Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by Isemay

Syreilla glared into the fire as she drank her mead. Kaddal had begged her to help him on this job. Tricky, but a high reward, he’d said. F*****g idiot. He’d gotten himself killed just scouting the site. This was why dwarves and half-dwarves weren’t known for their thieving. The job was so far beyond tricky she could think the damned lich wanted them to fail and die. She emptied her cup feeling guilty. The stupidity wasn’t all his, she should have asked more questions. Raising her cup she flagged down the bar wench. “More.”


“I’d rather you be sober.” The sibilant voice made her feel like she should be swatting a forked tongue away from her ear. 


“I’d rather you be either dead or alive, but I’ll settle for drinking until I don’t have to think about it.” Syreilla didn’t look at him and instead fixed the bar wench with a look that promised a shortened life if her cup didn’t find itself suddenly full again.


“I could find someone else for this job.” His menacing hiss demanded her attention.


“Hevtos’ scaly balls you could.” She gave him a mirthless smile. “Kaddal was the only idiot you could find to take it in the first place.” 


The lich was mercifully hooded, but his eyes glowed like embers from the blackness beneath the cowl. “And you joined him.”


“Because I trusted the half-witted half-dwarf.” She paused as the wench filled her cup. “The only reason I’m not running in the other direction is because I took payment already. If I thought for half a heartbeat you’d accept your payment back and let me out of the contract I’d be on my way.” 


“Kaddal Forgepike spoke highly of your luck and skill, as have others.” There would never be enough mead to make the sound of that thing’s voice bearable.


“And yet I’m here with you.” Syreilla snidely spat before taking a sizable swig and then spitting it into the fire. “D****t, woman!” The bar wench flinched at her tone. “You’re honestly trying to switch me to the cheap s**t after three cups?”


“I think you and your friend need to retire for the evening.” The barman offered into the quiet caused by her outburst.


Syreilla stood and downed the cheap honeyed wine, it couldn't be called mead by any stretch. “He’s not my friend.” 


The barman caught the coin she tossed. 


“And she should know better than to try to switch drinks on a half-elf so quickly.” With a glare to the wench she stalked to the stair. 


Slamming the door would have been satisfying but the damned thing looked as though a good slam might take it off of its hinges. She settled for setting a particularly nasty ward across the floor in front of it. Anyone who tried to stroll in during the night would find their legs both frostbitten and on fire. The mage she’d picked that up from had been a piece of work, but he’d paid well for every job and taught her some nasty tricks to keep her on retainer. 


She’d actually been a little sad the day that sadist’s apprentice had finally killed him. Not sad enough to keep her from looting his corpse and rummaging through all that the apprentice had hastily abandoned, of course. It had made her a ridiculous amount of money when she sold off the old mage’s library. But sitting idle got dull quickly, and she enjoyed her work, mostly.


Settling in to wait out the night, and perhaps even doze, Syreilla let her mind wander back to the job at hand. If she could, she’d recover as much of Kaddal as she could to take back to Mordaeg Aledelver. She’d do that before she ventured deeper into that labyrinthian trap-filled crypt. Forgepike’s kin at Delver’s Deep would appreciate it, and would be an excuse to go home. 


Sighing and rubbing her face, she muttered, “Kaddal, what were you thinking? Taking a job from a lich and s**t job at that.”


The stone work on the outside had looked dwarvish, but the trap he’d sprung as he touched the runes carved in the entrance way looked elvish. The brilliant blue on the edges of the blades as they slid soundlessly from the stones was unmistakable. His armor had been light for a dwarf, but tough, and the blades had sliced him apart as if he were made of butter. The hum of power from the entrance had warned her not to attempt to reach him. Tomorrow, when they went back, she’d have a long hook staff to pull the pieces out with.


Getting herself in would be much harder than getting him out. The more she considered it the more the job appealed to her despite the lich. There weren’t so many places that she could say were a genuine challenge anymore but the trouble with challenges in her line of work was the ever increasing risk of death. 


