It was not difficult to tell where the path became less traveled, the dirt fading gradually into the newly erupted green shoots of grass with the tender stems of flowers beginning to show themselves with the onset of spring. This path was one rarely traveled, for few left the forest into which it led and fewer still would return. Though on the surface the appearance was that of a verdant and peaceful forest, those from outside knew better than to intrude onto the ancient and sacred village of the elves which dwelled within. A solitary line of footprints in the soil still soft from the previous night's rain indicated, however, that there was one person heading into the forest. Sunlight filtering down through the leafy branches of the trees caught Vale's hair and caused it to shine as brightly as an emerald caught in full sun. It had been a long time since he had been home and yet it felt as though no aspect of the forest had changed. Even the tiny bird singing on a branch near his head seemed to be the same from his memory - the only thing that had changed was Vale himself. Smiling, Vale continued on what was now less than a path and more aptly a groove worn ever-so-slightly into the plants underfoot. After nearly an hour of walking through the undergrowth, following the faint indications of a trail, Vale emerged into a large clearing. This was the sacred village, the elven home within this region. While fiercely guarded and older than any could recall, the village did not at first seem to be anything so old or impressive. There were simple wooden homes built into the trees and few across the floor made of rock that appeared as though they had been formed by nature's own hand for how naturally they emerged from the ground. At the center, a natural spring formed a basin of water clear and sweet. A child near the entrance of the village looked up at Vale with wide, questioning eyes but said nothing. His hands were sticky with juice from the fruit that he was cramming into his mouth, evidenced by the residue left on the wooden sword he had obviously been mock training with. Vale ruffled the child's hair, wondering if the boy's mother might be one of the girls with whom he had spent his childhood. The time for idle thoughts was not this one, though, and Vale continued with a slightly faster step toward the stone structure at the back of the village, different from the others in size and ornamentation. This was where the elders spent their time resting, meditating, and resolving issues. Larger than the rest of the structures and engraved across the sides with script and images of the goddess, the Goddess Stone was the pride of the entire village. This was where Vale was headed, to discuss the worrying affairs of the outside world which seemed so removed from this one.