I hope everyone is having a great New Year's Eve! To finish out the year, I give you the forth book in the Half-ELf Chronicles series! Necromancer's Curse at last answers the question of what happened to Alri after the attack on the temple of the god Dimn and reveals the High Sanctum of magic, the school of wizards.
I hope you enjoy the next book in the Half-Elf Chronicles!
The problem with the North Sea is that it’s so damn cold. Well, that’s one problem. You would think to move from the Carolinas in the good old U.S. of A. that it wouldn’t be too bad to do some technical work for 6 months in the dead of a Norwegian winter. You’d also be wrong.
I'm used to working around other men for months on end but when you struggle to speak a single Norse word about the only thing you might can find is a good Norwegian woman. Except, on an oil rig there are no women. Just me and some guys. In case you were wondering, that’s not my thing.
Luckily, due to a severe mechanical malfunction we’d been moved back to Oslo. I took a cab to the outskirts of town near a large woods. Something called Helvetehor.
There’s a nice bar here. Seemed like a good, laid-back place, plus I’d heard it was frequented by what I do want -- women. Attractive women. Something I needed... like right then.
I went up to the bar and ordered a beer. It was a bit more sour than I preferred but it would get me started. There were plenty of women -- and one old man. I sat down at the bar and scanned for those that might notice me.
I turned to take another sip from my beer and someone sat down beside me.
I turned and, to my disgust, found the old man.
“You’re an American aren’t you?”
“You assume that pretty quickly.”
“You sound like an American. I didn’t assume shit. You shouldn’t either. I see you looking at these women. Don’t bother. You don’t want them.”
This old man is funny.
“Really? I take it you’ve had personal experience in that?”
He glared at me and snorted.
“No? Then buzz off, grandpa. I don’t need your dating advice.”
“Aye, take care but the hands of the Huldra take the willing.”
The man stumbled out and I was left alone.
What the hell was he spouting off about anyway? What in the hell is a huldra? Damn, I need another beer. And a shot.
At least the bartender seemed attentive.
The hours passed and I was getting drunk. The sun was down, now that it had been up for very long to start with. I heard the door open and an attractive blond came in. I say, I guess another attractive blond, but unfortunately the others weren’t too keen to talk to me. There was one but she only stared -- and not in a good way. She was now glaring at me from the corner of the room.
What the hell did I do?
I turned my attention to the girl next to me.
“Can I just have some vodka?” she asked.
The bartender served her up a shot and she slammed it.
Her accent was familiar. She was American too, I’d say from the Northeast. Boston maybe.
“Hey,” I said. I knew it was cheesy but it was something.
She smiled. You’re American”
“Working in the north, ya know, oil.”
She gave me a coy smirk “Cool, I’m here on a story for a magazine. I’m alone other than my camera guy but I was trying to find something a bit more fun to do.”
I have something fun for you.
That blond pushed her way between myself and my fellow American.
“Sorry,” she said in a seductive way. “I’ve been watching and when foreign you should try foreign delights. Not cheap, sad things like her.”
I love this accent, wow. Maybe it’s like Russian, I don’t know.
The American girl turned and stomped off.
Ha! I think she’s crying. What can I say, I guess I am an asshole.
It was love -- or maybe it was a mix of the alcohol and her sweet scent that drew me away from the bar as she led me out the door.
“Let’s get away from here.”
I laughed as she laughed and tried to hide her smile. Her eyes moved up and down me. I grinned almost foolishly and with a jaunt through the snow she took me into the woods. I thought at first maybe her car was parked at the nearby recreation area but we went deeper. I stopped.
“Where are we going?”
She stood straight, her legs together. Her tight skirt formed around her body and her cleavage poked through a short coat. I looked at her as she scanned the area. There was something on her back that I hadn’t noticed before. It looked strange.
Had she been running backward or was I just that drunk?
She pushed herself against me.
“I know what you want. I know what all men like you want and I give it to you.”
“Oh yeah?” I breathed heavily.
Her fingertips glide down my stomach. Something slippery moved up my leg but she kissed me before I could look down. I threw my arms around her back to feel her body but… her skin was coarse. It felt oddly familiar but even in my drunken state knew I shouldn’t be feeling. I glanced around at the trees.
That’s what it is. Am I pushing her against a tree?
Her hands gripped my waist and I gasped.
