Chapter 9

Chapter 9

A Chapter by Isemay

Syreilla listened in fascination as Syvilas told of a seer who had warned him of his impending defeat. The woman had told him he would be imprisoned in death-like sleep until the spawn of his most bitter enemy set him free. He looked at her fondly as he explained why he’d needed her to free him from the mask and speak his name.


“I was told, once my true name was on your lips and you had made the choice to free me, I would be in no danger of being put back into my box as you so eloquently phrased it. And if you would tell me your true name I would gain something I had never been able to possess.”


“And what would that be?” She was almost certain it would be something ridiculous like friendship or love.


“She did not say. There is nothing I have never been able to possess.” Syvilas looked smug.


She snorted. “Leaving it mysterious is what any good charlatan does.” Syreilla reached back for a bottle of mead, “At least she didn’t tell you something asinine like friendship or love.”


Syvilas grinned, “There were times I thought she was lying or being absurd, but almost everything she ever promised has come to pass. And I have never had a half-elf sister before.”


Mead came out of her nose, and she started coughing. “Mead burns when it comes out of your nose, Syv.”


Syvilas’ laughter as he took the mead from her was infectious. After he drank he handed it back. “Syv. Syv and Syr. That is remarkably pleasant. A matched set of thieves.” He beamed at her.


Syreilla returned his broad grin with one of her own, “Don’t get ahead of yourself brother, you need to learn the finer points of theft.” She opened her mouth and then sighed glancing back at the box. “If we didn’t have Kaddal to get home, I’d suggest we make a detour and hit Brosa. It’s big enough to have some fun in. I make it a point to visit the temple of Imos there every time I go.” The look on his face was almost scandalized. She gave him her most impish grin. “Gods seem to collect a lot of expensive stuff while their followers go hungry. I sell it and spend my money. It’s practically charity. It’s only pious to care for the poor after all.”


“I now understand why you were on the headsman’s block.” His dry tone was almost disapproving.


“You disapprove?!” Syreilla shoved his shoulder. “You?!”


“You will have to forgive me if I have some lingering respect for the gods. They have blessed me as often as they have damned me.”


Shaking her head incredulously, “I’m used to mages talking about the flow of power and the beliefs you use to reach into it, but I’ve never been able to find a god that seemed real. It’s all fat priests fleecing their flocks. No god ever struck me down for fleecing those cocksuckers back.” She gave Syvilas a confident smile, “The best thing that ever happened to me was ending up on the headsman’s block in Pale.”


His lips twisted wryly, “My dear Syreilla, whatever god is favoring you I am certain you push their goodwill to its limits.”


“If there’s a god favoring me, it would be the kind you’d hide your wallet from but enjoy drinking with.” She grinned at him and took a drink. “I bet they’d play dice with a loaded set too.”


“Trickster gods are seldom in short supply.”


She shrugged, “Tell you what, if I ever meet one I’ll buy’em a bottle of mead.” His sour expression at her lack of religious conviction was deeply amusing. “I hadn’t pegged you for the type to be upset over a little mild blasphemy, brother. Did you spend a few years in a monastery or something?”


“A hundred years. It was before I chose to rule.” Syvilas glanced at her.


“How did that happen?” Syreilla leaned forward putting her elbows on her thighs as she looked at him. “You just decided to go from a monk to a King?”


“It took a great deal of time and preparation.”


Nodding, she remembered something she’d been told as a child. “I was once told, ‘Time is all the luck a man needs.’ It made more sense to me than ‘Fortune favors the bold.’”


“Both are true, sister mine,” Syv said with a smile. “As is ‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown.’”


“Ha!” The annoyed look he gave her made her explain. “Responsibility is heavy, but Kings usually have plenty of people willing to take it off of their hands. Not to mention plenty of pretty men and women looking to lighten their troubles and their treasuries.”


Syvilas’ annoyance turned to chagrin. “True. I enjoyed being King more than I should have. There are pleasures offered to a King unrivaled by any most men can imagine. But those willing to lighten his responsibilities do so for their own ends, and when I began I had wished to rule well.”


“And when your rule ended?”


“I thought myself harsh but fair, but my subjects had not responded to my fairness as I had hoped.” He looked stricken, betrayed and hurt. “They called me a monster and swore to strike my name from living memory.”


