each step, the elf’s sorrow grew. The sights, scents and sounds of the forest were still vibrant here, and the changes that had been wrought upon them almost brought tears to the veterans eyes. Here, in this realm on the verge between life and death, everything seemed so much more intense. The scents of smoke, animal droppings and freshly cut wood assailed his olfactory processes. The bright green leaves and yellow-orange flames stood out against the charred and blackened wood clearer than the clearest day. Even the sounds of the area seemed somehow more acute, as panicked insects scurried underfoot and birds squawked overhead. It was the defining moment of the forest, as cruel as that moment was.
It was then that Elwyn knew what he must do. It would be a long process, but then, the elves were a long-lived race. He must restore this small area, this one fallen grove, to its former beauty. In so doing, the symbolism would please the Lusede. It would please life itself.
Elwyn remembered now, when it was that the time had been when the humans had not wantonly slaughtered those elven villages too close to their border lands.
It had started shortly after his brother had gone to learn their ways. Elwyn wondered what had ever happened to him.