A Chapter by Isemay

Kwes rode on a horse next to the cart pulling the Rook and dwarf, listening.

“There is no way to keep out a determined thief. With enough time and the right tools no place is impenetrable. That’s not a boast, Juddri.”

“Hammersworn left a way into the treasure hall, that’s all it was.”

“We started fortifying it before we were split and I promise you it was more secure than the Nameless if you didn’t have the keys. If it were me… There was water in that one cavern, we told them it should be pumped out but they insisted it was an obstacle. We saw it as an entrance. If it were me, I would have looked for a flooded shaft-”

“You think she swam in.” The dwarf looked startled.

“Unless she had the keys, I know she did. The water has to come from somewhere, no one seemed to know where, they refused to pump it out and put in grating over any holes they found-”

“The shafts would be black and not even you can breathe underwater.”

“I can hold my breath, and I’m certain there are air pockets, or you can fill bladders with-” She stopped and grinned as he swore in dwarvish. “Not to mention, she had our old circlet. I’ll tell you now, one of the reasons we knew the water was an entrance is because we studied every inch with that circlet on. Common sense and experience were the other two.”

“It’ll be pumped out and grating will be put in. What else, Rook?”

“How secure are the air shafts these days?”

“She made some suggestions but they weren’t all followed.” He frowned.

“Then I can get in easily enough even if you put in grating. We liked to stack the obstacles so that doing it the easy way and pouring some dragon’s fire down would only get you so far.”

Kwes grinned to himself.

“What are you grinning at, half-elf?” The dwarf sounded sour.

“Only the Rook would think pouring dragon’s fire down a shaft would be an easy solution.”

“It clears the way, Magpie. It trips wards like a living thing, melts even the strongest steel, it’s the most versatile and useful of my tools. I’m going to teach Cyran how to mix it, I’ll teach you too if you’d like.”

“I would-”

“You shouldn’t be teaching anyone, Rook. That skill should die off.” Grimgrip shook his head.

“I won’t teach Hammersworn’s children. It’s a skill that few know because most who try to learn it die while they do. I won’t risk them getting themselves killed.”

“It’s that dangerous?” Kwes felt suddenly less certain that he wanted to learn.

“If you can follow directions and you know how to draw power from a nearby magic source and heal yourself you’re almost guaranteed to survive, Magpie.” She gave him a smile that might have been reassuring if he could do more than one of those things.

“Tirnel said that my grandfather had a great talent for magic, neither of us inherited it in the same proportion.” Truthfully, he had no talent for it at all and Tirnel could only do a few minor elvish spells with great difficulty.

The Rook looked surprised and a little appalled, “Olthon was sharper than Tirnel, but so are you…”

“There’s more to it than sharpness, my little rook.” Odos was smiling as he turned to glance back at the old man. “It’s something you’re born with.”

“He’s my brother, he should have what I have.” She turned on the cart bench and frowned as Odos snorted. 

“How like my brother am I? We have different talents as do you and the rest of my fledglings.”

“Magic isn’t something you gave her?” Kwes met her perplexed gaze.

“No. It was a surprise. I tried to give her a good education but I may have chosen teachers who were too-”

Rook started to laugh. “Old man… You found me the most competent teachers you could. Old mages know the most and they don’t get old by being sweet.”

“Who taught you the ward you used yesterday evening? I haven’t seen that in a few hundred years.”

“You gave me an education. I enjoyed it so much I decided not to stop.” She gave Odos a warm smile. “I’ve been told I should have given up being a thief and been a mage instead.”

“If my brother had gotten you while you were young…” 

Everyone glanced at Cyran.

“I’m not a mage.”

“No, but you have the potential.” Odos looked almost smug.

“I should refrain from teaching the Magpie, but I can teach you, cousin. You do know the basics, yes?”

“I pray to the divinity and he gives me strength. The power is not mine and all I do is shaped by his will.”

Kwes grinned at Rook’s annoyed expression. “Tirnel said gathering power for a spell was like catching a breeze in a net.”

“Master Odos, thank you for my education.” She put her face in her hands.

“Give us a lesson.” Kwes tried to turn sideways in his saddle.

“I’ve always wondered what mages are taught.” Grimgrip looked curiously amused.

“The most valuable spell I learned was the siphoning spell, there’s power all around us.” She paused and frowned before hopping down, “Look, this ward, Grimgrip, let them borrow the circlet to see it properly.” Syreilla made a gesture and muttered something as they all came to a stop. “You’ll see, it draws from whoever steps into it. There's power in a person, in an animal, even in plants I was told. But what you need is something that can be tapped.” She waited as the circlet was dug out and passed around.

“It looks like… like a plant.” Kwes squinted at the faint lines of the ward and took a step closer.

“Careful, Magpie. It has tendrils and if you step on one you’ll be in it before you realize it, it’ll draw you.” With a motion of her hand and another murmur it was gone.

“Everything has power.” Grimgrip looked at her speculatively.

Rook took the circlet off of his head and Kwes blinked as the too bright day faded. 