A tearing pain shot through my stomach and I coughed as a roughness pushed straight up through my throat. She let out a shrill sound and her eyes turn red.
“Filth of a man,” she said in a ragged voice, “I give you your release!”
I tasted blood and the world spun as I fell to the ground.
She withdrew something from my body.
Have I been stabbed? Shot?
I’d never felt this kind of pain. She turned. Her back was tree bark and a bloody tail whipped behind her as she disappeared into the approaching storm, my blood melting into the snow.
Footsteps crunched nearby and the old man from the bar came into view, laughing, a shovel in his hands.
“I told you the Huldra take the willing!” He dumped snow on me and the light faded, the coolness oddly comforting.
What the hell is a Huldra?
The old man snorted. “Stupid boy. He wanted something local but didn’t study his lore. Third one in two days. These woods are getting full and my old back is sore. She doesn’t pay me enough for this.”
A FATHER'S MERCY
Saints of Wura Flash Fiction
“Tell me, daddy. Tell me about before it came.”
The father had led the young girl to a trickling stream. She had always loved the river. It was on the edge of their land and a spot where they could see the stars. He started a small fire and laid her down to where she could just touch the water rolling over the rocks.
“Before? How long before, dear child?”
She smiled and looked up at the starry sky. “At the beginning, before we went to the trees!”
Her father began to light a fire with the small amount of kindling he had brought with them. He stacked wood and after the flames caught, tossed other sticks on top of it.
“It was a grand time. The gods were within the world. We were new to it as well. Magic was alive and strong, flowing through the air like fairies do near our home.”
The little girl smiled as her father paused. “Keep going!” she begged.
He set a pot of water with several herbs on the burning wood. The fire was not large, but they did not have much time. He had to be sure the fire was hot enough to infuse the water. He had picked a lovely bouquet of chamomile earlier in the evening. His daughter loved chamomile. She twiddled a flower near the edge of the stream and wasn’t watching him. Before the left, he had ginger from the woods near the old city and a small bag fairy dust that remained behind as the last fairies disappeared.
He also had some extra herbs, he hid those from his daughter. He was careful to add them in between her glances toward him. She laughed as she tried to take a peak at what he was putting in.They liked to play a game where she guessed what kind of tea and he would make tonight no different.
As the water began to slowly steam, she twirled and danced before him.
“Daddy! What other stories can you tell me about then?”
He pondered for a moment, staring into the slowly bubbling pot. He had many fond memories and he fought back tears as he thought of his love, the girls mother, already taken from them.
“Before it came, your mother use to take you to the fields near the glowing trees. It was nights just liked this, where the summer wind blew through her hair and your giggles filled the air, we would spend time beneath the heavens.”
“I remember that! I remember the moon being so bright!”
The world had become less of a place since then. It was dangerous to be out at night, especially, on nights with moons like this. They were always looking for their kind of people. They were always hunting for elves.
“Daddy, daddy, what else can you tell me?”
The tea was done. He had two wooden cups that he poured the herbal tea into before sweetening with a dab of honey.
“I will tell you, but first I wish you to drink my tea and for us to play our favorite game.”
“I know what you want and I saw you sneak in ingredients! I can still guess it!”
He smiled at her as she sipped it. She took one sip and grinned. “Chamomile! My favorite!”
He laughed, “Very good, my child.”
She took another sip and he forced a smile, holding back his own tears. Her back was to the fires that had begun in the distance.
He laughed and then gulped, “Very good.”
The fires spread quickly. The elven homes built into the great woods were burning. They would soon come towards them. His daughter began to sit up but he placed his fingers to her lips and shook his head.
“Drink more and tell me what you taste.”
She took another large sip. “Honey and… daddy?”
She had laid back flat and turned towards the river. She reached out to the stream.
“Yes, my child?” I ask, but I already know.
“I can feel something, something inside me. I will never grow as others. I feel... do… do I… go to… mommy… now?”
He placed his hands on hers. It had taken hold in her some time ago. The sickness, the plaque of their people that had already claimed so many. But it was not what took her now. He feared those that hunted them. They were coming. They had come for so many of them already. The two elves could not escape the horrid genocide against their kind.
“Yes, we both go to mommy.”
