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Old June 29th, 2012 (04:33 PM).
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Rhoda Dreyan - Port of Ekilore

Agog with excitement, the shortest passenger aboard the ship from Gallen leant further over the edge, her hair whipping about her round face and her lips receiving a battering from the briny sea air, not that she cared for how chapped they became. In fact, her cheeks were more ruddy than usual from exposure to fresh air, as opposed to the stuffy substance in the Mindirion atmosphere - she had been able to tell the difference as soon as she emerged from the mountains and stepped into the world of man, and Rhoda knew at that moment that she would never return home again - not for long anyway.

"Careful lass!" the human who had been escorting her for most of the journey, after her dwarven companion who had taken her from Mindirion had left her by Lake Rudel ("I can't swim, and I ain't walkin' 'round the bloody thing!"). "Don't want you falling in!"

"It's fine!" she beamed brightly at him, stretching her neck skyward and releasing an uninhibited giggle. The journey had been an amazing one at that, and she wished that there had been more time to spend at each little town they stopped in. She didn't even mind the stares - dwarves rarely made it this far south - and her enthusiasm and mannerisms were almost alien to the normal townsfolk. The food was delicious, fresher than what she was used to, and she had been able to try different kinds of ale too. What a night that was, three days ago, when she had been the only one in the tavern left standing! Admittedly her head had been pounding the following day, and her belongings seemed heavier than usual, but it had been absolutely worth it.

The plethora of people she had seen, both human and elven, had also been overwhelming. Many of them were extremely beautiful in her eyes, with the graceful way in which they moved (especially the women), and the men were so much different compared to the stocky dwarves back home! Each had his own distinct smell - which she had been adapting to, there were nearly as many new smells out here as there were humans (some scents more familiar than others) - and often told of the place he worked and how hard he toiled. Some of them even sported a sheen upon their skin that accentuated their shirtless bodies, clinging to every well-defined contour, it was a lot more pleasant than her father's ruddy face when he consumed too much ale and sat too close to the fire. That was another thing, chimneys! Oh, and the dark plumes of soot they belched out! Of course, she was aware that the smoke from dwarven fires went into a chamber somewhere in the mountain that connected to a fresh air supply, but she had never seen the grey trails streaming from a rooftop before.

If only Rhoda possessed some magical tool that could capture the sights she had seen far better than her memory, something that would fall victim to the passage of time. She frowned a little and stepped back away from the edge of the boat. Speaking of the passage of time... How long had it been since she left the mountains?

"If you look now, you'll see the island ahead," informed one of the crew, perhaps seeing the subtle change in her expression. "We're not far now."

Rhoda offered him a polite smile and crossed the deck; sure enough a large silhouette loomed in the distance. Admittedly she had not considered the nature of her quest beyond it being very important, and now as her mind wandered, butterflies made their way inside her stomach (a colloquialism that had horrified her at first) and began their frantic fluttering. She willed her digestive juices to destroy the strange sensation, and even bobbed up and down in an attempt to disturb them. She imagined herself as a bottle.

"Are you okay?" She stopped immediately at the voice behind her.

"Yes!" came her squeak. "I'm just very excited to finally be hitting dry land again!"

"We didn't get on this boat too long ago," mused her escort, "but aye, can't imagine your folk being natural sailors."

She chuckled in agreement, picturing her father and all the other men she knew. Their heavy armour would probably be enough to sink a vessel of this kind! Though, the fact that she couldn't swim had been very much on her mind prior to them boarding, but she had been reassured that someone would dive in after her, should she fall in. Her hesitation had been short lived when she espied one of the younger sailors, and much of the trip had revolved around watching his very strong arms working around the ship. Ah yes, he had a nice face too but those muscles!

- - -

There were a few other boats of varying size and grandeur already docked when their own finally reached the port, and the woman spent the time waiting for them to anchor writing notes about them in her journal. Sadly she had no knowledge of the different types of wood, only stones and a few gemstones, and made a mental note to harass a carpenter at some point on her journey, or even marry one.

When she was told they could get off she quickly shoved it into her bag, along with her quill and ink (making sure to cap the latter, she had already learned the hard way that it was capable of ruining one's clothes). A man was waiting for them with a pair of horses in tow and she swallowed thickly. Horses weren't the best thing for a dwarf, surely they could have provided her with a pony?

"This is where we part, lass," her escort explained, "but don't you worry, I'll be sticking around for a while so we might see each other again."

"Okay," she nodded, somewhat distracted by the prospect of mounting a horse. "Um, here."

He responded to her show of coin with a hearty laugh.

"I've already been paid, don't you worry!" he tousled her hair like one would a child. Rhoda grimaced but did not back down.

"Think of it as my own gratitude, like with those serving girls in that pub."

He had not the heart to tell her that they accepted money because of their profession, or that their profession involved going to bed with whichever man (or even men) had paid them, and humbly accepted the handful of coin.

"May the Nine watch over you," he mumbled quietly, the smile not fading from his thick, chapped lips.

- - -

Horseback riding was a lot easier when there was a young, strapping stable hand sitting behind you on your mount. All she had to do was cling to the front of the saddle and enjoy herself, he controlled the mare with clicks of his tongue and the reins. The landscape around them was subpar compared to that which she had previously experienced, but she was in no mood for sight seeing. Rhoda spent much of her journey contemplating the lad's age. Having a husband younger than she would be strange, considering her mother was her father's junior by ten years. At the same time she would not want a man much older, because she wasn't the sort who wanted to be looked after.

It was almost disappointing for the tower to come into sight, and Rhoda racked her brains for a way to make the lovely man behind her stay for the entire quest, but alas the horses moved quickly. There were a few figures up ahead, slowly but surely she could distinguish them better from human-shaped blobs to actual individuals. And as she caught view of the elven male, well, all thoughts about snaring the stable hand vanished. Why were surfacers so pretty?!

She dismounted as elegantly as she could, cordially thanking the men and quickly ducking behind her steed to adjust her hair. When it felt right beneath the touch of her fingers, she straightened to her full height, puffed out her chest and strode confidently towards them. Ah, there was a knight too, but he wasn't as pretty as the elf - was pretty even suitable to use for a male?

Of course, she had never even considered her own race as something they might react to, so greeted them in the same manner as she had done at every other stage during her journey. Even if it offended them, it would be a decent ice breaker.

"Hello there, you don't happen to know where I left my stilts, do you?"
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