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He surely was a dwarf, Araia was now positive that the sturdy little man marching off at a quick pace had to be one of the miner from the nearby mountains. She shook her in disbelief and quickened to catch up with the mountain man.
"May I ask for you name, gentle dwarf?" she asked.
"Gentle dwarf indeed!" he answered between huffs and puffs. "Two score years in the coal mines should harden all gentle spots from the likes of us. Hah! The dwarves of Jorna - but say now, you know me a dwarf?" Here the sturdy dwarf pulled at his beard with mirth. "Aye so you be not a dull-witted child after all. Humph! And the lord had said that the tawny-haired lass was to be castle-bred. But ho, a smart lass you are and smart wits will be more your friend then I or the fair mare, on this journey on which we must quicken our getting to!"
With that the dwarf slung her bags across another shoulder and broke into a steady trot.
"Perhaps we could both take to horse, sir dwarf? Would it not quicken our pace if we both rode - "
"Quite fine I am on my two own feet lass! I'd be a cold corpse I should before I'd be slung across the back of beasts. Two feet have we both and them we will use."
Suddenly they broke out of the dense woods and Araia found herself a dozen paces off a highway road.
"Surely this is not the Tralin that we have reached so quickly. I could have sworn it was still many leagues to the west..." Her words forgotten as she gaped at the ferocious and sudden rise of the mountain at her back. It seemed that they had traveled twenty leagues in the span of a handful of minutes and yet, truly this was the Tralin highway and those were the jagged rises of the mountain Jorna. The white capped hills chilled her and the air got noticeably cool. She shivered as much from the cool as from the strange landscape.
"There is a taste of magick here," she muttered under her breathe. Magick! It had to be, the only explanation for having moved so quickly through the woods and yet - she dared not believe it to be true - the dwarf had wielded some arcane spell and whisked them away. Far away still they could go, over the mountains and past the last posting of the Tralin and even - though the notion made her hand rise to her throat - beyond still to lands unknown. Yes this was it! This is what she had wanted, this freedom, this joy of adventure. She could barely believe it to be true.
"The roads of Tralin lead not so very far, Lady Araia of Tor, indeed they are pitiful etching in the grand realm of this plane. Truly I tell you."
The voice echoed softly in her mind, gently caressing the walls of her thoughts before vanishing. Araia jumped back terrified.
"You!" She stood, mouth gaping, at the impossibly tall man from her dreams. "You're real..."
"Why of course dear," he answered bemused. "Had you never known? But now come. The sorcerer awaits us and the night draws near. Come gentle woman. Fear not one you have known since childhood, little rose."
As if caught under the spell from his very presence, Araia stumbled after her childhood hero unable to draw away from the magnetism of those yellow, slitted eyes.
|Asmara's Bane - Chap. 7||s.t.g.m ~ byron adaptation|
|Asmara's Bane - Chap. 3||Asmara's Bane - Chap. 10|
|Asmara's Bane - Chap. 11||Asmara's Bane - Chap. 13|