A Chapter by Isemay

The time she’d been given in the dwarf mine had come to an end far sooner than she’d wanted it to. Syreilla had stayed up all night talking, first to Sirruil and then to Kaduil, as she was finishing the slim volume on dragon’s fire for Orefinder. She’d even slipped in a few wards and a contact spell to send a wave of burning pain up someone’s arm wherever they were touching you. The dwarf had almost danced in his seat at the table as he looked it over.

Being allowed to keep Hammersworn’s work clothes felt like a relief but when she looked over her own she couldn’t keep the frown off of her face. They’d been torn in places she hadn’t torn them, mended, and her draped mantle was missing. Orefinder winced when she pointed it out and told her to ask the old man. He was waiting outside. Grimgrip was sent to take her brother and cousin their things, and she gave the dwarf a message for the old man as she took her time saying her goodbyes to Oduil, Kyrilla, and Sirruil. Kaduil had been needed at the forges and their goodbyes had been said at breakfast.

As she stepped out of the house she gave Sirruil a slow blink and tilted her head in the direction of the treasure rooms. “I have one more thing to do before I go.”

A grin crossed the young dwarf’s face. “Orefinder said you’d ask about them.”

“Getting the stones is part of the task that will get me my freedom to come and go and give me the right to give your mother over to Fellforger. If I were willing to steal from dwarves they’d already be in my pocket.” 

He laughed and escorted her that way. In front of the door to the treasure rooms, Orefinder and Thyldind Trueshield waited for them. 

“Before we discuss the stones, I want to see what you’ve taught the boy.” Trueshield beckoned for Sirruil to come talk with him.

Orefinder grinned at her, “Do you think you helped him seal it entirely.”

“Of course not. You can deter thieves, you can never keep them all out. What I’ve done is teach him to use the circlet to the best of my ability. I hope he’ll learn to use it to the best of his and improve on what I taught him.”

“Building a thief proof room would be an impossible task for you?” His grin widened and she returned it. “Sirruil told me about the chat you had about puzzles while you were speaking to Kaduil this morning. He’s a quick one and I think all of the mines will be safer with him holding the circlet.”

“Building a thief proof room is a task I tinker with in my head, Orefinder. I love a challenge, I live for it. And I want the mines to be safe. I want Clan Hammersworn and my family here to be safe. Do you think I could have your permission to-”

Orefinder broke into loud laughter. “Rook, you can go after those who steal from us to your heart’s content, but I won’t let you give Bhirren Hammersworn a sigil to summon you with. He can deal with problems like a dwarf, if someone cheats him he can put an axe in their head.” 

She folded her arms and gave him a sour look, “I like him. I just wanted to help.”

The dwarf smacked her hip and grinned up at her, “You’d claim Clan Hammersworn and coddle them into uselessness. But I’ll talk to Fellforger. People might give us less trouble on the roads if the caravans drove with a Rook’s protection.”

“Let me know when they’re moving, Orefinder, I liked being called the Lady of smoke and flame. I can live up to the name.” She grinned back at him and he broke into laughter again.

“Syreilla the Rook!” Trueshield called her over. “Sirruil says that even if we follow every suggestion that’s been made you can still get into the treasure rooms?”

“Yes.” Syr crouched and put on her widest smile. “Locks, wards, grates,” she waved her hand, “they’re all deterrents and they’ll make your treasures more trouble to get to than they’re worth, but a good and determined thief will always find a way in.”

“How would you get in if all of the suggestions were followed?”

She looked at Sirruil, “What does Syreilla’s Eye tell you? Which way would I go?”

“Whenever I ask which way you can take, it looks like spiderwebs.” The young dwarf put it on regardless and looked around with surprise. “There’s a path in blue.”

“If you followed every suggestion, even the most dangerous ones, and sealed every other way, there is one path always available.”

“What path, Rook?” Orefinder looked at her thoughtfully.

“The same way the priests or anyone else allowed to enter would go in. With a key through the door. As long as even one person is allowed to walk in, you’ve left a door open for a thief. I enjoy getting creative, but never underestimate the simple solution.”

The dwarf gave her an approving look, “I’ll speak to Fellforger on your behalf. You may be worse than your father but I think I like you better, Rook.”

Syr gave him a warm, genuine smile and he blinked in surprise. 

“There’s a sweet girl under those vicious feathers,” Trueshield almost sounded teasing.

She stood up to stretch, putting on a deliberately too wide grin, “Rooks are friendly birds! As long as you don't cross them.”

Orefinder snorted and received a curt nod from Trueshield. He disappeared into the treasure rooms for a moment. Whatever he wanted wasn't far inside them, or he used a door once he was out of sight, she wasn’t sure, but he came back quickly with a small carved box.

