Chapter 10

Chapter 10

A Chapter by Isemay

The way she hung on his words reminded Syvilas of the courtesans who had been eager for his favor. Yet it was much easier to believe her interest was genuine. Syreilla asked questions and listened to his answers. It would be too easy to tell her too much.


He touched the threads with a thought as he teased her and called her sister. She had a strong reaction to it, though he doubted she understood what had happened. Laughing, he took the mead from her as she coughed.


“Mead burns when it comes out of your nose, Syv.”


Taking a drink of her preferred beverage, he found it pleasing. As pleasing as the easy way she shortened his name. “Syv. Syv and Syr. That is remarkably pleasant. A matched set of thieves.”


Syreilla gave him one of her bright mischievous grins, “Don’t get ahead of yourself brother, you need to learn the finer points of theft.” Syvilas would tolerate her teasing, if only because he had seen her skill. She would have a great deal to teach on the subject. The way she stopped herself, sighing and glancing at the box troubled him. “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 everytime I go.” Syvilas stared in horror. She did not just confess to… “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.” He tried to mask the depth of his disapproval.


“You disapprove?!” Syreilla shoved his shoulder. “You?!” His disapproval seemed to delight her and she needled him with the implication that his trespasses against the gods were worse.


“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.” It was true enough, he knew better than to be disrespectful.


He watched her shake 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.” Her confident smile was almost terrifying, “The best thing that ever happened to me was ending up on the headsman’s block in Pale.”


Mages? She associated with mages? He gave her a wry smile, “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.” Her grin as she took a drink made him almost certain she knew the god favoring her very well. “I bet they’d play dice with a loaded set too.”


“Trickster gods are seldom in short supply.” Trickster gods enjoyed their fame if she was claimed she’d offer up a clever indication.


“Tell you what, if I ever meet one I’ll buy’em a bottle of mead.” Her shrug and nonchalant reply didn’t give him the clue he was hoping for. “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.” She turned the conversation back to him expertly, he glanced at her wondering why.


“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.” Syvilas gave her a cautious answer.


She nodded and looked thoughtful. “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 smiled, wise words if oversimplified. “As is ‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown.’”


“Ha!” He turned a sharp look on her for her derisive laugh. Syr began explaining immediately, “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, she had some idea of court at least. “True. I enjoyed being King more than I should have. There are pleasures offered to a King unrivalled 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?” A perceptive question, to be answered carefully.


“I thought myself harsh but fair, but my subjects had not responded to my fairness as I had hoped.” It was not pleasant to remember his failings and the betrayal of his people and peers. “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’s touch, squeezing his hand in an attempt to console him strengthened the bond immensely, it felt like hot water on sore muscles.  


It brought a sigh from him and he wished he could tell her what she had done for him, “As am I. But now I can choose to become something else.” His hopes, this time, would not be dashed.


“True!” She seemed excited at the prospect. “I’d be happy to teach you all I know about thievery if you wanted to learn a trade.”


“Thievery as a trade. There would be no punishments they could levy that could deter me.” With her as a teacher, he could become a thief unlike any other.


“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.”


She thought he was unaware? It amused him. Syr had no idea how well he knew the consequences of his ‘own brand of theft’. “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?” Syvilas began to laugh, this was a question he had been anticipating. “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-” He reached out to stroke her cheek and she didn’t flinch. She stopped speaking, looking at him curiously as the bonds tightened.


With a warm smile, he reassured her. “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.”


Taking his hand she held it to her cheek, sending warmth through him. “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.”


He teased her, wanting her to laugh, “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.”


Her sheepish laugh wasn’t the joyful sound he had wanted. “I’m lucky my helpless brother isn’t actually helpless. And that he’s a gifted healer.” Her words struck a chord within him.


“Healer.” To be seen as a healer again, by sweet Syreilla… “I haven’t been called that… for a very long time, sister mine.”


“You could choose to do that instead, you know.” She moved closer and leaned against his shoulder, she was strengthening the bond as if she were the one trying to bind him. “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 leaned into her, the tighter the bonds the better. Healing was no longer something he could do openly. “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 admiring it.


Naive child. “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. Olthon had done that when he was deep in thought. “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. He didn’t want to think of Olthon when he looked at her.


“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!”


