Sixty-three

Sixty-three

A Chapter by Isemay

Syreilla woke on a peculiar bed of woven branches with a blanket of fur and feathers pulled over her. Rubbing her eyes, she sat up and looked around; the room, if you could call it that, looked like the inside of a hollowed out tree and the bed filled it.


Finwion peered in from the opening and seemed relieved she was awake, beckoning for her to come out. She stood and tossed the cover over the bed, tugging on a corner to straighten it a little and stepped out to stretch and start the routine of checking her pockets and tools. The elf huffed from the side of the clearing and beckoned again. She finished her patting of her pockets as she walked toward him. He gave her an offended look.


“It’s a good habit to have, don’t take it as an insult. Something could have fallen out of a pocket in the night.” Syr gave him a wry smile, “And I do seem to remember going to sleep up a tree.”


His face softened and he beckoned again.


She followed him down to what looked like a small campsite at the side of a stream and a brown-haired elf peered out of the small tent. Finwion gesture between them with a satisfied smile.


“A half-elf?” The elf woman came out of the tent and frowned, “Why a half-elf?”


Finwion’s mouth dropped open and he began wagging his finger.


“I’m the Rook, and I'm not in a very good mood.” Syreilla stretched and gave the elf a sour look, “I’m trying very hard not to be rude to him, but the first insult out of your mouth will be the end of your time in the land of the living.”


The elf turned his wide eyes on her and made a firm gesture she understood to mean, ‘No.’ 


“You can rely on a Rook, and there’s a reason I have my reputation.”


He turned back to the now nervous looking woman and made a series of gestures.


“You turn your pain into dragon’s fire and pour it out on others. I didn’t mean to insult you, Rook. Usually when I come here it’s to meet someone he wants to have as a priest.”


“I like him but I’ve never had the temperament for,” Syr waved her hand and exhaled, “priesting. Whatever it is you people do.”


Finwion snorted and gestured for her to sit.


“Have you eaten? I always bring enough to share.” The woman bent to reach into the tent for a bag.


“I haven’t but I’m fine, thanks.” She fished around in a pocket and brought out a slim dried sausage, slightly the worse for wear.


Both elves looked horrified as she started gnawing on it.


“I-I have enough…” The elf woman stopped and looked at Finwion who was now gesticulating again. “He says you aren’t very trusting and you probably won’t take food from a stranger. My name is Ellother.”


“That’s true, but it’s particularly true of elves. You don’t like half-elves and I don’t like elves. Just let it be. I won’t harm you if you don’t provoke me.”


Finwion’s shoulders slumped.


“I’ve only ever met two elves that I liked.” Syreilla offered the elf the sausage and he gave her an annoyed look before coming to sit next to her, pushing the meat away.


“You prefer human food?” Ellother settled across from them and offered Finwion something that looked like waybread.


“I prefer dwarf food but human will do. Dwarf sausage has a better flavor and the bread…” Syr sighed and then clapped the choking Finwion on his back. “How can you choke on that? You don’t even need teeth to eat it.”


The elf woman began to laugh. “Do you drink their wine?”


“Rarely, but some of it isn’t bad. Dwarf beer is better, cider’s good too, but I prefer mead over any of it.”


“Cider is too sweet.” Ellother smiled.


“If it’s sweet you're drinking juice. Cider should be tart and have a good bite. There used to be a man in Riken’s Run who made good cider.”


The elf next to her leapt from his seat and vanished returning a moment later with a dusty bottle, thrusting it at Syr. She grinned and pulled the wax sealed rag giving the bottle’s contents a sniff before tasting it. 


“That’s good cider.” 


She passed it across to Ellother who took a tentative sip before looking pleasantly surprised. 


“It is!” The elf took a longer pull from the bottle and handed it back. “Thank you.”


Syreilla passed it to Finwion who was looking very pleased with himself. He coughed and made a face as he handed it back without trying it.


“You don’t know the story?” Ellother was smiling as she broke a piece of waybead off, offering it to Syr.


