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Those of the Shire

The meeting had been called, messengers carried the information through the underground and then out into the woods.  Everyone knew and slowly they started to arrive, coming to the circle in small groups or individually.  In the middle of the circle a large fire had been lit, it crackled and flamed, radiating heat and light throughout the circle and out into the cave system.  Torches and candles illuminated the area but allowed enough shadows to fall comforting those wary of the light.    Slowly people started to arrive, finding their spot, talking quietly amongst themselves.  It was a large turn out, some younger ones sat close to the fires, whilst others played on the edges.  Abra looks up from talking to Daemon, frowning a little as she works out how to say what is needed tonight.

"After much discussion we have decided to call this meeting, in relation to the recent events with  those others we have contact with.  Many of us have suffered because of this, have had their existence doubted, have been called liars.  We have always been people that were proud of who they were, and I know it is hard to think of being any other way.  But the harm that has been done, especially to Fern is not something I wish to see continue."  As she speaks several people look over towards Fern, the once cheery girl seems depressed as if her soul has been tied down.  It surprises a few, as they had not realise the damage done.  The once flighty woman, that use to dance and laugh looks dull, the joy in her seemingly crushed.

"I am proposing tonight that we, the otherkin of the Shire, keep our heritage, our difference hidden from the outside world"  At that many voices raised from the assembled crowd, the anger at this was so obvious.  Vagant stood, his ebony appearance, the pure blackness of his skin and eyes contrasted by the snow white hair and feathery wings that brushed against the floor. "Why should hide our very being because of the ignorance of humans?  Why should we pay the price for someone's stupidity?"

"Because that, my friend, is the way of that world.  We all understand the rules of out there, and we trusted too quickly.  We can not risk another to suffer as Fern has.  Abra is strong, she can survive this, so are  you, but what of Fern, and Saffron and Jakarta.  What do we do when their being is ridiculed?" The silent voice from the back sounded, carrying through the crowd by the very windy so it seemed to speak into their ears.  Each member slowly turned to find the one that spoke, and there was a gasp when we all saw her standing there.  The grey folds of her dress fluttering around her like she was caught in a draft.

"We are accepted in the Shire, those humans that live amongst us are now our friends, we have our place." She continued.  "But the harm caused that child by the insensitive of others is unbearable to me, and I do not want to see another person crushed like this.   Can we sit back and let this continue, can our own needs outweigh the safety and well being of those that are least able to look after themselves.  I do not believe that we could hold ourselves with pride if we leave the gentle ones to face this discrimination"

With that the WindDancer turned and walked away from the meeting, leaving them all stunned.  No one knew what more to say as they exchanged glances.  The WindDancer's appearance was so unheard of that the arguments, the opinions that were going to be expressed seemed to vanish with her.  People sat looking at each other in the silence that followed.  The arguments that had so vocally been expressed just hung in the air, no one wanted to speak first.  Finally Daemon released the meeting, making another for next week, telling each to think about what they wanted.

A week had past, the next meeting arrived and slowly once again the circle was filled.  People seemed more subdued, more withdrawn as they found their space.  The fires were lit, and the torches burning, but this time no children played, no light conversations buzzed.  There was a seriousness that was more obvious than usual, even amongst those known for their light heartedness.

"We all know why it is we are here.  We have but one decision to make."  Daemon spoke, keeping his voice the calm flatness which all knew was him keeping his anger in check, his eyes a dull burning red as he looked around.  "Let us not squabble like children, but rather find a way to meet some compromise."

"That's fine for you Daemon, you don't venture out into their world much, you don't have anything to lose by this decision, but you aren't a god, they only made you."  Her voice a rumble from the back, the disdain showing clearly.  "I, like many of my kind want a life out there, but I am tried of hiding, why should we feel shame just because of a few ignorant people."

"Yes Drelyn, but if we want to live in that world, don't we have to live by their rules.  We are visitors in their land after all."

The arguments moved back and forward, people responding from their place, from their need until things started to become heated and personal.  It wasn't long before the original proposal was lost amidst the hurt feelings and personal agendas.  Daemon looked over at Abra, the look of frustration and annoyance he often felt when dealing with large groups, all with their own perspective and inability to see another's point of view.  Abra laid her hand on Daemon's the cool touch meant to reassure him as she stood in an attempt to regain control over the meeting.  But before she could speak, Fern rose from where she was sitting in the back, her eyes filled with the tears she promised herself she would not let flow, and she spoke forward in a voice wavering to remain under control.

"Enough, please.  I never meant for any of this to happen, all I wanted to do was have a little fun, relieve some of the stress we were under.  I wasn't prepared, I hadn't spoken with humans very much.  But this fighting, it isn't helping me, it isn't making Saffron feel any safer.  You all think you are right, but all you are doing is making us feel worse."  She looked slowly around the group, then stood more proudly.  "If any of your really cared about the welfare of those here that are not as strong, you wouldn't be fighting amongst yourselves, you would instead be helping us learn to deal with it.  Sorry but you are all so damn selfish."

Once again the meeting feel silent, the guilt of the words spoken showed clearly amongst them as they looked from Fern to the others sitting around her.  They could see the fear, the shame at not being so strong.  Those gentle ones felt that this meeting, all the anger, had been their doing.  As Fern sat back down again, the meeting continued, more reserved.  This one girl, so hurt by the ignorance of others had managed to achieve what no one else could.  She got all the different kin, all those that would prefer to fight, to talk, to work out a compromise.

As Abra watched the meeting disperse, she sat back down, sighing softly.  Each person here tonight had lost so much already, had fought for survival.  They deserved better than to hide away, be ashamed of their being.  But Abra knew better than most, that people would always have an issue with accepting a reality so different than their own.  A concession had been reached.  One that allowed strong people to choose when to speak of their true self, but allowed a judgment call to govern who was allowed into their reality.  She watched Fern and Surina talking, an alliance forming between the two most unlikely people, one a woodrah, so full of glee and mischief, the other a Stone Rah, strong and wise.  Maybe there could come from this meeting an unexpected result, a building of trust and camaraderie that had never really been present in the underground.