Felix trudged through Blue Town, towards the Path of Insanity and Fanaticism. He had awoken late that morning and suffered the company of one of the many men of Radiata on his way to the Vareth Magic Institute. The books he had sought had already been checked out of the library. And he was sure some sorry excuse for a human being was stealing his underclothes again.
He passed through Echidna Gate and out onto the bridge. Felix winced as the brilliant evening sun shone in his eyes, gripping his staff tightly and squinting until his eyes adjusted. There was no one here, save a treant on the path by the far end of the bridge. A quick look back suggested also that he had not been followed.
He watched the treant as he approached. It hadn't seen him. It was looking somewhere off in the chasm that surrounded the city. As long as its attention remained elsewhere, Felix had no need to defend himself against the creature. He lay his staff against the upraised brick railing, then set his hands upon it, too. He searched the chasm for whatever the treant might have seenóa bird, maybeóbut he saw nothing. He turned his gaze instead to the horizon. Reds and golds crept into the blue of the sky, carried along the lining of the clouds.
"Excuse me, sir, do you mind if I look at your staff?"
Felix whipped about, staggering away from whatever had joined him. He had not heard footsteps approaching. In his haste, he had gone too far back and doubled onto the edge. He was slipping fast. His staff clattered on the bridge as a pair of hands shot out and grabbed hold of him.
"I am so sorry!" the voice exclaimed. "I didn't mean to startle you."
Felix had caught barely a glimpse of the other figure as he crashed against them, both of them falling upon the sanctity of the bridge. He shoved himself onto his knees, and stared wide-eyed at the person beneath him.
"Are you all right?"
She was a light elf. As light elves did in text books, she had a small frame and fair skin, with vine-like hair neatly pulled back behind her head, and a single pair of glowing wings. Her expression, however, seemed much softer towards him than he would expect of a light elf.
And for once in all of Tottaus, this light elf was identifying him for the man he was. He opened his mouth to reply, but found himself without words. While he knelt in silence, she floated back to her feet and bent over again to recover his staff for him.
Felix's tongue flicked to wet his lips. He felt reluctant to stand after having nearly fallen the bridge, but her hand was extended to him and it would seem rude not to take it. He made a point of stepping nearer to the center of the bridge as he took her hand, and studied her more thoroughly. Not that he needed toówith a memory as clear as his, he would never forget heróbut the tangibility of reality was sharper than his mind's eye and he would drink in that for as long as he was able.
She held the staff against his chest, and reflexively he closed his arms around it. "Thank you," he said. He averted his gaze. "I'm all right."
"I've always heard humans look like orcs the color of dried grass," she said, and in the corner of his eyes he could see her smile. "I knew it couldn't be true, but I never expected to meet one so fair."
Felix's lips pursed, but he was at a loss for how to respondóto laugh at the pitiful, if exaggerated, reality, or... well, continue to stand and stare. Such words meant nothing from the mouths of louts who couldn't keep their hands to themselves, but there was a sort of sincerity from someone who, by all accounts, should loathe the very sight of a human. It wasn't until she looked away, towards the treant by the far end of the bridge, that he found his voice again. "What about elves? Are they all like you?"
"Like me?" she asked, turning back to him with a frown. "What do you mean?"
He looked up to meet her gaze, the action every bit involuntary, as he replied, "Beautiful."
She smiled anew. When it hit what, exactly, had come out of his mouth, he gripped tightly at his staff and turned his attention back out to the sunset. He could swear then that his face reflected the red of the sky.
"Are you sure you're all right?" she asked. "You look like you have a fever."
The elf was reaching to touch her palm to his forehead, and he quickly stepped out of range. "Fine," he insisted. "I'm fine."
She stood back, or floated back, folding her hands neatly together before her. "What's your name?"
He turned his back to her entirely, trying his best to come to grips with himself. "I thought light elves hated humans," he said. "What brings you all the way to Radiata?"
"Not all of us hate humans," she replied.
He gasped as she reappeared in front of him, making hardly a sound as she fluttered about on those wings.
"I came to study the treants," she replied. "The ones around the Tria region are different from those in the Nowem region. And the farther from the Nowem region I search, the more reliable the data will be."
That sounded reasonable. "So you're a scholar, too?" he asked.
"Too? Are you?"
Felix nodded. His smile felt lopsided, too large for his own delicate features, and he wrestled to suppress it. The harder he tried, the broader it stretched. At least it was genuine.
"We should share our studies," Few replied. "Just think of the things we, a light elf and a human, could discover together!"
"I wonder if they would mind if you visited the magic school," Felix mused.
"It'll have to wait for another day," Few sighed. She looked out across the sky, far off towards the Elf region. "I told Alan I would be back by sun down. I'll be late already."
The smile settled. He watched her float a little higher, hesitating, waiting for a goodbye to permit her to leave. He followed her gaze out into the open sky. She was almost two feet off the ground when his attention returned to her.
"I'll come out and watch for you here," he said. "Evenings, around sunset."
"All right." She was over the edge of the bridge now, twisting as if to turn her back to himóbut still waiting for him to look away first.
He stepped closer to the edge again, his near fall forgotten. "I really would like to see you again," he insisted. "Promise you'll come back."
Few smiled. "I promise."