Chapter 21

Chapter 21

A Chapter by Isemay

Syreilla put her heels to the horse, back toward the tomb. There were tracks that led off to little towns and tracks that lead into the woods to places she could try to lose them. She knew better to think she could lose them in the trees, but in the lower mountains there had been tunnels, the remnants of some war long forgotten. Some were still passable for stretches. A few wards thrown up around one of the more dangerous ones would get them going that way and she could slip into one she knew.

Getting there ahead of them would be the hard part. They wouldn’t have given her the fastest horse but the time they took to gather their horses again would give her some help. A tingling at the base of her skull made her eyes feel like they wanted to cross.

“F*****g elf.” She muttered. Olthon must have grabbed one of those threads he was talking about, something she couldn’t slip away from. Or could she? Vezar would probably know, if she could ask him. Until then… It only made sense that threads would get thinner the more distance you put between the ends. Syreilla focused on keeping up the horse’s speed and the road ahead and tried to wish the thread thinner.

The feeling at the base of her skull eased as the road curved and she felt more concealed. She kept the horse moving at the fastest pace she could manage until she came to a side track that she knew would lead to a small village. Dismounting quickly she rubbed the horse’s face and muttered an apology. A lightly traced mark on the horse’s rump would keep it running for an hour at least. A nasty trick but a useful one. The animal thundered off and Syr slipped down the path and dropped to the ground, pulling up her hood as she heard the sound of pursuit.

Olthon paused at the head of the track sending two elves ahead after the horse. He was speaking in elvish to the one that stayed with him, she couldn’t help but smile, he sounded furious. The elf was definitely giving an order. Staying was not a good idea, and moving would be tricky. She moved slowly coming onto her hands and toes, lifting her hooded head.

He’d gone silent. Playing hide and seek in the woods with elves. Syr almost started to laugh. There was probably one standing over her already, the cunning sneaks. She turned her head and saw the edge of the blade next to her face and began to laugh.

A hand grabbed her shoulder roughly and pulled her to her feet. “You’re enjoying yourself?” Tirnel looked like he wanted to throttle her.

“Immensely.” She grinned at him and the elf struck her across the face. Syr began to laugh again as she licked the blood from her lip. “And now we have some real fun.”

Tirnel opened his mouth to speak as she mouthed the siphoning spell again, the object was close and still had power in it. She hoped it had enough. Releasing the power in a blinding flash, she bolted. Humans took more than an hour to recover from that trick, elves would take less.

Turning, she cast one of the nicer dirty tricks she’d learned. Almost invisible unless you were looking for them, these wards reached out in all directions and snared their victims, draining their energy to hold them in place.

Bolting down the path she heard Olthon shout, “Syreilla Acharnion!”

“That’s not my name.” She muttered as she kept running.

Out of breath and with shaking legs by the time she reached the village, her arrival drew interest. Not many here had seen a half-elf much less one who had run herself almost to her limit. Syreilla gratefully accepted the water and tried to be on her way.

“What’s your hurry? You steal something?” One of the men looked at her speculatively.

“No, being hunted by elves.” She shook her head and took a risk. “I’m Syreilla Hammersworn, married a half-dwarf. Kaduil Hardjaw. Elvish kin wanted nothing to do with me until then. Now they’ve dragged me away from the mine.” Syr looked at the suspicious man. “I am a thief, and a damned good one. Lucky I am, or they’d have me in chains on the way to Orileria.”

“Prove it.” The man crossed his arms and stared her down.

Bending she pulled her boot knife, “My husband made this for me.” A murmur went through the small crowd as the man took it and looked it over. Syreilla expected him to accuse her of stealing it.

“Your husband does fine work. A half-elf and a half-dwarf, he’s a lucky one.” He handed the knife back.

“No, he’s got a wife that can’t stay home in the mine, as much as she wants to. I’m the lucky one to have a home and a husband to go back to.” She ran her fingers over the runes and felt a twinge of guilt before putting it back in her boot sheath.

He grunted and gave a nod. “Get her inside and hide her. A man ought not have his wife stolen away by elves.”

Syreilla was pushed into a nearby house and ushered into the cellar. This wasn’t ideal. If they got ahead of her they could lie in wait. If they split up to watch around the village they’d catch her even if she doubled back.

