Durrak sat with his daughter Noranna reading her favorite story for the fifth time, as much to keep his mind occupied as to keep her entertained. The midwife had assured him all was well, but that it would be better for him to stay with Noranna in the sitting until the baby was born. The retelling of Finnegan the mighty Squirrel was interrupted by the wail of a newborn infant and Noranna made it to the doorway a heartbeat ahead of him.
The baby was being handed to a tired but beaming Belladin and already nuzzling for her mother’s nipple by the time Durrak and Noranna entered the room. The tiny child was perfect as seen through the glow of her father’s love.
“Oh. Oh my cazadora, my dearest one, she do be so beautiful.” Durrak said leaning down to kiss his wife and their newest child. The baby made a sound at the touch of his beard and he laughed heartily. “Little Dia, you best get used to the tickle of daddy’s beard for it no will be the last time.”
Life had been wonderful for the growing family. With the money he made from regular, heavy smith work, Durrak had been able to purchase more precious metals and gemstones. Already he had commissions from a dozen families in the area surrounding their homestead and this spring he was taking the work he’d made over the winter to a local faire.
All that was occupying the back of his mind right now however, as he had eyes only for the gems before him; his beloved wife and their two beautiful girls. He offered a silent prayer of thanks to Thraingaar and vowed to continue his worship by dedicating his life to the creation of beautiful and useful things at his forge.
“She will need proper rest mind.” The midwife said, looking at Durrak with fists on hips. “This wasn’t a particularly hard labor but it was a long one. You better make sure to give her proper nutrition; remember that baby eats what she eats.”
“Yes Arrien, I know.” Durrak said with a broad smile, “This no do be our first little one. I do take good care of my dear ones of that you may rely. I do be most grateful for your help.” He produced an intricately wrought pendant of jade carved to look like a pair of hands with five tiny golden figures cradled within them. Arrien had five children and was very proud of them. He gave it to her with a bow.
“Oh Durrak. This is too much.” She said, but her eyes glowed with pleasure as she accepted it.
“I no do take gifts back Arrien.” He replied, “That do be for your friendship and this do be your midwife payment.” He handed her a twisted golden chain that matched the pendant.
“I … Durrak, I don’t know what to say.” She said, obviously flustered.
“Would you like tea before you do be returning home?” He asked, “I do have a pot brewing on the stove.”
“That would be lovely.” Arrien said with a smile. “I must admit, I am quite impressed with your fatherly ways. ‘Tis a rarity among men in these parts.”
Durrak laughed as he led her from the bedchamber, “That do be because I no do be a man Arrien. I do be a Dwarf and we do know how to treat the object of our adoration. I do be loving my Belladin with all my heart, body and soul.”
Arrien laughed with him, “Oh you are a treasure indeed.”
“My daddy do be best daddy!” Noranna said, reaching out to him. Durrak picked her up and tickled her with his beard until she was squirming and laughing breathlessly.
“Your dear mother will be having my hide if you do be talking as I do Sprout.” He said, plunking her down on the special chair he had made for her. Durrak bustled about the kitchen, tossing tea leaves into a teapot and pouring hot water from the kettle over them, fetching the pot of honey and cream.
Noranna began speaking to him in Dwarven. “Poppa, why did this lady help mommy with the baby? Why did you give her a pretty, I thought pretties were for mommy only!”
“It no do be polite to speak a language others no do understand Noranna.” Durrak said, giving her as stern a look as he could. It turned out to only be a smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes without touching his mouth.
“I do be sorry lady.” She said, not sounding sorry at all. “I did be askin poppa why he was givin you pretties cause I thought mommy was the only lady he should be givin pretties to.”
To Durrak’s relief, Arrien burst out laughing. “Little Noranna, your poppa was giving me this amazing piece of jewelry because I helped your mommy with the birthing of your baby sister, not because he is trying to court me. Also I have been friends with your mommy since she was your age. I helped your gran with your mommy’s birth.”
“Oh, lady you do be old!” Noranna exclaimed, making Durrak blush to the roots of his hair.
“Arrien, I do be sorry, children do be saying all manner of things.” He poured the tea and offered her a steaming cup. “I no do know if you do be liking cream or honey.”
“Don’t fret yourself about it Durrak, I know you’re older than I am like as not.” Arrien said, “And children do say all kinds of things, gods own truth. I take both cream and honey please.”
He poured cream and stirred in honey, handing her the cup. “I do be most grateful for the welcome you and the others do be showing me Arrien. It do be more that I do be deserving.”
“Nonsense Durrak, before you came here we had no smith. All the work we needed done had to be sent off on a week’s trip or else we had to wait for a traveling smith to come by.” She smiled, “Your skills are far beyond any we’ve seen besides. You are a most valuable and wonderful asset to our community Durrak. Never forget that my boy.”
“Yeh call me boy in one sentence an tell me I’m yer senior in another.” He said, feeling a little out of his element. “I no do know how ta answer ta that.”
“Well. Life isn’t a straight line boy.” She said with a smile, “I expect you’ll find that the twists that life has in store for you will lead you down an interesting path Durrak. Perhaps someday you will tell me what brought you here.”
She drank her tea and left, promising to return the next morning to check on the family the next day. Durrak sat up later than he should have with Noranna, reading her stories. As he tucked her in, she tugged his beard.
“Poppa. Tell me about where you comed from.” She said in a voice thick with sleep.
“The halls of Farenholm do be deep and wide. We did delve into the earth, searching for gold and gems, and we did find them. There do be rooms where my kin did carve the veins of gold from the embrace of the stone, allowing them to stand in all their beauty. Halls vast enough to hold all of the village and more inside with long tables where we did sit and eat and drink and sing away the long months when the snow did fall and winds did blow.
“In summer months streams do run and some caverns do fill with winter melt, streams of water do carve out new paths. We do find more secret places formed when the world did be born. Places of beauty and danger. Places of wonder.”
“But you lefted them to come stay with mommy? To be with me an mommy?” Noranna asked, reaching out and taking his hand.
“I did leave and I do be here with you, your mother and your baby sister.” Durrak said softly, “I no will be leaving you my dear beloved girl.”