Ciao, amici! Welcome to the fifth and final day of Story Empire’s Something Wicked Tour. I’m ending my hosting duties with a post by P.H. Solomon. Our resident fantasy author is going to talk dwarves and dress-up. It’s going to be a “fantastic” post. (See what I did there? Fantasy… Fantastic… Get it?) Anyway, take it away, P.H.
Thanks to Staci for hosting me today. It’s been a lot of fun so far on the Something Wicked Book Tour with the rest of the authors at Story Empire.
In The Bow of Hart Saga, Limbreth plays a prime supporting role to Athson. She ends up with a few dwarvish titles for her prowess as a warrior and then is asked to assist Tordug with gaining some support from other dwarves because of his lost honor. Essentially, Limbreth has to learn a lot of information about being a dwarf and using her titles of honor to her advantage and helping gain supplies and support from an unwilling dwarfish leader. In a way, it’s dwarf dress-up time for Limbreth and a perfect excerpt with Halloween costumes in mind. What follows is a scene where Limbreth has to make use of her cultural knowledge to enhance Tordug’s honor, rebuild his prestige and gain the support needed for Athson and the rest of the group to continue their quest. Let’s see how she does:
Tordug’s nostrils flared. Duliwe had played this well enough to hope he could send them away with a few days’ food. Not hopeful at all. Tordug rubbed his palm across his thigh and swallowed a sudden lump in his throat.
They arrived all too soon at the squat door of a low-roofed building, larger than any of the other dwellings. Tordug remembered it. He’d stayed there years ago on hunting trips. He shook his head. A different time.
Fafwe opened the door and motioned them through it. “Duliwe’s Hall.”
Tordug strode in, and Limbreth ducked in behind him. Warmth from a cheerful fire in a central hearth brushed his cheeks. They discarded their packs by the door. Fafwe closed the door, and Limbreth slid into the shadows along the wall while Tordug stepped into the brighter glow of the fire and a few lamps. A dwarf hunched over parchments scattered on a table, his back to them. Gray strands fell on his shoulders from a crescent of hair below a gleaming bald crown.
Tordug cleared his throat and began in dwarvish. “I’d have expected a warmer greeting, even considering—”
“This is not the past, when riches flowed to every settlement.” The dwarf stirred his hand over the parchments. “We’re at constant war with Rokans here.”
“Still, a better welcome than a barn and a nap in the cold for hours is due your—”
“You come after long years of silence in your dishonor and think you deserve a full welcome of fealty?” Duliwe pounded his fist on the table, and a candle swayed in its stand. He turned, his lips pulled into a frown, and glared at Tordug. He stood a moment, and Tordug measured him. Several scars crossed his exposed cheeks above a beard woven in warrior’s braids and festooned with trinkets of leadership. “Very well.” He ducked in the barest bow of fealty possible.
Behind Tordug, Limbreth stifled her gasp. Duliwe’s eyes never shifted to her. Good, he discounts her.
“What do you want here, bringing the memory of defeat into our meager struggles?” Duliwe stood with his hands on his hips, his feet spread apart.
Tordug assumed a similar stance, unyielding. “I’ve come at need from Chokkra.”
Duliwe snorted. “Gone to check your sums of losses or to bury the dead?” He waited for no answer but waved his hand at Tordug and turned to lift a dented, silver goblet. “It’s no matter to me what you did there. Better that you had died than come here and bring Rokans or trolls on us!”
Tordug’s cheek twitched. Duliwe drank without offering anything to his liege. A slight insult, but only slight considering Tordug’s lost status. “I’ve traveled in the company of a Withling on an errand for her. Our journey brought us here, thanks to the fortuitous help of your men in the mountains. We are in need of supplies to continue on the errand given by Elokwe.” Tordug motioned the sign of reverence at his forehead.
Duliwe answered with the wisp of an answering motion. “Those laggards should have left you to die in the cold. Or to the Rokans for their sacrifices.” He stepped closer. “You’ve been away, while we deal with the hard things, those losses.”
Tordug squinted. No backing down. “I heard rumor of that over in the west. Didn’t know it was so bad. My man helped bring some of the people in from that.”
The other dwarf motioned to Limbreth in the shadows. “That’s not a man.”
“Her? She don’t cow to Rokans either. She backs troll-bands down with nothing but a horse and a spare friend or two.”
Duliwe sniffed and took a long drink with arched brows. “Tell me a better tale, Tordug.”
“Really?” Limbreth spoke in dwarvish with a low growl and challenge in her tone. She stepped into the light.
Tordug almost smiled. Almost. Remember, you stand in for Makwi as my champion.
She stepped past Tordug. “You’d let an ax-maid of the death-grip freeze on a mountainside? The Lord of Chokkra too?” She motioned, palm-up, to Tordug.
Tordug paid her high honor with a flourished bow. He gazed at Duliwe and grinned.
Duliwe laughed and motioned the cup and a glance to Tordug. “You’d let this foreign gell without standing raise your honor for you?”