She took a deep breath and crouched, steepling her fingers to think. It was possible she’d get smuggled back to the mine. That would be both good and bad. She’d get a hiding for it but she might be able to stay a few more days. More likely the elves would charm these people into handing her over. Pulling out her circlet she put it on and looked around for any other way out. What looked like it may have been a small boarded window would probably be her only chance. She needed to wait to be sure she didn’t run directly into the elves waiting arms.

Opening her satchel she took the time to eat a little more sausage and bread, sipping the mead before putting it away again. Waiting was agonizing. It felt like hours and hours had passed by the time the man came down into the cellar, frowning.

“The elves won’t leave. One has a chunk of metal he says tells him you’re here and not off in the woods. He can’t tell what house you’re in though.”

Rubbing her face, Syr asked, “Are you going to turn me over?”

“No. They brought the horse with the shackles on it. No one is going to send a man’s wife off in chains no matter what kind of tale the elves are spinning.”

“What tale?”

“‘He says you woke an undying evil and they need you to hunt him down.” The man’s eyes were sharp as he watched her.

“It’s sort of true. He’s talking about my brother. But if he’s not making trouble I don’t see why they need to hunt him down and kill him. He’s got a good heart.” She rubbed her thumb knuckle between her eyes.

“And what you said about being dragged off to Orileria?” She looked up into his accusing face.

“Not far off the mark either. They made it clear they find my adopted family and my husband repulsive and inappropriate. If I don’t go back with them after they kill my brother they’ll kill me and send my corpse back to Orileria, I’m certain.” She shrugged at him apologetically. “Too little time and too much urgency makes cutting the truth into deceptive little bits too tempting.”

He grunted. “I don’t know what to do with you.”

“Give me a chance to run.” Syr smiled at him grimly. “If I know how close they’re watching the place I can at least try.”

“You won’t get far. Elves in the woods…” She knew what he meant. It wasn’t the ideal place to try to escape them.

Nodding, she took a breath. “Maybe. But at least you won’t have to worry about them thinking you were hiding me deliberately.” Touching her lip, she asked, “Will you carry a message for me? Up to Delver’s Deep? Tell Batran that I didn’t use magic to attack them until Tirnel hit me. Don’t talk to Kaduil. He’ll come out looking to put an axe in someone’s head and get himself killed. Batran will also want to know that Olthon is trying to f**k around with my threads.” At the man’s baffled expression she shook her head, “It was the excuse they used to get him to make me go with them. Olthon said my brother was messing with my threads. The elf is trying to do the same. Batran Hammersworn needs to know these elves are not trustworthy.”

“No message for Kaduil?” He looked at her dubiously.

Her eyes burned and the lump returned to her throat. It took her a moment to clear it enough to speak. “Nothing that wouldn’t bring him out with his axe. I promised him I would come home and I will. As soon as I can.” Syr looked at the man and gave him a half smile. “I was hoping you’d smuggle me back and I’d get a few more days with him before they came to drag me back out of the mine. I’d take the hiding Batran would give me for it without a second thought.”

He nodded and looked thoughtful, “Night is falling. The elves will want to bed down somewhere they can keep an eye on things. I’ll find out where they are exactly and let you know. Do you need food?”

“Batran sent dwarf bread and sausage with me.” She grinned and opened her bag. He looked envious. “You eat dwarf bread?”

“HA! What is that, mead?” He gave her a smile.

“Liquid gold.” She brought the bottle out and offered him a drink. “Take the bottle. If you can carry my message to Batran you can tell him I said to give you another.”

She watched as he fetched a bottle from a rickety rack. “Here. A trade.” He pulled the wax sealed rag out and offered it.

Syr took a smell and a sip. “Cider. If you have more of that you might take it up and see if Batran will buy it off of you. He has a soft spot for it.” She took another drink before putting the rag back in place carefully and putting it in her bag. Mead was better but cider wasn’t bad.

“I’ll get your message to Hammersworn. Taking goods up is risky.”

Snorting, Syr shook her head. “If anyone stops you between here and Delver’s Deep tell them you’re carrying goods for Batran Hammersworn. Tell them Syreilla sent you. If they want to press you, tell them they can have the goods but Syreilla Hammersworn will be hunting them down and she’ll be breathing dragon’s fire.”