“I’m sorry it didn’t go as well as you’d hoped.” Syreilla reached out and squeezed his hand as he drove.


He sighed and smiled sadly, “As am I. But now I can choose to become something else.”


“True!” She sat up and shifted on the hard bench seat. “I’d be happy to teach you all I know about thievery if you wanted to learn a trade.”


His smile brightened. “Thievery as a trade. There would be no punishments they could levy that could deter me.”


“You’d just have to be a little smarter about your own particular brand of theft, no more whole villages for instance. That draws attention, and thieves don’t like attention.”


The amusement in his glance was clear. “I rarely prey on so many at once. I simply needed a great deal to restore myself.”


“Why’d you decide not to prey on me?” Syreilla smiled as he began to laugh. “I mean, you got the things you needed. You could have slid Kaddal out of the back of the cart and gone your merry way with less annoyance and-” She stopped speaking as he put the reins in one hand and reached over to stroke her face with the back of his hand.


Syvilas smiled warmly. “I would have no purpose, and no company. That you still do not flinch when I reach out to touch you pleases me more than you can imagine, my dear Syreilla.”


She smiled wryly and took hold of his hand, holding it to her cheek for a moment. “Batran says I’m enamored with danger and stupidity. He offered to beat it out of me but changed his mind when Mordaeg told him it would be like trying to beat the wood out of a tree.”


Grinning broadly, Syvilas was definitely teasing her now, “Sister, I have no doubt of that. I watched the way you defended your helpless brother from two elves with nothing but a hammer and hope.”


Syreilla nodded, rubbing the back of her neck sheepishly as she laughed. “I’m lucky my helpless brother isn’t actually helpless. And that he’s a gifted healer.”


“Healer.” The look on his face was proud and somehow wistful. “I haven’t been called that… for a very long time, sister mine.”


“You could choose to do that instead, you know.” She scooted a little closer and leaned her shoulder against his. “I’m a thief because I can’t seem to help myself. I live for the challenge of it. If I had to become something else…” Syr shook her head. “If being a healer is what you love, do it, Syv.”


“I did love it once.” He pressed his shoulder to hers. “I doubt many would be as forgiving of the cost as you are, Syr.”


“I think you’d be surprised. You could always use criminals, those who were going to be killed anyway. That would ease some consciences. And when they see the beautiful work you do,” she held out her arm.


Syv’s thoughtful expression turned sour. “Money, dear sister. No one would allow me to make the attempt without paying for a criminal to use, and I would require guards to deter attackers. Lest I be required to kill a great many people in my attempt to heal.”


“Money, your dear sister can help you with. And you won’t want to buy someone off the block. They only sell those who aren’t completely irredeemable.” Syreilla steepled the first three fingers of her hands and tapped her index and middle fingers idly while keeping her thumbs together. “We’d need to approach it like a con, make the marks do the heavy lifting, at least at first.”


“Marks?” He elbowed her breaking her concentration.


“Well, that’s usually how it goes. You have to be well dressed, have a bunch of expensive looking baubles and make big promises to someone clinging to an impossible hope. They pay loads of money and then you-AH!” He punched her in the thigh with a furious scowl on his face. “D****t Syv! You’re not going to be fleecing them, you’ll actually be able to give them what they’re hoping for! But you have to approach it that way. You’ll have them pay on top of getting you the criminal to use. If they invest that much in it you’re safe. You can heal without having to worry.” She rubbed her thigh with annoyance, it felt like she’d been kicked by a horse. “Once word spreads of the amazing things you can do, even with the cost, you can help more people and not have to worry about being attacked for it.”


“Forgive me, Syreilla. I should not have…” Syvilas looked embarrassed.


“I’m a thief, brother, decent people like yourself tend to find my line of work upsetting.” Syreilla slid back over on the seat.


“Decent.” He closed his eyes. “I think you misunderstand what I am.”


“You get upset when you hear of hopeless helpless people getting fleeced?” She bent back one of her fingers as if she were counting.


His eyes opened. “Yes. But-”


“You wanted to rule well, I assume you mean justly. Did you want to improve people’s lives?”


He looked at her strangely, “Yes, but sister-” She bent back another finger.


“Healing people makes you happy.” She bent another finger, “You think poorly of your gifts because they require you to harm.” Syreilla wiggled four fingers at him. “You have a good heart, brother. Whether you’ve let it get a little tarnished or not you can still shine it up. Start over. No one knows you but a few elves and they barely leave Orileria.”


