A Chapter by Isemay

The gentle touch on her cheek made Syreilla jerk awake, sending water over the side of the tub. Looking around she blinked in confusion for a moment until her eyes settled on Kaduil.

“You fell asleep in the bath. Come have something to eat and we’ll get you into bed.”

“I didn’t mean to…” She gestured at the wet floor and he laughed.

“After three children, I know how to get the floor cleaned up. Syr would exhaust herself looking after them when they were small and for her that was a feat.”

“I wish I’d been able to visit, I would have loved to see them and to help.”

Grinning he shook his head, “As much as I love Syr, to have had two of her in the house with the children… As it was, she would argue with herself if there was no one else who would and she was in the mood for it.” He chuckled and moved to stand next to a stone bench. “I brought out some of her old clothes for you.”

“Thank you. The old man didn't send my things in?”

“No.” He turned back and gave her a curious look. “Syr called him Father.”

“Did he spend time with her and act like a father? I saw him at the temple when we were split in two and not again until… recently.”  With all the activity and lack of sleep she wasn't sure if it had been a few days, a week, or maybe more since she’d come back. Wrapping the towel around herself for a moment she stretched and put her palms on the ceiling. 

Kaduil snorted, “She used to do that when she was getting tired or sour. He said you were in a place he couldn’t go and he could never tell her how you were.”

“He could have found me while I was out hunting lich. But…” She exhaled and brought her arms down, “He had other fledglings to worry about and the Rook can take care of herself.”

“Vezar didn’t look after you?” His amusement faded.

“He did and does his best. I’m not an easy person at the best of times and Uncle tried to keep me confined to a single chamber.”

The dwarf winced. “Syr would have skinned me alive and eaten me as much as she loved me if I tried to keep her in the mine much less a single room.”

“Dragons have a thicker hide than dwarves and he’s needed it, believe me.” She gave him an impish grin, “He was free to roam around but as terrible as I could be he stayed with me. Not many could see me at my worst and still love me, much less want to spend every moment with me.” Moving to the bench Syreilla finished drying herself and began to dress, tying the small pouch of tools he’d brought into place on her thigh before anything else, a whispered suggestion from Hammersworn to make the house dresses more bearable. “Other than keep me company there hasn’t been much he could do.”

“If being here had made Syr miserable, I’d have sent her away. I love her,” his eyes dampened, “but I’d want her to be happy.”

“To go with Vezar into Uncle’s home, I had to promise to serve. He couldn’t send me away and I kept hoping Uncle would relent, when I finally couldn’t take it anymore and tried to leave, I wasn't permitted. It did make Uncle realize how miserable I was, though. That was when…” She took a deep breath. “Uncle isn’t bad, you know, he’s cautious. He tries to be fair but he’s not fond of thieves and he’s been poorly treated by the rest of the family. It took time for him to see I wasn’t a threat to him.”

“You went back on your word?” Kaduil looked shocked.

“Never. I told him I would still serve, I just couldn’t go back inside. If I can complete my task I’ll be allowed to come and go. I won’t be confined.” The clothes she’d put on, a loose house dress and undergarments, were all for a slightly plumper woman. “How much did you feed her, Kaduil?”

He breathed a laugh. “As much as she’d eat. She filled out a bit when the children were born, when she was nursing them she was ravenous. I can have Kyri take a few things in if need be.”

“I can try to do it myself, I don’t want to pile work on her.”

“If you sew as well as my Syr, it’s best left to Kyrilla.” He grinned and beckoned for her to follow. “She had nimble fingers, but as long as the cloth stuck together she wasn’t concerned about the different kinds of stitches.”

“What do you mean ‘different kinds of stitches’? Needle drags the thread through, tie a knot and you’re done.”

