Birth of a Legend
A strange mist hovered over the fields, silently enveloping the wheat that grew there, subtly swirling and shifting into eerie shapes in the dawn’s first light. Soon the sun would break through the clouds to burn the mist away and the heat and soft breeze would dry the dew that even now was making the hem of her dress damp.
She loved this time of day when the sun goddess chased the shadows of the night away. Soon the earth would bask in its golden rays and the birds would begin to sing. It was their time – a secret time. Just as this was their place. To the casual observer it was little more than a derelict cottage but to her it was a paradise, a haven, far away from the rest of their people. Away from those who would keep them apart.
She sighed. She’d been a fool to fall in love with him. Love! She hadn’t believed the others when they talked in secret whispers of the thrill and excitement of being in love. How could one male do all they said? Then she’d seen him, so tall and proud, and in the space of a heart beat she knew it to be the truth. She had been shocked at how her pulse quickened, her breath caught in her throat and a blush tinged her cheeks, just at the sight of him. Scared and confused by her reaction she had run home. Later that night, under the cover of darkness, she’d confided in her sister, who’d reassured her that her reaction was normal. All females reacted that way when they were attracted to a man. Her sister’s smiles had turned to frowns though when she realised who had stirred her sister so. She’d laughed and told her she was a fool to think that he’d even notice her and, even if he did, a union between them would never be allowed.
She sighed again. In part, her sister’s words were true; they would never be allowed to be together – of that she was certain. He was Thorin, eldest son of Thrain, of royal blood and she… she was the daughter of a miner. No, they would never be allowed to marry. They hadn’t discussed it. What was the point? They couldn’t change what must be. This had left her with a choice? Walk away or accept she would only have him for a short time. But it hadn’t been a choice; from the moment his lips had taken hers, she’d known she would be his for as long as he wanted her.
She didn’t doubt that he would come to her. He’d said he would. Thorin might be bound by his ancestry and place in society to one day wed another but, he had promised to be here. He’d given his word and would not break it.
Thorin paused at the edge of the small grove of trees. He could walk around them but that would take too long. She was waiting. Sighing he stepped into the wood and immediately felt chilled to his bones. He’d never admit it but the trees unnerved him. They soared to great heights, blocking out the light, allowing dark forbidding shadows to linger all the day. The leaves seemed to talk in strange rustling whispers, as if sharing secrets about the person passing them. The long branches seemed ready to reach out and snag at the hair and clothes of any traveller who got too close. Gnarled, twisted roots snaked just below the surface, waiting to trip the unobservant. He glanced about him uneasily. He’d heard tell of forests where the trees could move and talk. No, he thought as he moved on quickly, woods and trees were not places to linger.
He paused as he came out of the wooded grove, taking a moment to drink in the sight of her. Akelai, gentle and beautiful as the flower she was named for. Rumour had it that dwarf women were stocky, hairy replicas of the men. He smiled. Nothing could be further than the truth. Dwarf woman were as beautiful as any other females and Akelai was more beautiful than most.
A wood pigeon rose suddenly from its roost in the trees and she turned at the noise. A smile illuminated her face when she saw him standing there. He watched as she rose from the dew covered grass and slowly moved towards him. His breath caught in his throat and he was torn between wanting the moment to last an eternity, so he could memorise how beautiful she looked, and seconds, so he could confirm she was real and not some illusion.
She stopped in front of him.
“You’re late,” she said softly.
“I’m sorry… The council was in session; it lasted until first light. Plans were being made…”
She placed her finger against his lips.
“Let’s not talk of council business – at least not yet.”