~~Two years earlier~~
"I might prefer that, over the boredom here in Alondria," Talia said. She finished tying her left-arm bracer, taking a second to study the intricate details. The bracer was made by her great-grandfather for a war that never happened. It was missing the scars of battle that heirlooms from other families wore with pride. It was missing the blood of its owner after becoming mortally wounded. It was missing a story, and that is why Talia wanted to leave.
"My father casked wine for a living," said Talia. "He was poor, miserable, and he died alone after he left my mother." She wiped her eyes, hoping to hide the tears from her friend. "My mother...she had to raise me alone. Disowned by her parents for daring to marry someone as impure as my father."
"How do you mean?" asked Sha'hari. "What, is there some dark family secret you've never told me?" Sha'hari laughed, and then stopped when she looked at Talia's sorrowful expression. "Talia," she said. "What's wrong?"
"My father." Talia was struggling to fight her emotions. "He was from Merithal. He was born to a family of dryad. The only half-human born to their kind."
Sha'hari took a step back. Her hand crept towards the hilt of her short-sword. "You are a monster then? Like your father before you?" She wrapped her fingers around the leather-wrapped hilt. Her muscles tensed, ready to draw her weapon if needed.
"And is there any wonder why I'm ready to leave this place, mother?" Talia said.
"None whatsoever, my child." The voice sounded almost etherial as it came from nowhere and everywhere all at once. Sha'hari drew her sword and charged at her friend.
"Explain what's going on," she screamed, "or your head will soon roll across this floor."
Talia stifled a laugh. Her mouth contorted into a half-smirk before she said, "Sha, you know as well as I do that blade can't even cut the grass that grows outside. Now, please, let me go. I am not a monster, but I am still your friend." She grabbed the edge of Sha'hari's sword and pushed her away. "Once you calm down, I will explain everything."