He took a large gulp of his tea as he watched his daughter’s hand fall into the water as her other released her cup, spilling her tainted tea on the ground. She had always loved the river. He made sure she was near it when they were both to see their last. He laid his head on her chest as he saw them staring at them.
His vision faded.
A stout legionnaire stood above the father and daughter. He sheathed his sword.
“These elves are already dead. Move to the next village and for the glory of men, we will destroy all of them before their sickness spreads. The gods be with us. We kill them to protect our own.”
The legionnaires left the two elves. Heading further into the lands to seek out the last of those they deemed evil. The magic in the world was fading and would soon be gone.
The race of men had used the perfect poison and many more would die before the end.
Thank you for reading this week's entry! Join me next week for another flash fiction story!
by Rebecca Hamilton, T.F. Walsh, Monica Corwin, J.L. Weil, Laxmi Hariharan, JA Culican, Muffy Wilson, GK DeRosa, Marilyn Peake, Kevin McLaughlin, Carissa Ann Lynch, Vivienne Savage, Anna Hub, HJ Lawson, Emma Nichols, Shelley Munro, J.A.Armitage, Leilani Love, Demelza Carlton, Xyla Turner, D.S. Murphy, J.T. Williams
This Collection is packed with more than 20 full-length Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reads from New York Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors!
Don’t miss this collection of more than twenty unique twists in paranormal romance and urban fantasy, providing over one million words of supernatural suspense that will transport you to new worlds with smoking hot action and heart-throttling adventure!
The DARK LEGENDS boxed set includes: Mermaids, Sirens, Shifters, Vampires, Dragons, Sorcerers, Warriors, Angels, Faeries, Demons, Witches, Psychics, Ghosts, Mythology, Folk Tales, Legends, Dark Magic, Time Travel, and More!
Rebecca Hamilton T.F. Walsh with Demon's Mark Monica Corwin with Soulless J.L. Weil with White Raven Laxmi Hariharan with Redemption JA Culican with The Keeper of Dragons, The Prince Returns Muffy Wilson and The Para-Portage of Emily GK DeRosa with Wilder: The Guardian Series Marilyn Peake with Shade Kevin McLaughlin with By Darkness Revealed Carissa Ann Lynch with Midnight Moss Vivienne Savage with Making Waves Anna Hub with Beyond the Shadows HJ Lawson with New Order Emma Nichols with Blood Moon Shelley Munro with Claimed & Seduced J.A.Armitage with Two of Clubs Leilani Love with Violca's Dragon Demelza Carlton with Ocean's Gift Xyla Turner with Broken Treaty D.S. Murphy with Scarlet Thread J.T. Williams with Winemaker of the North
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By Darkness Revealed by Kevin McLaughlin @KOMcLaughlin Award-Winning and Int'l Bestselling Author
Ryan Blackwell thought to escape his magic by burying himself in the military college at Northshield, Vermont.
But Northshield University has a secret: a nexus of magical power that people will kill to possess.
Hiding his power becomes impossible. Instead, he finds himself in the midst of a deeper and more dangerous sorcery than he has ever encountered before.
Things spiral out of control, and soon only Ryan's wit, will, and the talent he once hoped to leave behind stand between a nightmarish creature and everything he cares for.
There is more to Ryan than meets the eye. But even with the powers he controls, can he stand against this darkness, or will it swallow him whole?
