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An Evening Under the Council of Dwarves

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

An Evening Under the Council of Dwarves

Writing prompt: Your character comes across a group of dwarves. Their conversation changes him.

Yellow rays of sunlight are replaced by shadows of purple and blue. The daytime creatures make way for those of the night, and Keatoph plans to join them. He walks a little further through the woods, looking for a decent place to camp. However, his exploration is interrupted by a distant firelight.

The young warrior will not sleep safely or soundly with unknown company nearby. He crouches low and heads to the light.

To his surprise, he finds a company of dwarves, sitting around a fire, humming a hymn they all know well. He waits in the darkness and listens. They sing of family, both immediate and distant. They pledge themselves to these in song and with small wooden instruments. The music wells something up inside of Keatoph and he wishes to join them.

After a few tunes, he decides that he must.

“Hello, friends,” He greets. The dwarves turn and look at him. They seem surprised, but not scared. Dwarves almost never look scared. “I heard you singing. What was that about?”

“It is the song of our people,” one answers with a deep voice that is both strong and restrained. “An oath to my own.”

“It is beautiful,” Keatoph tells them. “I must admit, it makes me very much want to speak with you.”

“Please,” another replies, stretching out his arm. His moustache is big and wide. His beard is long and bushy. “Come join us.” and so our hero does. “My name is Cota. This is my brother Grota,” he points at the first dwarf. “That over there is Hunly and Dugo.” The two dwarves nod at the young adventurer.

“Nice to meet you all,” he greets. “My name is Keatoph.”

“Here,” Hunly answers, ``have some food and drink.” He pulls some meat from the fire, and some bread from his pouch to sandwich it together. Then, he hands it off to Keatoph.

“Thank you very much.”

Keatoph looks at them all with a soft smile. He struggles to get out his next words. “I have something which I want to tell you. But I can only tell you because I don’t know you.”

The dwarves look at Keatoph with much confusion. They do not usually have conversations that start this way.

“What you have,” our protagonist continues. “I want that. I want family. I want people who know me and love me. Not people who love what I do or how I look. I want people who really love me. And not because I am great... but because they have simply made up their minds too.” He looks at them. They look back.

Usually a statement like this would fluster and scare off people. In fact, this is why Keatoph has stopped to look at them. He wants to see if he has made a mistake. To his relief, they do not look frightened. But again, most dwarves never do.

“Why don’t you have it?” Cota asks.

“That’s the thing. That’s why I can only tell you because I don’t know you. Nobody can love me, because nobody can know me.”

“I’m not tracking with you,” Dugo pipes in for the first time.

“I’ll explain,” Keatoph answers. “Can I show you something?” They all nod their heads, and give perplexed looks.

Keatoph rises from where he sits and unstraps his breastplate. He sets it down, turns away, and lifts up the back of his shirt. There is a scar, long, thick, and wild.

“Where did you get that?” Hunly blurts out with surprise. “That thing is huge!”

“I know,” Keatoph admits with low eyes, returning to his spot on the ground. “My father gave it to me.” There is silence. Even Keatoph can not answer his own statement.

“I’ll explain.” He goes forward telling a story that is too sad to put here in such short writing.

“I’m sorry for your pain,” Cota tells him after an interlude of quiet. “We are inevitably bound to our fathers. There is something about it, dwarf or man, that is inescapable.”

“Still,” Grota chimes in, “That is a despicable thing.”

“I agree,” says Cota, taking a swig from his canteen. “But, I have a question for you, Keatoph.”

“Fire away,” the young man smiles, water drowning his sight. He feels bare before them. Both relief and regret muttle his senses.

“Why does what happened to you mean you can’t start your own family, separate from that?” Keatoph nods at the question.

“My father is still my father,” he answers. “I love him, and I do not want to see him ruined, anymore than I want to be ruined for my past mistakes. For someone to love me, they must know me. For someone to know me, they must know who I am. This,” he points at his back, “has shaped me in unimaginable ways. It’s what keeps me in this forest. It’s what keeps me alone. It’s why I don’t go swimming in public places. I’m afraid someone will see. My father’s voice and memory is always with me. And so, for someone to love me, actually me,” he points his thumb at his chest. They must know what my father has done to me. But, I love my father… and so… nobody can love me.”

“Makes sense to me,” Hunly carelessly responds. The other dwarves retaliate by throwing their scraps at him.

“Keatoph,” Grota addresses him, after throwing the last of his squirrel bones at his friend. “I lead this party, and in function, it is a road I walk alone.” He turns his eyes to each of his comrades. “That being said, even leading cannot be done alone.” He turns his gaze back to the young warrior. “You need to find someone, whom you trust, to walk with you.”

“That is a hard journey,” Cota notes, “but a necessary one.”

“Yes,” Keatoph agrees, “but I don’t know that I can.”

“I’m telling you, Keatoph,” Grota answers. “You must. Think of it this way,” he continues, rising slowly to stand. “If you get close to someone, you are sure to bump your elbows. You will hurt and be hurt. But, if you lock your arms,” he pulls Hunly and Dugo up, interlocking arms with them. “Then when you fall, you will never have to hit the ground.” He slowly lifts both feet off the ground. Hunly and Dugo keep their arms firmly twisted around his, ensuring that Grota remains up with them. “Things that are bigger than you have befallen on you. As a result, you are living your life on the ground. You need this.”

“We all do,” Cota remarks, smiling at the sight.

“Yeah, we do.”

Keatoph stays the evening with them. They enjoy food, stories, and laughter together. They treat Keatoph as family. In the morning, they invite him to come visit Garaghoul with them. He declines, opting to continue his hunt for the orc, Grifkar.

It is a happy moment. Still, sad moments are to come. If only they knew what is happening at Garaghoul.

Read chapter one here.

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