Daily Words

by Friday Jones

Friday in a pink beret and a blue dress, cartoon version.

Dwarves, or Dwarfs

[A Kingdom Story]

As they walked down the narrowing passage, King Rolf passed Marjorie and Millie some glasses. These were clear but seemed to have a shine of their own. It was getting darker, and King Rolf didn’t light a torch. When it was only just light enough to see he stopped in the rough-hewn tunnel. “Now, in a minute we’re going to round a couple of corners, and you’ll want to put on your glasses. I caution you, don’t put them on until you can see nothing at all. Even the merest glimmer of daylight will strike you blind, and if you’re not quick enough, it will be permanent, so heed what I say.” He considered for a moment. “I need you to promise not to strike up a flame of any sort.”

“As you say, King Rolf.” They said in chorus.

“Right then.” He said, “Come with me.” And, as promised they were in pitch black in but a moment. “Put your glasses on now. I’m taking mine off, and I don’t want you to be surprised by my appearance. In what you wear, my eyes will appear to shine a little bit. Some humans find it very unnerving, but it’s common to us, and it’s what allows us to see in the dark as well as we do. You’ll see some lamps, but compared to the light of the outside, they’re very dim indeed, and I daresay you’ll not see anything at all if you take the glasses off. Also, you won’t see colour at all, from your point of view, it’s night.” While he had been talking Marjorie and Millie had put on their glasses, and Rolf had taken his off, but the pair didn’t realise this yet, because his eyes were shut. He opened them.

From the dark appeared a silvery glean from each of Rolf’s eyes, disappearing every now and again as he blinked. The sight drowned any vision of the dwarf himself, and the two stepped back, reaching for their swords involuntarily.

“It takes people like that.” Said King Rolf, simply.

“We’re terribly sorry,” began Marjorie, but the dwarf waved this away, then, realising his audience could see very little, said,

“It’s alright. You stopped well before drawing a weapon, and you haven’t claimed I’m sort of demon spawn, or hell being, and an apology too. I’m in the presence of civilised beings, so let’s continue a little, eh? And then you’ll see better, and things will seem,” he stopped, hunting for a good word, “unsurprising.”

So saying he walked around the next corner which abruptly turned to refined stone, closely spaced, and Millie reflected quickly that she could actually see this in the light from what looked like a million candles, hanging from the roof of a great cavern. Out of curiosity, she peered over the glasses for a few seconds.

“I can’t see a thing without the glasses.” Said Marjorie. “Not one jot. Can you?” Millie put the glasses back up her nose.

“Gosh, Your Majesty, not a thing.” She lied.


The banquet was interesting. Vegetables and mushrooms, reared in the dark and quite the delicacy, were in abundance but unexpectedly there was a goodly amount of pork on the table, and it didn’t seem to be restricted to the King’s table. Marjorie remarked on this.

“Actually dear lady,” drawled Chief Shaft Architect Thompson, “it’s because of the glasses what we can do a little farming ourselves, at the top of the mountain, in the big dip.”

“Oh yes,” Said King Rolf, “all that fertile land, and all the dark glass we want.”

“Um.” Said Millie. She looked at Marjorie, seeing what she would look like more or less as she imagined a ghost to be. But everyone looked like that, she thought.

“Did you have something to say, Ser Millie?” Asked King Rolf, politely. Millie blushed. Caught on the spot, she still did this, despite new confidence and responsibilities.

“Well, Your Majesty, do you know what a volcano is?” She asked, diffidently.

“Ah, do you mean a fire mountain that gets up a lot of pressure and blows a lot of earth up in the air from time to time?” He asked in return.

“I think so, Sir, though I didn’t know it was the pressure that caused it.”

“Oh yes,” said Rolf, “we think the whole earth is under pressure see. There’s two reasons for that. We’ve met pearl divers from far off land who say the water pressure beyond a certain point presses so hard, you can’t dive anymore. Seems a bloody silly thing to do in the first place, but there it is. And sometimes in the very deeps, we used to open a shaft and molten rock would come oozing out, sometimes quite fast. Lost people back in the day. Now we make sure we open up enough holes to let the pressure out further down. It’s a lot of work, but this is our home, see? We’ll not move. And the heat is useful sometimes. Hot running water all day.”

“Really?” Said Marjorie and Millie together.

Published January 7, 2022


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