CORPORAL BERSETO pounded on my door that night. I was half expecting something to happen, so I hadn't been sleeping well anyway. I popped out of bed, hit the floor and started slipping sweats and sneakers on as he entered the room. “Drill Sergeant wants to see you, Blackwell,” he said, then ducked back out into the hall. “Be right there,” I replied. I tied the second shoe and stood up. Berseto was nowhere to be seen when I got to the hall. I crossed and knocked on Fletcher's door, but got no answer. I knocked again, louder. Still nothing. Well, he had asked for me, and I was starting to get nervous. I took the knob in my hand and tried to turn it. Unlocked. I opened the door and peered into the room. The lights were all out. I could see someone sitting on the bed in the gloom, but that was about it. “Drill Sergeant? You OK?” I asked, reaching toward the light switch. “No lights,” he said. “OK” I retrieved my hand and stepped in, leaving the door open a crack for some light. “You called for me?” He sighed, then seemed to shake himself a bit. “Close the door,” he said, turning on a small bedside lamp. I thought I could hear a little bit of a slur in his s. Had he been drinking? I looked him over as I shut the door and stepped nearer. He was sitting on the bed, both feet planted to the floor. Dressed in civilian clothes, sneakers – so he'd been out somewhere, most likely. His face was down, only partly visible to me, but he looked pale, very pale. His hands were shaking. “What happened?” I asked, keeping my voice soft. “We have parties in the wood line, you know. The upperclassman do,” he said, looking up at me. “Something we do.” I could smell beer on his breath now. Northshield was a dry campus – no alcohol allowed. But it was no surprise that the older cadets had found ways around that. I nodded. “I was out there, hanging. Been a tough week. Wanted to kick back. Good way to do it.” I nodded again. He was rambling, but I wanted to let him talk this out, so I kept quiet. “We had a little fire. Nothing big. Staff doesn't pay attention to what we do out that way, down by the river.” He drifted off into silence. “So what happened there?” “I went to take a leak in the woods, away from the fire. I stepped out far enough to be in the dark, and took care of things. Turned around to head back, but... I couldn't go. I couldn't move. Felt it out there, watching me. Hungry for me.” A chill rolled down my back. “Hungry for you?” I whispered. “Hungry,” he repeated. “I couldn't move, and I could feel it slipping closer. Couldn't see it, but I could feel it rolling in nearer.” I remembered every moment of my experience earlier that day in vivid detail. “Then I saw it.” I blinked, looked at him again. “You saw it?” I asked. He shouldn't have seen a spirit being unless it had somehow covered itself with something solid. Or unless he had Sight himself, which I was pretty sure he didn't. He nodded. “It rose out of the brush in front of me, all inky black. I could see it by where it blotted out the campus lights behind it, and where it blocked the stars as it rose above me. I felt like a mouse in front of a cobra. Then I managed to scream, and ran back to the fire.” He took a deep breath. “The guys razzed me about the scream, asked if I'd run into a man-eating raccoon. I was too shook up, they were too drunk. Didn't know how to explain what I saw, so I stood there by the fire for a long time, hoping it wouldn't come near. It didn't.” “So then you came back here?” He nodded. “Yeah, couple of the guys were coming back to barracks, so I walked with them. Strength in numbers, right?” I wasn't sure numbers would really help. This thing had made itself visible, not as a wind or even as a fire, but as something else. I didn't know what. But if it was able to be seen physically, I was pretty sure that meant it was incredibly powerful and incredibly dangerous. “Drill Sergeant,” I said. “We need to get down there, get those people out of there. We've got to get them back into barracks. They're not safe. How many people were at the fire when you left?” “Maybe a dozen?” he said. Might be enough to give it pause, I thought. But maybe not, too. “Come on,” I said. “show me where. We'll think of something to get them back to bed.” “They'll be fine, Blackwell. Let it be.” “With that thing still out there? They'll be tasty treats.” “I don't know if I can go back out there,” he said. “Listen, I ran into something earlier. Sounds like the same thing you saw, and it almost ate me, too. But I beat it. We need to stop this thing.” Fletcher looked up at me then. “Why didn't you say something?” “Because I thought it was just after me. But it's not – it sounds like it's just hungry and looking for a snack. Which those drunk kids are going to give it if we don't hurry.” He got up. Once he was moving, a little determination seemed to go a long way. He was getting some color back, and looking more sure of himself. For that, if nothing else, getting him to help was a good idea. And he'd seen this thing once and yanked himself away. I knew from experience how hard that was. Fletcher might be a bigger help than I'd guessed. We went to a light jog when we hit the hallway, and moved down the stairs at speed. Not recklessly fast, but a taking two at a time in a steady pace. We were side by side when we reached the bottom, neither of us winded. Some advantage to all the PT. The doors out onto the parade ground were double, and we each hit one, still moving fast. Neither of us were really in a hurry to see this thing again, but I didn't know how much time we had. We'd barely taken three steps from the building when that question was answered – not enough. Gunshots thundered in the darkness, coming from a ways away. I counted six shots, then nothing.“Those were from the woods around the party,” Fletcher said. “Come on!” He took off in a sprint, and I picked up the pace to follow him. As I ran, I reached out, drawing magic into me.
