Chapter 1: 'Trespass' (4654 words)

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"Why would you build a starship out of stone?"

Warmth embraced him, far more than he'd expected to find on the dying stone ship. The hallway smelt strongly of charred meat, and the lack of light surrendered to a darkness that could potentially hide a hundred Dwurkn marauders, yet it was the stone that unsettled Vievel the most.

"Why do the Dwurkn do anything?" Halcyen answered him from behind. "They're savages," she said. There was a dull humming that was audible throughout the corridor, and Vievel had to strain to hear Halcyen's words even though she was standing close behind him. His cousin, two years his elder, had bullied him into this little expedition of theirs, and yet it was him who had to go first. Typical.

Vievel heard Halycen's footsteps slow without warning, the light from her flashlight dipping slightly and angling downward. A surge of paranoia struck him, that his cousin had seen something ahead of them in the darkness that he'd missed; Vievel quickly raised both his sidearm and his own flashlight as high as the ceiling would allow, but the newly illuminated passage revealed nothing bar a narrow polished marble hallway stopping at a junction fifty feet ahead of the pair. He glanced over his shoulder to see Halcyen now bent slightly forward, her fingers pressed to the floor and her long arm stretching out from her shoulder to the ground whilst she remained standing.

"It's so smooth," she said. "I can't feel a single imperfection in the stonework". Frowning, Halcyen removed her glove, slipping it off deftly with one hand, and then pressed her bare palm to the ground. The moment her skin made contact with the ground she jerked her hand quickly away again. "It's so cold," she murmured, stretching out her fingers as if to feel the contrast of the air.

"What are you playing at?" Vievel snapped. Sweat beaded on his forehead, making his hair feel heavy. "It's bad enough you convinced me out, but there's nothing here!" he yelled, quite unreasonably. They'd only snuck from their home ship less than twenty minutes previous, hardly time enough to find anything to make the trip worthwhile. It had however been the longest twenty minutes of Vievel's life so far, and so the fright and paranoia he'd felt a moment ago now stoked an anger in his chest. "Stopping to stroke at the stone is hardly reason enough to defy my father, your father-". His words caught in his throat a he felt his tight metillion hauberk pinching around his neck. The narrow passage, barely twice his shoulder width, was beginning to feel very restrictive. Though his head didn't quite touch the ceiling of the corridor, he could nevertheless feel it slightly above him, causing the top of his long flaxen hair to tingle, and his mind to race along with it.

"I'm not a childe for you to scold Vievel," Halcyen said. She snapped up to her full height, craning her neck slightly as she stooped underneath the low Dwurkn ceiling, unable to stand to her full height in the cramped quarters. Her voice dropped into a resentful growl as she continued. "I was looking for the marks of their marauders, and footprints from the you-know," she whispered. "The heavy-set Dwurkn chip the floor as they march. No marks. That means this isn't a major route, no-one comes through here." Halycen explained.

"That-" Vievel clenched a fist around his sidearm. "That makes sense". The only Dwurkn he'd seen were in books and on the LAN, but it did seem like it would be a tight squeeze for any normal-sized Dwurkn. Though he was portly for his age, lacking the growth spurt that Halcyen wore with obvious pride, Vievel knew he was a damn sight thinner than any Dwurkn; yet the corridor continued to feel tight and pressing even to him. It would've been difficult for a Dwurkn to squeeze its way through. For a moment Vievel was sure he could see a flash of superiority crossing over Halcyen's slender face, but just as quickly as it appeared it was gone again, and it crossed his mind that perhaps he'd imagined it.

"Sorry, it's just a bit- ah nevermind," he said, cutting himself off before he let slip his fear of confined spaces. Halycen didn't need any more ammunition. "Do you think father and uncle's company have found anything of interest?" Vievel asked, eager to change the subject. As he began to walk he heard a snort from close behind him.

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