Forty-four

Forty-four

A Chapter by Isemay

The guest bed was large enough for Master Odos and Syr was sprawled out across it blissfully when she heard the argument outside the chamber. 


“She’s still resting! You shouldn’t-” The voice sounded like Kyrilla.


“Rook has had a full night of sleep, it should be all she needs.” 


“Amad-” A voice like Kaduil’s started in dwarvish only to be cut off.


“Rook isn’t your mother.” 


Syr cracked her eyes open just enough to see and glowered as the door folded open. Orefinder stopped short in the doorway.


“She could be sour in the morning.” The man’s voice sounded dryly amused. “I haven’t met her yet but I’m told that Rook is just like her.”


“Your mother was sweeter.” Syr stretched and yawned before sitting up. “You’re lucky I didn’t drop wards in the doorway like I usually do, Orefinder. It’s rare for me to sleep without a few around.”


The dwarf folded his arms. “You looked like you might go back on your word for a moment.”


“I never go back on my word. You can rely on a Rook. I can make you wish you’d let me sleep without magic or dragon’s fire.” 


She heard quiet laughter from the hall. 


“Is that Oduil?”


A slim dwarf with dark hair, his beard in a braid almost exactly like his father’s, and slightly pointed ears peered in with a smile. “It is. I wanted to wait and have breakfast with you before I went to the forges.”


“I’ll get up. I’d like to see you, and I’ll follow you to the forges if you’ll let me. I miss-”


“We have work to do, Rook. Lessons-”


“We can start them at the forges. It would be a good place for Sirruil to practice judging danger, holding a softer focus, and let him see something familiar through new eyes. I miss the sight and sound of the forges, Orefinder, the way the air feels there, but I don’t shirk my tasks.”


“You can rely on a Rook.” Orefinder smiled faintly. “We’ll do it your way.”


“Thank you.” Climbing out of bed she yawned and stretched again before looking around for her clothes. “The old man really should have sent my things in. Wandering around in Hammersworn’s old house dresses isn’t ideal.” 


“I have her work clothes. Father said you’d want them. I was going to lay them out.” Kyrilla managed to push her way past the men in the doorway with a bundle in her arms. “He sent your kit up too, he took everything out of the clothes before sending them to be washed. It’s been awhile since he pulled mother’s out of her clothes but he knows what to look for and he got it all, he’s sure.”


“I could have just reworn them. I don’t like my work clothes being washed too much.”


The blond woman gave her an annoyed look, “You’re as bad as our mother was. They smelled.” She placed the bundle on the bed. “I took these in just a little.”


“Thank you, Kyrilla. What happened to the black-”


“The strange cloth that stank of wine and smoke?” The dwarf put a hand on her hip and frowned up at Syr. “They’ll be careful with it. Our mother rarely drank anything but mead or beer, why were you-”


Syr broke into laughter and sat on the bed. “I didn’t drink that wine! It was drugged! I used it to put a guard to sleep and I needed the, oh, she called it a draped mantle, to help me blend in a little. I shoved it in the wine pitcher after I poured it out. I’d left it behind but the old man picked it up and gave it back to me. It probably smells like smoke either from the dragon’s fire or from the visit to Brosa.”


“She?” Orefinder looked at her curiously. “And I want to hear about Brosa.”


“The goddess of war and hunting. I’ll tell you all about Brosa over breakfast.” She looked at the trio who seemed to be expecting something from her and tilted her head with a smile. “Are you all planning to watch me dress? I’m not used to having an audience of more than one.”


Oduil and Kyrilla both started to laugh but Orefinder flushed and shook his head. “We’ll meet you in the dining room.”


“We used to watch our mother dress when we were small.” Oduil turned to go and glanced back with a grin, “She would explain why she kept her tools in certain pouches and tell us stories. I made her a better shaped bar.”


“I’d like to see it. Ours was heavy but we didn’t like to leave it behind, we used it often, I still use one.”


“We?” His brow furrowed.


