A Chapter by Isemay

Syreilla walked silently next to Kyrilla. The tale of the year spent as an unpaid maid had sparked questions and the girl had been incensed at some of the answers. If anyone tried to demand that she give those figurines away again there might be bloodshed.

From the sound of it, the forges were almost as busy as they'd been in the day and a few of the men looked up in surprise as she and Kyrilla came into view.

“I’m not sure where Father will be…” Kyrilla took hold of her hand and Syr squeezed it.

“I can find him.” Her eyes moved across the group until she saw him, toward the middle of the group hammering on the same sort of small pieces that the dwarves in the day had been working.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to be here.” One of the men ventured over with a frown.

“I’m with one of my hosts and once I’ve collected Kaduil I’ll be with two of them.” She gave the dwarf a wide grin and his name came to mind, “You’re Bhirren. I remember you but Hammersworn knew you well. Didn’t she have a talk with you about these night shifts of yours and how Kaduil wasn’t supposed to be working them? She won’t let me sleep until he’s at home in bed where he belongs.”

The dwarf narrowed his eyes at her. “You’re here as a guest of Clan Hammersworn. Be polite Lady Rook.”

“As you wish, Master Hammersworn. I will politely stand and watch since you’re not allowing me to sleep.” She arched an eyebrow and he looked at Kyrilla.

“Our mother is… inside her somehow. Sirruil can see it with the circlet. You know how she always was, she hated it when Father worked these shifts and Rook says she won’t allow her to sleep until Father is at home in bed.”

“You know I need him at the forge, Kyrilla.”

“If you need spare hands, perhaps I can help, since I won’t be sleeping anyway. It’s been… over a hundred years since I’ve tried my hand at a forge but it should come back to me.”

“You’ll go back to the house or you’ll leave the mine for causing trouble.” Bhirren scowled at her and she gave him a bright smile as she sank to his level.

“I’m not causing trouble but if you throw me out because you refuse to allow me to sleep, I will. I showed Sirruil the weaknesses, how to get in from the outside, and they haven’t been closed yet. There is no mine, no prison, no puzzle that can keep me out or keep me in. I am the Golden Rook.

“Your father was a shrewd man who knew how much work to take on, he knew how to negotiate with anyone, even me, but you don’t. You don’t see when you’re in over your head, you don’t see when you need to stop and breathe and think. Barrel ahead, Master Hammersworn, but first allow me to light your path.

“When I leave, willingly or not, I will no longer be bound not to cause trouble or harm here in this mine. I have no desire to, you understand, it was an easy promise to make, this was once our home, but I can’t rest until Kaduil Hardjaw is at home in his bed. Throw me out, Master Hammersworn, and I will come back. These forges will suddenly cease to fire. They will lie cold until I choose to allow them to burn once more and I will leave them cold every night from now until the mine is empty and abandoned because Kaduil Hardjaw belongs at home in his bed at night.”

He cleared his throat and studied her face. “You left earlier.”

“No. I stepped outside with Sirruil to perform a task. I remained with my hosts. I didn’t leave. If I was no longer bound by my word, I’d have stopped the forges while we discussed this to prove my point.”

“Is there a problem?” An auburn haired dwarf approached their quiet conversation with his hammer held menacingly in his hands.

“No, Onag.” Bhirren took a deep breath and drew himself up. “Go tell Kaduil he needs to go home. Lady Rook and Kyrilla are here to collect him.”

“I was talking to Kyrilla, Bhirren. She looks frightened.” 

Syr turned to look at the blonde dwarf woman and dipped her head, “Forgive me, Kyrilla.” Exhaling she made a sour face and glanced back to Bhirren, “The old man has said I’ve spent too much time with dwarves, I’m as subtle as an axe to the groin and patience with others isn’t something I inherited much of.”

“Can you-can you really stop the forges?” Kyrilla eyed her with horror.