“They’ll back down?” He looked at her speculatively.

“They’ll break and run.” She gave him a cold smile. “You can use my name any time you take goods to and from Delver’s Deep. I doubt my influence goes much further than this village though. Anyone from Lew or Pale knows better than to cross me where the dwarves are concerned.”

“I’ll find out where the elves are.” He gave her a stiff nod and went back up. The nervousness on his face when she mentioned people knowing not to cross her made her suspicious.

The sound of low voices as she followed to press her ear against the wood made the hair on her neck raise. He was speaking to the elves. Time to try that window.

Out of a narrow pocket on her thigh she pulled a shaped bar of metal as long and her hand and as thick as her thumb. One of her heavier tools, but she was glad she hadn’t left it. She worked the bar under the edge as quietly as she could and pried the old rotting boards away. They crumbled more than pulled away, but at least they did it quietly. Syr pushed her bag out of the hole and hauled herself out. It was a tight fit and she had to twist and try to angle her hips to get them through.

Snatching up her bag, she decided to risk doubling back, bolting for the track she’d come down. The cry went up before she reached it. F*****g elves. She didn’t slow. If she could make it to the road, maybe… The sound of hooves thundering behind her sent her off the track among the trees. A faint animal path leapt out at her. Putting her feet to it she ran as quickly and as quietly as she could.

The elves were faster and quieter. Maethion stepped out in front of her catching her as she slammed into him. Syr tried to catch him in the face with her forehead but he started to laugh and shoved her back. She couldn’t help but grin realizing the four were surrounding her.

“You’re almost clever enough to be difficult.” Maethion was the only one besides herself who was grinning.

“I’ll do better next time.” She tilted her head and shrugged.

“Of that, I have no doubt.” Olthon sounded both annoyed and amused. “Did I understand correctly, you would not have attacked if Tirnel had not struck you?”

“That’s right. Batran will probably still give me a hiding for running in the first place, but that idiot son of yours gave me an opening too good to pass up.” Tirnel began to speak angrily in elvish, stepping forward. Syreilla squared her shoulders and spread her fingers, “Hit me again, see what it gets you.”

“Back, Tirnel. No one will strike you again, Syreilla. No further demonstrations are required.” Olthon made a gesture and Maethion gingerly took hold of her arm. “We will discuss this at length as you guide us to Vezar.”

She was taken back to the track and put onto her skittish horse. Patting it apologetically, she turned to check the place she’d made the mark, “Poor thing.”

“You feel badly for hurting the horse?” Pelinel muttered.

“Of course. It didn’t do anything to me. If I’d known you wouldn’t keep chasing the horse I’d have stayed on it and tried to go farther.”

“And that ward you caught me in?” Tirnel snapped at her. “Do you feel badly for that?”

“Not even a little bit.” Syr gave him her most vicious grin.

“Zylius had an apt student.” Olthon nearly sounded approving. “I have no doubt you learned to make dragon’s fire from him as well. That’s nearly a lost art.”

“It’s volatile stuff, useful though.” If Olthon wanted to talk tricks, it might not be a bad time to see what the elf could do.

“How so?” Maethion sounded curious.

“It melts steel, no matter how good it is. It trips wards. It’ll turn most anything to ash.”

Olthon turned on his horse. “It trips wards?”

“Just like a living thing. If I didn’t mix it myself I’d almost swear it was. The stuff will find a target when you pour it and reach for your fingers too. You don’t even want to breathe on it. A ripple will wake it up.”

“I don’t think I want to know how you discovered that.” Olthon sounded almost impressed.

“Toward the end of his life, I’m almost certain Zylius was trying to get me killed. Some of the things he taught me were as dangerous as the jobs he sent me on.”

“You could have done much worse to Tirnel.” Olthon gave her an appreciative look. “You refrained because he struck you with his hand and not a weapon.”

“The next time he hits me he should do his best to kill me. He’s had his warning.” The elf nodded at her words.

“And you’d let Batran give you a hiding?”

“That’s different. Batran looks out for me, he gave me a home and a family. I’ll take the punishment he doles out, whatever it might be, because I trust him.”