“When your mother and I were the same person. It seems strange to just say ‘I’, we were one but we aren’t any more. When I talk about then, I say ‘we’.”


“Sirruil says she’s with you?” Kyrilla took hold of Oduil’s hand.


“She is.” Syr tapped her chest. “She’s separate from me but she’s here. Now and then she whispers bits of what she remembers. Her memories are hazy and incomplete.” For a moment she felt an ache of longing and a swell of pride. “But her love for her family and pride in her children is still there.”


“You can’t let her…” Kyrila started and then cleared her throat wiping at her eyes.


“Down to the dining room.” Orefinder spoke firmly from the doorway.


He stood there for a moment after they had filed past. “They want their mother back.”


“She shouldn’t have been taken from them. As much as I would be willing to split myself again for them I don’t think I can.”


The dwarf smiled ruefully, “No. You could sacrifice your divinity, become one again…” 


“Vezar would be alone. The reason we chose to split ourselves in two hasn’t changed. We couldn’t leave either of them alone and heartbroken. Kaduil isn’t alone anymore. But… I would give her to the dwarf gods if it could be permitted. She should be with her clan and her family.”


“I don’t think you can, Rook.” Orefinder looked at her speculatively, “You’d need your uncle to give her over and even then Fellforger would have to agree to take her.”


“Uncle gave her to me as part of my payment. But if you need me to finish the work before you consider her mine to give, I can ask again then. Point me at Fellforger when I’m done.”


He snorted, “We’ll see how you do with your lessons, Rook. Is that the favor your father said you wanted to ask?”


“A favor on Hammersworn’s behalf and a favor on Uncle’s are two diffferent things. Do you want to talk about that already or do you want to see what I have to offer first?” She gave him an impish grin and he shook his head. 


“You need lessons as badly as Sirruil does. Dress and come to breakfast. I want to get started.”


Syr laid everything out carefully on the bed before dressing. The work clothes nearly fit and she had a place for every tool, even the new ones. There were even a few tiny pockets empty. She desperately wanted to see Hammersworn’s kit. Her boots hadn’t been brought up, however, and she made her way down toward the dining room without shoes. 


On the stairs she stopped and changed her mind about having the gem on a chain tucked into her front pocket. If the old man thought she needed a little help to keep up with Orefinder, and the dwarf wanted to test her, it wouldn’t hurt to have it wrapped around her hand under her glove.


As soon as she put it on she noticed the weblike ward at the foot of the stair. Syr murmured the siphoning spell and drew power from it as she slowly approached. Looking through it she could see that the doorframe was only a small part of this ward and she began to laugh. It wasn’t one that would snap closed, it would draw from anyone or anything holding power as they passed through.


She took a moment to look it over carefully, still pulling from it, despite it’s delicate appearance it had gathered a great deal or had a great deal put into it.


Orefinder called from the other room, “Why are you laughing, Rook?”


“This ward is clever! I’m more impressed than I am angry!”


The dwarf appeared in the other doorway and scowled at her. “You didn’t notice it before.” 


“I was tired. It’s like my siphoning spell but put in one place.” She stopped drawing just as he dispelled it. “Sirruil? Come here?”


“Rook?” Orefinder moved toward her and gave him her best impression of Vezar’s wide grin, stopping him in his tracks. 


“Your name isn’t Sirruil.”


“I’m here.” The young dwarf stepped past him and trotted toward her with a frown.


“Give me Syreilla’s Eye.” Kneeling, she held out her hand and when he gave her the circlet she laid the power she was holding onto the stone, feeling it warm in her palm. “I wanted to start your lessons at the forge but Orefinder has decided they should begin now. When you have a stranger in your home, that includes those you only know in passing, you must remain vigilant to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. The ward he placed-”


“-Was benign Roo-” 


Syr lifted her hand and cast blindness at the dwarf drawing from the stone at her wrist, leaving him mute as well. “No matter his intentions, stealing power from Syreilla’s Eye is an attack. It’s an attack on you, on your family, on all you love and would protect. It cannot be permitted.” She placed it on Sirruil’s head and adjusted it before looking him in the eye. 


