A gurgling sound alerted her to the presence of water. She moved her head around slowly, trying to work out where the sound had come from. Slowly, she narrowed the area down, until finally, she worked out the rock it must have sprung from. She knelt down, and took a sip of the fresh, cool water. The sun beats down hard in Neriphin, and she had been running without shade for almost an hour now. The water, chilled from years of being away from the sun’s heat, ran down her throat, refreshing her body. She dipped her head in the little stream that was running out of a crack in the rock, and felt the icy liquid wash the sweat that had formed on her face. Finally, she left a small pebble from her pocket by the stream for the Kálle.
Her refreshment over, Briannis turned to the task ahead of her. It was a long way until the next checkpoint, and she wasn’t carrying extra water supplies, but she was confident that the water from the stream would last her until she could sample some of the more medicinal drinks at the checkpoint. Briannis set off.
Two hours later, she rounded a corner, and jogged into the checkpoint. The official at the running desk looked at her suspiciously.
“Little girl,” He asked, “Are you lost?”
Silently she placed her runners license on the desk. He looked at it, then suddenly realised his mistake.
“Apologies, Runner Briannis. Do you have any messages?”
“Post one-oh-three to post two-one-two, changing here with Runner Main.” She rattled off the numbers, then pulled out a leather message-bag, and placed it on the desk beside her documentation. The official pulled out his list of runners, and made a small note. Then he chalked up her times, and scribbled out a receipt. She took it gratefully, and hurried from the room, to more comfortable lodgings.
Drink came in the form of mead, specially brewed for the runners. She gratefully took some from the kindly woman in the kitchen, along with some herbal bread. She walked swiftly to her room, and sat down on the massive bed that occupied most of the room. Pulling out the small personal communicator, she spoke her grandfather’s name into the hole in the center. A couple of seconds later, his face appeared there.
“Briannis! My favorite grand-daughter!”
“I’m your only one, Grandad.”
“I’m just joking, darling.”
She smiled, faintly, and sighed.
“I know, I know. I’m just being irritable. Some bloke on the Runners’ Desk thought I was a lost little girl. I hate running around near Leen. They’re all so backwards around here.”
“They’re just who they are. I had a good friend from Leen, you know. It’s not like they’re a different species like some people.”
“Fair enough. I’m just tired, I suppose.”
“I’d agree with that. Your eyelids aren’t even open properly!”
She stuck her tongue out at him, then switched off the communicator. He was right, she realised, they were just human. Unlike the Trolls up north, or the Elven tribes in the west. She pulled her clothes off, and put them in the washing chute. At least these people had got that. A nightgown hung on a bedpost, so she slipped it on and climbed into the big, soft bed. She closed her eyes, and before she knew it, she was asleep.