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to those whose lives are not as long as yours and mine? laeral pointed out.

the harpers
concern is genuine, but the span of their vision is decidedly shorter. they are more worried
about the disruption of trade and the possibility of increasing the civil unrest in tethyr.
can't you make them understand what these compromises mean to the elven people? given
a few centuries, yes, laeral replied grimly. *khelben understands, after a fashion, but his
concern focuses upon the affairs of waterdeep. and he truly believes that a compromise is
the best solution, not only for his city's trade interests, but for the elves themselves. he sees
it as their best chance of survival. the humans of tethyr are not so tolerant of other races
as they were even ten or twenty years ago. it would not take much provocation to turn
them against the elves. there are far too many ambitious men in tethyr, looking for a
rallying cause to aid their rise to power. i can easily envision the destruction of the elves
becoming such a cause. you know what happened under the royal family. given the
general lawlessness of the land, it could be far worse this time. then there is only retreat,
murmured the elven queen. she sat silent for several moments, as if letting the decision take
root; then she nodded decisively. yes, the sy-tkrquessir must retreat, she decreed, using the
elvish word for the forest folk. i will send an ambassador the harpers silver shadows at
once to offer them a haven in evermeet s ancient woods. and if they will not come? the
queen had thought of that, as well. then they, like so many of the people, will fade from
the land, she said with quiet resignation. this is the twilight of the tel'quessir, my friend.
you know that as well as i, we cannot hold back the darkness forever. but may that
night be long in coming! laeral said fervently. as for the harpers, believe me when i say
that sometimes the best way of controlling their enthusiasm is to work along with them,
the mage added in a wry tone that suggested personal experience with this tactic. of one
thing you can be certain: the harpers will act with or without your blessing. what do you
suggest? send a harper agent to the elves' forest stronghold to bear your invitation a
harper who will work toward a balance that will favor the elven community. in this way,
if the forest elves refuse to retreat to evermeet, they will at least have an advocate. that is
more than they might get otherwise. amlaruil studied her friend. the hesitancy in laeral's
silver-green eyes suggested that there was more to this matter, things of which the mage
could not easily speak. seldom was laeral reticent about anything. foreboding tightened
amlaruil's throat, but she waited with elven patience for the woman to find her own way
and time. let us say that i would agree to such a plan, the queen suggested calmly. have
you an elven agent among the harpers? a forest elf, one known to the community in
question? no, laeral admitted. then i do not see how your plan could succeed. most sytel'quessir are insular suspicious of all elves from outside their tribe. the people of tethir
have not sworn allegiance to me, and so they might not receive an ambassador from the
island. pressed as they are, they would likely kill any non-elf who ventured too near their
hidden strongholds. no, it seems to me your harper would have little hope of survival and
even less chance for success. laeral did not answer at once, nor did the queen press her.
their silence was filled by the sounds of the elven forest: the rustle of leaves, the