Note: This sort of follows on from Unnb. Reading that first would provide useful context to some things in this story.
Looking quietly over Lok-Fen from dry land, Sann Varin scrawls observations in a tiny notebook. It is a resilient little thing, battered but not defeated by years of water damage. Similar things could be said of old Sann himself, for life in Dralkwood is not easy, but he is a druid and would not choose any other life. Amongst themselves, druids pass on knowledge through song and story, but they understand the power of the written word, and so Sann Varin writes and writes and does so meticulously. The scribbled contents of his notebook, should anyone manage to read his shaky handwriting, are the most direct and detailed source of information humankind has on the fenfolk. In the druidic circles, there are three fields of expertise: fauna, flora, and fae. The fenfolk either fit into none of these categories or all three. It is not clear, even to the likes of Sann. The inherent connection between everything alive and the world itself is core to the druidic belief system, but the ancient Lore never mentioned creatures as ambiguous as the fenfolk. This is why Sann must study them and write everything down. The gap in the Lore must be filled.
Until recently, Sann had never seen a fen creature leave the boundaries of Lok-fen. It was simply the way of things, he gathered. Most people, even druids, could not tell one from another, but Sann knew this individual, at least. It was the same fenling leaving every time, and every time they looked around as if afraid when passing the boundary. Many times Sann had silently stalked them, but this time is different. The fenling sees him, and lumbers quickly back home. Sann writes this down.
The next day, to his surprise, Sann sees the creature again. He used to wait many days between sightings, but their ventures beyond the fen are getting more frequent. Apparently seeing a human has not put them off. Sann hums a gentle melody, normally used to calm restless fae. He hopes it will mean something to the fenling, and that they will understand he is not a threat. The plan works and the creature does not back off as he approaches. He stops three paces away, and looks up into their dark green eyes. The fenling would have towered above any human. Sann was around average height in his youth, but the slight hunch age has given him makes the size difference even more dramatic.
He has used his skills to listen every day from afar, and has tried to make sense of their language, but with only a little success. He attempts to introduce himself. “Hu Gnn buk Sann Varin.”
“Saannvvrinbk’bnu Kuumm…” The words seem to bubble up from within the fenling over a deep bass undertone. Sann doesn’t know whether the reply means “Sann Varin who is unknown” or “Sann Varin who does not know”, but at least the fenling seems to understand that he had said his name.
“Huugnnbk Unnb,” says Unnb. That was what Sann had meant, but he could never manage the pronunciation of those five consonants in a row.
“I am glad to speak with you, Unnb,” says Sann. He then tries to say it in the fen language, to a bemused stare from Unnb.
Unnb hands him an algae-covered stone, then turns and hurries away.
The stone would seem meaningless to most people, but Sann can sense subtle magic within. It’s not the active and vibrant magic of sorcerers, nor the mystical forces of the fae, but a passive essence of natural power not unlike that which druidic lore is based on. Sann is sure it wasn’t a meaningless gesture. Unnb must have known or guessed that it’s something Sann can work with. He stays up late into the night, trying to get a feel for it. After some hours, he has a sense of it. He can make his power flow to the same pattern as that of the stone. He goes to sleep, pleased with his progress.
The next day, he takes the stone with him and waits. Sure enough, Unnb comes to him. Sann lets his power match that within the stone and speaks his own language. Through the magic stone, Unnb understands. He tells them about the druidic circle, and his efforts to understand the fenfolk. Unnb tells Sann about life in the fen and their unique yearning to see beyond, and the impossibility of that dream. They ask each other question after question until Unnb can no longer comfortably stay out of the fen. Sann promises to help Unnb find a way to last longer on dry land and says goodbye.
In one short conversation, Sann has learned more about the fenfolk than in years of observation. As Unnb lumbers away, Sann comes as close to jumping for joy as his old bones can handle, and then heads back to camp to tell the other druids what he’s learned.
Meanwhile, Unnb’s usually slow consideration of things reaches new paces as they consider the possibilities of what Sann might have to show… and what might happen if the Druumm knew about any of this. The fear of getting caught makes it all the more exciting, an emotion generally unfamiliar in fenfolk communities.