Surface
Prologue
"A man who wants to win the fight loses the battle. But when a man cares nothing of the fight and only the battle, then a man truely wins, even in death."
Humans were a rare sight below the surface, and that led naturally to a mix of reactions. Some found it rather amusing, humans stumbling in near blindness attempting to find some promised treausureor other. There were also those who were cautious and knew a threat when they saw one, or at least a potential. Among these were the Dark Elves, or better known as Scrins. They hadn't become the dominant race in the savage caverns of the underworld. And so when one human was spotted within view of the holy Scrin city Azan'daele, in a clearing full of trees, they couldn't take any chances.

When they approached the man he surrendered instantly, even offering his dagger handle first to his captors. He was an old man, you could tell that by the withered look on his face. His clothing tattered and worn, the original color indistinguishable from days of travel. After a quick search it was shown he carried no weapon other than the dagger he had presented. "I should have you killed, but all things considered, I will give you a chance to explain yourself to us. To me," said what appeared to be the leader of this particular band of Scrins. "Had you had me killed you woulda been sorry, that much I'll guarentee you. To kill a man, who seeks only to help his family, a family of herbalists. A man who only wishes to buy land, in exchange for a prize far greater than what the land would be worth anyways. So tell me fella, you want to see this artifact?" the man said almost in a mocking tone, as if he had nothing to lose. "Show me this artifact or whatever you claim it is. Refer to me as 'fella' again and I will personally see you killed. You may refer to me as Ghonis. Ghonis Brivn. I advise you against trying anything for you see I belong to the most important family in the city," Ghonis stated clearly.

"Member of the most important family, and still they have you doing grunt work, how pityful. Yes, yes the artifact. It's a ring. I'd tell you about it but I doubt you little elfies have been up on the surface, and wouldn't know who King John was anyways. His most powerful mages created this for him hundreds of years ago. Yet here it lies in my possesion an very well could be in yours, assuming you want to trade?" the man said managing to keep his features straight as possible. "What's to say that this ring isn't just some mere piece of jewellry? I want an example. Please tell me what you need to have the ring's power displayed to me and I'm sure I can accomadate it," Ghonis replied.

"Have one of your men try to attack me," was all the man said. Ghonis nodded to the man two men to his left, and he ran forward, sword in hand. He made it within six inches before the man yelled "Whisna!" and the man was thrown into the air. The force of the magic sent him flying backwards into one of the cavern walls. He met the stone with a sickening thud and the elf never got back up. "You killed one of my men, but what is one man when you possess an artifact, with power so great.." he started but then thought for a moment. Why didn't he just take the ring? Kill the man and take the ring. No, that would be stupid and despite his skills with the blade, he wouldn't make it close enough to even get a blow in. No, but what did he have to lose in allowing this human a small section of land? All he had to do was play it smart, and he could benefit greatly from this.

"I've seen stronger magics though, but still it may warrant a piece of land, small but land nonetheless. You see that abandonded house over there? There's your land. You take it or leave it, that's my deal. If not you're free to be on your way, but you won't receive the same treatment next time. We don't deal with intruders lightly, and death isn't always pleasant. So human, what is your answer? I don't have all day," the elf said huriedly. The ring was quite powerful and presenting it to his mother might get him a quicker rise to power. Then again, if he didn't show his mother, he might rise to power either way. And he would have a power artifact, a self-defense mechanism. He wondered what it would do to a wall. The possibilties seemed endless and he smiled evilly a glimmer in his eyes.

The old man tossed the ring to him, and he caught it his smile extended even further. "Alright but that isn't all. I want a guarentee none of your people will harass me and my family. I know your kind isn't the kindest people under the surface, but let's make something clear. I could have easily blown you away and escaped. You can deny it all you want, but it's true. I'm not asking you for alliance, or even protection. Leave us be and we will do the same," the man stated wiping the smile right off Ghonis' face. The old man was smart, he certainly had fooled Ghonis, and that didn't happen easily. He had hoped to trap the old man, but still had a few tricks up his sleeve. For now though, he would surrender the fight. The fight could be lost, the battle however would be one.

"Agreed. I will even go one step further and offer you trade, with the travelling merchants who roam through our city. I will instruct them to trade with you, but that is all. Otherwise you are on your own. One more piece of advice. Stay away from the city. I will do what I can in my power to stop you from being harassed, but not everyone follows the rules," he said and with a upwards flick of his hand his band turned and walked away.

"You can come down now," the old man said and the shadow of two figures could be seen dropping from the nearby trees. "You handled that situation extremely well father. I particularily love how you made yourself seem stupid and then robbed him of his advantage. Of course we would have cut them down had we thought them to be any threat," a female voice said.
"It would have been too easy. The ring would have sent them all flying, and arrows to take care of the stragglers. Your father is such a tactician," a male voice said and the old man smiled. Just because he was old, didn't mean he wasn't still sharp.