The dwarf sighed as he preceded her up the stairs. The house had been expanded since she’d last been in it and he took her to a room with a peculiarly low table and a sunken, cushioned bench circling it. Sirruil was already seated looking unhappy about something and the blonde dwarf next to him, with a comparatively short but finely braided and beaded beard, looked angry. A plain looking, brown-haired stranger sat across from them filling his plate. 

“You’re Syreilla the Rook? Have a seat. The end, I think, has the deeper bench.”

Tilting her head, there was a faint tingle of strange magic she could feel with her bare feet as she rounded the table and she drew from it to cast a dispelling before moving the cushions to look at the bench and lowering herself in to sit with her legs crossed.

Sirruil was grinning as she looked over to him. “If you have any talent with magic, Sirruil, I’ll teach you a few things that can keep your family safe and make anyone dropping wards where you don’t want them to regret ever having met you.”

“My mother taught me a few, Rook but I don’t think she knew how to do what you just did.”

“I learned that while working for Uncle.” She gave him a grin. “I learned some really exciting-”

“Anything you teach him you’ll show me first.” The dwarf had stopped filling his plate and was giving her an annoyed look.

“Drop another unwanted ward in their home again and I’ll show them to you one after another until your corpse disintegrates.” She gave him her widest maddest grin. “After we step outside of course. I’ll cause neither trouble nor harm while I’m here. That’s the reason I haven’t done it already.”

He studied her carefully. “You’re not like your father.”

“Are you the friend the old man told me I’d meet?” Syr inclined her head as the one next to Sirruil moved closer and pushed food her way. “Thank you. You’re Kyrilla?”

“Yes…” the blonde dwarf woman smiled and shook her head, “You look so much like our mother.”

“She and I were the same person once. I’m glad to be able to meet you.”

The stranger cleared his throat. “I know him. Friends isn’t the term I’d choose. He’s not quick to kill.”

Syr redirected her attention and tilted her head, one way and then the other, looking at him carefully. “He and I aren’t the same. For those I love I don't hesitate to do my best, or my worst. Hammersworn loved them and for her I’ll do all I can for them while I’m here.

“No dwarf has ever given me a reason to cast wards at their feet or to breathe dragon’s fire in a mine. I’ve always found them to be good people, trustworthy. But no dwarf has ever come into the home of those I feel the need to protect and laid unwanted wards either. If you want to act like a human mage, I’ll treat you like one. You’ll find out fast why the Golden Rook is spoken of in fearful, hushed tones.”

“It wasn’t a harmful ward. I wanted to make you sit and speak truthfully.” He poured a cup and pushed it toward her.

“I saw the ward, if it wasn’t benign I would have warned you.” Sirruil looked sheepish. “I should have despite that.”

“That would be appreciated, but it’s not entirely necessary. I could feel something odd, with bare feet sometimes you can feel a ward before you step on it, depending on the ward.” Syr didn’t make a move to take the cup and Kaduil came to sit between her and the stranger.

When he picked up the cup and went to take a sip she reached out and covered it with her hand. “Don’t drink things poured by strangers so carelessly, Kaduil. Especially not sneaky ones.”

Kyrilla laughed, a bright, silvery sound. “Our mother always hated the communal meals, people passed around the plates and cups and she never knew whose hands they’d gone through.”

“They teased because I would taste her food to make her feel better.” Kaduil smiled faintly. “She trusted the people here but asking her to eat, not knowing who’d handled the plates was too much.”

“‘Learn fast or die fast.’ The thief that took me on before the old man used to tell me that. One of the first things I learned was to trust no one and the lesson served me well.” She removed her hand from the cup. “Batran changed that.”

“If I have to worry about dwarves poisoning me, I’m better off dead, Rook.” He took a drink and passed it to her. “And he’s not a complete stranger. He’s come to the house a few times to speak to Syr about her father.”

Taking the cup from Kaduil, she inclined her head, sniffing at the liquid before taking a tentative sip. Mead. “He knows my name but he hasn’t introduced himself.”

“Syreilla Hammersworn called me Orefinder. Master Aledelver said you asked to be called by title?”