Rising before dawn, Syreilla dissolved the ward with a few muttered words and ventured back down to see if there was anything for breakfast other than last night’s leftover stew. In the dimness downstairs, a drunk snored under a table. The barman and the wench were nowhere to be found. 


“Breakfast must be free,” she grinned to herself as she stoked the kitchen fire back to life. Hunting through the pantry she found some reasonably fresh dark bread and hard cheese and set about melting butter in the iron skillet she pulled from the wall. Eggs would have been nice, but she hadn’t seen any and wandering around outside looking for a hen house to raid was too much work.


A tomato sliced on top of the fried bread and melted cheese, and brewing the last of the kave Batran had sent for her, made a filling breakfast. The bleary-eyed bar wench stumbled in and stared at her in confusion as she was finishing. “Were you in the kitchen?”


“No, magical fairies fixed me breakfast.” Syreilla shoved the last bite into her mouth and chewed as she watched the woman’s face turn red. 


“I thought elves were supposed to have good manners.” The wench huffed.


Syreilla sipped her kave and grinned, shaking her head. “Half-elf, and you’re mistaken. Elves are vicious. If you think they’re being nice, they’re making fun of you. They don’t like humans much and they like half-elves less.” Finishing her drink, she picked up her dishes and carried them to the bar as the woman eyed her warily. “Watch and listen carefully next time you see them. I was raised human and I’ll take human rudeness over elvish manners any day.” The woman took the dishes from her and looked at them as if she didn’t know what to do with them. “The hooded wretch I was with, did he leave or did he go upstairs?”


“He left.” The bar wench looked relieved. “We kept the room empty in case he came back but when he left all he said was you weren’t allowed mead in the morning.”


She snorted. “That makes me want a cup.” 


The woman’s eyes widened. 


“If I live to come back tonight, don’t short me on the mead. I’ll need it.” 


“What-” The woman bit her lip and hesitated as Syreilla looked at her. “What happened to the dwarf?”


“Dead. Kaddal Forgepike is dead.” Thinking for a moment, Syr pulled out a purse. “I’m going to recover his remains today, before I probably get myself killed. If I don’t come back, send someone out to that damned entrance in the side of the mountain. His remains should go back to Delver’s Deep. He belongs to Clan Stoutheart.”


“And yours?” The barman had come up behind the wench quietly.


“If you can pull mine out without going in, take them to the same place. Batran Hammersworn will give you something for your trouble.”


“You shouldn’t poke around the Nameless.” The man frowned. “There’s evil in there.” 


“I don’t doubt it.” Syreilla gave him a sour smile. 


The barman shook his head and she set out to get her horse and the hook staff from the town smith. The damned lich would probably meet her there. He had his undead heart set on an amulet inside.



© 2021 Isemay


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Hi, and awesome work! I'm really looking forward to reading more. I sort of burnt through all the high fantasy books in my collection recently, but I still wasn't satisfied, so it was a relief to find this. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I think your story is great so far. Now, on to the second chapter!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 3 Years Ago


Isemay

3 Years Ago

Thank you! Enjoy!
Hi there! Very promising start to this story. The build-up with half-XYs is interesting and has sort of a modern touch. It feels like an evolvement from the traditional Tolkien-based stories that are usually offered. Your style is fine too, so I'm looking forward to check out the storyline.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 3 Years Ago


Isemay

3 Years Ago

Thank you! Please feel free to let me know if you see anything you feel I can improve!
Hello! I'm back, sort of. I love your irreverent, smart a*s protagonists. My only reservation is that I know what a lich is, but maybe others don't. It took me a couple of readings to get the thing about being alive or dead. I love the conversation about elves. This is a good start.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 3 Years Ago


Isemay

3 Years Ago

Welcome back! And thanks!

I'll try to think of a way to clarify about the lich sooner.. read more

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Added on December 26, 2017
Last Updated on January 28, 2021
Tags: gods, dragon, elf, dwarf, thief


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Isemay
Isemay

Germany



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Spent some time away from here but I've come back to peek in and post again! Review my writing and I will gladly return the favor! I love reading other people's stories, and I try to review hone.. more..

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