“I’ve never heard any elvish stories.” She made a reluctant face at the waybread as she took it. “I’ve tried waybread before. Olthon Camaenion gave me some and it was terrible. Tasteless and too soft. The mead cake was nice, though.” Syr wrapped it around the sausage and took a bite, forcing herself to chew it and swallow, washing it down with the cider, “It even sucks the flavor out of the sausage. How can you eat that?”


“I remember hearing that he’d died, perhaps a hundred years ago?” 


“He did.” Turning to look at Finwion she asked curiously, “Have you tried mead?”


The flat look on his face made her glance back at Ellother. 


“That was what he was given. In the story, the three trickster gods all gathered and Od-” She stopped as Finwion made a sharp gesture.


Knowing how he could be she didn’t need to hear the rest of the story. “Ah. I love him but he can be…” She gave Finwion a wry smile, remembering that the old man had laughed about the elves using his name as a curse once, “himself.”


The elf grinned and nodded.


“Are you… a trickster?” Ellother tilted her head slightly.


“I’m the Golden Rook.” She put on a wide mad grin as she had for Bone White and Finwion fell over laughing. “If you find yourself in Withia, I would suggest you not take anything of value with you if you do this, go to a horrible little place called The Bent Elf and tell the Madame that the Rook sent you to speak to the Magpie. Magpie will have some stories for you.”


Finwion’s mouth opened and closed as he nearly climbed into her lap. 


“He wants to know about the Magpie.”


“He’s a good thief but not much fun.” She wrinkled her nose at the elf now half laying in her lap, “He won’t let me burn down Tirnel Acharnion’s house like Hammersworn did when we go to take a few things. Says we don’t need to.”


Folding his arms still half in her lap, Finwion gave her an annoyed look and then wagged his finger.


“I know! I told him no one needs to burn down a house, you do it because it’s fun! But he just doesn’t appreciate-” She stopped and grinned as the elf covered his face with both hands, “That. That’s exactly what the Magpie did when we had this discussion.”


Ellother broke into laughter. 


“Finwion!” A woman’s shrill voice echoed under the trees and he sat up in startlement. 


The unseen woman began speaking in elvish and Ellother paled, but while Syr couldn’t understand the words she recognized the voice. 


“Where is she?”


The elf woman across from her made a frantic shushing motion. Syreilla broke into a vicious grin and began pulling her ingredients out of her pockets and the larger of the ceramic bowls from her bag, laying it across her knees. If that elf w***e wanted to come here and intimidate people she could bathe in dragon’s fire for her trouble.


She was pouring the first of the powders into the bowl when she was grabbed and tossed. Rolling to her feet, she realized she’d been tossed through a doorway. Her bag didn’t follow her and she bit back a few choice curses. Checking her pockets she still had most of her kit, but not all of what she needed for dragon’s fire.


Pulling the gem from her pocket, Syr put it around her throat and kept an eye out for danger as she made her way quietly through the woods. As she neared the thinning edge of the forest a grey fog dropped and she heard someone arguing in elvish nearby.


It would be helpful if she spoke the language here… she waited in place looking for a safe route or for the elves to move on. After several long moments the sound of arguing grew quieter but the grey fog didn’t lift. Hide and seek with elves in the woods wouldn’t end well… suddenly the fog lifted and a path lit like a red ribbon. 


As quickly and silently as possible she followed it to a rusted grate set in a small exposed hill. Using the shaped metal bar she’d been given from Hammersworn’s kit she got it open with speed and slipped inside pulling it closed again behind her. Hopefully no one would notice the disturbed earth or the trampled grass until later.


Moving through what looked like some sort of fortification, Syreilla followed the hint of a path through eerily empty corridors to what looked like a throne room. The red jewel was mounted on the throne and the guards hadn’t yet noticed her. It seemed they were accustomed to staring blankly ahead during their shifts. Under her breath, she began the words for the holding wards casting them at the feet of the guards as quickly as she could as they were startled out of their blankness.


Someone began furiously speaking elvish behind her and she turned, in her startlement casting the first ward that sprang to her lips, one that would leave his legs both burned and frostbitten with the flesh peeling off, as he cast an elvish spell to blind her, interrupting her part way through. He still screamed out in agony as she dispelled the blindness he’d cast. There was a reason the spell she used made the target both blind and mute.


