How has everyone’s December been so far? Don’t you just love December!
I thought since basically for two months or so now I’ve been rattling on about nothing but NaNoWriMo and More Green than Envy, the novel I wrote for it, I should post some snippets from it now. Maybe. . .
Oh, sure! Why not?
So, without further ado. . .
Leiden began pacing back and forth. His chains clattered loudly as they rubbed across the rough stone ground.
Darven clenched his teeth together. "Will you just sit down?" he snapped. "Is it possible for you to be quiet even for half a second? Perhaps I should have let Reziq cut out your tongue."
"I'm sorry," the elf muttered. He returned to the back wall and plopped down near Darven. He looked over at him. "Are you mad at me?"
"Is the sun bright?"
Leiden's gaze dropped. "I didn't mean to get caught again," he practically whispered.
"You wouldn't have if you had just stuck to the plan. What were you thinking?"
"I was just trying to help."
"Help?" Darven's voice spiked. He had no more patience for this elf. "Well, good job on that. I wasn't going to abandon Gaelasil, you know."
Leiden turned his head to face him again. "What?"
Darven narrowed his eyes. "I had every intention of going back for her. That's why you left, isn't it? You thought I'd leave her so decided to take matters into your own hands."
"No!" The elf sounded appalled. "That's not why I left at all. It was for you! I knew your arm needed tending to and that we had to have supplies, so I went looking for some. I didn't tell you or Barveris because I knew you needed to sleep. I was scared you were going to push yourself and get hurt even more."
"Look at me, Leiden!" He spread out his arms. "Do I look any less hurt to you? How could you have been so stupid to get captured again?"
Leiden's eyes flamed. "I was caught trying to steal from an apothecary shop so I could heal you! You got captured, too!"
"Looking for you!"
"Oh." The elf dropped his gaze, his body slumping.
Darven sighed. "Since when do you break into shops anyway?"
Leiden shook his head, a hint of smile at the corner of his mouth. "It was definitely a first. I didn't have any money so..." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, turning to face Darven. "I really was just trying to help, but you're right. I acted stupidly. And now look what Reziq has done to you because of my foolish mistake. Why would he even do that? All that just to find out why we're here?"
Darven snorted. "It was mostly because he hates me. The feeling's mutual."
"It's not that," Darven responded to the concerned elf. "I just saw Hogart in the halls."
Leiden frowned. "The dwarf you apprenticed under?"
He nodded. "I didn't even know he was still alive."
"Do you know what he's doing in the castle?"
"That's what's bothering me. He's always lived in the lower town. He never had anything to do with the King. So why is he roaming in the castle halls?"
"Did he say anything?"
"No. We just had a passing glance. He looked pretty surprised to see me."
"Well, no offense or anything, but you're not exactly looking your spiffiest right now."
Darven sniggered. "I guess it probably was a sight, seeing his old apprentice being dragged down to the dungeon, beaten and bruised."
Leiden didn't seem amused at all. Darven rolled his eyes. The elf had been driving him mad with all his fussing over his wounds. He was practically mothering Darven. Darven realized he should have known better than to bring up his condition.
"Did Reziq hurt you a lot this time?" came the inevitable concern.
"No more than usual."
The elf balled up a fist and shook it in the air. "The minute I get out of here that dark elf is going to be sorry."
Darven tried to imagine Leiden's bony frame standing up to the tall build of Reziq. He smiled at the thought.
"Something amusing you?"
Darven shrugged. "The thought of Reziq getting a punch in the face always brings a smile to my own."
"Well, at least something makes you smile. Sometimes I forget you're even capable of it."
"I just like saving it for special occasions."
Darven started pounding at the sword's blade, allowing for no more conversation, but his arm ached with pain after the first few swings. Hissing between clenched teeth, he lowered the hammer, shaking his arm to ward off the throbbing.
Hogart turned and squinted an eye, studying Darven's scar. "See? That's what happens when you try to play the hero."
"Present from Reziq," Darven muttered, setting the hammer down and rubbing the wound. It had started to close, but it still stung when he put too much strain on it.
The dwarf cackled. Pushing back a knot of his grizzly hair, he rubbed a white scar running from under his temple down to near his earlobe. "Got this when I called 'im a snake skinned, worm eaten, ogre smellin' beetle that doesn't know which end of his blade is up. Guess he decided to show me he did, but I don't regret it. Someone needs to tell 'im he's got as much brains as a drunken goblin."
A corner of Darven's lips curved up. At least this dwarf still had a little of his old fight in him.
Darven stepped out into the hall and strode forward to the door. The sledge hammer slowed his pace, but he knew it would soon be necessary. Leaning it against the wall, he pulled the hefty metal door open and motioned for Layra to go first. This way he could watch their backs...and keep an eye on her.
Closing the door behind him, he followed her down to the dungeon. As they entered, he could hear the clattering of chains.