“Every obstacle, every challenge, every moment of every day is an opportunity to show what you’re made of. But what you’re made of is blood that spills, bones that break, and flesh that will someday slough off. Death is nothing to fear, but you need to know he’s there, waiting, for you and for everyone you love. If you want to keep them with you longer, if you want to stay with them longer, learn to look. Learn to see the danger and judge it. Learn to use it to your advantage and ward against it when you no longer want it.


“Syreilla’s Eye will help you see. You lack the skill to put more power into it so guard what you have. It is never benign to steal from you your ability to protect your kith and kin. Do you understand?”


“Yes.” Sirruil swallowed and stood straighter as he nodded. “How do I prevent it?”


“Be vigilant. When you have a stranger in your home you don’t get to rest. You watch them and the moment they do something you don’t like and they argue with you, they should be out the door with your boot print on their a*s. No one should lay wards in your home but you, benign or not.” She glanced at the furious looking dwarf standing nearby. “Have you recovered, Orefinder? Or do you need another few moments?”


“I’ve recovered.” 


“Are there any more wards laid down? I can teach him how to siphon power from them to dispel them. If not you can do that for us later, outside the house.” She gave him her brightest, maddest smile.


“You took more power from the ward than I took from him.” The dwarf glowered at her.


“Good. I want to learn that ward from you, I like it.”


“You’re not angry?” Sirruil studied her carefully. “You look… you look angry. But you don’t sound angry.”


“I’m furious he put that here.” She grinned at him as she stood up. “But you have to understand I was trained by mages. I can admire his work and want to learn from him while I make my plans to show him in pointed, painful ways why you don’t cross a Rook or act against those under my protection.”


Turning her grin on Orefinder she added, “Mages usually try to murder their apprentices as they teach them, too. I learned from the most competent, vicious mages Master Odos could find. I’ve even managed to startle the old man once or twice with things I’ve learned, lessons no one else has survived in a very long time. I look forward to yours.”


He walked away muttering under his breath in dwarvish about Odos having sent a nightmare into the mine.


“I give people the choice, Orefinder!” She called after him cheerfully, “I’m only a nightmare if you make the wrong choices, some people find me to be delightful!”


Sirruil laughed under his breath. “Grandfather really sent you to learn from vicious mages?”


“What did your mother teach you if not the wards we learned from Zylius? They’re malevolent.”


“She taught me holding, stun and confuse, blind and mute cast on an object-”


“You taint your student with your own malevolence when you teach them some things, Rook.” Orefinder had returned to the doorway.


Syr took a deep breath and studied the face of the young dwarf in front of her. “I didn’t know that. I look at them as tools, good or bad it’s all dependent on how you use them. But I suppose… a great deal of what we learned from Zylius requires ill intent. You’re going to kill with those wards and spells and do so painfully. I use them to protect myself and those I love, I don’t consider malevolence a bad thing when used defensively. It can be an asset.”


He snorted, studying her. “Fellforger will like you.” Beckoning for them to come, he added, “If you’ll show me what you intend to teach the boy before you teach him, I’ll teach you that ward. No nasty tricks from either of us, agreed?”


“If you’ll agree to lay no wards in this house or on it’s doorstep without Sirruil’s permission, I’ll agree. I’m not happy with you for drawing from that stone.”


“No more wards in the house or on the doorstep without the boy’s permission in his lifetime.” He smiled faintly. “Agreed?”


“Agreed.” Syreilla grinned again, “Let’s have breakfast and I can tell you all about Brosa. And Withia. I want it to be absolutely clear what happens when people shorten the lives of my loved ones.” She gave Sirruil a slow blink, “Depending on your sense of humor, you might be as amused as I was that they burned Uncle’s temple before I got there. He’d had his priests work the people of Brosa up about my visit so much they decided they’d rather see him gone than see me walk down the street.”