Syvilas lashed out punching her in the thigh. He remembered the plight of those who had been abused that way when he was a healer. The memory still infuriated him


“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.” He watched as she rubbed the painful spot on her thigh and felt the bonds loosening. “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…” The loosening felt like ice water being poured over him. She had been trying to help.


“I’m a thief, brother, decent people like yourself tend to find my line of work upsetting.” Syreilla moved away from him and it cut worse than any blade.


“Decent.” He closed his eyes needing to brace the bond so that it would not detach when he pulled her back. “I think you misunderstand what I am.”


“You get upset when you hear of hopeless helpless people getting fleeced?”


His eyes opened. The bond was still very much intact. “Yes. But-”


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


He marveled at her, she was reinforcing the bond herself, “Yes, but sister-” She bent back two fingers.


“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.”


She truly thought the best of him. “You may be completely mad, my dear Syreilla. Yet I think I adore you.” Sweet Syreilla was binding him as close as he could bear. He looked from her back to the road, he would more than allow it. “Clan Hammersworn will have to learn to do without you.”


They were not the right words. She kicked him and cautioned. “Clan Hammersworn can do without me, I can’t do without them, Syv. They’re the first real family I ever had.”


He could feel that she would give him up for them if he did not bind her closely enough by the time they reached her home. “And you are my family now, Syr. How can I risk you being married off to a dwarf and being kept from me?”


Laughing, she told him, “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.” She was treating this as a jest.


“I notice you do not promise he will not keep you from me.” Syv let her hear his bitterness.


“Syv.” Syreilla sighed. “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?” Syvilas pulled her by the bonds.


“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.” He felt a twinge of guilt, a long-absent feeling.


Pulling her under his arm, he needed her to willingly part with them, to accept her place at his side. “My dear Syreilla, I will keep you from them. I need you more.” If she would do that, no one could break his hold. She would-


“Crushing.” Syr croaked out. He released her immediately, he had forgotten himself for a moment. “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.”


A small concession but he needed more. “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. If she wished to give him a challenge… “Chains might keep you in one place, sister.”


She began to laugh, slapping 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.” The realization dawned on him that chaining her physically would be pointless with her skills. “Chain me. I’ll even hold still while you do. I’ll be gone if you so much as blink.”


Had she not said she was bought off of the headsman’s block? “How did they get you on the headsman’s block?”


Snorting she tried to sit up. Syvilas held her in place. She didn’t want to tell him… he stroked the bonds and she began to speak, “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.” Her tale was clipped and coarse but it gave him the answer he wanted.


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


“I could bite you, brother.” She was annoyed and it amused him.


“You could.” Syreilla tried to sit up and he held her in place proving that she wouldn't. “I think you would prefer not to hurt someone you call family.”


“You’re an a*s, Syv.” She began to twist and writhe in his grip. It was difficult to hold her with one arm but it seemed she was enjoying the challenge of escaping his grip as much as he was enjoying the challenge of holding onto her. Their shared joy in the game reinforced the bonds impressively.


He saw the elves approaching and hoped they might let them pass without comment if they looked engrossed in their game. With his sharper elvish senses, he noticed their glances to the tree line above the road and felt the eyes on him. Syvilas knew the pair of elves was not alone.


“Two half-elves at play, but what is that stench with them?” Syr stiffened against him. She had not noticed them before they spoke.


A gentle tap on his arm told him the game was done. She sat up and spoke coolly, “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?” Syv put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed as her hands turned into fists. She had a temper.


“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, the sickly sweet tone to the almost dwarvish provocation was somehow jarring.


“Syr.” Syvilas pulled her back forcefully.


The elves looked at her coldly, all pretense of mockery had vanished. The threat of her getting herself killed was far more plausible than the threat of her leaving him.


“Let them attack, Syv. Clan Hammersworn has a long memory.” If she expected them to back down because of a possible feud with dwarves she would be shown the error of her ways. He knew one of the elves that stood in front of them, Pelinel, he would not hesitate to kill her for her insults.


He cautioned her quietly, “There are more than just these two, sister.”


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


“Do you have dwarf in your lineage?” Pelinel asked snidely.


“If I did I’d be prettier.” She shot back with a vicious 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 slapped him on the thigh playfully. He couldn't hide his smile. Love. The bonds were doing better than he had hoped.


He was aware of movement in the tree line but he did not turn to look. If Syreilla hadn’t noticed, it might be strange if he did. The other of the armored elves looked toward it. “You’re being followed by something unsavory.”


