Depressing the great iron handle, I pull on the door. It opens with a squeak of rusty hinges, and beyond it, I find when I enter, shut the door, and cast my gaze about, are rows and rows, shelves and shelves of books. Multicolored tomes line hundreds of shelves, most large, old-looking, and dusty. In the center of the room stands a podium, atop which rests a large, ancient book. To this I walk, treading lightly for fear of causing a noise that might give me away, though I doubt I would get in trouble.
The cover is so old, I cannot make out the original color-perhaps blue, or gray – though it could have been green or violet, for all I can tell. The yellow pages, brown-edged and brittle, bear fancy lettering that makes up a story I am sure is very old indeed.
I begin reading in the middle of the page that the book is open to, and as I read on, I grow more and more intrigued. This book tells about the history and legends of Paoisia – no, not just Paoisia. All of Iuthernya. I have already learned it all from my mother’s teachings, but it is interesting to revisit them in this way. The legend of Matharris, the leader of the small group of dragons who refused to fight against the other races, is written here, and so is the true story of the great warrior [insert name], who bested fifty rock-hard, tough Dwarven soldiers in the Red War. He was all by himself when they attacked, and his reinforcements did not show up until he had already been fatally wounded. His body was found atop a hill of carcasses. The Red War was caused by the greed of the woman who ruled Iuthernya at the time. She wanted to take the land of the Dwarves for herself, rich with jewels as it is. Neither side won; we made a truce with the Dwarves. If we stay away from their land, they will stay away from ours. Therefore, I have never even seen a Dwarf, and have hardly an idea of what they might look like.
When I turn the stiff page, though, I find an artist’s rendering of one of these people. He is short, stocky, muscled to the extreme. His beard falls to his knees, and he carries a shot, wide-bladed sword in one hand, a round shield with a spike protruding from the center in the other, and his helmet has no visor, just a narrow, vertical piece of metal that guards his nose. A large, round, faceted jewel shines from the fore of said helmet. The beady, deep-set eyes seem to jump off of the page and drill into me. He looks intimidating – frightening, even – but I think (or imagine) that I notice a certain well-hidden bit of good in him.