Chapter Twenty-Two: The City on the Mountain (3)Mature

They were led to their quarters by a female servant—at least, Seymour thought the servant was female.  With this particular goblin culture, it was difficult for an outsider to distinguish between the sexes.  Males and females both wore their hair at the same length and in the same style of braiding, and their garments, which were made of loose-fitting deerskins and coarse linens, had no gender-specific features.  Add to that the fact that they were similar in physique as well as dress—all approximately the same height, with androgynous facial features, slim, muscular bodies, and no distinguishable difference in the pitch of their voices—and it was nearly impossible to determine who was what at first glance.  With careful study of the chest region, a conclusion could eventually be drawn, but Seymour decided that the motives behind such careful study might be misinterpreted by the object of research, so he made no attempt at it.

            Consistent with the structures into which they were built, the rooms and corridors had few straight lines in their composition.  The horizontal surfaces, such as floors and ceilings, were mostly flat, but every wall was curved or warped in some manner, resulting in passageways reminiscent of rivers and rooms shaped like grottos or ponds.

            They arrived at their destination, and the servant gestured for them to enter, then shut the door—which bulged outward like a segment of walnut shell—behind them.

            The space, it seemed, was both three adjoining chambers and one single room simultaneously.   There were three bulbous caverns, each having a bed and some other furnishings, but there were no doors between them, nor did the space between them narrow sufficiently enough to be considered a passageway.  The walls and floors were of cold, bare stone, but the rough edges had been sanded away, and every small sound bounced and echoed.

            Seymour selected the middle of the three chambers, so that he would be equidistant from his two charges should anything go wrong, and made directly for the bed, which was shaped so as to fit into the irregular curvature of the wall.  The down mattress felt soft and luxurious compared to the cold, hard ground upon which he had slept for many consecutive nights, and the thick pelts atop it made for marvelously warm blankets.  From this welcome comfort, and from his immense physical exhaustion, he was asleep within the minute—asleep, for the first time in years, without a drop of liquid aid.

The End

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