The look on his face was conflicted, amazed and hopeful but disbelieving. “You may be completely mad, my dear Syreilla. Yet I think I adore you.” His eyes glittered as he looked back to the road ahead. “Clan Hammersworn will have to learn to do without you.”


Syr kicked her leg sideways bumping him sharply. “Clan Hammersworn can do without me, I can’t do without them, Syv. They’re the first real family I ever had.”


“And you are my family now, Syr. How can I risk you being married off to a dwarf and being kept from me?”


She couldn’t help but laugh. “If Kaduil Hardjaw can persuade me to marry him he’ll be punished enough by having me for a wife. Batran encourages, and prods, he doesn’t force, brother. These are dwarves, not elves.”


“I notice you do not promise he will not keep you from me.” There was a bitterness in his tone.


“Syv.” Syreilla sighed. He went from teasing to sullen so quickly. “Outside of the mines, I don’t think siblings stay together. I’m going to help you decide what you want to do, and I’m going to help you make it happen. But leaving Clan Hammersworn isn’t going to happen, brother.”


“All those I care for die, Syreilla. I will be alone again all too soon. You call me brother, accept my affection, do you believe I will allow you to be taken from me?” She studied his face, hardened, hurt, and angry. Being alone was a feeling she remembered all too well.


“You’re not alone yet, Syv.” She moved closer and leaned against him again. “I remember what it’s like, being alone. It’s why I always go back to Delver’s Deep anytime I can think of an excuse, and stay until it feels like my skin is on too tight.”


Syvilas pulled her under his arm. “My dear Syreilla, I will keep you from them. I need you more.” Despite the slim look of his arm, it felt as though she were being crushed by a steel bar being pressed down by a pair of dwarven smiths.


“Crushing.” Syr croaked out. He released her immediately and she took a deep breath and rubbed the place his arm had clamped down on her. “You are definitely not helpless, brother. I’ll split my time between my dwarvish family and you. You don’t have to crush me to keep me close.”


“And if I do not want you to leave me for even a day?”


“You’re going to have to find a way to deal with that, Syv. I don’t stay in one place for long.”


More carefully, he pulled her back under his arm. “Chains might keep you in one place, sister.”


She began to laugh, clapping him on the thigh. “What am I, Syvilas? I got through a maze of traps and wards, broke into a seamless stone sarcophagus, pulled your dried up carcass out of a warded and locked steel and glass coffin just to get the amulet you were wearing.” She looked up at the dawning realization on his face. “Chain me. I’ll even hold still while you do. I’ll be gone if you so much as blink.”


“How did they get you on the headsman’s block?” He asked curiously.


Snorting she tried to sit up only to have Syvilas hold her in place. “Batran had come to Pale to make some money off of a new lock he’d made. He thought it was perfect and he charged a pretty penny for the damned thing. But he hadn’t met me. I got out of the chains with his lock on them, and out of the cell with his lock on it, but there was a sack of s**t who screamed about me escaping and got me caught again. Batran came and held onto me himself until the time they sold me off of the block.”


“Ah. Physically holding onto you is the only way.”


“I could bite you, brother.”


He smiled. “You could.” Syreilla tried to sit up again and was held firmly to his side. “I think you would prefer not to hurt someone you call family.”


“You’re an a*s, Syv.” She tried to twist and slip down his side to get out from under his arm. Wriggling and trying to get away became a game. Syreilla was laughing and ended up upside down with her feet over the wooden board that was intended as a seat back, with Syv trying to hold her against his thigh.


“Two half-elves at play, but what is that stench with them?” Syr had been having so much fun trying to get away from Syv she hadn’t noticed the pair of elves riding toward them.


She tapped Syv’s arm and as he released her she came up into a seated position with a frown. “We’re taking Kaddal Forgepike’s body back home. My brother’s got a knack for lightening the miles.”


“A dwarf, that would explain it.” One smirked to the other.


“Why would half-elves be dragging a stinking dwarf carcass along with them?”


“Perhaps it smells better than they do?” Her fists balled at their words and Syv put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed as if in warning.


“What are elves doing outside of Orileria? I thought you lot stayed there f*****g your kin and raising sickly inbred little elflings.” Syreilla leaned forward showing her teeth in an imitation of a smile, keeping her tone sickly sweet.