Darven stepped up to the cell. "No greeting for me?"
Leiden shot across the cell as far as his chains would allow. "Darven? I feared you were dead!"
"Glad you have so much faith in my ability to survive. Step back, I'm going to break this gate."
Leiden did as he was told, but a plethora of questions poured out as he did. "Where have you been? What have you been doing? Did they hurt you? How did you get here? And what in all of Aerigethel are you doing with a sledge hammer?"
Darven's only response was a might swing at the lock of the cell. The iron slamming into iron sent a thundering clang echoing off the walls. The bars over and below the lock bent, but the gate was still shut tight. Darven gave it another slam. This time the lock ruptured and the gate hurled open, swinging around and banging on the bars on the other side.
"I don't want to be worthless."
Leiden swallowed. "You're not."
He sucked in a deep breath. "I'm trying not to be."
"You never have been. Layra, the children, Gaelasil, and I would not be here if it wasn't for you."
"And I would be in a very dark place if your wagging tongue hadn't kept pulling me out." The corner of his mouth quirked as he finally looked up at Leiden.
Leiden smiled. "Then let's hope my sword works as well as my tongue."
Darven burst into laughter. "If it does, we have no need for an entire army. You would suffice singlehandedly!"
He chuckled. "I don't think I want to fight in a war by myself."
"Then let's attempt some of that teamwork for this battle dragon riders supposed to have. I could use the practice."
Leiden grinned. "Together?"
"At least until one of us does something foolish, like we're so prone to do."
"Mostly me though, right?"
"I'm glad you understand."
Darven sighed. "Yes, Leiden?"
"Do you think we'll win?"
He walked on quietly for a moment before responding. "I don't have an answer to that."
"What if we don't? What if Ordeth overpowers us?" The fear in the elf's voice was evident.
"Since when have you become the pessimist?"
"I've just seen so much here. I witnessed all sorts of horrors in Velnoroth, but that was expected in that land. Not here though, not so close to home. What if all of Aerigethel ends up this way?"
"I don't think it will. If the dark elves really attack, the other regions aren't just going to sit by. Sivral is pretty weak compared to plenty of the others. I think victory is in our favor against the dark elves."
"But the war here?"
"But here...we'll just keep fighting until we've either won or all died."
"That's not very reassuring."
"I'm really not good at being a comforter, you know."
The elf laughed. "True enough.”
Leiden hurried down the steps and examined every cell on each side. "It's empty!"
Darven slowly followed, glancing between the bars. As the elf said, not a soul was in sight. His own chains in their old cell lay unoccupied on the floor.
"Perhaps they're keeping the Duke somewhere else," he suggested, "if he even has him. This may be a pointless endeavor."
Leiden turned to face him from the end of the dungeon. "Do you think Reziq has him? Or Devrot? You know, there was no sign of either of them in the battle."
"They're probably too cowardly to risk their own skins."
"Or planning something."
Darven considered this for a moment. The quickest way to end all of this was to murder that snake Reziq. He was obviously a great tool for Velnoroth. Maybe now was the time to do just that. The fool probably thought everyone was too busy outside in the battle to even consider him.
"Darven, don't be alarmed, but you're actually smiling."
He snapped out of his thoughts, but the smile did not leave his face. He eyed the tip of his blade. "I think now would be a good time to visit our old friend Reziq, don't you?"
At first the elf looked perplexed, but it did not take long for a smile to cross his own face. "I think you're right."
Leiden snagged his arm. "I hear something," he breathed.
Darven stopped and listened. The elf was right. There was a scuffling sound coming from the hall just around the corner. Pulling up his sword, he crept silently forward. His alarm began to deflate as he took note of his surroundings. He knew this passage. Just as he suspected, the corner turned into the room where the blacksmith area lay. The door was swung open and Hogart was walking backwards through it with a pile of tools in his arms. Darven dropped his sword to his side.
"Where you planning on taking those, you old goat?"
The dwarf's load nearly tumbled to the ground he had such a start. "Why you rotten, troll breath! Tryin' to make an old man drop dead, are ye? Unless I am dead, because, frankly, I wasn't expectin' to see you alive anymore."
"I'm very much alive and seemed to have started a war."
"Hmph. Yes. So I've heard."
"Is this Hogart?" Leiden whispered to Darven.
"I might be old but my hearing sure hasn't gone and died yet!" the dwarf bellowed. He eyed Leiden up and down. "This your elf friend?"
Darven nodded. "Leiden."
Leiden inclined his head. "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir. Darven has told me much about you."
The dwarf burst into laughter. "Probably nothin' good!"
Leiden did not respond to this.
Thanks for reading! I know you are all probably sick of hearing about NaNoWriMo by now. Maybe I’ll actually start talking about something else for while. One could only hope, right?