“Grimgrip told me you burned the temple in Withia with dragon’s fire and nearly burned the city to the ground as well?”


She broke into laughter, “He exaggerates! I got paid to put it out well before the city burned to the ground. The buildings around Uncle’s temple were only a little singed. They needed repairing and repainting anyway.”


“And if they hadn’t paid you?” 


Grimgrip was seated at the table with Oduil and Kyrilla as she came into the room. 


“They did.”


“Odos said you hate the city?” Juddri gave a nod to Sirruil. “Practicing with it already?”


“Checking the room. It’s too bright in here but I don’t see any wards.” 


Syr smiled as Orefinder went to sit next to Juddri. It was bright with the gem and chain but endurable. 


“You can take it off for now if you want. You’ll still want to be vigilant. Watch for odd gestures, moving lips, keep your attention on the room you're in, the people and things around you, and pay attention to your feelings. If something feels off, defend yourself and your loved ones and ask questions about intent later.”


“How can you live that way?” Oduil’s brow furrowed. “I remember that our mother said coming home was always a relief, outside the mine she had to be on her toes. If Sirruil has to be that way in the mine…” 


“He’ll find a place, a safe place, he can let down his guard. Why do you think I’m angry about the wards in this house?”


Orefinder inclined his head and poured a cup of kave, pushing it toward the end with the deeper seat. “Where is your safe place, Rook?”


She tilted her head slightly and arched a brow at him. 


“I don’t think she has one.” Kaduil came in looking tired and she stood with a frown. “Sit, please, Rook. You look like my Syr when you do that.” His frown faded.


“If she doesn’t have one…” Sirruil pulled the circlet back out of his pocket. “You need this more than I do, Rook.”


Syr sighed and sank back into her seat. “Keep it, Sirruil. The old man lent me something else. Not to mention I’m used to it.” 


Orefinder studied her with an annoyed look. “Show me.”


She lifted her gloved hand and grinned, wiggling her fingers at him. As his eyes narrowed she spoke cheerfully, “He seemed to think I’d need help keeping up with you.”


“He didn’t give me any warnings about you.”


“That should have been a warning in itself. I know him well enough to be wary of anyone he calls a friend. They’ll be quick-witted, bad-tempered, and probably have a grudge against him.”


The dwarf laughed despite himself.


Taking off the glove she unwrapped the chain from her hand and tugged the stone from her sleeve, before tucking it down her front.


“That’s a safe place for it?” Orefinder focused his eyes on her fingers as she brought her hand up pointing at him and then partly twisting her hand, slightly curling the fingers.


“It should be. Anyone’s hand goes down my front without my permission and they don’t get it back. Mess with my kit and that counts as a nasty trick. Break your word to a Rook and see what happens.”


“Have you met Fellforger?” He started to smile.


“Not yet, but I’m looking forward to it.”


Kaduil looked amused as he took a seat next to her. “My Syr kept her important things in the front pocket. She let me try to take her purse out once, I didn’t worry about her things after that.”


Syreilla eyed him with a small smile, “Speaking of worry, why do you look so tired?”


All three of his children broke into laughter and Kaduil sighed with a smile putting his head in his hands, “When we have more work than hands we sometimes do it in shifts. I tend to take nights when Syr…” 


“And Bhirren is the one I need to speak to about making you take care of yourself?” She narrowed her eyes at him and all four broke into laughter. 


“You’re so much like my mother!” Kyrilla beamed at her. “I make sure they don’t work themselves to death.”


“Good. It seems someone needs to.”


“I could say the same of you, Rook.” Grimgrip gave her an amused look.


“I can probably get Uncle to toss me out a second time.” She gave him a broad grin and he laughed, shaking his head.


Kaduil filled a plate and put it halfway between them, letting her pick food off of it as they all settled into the meal before them.



© 2021 Isemay


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Added on February 1, 2021
Last Updated on February 1, 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


Three Three

A Chapter by Isemay