My tale is a strange one; it is most often now told as a bedtime story to young dwarflings full of light-hearted fun, friendship, mischief, heroics and adventure. Which (truth be told) is not exactly how it happened. The actual events were a lot less magical than they are portrayed, a lot scarier and a lot less certain of a happy ending, but that is indeed not a story to be telling to young children. This is why, I am writing it down in my dear journal, a gift from Ori, to allow those who want to read the much less fanciful and rather more factual tale from my perspective. It promises to be a tad more petrifying and yet all the more wonderful for the truth it holds.
And who could be forgetting of course, the adventure. That is one thing it appears, the bedtime stories kept completely correct.
My name is Zalia Lucas and this is my story.
I scrambled up as quickly as my body could possibly manage. Dirt and grime became lodged beneath my fingernails; my breath came out in exhausted huffs, a cloud of dust formed behind me as my feet kicked up innumerable amounts of dirt, dust and god knows what else in my haste to return to my full height and I was sure the bottom of my feet were likely torn to bits but I continued to run. For if I didn't the likely outcome was simple, I would die.
Crashing through the trees, branches whipping my face and snagging in my thick mass of tangled curly blonde hair; none of the pain of pushing on seemed to matter, I just knew I must run.
What is that thing?! One question that filled my head as the creature chasing me let out the most terrible screech I had ever heard. It grated on my nerves, made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and my whole body shiver.
I chanced a glance behind me. It's getting closer!
I was relatively sure my usually bright blue eyes would be glinting in fear. I wasn't sure what the thing was; nor how I came into contact with it. At first when I woke up on the dirty forest floor I thought I had been in some kind of car accident. Certainly made sense, one minute I'm on my way to work in the car, next I'm on the floor in the wood, but then I remembered there were no woods on my way to work, and when I heard that creature, stood and saw it begin to chase me, no, there were certainly none of those in my world. So I came to my latest conclusion, I must be dreaming.
That conclusion was blown out of the water when the creature had let off an arrow which grazed my shoulder.
"NOT A DREAM! NOT A DREAM!" My voice shouted in a worryingly fearful high pitch.
I was not dreaming because that fucking hurt.
I broke free of the trees. FINALLY! I'M GOING TO LIVE!
Just as I thought I might make it, might escape the foul thing pursuing me I crashed straight into a rather hard something. Or rather… someone.
"WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!"
I rolled off the gruff sounding man startlingly fast and scrambled backwards using my hands and feet to get as far away as possible.
"NO MATE! WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY IS THAT?!" I yelled pointing at the thing as it broke free.
Lucky for me the man seemed to react a lot quicker than I had. Eyes widening in realisation he jumped to his feet, unsheathed his…
Is that a fucking sword?!
And set upon the creature. For a few short moments, the time it took for him to reach the creature, I was afraid I was the reason this man was going to die but apparently, I highly underestimated him. In a matter of seconds he had let out a loud cry and promptly separated the creatures head from its body.
Just as promptly I collapsed.
"Oh my god, oh my god. I could've died, I totally could've died. What the fuck is going on?!" I am rather ashamed to say, I may have lost my mind for a minute there.
"My Lady… are you well?"
"Am I… Am I… well…well…AM I WELL?!" My voice rose in levels of hysteria as I continued. "NO, NO I AM MOST CERTAINLY NOT FUCKING WELL!"
The man stepped towards me, quite calmly mind you, cleaning the sword on what looked to be some old time looking shirt. Trust me to come across the only weirdo with a sword when I was running from some science experiment gone wrong.
Taking a proper look at my saviour for the first time I noticed he had quite long dark hair with some random braids in, as well as a dark beard and a rather stern, yet worried looking face. He was by all accounts, very broad but rather short. At least, that's what I thought until I stood and realised I was probably about a head shorter than he was.
He gave me a rather pointed look. "I, um, look I'm sorry. I just, I'm lost… confused. Lost and confused."
The man nodded, in a rather kind way and set his eyes on me appraisingly. "You do not seem to be from these parts and yet, you look as if you may be one of my kin. Rather hairless when it comes to beards and much less… stocky but still, one of us."
"Which… would be what exactly?"
"A dwarf Miss."
At this moment, I am ashamed to say, I promptly fainted.
"Owwww." I awoke with a loud groan and a pounding headache.
"Yes I did think that may hurt some."
Sitting up I looked over in the direction of the voice and blinked once, twice, three times to be sure.
Nope. He's certainly real.
"I… I'm really sorry about that. And about falling on you earlier… and freaking out… and that thing that was chasing me. Yeah actually I'm just sorry about everything that's happened since you were unlucky enough to come across me actually." This speech all came out in a rather garbled hurry but, it was better than nothing.
"It is no trouble. Honestly."
Yeah, I seriously doubt that mate.
"Well, sorry anyways and like thanks." He quirked an eyebrow at me "For saving me, I mean."
"Like I said, no trouble young one."
I nodded quite unsure of what I should say to that and we fell into silence for a few minutes. I decided this would be the time to explore my surroundings. It looked like we were in a rather small room, possibly an inn. It sort of resembled the rooms in inn's I'd seen in movies.
I swung my feet off the bed and found it rather further to the floor than I ever remember it being before from the bed. My face scrunched up in confusion. I walked around the edge of the room the man's eyes following me as I did so, until I reached a mirror.
One thing was immediately clear. "I've fuckin' shrunk."
The man snorted.
"This," I said in my most cutting voice and throwing him an angry glare, "is not funny."
My eyes looked the same as normal, my button nose too, my slightly heavy rounded jaw, my tiny ears, my long hair, large yet proportionate bosom, small feet all in place. Except I'd fucking shrunk.
"Maybe you would explain your story my lady, and I will explain mine."
I whipped around to look at the man. "Sure… why the hell not?"
It took roughly an hour to explain what I thought would be quite a simple story, but apparently it was not. This man did not know what a car was and most certainly took longer than I thought to believe that I am… or used to be human.
Eventually though, he nodded at me after taking a while to think it all through and smiled.
"Well I certainly cannot be leaving you here alone, so you must come with me on my quest. I took it upon myself when you were… otherwise engaged…"
Too polite to say I passed out then.
"To arrange for this eventuality, as you are most certainly one of my kin now. I do not like this idea but I think that it might be for the best."
"Sooo… we're going on a quest."
"All will be made clear soon. You will need to change from your strange attire and into that which I got you more suited for travelling, we must be going for otherwise we will be late."
I frowned at the man. "So lets just say for now I'm totally accepting all this shizzle, which is kinda difficult by the way, then should I not at least know your name?"
The man smirked at me. "I do not know what half of those strange terms meant. However, my name is Thorin Oakenshield."
"Cool. Nice to meet you Thorin mate. I'm Zalia Lucas."
And that my dear friends, is how my amazing, terrifying, magical, unbelievable journey started.