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If you want to submit stories, they may be about your own character, any other character, or anything else holt-related. Email all story submissions to We have three stories at the Shapeshifter Holt, the first story is here, on this page, the second can be found at this link : Second Story and the third is Rcognization and Death -PG rated (not for people under 13)

Tribal Grief

Author: Anonymous

The dim starlight cast a shadowy glow over the still forest. Aelia prowled among the foliage like a cat, eyes wide and attentive to movement, ears alert, and nose carefully sniffing the night air. **Liara!** she called, her sending touching nothing, it’s echo reverberating in her mind. **Are you well?** Aelia called again. She sighed inwardly and sent to the Ramandae *see holt history for definition **Selestna!**

Moments later a reply formed in Aelia’s mind. **Has Liara been found?**

Aelia shook her head as she answered, **No, I only wish to report that the forest-ridge path has been checked by me, and that Liara is not in the vicinity.**

**Ah, well then, continue the search, I’ll relay the message to the other trackers.** Selestna sent as she closed the contact.

Where can Liara have gotten to? Aelia asked herself as she ran down the thin path as swiftly and silently as a deer. **Liara!** Still there was no reply. A sending’s range is usually a mile, and by now most of the valley should have been eliminated as a possibility. Perhaps she is in range and simply refuses to reply... but Liara is not foolish like that. Aelia tasted the air with her tongue. No elf had walked this path for seasons. The bun which Aelia’s hair had been wrapped into came loose as a her dark tresses fluttered free. “High Ones curse it! Liara’s not in the valley!” Aelia spoke aloud as she chose to ignore her hair and ran on. **Selestna! I’ll move on outside the valley, perhaps Liara wandered astray and wound up on the other side of the mountains.** A distant reply of agreement came from Selestna as Aelia began to change form, within moments where a young elfin maiden had stood, a falcon circled.

With a screech the gray falcon surged into the air, speeding forward. It passed over the green, forested foothills of the mountains with little change in the smooth air currents, but as it approached the rocky cliff sides of the sheer mountain face, a thermal wind swept the falcon higher into the chill sky.

The mountains were small, grey and brown rocks from the falcon’s view, encircling the oval valley below. West of the valley did the mountain range continue, seemingly endless rows of peaks and ridges, reaching westward until they reached the shores of the great western sea. East of the valley lay a flat plain, with sparkling ribbons of blue water running through the golden grasses. And beside one of these rivers lay a human village. Near a grove of oak trees and so close to the water, the campsite was ideal for human life. The mighty mountains west of their village didn’t intrigue the humans the slightest, until winter came. Then did the humans explore the massive peaks, looking for any source of food, but the scouts never did return completely sane, due to the efforts of the elves of the Shapeshifter tribe. Humans had never been much of a problem for the tribe, always crossing the protective mountains in small, easily dealt with groups. But of late the humans had been growing more intrusive, sending large hunting parties near the range of mountains, few ever completely crossing, but as time passed, and human technology grew more advanced, the five-fingered ones became more than a nuisance.

The falcon pondered this, it’s elfin mind considering the humans as a possible cause of Liara’s sudden disappearance. Nodding in satisfaction it swooped into the grove of trees and perched on a limb, where it resumed elfin form. Aelia leapt from the tree branch where she had shape-changed back and landed in the soft loam of the forest floor. **Selestna! I go now to the human’s village, perhaps they are involved.** Aelia sent to the Ramadae.