“This is what your uncle is after, Rook. He can have it with our regards.”

Inclining her head as she took it, Syriella could feel the tingle of magic from inside the box but it didn’t feel… right somehow. She gave Orefinder a slight frown and arched a brow at him.

“You’ve made friends, Rook, don’t undo it with complaints.” The dwarf gave her a mischievous smile and laughed as she exhaled and wrinkled her nose. “You look like an elf when you do that.”

Syr huffed and put the box in the pouch slung across her shoulders. “If you keep teasing me about being half elf I’m going to start sending you beard oil and combs so you can learn how to take care of that scraggle you call a beard.”

He narrowed his eyes as Trueshield and Sirruil broke into loud laughter. “As if you’d know how to take care of one, beardless as you are.” 

“That is hurtful, Orefinder! We learned how to look after a beard very well, thank you. I even spent years trying to get Vezar to grow one so I could keep in practice.”

Chuckling with the others, Orefinder shooed her away from the treasure rooms as Sirruil hung back to speak to Trueshield. “The old man used to get testy with me for spending time with Syreilla Hammersworn. It’ll be worse if he thinks I’m trying to bring you into the mine.”

“Do you want me to pretend we aren’t friends?” 

“I don’t want you to give him details, play things down if you have to. Your father can be a-”

“Syreilla?!” Kaduil interrupted him, hurrying to join them. “I wanted to walk you out to the camp and I thought I’d missed you.”

“I’d like that.” Syr gave him a warm smile and then glanced at Orefinder, “Did you want a demonstration on how to make dragon’s fire as I go?”

“Another time.” The dwarf nodded and left her with Kaduil.

They were quiet as they walked out into the blinding sunlight, it took a moment for her to remember to take off the gem around her neck. 

“You’ll keep your word?”

“I will, Kaduil. You can rely on a Rook. Syreilla Hammersworn would shred me from the inside if you couldn't.”

He laughed softly and nodded. “That sounds like my Syr.”

“I’m glad you’re walking with me. I wanted you to meet Cyran and Magpie. Cyran is the one who killed the assassin.”

“I heard the story from Grimgrip. He’s supposed to be an impressive man, and good-hearted.”

“He is. I like him. He needs some educating but I think he could take his father’s place and be a good god of justice.”

“And if he doesn’t want to be?” Kaduil smiled up at her. “Grimgrip talked about that too.”

“We’ll see. I haven’t quite set my mind to it but I'm leaning that way.”

The dwarf laughed and took her hand, “Let the boy be what he wants. I had that problem with Syr. She wanted Sirruil to be a smith like me, and the boy is good with steel, but he had her restless nature and he needs something… more. Syr was leaning on him and it gave them both heartache.” 

She took a breath and nodded. “I’ll try not to lean too hard. I have the habit of bullying people into doing what I want if nudging doesn’t work.” 

“I never noticed, Syr,” his dry tone made her laugh. 

They walked in pleasant silence for a time until the tents came into view. Cyran came around one and looked surprised to see her. She gave him a cheerful wave.

“That’s my cousin, Cyran, that I was telling you about, Kaduil. And my brother, Magpie should be here somewhere.” Syreilla glanced around, noticing that there didn't seem to be a tent out for her.

The dwarf shook his head with a smile, “Sirruil said he’s a thief.”

“He is, and a good one too I’ve been told.” She gave Kwes a warm smile as he came into view.

“It’s a shame you haven’t let me show you.” His sour expression and tone made her tilt her head slightly.

“We’ll do something fun as soon as I-” She stopped and blinked as Kwes turned on his heel and stormed off. “I think he’s angry with me…” 

“You left us.” Cyran cleared his throat and glanced away as if he were embarrassed about something.

With a sigh, she dropped to her knees to embrace Kaduil. “It seems I need to find out what the old man has been up to. He had to make sure I had a warm welcome when he dragged me out of the mine.”

“You’re welcome to come back, Syreilla. I’ll vouch for you or Oduil will. You’re family.”

She gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you. And now I have to go deal with this part of my family.”

He breathed a laugh and nodded, stepping away as Magpie’s angry voice washed over them.

“Rook! You’re going to talk to me and you’re going to explain yourself.”

“Good luck.”

Syr grimaced and turned to face the half-elf who’d come to pace angrily in front of the tents. “What exactly do I need to explain?” She paused feeling annoyed at the pacing, “Will you stand in one place? Magpie?”

In answer he spun on his heel and stormed off again. Throwing her hands up she followed at a trot intending to knock him down and make him hold still to talk. 

