Below part of chapter ten from Sunsunder. Sunsunder is book one of the Legendarh series.
This chapter introduces the Dwarf that will one day be named Quadro Gemini…but in this part of the story he’s called Targin.
Chapter: 10 Gemini (27 years ago, 15 miles south of Kadabolous)
Young Targin fell over the roots of the tree. Heavy armor he and his father crafted ruined; shoulder guard torn away and bracers scored badly. Jagged wounds where sundered armor gave way to savagery painted the ornate plate with Dwaven blood. The cuts on his face stung but they’d come from the serrations in the metal during the fight. The bear’s teeth torn out lodged in armor at odd angles would be a souvenir. Behind him the large brown bear lay dead missing not only teeth but an eye, bones broken; Targin Gemana had killed it barehanded.
The two mile walk to the ingress of the Underworld Forest took effort with every step. Once he reached the entrance the winding thirteen mile descent to the forest itself would leave him utterly exhausted. His plan was to stop at Koveing healing house and pay the two hundred gold heal fee. After paying for healing he’d be nearly broke but he didn’t care.
Targin received the healing he paid for and was also allowed to wash up before leaving. His mother Callisene would have to see the ruined armor but she need not see the blood and wounds. The healing left him with minor injuries but didn’t restore stamina or take away all the aches.
Passing by Dark-mirror cliff he stared into the reflective coffee colored surface. Even as transparent shadowy visage the armor looked like hell. Targin’s long brown hair usually in ponytail flowed out over his shoulders like a mane. His beard filling in nicely though only twenty three made him look a decade older and Targin liked this; age brought respect in Underworld. His face held bold features, high forehead and wide stout nose; not bulbous like his father’s but smooth. He had his mother’s nose and her blue eyes too. Even in the darkened mirror-stone a vestige of blue could be seen. The only thing his barbaric father had ever said that sounded like poetry was: (Your mother’s eyes are a keenly bright romantic blue so deep as to make the deepest bowl of a cloudless sky jealous…and since you have woman eyes my boy you will have to work twice as hard as the other warriors in the clan.)
Targin left the reflective wall behind and entered properly Underworld Forest. The ceiling vaulted more than six hundred feet and the titanic cavern divided by great walls that occasionally stretched from floor to ceiling and sometimes yawned two hundred feet wide made the place a maze. Great recesses, nooks and archways brought confusion even to the denizens if they didn’t travel in an area often. In the center of the forest a great loop of stone, seventy feet thick standing one hundred feet tall held a single archway through. The massive door on nested hinges made entirely of iron allowed entrance to reach the tallest, eldest tree in Underworld. Raff Gemana was currently the guardian of Ironroot way and hoped to one day pass his duties onto his son. To that end the family recently began moving into the center of Underworld Forest. Luckily the old homestead many miles closer and only four miles from Dark-mirror was his destination. Targin moved between the arches that spider webbed out from forest center. The cavern lit by luminescent moss glowed much like the sun. Targin climbed up steep stone steps carved in the side of the ninety foot wall, atop this wall was his old home they hoped to sell but he was still two miles away from it. Reaching the top of the stairs Targin saw Burnbound Greenthumb cultivating his earthen garden of fruits and vegetables. Targin admired how the elder brought up sod and soil and dug his own deep hole to create the patch.
Targin smiled at the old man and exchanged waves. A few trees stood here and there, some thirty feet tall. Greenthumb and his family planted those too. Turning with the course of the wall he walked the final mile. Here the wall rose to just over a hundred feet where it leveled off till it split in twain running east and west. Looking up the exhausted bear killer took note of the “undersun” and realized it would soon be dark. Somehow the moss growing in the center in great thickness, radiating out over the ceiling in ever lessening degrees followed the day/night cycle; high noon brightness during the day and deep twilight at nightfall. The forest floor comprised the largest of three Dwarven kingdoms and the only one still solely under mountains. Targin loved it here but the world outside held mysteries and power no forged weapon or armor could match; or so he’d read in the books Sarcy gave him.
