The Music of Darkness

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Chapter nine: Dwarf spirits, Help from a Friend

Back at the Golden Sword the Knights where just wrapping up a game of cards when the brothers arrived. Redtree stood

“What happened? What’s wrong?” he asked, their grim expressions placing a pall on his good humor. His eyes then strayed to Drells injured hand.

“Drell your hand! Its” Drell muscled passed Redtree cutting the Knight off in mid sentence.

“Never mind it,” said Drell roughly.

“You didn’t find her did you?” asked Redtree. Loroedor shook his head and a clang resounded through out the common room. The clang had been the sound of Drell slamming two coins, one silver and one gold, down on the bar.

“A pint of dwarf spirits and keep them coming” a silence passed through out the room. Gold Beard turned pale

“Lad are you quite”

“You heard me,” Drell’s voice was cold. Gold Beard looked to Loroedor who gave a grim nod and took a seat at the bar far from his brother.

“Vary well lad” the dwarf hurried off toward the vary end of the bar. Kneeling down the dwarf reached up under his beard, retrieved a small brass key and fit it to the lock in the trap door below him. The dwarf disappeared into the floor and closed the door behind him. He reappeared moments later carrying a dusty brown bottle with a white label and a cork stopper. Grabbing a pewter mug from the lowest shelf Gold Beard pulled the cork out with his teeth, pored the dark strong smelling contents of the bottle into the mug, and placed it on the bar before the elf. Drell took the mug and dropped the coins into the dwarfs waiting hand.

Drell took his first sip and sighed in satisfaction as the liquor exploded like a fire bomb in his mouth sending flames down the back of his throat as it went down, he heaved another sigh as it landed like a molten ball in his stomach. Dwarf spirits, known world wide as the strongest mushroom liquor in existence, sometimes too strong even for dwarfs, and it was one of Drell’s biggest vices.

Shortly after the death of his father Drell fell into a deep pit, which many feared he would never escape from. He would spend weeks out in the forest alone and when he came home sometimes he wouldn’t eat or if he did it was vary little. He never told anyone where he went and he never would, not even Loroedor. On one of the days when Drell returned Rolyon, a young archer under Loroedor and an old friend of both brothers, who said he had a guaranteed cure for the pain, approached Drell. Drell would try anything once and followed. That night had been the first time Drell had tasted Dwarf spirits. He drank seven mugs maybe more and passed out cold. Rolyon and a few other men carried Drell home. Rolyon begged to be forgiven he had had no idea Drell would go so far. Loroedor forgave him but said that if it ever happened again he would beat the life light out of all involved, that said Loroedor had dismissed them and dragged Drell inside to his bed. The next morning Drell woke with a massive hang over and promised that he would never touch another drop, and he never had, until now. Loroedor sighed, so much for promises.

“I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m going to bed,” said Loroedor turning his back on Drell and heading up the stairs. Half way up the stairs Loroedor stopped and looked over his shoulder

“Coming?” he asked. Drell shook his head and took another gulp of spirits. Loroedor sighed and continued up.

The next morning Loroedor woke and gazed at the bed across from his only to find it empty. Drell hadn’t been up to bed all night. Slipping on his pants and shirt Loroedor walked out into the hall. There was not a sound to be heard, save for that made by his own breathing. He made his way down stairs and found Gold Beard preparing for opening time, but Drell was nowhere to be seen. Seeing Loroedors concern the dwarf smiled and said,

“Never fear lad your brother’s fine. I had him put up in my room for the night since it was too dangerous for him to brave the stairs in his condition” Loroedor sighed

“Thank you”

Gold Beard nodded and pointed to a small door to the elf’s right, under the stairs. Loroedor opened the door and stepped into the room beyond and in that moment Loroedor knew how giants felt. The chairs, the table, the plates, everything even the lamps had been chiseled down to dwarf size. It was like walking into a child’s play house. A mini fireplace stood on the left wall and before it was a small black leather armchair. In the center of the room was a table with a chair, set with a plate and cutlery, all dwarf size. The chess table, the mirror, and the pictures on the wall were all smaller then they should have been.

Loroedor thought about how big and out of place he must look standing there among all these small things and he couldn’t help but smile. And when his eyes settled upon the far end of the room he had to clamp a hand over his mouth to stop himself from laughing. Drell, all five and eight inches of him, was lying on a three and a half foot bed. Half of him was on the bed and the other half was hanging over the end! Drell lay on his back with one leg and one arm hanging over the side of the bed while his other leg hung off the end. The other arm was cast over his eyes shielding them from the sunlight that was streaming through the window above the bed. Loroedor smiled slightly and leaned over the bed to pull the shutter.

“Thanks” murmured Drell, moving his arm to look up at his brother with red hazy eyes. Loroedor had thought his brother to be asleep, but it was just as well that he wasn’t. He shrugged, pulled the mini stool out of the corner, placed it beside the bed and sat. Then there was silence neither brother spoke a word. Both felt that something had to be said but neither could think what and both thought they should be the one to say it, what ever it was. But the silence remained unbroken and presently Drell turned his head so that his eyes were set upon the wall.

