Rodario the Seventh went red. The laughter brought him to his senses and he clenched his fists. When he sees my act. He was enjoying his victory quietly, not making a triumph out of it. This endeared him to her even more. She was surprised to find her heart beating wildly when she looked at him. People started chucking rotten vegetables and snowballs at Rodario the Seventh. He put up with it just like he endured the catcalls and abuse.
The Incomparable stepped forward unexpectedly and raised his arms. Same as me. The Incomparable had made her out straightaway and pointed. He no longer had a genial air about him. Her response was greeted with renewed laughter. Rodario looked at his defender, who was just about to make a barbed retort. In a dramatic gesture he whirled around, swinging his wide mantle effectively—and as he did so some papers fell out onto the ground. Most came to rest on the stage, but a couple were caught by a gust of wind and wafted out of reach before the actor could grab them.
The first line alone, in its extravagant handwriting, was enough for the young woman to know that her wishes had become reality. An armored gauntlet grabbed at the paper; the Lohasbrander had snatched it out of her grasp. The leader of the Lohasbrander turned to his companion, retrieved the paper and handed it back to the young woman.
Hardly had she finished speaking when the Lohasbrander turned back toward the stage. Stupid competition. The actor made a deep bow. He has withdrawn with dignity. The man in white jumped down from the dais and walked over to the Seventh Rodario to congratulate him on withdrawing from the contest. He took out a dried flower from under his coat and handed it to him. He thanked the audience with a series of theatrical bows.
Rodario the Seventh stood next to the steps looking rather lost with his dried flower. Studying it sadly, he failed to see members of the audience moving bad-temperedly out of the way to make room for a troop of orcs moving over through the market square. Twenty of them surrounded the stage, and four climbed up.
Anyone acquainted with the history of the orcs in Girdlegard would have been surprised to see these particular specimens. The difference in their appearance, it was said, came from the fact that they were from the western part of the Outer Lands and had always been followers of Lohasbrand. They were clever and behaved sensibly—all of which made these Dragon-serving monsters much more dangerous. They clanked and stomped their way over the boards and their captain positioned himself face to face with The Incomparable One. The Dragon has been waiting for an opportunity like this!
She turned pale and got up cautiously from her seat. Loytan did likewise and followed her to cover her back. The leader of the Lohasbranders had got up and was looking at the stage. The orc held up the paper in his fist. Everyone saw it. She tried to protect him! She and that criminal are in cahoots. The Incomparable Rodario did not dare to move. The sharp blade was too close to his throat, so he had to allow himself to be taken captive. The orcs tied his arms behind his back while their captain stared at him intently.
Never forget that. Nobody could remember a cycle when two contestants pulled out of the competition within minutes of each other. These armored and helmeted dwarves were associated only with loss and pain in the minds of the inhabitants. The residents of Hangtower, the small town the band was heading for, were no exception.
The name of the unit had no romantic connotations. It had purely practical origins: Whatever they desired, they had to have; no ifs, no buts. He was not concerned with appearances. He signaled for the wagon with the tribute to be brought over and positioned himself in front of it. That way the dwarves would be assured at first glance that their tribute was going to be paid, but he could discourage them from actually entering the town. In spite of the chill, Rotha was starting to sweat.
Recent winters had been colder than ever. He saw it as a sign of how badly things were going for the peoples of Girdlegard, although, as the protectorate of the thirdling dwarves, Hangtower had got away comparatively lightly. Rotha had no reason to doubt the truth of such rumors. In all probability the details of cruel treatment were spot on. One of the councilors, Tilda Cooperstone, a long-standing close friend, joined him. She was as tall as he was, with blond hair peeking out from under her cap; her green eyes were full of concern.
As were his own. It was fear, fear pure and simple, that was making him sweat. Rotha shook his head. To the letter. A cold wind blew in, finding any gaps in their clothing and making them all shiver. When the gate was fully open they could see the squadron of thirdlings less than one hundred paces off. And this time they were accompanied. The black armor of the three tall riders contrasted sharply with the white of the falling snow.
Each time a night-mare hoof hit the ground, sparks flew, making the whiteness fizz and disappear. The sight of the blood-red symbol fluttering in the wind chilled Cooperstone to the core, though she could not have said why. Terror made not flesh, but fabric. The tension was making him behave unfairly toward her. She smiled at him.
It was a wavering smile. When they introduced the new squadron commander. Their leader is still Hargorin Deathbringer. Like all their kind. The eye sockets seemed empty. That was the distinguishing feature when comparing them with their friendly relations, the elves. In daylight the whites of the eyes turned black as night. He lifted his head and looked at the gate-watchmen. The more the sweat dripped off his forehead or ran down under his clothing, the drier his mouth became.
