The letter in her hand stared back at her. Beautifully written runes forming flowing words across the page. The ink shimmered in the afternoon sunshine.
Nice to see you’ve decided to stop sitting around. I can talk. Meet me at the Blue Recluse if you think you can manage that.
She folded and unfolded it repeatedly before placing it in front of her on the table. Her long fingers tapped on top of it as a shadow crept its way over the wood. She inclined her head as his form moved towards the chair across from her. “Uncle.”
He grinned wide. “Favorite niece.”
She slid the parchment across the table to him. “This was a little insulting,” she muttered.
“Oh good!” he chuckled. “You understood it.” Kali pulled the cloth down from her face and stuck her tongue out at him. This in turn caused him to laugh aloud. He settled into the chair, slapping the table top. The tattoos stretching across his chest flared a moment before calming to a deep crimson.
“Show off,” she laughed, doing the same with the lilies trailing down her arm. He chuckled at their shared moment. “Are you well? How is Aunt Tindo?”
Forosuul smiled. “She’s good. We just finished up a short tour with the 7th.”
She nodded. “You seem unharmed, so I am guessing she stayed at your side.”
“She always does.”
“So I had an unusual conversation last night,” she offered.
He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Stories that start that way always seem to end badly.”
“This wasn’t bad so much as strange. I went over to check on Niqi,” she explained. “She went back to work, you know.”
He frowned deeply. “That’s a little sudden.”
“That witch that she works for,” Kali growled. “She apparently made some threat that if she or Anas didn’t return to work by a certain day, she was going to fire them both.”
Foro rubbed his eyes, exasperated. “For the love of Elune, why does she care? She doesn’t need money. She should have told the woman to jump off the cliffsss…” His eyes went wide realizing what just came out of his mouth. “Shit, Kali, I am so sorry.” The girl sat there, her entire body having gone completely still. Foro hung his head, covering the top of his head with his hands. “I’m sorry, Kali. Really. That just slipped out.”
“It’s all right, Uncle,” she whispered. Her eyes lowered to the letter on the table. She picked it back up and stuffed it into her pocket. She cleared her throat though her voice remained soft. “You know that isn’t Niqi’s way anyway. From what she told me, Anas was hurt rather badly up in Stormsong and cannot work yet. That’s about all I know though.”
Foro nodded with a sigh. “Had to be that one that got hurt,” he muttered.
The young elf frowned at him. “The other one was apparently very good to Niqi, so you might want to be well out of her earshot with those comments.”
He frowned back at her. “Good gods, not you too.”
She held her hands up. “I know, you don’t like him. I’m just saying he makes her feel safe. So for her sake, maybe not say it where she can her it?”
“I didn’t, did I?”
Kali gestured over her shoulder at the tailoring shop. “She comes straight across for tea.”
“She’s not here now.” He leaned in, smirking at her. “Also, who is Patriarch here?”
She shook her head, laughing aloud. “Well, certainly not me. No one wants me in charge.”
“You have no idea how true that is,” he sniped. Kali made a face at him, making him chuckle at her.
“You are in a mood tonight,” she commented.
“Are you gonna stop giving me shit and tell me about your strange conversation?”
She shook her head, clearing it. “Oh, sorry, um… she was busy so I thought I’d go eat dinner and come back. But I heard someone trailing behind me. They followed me all the way inside. Turned out to be a Ren’dorei man.”
He furrowed his brow. “Someone was following you.”
“Mmmhmm. I called him out on it and he tried to act like he was confused. But I called him on that too.” Foro smirked, proud. “I told him to come over and explain himself. He claimed that he was curious about…what was it he said?” She furrowed her brow, trying to recall it. “Oh, yes, he called our House a Primordial Bloodline or something like that.”
“He recognized your ancestry?” His eyebrows shot up.
“He says he is a scholar who is researching all of the different elven peoples. But I dunno, he knew more than he was letting on.”
“What makes you say that?”
