Durrak stood and wiped his brow and stretched, feeling his vertebra crack. It had been hours since he had begun clearing this field and he was beginning to feel tired. The Dwarf wasn’t exhausted, it was the good warmed muscle feeling of a morning’s honest work. It had been years since he had stumbled out of the wilderness, bruised and on the brink of collapse and this human family had taken him in.
“Time for midday’s Durrak.” Belladin said, surprising him. She was only a few feet behind him, holding a large wicker basket and smiling mischievously. He wasn’t sure why she took so much pleasure in sneaking up on him.
“My thanks Miss Verivan, the day do be growing quite warm.” He said politely, taking off his hat.
“Come and sit with me in the shade.” She said, turning to walk back to where a rock outcropping cast a shadow. He followed, still unsure as to why she was paying him so much attention but appreciating it nonetheless.
Many of the other humans in this Holding seemed to dislike Dwarves for some reason, but she and her family had no such compunction. Her father’s name was Thanel and he was a solid, no-nonsense kind of person, almost seeming to be Dwarfish in nature rather than human.
He sat with her, her father, two of her sisters who preferred work in the fields and one of her brothers. Sandwiches with thick slices of roast venison, spicy horseradish spread and garden fresh tomato on dark heavy rolls were passed around. Durrak sat with his back to the cool stone and accepted a mug of cool mint tea from a smiling Belladin.
“When are you going to quit this drudge work and get to what you’re good at boy?” Thanel asked with his usual blunt directness.
Durrak blinked in surprise. “What do you be meaning sir?” He asked politely in his strangely accented Common.
“I mean you’re no farmer boy. You know the forge or I’m a bald sheep.” He took a large bite of his sandwich and looked at Durrak with calculating eyes as he chewed and swallowed.
“I do have a debt to you and it do be my intent to pay it.” Durrak said, meeting the man’s gaze.
“I’d rather you incur more debt and pay me back faster.” Said Thanel, “When I first inherited this property there was an old anvil, forge and a few hammers and other tools out in the back. I ain’t got the knack but I always figured someone would come along who did, else I’d sell ‘em if times got tough.”
Durrak stared at him in surprise, his food forgotten. “I…” He let his voice trail off, not sure what to say.
“I ain’t one who’s lame brained enough to think all Dwarves are smiths, but I recognize the burns on your forearms. Ya don’t get those from herding sheep.” Thanel said, still studying Durrak’s face. “Don’t waste that talent. Besides, I got a plow with a damaged blade along with plenty of other things could use fixing.
“As you can see this ain’t entirely a selfless offer.” The man said with a grin, “Don’t think you’ll get off lightly just ‘cause I want to put you to work doing something you’re trained to do.”
“Oh, I see.” Durrak put down his mug and extended his hand, “In that case I do be accepting your offer.”
Thanel took his hand and shook it firmly. “You still ain’t told me what brought you here son. One day we saw the very mountain burn and you showed up about a week later. No trade has come from the Dwarven halls there since.”
“It did be a dragon.” He said, voice flat and dull. “My father did take a raiding party out and killed her mate. We no did know it had a mate, it was just threatening our city. The Moragainnag did be warning about destruction did we not prevail against Krrakathanak. Also her warning did say victory against him would bring peril.”
“More a gain…nag?” Belladin asked, trying to sound out the strange name. “What is that?”
“The holy woman of their people.” Thanel said, “Their seer. The one with the closest relationship to their God.”
Durrak inclined his head, “Aye. When Storgar slew her mate, Cerioth the Black’s breath did melt the gates of Farenholm to slag. I know not if any survived, but I believe I do be the only Dwarf who escaped her mighty wrath. As The Moragainnag did say, Death if we did kill him, destruction and chaos did we no kill him. I must keep faith that Thraingaar spoke truly through the bones and that she did listen.”
“Well. I am at least grateful that it gave us the opportunity to meet you.” Belladin said, putting a small, warm hand on his large work roughened one. Durrak felt a thrill race up his spine at her touch. He shouldn’t be feeling happiness, to him it was as though feeling happiness was somehow dishonorable to his people’s memory.
Thanel stood, brushing the crumbs from his thighs. “Come on boy. I’ll show ya that forge and you can see what’s missing.”
Durrak started to his feet, breaking contact with Belladin and nearly spilling his mug of tea. He blushed slightly at the man’s critical eye but also smiled. It would be good to stand at a forge again. Thraingaar would be pleased.