Chapter 1 Part 2 (and a half)

For one Samythiel Earthenboot, the day couldn’t have had a more ordinary start. Constantly moving his easel away from the walls as he placed details while the stone’s sweat dribbled down and occasionally kissed him on the thinning spot atop his head. He’d come to this chair every day for the past two weeks to finish a new painting of the sky over the far mountain range. This particular morning started with a bird, soaring through the air, and the question of whether or not he should add its little smudge in the center of the painting.
He peered out of the hole in the mountain, about six months ago now all the vent holes in Kalenglough the Great were illuminated with great sunbeams as a falling star tore across the night sky and descended somewhere in the sea. The sprays of the ocean had sent icy javelins into people’s homes, amid all this no one was hurt terribly, fortunately enough. Though he remembered well the morning after when King Ignar had called upon his father, mother, and two older sisters to investigate the crater left behind. They had yet to return. He still had the scroll with the order, delivered by an Eynnil lass who seemed more annoyed and frightened to be inside the mountain than any other outsider he’d met.
He wasn’t terribly accustomed to the Eynnilfolk, and their rammish appearances, he knew that there was one that served diligently with the mountain scouts. She lived close enough to the other scouts that he didn’t get to see her that often. Though, on occasion, when he painted near the explorer’s halls or went to the pub he could catch a glimpse of her. She often would be wrestling with someone or maintaining her great stag’s immaculate grey coat.
He pondered this as a courier came clattering down the walkway close to the wall. Also a fine Eynnic lady, with feathered tufts around her ears that ran in two lines down her shoulders. She came to a stop beside his easel.
Dwarves were diminutive humans in appearance. Perhaps a bit broader to make up for the lack of height. Yet it always mystified Samytheil that these folk rarely came to say hello to the residents of Khalenthel. More importantly why oh why was this courier, with big eyes, just standing there and watching. She was plain, silent, and seemed unable to move left or right. Waiting, until he holstered his paintbrush in the crook of his thumb and turned on his spinning stool.
“Can I help ye lass?” he’d said after minutes of deafening silence. It was only then that she finally began to move. With cervid eyes that gazed down her flat face at the Dwarf, she somehow looked right through his chest and at a stray spot of paint on the ground.
“Yes,” was all she said as she passed a scroll case and a sack of silver chips to him. “Our matron superior has requested that you paint a mural in our abbey. Please come to Brinorion post haste, we…eh…eagerly await your arrival.” She clasped her hands in front of her middle, scraping her cloven hoof on the stone and waiting to be dismissed.
Samythiel took both of these items, balancing them as gently as he would a baby. He thanked the courier. He returned to painting, giving her the opportunity to leave.
She remained. Standing. Staring. Watching with an almost blank expression. He couldn’t help but keep casting glances at her. This courier, why did she stay, he wondered to himself.
“Anythin’ else I can help ye with?” he asked, turning back to her.
“Oh no, I’m fine. I’m just waiting is all” she replied sweetly. She even mustered a smile on her pale tan face. “I cannot leave until you tell me I can go” she kept her voice soft, and mechanically level in tone. Everything about her was neutral, plain, and inoffensive. From the way she stood there to how she left just as soon as she arrived once Samythiel dismissed her.
Eynnil sure are a strange sort of folk, thought Samythiel as he waved her away. She seemed all too happy to get scuttling back along the walls of Khalenthel to return to the ram masters and go back to where she came from. He loosed a long sigh, drying the paint on the canvas, this would have to wait until he returned. Returned when? Thought he, the last news from Brinorion was after the falling star. He took the moment to clean his hands of oil paint and open the scroll with his order from the Lanh Brinorion Abbey. Nothing mentioned the king, nor expeditions. Just a mural for the Abbey.
The wind began to howl outside as noontime passed and the clouds for a particularly nasty sounding blizzard. Cold air seeped into the mountain causing the flew workers to run the furnaces hotter to keep the iron flow up. Surely a trek down in this weather would have to take some bribing of the local mountain scout. Although many of the brave souls inside of the mountain were taking their promised time off. Any scout would at least be a little grumpy about a mere painter asking them for help back down the freezing paths into Milgan. Then to trudge back up the mountain. Perhaps if he produced the orders from the abbey, he could be a bit more convincing.
A share of these silver chips.
No such luck at first came for Samythiel, he met the resident Eynnil who seemed to have no interest in returning to her people. She’d come cantering down the walkway pulling her trusty great stag along. The only thing he could do was throw his hands into the air and do his best to demand that she stops right there and help him get as far as Milgen.

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