Twenty-five

Twenty-five

A Chapter by Isemay

It hadn’t been hard to find Juddri, Syr had just gone to the place she’d have wanted to make camp and found the dwarf next to his fire. 


“It's not quite evening yet, but you look like you could stand an hour or two of rest. I can take the first watch, Rook.” Grimgrip studied her with a frown.


“I could use it.” She stretched and glanced around. “You don’t have any wards set. I can lay down a few-”


“No wards, Rook. We don’t need them and I’d rather not stumble into one of those nasty things you laid at the inn. Get a little rest.”


Syr grinned and shook her head but climbed into the tent without arguing. When he woke her to take her turn some time after dark, she still felt tired, but a sip of the kave and quick bite of the sausage he had next to the fire for her helped a great deal.


Despite his insistence on not putting up wards she moved around the fire with a stick, tracing the lines of one of the protection wards she’d learned from the dead mages before she’d come back to the world of the living in a circle around the small campsite. 


Traced deeply enough and with the words murmured once it was in place, it barely required anything from her. It would wait like a trap, and anyone who cast a spell across it would feed it. Syr didn’t like being out in the open with no tricks up her sleeve and if someone came at her with magic she could replenish a little of what she’d spent putting out the temple fire.


The dead mage she’d learned it from had said to be wary. The circle didn’t distinguish between spells from within the circle or those being cast from outside. It would protect but she couldn’t cast anything across it, she also needed to make certain she kept a stick to wipe the lines away with as she dispelled it. 


Too many spells would make the air crackle with power and the barrier would become nearly impenetrable; she could become trapped. Still, it was better than nothing and no one living should know the danger or how to use it against her.


Finishing her work, she reclined next to the fire to sip the kave and gnaw on the sausage. After a time, a few armed men approached cautiously, one dressed in white as Cyran had been.


“You-You’re an abomination.” The man in white gripped a sword at his side but looked as if he would rather be anywhere else.


“Not that I’m aware of.”


“You deny that you,” one of the men swallowed and glanced at the others, “you burned the temple?”


“No. I took dragon’s fire to my Uncle Imos’ temple for lying and murdering. He was meant to be a god of justice and righteousness but by his actions he’s chosen to be neither. I admire justice served as it should be, but I settle for revenge.” Syr gave them a wide mirthless smile, “You can rely on a Rook.”


They all took a step back. The one in white seemed to gather his courage however and pulled his sword. “You stole the stone from the crown of Mabor.”


“Not at all. It was given to me in payment for putting out the fire and not burning that wretched city to the ground. I’ve never liked Withia-”


“Return it.” 


Syreilla started to laugh, which was apparently not the correct reaction. The one in white cast a bolt of lightning at her and it hung in the ward, making the air shimmer with power between her and the men. She laughed harder and he poured out what must have been every spell and every bit of power he could summon until the air crackled and tasted metallic inside the circle.


“By the Nightforged…” Juddri peered out of the tent at her, “I asked you not to put up any wards, Rook.”


“It’s a good thing I did. Otherwise they would have put me in a bad mood.” She gave him an impish grin. “I’ve seen power stored in stones and in steel, I want to try it for myself.” The theory was much the same as putting a spell on an object, she was certain. 


Taking out the stone she closed her eyes and murmured the siphoning spell pulling the power out of the ward and then laying it on the stone, the chain heated until it felt as if her skin was burning and she tried not to grimace. But it seemed to work, she could feel the power there. As the air cleared, the men were still standing on the other side staring nervously.


“Do you have any more? I like having a little extra to draw from.”


The man in white shuddered and backed away, the rest of the men did the same. “You-you’re…”


“I’m the Golden Rook.” Syreilla came to her feet with a broad grin. “I help those who help me, I burn those who cross me, and I look after those who know how to get my attention when they go before Hevtos.


“Imos was lying by the way, when he said he would reward you after death. Hevtos has always been the one who judges and he’s gotten a little sour about people expecting to get into paradise without even a nod in his direction all their lives. The best places in the afterlife are reserved for those who remembered the old traditions and gave him a nod however quietly.