“When Uncle’s temple in Withia stood in flame, burning to ash with dragon’s fire, as hungry and tenacious as it is, I put it out with a word and a gesture. The fire in the forges doesn’t cling to life the same way. I don’t want to try, and I won’t as long as I’m not released from my word and prevented from sleeping.”

“How would my father have dealt with you?” Bhirren folded his arms and scowled at her.

“He’d have put me to work. Batran always understood that as long as our hands were occupied we were usually content. I offered to let you put me to work, Master Hammersworn.”

The dwarf in front of her blinked. “So you did. I could have had you going over locks.”

“You could have.” She gave him another wide grin. “If you would take a moment and think you’d be as sharp as your father, but you rush yourself. Your father had a piece of stone he used to rub between his fingers when we first met him. I think he’d nearly rubbed it smooth by the time we’d earned ourselves free and become a part of the clan. We asked him once what it was. 

“He said he needed to be reminded at times to think. That piece of stone had been carved with runes as reminders and every time he ran his fingers over them he thought about what they were and waited until he’d finished to speak. I’d make one for you if I had time and skill, but perhaps you could make your own.”

His face softened. “I remember the stone, I never asked about it.”

“To make up for my bullying, I’ll tell you something the old man once told me, ‘Time is all the luck you need. Use it to think before you use it to work, you’ll be lucky enough.’”

Bhirren nodded slowly. “That sounds like something Syreilla would say.”

“She and I were once the same person. And she’s here.” Syr tapped her chest and sighed, standing back up, “Keeping me from sleeping until Kaduil is where he’s supposed to be. You’d think I could win an argument with her…”

“Only Kaduil could win an argument with Syreilla.” The dwarf snorted and glanced toward where the rest were still working. “He’s taking his time.”

She looked that way and saw Kaduil still working while Onag stood nearby. “I think he wants to finish what he’s doing first. He knows she won’t fuss for that.”

“Stay and watch until he’s finished, then, Lady Rook.” Bhirren waved her toward the bench. “As long as you keep to your word and cause no trouble you can stay.”

“Thank you, Master Hammersworn.” Glancing at Kyrilla she caught the girl trying not to yawn. “Do you want to go back home and get some sleep? Your father is here and I won’t wander.”

“Onag can walk her home.” 

The blonde dwarf’s face flushed slightly and she smoothed her skirt. “I’d like that, thank you Bhirren.” 

Rook tilted her head and then looked back at Onag. “Kyri-”

“Onag Silvershield is a friend.”

“I see. We were friends with your father for years…”

Kyrilla gave her a sharp look.

“I could tell you the places we used to go to have a few private moments of… friendship, if you'd like.”

The girl covered her face and made an exasperated sound. “You’re worse than Sirruil. He teases me if I take lunch to Oduil or Father that I must be going to visit Onag.”

“We never bothered to hide it. Marriage wasn’t something we ever expected to want but we loved to watch your father work. And to help him wash up afterward.” She glanced back to where Kaduil was still working. “When I left, Batran had wanted him working with gold.”

“Father can’t bear to work with gold when our mother is… away. He always goes back to steel. Oduil mostly works in gold.”

“Ah.” It made her think of the chain and gem and she took a seat on the bench gesturing with her head for Kyrilla to join her. “Maybe you can tell me what to do with this? Orefinder was teasing me for wearing it wrapped around my hand but I don’t know how to wear it any other way.”

“It has a ring, Rook.” The blonde dwarf started to grin.

“Yes, but why?”

Laughing, she took the chain away from her and pulled it through the ring until the gem stopped it. “Here, bend down.” 

Syr bent and let the girl put it over her head and around her neck. 

“If you don’t want it to tighten too much, you can just…” She looped the chain around one side of itself with her fingers and pulled the gem through.

“That’s clever!” Syr beamed at the girl, “I don’t usually wear necklaces, it wouldn’t have occurred to me.”

“I helped Oduil decide on the design. Grandfather wanted something that could be worn as jewelry or attached to clothes.”