“You have a strong bond with your family. That would be why Vezar became your brother. There was no other bond he could make with you that would hold you.” Olthon sounded thoughtful.

“What was it you were trying to do when I was running? I could feel it at the back of my head.”

“I was trying to draw you with the single thread I managed to unravel. You are slippery my dear. I consider myself lucky to have been able to hold it at all.”

“Did you learn that from Vezar or did he learn it from you?”

“I learned it from him. We were friends once.”

“Friends from the monastery or friends from when he ruled?”

Olthon turned to look at her again with a sharp smile. “No one survived his stay at the monastery. He learned what he needed and then devoured them all. Think of him like dragon’s fire, volatile, he will turn on you.”

“You want me to turn on him first. Like you did.” They stepped out onto the road and Olthon fell back to ride next to her.

“Yes.” He studied her face. “It wasn’t an easy thing. For you, it will be harder because he has bound you as family.”

“I can’t let you lock him away again. Being alone is unbearable for him and for me.” Syreilla shivered.

“Ah.” The elf paused before asking, “Can you let me kill him?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think you can or you would have done it.” She could feel nervousness creeping like a millipede up her spine. Syv would need to know if Olthon had a weapon that could kill him.

“Be calm, Syreilla. I need you only to consider it.” The elf reached out to touch her arm and she flinched away. “I am not going to harm you.”

“I don’t trust you. You said those threads tighten and strengthen with touch, and I’ve already seen you try to use that against me.”

“This is why Batran was so concerned when you said you trusted Vezar. You don’t give your trust easily.” Olthon frowned giving her a concerned look.

“You don’t listen well, do you? He told you that.” Syr shook her head. “Part of me knows I should be more concerned that I trust Vezar the way I do. But…”

“That part of you knows is good. It means there is some hope.”

Syr sighed, “Are we going to be riding all night or will we be stopping somewhere?”

Olthon looked at her sourly, “We will be meeting two others down this road, they have camp prepared and waiting. I don’t see why you couldn’t sleep on your horse again as you did earlier.”

She rubbed her face and tried not to laugh. “I didn’t think you’d be keen to have me well-rested before you’d gotten a chance to rest yourselves, but that’s fine. I can-”

“I have changed my mind.” Olthon narrowed his eyes at her but he was obviously fighting a smile. “Please, engage us in conversation.”

Her grin was wide, “Why don’t elves eat sausage? It’s delicious.” Angry elvish muttering behind her told her the topic was bound to be a fun one.

“What did Vezar think of your… manner?” Olthon smiled changing the subject.

“He’s a fun one. I only had to tease him a few times before he started teasing back.”

“And before he started teasing back?” Maethion asked from behind her.

“Vezar has this fantastic offended face.” She gestured around her face. “You should see it sometime.” Glancing back she saw Tirnel looking sour and sulky. “It’s almost as good as that one.” Syr pointed at him.

The laughter behind her quickly turned to coughing. And she grinned as Olthon turned to look at her struggling to keep from smiling again. “You cause no end of trouble and then try to charm your way out of it?”

“I have to get some use out of my ears,” she gestured at the shape. “Gods know I don’t use them to listen with.”

Olthon laughed despite himself. “I can see myself in you when I was young. You excel at lulling those around you into complacency and then you try again.” He looked almost proud. “You may find such tricks more difficult on elves.”

“Then I get to learn new ones.” She tilted her head and gave him a sickly sweet smile.

“It would be such a waste to leave you with dwarves, Syreilla.” He sounded almost like Vezar and it made her miss him as much as it made her angry.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I told Vezar, you don’t get to decide that.” Her voice sounded oddly flat to her own ears.

“He wants to take you from the dwarves.” Olthon sounded as if he were coming to some kind of realization.

“He said he would keep me from them. He said he needs me more. Needs me to himself is what he said when he forbade me to marry.”

“You defied him.” Olthon looked at her with a grim expression. “And I have dragged you from the mine where his influence will not be counteracted by your loved ones.”

“I hoped the man at the village would smuggle me back there. But… no such luck.”

“The pull to the mine is stronger right now. But it won’t last. Vezar will pull you to him. All I ask is that you let us come with you.” Something about his voice sounded oddly reasonable.

