Fifty-seven

Fifty-seven

A Chapter by Isemay

“I want you to lay some of those before you leave, Rook. I’ll show you where.” 


Syr grinned as she cleared the wards away. “Uncle may start to think I’ve decided to move in but I think I can get at least a few weeks here before he starts to fuss.”


Orefinder snorted. “Your father has been busy, Rook, he’ll be expecting you to come out tomorrow or the day after.” 


That took the smile off of her face and the dwarf looked a little rueful, “I’ll show you the ward you wanted to learn, it’s a tricky one. How’s your dwarvish?”


“It could be better. I don’t speak it often.” She folded her arms, “I wanted more time here. I haven’t been home in so long and-”


“This isn’t your home anymore, Rook. It was Syreilla Hammersworn’s.” Orefinder beckoned for her to follow. “You want walls or a frame for this one. The words and gestures are important, you cast it on the frame and toss it out like a net.”


Nodding her understanding she paid careful attention, putting her hurt aside for a moment.


“You’ll want to stop playing with that…” The dwarf gave her an annoyed look and she realized she was toying with the gem and chain wrapped around her hand. “And come stand behind me.”


Removing the gem from her hand as she did, once she was behind him she pulled the chain through the loop and pulled it over her head.


“I can hear you still playing with it, Rook.”


“I’m putting it on differently. I’m paying attention.”


He snorted and, muttering in dwarvish, cast the ward, his hands moving smoothly in a pattern before casting it out. “Did you catch that?”


Studying the ward now clinging to the walls in front of them she moved her hands as she thought he had. “Like that?”


Orefinder grinned and made the gestures again and she saw where she’d made a mistake, correcting them. He pulled down his ward and she stood for a moment trying to remember the sound of his words.


“You didn’t catch the words.” He grinned as she glanced back at him. 


“I want to try something, I’m not sure if it will work but… do you mind?”


The dwarf gestured for her to go ahead.


Using the hand gestures he’d shown her she murmured her own siphoning spell and cast it on the walls the same way he had. Like his own it stuck to the walls and left an eerie silvery web of hungry threads. She grinned at it and then looked back at Orefinder. He looked a little ill.


“What? I did it right, didn’t I?”


“That won’t just pull from a stone or an object with power, Rook. That will draw from anyone or anything who blunders into it until there’s nothing left to pull.”


“How can I refine it? You were right when you said I didn’t catch all of the words you spoke, but I got the gist of it. It’s not too different from my siphoning spell. I can pull from anything I can feel. This may be a little dangerous to lay down and walk away from but I’ve liked the idea since I saw your ward.”


Her grin started to fade as she noticed the nervousness in his eyes. 


“Pick that up, Rook.” 


Turning back, she tried to dispel it and it flickered but didn’t fully go. With a frown, she murmured her siphoning spell to draw from the power around them and did it again more forcefully. This time it faded to nothing. She walked to where it had been laid and touched the stone to be sure.


“Mine is stickier than yours. It takes more effort to get rid of it than it does to lay it down.”


“Whoever taught you that spell didn’t know what they were teaching you. It’ll get harder to take up as it collects power.”


“It’s elvish. I don’t speak the language but Ofeus, the one we learned it from, said you don’t have to. Get the sounds right and know what you intend and it’ll do. I don’t need to know how to make a bucket to use one. The spell had been passed down from master to apprentice for…” Syr glanced at the dwarf and saw him studying her with a peculiar expression. “What?”


“The old man let you learn elvish spells?”


“The old man sent us to learn whatever we could. He arranged our education; he didn’t supervise it.”


“I’ll teach you the words, I don’t want to see that,” he gestured at the wall, “ever again.” 


“You have my word, I'll never lay it in another dwarf mine.”


He exhaled and smiled wryly, “You use the word ‘never’ like a mortal. You have a lot to learn, Rook.”


“I like dwarves, Orefinder. It’s not a hardship to promise things that will help to keep them safe from me. And I don’t mean you any harm. I know I can cause it whether I intend it or not, I have a bad temper and I sometimes act without thinking things through…” 


“You should have been the one to come back to Kaduil, Rook. Hammersworn would have stayed with your uncle in death and been with Edra. I could make something out of you.”


“I’m not the stay in the mine type, Orefinder. I need to stretch my wings.”


“Bhiraldur has a conspiracy of ravens they keep.” His eyes sparkled. “We could manage something.” 


She broke into laughter and gave him a wide grin, “Rooks and ravens aren’t quite the same but they’re clever and have long memories too. A little kindness goes a long way with clever birds.”


“I’ll teach you this ward and take you back to fetch Kaduil. A half shift is all any of them will be working tonight, Aledelver wants them to be ready to begin work on the plans to secure the more dangerous books Hammersworn wrote and implement a few of her suggestions for securing the mine and the treasure rooms.”


