Tanashyry = “TAHN na sheer ee”
Makysyg = “MAH kee see”
Kumagat = “KOO mah got”
The Feywild city is dark and seemingly composed of nothing but the aerial roots of impossibly large strangler fig trees that formed a latticework of narrow streets and alleyways. For the hundredth time today, Tanashyry reached up to reposition the jetblack feathers in her hair.
“Stop fidgeting,” chastised her older sibling, “you know that tikitik feathers get shiny if you handle them too much.”
The young Dalaketnon simply combined an eye-roll, sigh, and head-tilt in a masterful show of sarcastic boredom that only a Bane Elf under the age of 100 could possibly accomplish.
“I still don’t understand why we have to attend this shit show,” she lied trying to bait Makysyg.
“Because it’s been over 500 years since Dalakit received a delegation from Biringan City,” the beautiful and handsome elf stated as if by rote. They wore an almost-white saya skirt with intricate red beadwork. Their turban-like headcloth was pierced by scrimshawed crocodile teeth. The only covering on their upper body was a loosely draped spidersilk lace shaw that possessed the characteristic yellow tinge of that material. The shaw was worn strategically so as not to cover up Makysyg’s favorite and most offensive tattoos.
“So what? All of a sudden the ‘High Elves’ decide that we’re kin again and we have to go running for their approval?” Tanashyry didn’t have to feign indignation; she was truly put out by their presumption. Her pet sensed this and paused in its vigilant sniffing to offer up a huffing growl. Despite herself, a smirk formed at the corners of the elf’s mouth at the show of solidarity from the beast. Her attire was what she considered more feminine. A bright blue patadyong pattern wraparound skirt and a white baro blouse. The braided fabric headpiece that held the feathers completed the ensemble. From a wide silver ring, a purely-for-show thin chain ran down to the beautifully sculpted collar of her beloved pet sigbin, Kumagat. The nearly hairless creature was on constant guard against attack. Afterall, the perpetual gloaming of Dalakit City hid many dangers. The sigbin made certain that none of small forms flitting from root to root was anything more harmful than the little engkanto fairies that they likely were.
Makysyg knew that their little sister wouldn’t shut up unless distracted and they had too far to go for that nonsense. “You know that these delegates from House Duskwind claim that you and I share a common ancestor with them – that’s why we’re going.”
“Carabao Shit, three hundred and twenty generations ago! We’re no more related to them than we are to humans. We’re going because you won’t pass up a chance to recite your poetry at the Forum Caliginous in front of all of those rich Dalakit nobles up there.” She pointed up at the fantastic mansions stretching amongst the upper levels of the balete trees that made up the city. One of the moons made an early appearance tonight, but it was the boring human one.
“Rich and gorgeous Dalikit nobles,” The older one corrected with a lecherous smile. “It’s the after-court parties that I care about.” That was mostly true, they certainly could put any money they made from well off patrons to good use too. “And don’t you claim any relation to humans at court tonight, even in jest. You know why we split from them and they still take that garbage seriously.”
“Actually, I never really paid that much attention to that story. Why would I care about some arrogant and paranoid elves on some far off island?” Tanashyry balked. “They kicked us out for being bad or something, right?”
“Wrong.” It was Makysyg’s turn to be indignant. “We weren’t ‘kicked out,’ we left those stuck up prudes.” The poet couldn’t let this lapse in their sister’s knowledge remain. So they composed themselves and continued, “We left because of the humans. After the Dark Eagle killed the first Bakunawa and its body created Bukana, that’s when our fae progenitors populated the islands. Eventually, some of us chose to take fully solid forms and live out at least some of our cycles outside of the Feywild and wholly in the material world. So the elves claimed the trees, the dwarves took the land, and those fish-tails took the sea.”
The younger rolled her eyes again, knowing her sibling’s dislike of the merfolk and wondered if there was any point to this story.