“You notice Syreilla’s eye when it’s being worn, you don’t always notice this.” She nodded and started to grin on noticing Onag coming toward them. “I think your friend is coming to walk you home.”

“He’s not…” Kyrilla made an exasperated sound.

“Kaduil said he’ll come speak to you when he’s done.” Onag inclined his head slightly and then glanced at Kyrilla. “Bhirren said you might need me to walk you home?”

“If you can be spared…” The blonde dwarf’s cheeks flushed slightly again. “I wouldn’t want to pull you away from your work.”

“You’ll get lost on the way otherwise?” He teased and Kyrilla folded her arms.

“She could stay here with me and discuss which of the men working have the nicest beards, and which ones are seeing anyone, since you’re just friends.” Syr gave him her widest grin and the girl covered her face.

“An axe to the groin might be more subtle than you are, Rook,” the mutter came from between Kyrilla’s hands.

Silvershield laughed. “I’ll walk you home, Kyri. I started early so that I could finish early, I’m between pieces.”

Syr watched them go with a smile on her face, when they disappeared from view she turned her attention to Kaduil. From the look on his face as he worked he wasn’t pleased that she’d come to interfere. Tilting her head she listened to Hammersworn gearing up for the argument. She was grinning by the time the break was called.

Bhirren walked over to her with Kaduil and both looked annoyed to see her amusement.

“What are you grinning about, Rook?” Kaduil took off his apron and laid it on the bench next to her.

“If you could hear your wife, you’d know. Syreilla Hammersworn is about to claw her way up my throat and drag you home by your beard herself. She told you, Kaduil, this is unacceptable, but you didn’t listen and now she’s making my ears ring. I can’t sleep until you’re home where you’re supposed to be, she’s making sure of that.”

He and Bhirren both looked at her for a long moment and then Kaduil started to laugh, coming to sit next to her on the bench. “My Syr is badgering a goddess to drag me home?”

“Your Syr is in here,” Syreilla tapped her chest, “Where I can’t get away from her and I keep all my soft parts. She’s as vicious and impatient as I am. Ignoring her is impossible.”

Bhirren grinned and Kaduil covered his face, laughing harder.

“Take the rest of the night, Kaduil. I’ll come find you in the morning.”

“I’ll have Kyri set a place for you at the table.” 

Looking up at her with a hint of annoyance returning, Bhirren folded his arms, “You’re not going to thank me?”

Rook put on her wide grin again, “Would you like me to repeat what Syreilla Hammersworn is saying? There’s a few words I’ll need to sound out, they’re new to me and I thought I knew most of the dwarvish swear words.”

“We discussed this, Syr. When you aren’t home I don’t sleep well and you aren’t coming home. I might as well work nights when it’s needed-”

The wave of pain brought her to her knees and he stopped, staring.

“Kaduil…” Syr reached out and took hold of his hand pulling it to the center of her chest where the pain was radiating from. “She promised she would always come home and someone tried to stop her. But if you think death can stop Syreilla Hammersworn from keeping her word you didn’t know the woman. She was given to me as part of my payment for the work I’m doing for my Uncle. The dwarven gods won’t consider taking her until I’ve finished the job, but I’m going to do all I can to make sure she joins you even if I have to try and sneak her in a back door. You can rely on a Rook.” She took a breath as the pain eased, “I’ll be having a word with Master Fellforger about it as soon as I’m able.”

“You think you can find his backdoor?” Kaduil started to smile.

“I think I’ll ask nicely first, possibly offer to do a job if he needs one done if that doesn’t work. If he flatly refuses, there is nowhere I can’t get in and out of, Kaduil. I live for a challenge and I always keep my word. Syreilla Hammersworn belongs with her family and her Clan and I’ll see to it that’s where she ends up. She won’t let me do less.”

“I think your wife would make short work of the Nightforged if they tried to throw her out,” Bhirren murmured under his breath. “He might want to make her one of them.”