°°°°°°°°°°


Waking up, Syr yawned and stretched, feeling like it was far too early but there was another half whispered argument going on outside of her room. 


“It belonged to our mother!” Kyrilla sounded furious. 


“I inherited her kit. I can do with it what I please, that was what Father said.” Sirruil sounded annoyed. “I can make another.”


“How can you even think of giving it away?! Make another one and give it to Rook!”


Climbing quietly from the bed she folded the door open a crack and peeked out at them curiously. “Another what?”


Sirruil held up a piece of metal that looked similar to her shaped bar and she started to grin, pushing the door all the way open and reaching for it.


“Oduil made this?” Taking it from him, the heft was lighter than she was used to and the curve of it was slightly more pronounced. The back end was flatter and had a notch. Hammersworn had found it very useful but needed a little more padding in the pocket because of the flattened edge. “I can see that.”


“What?” Kyrilla was looking at her in confusion. “I said that Oduil should be the one to decide and that our mother’s things shouldn’t leave the mine and you said…”


“I was talking to your mother. She was telling me that her pocket needed a little more padding because of the shape but this is a very useful tool.” Giving the dwarf woman a commiserating smile she added, “Your figurines are sentimental, her knife was sentimental, but her tools, while valuable and cherished, are made to be used. If Sirruil isn’t using it she isn’t upset that he would give this to me. I will use it well and appreciate it. I’ve wanted to see all of her kit.”


“I’ll show it to you.” Sirruil beckoned and Syr followed him without bothering to dress.


Kyrilla tailed them to her brother’s room and stood in the doorway with a disapproving frown as the wooden box holding Hammersworn’s collection of tools was pulled from its place and opened on the bed.


Syreilla couldn’t keep the grin off of her face as Hammersworn went over the tools as she touched them, Uncle hadn’t taken a bit of her expertise. 


“She made that one!” She hopped in her glee and looked up to see Orefinder giving her an amused look from the doorway. 


“You didn’t bother to dress this morning, Rook?”


“I offered to show her mother’s tools.”


“Your mother is telling her about them, I suspect.” Orefinder beckoned for her to follow. “Come get dressed, Rook. We have a busy day and your father says you have to come out tomorrow.”


Her chest ached at the thought of leaving so soon and Sirruil put a hand on her back. “You can visit us, Rook. I want you to bring my mother when I-”


“She can’t be here for that.” Orefinder frowned, holding his hand out to her. “Rook is an outsider.”


“What can’t I be here for?” 


“The ritual where he is recognized as an adult and is given his name. It isn’t time yet and if you give his mother over before then it will be enough.”


“I will do my best.” Her heart ached but she could feel a steely resolve forming. “Hammersworn won’t let me do less.” She glanced at the kit before moving toward the door, “I’m going to have to ask Bhirren to let me make some of those before I go, that little glass cutter and the narrow-”


“Oduil and I will make them.” Kaduil peered in the doorway. “I know her tools.”


“Thank you, Kaduil. They’re clever.”


With a smile she slipped out and got dressed, replacing her old shaped bar with Hammersworn’s. It fit in the pocket meant for it perfectly. She’d have to go to a tailor and have new pants made since these belonged to Hammersworn.


Putting the chain and gem on around her neck she made her way down to the breakfast table. Syreilla stopped in the doorway for a moment to look at the dwarves who’d already come down. Kaduil was smiling and talking to his three children and her chest ached at the thought of leaving. It wasn’t all her pain.


“I’ll keep my word,” she murmured under her breath and the pain eased. 


“Rook?” Orefinder gave her a curious look as he came to stand next to her. 


“I could kick the old man. The first time I come back to the mine in over a hundred years and I have to leave so soon.”


He shook his head with a smile, “I can give you better reasons to kick him.”


“If I started taking on other people’s reasons I’d be kicking him until my leg fell off.” 


The dwarf laughed and ushered her to the table. Breakfast went by quickly and she left with Orefinder and Sirruil to speak to Aledelver of the plans they wanted to implement. The books of spells were to be kept sealed away. Orefinder was clear on that. Only a very select few would ever be permitted to know they were there much less know how to get in. The devious dwarf designed the door himself and it was going to be built by the priests. Aledelver took exception to that.


“Those books are dangerous, Master Aledelver. You saw what happened when a few priests who didn’t understand what they were looking at tried to-”


“It’s my mine, we’ll design the door and we’ll build it. Those books belong to us and I won’t have them sealed out of our reach.”