Selestna released a mental nod. **Yes, of course, do be careful, and inform me at once if you hear of Liara.**

Aelia closed the sending and sat in the moist earth, it had rained the previous night and dozens of tiny blue wild flowers had bloomed in this small grove of trees. They rustled softly as Aelia sat, her tan colored leggings sliding softly into them. “To walk among humans one must always take human form, so that the humans do not take notice of one’s ears and hands. If one is unable to shape shift, then one must carefully conceal one’s hands and head with a cloak and stay only a short time among the humans”. Aelia quoted from one of Selestna’s long speeches on human contact. Aelia let out a sigh and brushed a four fingered hand against her delicately shaped, pointed, ears. As she did so, the slender tip shrank rapidly and rounded, as did the other ear. A fifth finger formed between her third and last, as her eyes grew smaller, and her slim, aristocratic features rounded to a more common folk-type look. Yet she kept her raven-black hair, and piercing grey eye color, for if Liara lived and simply was hiding among the humans, then some familiar features of Aelia would be necessary for Liara to recognize Aelia. Aelia’s clothing also changed, shaping itself into a sturdy unbleached-cotton peasant’s dress with a fading brown-leather corset. Planting a smile on her face, Aelia marched into the village.

It was near dawn, and the village was already awake, women rushing to the river for water, merchants setting up shop, it was not unusual for a young maid to be out and about. As Aelia walked through the decorative gates and out onto the main street, she studied the homes of the humans, small but sturdy, made of wood and mud with cheaply shingled roofs. Humanity... phugh! Aelia murmured in her mind, all the while smiling cheerfully at the townsfolk. Her elfin senses alerted her as a human approached from behind. The human walked around beside Aelia, a young girl, around seventeen or so, toting a basket of bread. “And who are you? I couldn’t recognize you from th’ back, and I know every face in th’ town.” The girl asked.

Aelia blinked. “Oh, yes, well my family and I live on a farmstead near town, we recently moved into the area and I was sent to town for supplies.” Aelia spoke human fluently, due to extensive training from the elders of the tribe, though her normal usage of the delicate elfin language made it difficult for her to pronounce many of the more guttural human words.

“Oh, well that explains it. Welcome t’ Greensborrrow, I’m Elsie, is there anything in particular you’d like from th’ market? Y’ gotta really haggle with th’ merchants if ye want anything for a good reasonable price here. Things are expensive don’t you know. Hard to get anything this far west.” Aelia nodded gravely in response to Elsie.

“I thank you, but I believe I can find my way here and haggle appropriately, but thank you again for the warning, Elsie.” Aelia gave a quick curtsy and spun around. She suddenly whipped back to face Elsie. “Wait, you may help me with something after all. My father and I heard that ‘demons’ live in this area, is that true, and, have the townsfolk seen any of late?” When Elsie gave her a quizzical look Aelia quickly explained. “My mother is afraid of the point-eared ones, and we’re concerned about the safety of this area.”

Elsie gave a curt nod. “Aye, we’ve got demons running about, we don’t see ‘em much, they stay in th’ woods and in th’ hills where respectable people won’t set foot. They don’t go snooping around down here in the plain too much though. We’ve been lucky so far. Th’ good priest and th’ menfolk caught one wandering in th’ grove a night ago. A woman living near the edge of town had told them she saw eyes staring back at her from the trees, and so th’ menfolk went down there with th’ priest and they found th’ demon. Th’ cooper had brought a crossbow and shot that demon smack in the ribs, they said th’ demon was weak, and had an injured arm already, and so had been losing blood. It ‘twas an easy catch. We threw th’ evil thing’s body into th’ ditch on the other side of the grove, where it’s far from th’ town. Th’ townfolk’s happy now, demons won’t come a visiting for a while, now that we’ve killed one of their own.” Elsie smiled. “So you and your ma don’t need to worry about demons anymore. Good luck in th’ market place!” Elsie waved as she walked off, leaving a stunned Aelia.

