Layla has walked up the trail from town. The tall Strider is carrying a satchel over her shoulder and has paused in the middle of the road to gaze up at the large oak tree.
The noise of many small feet approaches from the mountain.
Layla spins quickly towards the noise. She peers into the distance.
What comes into view, along the road, are a multitude of people - about a dozen - dressed in green and none over eighteen inches high.
Layla moves to the side of the road and into the shadow of the great oak tree. She's not exactly hiding, yet not exactly in plain sight either.
The troop comes more fully into view, straggling in a disorganized, yet purposeful way along the road. The leader - at least, one assumes that one is the leader since s/he is carrying a long slender wand - stops directly in front of Layla, tosses back a mane of long brown hair, and cries out in a clear contralto voice, "Layla Block! By the blessed day, look who we've met here!"
About a dozen people, none of them taller than eighteen inches high. They are stocky, sturdy-looking people with brown hair and brown skin and clever-looking hands, and are all dressed in green trousers, green jackets, and bright red boots. Gender is difficult to determine, for they are all squarely-shaped, with hair down to the ground (some worn in ponytails and braids) and deeply-wrinkled faces despite the lack of gray in the hair. Their spokesperson carries a long slender wand, quite straight and with gray bark on it.
She is a tall, willowy redhead with green eyes that curiously compliment her dark Mediterranean complexion. She has classicallyNear Eastern features.She speaks with a unplaceable accent - definately not the flat American accent, but otherwise unplaceable.She is wearing a long dark cotton dress with Indian embroidery.Copper jewelry colours her wrists.
Layla's widen at the mention of her name, then she regains her composure and manages a stately nod. "Greetings to you. If I'm not being to forward, may I ask what brings you to this neck of the woods?"
One of the people (with hisser hair in a braid) steps up beside the spokesperson. "She's asking what we're doing here, your honour," says Braided Hair gravely, and another adds, "Indeed, she did ask." The spokesperson says, "And how courteous of you to ask, Layla, we're here just in the way of looking for you. Isn't it lucky that we found you here?"
Layla sits down in one graceful motion that sends her skirt swirling and twirling about her body. She rests her chin upon her hands and reguards the folk with great interest. "How may I help you?"
"Ah, but it is good of you to ask that," says the spokesperson. Another one, wearing hisser hair in a ponytail, says "And what a timely question!" The spokesperson sets the butt of the wand down in the dust and says, "Isn't it lucky and isn't timely that we met you on the road like this! For you see, Layla of the changing breed, it is true that we need your help."
Layla attentively nods and waits for the spokesperson's story to continue.
"You see, we need your help. The Cold Ones want the mountain, and we must defend it from them. We are not warriors, but it is known among us that those who walk on two legs and leave wolf tracks are."
Layla glances up at the mountains and then back to the folk. "What can you tell me about the Cold Ones?"
The spokesperson shrugs, and it is Ponytail who speaks. "The children of winter. They don't wish to give up their dominion, even under the new-awakened sun." The others nod gravely, standing with their legs apart and with their hands on their hips, or arms folded over their chests.
Layla, showing off her Mediterrarean blood, tucks her shawl about herself even more firmly and shivers. "Where might the Cold Ones be found? And how were they able to gain influence over the seasons so firmly?"
Braided Hair shrugs. "They are in the Winter Court, and in many places here. As to the seasons, it is their nature."
Layla asks what she hopes is the obvious. "What do you need us to do to stop them and bring an end to winter?"
The troop seems to gather closer around as the spokesperson explains. "We have decided on a contest, a battle which will happen tonight. We each can gather help, and we have need of yours. If you will agree to fight for us, then our hopes are great."
Layla tucks a corner of her shawl about her neck and says "You have my glad assistance. I would honored to go to battle for you."
The entire troop bows, and thanks her. "My lady, you have our thanks," "And the gratitude of our people," "We are gratified that you will help us," "Many thanks, Layla of the Changing Ones."
Layla nods to the folk as they speak to her. Her brow knits as she ponders the upcoming battle.
After a last round of bows, the troop starts marching again, and soon vanishes on the road toward the town.
[The Troop then moves to the Diner for the Choosing of the Warriors.]