he city of the Fair Folk is difficult to reach, nearly impossible without a guide or great good luck;
Qintarra is buried in the trackless depths of the Glimmering Forest, and that magickal place has a
way of turning unwelcome visitors away. The city is built in the most ancient heart of the sacred wood,
a place where fire, sickness and axe have made no mark in thousands of years. The trees are colossal,
towering hundreds of feet, and sometimes larger around the bole than 30 men could encompass. Virtually
all elven homes are built in the very arms of these arboreal titans, high above the ground.
The branches of these great trees serve the elves as streets and avenues, just cobblestones and brick
serve men in Tarant. Along the lofty paths there are dozens of little cottages, chinked with brilliant
green moss and girded about with flowering and fruiting vines; lush and undisciplined lianas sometimes
cover the whole dwelling thickly, and curtains of hanging moss may be drawn over a window for privacy.
Here and there, the open door of a tavern or shop spills light out into the shadowy city streets; if one
steps inside, one sees that the place is not lit with fire. The proprietor has captured a brace of golden
will-o-wisps instead, and he keeps them in spheres of clear glass to serve him as lamps.
In general, the elves do not stay much indoors. In any season, one is far more likely to find them crowding
the benches of a long banquet table, which has been laid with a great and sumptuous feast in some green
clearing about the city. There they sit, toasting one another's health and making merry, inviting any
passer-by to join them with loud shouts of welcome. Sitting down among the elves, one is immediately
half-drowned in their wine and conversation; everyone must roar to be heard above the musicians, who
are busy weaving those intricate melodies of pipe and lute and tambor which please elves best. Then
all at once they may all rise, and begin a ring-dance which is quite dizzying to watch…
Just as one is learning the steps of this dance, it halts suddenly. Amidst the general shouting and
laughter, a silence falls: as if some Voice has spoken which only they can hear, the elves hurry back
to their table and gather up what they can, each one balancing many jugs and platters haphazardly. To
the nearest shelter they go, beckoning the bewildered human visitor after them, and he follows, wondering
what can all this mean? Only when he has reached the shelter of the pagoda does he hear what they have
heard; the distant hiss of rain in the leaves overhead, a rain which presently begins to fall...