An idyllic scene:
The beautiful woodlands stretch off into the distance in all directions, a small muddy cart-track meandering off towards the rest of civilisation.
A selection of... mostly-human individuals, sitting or crouching by a sparkling stream flanked with a profusion of bluebells, panning the water for something - not gold, something more precious than gold, something more magic...
All of them have some slightly non-human features - prominent green veins, or patches of bark, or vines and flowers growing amongst the hair, or thorns jutting awkwardly through the skin. All of them have at least one prominent tattoo, a variation on the theme of a twining thorned branch; some have many more.
A few children running here and there, not tattooed, fetching and carrying and dancing and playing. Some are a little green-veined, some with scabs of bark from inevitable childhood accidents.
In general, a peaceful and Prosperous place, if a little light on infrastructure and facilities; some wooden structures cling to the forest's edge above the brook, haphazard shelters built with love and energy and not very much in the way of skill and patience.
An idyllic scene:
And Deskyl heads back, looping past the traders' wagon and the forge to make sure all is in order before turning toward her tent.
The traders are just doing a final check to make sure everything is secured before they head on to First Voice. Allegra is helping direct where things go in the warehouse; many people are excitedly planning dinner with fresh ingredients.
The forge builders have set into a comfortable rhythm and are mostly trying to get enough of the roof frame up that they can stretch some canvas over it and not have to leave any of the new supplies or materials fully outside overnight.
So nice to be part of a community.
Definitely time for a nap, though; she won't venture out again until dinnertime unless someone disturbs her.
The afternoon is quiet; Allegra comes past to the forge, and checks if anyone is out of the tent and might want anything, but doesn't disturb them.
And at dinnertime Deskyl comes out, without DZ, to see about getting something to eat.
A variety of people (who were clearly keeping a general eye on the tent to see if anyone would emerge) would like to offer her various foods, and hospitality in their homes if she'd like, which they attempt to convey in a variety of improvised hand signs; fortunately one of them has a good idea, scribbles down some offers, and attempts to hand her the notebook (handmade rag paper, it looks like, bound in waxy leaf covers) and pencil (surprisingly manufactured looking) to reply.
She considers the offers, visibly thinking through whether she wants to leave DZ behind in the tent, but ultimately decides that it'd be nice to get out for a while and picks an invitation to eat with a family.
They lead her to what is a lovely and spacious house by Foundhome standards - it has two whole rooms, a front room with a big folding table and lots of folding chairs (and a variety of bedrolls tucked away at the sides), and the back room where the fire is, some more cushion-y furniture and two proper beds.
A teenager pulls out a seat at the table for her and gestures for her to sit down; the oldest member of the household, with bark over the bridge of a nose that's clearly been broken at least once, comes out of the back room with a large tureen of venison soup, as someone who could be his son gets bowls off a shelf and starts putting them down at the table. It looks like there's three generations in the house, the older man, two people who could be his children, and four children ranging from teenage to maybe six or so, who on second glance don't actually all look very related to the others.
All of them are very happy to be able to welcome the Mysterious Guest, although the older man is a bit worried about how she's going to be able to express food preferences if she has any; the youngest has got her Best Trying To Be Good face on and has a couple of extra cushions stacked on her chair to have a seat at the table at the right height.
Oh goodness a little kid, it's been quite a while since Deskyl's been around a little kid. (Well, that she remembers, anyway.) She's not quite sure what to do with one - smile and give a little wave, that seems safe enough?
The small child is so excited! She waves back vigorously, and is clearly saying some things, with the approximate emotional content 'hello I am a person and you are super cool and you acknowledged me and that is super cool!'.
The teenager says something to the small child, and she stops talking and looks kind of confused and awkward.
The slightly older girl, probably a tween or younger teenager but beanpole tall, starts ladling soup into bowls; the adult woman finds some scrap paper with market prices for various goods printed on one side, and a pencil, and puts them down next to Deskyl in case she wants to communicate anything more complicated.
Aw, that didn't go well. Deskyl looks distant for a moment, and then: "It... okay." (Her voice is rough from disuse, on top of the obvious disfluency.) She does nod appreciatively at the pencil and paper, and takes a sniff of her soup and nods approvingly.
The six-year-old perks right up and says something triumphantly back to the teenager, then gets distracted by carefully trying to blow on a spoonful of soup to cool it down without getting it everywhere, at which she is only moderately successful.
The other child is a bit more shy, and is peering at Deskyl when he thinks she is busy with her food and not watching.
Everyone sits down and commences soup; the door to the back room is still propped open and the older man seems a bit distracted, possibly keeping track of time until the next course is ready.
Deskyl allows her soup to distract her for a couple minutes before catching the older kid's eye and giving him a smile too.
He immediately looks away bashfully, but he is quietly pleased about this and keeps sneaking glances in case it happens again.
The family are now chattering away companionably to each other, although the probable-son glances anxiously at her a bit, like she might feel excluded.
'It's nice to be around people even if I can't talk to them,' she writes to the son. 'Don't worry about it.'
She'll mostly ignore the bashful kid - it'd get awkward to pay him too much attention - but he can have a couple more smiles.
The son nods and smiles appreciatively.
On the third attempt, the young boy shyly smiles back.
Soup is successfully consumed, at least mostly (some is spread around the table a bit near the younger kids); the older man heads back out to the back room followed by his son with a stack of plates.
The woman offers the last bit of soup to Deskyl if she wants it; the teenager is clearly hoping she doesn't, although is inexpertly trying to hide this politely.
'I'm fine, thank you', she writes.
The rest of the soup goes into the teenager's bowl, much to his relief. The woman starts stacking bowls.
The son starts coming back out of the back room with plates of slightly unevenly roasted meat, with new potatoes and fresh vegetables; the first one goes in front of Deskyl.
Probably they aren't getting their meat from the traders, and this is fresh enough not to make anyone sick even if the cooking isn't quite up to par, but she's going to take a moment to check anyway; fortunately this doesn't look like much.
It's not absolutely fresh, you want to hang venison for a bit for the best taste, but it isn't going to make anyone sick - in fact it seems almost suspiciously clean of anything that might cause disease, like someone's magically caused it to definitely not be dangerous to eat.
Tasty, too. She makes a face about it at the head of the household.
He beams with pride, and makes some kind of comment she can't hear but it's probably something intended to credit everyone else who contributed to the meal.
The woman cuts up the meat for the smallest child; the little boy seems to be determined to successfully eat like an adult, although he struggles a little bit with being coordinated enough; there's already a bit of bark come in on his hands.
Maybe she should talk to Allegra at some point about offering to try healing off some of these peoples' bark - they mostly don't seem bothered but there're a few cases where it looks pretty uncomfortable, and apparently the offer won't draw nearly as much attention here as it would at home.
Anyway, dinner. Very tasty.
After the main course is satisfactorily dealt with, the old man carries another round of bowls into the back room, and brings them out one by one filled with what the family clearly believes is a highly anticipated special treat - a fresh fruit salad.
She's visibly appreciative of this, too - she might miss the fancy food she's used to eventually, but the simpler things here certainly have their own charm too, even if she wasn't inclined to take them in the spirit in which they're offered.