“I… I don’t trust you, Olthon. The thought of leading you to my brother isn't-”

“Vezar Edra is not your brother!” Tirnel snapped from behind.

Tirnel’s voice was like cold water splashing over her. Syreilla’s anger came back. “I don’t expect you to know what family is. Or what it can be. But don’t dare think you can dictate to me what or who my family is after you abandoned me to my fate. I have no use for you, elf.”

After a long silence Olthon spoke quietly, “Your mother, she was a passionate, intelligent woman?”

“She was angry. I didn’t know her well enough to say more about her. Though she seemed to think if I’d been a boy I’d have been more appealing to my father. She wanted to name me Thesolas.”

“Thesolas was the name of a friend. It might have gotten his attention.” He glanced at her regretfully, “Had she known to get mine you would not have been abandoned.”

“All my life I’ve been called a mongrel by the elves I’ve met, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t believe you’d have embraced me.”

The silence stretched until they reached the camp of the other two elves. Syreilla was given a small tent of her own and she listened to the hushed elvish conversations as she sat inside it eating and drinking from her bag. If she took them to Brosa… it was too much risk. She could take them wandering until she learned enough to judge the danger. Vezar was safe enough for now.

Food was going to be a problem. If she took too long she would be forced to eat what they had. At the moment all she wanted was solid dwarvish food. Food from home. Home was where she wanted to be. The thought of sleeping without Kaduil made her heart ache.

Syreilla curled on the mat that had been laid on the ground and pulled her hood up over her head. No blanket, and she wasn’t about to go asking for anything from this lot. She tucked her hands under her armpits and brought her knees almost to her chest. The bitter lonely feeling wouldn’t dissipate.

The tent flap opened and she drew her hood back to look at who was intruding. Olthon looked surprised as if he had expected her to be elsewhere. Syr narrowed her eyes at him.

“I recalled you didn’t like being alone and thought I should inquire if you wished company. I hadn’t expected to find you curled so pitifully, Syreilla. Allow me to join you.”

“It’s cold.” She let up on her glare.

“You could have asked for a blanket.”

“I have no intentions of asking you for anything.” Pulling her hood back up she settled back into her ball.

“And now I see my sullen son in you.” Olthon sounded annoyed.

Without looking up Syreilla muttered, “Out. I will kick you, old man.”

The tent flap closed. She had already begun to fade into sleep when she was startled awake by someone pulling a blanket over her.

Olthon unrolled a mat partly overlapping hers in the small tent and lay down looking at her peculiarly. “Batran looks out for you, because you are occasionally too stubborn or too proud to take care of yourself.”

“Sometimes.” Syr could see what he was trying to do, even half asleep. The elf had decided to build trust. It would be something she could use at least, to find out more about the weapon he intended to use on Syv.

“Go back to sleep. I will be here, Syreilla.”

Sleeping so close to an elf wasn’t ideal, but she didn’t have much choice. She turned her back on him drawing her boot knife and he laughed quietly. The quiet indecipherable conversations outside the tent lulled her back to sleep after a time. It was the middle of the night when someone moved the tent flap and hissed for Olthon. It brought her bolt upright ready to defend herself, to the surprise of the elf at the end of her knife.

“I did warn you she sleeps lightly, Dolthidir. Put your knife away Syreilla. Go back to sleep if you can.” Olthon sounded amused. He was smiling when she turned her head to look at him.

“No, I’m awake now.” She slipped the knife back into her boot sheath. “You’re supposed to take a turn with the watch or was he just checking to make sure I hadn’t murdered you in your sleep?”

“The watch. I will be back in a few hours.” He looked very pleased with himself as he sat up.

“I think I’d rather get up.” Syr rolled her shoulders and stretched her legs out.

“You’d like to keep me company?” Olthon looked dubious.

“I’m not planning on trying to escape again, not until we’re out of the forest, if that’s what you’re concerned about.” Her mischievous grin seemed to annoy him. Good.

He made a gesture toward the tent flap. Syreilla climbed out of the tent with her satchel of food and found herself face to face with a scowling Dolthidir. She gave him a bright smile.

“Someone should have disarmed you.”