Kevin McLaughlinFeatured Book: By Darkness Revealed
Hi and hello! Very excited to be here with you today. For those who don’t know me yet, I’m a Boston writer of science fiction and fantasy. I’m an amateur astrophysicist and play with swords in my spare time as well, so my hobbies line up really well with my line of work. When I’m not hitting friends with sticks, I might also be sailing. Or writing. More often the latter than the former, but I enjoy both.How long have you been a writer and how did you come to writing? I came by writing naturally: my mother made me do it. No, not quite! As a kid I used to fall asleep listening to my mom writing fiction at her typewriter, tack-tack-tacking away while listening to some movie soundtrack or another. Taking up the craft was so natural that I wrote my first short story at age 7. It took second place in a local writing competition. I’ve pretty much been involved in telling stories in one format or another ever since. How did you come up with this storyline? By Darkness Revealed is close to my heart, because it’s personal. I went to Norwich University as a cadet - that’s the well I drew from to paint a good picture of cadet life for the protagonist. Obviously the ‘Northshield University’ in the story is a fictional place, but much of the feel I captured in the story was drawn from the real college. As for the storyline itself? Again, a lot of it is drawn from reality. No, people were not actually slinging bolts of magical energy around campus (not that I was aware of, anyway!), but the real world Norwich is an unusual place with all sorts of magical legends and tales. What are the best and the worst aspects of writing? For me the best part is telling the story, hands down. When I get into a really good flow state, I might be typing as much as three thousand words an hour. Just letting the story spill forth onto the screen. Those moments are a bit like singing, or dancing, or sailing, or martial arts forms… It’s like meditation where the mind is active and burning at full speed. Where you have complete focus on the task and everything is moving in synchronicity. The worst part? Edits. We hates them, my precious. When I’m done telling the story, I am *done* telling the story. I don’t really want to read it over for errors and nit-picking bits. I do, of course. And I have a great editor who finds what I miss. But this is my least favorite part. What inspires you to write? I like telling stories. I really like telling stories for a living. I really, REALLY like running my own business telling stories for a living. There’s no other career out there which I get as much satisfaction from, where I feel so complete working. If I wasn’t writing fiction, perhaps I’d be making up stories for film or for video games or something else entirely… For me the telling of exciting stories is more central than the medium I use. How did you conduct your research for By Darkness Revealed? I cheated. I do this often. Writers have two choices when it comes to research. They can set a story someplace they have never been, in a land or culture they don’t know at all - and then have to research the heck out of it. Or we can write a story set someplace we either know really well, or which we are making up entirely. Or both. For this book I did both. I set the book at a fictional university in a fictional town, and then painted the fictional place with real-world experiences from a similar place. So, I cheated. No research. Zip. This is how I write most of my books, actually. What is your favorite quotes from By Darkness Revealed? One of my favorite elements created just for By Darkness Revealed is Kittybreeze. She’s a little air spirit with very feline traits. When I was young, someone wrote a wonderful short story for Dragon Magazine that I adored about an old wind mage who was looking for an apprentice. The girl - who ended up getting the job - was overjoyed by the cute “puppy breeze” that the air mage had as a pet/servant. The boy scoffed, saying that must be the least of the spirits the master controlled. The master replied that sometimes you need to measure worth not in terms of power, but instead with regard to faithfulness, trust, and long years of loyal service. I loved that story. Still do. Kittybreeze is something of an homage to that author. (I just looked up the piece. It was “Master of the Winds” by Sharon Lee, back in Dragon Magazine #84.) What would your friends say is your best quality? I would not presume to ask. I’m rather blessed with a few very good friends. I like to think that I add as much value to their lives as they do to mine. Being a friend is a give and take sort of thing. Are reader reviews important to you? Is this a trick question? *chuckle* If I say no, then I encourage no one to ever review me. If I say yes, then I am paying too much attention to them… I read every review of every book I have out. I listen for comments about what people liked, and what they did not. I strive to use my reviews as a tool to grow and learn from. I do not generally respond to reviews directly, but rest assured I read them all. Even the harsh ones! Because there is certainly something to learn there as well, even if the lesson was simply that *that* book did not reach *that* reader in a pleasing manner. As writers, when we stop learning and growing and improving, it’s time to hang up the keyboard. Reviews are one such tool for growth. What do you