“Syr.” Syvilas pulled her back forcefully.


The elves looked at her coldly, all pretense of mockery had vanished. “Let them attack, Syv. Clan Hammersworn has a long memory.”


“There are more than just these two, sister.” She understood what he was quietly cautioning. He didn’t want to risk her getting killed or risk word of who he was getting out.”


Syreilla leaned back feeling sullen. “It’s annoying when you’re being sensible, brother. I like a good fight.”


“Do you have dwarf in your lineage?” One of the elves asked snidely.


“If I did I’d be prettier.” She shot back with a grin, “But any children I have will have lovely beards I’m sure.”


Their faces contorted with revulsion and Syv snorted muttering. “You know I disapprove.”


“And you know I love you despite your poor taste, brother.” Syr clapped him on the thigh.


One of the armored elves looked up to something in the trees above them. “You’re being followed by something unsavory.”


S**t. It had to be the lich, the elves were lying when they said they’d killed him. “Is it a lich?” She asked more sharply than she meant to.


“It is.” The elves looked back at her curiously.


“I have something of his.” Syr glanced at Syvilas. “Go ahead, I’ll take it to him and catch up with you.”


“If you think I would leave you, Syr…”


“We will dispatch the lich.” The elf approached with a half smile. “Whatever you took from him should be destroyed.”


“I will see to it she throws the item in one of the hotter forges.” Syv inclined his head. “She stole the item for him, and I forbade her from giving it to him. My sister is foolish and stubborn, but she does listen when I speak clearly enough.”


He’d get a kicking for painting her that way but she took her cue from him and played along. Syreilla crossed her arms, glaring at the rump of the horse in front of her.


“She’s young yet. Keep her from the dwarves if you can, they won’t help her grow less stubborn or less foolish.” The elf seemed almost pleasant speaking to Syv. “Go.”


“Thank you.” Syvilas encouraged the horse forward.


They were silent for a long stretch. “I may need to change my appearance again. When they discover from the lich what you stole, and who he is stalking-”


“They’ll come to Delver’s Deep looking for us both.”


“I enjoyed having a sister for a moment.” Syvilas’ voice was bitter.


“You’ll have a sister for the rest of my life, whatever you change your face or your name to.” Syreilla leaned against his shoulder and let him pull her under his arm. “I don’t know why exactly, but I feel like-”


“Like we are bound by something.” He sounded very pleased. “My dear Syreilla, I give you my word, I will keep you close and safe.”


“Safe is boring, Syv. It’s what sends me out of the mines and into places like where I found you.”


He began to crush her again. “My mad sister. I imagine keeping you safe while you roam will keep me occupied for some time.”


“If you don’t crush me to death.” She groaned trying to wriggle out from under his steel bar of an arm again.


His arm loosened but didn’t release her. “I will hold you as often as I can. To touch someone who is unafraid is a pleasure I have not had for longer than I care to remember.”


Syr wrapped her arms around him. “As long as you remember I’m your sister and not a bar wench.”


There was a long pause. “And if in time…”


“I’m not attracted to elves or even to humans really. You disapprove of my fondness for dwarves, but I like them, brother.”


“Why?”


“They’re honest, strong. And covered in hair.” She laughed as he shuddered. “It was something that took getting used to. I felt like a deviant at first, but it’s nice.”


“So it would be possible for you to… learn to enjoy a man you think of as your brother?” Syr felt his hand move along her side and heard the hungry hope in his voice.


It was her turn to shudder. “Brother, no. I’m not interested.”


Syvilas sighed and bent his arm to stroke her hair and ear. “We will have a very long time, sister. I will see to it. I learned as a King that perversions can be,” Syreilla shivered as he traced the outer edge of her ear, “delicious. There are things I could show you, things that would make you beg for a release only I can give you.”


Syreilla reached up and took hold of his hand. “Syv, I need you to not do that.” She sat up and moved away from him as much as the seat would allow.


“Forgive me.” Syv moved toward her on the seat. “Lean against me, I will not touch you. And I promise you, sister, I will keep my thoughts of perversions to myself.”


After a moment’s hesitation, she sighed and leaned against his shoulder again. “Were you originally an elf? I know they’re fond of their perversions.”