“Is it a lich?” Syr asked sharply. She hated the lich, he’d been told.


“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.”


She believed the lich wanted the amulet. The lich would kill her if she tried to give it to him. “If you think I would leave you, Syr…”


The display of brotherly love seemed to move Pelinel. “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.” If he remembered correctly, Pelinel had a sister who was something of a mischief-maker. It might put her offensiveness in a more endearing light.


Syreilla crossed her arms, glaring at the rump of the horse in front of her. He smiled at her deliberately childish act. She was quick.


“She’s young yet. Keep her from the dwarves if you can, they won’t help her grow less stubborn or less foolish.” Pelinel seemed almost amused. “Go.”


“Thank you.” Syvilas encouraged the horse forward.


They were silent for a long stretch. She had told them her clan, and they knew the name of the dwarf they were taking back. It would be easy for the elves to locate them. “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.” Syr sounded apologetic.


“I enjoyed having a sister for a moment.” Syvilas had been enjoying forming this bond, with a new face and name it would likely dissolve. He would need to look for another to create.


“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.” She had noticed the bond even if she didn’t understand it. That pleased him. It was a pity she didn’t understand enough to know how wrong she was. He’d bound her to the name, when he chose another it would weaken and fade. “My dear Syreilla, I give you my word, I will keep you close and safe.” There was nothing he would not sacrifice to keep that promise to someone utterly unafraid of him who could bind him so tightly.


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


He squeezed her against his side. “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.” He loosened his grip at her plaintive groan but did not 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.”


Syv reminded himself that she was bound as a sister for the moment, desire would have to come later and with a different name. Waiting for something he wanted so badly with her arms already around him was impossible. It would do no harm to let her have the idea in her head. “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?” He loathed the way they looked but he could take her desires into account for his next form.


“They’re honest, strong. And covered in hair.” His shudder seemed to amuse her. “It was something that took getting used to. I felt like a deviant at first, but it’s nice.”


She enjoyed something that made her feel like a deviant. He smiled, that was hopeful. “So it would be possible for you to… learn to enjoy a man you think of as your brother?” Perhaps he would not have to wait long before getting what he wanted.


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


Syvilas sighed and bent his arm to stroke her hair and ear. He was confident she would enjoy him if she allowed herself the opportunity. “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, pulling thin threads of desire, preparing them, “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 interrupting his labors and he felt the bonds that had been so perfectly tight shrivel and loosen in her revulsion. “Syv, I need you to not do that.” She sat up and moved away from him as much as the seat would allow. Ice water would have felt warm compared to this. It was agony.


“Forgive me.” Syv moved toward her on the seat gently pulling the bonds. “Lean against me, I will not touch you. And I promise you, sister, I will keep my thoughts of perversions to myself.” He would wait until the bond had been dissolved and a new one formed to try again.


Sighing, she leaned against his shoulder again. “Were you originally an elf? I know they’re fond of their perversions.”


His relieved laugh was low and quiet. “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?” Prying little creature. He smiled at her.


“Half.” She elbowed him and he grinned at her; she was not the only one who could present a challenge. “You will have to guess the other half, my dear Syreilla.” Syvilas was seized with the sudden feeling that she should be made aware of why he changed himself lest she ask him to show her, “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 enjoyed her desire to comfort.


“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 and he could feel a resonance in the bond as it tightened again. “Yours should have loved such a beautiful daughter.”


Syreilla opened herself freely, and he could feel the current of her emotions through the bond. “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, offering comfort as he felt her distress. “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 felt her disgust and shame, it made him stop her. It was a painful memory and he did not want her in pain.


“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. Syr thought he was half-dwarf and wanted him to love his kin. “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.” The pleasure that washed over him at the memory of Kaduil was a welcome counter to the poison of the other memories.


“I have never worked steel, Syr.” His father’s kind did not forge and making a weapon that could kill him was not something he intended to do.


“I’ll ask Batran if you can give it a try.” He sighed and pulled away as she offered encouragingly. “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.”


Syvilas smiled at her. She was being dismissive of her own skill though she was clearly proud of it. “I thought it was made by a human smith.”


“I’ll take that as praise.” Her face lit and he felt a twinge of pain at not being able to kiss those smiling lips as he wished.




© 2017 Isemay


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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