do when you don’t write? What is this “don’t write” thing of which you speak? *laugh* I write almost every day. I’ll cross half a million words of new fiction this year. A little secret? (Whispers:) I’m shooting for a million next year! I love taking long walks through Boston with my fiancee as well. It’s not unusual for us to walk five miles on a nice day, sometimes as much as ten. Just exploring, seeing the city, the people, the places. Boston is always in a constant process of endless change. It’s fascinating. I fight with swords - steel and rattan alike. In armor, thanks. It’s my current martial art; I’ve done a few other martial arts in the past, but lately I am finding it harder to keep even this one up. I spend time with my children, who are growing bigger and older each year. I want to make as many memories with them as I can, so I will have things to cherish as they outgrow their youth, although hopefully not their childhood. Tell us about your other books? The Blackwell Magic books are six titles so far. There may be more books about Ryan Blackwell coming in the future, but for now I think the series may rest a bit. I’ve also written three novellas called in a mini-series called “Raven’s Heart” set in the same universe. I have the rough outline of an epic fantasy series as well. If it comes to be, then it will very much interest Blackwell fans. I’ve also written a few science fiction books - four so far in the “Adventures of the Starship Satori” series, and two in the “Accord” series - "Accord of Honor" and "Accord of Mars”. I tend to write science fiction set in the near future, using technology and society just beyond where we are today. “Over the Moon” is a science fiction romance which could take place just five years or so from now. Perhaps ten. If you could share one thing about yourself that you would like readers to know what would it be? C.S. Lewis once said “Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.” I believe that same sentiment applies equally to grownups. We hear so much about the darkness of the world, these days. We read about the cruel. We see videos of the unjust. We are deluged with stories of the most horrific elements of human nature. But that is *not* all that humanity is and can be. I write stories about people who have failings, and make mistakes. Yet at the end of the day they strive to overcome those things and act in a heroic manner. To show the best part of what it is to be human. My heroes are there to shine light on our better natures, and to give us all hope that we can be better than we are. Thanks for having me! This has been fun. I hope readers enjoy the boxed set enormously. If anyone has questions about my work, please do drop me a message via email. I don’t always answer right away, but I *do* answer every fan email that I get personally. (Kevins.firstname.lastname@example.org) Thank you for believing in us enough to stick with this whole interview! Above all else, thank you for reading. At the end of the day, readers are why we write. *fini*
When not practicing hobbies which include sailing, constructing medieval armor, and swinging swords at his friends, Kevin McLaughlin can usually be found in his Boston home. Kevin’s award-winning short fiction is now available in digital form at all major ebook retailers. His urban fantasies “By Darkness Revealed” and “Ashes Ascendant” are available in ebook and print. His latest stories, the “Adventures of the Starship Satori" and "Accord" science fiction novels are ongoing.
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Blood of Harrodarr
Saints of Wura Flash Fiction
I hear the crunch of boots trudging through the snow. My friend is coming. I push the lock bar to the side and open the gate. At least there will be one that will share this place with me until the end.
In the middle of the road appears a stout dwarf, a proud warrior and veteran of many battles.
My friend. One of my last friends. I hear the snap of bowstrings.
He is tired. He begins to run, blood already running down his face and a steady stream rolling off his arm. Three arrows slam into his back and he stumbles and falls just before that gate. I reach down and grab him under his armor. When I go to pull him into the gateway, he slaps me.
“No! Shut the damn gates! We have the lower traps set and the doors to the keep are sealed! It is done.“
Gimror draws a small ax and smiles, “Let the bastards come for me. I will split their pretty faces!“
I release my grip and nod to him, “Fight well, brother.“
“I will. Try not to die before me!“
I close the gate and lock it back. Gimror shouts from the other side of the gateway and then I hear several thuds as more arrows strike my friend.
I stand upon the upper summit of the great dwarf city of Harrodarr. This is the last tower. The perimeter defense in the mountains where our war-drums vibrated into the rocks beneath my feet ended only a few hours ago. Those dwarves were the last upon the stairs to the mountain pass. The enemy cannot yet reach my spot. But when they do, I will do what is necessary.
We last defenders are the Hammersong. The Dwarven High Guard. Our home has been under siege and now the wretched forces of men have assailed our holiest grounds. My only happiness is that some time ago those unable to fight fled this place. Many went with them but we could not leave our sacred city to burn without dwarf blood to flow into the halls in a last defense.