“Yes, but to do anything with it, it needs to be in a usable form. My first teacher, Ofeus said there are rivers and reservoirs of power untouchable to most. The skilled can siphon off power like water from those places at will, most basic wards and close dispellings can be cast without aid of an imbued object by doing so. But it ebbs and flows and if you leave it to chance you may find yourself helpless if you need more than the traces around us. 

“Enduring wards, wards with a very large discharge of power, or broad dispellings require a well of power. The siphoning spell lets me pull from any imbued object or even other wards. If I can feel it I can draw power like water.”

The dwarf stared at her and then swallowed stepping back. “Any power?”

“Any. I’ve drawn from discharging wards and from wards not yet tripped that hummed with power, imbued stones and steel that people put too close to me…”

Odos laughed and grinned, looking her up and down, “My thieving Rook! I should be glad you didn’t draw from what I gave you in the bag!”

“I did, old man! Not much but enough for a contact spell. Tark, was his name? Tried to pull me out of my seat.” She tilted her head at the perplexed look on Odos’ face and looked oddly birdlike for a moment. “Why?”

“You shouldn’t have been able to.”

“Why?” She and Kwes asked at the same time.

“Because it didn’t belong to her.” Grimgrip was eying the Rook as if she were threatening him. “That kind of theft…”

“I don’t steal from dwarves, Master Grimgrip, but then I didn’t realize I was stealing from you either.” She smiled faintly at Odos.

He breathed a laugh, “My little rook, what’s a little light theft among family?”

Kwes laughed at the impish grin on the Rook’s face. 

“Family shouldn’t steal from one another.” Cyran was shaking his head. “How do you ask and who are you asking to draw from these sources of power?”

“Who do you ask when you dip water out of a river? It’s there. I can feel it. I can take it.” 

Rook tossed Cyran the circlet she was holding. “Here, let me show you the siphoning spell and teach you the healing spell while we walk so that we can start on dragon’s fire.” Glancing at the rest of them, she waved her hand imperiously much like Odos always had and pulled Cyran aside, “The rest of you go ahead.”

He almost protested but Odos clapped him on the shoulder and walked with him to his horse. “It wouldn’t be useful to you, my little magpie.”

As he climbed back on his horse he asked the question that had begun to itch at the back of his mind, “Tirnel was at least as disappointed that I didn't have my grandfather’s gifts as he was angry that Syreilla did. Were you?”

“You’ve never been a disappointment to me, my magpie.”

“What's the difference between your magpies and your rooks, Master Odos.” Grimgrip gave them an amused look as he started the cart forward.

“My rooks are reckless and a little mad. They laugh when others would be silent in fear, they leap forward when others would turn and run.” He pulled his horse alongside Kwes’. “My magpies surround themselves with beauty. Both are clever and mischief makers to their core, they love the thrill of locks picked and puzzles solved but none of my magpies would have been mad enough to go into the Nameless.”

“Was it really such a challenge?” Kwes frowned considering it. “If the Rook could do it alone with her old-fashioned kit…”

“The sharpest elves, men, and dwarves that could be found built it, my magpie. There is some truth to it when she says dragon’s fire can clear away many things. It took her circlet, her skills in mixing that volatile flame, her talent with magic, and her skill as a thief to let her survive it. Not to mention divine luck.”

“Hammersworn said it could have been built better. That woman put wards on the walls around the traps they let her design and she wanted a section of corridor with a ward that would activate and spew spikes in every direction if there were so much as a whisper but it was deemed too dangerous. The treasure chambers at Delver’s Deep may not be as rich as some but the other mines send their cleverest to study her work and make their own more secure. She wrote tomes of suggestions.”

“I suspect those tomes are more valuable than any gold in the mine.” 

“What was it that Tirnel stole?” Kwes eyed the dwarf curiously.

“Every mine sends a box of tribute to the gods once every ten years. I was told, he was angry that his father had been struck down and left buried in a ditch by the road so he had a thief collect something that looked valuable as restitution.

“The Hammersworn girl found the thief, visited Tirnel Acharnion, and brought the tribute to Bhiraldur herself with a little extra thrown in for good measure. Her belly wasn’t quite as round as they say, but you could see she was carrying Oduil.”

“She burned our father’s house to the ground with dragon’s fire.” Kwes shook his head, “She nearly burned me with it.”

“I wouldn’t have let that happen.” Odos smiled faintly, “She didn’t know you were there or you’d have been taken back to the mine.”

“I would have missed my mother. I stayed with Tirnel until she died.”

“You’d have grown up with your sister as your mother.” Grimgrip gave him a vicious grin, “Like a full-blooded elf.”

“That’s where the Rook gets it! The dwarves! She looked around The Bent Elf and started-”

Odos and the dwarf started to laugh.

“She said I’d spent too long with elves! As if all of Orileria were a brothel!”

Grimgrip stamped his foot on the boards of the cart bellowing out his laughter.

© 2021 Isemay

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

Golden Rook


By Isemay


By Isemay


By Isemay


By Isemay




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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