Limbreth snatched the cup from his hand with a slosh of wine that fell across the right side of her white leathers. She whirled, took one knee, and offered the goblet to Tordug, who took it. Before Duliwe could stir from his surprise, she rose and whirled again, drawing a sword with her left hand and holding the point to the sullen dwarf’s neck. With her other hand, she drew her braid around from her back.
Duliwe’s eyes widened as Limbreth’s trinkets flashed in the firelight. His jaw worked, but he choked on his words.
Sheathing her sword, Limbreth ground her teeth and offered her honor to Duliwe with an ax-maid’s bow and the death-grip salute—left-handed. She followed that with a champion’s flourish and then stood with her arms crossed and legs apart beneath the low rafters—like royalty. “I am Limbreth, Princess of Grendon, Maid of the Ax.” She lifted her left fist. “I grip death.” A sudden thought caught in her mind. “I am the Silver Lady of Auguron and both Patroness and Protector of the Wayfarer on the Road. I stand with my honor, in place of Makwi-angk-tho, for Tordug, Lord of Chokkra. Honor him as you would me! Hear him!”
Duliwe stepped back and reached for the table without looking. His cheek quivered beneath the edge of his beard. He shifted his squinted gaze to Tordug. “How could you let outsiders copy our fashion and tradition without due honor? You can’t just march someone in here with these claims!”
Tordug crossed his arms. “Makwi and I pried the sword from her hand. Makwi has done so again since that time. She is worthy of the honor. Ask your officer, he’s done the same. The whole squad saw her death-grip.”
“What of the verse? Let’s hear that!” Duliwe crossed his arms.
Tordug’s voiced lowered to a growl. “Makwi still composes her honor-verse. You shall hear it when he comes—if it’s ready.”
Duliwe’s face flushed. “Where is Makwi?”
Limbreth heard surrender in his voice.
Tordug launched into a summary of their travels without revealing all of the details about the Bow of Hart. His every statement snapped with underlying demand. He took a breath and then ended. “We have come here on the mercy of Elokwe in need to continue our journey at his will.”
Limbreth suppressed a smile. Tordug’s hesitation had left him. She stared at Duliwe, who hesitated. “Well? Shall we recount the story of all our scars, Duliwe? Here, I’ll start!” She motioned to the repair in the left arm of her leather armor. “A troll arrow went straight through in an ambush.” She held her fist forward and grinned. “But I beat them back with this arm. It is an ugly scar for one so young and pretty as I!”
Duliwe hesitated, then burst into laughter. “It seems Tordug rises in the honor and trust of his companions!” He shook his head as he poured more goblets of wine. “Few can say they have traveled with a High Champion, an ax-maid with the death-grip, and a Withling!” He handed a cup to Limbreth and raised a finger. “But these other two need to come and vouch for these tales! Until then…” He went to a knee with a grunt. “What is it you need, Lord of Chokkra? Half the village will complain, and the other half will want to throw a feast at this sight.”
Limbreth sipped her cup of wine and exhaled in feigned satisfaction, covering her relief. She’d done it!
So there’s Limbreth acting like a dwarf and an excellent fictional cos-play for Halloween. Find out more about An Arrow Against the Wind, Book 2 of The Bow of Hart Saga, below:
Haunted by his past. Hunted in the present. Tossed like an arrow in the wind.
Athson discovered the unexpected during the search for The Bow of Hart. Yet the prophesied weapon remains hidden. Mysteries discovered during the quest draw him deeper into the peril. The flames of vengeance surge in his thoughts with new revelations. Can he escape the traps of his enemies? The dragon’s reach endangers even Athson’s companions in unexpected ways. His enemy wants the bow but his mentor claims it must be used according to prophesy. With each turn of the search for the bow, long-hidden secrets surface and Athson must find the bow or risk losing those dear to him. When the dragon gains an upper hand with the abduction of Limbreth, Athson is torn between destiny and desire. But Athson seeks his own path. Will he falter like an arrow against the wind?
Find An Arrow Against the Wind, book 2 of The Bow of Hart Saga on Amazon
in e-book, audio and coming soon to print.
Also in this series:
Book 1: The Bow of Destiny
Book 3: The White Arrow
Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you enjoyed this excerpt. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
About the author
P. H. Solomon loves reading and writing fantasy of all kinds, especially epic fantasy. If a book has dragons, elves, dwarves, wizards, magic or mythical creatures, it’s in his reading zone. He lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. His first novel, The Bow of Destiny was named 2016 Book of the Year by Fantasia Reviews and is the first book of The Bow of Hart Saga. The sequel novel, An Arrow Against the Wind, was released in April of 2017. The third book of the series, The White Arrow, was released during October of 2017. P. H. Solomon also authored the award-winning short story, The Black Bag, which won best published short story at SCWC 2012. P. H. is also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
What a “magical” way to end the tour. (Sorry; I just can’t help myself.) If you haven’t read any of these books, I encourage you to do so.
Please use those sharing buttons, and leave a comment to show P.H. some support. And when you’re done, I hope you’ll join me at Harmony Kent’s site, where I’m talking about writing in a shared world. Arrivederci!