Thursday, June 28, 2012

Emma pt. 1

Her silk shoes made no noise against the carved stone floor.  She clutched her small bag to her chest, glancing from side to side in case someone saw her out of her chambers this time of night.

Her family’s home was in the old dwarven style; carved out of the mountainside.  The walls of the house were sheer rock face. The furniture, tables, chairs, even lamps, did not rest in the room, they were rock extending out of the floor and ceiling.  Emma’s mother boasted that they were the only noble dwin family in the Paldurain court that lived like proper dwarves. 

Emma found it all suffocating.  Her whole life the stone walls had made her feel closed in, rooted.  As a child she had nightmares of her feet sinking into the ground, trapping her in her bedroom for the rest of her life, just like her bed and wardrobe. 

She’d quickly learned the best way to fight that feeling of entrapment was to run at every occasion.  She ran races with her siblings, ran all her errands, challenging herself to run the same distance faster and faster each time. 

As she grew older Emma began to believe that it was foolish for dwin to model their lives after a race of people lost so many generations ago.  There were no dwarves anymore and who could say, had dwarves lived through the Divide, that they would have continued their old ways.  Yet many in the dwin city of Paldurain admired their lost dwarven cousins, elevating them and their pre-Divide culture to godlike stature. 

Emma could never find any like minds in her family, her siblings and cousins all venerated dwarves and delighted in their dwarven lifestyle.  Among her peers in the houses that made up the Paldurian court there were a few who agreed with Emma, but a good deal more who only looked jealously at her fine dwarven home. 

It wasn’t until she was old enough to wander the city alone that she found people who truly shared her philosophy, dwin who wanted to make their own culture, move away from the mountains, maybe even find work in human cities.  These people had introduced her to many new ideas, lending her books and taking her to new places in and around Paldurain. 

That was where she hurried to tonight.  Rilen, a girl only three years older than Emma, waited for her outside the house gates.  Emma heard her brother’s voice echo down the hallway, the sounds of many companions following it.  Emma smiled, with her brother and his friends making this much noise so late at night very few eyes would be looking elsewhere in the house. 

The kitchen was empty, as she guessed it would be, and the door to the back tunnels was unlocked.  She slipped out, fingering the key in her bag. Once in the tunnels she broke into a sprint, letting her hood fall off her head, exposing her short brown hair.  She slowed as the outer tunnel door approached, groping in her bag for the key. 

She leaned into the door, a round stone slab more than four times her height.   Her breath was even and calm, the brief sprint not nearly enough to wind her.  The lock clicked and Emma heaved her weight into the door.  Despite its size it gave easily, swinging out smoothly with no noise.  Dwarven craftsmanship. 

Rilen was outside, shifting nervously on the stone road, the large dwarven houses of the upper valley made her uncomfortable.  Her long black hair was done up in looping braids pinned to side of her head and they bounced as she turned back and forth, watching around her.

When Emma saw Rilen she pulled the silk shoes off her feet and threw them to her friend.  Rilen put them in her bag and threw Emma some boots. Emma’s mother had refused to buy her a pair of real boots, so Emma always had to borrow them from her friend if she didn’t want to ruin her silk shoes. 

“How far is it?” Emma asked.

“On the other side of the Velshin field.  We should hurry.”

Barely stopping to put on the boots, Emma turned west and ran toward the Velshin field.  Rilen turned to follow her, falling slightly behind Emma's quick pace. 

The air was warm, the sky black, clouds blocking out the stars.  Emma hoped it would rain while she was out.  Locked up in her house as a child she rarely saw rain.  Being outside in a downpour was one of her greatest pleasures now.

Emma heard Rilen breathing heavily behind.  Emma slowed slightly to ease the pace.  They were in the middle of the field now, squat stone carvings of long dead dwarven lords lined the path. They ran for a long time, not speaking, and Emma enjoyed breathing in the night air.

“They’re from Varlum?”  Emma finaly asked about the people they were going to see.

“No, they went through Varlum,” Rilen’s words were uneven as she breathed heavily, “but they’re from farther north.” 

“Humans and dwin from the north?”

“The dwins are from Paldurian I think.”  Rilen stopped completely and put her hands on her knees.  “The camp is over there.” She gestured to the far side of the field where small fires glowed. 

Emma could see horses from here, huge things, blocking out the camp light, pawing at the ground.  Her heartbeat speed as she got closer to the animals. 

Voices came from around the fire, laughter and talking.  She ignored the people and walked straight to the closest horse. 

Continue to Part 2

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