by J.D. Barbera
Original Works - Fantasy setting
Word Count - 1097
Y’Mordin slammed his fist upon the table, rare anger laced his tone..
“Gods above, boy! It is a marriage announcement! I would expect you to be happy!”
His son, Y’Salnos, paled and shook slightly, but his soft voice held firm in defiance. “I am only seventy-two, father. What right have I to a wife?” He took a ragged breath. “What wealth have I to offer? Hall? Hold? What of mine do I have?”
Y’Mordin jammed his finger into his son’s chest, driving him back. Advancing each step, his finger driven by each step until Y’Salnos flinched beneath the bruising strikes.
“You, boy, are Cisternwatch! Priest to this Hold. You are a member of not only the clan, but the Guild! Our guild! Less than a dozen families sit at the counsel table. Yours is among the most powerful. We control the water!
Y’Mordin raised his voice to the ceiling beseechingly, “‘Moradin, strengthen me and give me a hammer hard enough to get through the boy’s skull.” He locked eyes with Y’Salnos. “I picked her for you! And she is a Mountaingate! Are you not the one who have mooned over her for fifty years? Her mother was hotter than full forge when I! Me! Cisternwatch himself! I came to her hall for her daughter, and you tell me no? You dare ask me, "What do I have to offer?”
Y’Salnos stood silent, his eyes fixed upon his father. Y’Mordin fell silent, stroking his beard slowly. Y’Mordin knew that no amount of blather would fluster Y’Salnos. He would have his say. Without rancor, without ire. Y’Mordin did not like to face his son in such a fashion, his son’s reactions were un-dwarflike. It was something that made Y’Salnos different, and by that virtue, a loner.
After a short wait, as Y’Salnos studied his father, he ascertained that his father was ready to wait for his reasoning and nodded as he spoke in his soft voice, “Show me then the fruits of my labor. The receipts of completion and payment. Take me to the coin and works of art that I have commissioned or found as I have moved from Journeyman to Craftsman. Show me what every grooms brings to his marriage and that comes not from the vault of my parents and kin.”
Y’Mordin frowned, then nodded. He would not debate Y’Salnos. It would not end with his victory. “Very well, you leave me with little choice. I am the head of your clan and your father. I say you will change and march to the Great Hall and hear your Announcement. I, of the highest, negotiated a marriage with nigh the lowest so you may have what you covet. I will not face public humiliation because you want to build your hoard like any common dwarf. You will heed my command.”
Y’Salnos visibly wilted before his father as he made his final point.
“Yes, father. Very well. Allow me to pray and change. I will be along shortly.”
Y’Mordin paused before turning. He knew he had not addressed his son’s concern, but was pleased that Y’Salnos was able to put it aside for clan, and his father’s, honor. He looked down at the Announcement Robe he had brought for Y’Salnos and smoothed it out. The pieces were set and Cisternwatch Clan’s plan would be put into motion. This marriage was the final move. What started as a dire prophecy had grown over the years into an obsession of Y’Mordin. Though dwarves were not known for their divination skills, this prophecy had been given directly to the Clan. In order to save the Stronghold, Cisternwatch, the smallest clan, had to marry into Cisternwatch every clan of Helveket Stronghold before the stars aligned, else the Stronghold would perish. The groom of the final marriage would, somehow, protect the Stronghold from it’s foretold demise. With Y’Salnos’s marriage, though Y’Mordin did not know how, his son would save the mountain. All within would be safe.
As the door closed, Y’Salnos sighed. Moving over to a wardrobe, he pushed aside the clothing within. He released a catch, and the back of the wardrobe fell away revealing a low tunnel. A moment was spent rearranging the clothing and replacing the wardrobe’s back before Y’Salnos’s even tread echoed softly around him as his feet took him on a childhood journey taken some fifty years earlier after a particularly harsh sentence exiled him to his room.
His fiance, and father, would simply have to wait a bit for that Announcement, for there was no power in the world that could place Y’Salnos before the entire stronghold penniless and honorless to take a wife out of turn. Whatever possessed his father to pursue a marriage some seventy five years before tradition would allow Y’Salnos to petition an available woman had blinded him to the repercussions that would arise by having his son take the next available woman by virtue of the clan’s political clout.
All he needed was to find supplies to carry him safely beyond the demesne of the mountain, yet if he tarried to get such items, he would be caught before escaping. Through the tunnel he trotted, picking up speed as the slope drew him downward. Moradin, he knew, would provide him with food, water, protection, but no more than that. It would have to be his own merit to earn what he would need to prove his worth despite his age and win him his promised wife. As he neared the tunnel’s exit, Y’Salnos found himself pacing the tiny entry debating his course forward.
Pushing a rock out of his way, Y’Salnos stepped into the sun. He would go into the world with only his faith of Moradin. It would be best and most difficult. The way it should be. Returning the rock to its resting place, a shadow blocked the sun. Defeat fell across him like a smothering blanket.
“How did you find me?”
A cheery voice turned him around. “You showed me the tunnel yourself, and I am Mountaingate. Not stupid.”
“Doriama! How? Why? Wait.”
“Mother told me of the Announcement, and I know you. Even if your father doesn’t.”
A young dwarven woman, veiled and cloaked in camouflage of greys and brown, sat astride a mountain pony. Her gear testified to a long journey.
“If you go alone, Y’Sal, I’ll just have to wait longer for my wedding. I’m here to hasten things along.”
Y’Salnos shook his head emphatically. “Nay! I must do this alone!”
Doriama snorted in humor. “I’ll just get in the way, I take it? Let’s go.”