Kaduil drew his hand back with a grim smile, “Then he should make me one too. I’ll be looking for her, Rook. Don’t disappoint me.”

“You can rely on a Rook.”

“Come back to the house, Syreilla.”

She gave him a warm, genuine smile. “Gladly.”

They walked in silence for part of the way before she inquired, “So… Onag Silvershield?”

He chuckled and shook his head. “Kyri thinks she’s hiding it from me. I approve, and so does Bhirren. Onag is part of Clan Deepguard and came to Delver’s from Deepheart’s to visit a cousin. He was as restless as Sirruil until he laid eyes on Kyri and that was it. You can’t budge him from the mine now.”

“I told her that we were friends with you for years before-” Syr grinned as he broke into laughter and tried to muffle it with his hands.

“There are a few more dwarves here now Rook, there aren’t as many private places to sneak away to.”

“I could probably still find a few, but Hammersworn isn’t sure she wants me encouraging them to do the things we used to do with you.”

“She’s almost old enough to be thinking about getting married and keeping a house of her own. Onag has barely started working to build his. Clan Deepguard has a few dwarves here and they’ve been helping him…” He frowned as he peered down the way that led to his house, “We should be meeting him as he comes back.”

Syr stopped and looked around, letting the stone do some of the work. “She didn’t go home. They went…” She pointed down another path. “That way.”

“Toward the house he’s building.” His face was serious for a moment. “It would be rude to go after them.” 

“You could always blame it on me.” She shrugged and lifted her brows, “I’m rude on occasion.”

Kaduil snorted. “If he’s finally gotten the nerve to ask her I don’t want to interfere.”

“Who’s going to look after you if she-”

“I can look after myself, Syr. I want her to be happy.”

Syreilla tilted her head as she looked at him and he breathed a laugh. 


“She wants me to decide if you can take care of yourself or not. As far as she can tell, you haven’t been, you know. It worries her as much as it makes her angry. I don’t know Kyrilla well, but I have my doubts she’d be willing to leave you if she thought you wouldn’t do well without her. She took up her mother’s worries. Onag Silvershield may not get the response he’s looking for…”

No sooner had she spoken than the girl came rushing around a corner.

“Kyri?” Kaduil reached out to take her hand with concern on his face.

“It’s nothing, Father. I-I’m tired, can…” 

“Let’s get you home, my golden girl.” 

They walked back silently and Kyrilla disappeared up the stairs without a word as soon as they entered the house.

“Do I need to go have a word with this Onag Silvershield?” Syr frowned and gave Kaduil a questioning look, “Hammersworn wants me to take him outside for a chat next to a pit of dragon’s fire but she’s in a bad mood tonight.” 

He snorted and shook his head, “I can imagine. In most families you have to be wary of the girl’s father coming to have a sharp word with you, in ours it was always Syr you had to worry about. Oduil had a few problems as a child with a family who’d come from a more established mine. Not all of them are as unbothered by a little mixing with humans, and his pointed ears…” 

“I can’t imagine that ended well.”

“They left the mine. I had tried to smooth things over and keep things civil but their boy wouldn’t stop and when Syr finally went to have a word with them they called her an elf and said her whole clan should be ashamed for taking her in.”

Rook let the wide mirthless smile take its place on her face and Kaduil pointed to her, “That’s exactly the look that was on her face and I knew they could either go or she’d be back with her boot knife.”

“I’d have started laying wards and mixing my powders right there in front of them.”

“I told Batran about it and with a few words in the right ears there was no more work for them. They had to leave. Clan Hammersworn may not run the mine but they’re influential enough you don’t want to cross them. I kept Syr with me in the house, nearly chained her to the bed for a couple of weeks after that talk, so that no one could say any misfortunes that befell them were her doing.” His ears went red, “That was how we got Sirruil.”

She had to laugh, bending to give him a kiss on the top of his head. “Time well spent.” 

“That was what Syr always said.” He smiled up at her and then took hold of her hand, “Come talk to me while I wash up.”