Syr darted to the throne and plucked the gem from it as the man dressed as a priest shrieked and rolled on the floor despite being unscathed. Opening the door to Hevtos’ doorstep, she cursed as she felt herself yanked, rolling and coming to her feet in a room with Finwion and Ellother facing two furious elves and a human who looked vaguely familiar.


She put on her brightest maddest grin.


“You’re my brother’s Rook?” The one who looked familiar eyed her with distaste.


“The daughter of Odos, Hevtos’ Golden Rook, I am who and what I am.”


“You think they can help you?” The elf w***e drew herself up and held out her hand, “You will give back what you’ve stolen.”


“She shouldn’t be able to hold it in her hand.” The other elf took a step forward.


“Would you like to see what else I can do?” Syreilla took a deep bow as she mouthed the words to the siphoning spell hoping against hope it would work. The power from the stone in her hand made her feel as if her skin were itching and on fire as she straightened and released a spell to push everyone in front of her back.


The wall at the back of the room buckled, the three hit it with such force.


“Time to go.” She opened the door again and stepped half way through keeping one foot on each side before grabbing a stunned looking Finwion and pulling him through and dragging Ellother in for good measure. Shutting the door, she trotted to the entrance and tossed the stone to Hevtos as he came out to them. “Lock the doors, Uncle. I think they’re angry now.”


He gave a curt nod and disappeared back inside. As she trotted back, Ellother was kneeling with her head in her hands and Finwion was staring at her in horror.


“I don’t like it when people mess with my door. It’s rude.”


“And stealing from them?” Ellother lifted her head and looked almost tearful.


“When Grandmother is free they can have the stones back…” She shrugged, “Probably. Uncle isn’t fond of theft as a general rule.”


The large-eyed elf began gesturing around him and then seemed to get angry gesturing furiously at Syr.


“What will he do for a home? They will exile him now and you weren’t supposed to attack anyone! It was promised you would be quick and quiet and no one would be harmed!”


She folded her arms as Ellother put her face in her hands again. “I didn’t mean to cause you harm or inconvenience you. I’m sorry for that, Finwion.” Thinking for a moment there seemed one clear way out of this mess for the elf. “Tell them you were conned,” at their baffled looks she made a rolling gesture with her hand, “deceived. Tell them you were persuaded to help my grandmother and that I wasn’t what I was promised to be. The Rook is known to be a liar, bad-tempered, one of the most horrible creatures you’ll ever meet. They’ll believe it. Turn on me. Tell them I took advantage of your kindness.”


Finwion’s eyes started to fill with tears and she wagged her finger at him, “Don't you dare. Go talk to Bone White. If he hasn’t changed his mind about lending his stone see what you can do. I’ll talk to Uncle or, well, what’s a little light theft among family?” She gave the elf a bitter smile. “If you can say you stole back Bone White’s stone from that horrible dangerous Rook… that may change things for you. I could even singe you a little to make the story more exciting for your friends.”


He snorted a soft laugh and then helped Ellother up from the ground. A door opened and they vanished.


“Rook…” Hevtos was standing in the shadow of the doorway. “I require all of the stones.”


“There’s one you never suggested I bring back, Uncle. All of the temples and gods we discussed, there was one you left out.” Syreilla lifted her chin and gave him a rueful smile, “Your brother’s. If I can get that one, can other arrangements be made?”


“If you can bring that one… perhaps.” He frowned and lifted his hand, “Do you understand how much more dangerous…” 


“Weren’t you warned before you took me in, Uncle? I’m enamored of danger and stupidity.” She gave him a bright mad smile and opened the door as if she were going back to Withia. The pull was expected this time.


°°°°°°°°°°


This time Syr didn’t stumble. She stepped through as if the unknown destination on the other side was exactly where she intended to be.


“We will see what your daughter has to say for herself!”


The same furious man from before was shouting at Odos as Imos stood nearby with a smirk on his face. 


“I could kick that elf for taking my pouches. If Uncle Imos is here I want my ingredients on hand.” She gave him the most vicious smile she could summon and Imos rewarded her by taking a half step back.


“He doesn’t like fire, Rook, and you shouldn’t have needed to burn anything.” Odos gave her a sour look and she turned her smile on him.