Before she caught up to him he called over his shoulder, “That was a cruel trick Syreilla.” His attention shifted, “And who is this? You’ve picked the wrong camp to rob-”

“Vezar!” The sight of the dragon waiting for her gave her a burst of elation. Beaming, she darted over to him and embraced him, rising on her toes for a kiss. The feeling of the tips of his claws pricking her through her clothes as he returned it hungrily sent a thrill through her. “I have something for you.”

“My sweet Syreilla, you need to bathe.” Vezar pressed his face against her neck inhaling deeply as if he’d missed her scent and wanted to find it beneath the smell of the mine. 

It wasn’t hard to remember how much it had upset him the last time she’d gone into the mine without him or that she’d come out with a husband. Laughing, she kissed his neck and reassured him. “Kaduil Hardjaw misses his wife, I’m not her. I missed my dragon.”

With a groan, he pulled her through the doorway, murmuring ardently, “I need my treasure beneath me. I need to know that no dwarf has had his hands on your perfect skin my golden-”

“I will ask Odos if the time can be taken,” Hevtos sounded amused and when she looked over at him he was smiling faintly.

“I doubt it, Uncle. He was up to something while I was in the mine. The Magpie is furious with me and my cousin, Cyran, will barely look at me.”

“He wore your face and he was not kind to Vezar while he did.”

“Ah.” It explained the tears in her clothes, he’d worn those too, and he didn’t have her permission for any of it. “It seems he wasn’t kind to anyone. I’ll speak to the old man.”

Removing the carved box from her pouch, she offered it to Hevtos. “I was told that what I asked for was in there, and I can feel something is but…” 

“But you have doubts?”

“I do. I walked the treasure rooms with Sirruil and a dwarf named Orefinder helping them find more ways to make it secure. I liked him, but I’d trust a knife made out of elf bread before I accepted what he said without question.”

Hevtos began to laugh holding the box in both hands. “You are right, my Golden Rook. Within are three stones holding power but not the ones you were told you were taking. They are a promise, if the true stones are needed they will be given. Until then, these are a small gift of power to aid me.”

“Who is Sirruil?” Vezar ran his hand down her back looking at her curiously, and she gave him a sad smile.

“Hammersworn’s youngest. Oduil Flameborn, her eldest, looks like a slimmer version of his father with just a little bit of point to his ears. He’s got a disposition like Batran’s, he’s clever, serious and does fine work. Kyrilla, her daughter, is as golden as she was, a dwarvish beauty with her father’s sweet disposition.” She paused, wrapping her arms around him for comfort and finding herself wishing they might have a child, “But Sirruil, he’s like her, he’s mischievous and hot tempered.” Laughing, she added, “He looks exactly like Kaduil. She used to tell her husband dwarvish good looks were the only thing he inherited from his father.”

“This Oduil isn’t a Hammersworn?” Vezar gazed down at her curiously.

“He’s of Clan Hammersworn. At a certain age, the boys go through a ritual and become men. They receive a name other than what their mothers’ gave them. Sirruil will go through his soon.” She tried not to show the depth of her disappointment, “I’m not permitted to be there for it.”

“They belong to the dwarf gods, my Golden Rook.” Hevtos smiled faintly. “They guard their rituals and knowledge more closely.”

“I know. I understand. It still makes me sad, Uncle.”

A door opened out of the air and Odos stepped through with a mischievous smile, “I need my rook. I’ve arranged a meeting with an old friend. He’ll help us with the elves.”

Disappointment and anger bubbled up at the sight of his smile. “I’m angry with you, old man. Magpie and Cyran are upset with me-”

Odos waved his hand dismissively, his smile widening. “I’ll speak to them.”

“I’ll speak to them. You apologize to Vezar.” Pulling away from the dragon, she stole a kiss before she slipped through the door that opened next to the old man.

Syr found herself on a mossy parapet with a small tree trying to grow out of the crack where it met a stone face and started cursing, going to glance over the edge sourly. “Old man…” 

He stepped onto the parapet moments later. 

“This isn’t where I intended that door to take me, old man.” She scowled at him but it didn’t seem to have any effect. 

“You should try looking before you walk through.” He looked pleased with himself as he moved to lean against a stone crenelation. “I need to speak with you, and a few others do as well. Trust that I’ll smooth things over, little rook.”

“Why are Magpie and-”

“Your brother has idolized you for as long as he can remember, it’s good for him to stop, and your cousin was giving you the glad eye. I-”

“Cyran was doing no such thing. Your brother never even let him know his sisters and had made him afraid to even be in the same room alone with a woman. He’s learning how to act and I can give him the space to learn while keeping firm boundaries. I’m going to guess you did something to crush him and make him think he disgusts me?” She glared at him, “If you ever use my face again, old man, I’ll burn you to the f*****g ground.”

