The tunnel opens up gradually, becoming wide enough for two people to walk side by side and high enough that I am able to stand up without hitting my head on the ceiling. My guide does the same, but he is no taller than four foot, so we look like a parent and child walking through the darkness. “Okay, we can talk now,” he says with a whisper, “but you’ll still want to keep it quiet and remember to shut up when we leave the tunnel.”
“Okay,” I whisper back. The lights grow brighter and I get my first good look at my rescuer.
When he had first rescued me I thought that perhaps he was a human dwarf, but I realize now that he is nothing of the sort. He is small, by human standards, but completely proportionate to a human. His stride is light, like a dancer’s, but there is strength behind every motion. I catch glimpses of his face beneath the hood of his cloak as he walks. His appearance brings to mind a beautiful child that has been caught in a fire. There is something sweet there, but it has been tainted and covered by a corrupting darkness that has invaded.
“Don’t stare,” he says. “I am not the only one who has been tainted, and most of my people are not nearly so forgiving as I am.” A wicked looking curved blade appears in his hand and disappears just as quickly. “They will stare at you though. They will look hard and they will look close. Your human like perfection will draw much attention, possibly even after we leave.” My rescuer sighs and says, “let them look, let them touch, let them do what they will and do not complain. Act as if none of it bothers you and they will tire of you eventually.”