(This story is part of the "Learning the Humans' Language" storyline -- see the listing for more related stories.)
Evervale collapsed into her bed furs, happily falling in with her lovemates. The feel of the soft furs immediately brought solace to her tired body. The three elves snuggled under the covers, happy to be together again after the word-hunters’ first excursion. Evervale could have fallen asleep instantly, but her lovemates were curious about the trip.
**What did you see?** Longshot asked, propping himself up on one elbow next to Evervale.
**What did you learn?** Pathmark added, moving to sit cross-legged on the bed.
The elves' sendings ran over and through one another and Evervale giggled like it tickled. It felt so good to be back with her lovemates, especially when it was sleeping time. She hadn’t expected sleeping to be so lonely when traveling with the other word-hunters. She could take warmth and company from her traveling companions, but nothing was as comforting as her two chosen lovemates.
Though she was tired from the journey home, she was also excited to share her experiences. It wasn’t expected they would learn much in their first concerted effort to listen to the human language, but still, they had learned how to best spy on the humans. It was a start. Evervale sat up in the bed, pushing furs up to lean against.
Through sendings, her lovemates experienced the excitement Evervale had felt with every near encounter with the humans. She found the humans endlessly fascinating and felt enormous pride that she was chosen to be one of the word-hunters. She often found herself holding her breath while watching from a hiding spot, as if the humans had better hearing than elves. She knew it was ridiculous, but though the humans were interesting, they could also be dangerous. She had deep hope that the elves could become friends with the humans someday, but she had heard enough stories from past bloody encounters to know to be careful.
For their safety, the spying elves were always hidden behind leaves, bushes, or branches. This was how Evervale’s plantshaping abilities contributed to the effort. The plants obscured the view somewhat, but they could peek out to see the humans and quietly observe. The elves were always careful to hide their tracks and themselves.
“What I didn't know is how tiring it would all be. It takes a lot of energy and concentration to watch and listen to the humans. Every word combined with a gesture could convey meaning, if only we could capture it.” Evervale sighed and sunk deeper into the furs.
“Do I hear a hint of frustration? Even... impatience?” Longshot asked in a teasing tone. Evervale was always known for her patience.
She smiled, her eyes closed. “You do. I want so much to understand them, to speak with them. But it will take a long time.”
“We have time.” Pathmark offered in encouragement. “We're long-lived, and the thornwall keeps the humans at a distance until we are ready.”
Evervale nodded and yawned. Her head started to gently fall to the side. Longshot and Pathmark shared a smile, and then they drew the furs up to their tired lovemate's chin. They snuggled in on either side. "You also have time to rest." Longshot whispered. Evervale’s lips curled into a small smile. She would sleep well today.