Ildra awoke an hour before dawn, as was her usual habit. This morning, herbs had to be gathered down by the river, and some of them were their most potent if harvested just as the sun's rays kissed the sky. Despite the arrival of spring, the mornings still held a particular chill, and unfortunately, she was not immune to it. After pulling on a pair of gray, woolen leggings, tan suede boots, and a heavy, brown long sleeved tunic, she braided her pale, waist length hair and secured it with a thin, leather thong. Throwing her hooded cloak over the entire ensemble, she picked up her basket, trowel, gloves, and quietly made her way out of the small cottage. The Rangers were about, as usual, ever on guard with their swords and bows at ready. Should any enemy befall the unique village set high in the towering trees of the forest, they would be alert and more than capable of defense.
Nimbly, Ildra climbed down the long ladder leading from the front door of her cottage. Within seconds, she was planting both feet on the ground and silently heading into the forest. So light-footed was she, that nary a leaf, nor twig, was disturbed by her careful steps. She adored this time of the day, when most of the world was still snuggled down in their beds. It was peaceful, without much noise, and rarely a threat of any kind. Even the woodland animals were calmer, some watching her curiously as she passed, while a few decided to follow in her tracks. They all knew her; the small, brown rabbits, the big eyed fawns who were foraging with their mothers, and the sweet nightingales who trilled their lovely melodies; and they accepted her. She had never shown them any cruelty, had even mended a hurt paw here and a broken wing there. Her gentle mannerisms and soft tone was more than enough to win them over.
For close to thirty minutes, she continued to walk, pausing briefly here and there to pick a choice plant or root. Yet, near the river was where she needed to be, and she was almost there. The Bamfurlong mushrooms would be ripe for the picking, and she needed to get them back to her cottage where she could prepare them to dry. What alerted her that something foreign was in her territory, she did not know. The animals had not raised any alarm, so whatever it was was not threatening. Yet, the very wind seemed to carry an unknown, yet slightly familiar scent. She lifted her face, nostrils twitching as they attempted to take in more of the unusual odor, then began to walk quickly. Just a few more steps, she instinctively knew. Had she not been so aware, she would have tripped over the small figure lying prone in the damp leaves. Appearing to be no more than a child, the young one was unconcious, barefooted, and shivering. Silently, Ildra knelt beside the girl and brushed a tangle of hair back from her forehead. Surprised, she immeadiately saw the gently pointed ears. This was one of her own race, a half breed most likely, from the tone of her skin, but an elf nonetheless. How had she come to be here and why? Watchful eyes darted around the area, but no other scents had reached her nose, no sound to her ears.
"Now, where did you come from little one," she whispered softly, her own language spilling from her lips. "And who are you...?"