“I’ll smooth things over with them. I kept them safe and got three of the stones for Uncle while you were visiting in the mine. I had to leave the two of them with the goddess of love and beauty. Your brother is angry because I gave him a false sigil and told him it was yours, and he had hoped to be helpful. Cyran… She took a personal interest in him. No real harm was done. You’re as easily upset as my father.”

Syr almost opened her mouth to argue but stopped herself, it wasn’t as if he would understand.

“Keep the truth to yourself, little rook. They want to have a word with you. I can’t smooth things over if they’re all angry with me, but I can calm them down if they’re angry with you. And you’ve got quite the reputation now.” He smirked, “They think you’re as good a thief as I am.”

“Whether I keep it to myself or not you’ll never use my face again. I don’t care what they think of me and I don’t care what you can and can’t smooth over.” She stared him down and watched his smirk fade to annoyance. 

“You shouldn’t be ang-”

“Do you have people you want me to speak to or not? I’m not spending all day here.”

He gave her a peeved look and lifted his hand, “Eludora? Silfeya? You wanted to speak to Syreilla the Rook?”

Two women as different as night and day stepped onto the parapet. The smiling blond looking like she’d just been pulled from an elegant whorehouse, and the furious dark haired woman looking as if she’d been pulled from an idyllic vineyard in Syr’s childhood. 

“Bring Isca and Unren,” the dark haired woman snapped.


“I want them to be here, I want her to face all of us and answer for her thefts.” The woman stepped closer as if she intended to intimidate and Syr put on a wide mirthless grin.

“Bring them, old man. I hate repeating myself.”

He lifted his hand and Isca stepped through with a faint smile on her face, followed by the most peculiar looking person Syr had ever seen, clothed in what looked like seaweed and foam, not easily identified at first glance as male or female.

“You will give back-” Silfeya started and Syreilla widened her grin slightly, turning her full attention back and looking her dead in the eye. The goddess stopped mid sentence.

“Your stones were borrowed and you weren't asked, I didn't steal them. If I stole them you wouldn’t be getting them back. Isca knows why I borrowed hers, do the rest of you?” She glanced around at them.

“You intend to free Zyulla.” Eludora inclined her head. “I don’t disagree with your purpose but-”

“Then sit down, be quiet, and wait patiently to get your stone back. If you do disagree with my purpose,” Syr grinned madly at Silfeya again, “we can have a chat about all the things I could have done and didn’t do when your stone was borrowed. I’m not asking for them because apparently I share a temper with my grandfather, and I imagine you’d prefer to have someone to point to and say ‘Don’t blame me, blame her.’

“Grandmother goes free, as is right, and you don’t shoulder any blame. Do you have a f*****g problem with that, Silfeya?”

The goddess opened and closed her mouth and Isca snorted a laugh, “Are you sure she’s yours, Odos? She could be your sister with that temper.”

“She’s mine but I should have suggested the name Ateilla to her mother.”

“It would suit her.” Unren smiled faintly. “I would have made it easier if I had been given a choice. I was fond of Zyulla.”

“I like a challenge, taking them without asking is easier on you and it’s the fun way to do it, if I’m being honest.” She stretched and put on a more genuine smile.

Odos covered his face and started to laugh as the rest of them gave her deeply annoyed looks.

“Now I see you in her.” Eludora gave the laughing god a withering look. 

“After this is done, perhaps you can meet my little rook under better circumstances. She’s charming when she wants to be.”

“I expect my stone back.” Silfeya glowered before she vanished.

One after another the rest left as well. 

“That went well,” Odos sounded amused and she gave him a flat look. 

“I was told I should ask you about my draped mantle?”

“I had to leave it behind. They would have known the truth if I hadn’t. The gods can peek at those carrying a blessed item, little rook, and that mantle had been blessed. The goddess of war didn’t expect it to be noticed when she did it but I knew she would once she saw you wearing it. I used it to help deceive them. Khiril helped me put on a little show at the mine entrance so they’d be none the wiser. It was why I gave it back to you.”

She folded her arms and sighed as her disappointment washed over her. “I should have known better than to trust a gift from you. You were being sweet when you gave it to me and I should have known that meant it wasn’t genuine. I liked that mantle for the memory.”

For a moment he looked almost hurt, “I’ll replace it.”

“Don’t bother.” She lifted the gem and chain out of her front pocket but he stepped forward and took hold of it. It warmed in her hand as if he were adding something to it.

“Keep it for now. I let you borrow it to help you and you aren’t done yet. I need to introduce you to someone and then I’ll go smooth things over with your brother and Cyran.”

She made an exasperated gesture and he opened a door for her to step through.

© 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

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A Chapter by Isemay