“Try it and you’ll lose the arm, elf. My husband gave me that knife.” Her smile became more of a baring of teeth and the elf blinked.

“No one will take your knife, though, I would like to see it.” Olthon’s smile was resigned. “She’s not going to harm me or run tonight. Go rest, Dolthidir.”

She watched Olthon settle on the log that had been dragged near their fire. The elf patted the place next to him and she snorted and shook her head instead settling on the ground across the banked fire from him.

“Will you show me your knife?” He asked after a few moment’s silence.

“Will you show me the chunk of metal you used to hunt me down?” Syr inquired with a shrug.

“Of course.” He patted the place beside him again with a smug smile.

“You and Vezar must have gotten along well, I can see the similarities.” She couldn’t help but give him a smile as she stood to come sit on the log. Not as close as he’d suggested but the elf looked pleased.

“We did. For a time.” He drew a lump of metal from a pouch. “This is the ‘chunk of metal’ you asked about.” She could feel his sharp gaze on her as she looked at it, deliberately not reaching for it. “You don’t wish to touch it?”

“No. That’s what I pulled power from. I can feel it has some kind of-” Syreilla gestured with a partly curled hand. “There’s something sneaky on it.”

Olthon began to laugh. “You could be trained so easily. I’m not surprised Zylius enjoyed teaching you. I’ve spent years working with this metal knowing I would someday need to bring it to bear on Vezar.”

“Why didn’t you make it into a different shape?”

“Vezar can only be killed by a weapon of his own hand. He tried to destroy all weapons he had used but this piece of metal managed to survive. I worried reforging it would make it into a weapon of my hand. I hope it will be enough.”

“So it’s not something you’re going to get close and hit him with, you’re going to kill him from a distance.”  Syr leaned forward and pulled her boot knife turning it in her fingers.

“You disapprove. You’d prefer I had to get close.” She glanced at the amused elf.

“If you’re going to kill my brother the least you can do is look him in the eye.”

“I will, Syreilla. I have to touch it to him to catch his threads. It didn’t work as well as I had hoped at a distance.” Olthon held out his hand to take her knife.

Reluctantly, she offered it to him. “Kaduil does beautiful work. He made it for me while I was away.”

“I see he does. The runes are almost poetic.”

She blushed slightly. “I haven’t learned dwarvish as well as I should have by now.”

“Loosely translated; My golden-haired girl with fire in your eyes, let the heat of my forge draw you home.”

“I want to go home to him more that I’ve wanted anything in all my life, Olthon.” Syreilla reached for her knife and ran her fingers over the runes lovingly when it was given back.

“I will do all I can to return you, Syreilla. Though, I wish you had been raised in my house. The potential you have will be wasted in a mine.”

“Olthon, I wouldn’t be who I am if I were raised in your house. I wouldn’t have gotten to learn from Zylius either.” She gave him an impish grin patting her pouches. “I can teach you how to make dragon’s fire if you don’t know. All I need for it I carry with me.”

The elf laughed and eyed her pouches with interest. “I haven’t made it myself but I’ve read how it’s done.”

“It’s beautiful. Here, let me show you.” Pulling out the shallow ceramic bowl, she started reaching for the powders.

“No!” He covered the bowl in her hand. “Thank you,” he took a breath, “for the offer but I must decline. Dragon’s fire it too volatile to create just for a display.”

“It’s the only way to learn. If you wait until you need it to try you might make a mistake. Practice makes it easier, it’s a risk but-”

“You enjoy risks.” Olthon smiled at her warmly. “Batran warned me. He seemed to think if you had known of the prison Vezar was held in you’d have gone into it just to see if you could make it to the middle.”

Syr grinned broadly, “He’s usually right. That tomb was a challenge, I could have built it better though.”

“Of that, I have no doubt. How did you injure yourself? Not one of the traps I take it?”

“No, those wards were nasty. I didn’t even see the one that sent bricks down the corridor when I spoke to myself.”

The elf beamed. “You followed the corridor?”

“Once the bricks moved I was running back the way I came, you had a fall trap too close to the corridor. I managed to swing into it and get under the wave of- I don’t even know what that was, but it burned my hands.” She winced at the memory. “It took some time before I was brave enough to reach up and haul myself out.”