“I remember the first time you invited us to do that.” 

Kaduil laughed as he led her downstairs, “I’d only intended to talk but my Syr had other ideas.”

“We certainly did. Washing you was-” She laughed as he swept her legs out from under her after they’d come off of the stairs, catching her easily. 

He broke into a wide smile, “I couldn’t help myself. You were part of her when I asked…” 

“I was.” Syr felt an ache in her chest as she studied his face, “but I chose to go with Vezar to keep him from suffering. The thought of leaving either of you alone and in misery was too much to bear.”

“Oduil has sharp ears, Rook. He heard Master Orefinder say you could give up your divinity and become one again.”

“He didn’t hear me tell Orefinder that I can't leave Vezar alone? You’re not alone anymore, Kaduil. She shouldn’t have been taken from you, not so soon, but you have your children and I will do everything I can to make certain she’s waiting for you. You can rely on a Rook. And so can he.”

The dwarf sighed and nodded, letting her stand. “I never understood why she split herself. That dragon caused nothing but trouble.”

“He’s our cousin and he’s got a good heart.” She followed to the doorway and leaned against it as he started to undress. “It was an adjustment, I’ll give you that. He can’t grow a beard, I spent a few years trying to convince-”

Kaduil doubled over laughing and she grinned at him. “You tried to convince a dragon to grow a beard?”

“I did! His lack of a beard and lack of hair in general was one of the harder things to get used to but he has a few things you don’t and I enjoy them.” She gave him a playful blink as he shook his head.

“No children?”

“No. Truthfully, I don't know if he wants them and if I can’t come and go from Uncle’s realm I’m better off not having them. I’d have been a terrible mother if I’d had a child in the past hundred years, easily as bad as the one we had, if not worse.

“I adore yours, though. I’m envious of the life Hammersworn had and I’m furious that it was taken from her.”

“You’re certain that it was-” He stopped as she made a sharp gesture.

“Don’t say his name.”

“-her uncle? You’re certain?”

“Yes. He confessed it to me. She went to him asking if it were possible for her to go to the dwarven gods in death. He suspected her of trying to get out of the punishments waiting for thieves that the uncle I serve has waiting, so he found a mage and an assassin who liked to work together to take the job. In exchange, he promised them that they would be out of Uncle’s reach and out of mine.

“He lied. I dragged the mage to Uncle’s doorstep, and my cousin, Cyran,-”

“There were punishments waiting for my Syr?” Kaduil stopped his washing to scowl at her.

“There were. They weren’t too bad, I would have been more upset if he’d sent her into the room with the sunshine and blank faces.”

His brow furrowed.

“It’s supposed to be a reward, if you’re good you go to the sunshine and fields of green, the people there are all smiling and blank, empty and… happy.” She shuddered and he breathed a laugh.

He resumed his washing and they were quiet for a moment.

“Why don’t you work in gold anymore?”

“Gold makes me think of Syr. I can’t bear to work it when she’s away. Steel feels better.”

“You don’t like to be reminded of her?”

“Everything in this house, even our children, reminds me of her, Rook. When I work gold, I worry over her. Where she is, how she is, it’s too much.”

“You know where she is now, Kaduil. For the moment, she’s with me, safe and worrying over you, and she’s not leaving me until I give her over to Fellforger. You don’t even have to worry about seeing the ones who took her from you punished. I’m the goddess of righteous vengeance and I’ve been seeing to it at every opportunity. That lying uncle of ours is going to find himself replaced and utterly without temples or priests if it’s within my power.

“Go back to gold. Do beautiful work in her memory.”

His jaw was clenched and his eyes looked damp but he remained silent, drying off and gesturing for her to go upstairs. Syr went up to her room and walked around it before going back out again and opening Kaduil’s door.

The dwarf was pulling on his nightshirt and when he saw her the tears he’d been holding in started to pour. She went in and closed the door.

© 2021 Isemay

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Added on February 2, 2021
Last Updated on February 2, 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