“Only by those who wish to be formal. If you ask formality from me I expect it to go both ways.”

Orefinder studied her for a moment and then smiled, “Orefinder will do, Rook. I won’t call you by your most informal name if you don’t call me by mine.”

“I’ll agree to that.”

“What does Grimgrip call you?”

“I think he’s called me by all of them at one point or another. I like Juddri, he can be a little stuffy but he’s solid.” 

Syr started putting some food on her plate, dwarf bread, sausage, spiced root vegetables, as everyone else did the same and there were a few moments of silence as they ate. Kaduil shared the cup of mead with her.

When her plate was nearly empty, Orefinder asked curiously, “You found Grimgrip stuffy?” 

She gestured with her piece of bread chewing until her mouth was clear enough to speak, “‘No wards, Rook.’ As if I only know ones that will melt off your skin and turn your bones to stone. My cousin is just as bad. I don’t like it when people try to kill me or my companions, it annoys me. It’s best to let people know it’s a horrible idea and they’ll die a horrible death for doing it. But-” She took another bite and chewed for a moment, “If they ask me, I’ll put down less deadly or painful wards. I keep mine safe but I try not to upset them too badly while I do.”

“He’s yours?” The brown-haired dwarf grinned, narrowing his eyes.

“While he travels with me. I like him.”

“There are rules about claiming people, Rook.” He glanced at Sirruil, “Or so I’m told.”

“There probably are but no one has told them to me yet. And I didn’t say I was keeping him.”

“When you start Sirruil’s lessons I’ll start yours.”

“No lessons until she rests,” Kaduil spoke up firmly. “She fell asleep in the bath. Rook may not be my Syr, but they’re so alike I can tell you she won’t complain, she’ll push through until she collapses.”

“You don’t rest until the work is done. The old man was a stickler for that. It took decades after he died, well, pretended to, for us to start relaxing on that one.” Syreilla laughed and shook her head as Orefinder looked surprised, “We once finished a job that took us a full two days, once we started it, without sleeping and with broken and bruised ribs. Our way out was in a barrel on a cart. We were wishing for death by the time he let us out. We had to force ourselves to stay awake and not pass out from the pain.”

All of the dwarves at the table looked stunned. She finished the last bite of sausage before she continued, “He said, ‘At least you finished the job. Don’t fall next time, little rook.’ We took our pay and went to a healer. Healer said it was the first time he’d seen anyone sleep while sitting up and having their ribs wrapped.”

“You fell?” Kaduil reached out and took hold of her arm.

“We didn’t have much of a choice. It was that or get caught. We were hanging from a window ledge by our fingers. Couldn’t go up, there was no time to climb down and no way to do it without being seen. So,” she took a drink of mead, “we let go. The stable roof gave as we hit it, it was rotten but not all of the beams under it were. Rolled and ran. Oh, it hurt! But we had to take a second run at the place. Lucky for us, most of the people went to see what the commotion was and the way was clearer.”

“Grandfather? You’re talking about Grandfather? But he’s always so…” Kyrilla shook her head.

“The warnings our mother gave me about him are making a little more sense.” Sirruil rubbed his eyes and took off the circlet.

“There’s a reason she offered to take him on a tour of flooded mine shafts with a length of stout chain if he dragged you out of the mine.” Syr finished the last bite of her bread as Orefinder started to laugh.

“I liked that woman. She should have been born a dwarf.” 

Syr grinned at him. “A dwarf might have had the sense to find a different line of work.”

He lifted his cup and smiled, “She was the best I’ve ever seen with a lock, though. The locks out of Delver’s Deep are known to be the best you can buy.”

Kaduil squeezed her arm. “You can all talk locks and lessons later. Rook is going to rest.”

© 2021 Isemay

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Added on February 1, 2021
Last Updated on February 1, 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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A Chapter by Isemay

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A Chapter by Isemay

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A Chapter by Isemay