Syr stretched and braced her hands on the ceiling. “Without power behind them, they’re just words, Orefinder. You’d need dwarves with talent for it to make them dangerous in and of themselves, my concern is more that human mages will come hunting for them.” 


The dwarves gave her annoyed looks as if she’d interrupted them to speak nonsense.


“No mage-”


“Oh a mage won’t come himself. Or if he does he won’t come alone. They’ll send assassins and thieves. For a mage, even one of those volumes is worth killing every dwarf in this mine. Hammersworn wrote down spells and wards that have since been lost. Ofeus started our education and that line of knowledge, passed down master to apprentice, ended with his apprentice. Zylius taught us a few things he didn’t teach Agust No-Legs because he knew we weren’t going to murder him with them and Agust didn’t teach his apprentices everything he’d learned.


“You’ve got priceless secrets kept in a treasure room that would barely give me a challenge. I may be better than most thieves, but if they hired Magpie… he might not even need to murder anyone. I don’t know if they could pay what he’d charge though. It might be cheaper to come with a few assassins, poison the water upstream and block your air vents to weaken you, lay some wards to trap you as you come out or just have the assassins kill you from a distance…”


The dwarves started to swear.


“She wanted to give you something valuable, and she did, it’s just that what she gave you is so valuable it puts you and everyone here at risk. If it were me…” Syr frowned thoughtfully.


“You’d send them to Bhiraldur.” Orefinder nodded.


“No, that’s just moving the problem. I’d make copies. Their value lies in their rarity. I’d keep the originals here, locked up safe enough that no one would bother, make Syreilla’s Eye the key to the door. But copies, I’d send them to other mines, I might even sell one or two of the volumes to a mage for an obscene price and tell him they were the only copies. Tell him the originals burned and the copies were considered so dangerous that they shouldn’t be in a mine. Do it right and even if rumors pop up about the tomes they’ll have been explained. It’ll keep the mages fighting over the volumes outside the mines.”


She pulled her gaze back from the middle distance and inclined her head at the looks of approval. 


“We’ll do it your way, Rook.” Orefinder glanced back at Aledelver, “With your permission.” 


“It’s a good plan. It sounds like something Syreilla Hamersworn would have suggested. Who will make the copies?”


“I have a few priests in mind, not a drop of magical talent in them. They can read and copy the books without too much danger.” 


“How can this be made into a key?” Sirruil held up the circlet with a baffled frown.


“I’ll show you.” Orefinder smiled faintly, “It isn’t too difficult.”


“Show me too.” Syr grinned at him, “I know it can be done but I’ve never gotten to see it.”


“You’re going to give me a new tome with the secrets of dragon’s fire, Rook.”


“It’s a deal. If you want to come with me when I leave the mine I can show you how it’s done too. It’s beautiful.”


“I’ll think about it.” He shook his head, “Let’s go see how things are coming on the plans they’ve already started and I’ll get the plans for the locks on the library down for the priests to get to work on.”


Once they’d gone to where the work had been begun and plans were laid on tables, Syreilla felt someone giving her unfriendly looks. She glanced around and her gaze fell on Onag Silvershield looking at her sourly. Sirruil and Orefinder stepped away from her to speak to the priests and he approached, pushing up his sleeves as he did.


“Rook.”


“Silvershield.” She tilted her head as she studied him. “You and Kyrilla had an argument?”


His face flushed, “I got impatient with her. She wants to wait to tell her father about… I don’t want you pointing out other dwarves to her while I fix this.”


“I hadn’t intended to. I was teasing the both of you when I suggested it. We were friends with Kaduil for years before we agreed to marry him. Everyone knew we were more than that as well, we never pretended it wasn’t him we went to the forges to watch and I’m almost certain people knew we were helping him wash up afterward.” Syr laughed as his ears turned red. “But no one pressed the matter, well… Batran encouraged us both. We were sent to watch him. And he told Kaduil to build the house and started putting our things in it before discussing it with us.”


“I showed her the house I’m building for her and she wouldn’t come in. She left me standing in the doorway and ran.” 


“The house was ready when Kaduil showed it to us and we wouldn't have said yes if he hadn’t been able to calm our fears. We were afraid we’d be a poor wife, this was home but we could never stay the way a dwarf would. He knew. He carved the bed and built the house knowing.”


Onag idly rubbed his bearded cheek. “You're saying I need to find out what she’s afraid of and ease her fears.”


“I’m saying you need to have the house, the bed, the knowledge of what she’s afraid of, and your plans to ease those fears while making her the happiest woman in the mine ready before you ask her. It takes time, but if you’re not willing to put in the effort you’re not worth hers.”


“I love her, but it feels like I’m…” He exhaled and then eyed her dubiously. “Are you helping me?”


