A basket of loose leaves - fantasy, maybe? A world detailed and extensive, many years in conception -
A different dimension to slide your mind along, where Dragons of all three substances watch a world where the boundaries are thin - where physical, consciousness and faerie collide.
"This young Dwarvish woman has only come to the surface colony of Garthvanitborgoch in the last few days. Most Dwarvish women find they do not like the surface, and prefer the security of the deep Dwarvish Queendoms. They are, however, generally very fine craftswomen and the surface is home to a few masters of certain crafts that are so skilled that apprentice women may come up to study under them. Female Dwarves on the surface (with a few exceptions) are generally quiet and subdued, though it is said this is not the case in the deep caverns, where their complicated society can often lapse into entire weeks of wild song and dance, and heavy drinking is the norm.
"Young female Dwarvish apprentice"
Th young woman pictured - called Chjurat - was reluctant to talk to me - I think I was the first non-dwarf she had seen. However after the consumption of some of her Fjoar (algal beer) she told me a little of the role of women in a Nazouralian Dwarvish hive. Apparently they hold a lower (and thus more important) place in the society, being the roots of the culture. Only certain males permitted to dwell in the lower Queendoms - namely children who have yet to reach adulthood; 'fathers' (sort of communal uncles for the hive children); apprentices learning a trade from skilled artisan women; and the elderly Dwarvish men who can retire there. The next level up, the Kingdom, is mainly male, with only apprentices, merchants and artisan crafts women being frequent visitors from below. Most long term courting is done as apprentices. Between the two places is a tangled maze of public drinking halls, frequented by Dwarves of both genders. The surface (where Chjurat and I where) is pretty much considered a wild and uncivilized frontier, only useful for trading for exotic surface materials, such as wood.
Chjurat was pleasant company, with a much louder voice when drunk, and a wicked laugh. Her beard (female Dwarves posses finer quality beard hair than their male counterparts) was platted in loops, the latest fashion amongst the young women of the deep, and wore a long leather apron over a fine spider-silk tunic and decorated iron boots. Behind her , built into the apron, was two iron candlestick holders, designed so that they where behind the head, preventing blinding, yet being double cast no impenetrable shadows. She professed no particular love of the adventure or romance of the surface but had great respect for her craft, and it was only with certain surface masons that she could perfect some of the finer points of a mason. Male Dwarves where uncustomarily polite around her and she treated them with the same respect if they where elder, or regal benevolence if they where younger. However there was some disapproval of her behind her back amongst certain traditionalists for having talked for so long to a surface stranger.
The day after our meeting I found Chjurat had been directed to undertake some masonry in the deeper caverns while I was given a tour of the merchant quarter of the surface and was persuaded to part with both spices and gold in return for a collection of fine paints and stains. I never met with her again."