“I didn’t need to, old man, I wanted to. I was going to bathe that elf w***e in dragon’s fire. When I started mixing my powders he tossed me through a doorway into a patch of woods crawling with elves. I think he was trying to get me caught.”


“Why would Finwion agree to help you steal from the other gods?” 


“Father, I can handle-”


“If you could handle this vicious little beast-”


Odos cut him off in the language that made her ears tingle and her earwax feel runny and she blinked, tilting her head as they began to argue in it. Turning her attention back to Imos, she took a step in his direction and he vanished. The other two were still arguing and her ears were becoming accustomed to the peculiar language so she took the opportunity to glance around the chamber. High domed ceilings with gilded patterns and the walls looked like they were marbled with gold. The six doors however were dark and heavy looking, carved, and probably expensive.


Atos said something emphatic that made the room go dim with the fog that warned her of danger, reminding her she was still wearing the chain around her neck. One of the doors had gone black as well.


“She’s just a child, father.”


“I have been told more than once that she required censure, even a child must learn. This Rook will learn not to threaten other gods, she will learn respect.”


The sudden realization of why he looked familiar struck her. “That’s where I’ve seen you! The paintings!”


Both gods turned to look at her in startlement.


“That elf w***e has some paintings that Magpie might hesitate to hang in his brothel and you were in several of them.” Frowning speculatively, she raked her eyes up and down him ignoring his incredulous expression.


Odos covered his face. “This is not the time, Rook.”


“She was f*****g Vezar when I went in to get her stone. I walked right past the two of them and they were having so much fun they didn't even see me.” Tilting her head at her grandfather she asked with a mirthless smile, “Do you think she’ll have a few done of him too? Probably, right? The number of paintings of her f*****g-”


“Enough!” Atos eyes flickered as if there were fire behind them.


“Father-”


“Leave us.” 


To her surprise and disappointment, Odos sighed and stepped back, vanishing. She quashed the feeling and focused on the danger at hand.


“You called him ‘old man’ and not ‘Father’. Why? And why do you burn my other son’s temples?” Atos advanced on her with a scowl and she stood her ground tilting her chin up.


“Because the word is like broken glass in my mouth. I spoke to Uncle Imos about it before I learned he had my other half murdered.


“I love Master Odos, but he’s never been around me enough to be considered a father even if he could act like one. And I-my other half loved Uncle Imos, his betrayal is why I’ll burn his temples and watch him-” 


The blow across her mouth was quick and it took her by surprise. She was already moving forward to strike him back when the floor fell out from beneath her feet, or more aptly a door opened under her. Stumbling, she had to roll and find her feet again in a dim stone chamber. There didn’t seem to be a door but high on the wall there seemed to be a small window. Syreilla reached to open a door of her own.


Atos stepped through it as she did, with a vicious smile, “You will open no doors in my house, Rook. It requires my permission. You are here until I release you. Hevtos cannot fetch you back.”


“Uncle knows I’ll-”


He tried to slap her again but this time she half expected it and leapt back. 


“‘Uncle’ is a word that comes easily to you.”


“As does ‘Grandmother’.” She gave him a smile that mirrored the one now fading from his face, “If this is how you raised your sons perhaps I should be grateful to Master Odos for never being a father.” 


He stepped back, closing the door and leaving her alone.


Looking around the room again, nothing leapt out at her and she had a sneaking suspicion that she wouldn’t be able to trust the gem to work properly in this place. Syr decided to start with the walls, going over them carefully would take time but she suspected that she had plenty of it. She wanted to be certain there were no clever hidden doors and if there weren't, she could judge the depth between the stones.


The laughter that bubbled up when she found that not only was there no door but the walls were large nearly smooth stone blocks fit snugly together echoed in the chamber. The small window, from where she was, looked almost certainly too small to get through. Tilting her head back she looked up at the ceiling… If she could get to them, the heavy beams might have some promise, the ceiling looked like wood.



© 2021 Isemay


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Added on February 3, 2021
Last Updated on February 3, 2021
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

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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


Two Two

A Chapter by Isemay


Three Three

A Chapter by Isemay