“I’m not hindering you. Kaduil seems to like you and Bhirren wouldn’t have had you walk her home if he didn’t approve.”


“I’m a Deepguard, it’s a good clan. An old clan. They can’t help but approve.” Onag looked a little smug and she narrowed her eyes.


“Hammersworn is a good clan. Bear in mind that Kyrilla is Syreilla Hammersworn’s golden daughter. She calls the god Odos ‘Grandfather’ and her brother holds Syreilla’s Eye, a treasure from the Glan Minrhia. You’ll put in the work and show her you’re worth her effort or she’ll find someone who is.” Syr gave the now grim faced dwarf a small smile, “I know she likes you and she’s not one to have her head turned by a name. Tell me what you know about her.”


Silvershield swallowed and studied her face. “I know she loves her family, she’s always running to do something for her father or her brothers. She keeps that house immaculate.” His face flushed, “Kyri always smells sweet and has a smile and a kind word for everyone.”


Syr crouched and looked at him curiously.


“You look like a bird.”


“I’m Syreilla the Rook.” She laughed and gave him an impish grin. “Have you been in the house?”


“Once or twice.” Onag folded his arms.


“Have you seen the bath?”


“No.” 


“Kaduil made it for us because he knew we liked to be clean. We never liked to have our work clothes washed much but we always liked a good hot bath. Make sure you have a good bath for her, something spacious.”


“Why do you say ‘I’ sometimes and sometimes ‘we’?”


“I am the Golden Rook. We were once Syreilla Hammersworn, before we were split in two. When I say ‘we’ I’m speaking of the time before we were split. Before a very mortal Syreilla Hammersworn returned to Delver’s with her husband and I went with Vezar.”


“You’re not mortal?”


“No. I’m the goddess of righteous vengeance and the protector of gentle souls, or as Sirruil likes to call me, the Lady of smoke and flame.”


He swallowed and inclined his head slightly, “Why did you come here?”


“I have a job to do and I’m teaching Sirruil how to use Syreilla’s Eye while I’m here. Clan Hammersworn is dear to me. Syreilla Hammersworn’s family claims me as kin, as if I were her sister.”


“Are you trying to scare me off, Rook?” His chin jutted up.


“If she were trying to scare you off, you’d be running already.” Kaduil put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you talking to him about Kyri?”


“He came to talk to me about her. I gave him good advice but I think he’s looking for a reason not to take it. If she chooses someone else it won’t be due to my interference.” She tilted her head looking at Onag coolly. “It’ll be his own mistakes and impatience. Either way, Kyri won’t be unhappy. I feel certain of it.”


“I’m tempted to send her to Bhiraldur with Sirruil to help him get settled. He’s never been away from our clan.”


“And who will look after you?” Syr turned her head to give him a faint smile.


“I can look after myself, Syreilla. Oduil and I both can. It might help her see that if she goes.”


Her face broke into a grin as Hammersworn whispered to her, “Try helping her around the house first. Show her how well you used to take care of things while her mother was still learning how to be a wife. Sirruil is like we were, he needs to be able to spread his wings and sending his sister to look after him won’t help.”


Kaduil broke into laughter, “The first time my Syr was pointed to the sink I thought she was going to leave. I had to tell her we don’t hire people the way humans do to look after the house.”


“I’d have taken the dishes out of the mine and stolen you some new ones. It seems like the only reasonable compromise.” She grinned as Kaduil laughed and leaned on her.


Onag watched them with a baffled smile.


“She did that once. Syr-she tried to make a stew and it burned. It would have taken a lot of scrubbing to get that pot right again and she took the whole thing out only to come back later with some poor family’s freshly baked meat pies and their big pot.” He wiped his eyes, “She’d left them a handful of coins, more than what the food and pot were worth, along with the dirty pot but they still complained to Aledelver about it.


“The old women came and gave her some lessons after that. My Syr would measure her ingredients like she was measuring her powders and glare at her cook pots as if she were daring them to misbehave. Keeping a house wasn’t something she ever wanted to do, but she wanted to be a good wife and when she set her mind to a thing you could help her or get out of her way.”


A prickling surety settled over her, “That was why she gave up her dragon’s fire. She would make any sacrifice and face any challenge out of love for you and her children.”


His eyes looked damp but he smiled proudly, “She was a fine wife. No one has ever had better.” Kaduil cleared his throat and glanced at Onag, “I didn’t mean to interrupt but Master Orefinder wanted Syreilla to come see what he was planning.”


Syr gave the black-haired dwarf a kiss on the cheek. “I should go, I don’t want to keep him waiting.”


Silvershield inclined his head and stepped away.



© 2021 Isemay


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Added on February 2, 2021
Last Updated on February 2, 2021
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

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Isemay
Isemay

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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