Drell knew this kind of silence knew it vary well as if it were an old friend come to call on him again. Drell knew what was coming, it was the same old routine over again, and it hadn’t changed since he was a boy. What was Loroedor waiting for? He should have known the entire bit by heart. Drell turned his head to look into his brother’s eyes, where he expected to see shame, sadness, and disappointment, and perhaps even anger. But he saw none of those instead he saw compassion, understanding and love, and this Drell could not bear so he turned his head away again. The silence remained; Drell couldn’t take it any more

“I’m sorry Loroedor, forgive me”

“Sorry? For what?” he asked.

“For last night, I broke my promise I’m sorry. I understand if you’re angry I’ll also understand if you don’t talk to me for a while”

“ Not talk to you why would I do that and why would I be angry? I have no reason to be and you have nothing to be sorry for” Drell sniffed

“I broke my promise, doesn’t that mean anything to you?” Loroedor sighed.

“ Of course that means something to me but that’s no reason for me to be angry. Besides I understand why you did it. Complex feelings like love or stress can make a man commit acts he never would have dreamed of before”

“What are you talking about? It is every reason to be angry and why should emotions make a mans actions excusable?”

“ Do you remember that year when we faced that army of Trolls? You and father had gone to Islorieal to ask our brethren for help. You were gone for almost a month and my men and I were the only defense the city had. On the last day of the third week Kaladarroe lost his nerve, got into an argument with me and punched me in the face rendering me unconscious. Many thought that I should have brought him before the King for punishment but I never did because I couldn’t blame him for losing his control, truth be told I almost did myself. So you see I have nothing to be angry for” Loroedor smiled. Drell smiled also he understood.

“So I’ll see you in the next room?” Loroedor rose to his feet. Drell nodded and slowly sat up.

By the time Drell managed to drag himself from the ridiculously small bed and into the other room the Knights and Loroedor were already seated, drinking strong coffee and waiting for their breakfast, ham and eggs judging by the smell that was wafting in from the kitchen. At the thought of food Drell felt sick, he slumped down into the nearest chair with a groan and lay his head down on the table. Gold Beard emerged from the kitchen then with two large platters piled high with food; he set one at each of the tables the group occupied so that they might help themselves. He stopped next to Drell and said,

“What’s the matter lad? Feeling sick?” Drell nodded,“Well cant say that I’m surprised! Nine mugs of Dwarf Spirits and still able to sit almost completely up right! By all the gods I never thought I’d see the day that an elf could out drink most dwarfs! It’s no wonder that you feel sick. But don’t you worry I have something that will fix you up in no time” with this the dwarf disappeared behind the bar, he reappeared holding a shiny green bottle and a stone goblet.

“Here lad drink this and I guarantee that you’ll feel a whole lot better” Gold Beard smiled pleasantly as he poured the gold colored liquid into the goblet and set it before Drell. Drell slowly raised his head from the table and took a hold of the goblet. After a few moments he raised it to his lips and took a sip. It was warm, sweet and spicy. Amid the sweetness he could detect just a hint of scotch that set his skin to prickling. Almost immediately afterward Drell could feel the fog that clouded his brain begin to clear, the numbness receded, even his eyesight had begun to clear.

“By the Shade. This is wondrous! Where did you find it?” asked Drell downing the last of the draught in one gulp. Gold Beard crossed his arms

“Didn’t find it lad, I made it. Old family recipe does the trick every time and being in my business it comes in really handy. I go through at least a barrel and a half of the stuff every month” the dwarf placed both hands above his head and stretched.

“I hope I didn’t cause you too much trouble last night” said Drell seeing the slightly haggard look in the dwarf’s eyes. The dwarf smiled.

“Hardly any trouble at all lad, don’t worry your self. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever met a man who’s well mannered even when he’s drunk” Drell returned the dwarfs smile warmly and pushed the stone goblet aside. Seeing the young elf’s troubled gaze the dwarf leaned forward and said,

“You know a group of bandits passed through here not long ago. Bandits under the command of the one they call the Blood fox, and they happened to mention a young lady they had captured recently. I don’t know if it’s the young lady that you’re looking for but it’s worth a try isn’t it?” Drell looked up his eyes bright

“Where did they go?”

“South east to the Slorlan Marshes” said the dwarf leaning off the table as the elf stood.

“Why did you not tell us this before?” asked Redtree, his tone was suspicious. Gold Beard turned to him and answered calmly,

“I did not remember it till just now” Redtree was not satisfied with this and was about to ask more questions when Drell interupted him,

“It does not matter that he did not mention it sooner. What does matter is that he has told us of it now. You heard him, finish up and then we will make ready to set out,” Drell was already headed toward the stairs. The others did as Drell bade, though there were more than a few of the Knights who were as suspicious as Redtree was.

“Thank you my friend, for everything” said Drell, once he had returned from upstairs with all of his things, placing his hand upon Gold Beards shoulder. The dwarf smiled

“Think nothing of it lad farewell” Drell smiled back and the group departed.

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