Kali smirked. “I recited the family motto. And he got this really strange look on his face. Like I’d said something that bit into his core,” she explained proudly. She waved over a server to order drinks for them both. She chuckled at her uncle’s shocked expression. “His whole face went blank. Like I’d said something he was almost terrified to be hearing. It was so very, very strange.”
“That seems…odd.” He frowned deeply. “Did you call him out on it?”
“I did. He claimed he’d heard it before, but never understood it.” She scrunched up her face. “But, Uncle Foro? To be honest, I don’t think that was all of it. His reaction was far too extreme for that.” Forosuul listened intently, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “And he had an even more over the top reaction when I said Kalithil was my father. You would have thought his childhood boogie men were out to get him.”
Foro’s frown deepened further. “Did you, by any chance, explain the motto?”
“In simple terms, yes. He claimed it was very clever to base our motto on an invasive weed.” Foro stared at her, nonplussed. “What is it, Uncle?”
“Just a lot that doesn’t make sense.”
“And now you know why I said the whole thing was strange.”
“How would you describe him, other than the weird reactions?”
“Well, he was kind, well spoken. A little too goofy at times. Like he was putting on a performance. And…” she trailed off, trying to figure out the next part.
He arched an eyebrow, inquisitively. “What is it, Kali?”
“I don’t know what it was. He looked almost familiar. But I couldn’t for the life of me…” She shrugged, shaking it off. “My mind kept nagging that I should know his face.”
“Did he seem to be interrogating you? Trying to get some specific information?”
She shook her head. “He seemed mostly to be looking for general family information. I tried to keep it to vague public knowledge. He did ask about my coloring and I simply kept sidestepping it.”
The young human woman returned to the table, tray in hand. She place the drinks in front of them and waited silently. “Thank you,” Forosuul said as her paid the server and quietly sipped his drink. “He was aware of us?” The woman left, smiling at the coins in her hand.
“He said he had read, or maybe heard?” She screwed up her face a moment, trying to recall exactly what he had said. “He’d heard about a family like ours that once numbered in the thousands but had dwindled away.”
“That is not exactly common knowledge these days.” He sighed, rubbing his forehead wearily as he leaned back in his chair. “I could have done without another mystery to solve.” Kali smiled sheepishly at him. He waved it off. “You did right to bring this to me,” he said quietly. “But there’s always something else.”
“Forgive me,” she whispered. “For adding to your stress. It was just too odd to not mention.”
“I said you did right, girl,” he quipped. She winced. “This might be nothing,” he continued. “Just some eccentric bookworm like your mother. Or it could be…well…not.”
Kali made a playful face at the mention of her mother. “He did mention, twice, about getting to meet An’da.” She took a sip of her tea. “Wanted me to introduce them.”
“I thought you said he acted afraid when you mentioned Kal.”
“For a moment, maybe two. Before resuming his very jovial attitude.”
Forosuul scowled, confused by the situation. “People wanting to do us harm don’t usually want to meet him.”
“You could have left it at people don’t usually want to meet him,” she joked.
He chuckled in response. “You know what I mean.”
“I do,” she replied candidly. “But I also know that he is not easy to be around.”
“He’s getting better.”
Kali looked off into the distance, smiling sadly. “Slowly,” she murmured.
“Slowly is how he does things.”
She shook it off. “I know. I dealt with it seven times already.”
Foro offered her a sympathetic look. “Sorry, kid. I did what I could for you and your brother already.”
The girl grunted. “Yeah. You got us off to two women who kick our asses. Albeit in different ways.”
“That’s what I meant,” he grinned. “Although from what I hear, Estelæth has different uses for your ass these days.”
Kali turned a variety of shades of purple causing Foro to laugh aloud. “That’s nothing compared to what you and Aunt Tindo must get up to.” She stuck her tongue out at him.
He chuckled and waved it off. “So. Back to your new friend. Did he have a name?”
“Sounds like a good, old-fashioned Quel’dorei name,” he mused. “Not one of these Ren’dorei who has taken on a new name to express his change in circumstance.” He waves around the area, indicating a number of Ren’dorei seated or standing nearby. “Half of them have Shadow or Dark in their name now.”
