Three horses thundered through the failing light of sunset, racing against time the riders knew they didn’t have. The riders drew their horses up near a small log cabin and the one in the lead pounded his fist against the door in loud thumps. The leader of the group looked elven. The narrow eyes and the pointed ears gave away his race even in the dark.
The door opened and a human looked out, curiosity crossing her features along with confusion, “What do you want?” She asked bluntly, making a move to close the door in her visitor’s face.
“Ahh! Lady, stay a minute, we have something for you.” The elf that knocked cried, he dismounted and pulled out a round bundle. “Here,” He offered it to her before she could object.
“What is it?” The woman asked in disgust. She accepted it with reluctance.
The elf tapped the string with long fingers, “A jewel,” He told her, he nodded at her confused expression. “Don’t sell it or you may get a curse upon your kingdom and yourself.” The elf warned, watching with suspicious eyes as the woman undid the string around the bundle, the elves still mounted shifted with unease.
The woman pulled out an almost flawless, smooth red jewel. She looked amazed and held it out to the elf, “No this is too precious I can’t accept this.”
The elf reacted to her words in a strange manner, “No, no, keep it you must,” He urged, she ignored his pleas and put the jewel into his hands and drew away.
“Thank you anyway,” She replied, closing the door in front of them.
The elf swore and mounted his horse again.
“We could leave it on her doorstep,” One of the other elves suggested.
“No they have to accept it willingly, if they decline we must leave it at that.” The first elf replied, his tone sad. “Foolish humans.” He added under his breath.
The elves urged their horses into a gallop, heading towards the next house in the distance. This time the first elf formed a plan to give the jewel to someone, he knew what to do now, these humans would try and refuse but he didn’t plan to give them a chance.
They reached the last house within the vicinity and the elf again pounded on the door with his left hand, this time a man opened the door, a worn farmer in his late fifties. Two boys looked out the door beside him with round eyes.
“What do you want?” The man demanded, he sounded annoyed.
“We’ve been travelling all day and we were wondering if you would let us stay for a little while so we can rest.” The elf replied. He knew human protocol; they were victims of tradition and as such would accept a weary traveller if they were in need. If that extended to elves or not, Tam couldn’t be sure.
“And you are…?” The man asked, still suspicious.
“Tam Aegis,” The elf replied without pause.
The man nodded slowly, “Alright you may as well come in,” With that he nodded to his boys who charged outside and grabbed the reins of the horses.
The other elves dismounted and followed the man inside, they sat around a fire and their host got his first good look at them. His eyes widened in surprise when he realized they were all elves, the pointed ears and narrow eyes gave them away.
“You are elfish,” The man gasped, “I heard your name but I didn’t think you were that Tam Aegis,” He murmured, nodding to Tam.
“Is there another Tam Aegis?” He asked. He already knew the answer.
“Well no, but…”
“It’s a common mistake…”
“But you don’t look like…”
“I dyed my hair, you like it?”
“Yes I know…”
“What are you here for?”
“Well I wanted to see if you would accept my gift,” Tam replied, holding out the large red jewel.
“Why are you giving this to me?” The farmer asked, surprised.
Tam put his fingers to his lips, anxious, “I tried to give it to many others, you are the last house in this vicinity, don’t refuse it,” He added. “I can’t keep it anyway, that is why we wanted to give it to you, besides it’s thanks for your hospitality.” He finished, his eyes filling with anxiety.
“You seem to be honest for an elf…” The farmer observed, “People say Tam Aegis helps humanity, but why?” He asked again.
“My reasons are mine to know.” Tam replied, “Just take the jewel and forget my visit.” He suggested. “Just don’t sell it.” He added as an after thought.
The farmer hesitatingly accepted the jewel, he lingered for a moment, clearly wondering if he could trust an elf in these troubled times, even with a simple jewel that could be worth heaps of money.
“All right elf, you win, make yourself at home and I will see you in the morning, don’t think I have forgotten my questions for you,” The farmer added, leaving the room in a hurry.
“Is this wise?” The blonde elf beside Tam asked, his voice trembled.
“We didn’t have a choice,” Tam pointed out, “Besides we won’t have to wait as long to find out if this man’s sons will be able to accept our gift fully,” He entwined his fingers and stared over them at the fire.
“Master Aegis we have completed our mission, after resting we can go back into hiding with no regrets,” The elf on the other side told him, as if he thought Tam didn’t already know this.
“Of course.” Tam replied, impassive. “Let’s get some sleep, we’ll see if this farmer changes his mind or not.” He and his friends waited for the farmer’s return so he could escort them to their designated rooms.