He laughed low in his throat. “I was not an elf. However, I did have a fondness for them. You are not wrong that I learned quite a bit from them.”


“You’re human then?” She looked at his mischievous smile.


“Half.” She elbowed him and his smile turned to a grin. “You will have to guess the other half, my dear Syreilla.” He looked at her with glittering eyes as his grin faded, “I loathed my body. I begged and prayed to every god and demon that would hear me until I was given what you call my gifts. I changed myself. At the cost of those I had spent my life trying to heal.”


“Your mother was human and gave you a human name.” She leaned harder against him. He must be half dwarf. Some of them were very unhappy until they found a place usually in a mine. A human name wouldn’t have helped him find it.


“Yes. She knew my best hope would be to find acceptance among the other humans. My mother was not the most loving, but she-” Syreilla ducked under his arm and hugged him tightly. “Yours should have loved such a beautiful daughter.”


“I didn’t get her what she wanted. My father shunned us both and I was useless to her. She sent me away to serve as a maid when I was ten. It was the most horrible year of my life. Being alone on the street and starving was better.” His arm pressed down firmly. “But as you say, I’m pretty enough and a master thief needed a young girl to satisfy an elf’s perversions and get him access to the house.”


“Stop.” Syvilas’ voice sounded strangled.


“He kept me on to learn the trade after that. I hate elves. Humans can be decent, dwarves have been better to me than either. I don’t know how they were when you were young, but I want you to see how they’ve changed. I want you to see that they’re beautiful.”


Syv kissed the top of her head. “You find them beautiful?”


“I do, brother. I could watch Kaduil work steel for hours. It doesn’t matter what he’s making, he’s so mesmerizingly beautiful.”


“I have never worked steel, Syr.”


“I’ll ask Batran if you can give it a try.” She felt him sigh and start to pull away. “Even I like to try my hand at it. That knife you broke was one I made.”


He blinked at her. “You made it?”


“You thought I was insulted for some other reason?” She grinned. “Batran said it was obvious it wasn’t made by a skilled hand.”


He smiled. “I thought it was made by a human smith.”


“I’ll take that as praise.”




© 2017 Isemay


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I think the story is captivating so far! I'm looking forward to continue the read.
However, there is one thing that bothered me in this chapter. I would expect a master thief to be a little more sceptical of an undead thing that just emerged from some dark prison. Part of her recklessness can be explained by his "binding" but I think they get extremely familiar too soon. Also he is supposed to be some evil which is hinted on when he emerges, but seems to have a lot of emotions. So in my opinion the transition from two strangers to loving "siblings" goes a little too fast. Maybe I get that feeling because you don't show their thoughts? I say this because I would normally attempt such a transition by showing resentment from her part in thoughts that gets a little less and goes completely when he binds her. Maybe my issue is caused by her lack of scepticism quite generally, as I would expect a thief to be cautious. Did you leave that out because of his power over her from the beginning?

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Isemay

2 Years Ago

There's a lot I think I might need to rework in this story. And I 1000% appreciate constructive feed.. read more



Reviews

I think the story is captivating so far! I'm looking forward to continue the read.
However, there is one thing that bothered me in this chapter. I would expect a master thief to be a little more sceptical of an undead thing that just emerged from some dark prison. Part of her recklessness can be explained by his "binding" but I think they get extremely familiar too soon. Also he is supposed to be some evil which is hinted on when he emerges, but seems to have a lot of emotions. So in my opinion the transition from two strangers to loving "siblings" goes a little too fast. Maybe I get that feeling because you don't show their thoughts? I say this because I would normally attempt such a transition by showing resentment from her part in thoughts that gets a little less and goes completely when he binds her. Maybe my issue is caused by her lack of scepticism quite generally, as I would expect a thief to be cautious. Did you leave that out because of his power over her from the beginning?

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Isemay

2 Years Ago

There's a lot I think I might need to rework in this story. And I 1000% appreciate constructive feed.. read more

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Added on December 27, 2017
Last Updated on December 27, 2017
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods


Author

Isemay
Isemay

Germany



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Bitten by a writing bug! Review my writing and I will gladly return the favor! I love reading other people's stories, and I try to review honestly and give constructive criticism. I love receivi.. more..

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Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by Isemay


Chapter 2 Chapter 2

A Chapter by Isemay


Chapter 3 Chapter 3

A Chapter by Isemay