The house made from heavy stones sat askance, the door painted bright green looked inviting. Targin knew the minute he saw his big bed he’d fall into it and sleep for hours but first he wanted to tell of his adventure. The door six feet tall left him six inches head room but his shoulders so wide and frame stout with muscles that he brushed door frame when wearing armor. Targin turned sideways as he entered and immediately took notice of the easel; on it a hand written note:
Targin, I kept you some leftovers of roast and bread but your father ate all the potatoes. I put you shaved carrots and a tangerine in the chiller box. Had to meet with the Priests about a few things and I should be home an hour or so after dusk.
Rummaging and a small crash of papers and books could be heard in back the house. Immediately all the fatigue melted into anxiety. Raff burst through the simple wooden door of Targin’s room with several books in each hand. “Callisene, our son has brought black magic into our home, he’s hidden books…” Raff stopped cold as he saw his son instead of whom he thought he’d been yelling to.
“Father I killed a bear and it nearly killed me.”
“You destroyed our armor that cost seven hundred gold to custom fit you idiot and for what?” Targin didn’t know what to say. He tried again, “Father I fought a bear and won, I did it bare handed.”
“Where’s my sword, did you lose it or trade it for more black magic?”
“Sarcy gave me those books and I have only bought one so far and would never sell your property to get arcana.”
“What, what…black magic that’s what it is, mages cannot be trusted and certainly not human wizards.”
Targin reiterated, “I lost the sword battling a brown bear to its death.”
“Then where is my sword and why do you read these blackguards?”
“I lost it but want to know what gives you the right to ransack my room?”
“How dare you Targin this is my home and I let you live here…magic is for weak hands, lanky Elves and cheaters.”
“It is not. I have worked so hard training with you as warrior but I also want to study magic and these books are teaching me how to go about it.”
“Lords of stone and steel you have lost your way to heresy; Dwarves have inborn resistance to magic and trying to embrace such a life will only bring you sorrow.”
“How will it bring me sorrow?”
“Because if you don’t burn these blackguard works with me right now and swear to never pursue such o’er I shall disclaim you as my son and you will never darken my door again; you will be dead to me and the family.”
Targin said nothing he just looked into his father’s angry eyes. Raff tore one book in half as he let the others fall from grasp. “No, you are dead to me and you will leave with what you wear this very moment; get out.”
* * * *
Sleeping for the night under an Ironroot tree with a blanket he’d bought his youngest sister in Krisabell was the entire plan for his life he could manage right now. Sarcy a middle aged human shop keeper that traded in minor magical wares would be the person he’d go see in the morning. She such a nice woman said if he wanted to follow his dream to become a mage in earnest she would help. Targin fell asleep staring at ruined armor piled in a heap next to him as he grasped the largest bear tooth next to his heart.
The shop pale yellow with deep blue wrap around porch, tin roof and a decagonal door comprised almost entirely of stained glass in clashing cobalt, canary yellow, rose red and swirling purple tear drop designs wasn’t just Sarcy’s shop it doubled as home. The roof slanted so rain would pour to the back of the house into a great trough; extra water for her garden if she needed. Just a little past noon, Targin made good time to the outskirts of Krisabell, and already his stomach grumbled like he hadn’t eaten all day.
He approached the shop recalling not having supper, breakfast and now soon to be lunch; no wonder he felt faint. The ruined armor weighed heavier now than it did five minutes ago because being at Sarcy;s Sorceries doorstep looking for a handout brought depression and fear. Maybe she couldn’t help or maybe her politeness toward a Dwarf wanting to learn magic wouldn’t go beyond kind words. Targin stepped onto the porch as the glass door opened. Sarcy met Targin eye to eye; she wasn’t wearing her high heels today. “Oh hello Targin, what on earth happened to your armor and why do you look so sad?” Her white blouse and long parsley colored skirt worn with flat silver buckled shoes with teal and red paisley sun hat revealed a thinning frame of a woman aging gracefully. Targin answered, “Yesterday I fought a bear and it ruined my armor then my father found my books on magic…” He didn’t know how to explain his family situation to a woman he really didn’t know. Sarcy smiled. “Targin Gemana of the Krimhald clan I can see your heart is heavy as the armor you wear.” She motioned her guest inside. “How about some sweet tea and some biscuits with honey or jam?” Tagrin’s face brightened, “Yes that would be great.”