Runners of the North
Written by Ourali
This work was last updated January 30, 2017
It had always been a blessing in Eketine's mind that the coniferous trees grew a bit apart from each other as she sprinted alongside her brothers and sisters. Her braided dark hair flew in the wind behind her, although stray strands kept hitting her in her eyes, stinging them and annoying the daylight out of her. Eketine turned her head for a second and saw Tessa through the needles of the pines, her shoulder-length sandy blond hair flying in the wind as she ran with the others, and seeing her filled Eketine with affection for her. She refocused on the path before her, seeing the trees beginning to thin even further and signifying their the last step from their destination. Her hands reached up to untie the strings holding her animal furs closed and blocking out the chilling air of the north, and right as they got untied the last tree vanished behind her. Before her was an incredibly vast coniferous forest with trees that grew much closer to each other than up here, and anticipating the jump Eketine spread her arms out beside her, feeling the wind hitting her hands and going through the leather of her bracers and fingerless gloves. She didn't slow down, and suddenly right in front of her Tessa jumped high into the air and flipped, letting out a screech of joy as gravity took hold. Eketine wasn't too far behind, and she put her power into her legs as she reached the ledge of the 90 degree drop and jumped like Tessa.
The feeling of being weightless lasted only a second, the air completely empty below her for what seemed like forever. She trusted in her abilities and let go of her fear, putting her legs together straight behind her as she dived, her arms spread out like the large hunting birds that populate the area. Eketine closed her eyes, and her stomach dropped as the plummet to the ground began, and behind her she heard Akatas yell out in fear. Get used to it, little brother. It will not be nearly the last time you do this.
Eketine fell in a free-fall, completely unafraid of the ground rushing quickly towards her. From experience she knew she had about 9 seconds before she hit the ground, so she mentally began to go through the steps.
One, two seconds pass and she does nothing.
Three, four, five and six; she does a small flip and positions herself with her legs pointed to the ground, bracing for the impact.
Seven, Tessa lands and rolls to a crouched stop, her mouth wide in an adorable toothy smile.
Eight, the ground is so close, and Eketine finally feels a tiny stab of doubt course through her. She ignites her powers and pushes the magic to her legs, strengthening them.
Nine, one last moment of free-fall and plunk, she hits the ground. She feels the force of the impact reverberated through her legs, absorbing the energy and feeling the small bubble ignite in her heart. She drops to the ground into a crouch, her fingertips splayed in the cold dirt as her braid finishes the fall and hits the back of her head. Her breath is pushed out of her lungs as if she were hit in the back by a battle mallet, and all she can hear is a moment of stunning silence as her body processes what happened.
Ten. Everything settles and Eketine can hear her fellow Zrena hitting the ground around her, so she stands up and tests out her legs. One, two. Everything is working, and she looks up to see Tessa grinning at her, adoration displayed plainly on her face.
"So." She says, her gruff northerner's voice rougher because of the rush of air from her lungs from the impact. "Off we go?"
"Oh yes." Eketine answers, matching her grin. She grabs Tessa's hand and kisses it, and Tessa giggles widely as Eketine starts running again, in the direction of Zevedas, the capital of the north. As the trees rush past her once more, she breaths in the frigid sharp air of the forest, and closes her eyes as she lets myself feel content.
They are Runners of the north, unhindered by long stretches of land. They don't lack it north of the Mountains, and they don't let it stand in their way. Instead, they revel in it, relishing in the feeling of exhilaration as they take the plunge between upper and lower ground and feeling the needles of the trees hitting their faces. No, they thrive in the north. Eketine, Tessa, and all of the Zrena who live here, they feel it in their hearts. There is no other place like this, never has been and never will be again. They are Runners of the north, and the north is them. It is their heart and their soul, and nothing can ever stop them.