For five nights we fought to hold the lower stairwells and now the gateway is all that remains. Some remain within the inner sanctums but I cannot say for how long. I have command of the outward traps. A duty I shall fulfill. The last duty of my life.
Horns sound in the deep and I hear the scalding flames of the forge fires rush down the northern cliffs burning those that tried that doorway. That was Rufidor, my second cousin. If I know it, he barreled hammer first into the shield line after switching the release valves of our molten smithing rivers. He joins his brothers and children that died yesterday.
The northern way into the mountain is now sealed under hardening rock.
I see their banners cresting near the convergence of the rivers. They come. All the snarling chest suckers. I must release the first traps.
With switch in hand, I twist the knob. A rope snaps on a distant hill and a trio of boulders drops springing down the mountain. The entire attacking force halts for a moment. They are like ants frozen by an object in its path.
Hacking. I hear hacking.
I look over to the doorway and see the wood shaking. Someone is trying to get in.
The legions of men are at it again. They are now halfway up the stairwells. I flip another switch and the Dragonfires ignite. A boiling blast of arcane fire, mixed by our very own Dwarf-Wizard Rumthul! The smoke rises and I smile. I swear I can hear the sizzle of their flesh!
The hacking continues.
As the legions are forced to wade through the slurry of burning bodies, I prepare for another trap. We had saved this one. It is the Crystal Guardians of Harrodarr!
The men reach the upper level of the stairwells now. There are so many but it is the last of the magic in the mountain that shall play against them. In an electrifying brilliance, the storms of the dwarves shoot out from carved crystals and take down wave after wave of men.
But it is not enough.
They still come for we… are evil. Or so has the hammer been measured to us in their eyes.
The hacking continues. I see a man’s face through the splintered wood. Looking back over the walls to the stairwells, I know they’ve reached the gates. I wonder how long they will hold?
I take a small ax in hand. They are still hacking their way in, but I am ready. As the gate frame shudders and falls, I take a breath ready to fight them. But it is not yet time.
A flurry of arrow fire strikes the doorway. I glance to my left and see Eriva, one of the elves from the south. She releases a continual barrage taking down each of the attackers until at last they are all dead.
In that moment, she pauses. Lowering her bow, I catch the light of a smoke hazed moon pierce through her hair and forget all the past sins of our two races. She is truly beautiful. I remember all the fighting between dwarves and elves. Why had we wasted so much life at war against one another? I spot blood and see a horrid gash on her lower leg.
“Eriva? You have been struck!”
“I have but the halls of Harrodarr are ready. The enchanted vines of my people guard the inner sanctum. None of men shall defile this place for some time.”
The elves and dwarves had fought for years but as men deemed our use of magic as reasons for the problems of the world. We became evil. We were dragged into the streets and tortured. Our paraded bodies taken to the capital cities and spat upon. Many have died but some have escaped to a sacred Snow Dwarf refuge. A place for all peoples. A place I hope my son has reached.
Dear Slatnichor, how I will miss you.
“They are coming,” Eriva says.
Her bow is taut and I take a second ax in hand.
This path to our hold is not easy to reach. Up the mountains, a perilous journey made worse by coarse icy winds and avalanches. These warriors that approach were sent for one purpose, to destroy us. We are the last defenders and now our enemy charges through the broken gateway.
The elf releases her shot. I throw my axes. Three men fall and I take my double-headed ax in hand. Its name is Blackblood, named for the orcs that it was forged to fight. Now it will be bathed in the red blood of men.
A spear pierces Eriva and she falls stammering towards the enemy as she draws her own blade. She rises to continue forwards when an arrow pierces her eye.
Hammersong strong, I die for my people, her people, and all of magic that have been persecuted to this end. May our descendants avenge us.
I burst into a sprint and lift my ax above me. This is the end of my story.
“I am Rornichor, last of the Hammersong. May I be avenged!”
Thank you for reading! Join me next week for my next #Taverntales entry!
Starting this coming Tuesday...
A dark tavern with mysterious figures sitting in the shadows. A lone Ranger looks out from his hood noticing a wanted criminal... Adventurers seeking treasure, glory, or simply drinking money carry on at a table playing cards...
Fantasy books and movies always have a tavern full of all kinds of people seeking to relax after a long day of mining, capentry, or slaying Hill Trolls. Anything can happen... anything WILL happen!
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