He looked immensely pleased with himself. “I spent a great deal of time on those. But what stopped you from following the corridor? Too many wards were still intact?”

“I had to have a look at the corridor and think. I was going to go back the way I came and go down the other side. If I’d made the maze I’d have put up wards on places I wanted people to go because who would make the effort to ward nothing? But when I saw the hole in the wall, the maze within the maze,” Syr threw up her hands. “That was promising. You should have put some of those nasty wards in there. Toward the end, just past the point you couldn’t get away safely if you tripped them.”

“I didn’t want to make someone think there was anything worth finding in the walls.” Olthon frowned. “Wards within them would have made it obvious.”

“Olthon, at a certain point you have to stop caring about making it obvious and just try to kill the thief. Overly clever people are always less of a challenge than they think they are.”

The look on his face reminded her very strongly of Vezar. Amazed and disbelieving. “I will remember that in the future.”

“I’ll look forward to dying in a maze someday, then.” She stowed the bowl with a grin.

“Tirnel may have been right. You, my dear girl, are mad.” He was grinning at her.

“Enamored of danger and stupidity is what Batran says. Apparently, trying to beat it out of me would be like trying to beat the wood out of a tree.” Syr stretched her arms up and bent her head side to side stretching her neck. “It makes me good at what I do.”

“If you weren’t a half-elf I imagine you’d be dead several times over.” Olthon stood and moved to one of the saddle pouches pulling out some dried strips of something and two breads. “Would you humor me and taste some of what I’ve brought?”

Eyeing it distrustfully, she gave a tentative nod. “If you tell me what it is. You’re welcome to try what Batran sent. Dwarf bread is good, it has a flavor different from any other bread I’ve tasted. Earthy and-”

Olthon shuddered. “If you insist I’ll taste it, but not the sausage.”

Syr shook her head, “I don’t understand why you don’t eat it. It’s mostly ground meat and spices.”

The elf offered a dried strip to her and she looked it over dubiously. “Dried fish. Try it.”

Biting into it, it wasn’t as bad as she expected it to be. Compared to the heavily spiced dwarvish sausage it was almost tasteless. “It doesn’t taste like much.”

“Your tongue is accustomed to the heat and heaviness of dwarven foods. Elves prefer delicate flavors.” He looked disappointed.

“I like things that are solid.” Syr gave him a smile. “Here,” she broke off a piece of the flattened dwarf bread, “A small piece, I’m told elf bread dissolves and you don’t need teeth to eat it.”

“Dwarves. You may not be fond of the waybread but I am certain you’ll enjoy the mead cake.” His faint smile was smug.

“Mead cake?” The breads in his hands were now more interesting.

“Waybread first.” He took the bite of dwarf bread from her and put it in his mouth making a disgusted face as he broke off a small piece of pale thin bread.

The waybread was soft and tasteless. She gave Olthon a reproachful look. “This is awful. How can you eat this?”

“I could ask the same of the dwarf bread.” He looked a little green.

Bringing the cider out of her bag she took a long swallow and then offered him the bottle. “Cider, from the last cellar I was in.”

He took it looking resigned and drank. “I’m not usually fond of cider, but this isn’t too sweet.”

“Cider should be sharp. If it’s sweet you’re drinking juice.”

Olthon handed the bottle back with a smile. “I thought you had mead?”

“Traded it.” Syr winced. “Wish I hadn’t. I prefer mead to anything else.”

“Taste.” He broke the thicker golden bread in half taking a bite himself as he handed her the other.

The mead cake was rich and sweet. Syr ate her piece and licked her fingers. Olthon watched with amusement. “I liked that one.”

“I can tell. Your manners are so dwarvish as to put your paternity in doubt.” His tone was dry but his eyes were sparkling with amusement.

That earned him a genuine grin. “Sadly, I’m not pretty enough to be half dwarf.” She stroked her beardless chin.

Olthon laughed putting his face in his hands. “Syreilla. I see clearly why Vezar intends to steal you away. You should try to be less charming when you see him next.”

© 2017 Isemay

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




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..

Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by Isemay

Chapter 2 Chapter 2

A Chapter by Isemay

Chapter 3 Chapter 3

A Chapter by Isemay