The elder saw and ignored the child’s irritation. “We’re not sure exactly how long we went on like that, but the Dalaketnon and the Biringanon were of the same tribe back then. Ours was the first civilization in all of Bukana,” the bane elf almost glowed with pride. “Anyway, that all changed when a bunch of ugly, hairy creatures started landing their quaint little boats all over the archipelago. At first, we ignored them, but eventually they started slashing and burning the forest to plant their dirty root crops. We fought them off and made sure they knew exactly what trees they needed to leave alone. A bunch of our ancestors started trading with the humans and found them rather interesting. Some even joined them in their villages and taught them magic… not the really good stuff, of course. The point is that they were new and fun and you know those are our two favorite things! But some of the stodgier Houses refused to accept their presence. They decided that we elves were just so much better than the humans that we needed to keep them out of our affairs entirely.
“Aren’t we so much better than humans?” Tanashyry asked, a bit puzzled.
“Of course we are,” Makysyg stated. “We’re also better than sigbins, does that mean we should roast Kumagat and eat him?”
“No!” Tanashyry put a defensive hand on top of her friend’s head. Makysyg was probably kidding, but with them you could never know, so she gave them a hard stare.
With a wry smirk, her sibling continued. “Well then we shouldn’t forsake the humans for the same reason. You know I’m oh so fond of the clumsy little folk. That’s why they still call us ‘unggoymaghindot.”
“They call us Monkey-fuckers?!” Tanashyry was aghast. “Then why are we going to meet these assholes?”
“Do you want to tell the Datu Council that we jeopardized their trade negotiations because the High Elves hurt your feelings?” they snapped, finally having to speak out loud the real reason for their attendance. Seeing their sister acquiesce, they continued. “Regardless, there was a heated debate. The hardliners refused to leave their ancestral palaces or give up their hold over the other engkanto in the region. Some skirmishes ensued as we tried to force the issue, but those keeps are just too well defended. So we left. We quickly found this place on Serpent Island. The dalakit trees had already grown huge and twisted on the back of the dead bakunawa and it was child’s play to open up portals to let us exist in the material world and the Feywild. For their part, they took a couple of centuries to formulate rituals that cut off Biringan City completely from the world of humans. That’s why you can’t get there without them letting you. That’s also why we let those adorable humans into our city and they don’t.” They gestured at a small mixed group of lowlifes in the courtyard that they were passing through. The human cutthroat looked away when they met the siblings’ gaze, but their elf master returned a hard look, daring them to continue their intrusion. When the siblings moved on, the nefarious pair went about whatever conversation they were having with a couple nasty looking duwende.
“So that’s it? That’s why they don’t like us and never leave their boring little city?” Tanashyry asked, a bit incredulous.
“Oh Biringanon is far from boring, Tana!”
“You’ve been there?” the young one asked.
“A few times! Don’t let those haughty bastards fool you; I may have called them prudes, but they’ve got their own kinks! After we left, those hypocrites started handing out black rice to humans like it was a party favor,” they had that arrogance-meets-mischief look on their face again. “After all that shit about not associating with humans, what do they do but enchant a bunch of hapless mortals and take them as concubines! Now their whole city is filled with albino half-humans. They even put their offspring to work. They make up a whole caste of lesser nobles that run the day-to-day of Biringan City.”
Tanashyry let out a loud laugh. “You’ve got to be shitting me! Now I have to meet these fools.”
“Good, because we’re here.” They rounded a corner and entered a large square lit with numerous fly-lanterns. A couple of bound binangonan spirits also helped light the plaza. Small groups of courtiers gathered here and there. The outfits were exactly what you’d expect from one of the premier courts of Dalakit City. Ensorcelled garments of fine materials and ornate headdresses were everywhere. Gold, silver and even rarer metals glinted in the erratic light. A somewhat frazzled looking seneschal hurried toward the sisters, scroll and quill in hand.
“It’s about time you arrived; I expected you 7 minutes ago!” Tanashyry and Makysyg shared a look of humor and resolve while Kumagat snarled at the court minister. They turned and were ushered into the Forum Caliginous for what was sure to be an interesting night.