Aelia ran out of the gates and sped past the grove, her human features melting away as she ran. The peasant gown flowed into the form of her old tan and green leathers and cloak as she leapt through the grove and stopped in front of a large ditch. A frail, slender form splattered with red rested at the bottom of the pit. Idly tossed in, the head was facing the sagging pit wall, elven eyes open wide in shock. Letting out a short cry of grief, Aelia glided into the pit and lifted the broken body. **Liara!!** Now that the sending was in range, Aelia could feel the cavity where Liara’s soul should be. **Oh my friend!!** Aelia sobbed as she floated upwards, over the town. How could you!!! Aelia dared not scream aloud, for the very weapon which killed Liara could easily be used on herself. Aelia looked down on the townspeople with hatred clouding her eyes. I musn’t do anything foolish to further add to the sadness of my tribe. Looking at the pale body, she remembered the human girl’s words, “they said th’ demon was weak, and had an injured arm already.” It must have been a flying accident, perhaps she had a run-in with an eagle while flying over the mountains. Liara did always like to take the form of a sparrow for flying. It is unfortunate that we could not hear her sendings so far from the valley, and that she was not a healer. Selestna must hear the news. Aelia told herself as she turned away from the town.**Selestna!!!** Aelia sent, gliding closer to the mountain range. **Selestna!!!** she called again. Finally, a faint reply came.

**Aelia? How did it go in the human village?** Selestna sent back.

**I found Liara.**

**How wonderful! But I sense great sorrow in your voice, what is wrong child?**

**Liara is with me, but only her body. The humans killed her the night before last. I suggest we exact our revenge at once, while they still praise themselves for the kill!**

Selestna released a mental sigh. **No dear one, your tidings are sad ones indeed, but let us not be foolish, there are too many humans, and soon they’ll have too many reasons for trying to find us in our valley. If they come in force, I’m afraid there won’t be enough of us to handle them all. Come home child, and bring my daughter’s body, we’ll want to take care of it here.**

**Yes, Selestna** Aelia flew home as if with the wings of her falcon-form. When she had flown over the crests of the mountains, she could see the entire Shapeshifter Tribe had gathered in the clearing where the palace stood. Aelia landed softly, in front of an silver haired elf with snow-white wings on her back, folded carefully behind her. The winged elf looked up. “Ah, Aelia, you have arrived.”

“Yes Selestna, and here is your daughter, Liara” Aelia lay the body on the ground, the corpse’s pale robes fluttered in a slight breeze as Selestna stepped forward, her crystalline blue eyes melting to a deeper color as the sorrow of a lost cub overwhelmed her.

“I would wish this fate on some other elf, but alas, any death is for the worse, and it would be a terrible thing to wish this on another.” Selestna looked back at the tribe she ruled. She began to open send, so that her entire tribe could hear. **I have already told you of the death of my daughter, Liara, and now that Aelia has brought her body here we may send her spirit off knowing that she was not forgotten in the human’s camp. Aelia, tell us of how Liara died.**

Aelia opened her mind and flashed images of the morning to her tribemates, and recounted the story of Liara’s death, and of the condition in which her body was found by the village. Selestna nodded her thanks and began open sending again. **Now, as we Shapeshifters have always done, we will give the body back to the land, but not as the humans do by burial, but in life, Liara was kindly, gentle, caring, and an excellent tree-shaper. For that, we shall give her body the form of an oak tree, signifying the oak grove by the village in which she was killed, her kind, gentle nature, and her talent with plants. Let us begin.** Each elf in the clearing joined hands as Selestna cupped her hand around her daughter’s blood-smeared hand and channeled the energy of the combined magics of each elf in the tribe. The changing of something from dead to living is a difficult process, and in order to do it without tiring a single elf, many must be a part of the process. Aelia watched as the lifeless form that was once Liara molded upwards into a thin beam of pure energy, from there, did the tall, mighty oak form, it’s branches spreading outward from an ever thickening trunk. Finally, Selestna removed her hand from the bark of the mature tree. **It is done, may Liara’s soul rest now, vengeance will come later my people, for now, let us not risk more of our number to the human’s hatred, please keep that in mind as you resume your tasks today, I have the feeling Liara would prefer for our tribe not to have any more blood spilt.** Selestna glided away from the tree, back to the palace, as the other elves returned to their work, grieving over the loss of their sister-elf. Only Aelia stayed, looking up into the leafy branches of the oak tree. I know you’re not there anymore Liara, and that this tree no doubt has a soul of it’s own, but I still can feel your presence here, drifting by in this breeze that whistles down the mountain side.