“Consider that information and your lives my thanks for the power you fed me.” She widened her grin until it hurt and they turned and ran as one.


“You’re going to have them giving him at least a nod but they’ll be desperate to find out what they can do to get you to intercede.” The dwarf came out of the tent with a shake of his head.


“Magpie suggested a medallion with a golden rook on it. Would-”


“Human smiths will make your sigils, Rook.” He gave her an annoyed smile. “You’d start collecting dwarves otherwise and our gods wouldn’t be pleased.”


“I wanted to ask about them.” She gestured to the fire as she took a seat again, “If you want to stay awake for a bit.”


“What do you want to ask?” His face took on an expression like Mordaeg’s when he was getting ready to scold someone.


“Hammersworn asked Imos if it were possible for her to go to the dwarven gods in death. That was why he had her murdered, he thought she was trying to get out of Uncle Hevtos’ punishments for thieves.” The certainty felt like an ache in her heart as she paused and shook her head, “That wasn’t why. She would have taken whatever waited as long as she could be with her family and her clan. I have her here…” She tapped her chest. “Uncle Hevtos tried to put us back together, I wanted to be whole, but it hurt her and I let her stay separate from me. She shares memories sometimes, bits and pieces of what she has left. Uncle takes away a great deal…” 


“You want to ask if she can still go to our gods?” His face softened.


“Yes. She was given back to me as payment, Uncle may not be happy with me but she should be mine to give over if it’s possible.”


“I’ll ask some of the others. Our gods don’t meddle as much as yours do.” He reached into his bag for a bottle. “Wine?”


“I prefer mead or cider, or a good dwarf beer, but thanks for asking.” Syr sighed and settled by the fire again.


“That was your only question?”


“I should probably ask if I’m allowed to visit a mine, I suppose. I want to see Hammersworn’s children… I want them to know why they shouldn’t think warmly of Imos and that I’m going to take dragon’s fire to every temple of his that I can for as long as I can until I’m stopped or he’s dead. I’m looking forward to Brosa. I may burn it and then shatter the stones it stood on.”


“I think you can be allowed a visit, if the Master of the mine is willing to let you in.” Juddri took a drink from the bottle and smiled faintly. “You want your Uncle to know you’re planning a visit to Brosa?”


“No matter how much she helped him secure that place, he can’t keep me out. Let him lock the doors and wait in fear. His priests will break and run and it’ll burn just like this one. They called me the Beast of Brosa once, I’ll remind them why.”


He swallowed and put the cork back in his bottle. “I’m going to try to get some sleep. Don’t murder anyone.”


“I make no promises.” Syr grinned at him as he turned to scowl at her, “If they leave me alone I’ll stay here by the fire, if they come back and annoy me… bloodshed is their choice to make.”


“Batran Hammersworn said Syreilla was a different woman when she returned, softer, less… I can see the things you took with you that she no longer had.”


“Then you saw the things she had that I ache to have back. I’d still rather send her to be with her clan than-” She stopped and turned to scowl at the trio of approaching shapes.


“That’s far enough.” Juddri grabbed his axe and came to stand next to her. “I don’t want any bloodshed.” 


“There won’t be any, Master Grimgrip,” Odos’ cheerful voice made her relax as much as it did the dwarf. “You’ve been causing trouble, Rook?”


“I’ve just been sitting here!” She gave the old man an innocent smile.


“We met a sobbing priest on our way here. He seemed to think you’d done a great deal more than that.” Odos stopped at the edge of the ward she’d carved and arched a brow.


“I didn’t see the point in letting it go to waste.”


With a snort he started to mutter under his breath and wipe out her work with a stick of his own.


“Antien said that everything we’d believed was a lie.” Cyran looked a little shaken. “The men with him spoke openly and respectfully of-of Hevtos.”


“As they should, cousin. He can be a hard judge but I’ve watched long enough to think him a fair one.”


