Treesniffer - Dance Night for the Dwarves
After draining one mug and starting on the spare she had intended for Y'Salnos, her Announced, he walked over to her.
"Come join me. I want to dance."
Side by side, they took the traditional positions of the work dance and the musicians began to play. The work dance had no words for it. It was a song of heavy drumming and it complexity was elementary. All the beats were provided by the dancers' foot stomps and those were performed at the tempo of a hammer. Leg up and stomp, slide and stomp, clap and clap. Leg up and stomp, slide and stomp, clap and clap. Determined steps, slow turns, measured claps. It was the fall of the working hammer; Heavy slam, heavy slam, and two quicker taps to realign the aim. Again and again. Even Y'Salnos could manage the work dance. Around and around they moved through the dance. Doriama could feel her legs warming up and her claps fell to a more proper cadence. Her mirror beside her, Y'Salnos's robe twirled and swayed to the turns and stomps. Faster than she expected, the music ended.
The music began again and Doriama stepped away. Somehow, Y'Salnos had managed to divine traditional dwarven songs from the musicians. The second piece was for a healer's prayer. Y'Salnos began his dance and Doriama watched as he gave thanks for the successful healing of Narent, praised the Soulforger, and begged for the god for his continued support. Y'Salnos's robe flared up and back as the spins and hops caused it to fly away from his legs and boots. As the piece ended, Y'Salnos began a rumbling staccato of steps that lead into the Victory Dance which called Doriama back to his side. Together they danced the victory of the previous day's events. Dancing down the vanquished, and parading home. Extolling the strength of their clans and the alliance between themselves. Locked arm in arm, they spun and leaped. They smashed the floor with heavy jumps, so much more satisfying on the raised foundation of the inn's tap room where the mugs jumped in response to their dancing.
It took all of Doriama's strength to hold Y'Salnos up and keep his feet beneath him. In over twenty years she had only seen Y'Salnos take up the Victory Dance once, and over half that long for the Hall to stop talking about it. Though not a difficult dance, its speed and changes were more than her partner could navigate easily and it was only her knowledge of his shortcomings along with her strength and agility that kept them on their feet in more than one exchange. By the end of the song, she found herself overheated and shaking from the effort. Yet the musicians simply moved onto another song and, shocked, Doriama retreated to her mug of beer while Y'Salnos began an unprecedented fourth dance.
A slow dance began. A far cry from the stomps and leaps of the Victory Dance, this was a dance Doriama did not expect to see for some time. From the center of the floor, Y'Salnos bent and bowed to the humans who had been filling the tap room, unnoticed by Doriama as she had held Y'Salnos through the dance. The tables were all filled, while more patrons stood at the bar and along the walls watching the dwarves, though now focused on Y'Salnos. A harp began to play alone. Quick notes like raindrops rang out through the room, breaking the silence as none of the patrons spoke. Short little steps in time to the notes, Y'Salnos minced about the floor and Doriama cringed in anticipation. He was going to give her his Announcement dance. In a human inn. Months from the Hall. Miles from home.
It would be a dance he could not complete.
The harpist's fingers flew across the strings. Falling down through the notes before dancing back up, only to fall again. The individual notes blending together, no two strings plucked together, the music swirled about as Y'Salnos danced in vain to keep his heavy tread in sync with the harpist's own efforts. The bends and spins, twists and pirouettes, they were all beyond him. His strength, born of hauling water to the mountain's top when the pumps were down, was a thing of brute force and lacking in all finesse, could not save him in this dance. Nor his beauty. His flaxen hair or downy beard. The heart tugging blue of his eyes could not make his feet find the floor in any way other than ruin. Partnered, he stood a chance in the dance, but Y'Salnos was not shaped by the Soulforger for anything solo.
Doriama watched Y'Salnos dance his Announcement. His promises to guard and provide. To shelter and entertain. To cherish and love. To be there and give her the children that would strengthen the Hold and their clan. She watched him dance and stumble and fall. As she knew he would. As he knew he would. She watched his feet fall behind on a turn and spin back to the middle of the floor. Watched as his hands flew out to try and grasp anything to break his fall, and as luck would have it, watch as one found purchase on a table she had not pushed back quite far enough. The table flew out from beneath the mugs that rested upon it. Not heavy enough to slow his descent, his unrelenting grip dragged the table across the floor with the fall, the loud crack of splintering wood as the legs snapped, giving way as he fell to the floor.
Y'Salnos threw back his head and let out a great bark of laughter that broke the surprised silence of the tap room. The few others in the room joined in, though the barkeep scowled at the mess made. Doriama could not find it in her to laugh. She moved over to the sitting Y'Salnos and as he grasped her proffered hand, pulled him to his feet. Sliding her back up to his chest, as the music began again, she lead him though the first steps of her Acceptance Dance.