“I still don’t understand that. Why deny who you were? The process didn’t change that part of them. Their bloodline.”
Forosuul shrugged. “They got infused with the Void and rejected by their people. It preys on the mind.”
Kali sighed, looking over her shoulder at the tailoring shop. Poor Niqi. Turning back to him, she seemed to have a thought. “Borænin said he helped a bit with the research for Umbric. Do you think maybe Gil knows of him?”
The demon hunter’s eyebrows shot up. “It’s a damned good bet he does. Gil was in the thick of it.”
“Any idea where my brother is?” Foro met her question with a knowing smirk. “What?”
“He and Lady Silannah are traveling in Kul Tiras,” he explained. “In fact, unless I am much mistaken, they were given a broad hint that they should check out something in Stormsong Valley.”
Kali blinked at him. “Lady?” she asked incredulously.
“Sarcasm, little girl.”
She scowled at him. “You are being really mean tonight, Uncle.”
“I’m really not.”
“You don’t usually talk to me like this,” she whined. “The constant digs at my expense. Calling me girl or little girl.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he mocked. “I didn’t realize you’d gotten so sensitive.” He stared at her a moment before laughing.
Kali blinked, unprepared for that reaction. “Someone peed on your breakfast today, didn’t they?”
“This is just payback for when you used to act like a brat all the time,” he commented. “Also, I’m in a good mood.” He picked up his drink and downed the remains of it, wiping his mouth off on his arm. “I will pass word of this on to your father. You should write Gil and see what he says.” She nodded, pulling her pack up to look for something to write with. “Did this Borænin ask to see you again?” he asked.
She continued to dig through her bag, her voice muffled by the position. “Only in the context that he would hold me to the introduction. You know,” she quipped as she pulled out a piece of parchment. “The one I never promised.”
“If he reaches out, meet with him,” he directed. Kali looked at him askance. “And tell me when it is happening. I will make sure you have a shadow.”
“Okay.” She sighed, visibly relieved. “Thank you.”
“One that can stick something in him if he gets frisky.”
Kali’s eyes went wide. “You mean the assassin.” Foro responded with a wide grin. She shuddered hard. “I never know what to say when she’s around,” she whispered. “She gives me the chills.”
“Everyone says that,” he chuckled.
“I’ll go write Gil and then go check on my future sister-in-law.” She pushed her chair back, grasped her staff, and rose with a small amount of effort. “I do hope this is nothing.”
“You and me both,” he commented as he watched her movements. He looked her over carefully. “Still not one hundred percent?”
“Getting closer each day,” she smiled. Stretching out her leg a few times, she relaxed. “Sitting for long periods, it gets a bit stiff. Don’t worry though. Este has me working it every day until I can no longer stand.” Foro smirked. “Then she makes me swim.”
“Good. Do what she says, she’ll have you back in shape soon enough.”
Kali’s tone shifted towards sarcasm. “You think I’m gonna argue with her when I can’t back it up in a fight?” She moved closer as he stood up and embraced him. He went still, startled for a moment, then returned it a little awkwardly. Kali couldn’t help but laugh. “You give worse hugs than An’da.”
“Your Aunt Tindo says otherwise.”
“Well, somehow I don’t think you hug her like a parasite that just clung onto you.” She released him and took a step back, her eyes shining up at him.
“Maybe that’s because she’s not one,” he replied, grinning at her. She narrowed her eyes at him, though the joy was still there. He laughed again, enjoying the back and forth they shared.
“Go away, Uncle. You’re mean.”
He winked at her. “See you soon.”
“Be safe,” she offered gently.”
“You too,” he answered, smiling. He squeezed her shoulder lightly before turning and walking away.
She watched as he deliberately strode past the tailoring shop, looking vaguely in its direction. Kali knew full well he was checking up without going in. He was always watching them all. Always guarding them without being too overbearing. And she adored him for it. Settling back down, she rested thoughtfully for a few minutes. After deciding how to word it all, she put her pencil to the paper and began to write out enough information to let her brother know what had transpired.