“Speaking of fair…” Magpie came to sit near the fire with a small smile, “Has Master Grimgrip spoken to you about your old circlet?”


Odos smacked the man on the side of his head with a sour look.


“No, he hasn’t, but that wasn’t mine; it went with Hammersworn.” She looked into the fire for a moment as she felt the ache of a memory and anger that the child had both lost his mother and been stolen from. “It should have gone to her youngest boy.”


“It’ll be wasted in a mine!” 


Magpie was giving her a sour look as she lifted her gaze from the fire. 


“There are a thousand things I can think of to use it for in a mine. Theft is only one. He’ll keep himself and others out of harm’s way and he’ll be able to continue helping his clan the way his mother used to. It goes to her son. Put it out of your head, Magpie, or you’ll have me to deal with.” 


He swallowed and dropped his eyes, nodding.


“Lady Rook,” Cyran sounded awed, “Your eyes burned…” 


“A trick of the light.” Odos smiled faintly.


“Hammersworn carried a knife…” Juddri took a seat by the fire again.


“‘My golden-haired girl with fire in your eyes, let the heat of my forge draw you home.’ I remember. It was beautiful.”


“She was buried with it.”


“Good. Her daughter got all of her figurines?”


The dwarf smiled into the fire, “She did. One of the younger priests suggested Kyrilla give them away because they’d been stolen, he got to see the famous Hammersworn temper for himself.”


Syr stretched and gave Odos a grin, “I’m not like Magpie, I never liked much enough to want it for myself, but those figurines… We were sent to be a maid in Withia and they had a girl. She was awful and when we marvelled at the beautiful figurines she had, she smashed one. We got a beating for it and were told not to even look at them unless we were cleaning them.


“Stealing them… It felt good and we loved them more than she did.”


“I was worried when you took them.” Odos took a seat next to Cyran. “I thought you were going to develop the bad habit of keeping what you took.”


“No, we just wanted those. We didn’t get paid for that year of work, Master Grimgrip, if anyone wants to argue with Kyrilla about the rightness of keeping them…”


“They were payment taken for services rendered.” The dwarf nodded with a grim smile. “With your temper, Rook, how did they manage to keep their beds from catching fire?”


“We were only ten, Juddri. We hadn’t learned how to fight back yet.”


“Hammersworn’s children never needed to learn. That woman…” The dwarf uncorked his bottle and offered it to her. “Oduil’s ears have a little point to them, one of the guards that accompanied us made the mistake of pointing it out and laughing. It took four from Clan Hammersworn to hold her back and when he hefted his axe and told them to let her come, the grin that crossed that woman’s face made my blood run cold.”


“It would have made Khiril proud?” Odos was grinning.


“Orsas would have given her a place among the Nightforged if she were a dwarf.”


Syr took a sniff and a sip of the heavy spiced wine and handed it back, “Did they let her go? She doesn’t remember.”


“Not until the guard had been made to apologise and Mordaeg had firmly suggested he go take some air. In Lew.”


She grinned and shrugged, “She must have gone soft if he didn’t get sent to Pale at least.”


“If it had been you, Rook, I’d have sent the man all the way home.” Juddri took a drink from the bottle with a laugh and she clapped him on the thigh.


“I’ve never liked my ears, Master Grimgrip. If it had been my child he mocked you could have sent him wherever you liked, the place hasn’t yet been made that can keep me out if I’m determined to get in.”


The dwarf gave her a silent sour look and it was quiet for a moment until Magpie spoke up. “I’ve always wanted to hear the story of how you got into the Nameless. The story says you were drunk.”


“We’d been drinking, we weren’t drunk. There’s a difference.” She gave him an impish grin and the half-elf leaned his head on his hand.


“We?”


“Hammersworn and I, when we were the same person.”



© 2021 Isemay


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Added on January 30, 2021
Last Updated on January 30, 2021
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

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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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One One

A Chapter by Isemay


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A Chapter by Isemay


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A Chapter by Isemay