We would have no chance at all against a hundred and fifty, and even if we did—what then? Leather creaked, harnesses clinked, the ponies snorted. And until they did so, the latter were not allowed to raise their heads. Rotha and Cooperstone heard someone dismount, landing heavily. There was the sound of crunching snow and then regular footsteps approached, announced by the rhythmic clink of metal. The burgomaster saw iron-tipped boots the right size for a thirdling. One of their many scary tricks. He was sweating even more heavily now; the silence was wearing him down and grating on his nerves more harshly than any yells or accusations.
A weapon was drawn slowly, then something swished through the air. To the right next to him there came a grinding sound followed by a gasp.
The Revenge of the Dwarves
There was another swipe and blood poured down onto the fresh white snow. The head of Councilor Cooperstone rolled between his feet and Rotha cried out in horror. At the same moment the decapitated body of the woman crashed full length to the ground. Hargorin Deathbringer, a dwarf of impressive stature, had thrown back his mantle to take better aim. In his right hand he held a long-handled hatchet whose blade was covered in blood. His chain-mail tunic with its metal discs was splashed now with red, and the tattooed visage and black-streaked tawny beard had blood spatters, too.
The reddish-brown eyebrows joined in a scowl as the dwarf noticed Rotha. The burgomaster opened his mouth to speak, but words failed him. He saw that the saddles of the night-mares were empty. There were no footprints around where these brutalized former unicorns were standing. So it was true what they said! Meanwhile, the pennant with the cruel but fascinatingly beautiful runes flapped from the pole attached to the saddle. The breath that had wafted past his nose had smelled of nothing, nothing at all. Loss and fear have robbed him of his senses and are making him stupid.
Rotha was about to turn but his legs would not obey him. You tell him. It was on your orders. It sounded like it was a different speaker this time. Stupidly, she was related to her as well. Foolish indeed! He carefully covered it with snow. Hargorin gruffly told the assembled Hangtower notables that they could lift their heads. We expect nothing less of Hangtower. They inspected the chests and sacks filled with coins and gold bars. Rotha finally managed to stop himself shaking and turned around. He saw they were two males and a female, but could not begin to guess their ages.
What struck him was the similarity of their faces. The burgomaster assumed they were siblings. Any male opponent would immediately be distracted by the sight of her—and would meet his death at her hands. Rotha noted the solid parrying staves that stuck out, right and left; double-bladed daggers were fastened on their thighs. Their armor had a metal reinforcing band running the length of the spine. One of the men had a store of metal discs the size of the palm of a hand just above the buttocks; the woman had the same, attached to her upper arms.
Perhaps for throwing? Any admiration for her beauty turned to fear. Rotha bowed to her again, as if she were a queen. She decided who should live and who should die.
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She decided whether the town should perish or thrive. It is not aimed at Hangtower and its citizens but, all the same, if anyone should stand in our way, be he courageous or simply foolhardy, then the town will not survive to see the morrow. You will take us there, weak man. Rotha gulped and choked. His throat was more constricted than the eye of a needle. Take us there. Hargorin and his soldiers will carry the tribute away now. Hargorin had swung himself up onto the driving seat and was driving the wagon out through the gate. He left the town, the escort squadron stand surrounding him, and the dwarves moved slowly off.
The three night-mares stood snorting outside the gate, their red eyes fixed on the sentries. Now and then they would run their tongues across their muzzles, displaying vicious incisors. The men drew back. No one wanted to risk being bitten or even torn to pieces. It was said they ate humans alive if they took the fancy. And that was one of the relatively harmless fates reported.
It was a decent family: A big one. Distressed, Rotha nodded. There were no secrets. The only thing he could do was to stretch out the walk through the alleyways. He prayed to Palandiell that the news of the three merciless murderers would get round quickly enough for the family to have escaped. What else could he have done?
One by one they pulled out their daggers and made for the entrance. Enslin Rotha sobbed when he heard the screams. He put his hands over his eyes. Yet those awful screams of the dying, echoing round the narrow lanes, burned their way into his brain, forever reproaching him. Hargorin guided the wagon away from the town; the Black Squadron surrounded their leader and the valuable tribute.
They were due to go to Morningvale, a village in thirdling thrall. It had taken fifty cycles to build it exactly to his specifications. It had no equal anywhere among the dwarf realms—or rather, in what remained now of the dwarf realms—for the strength and thickness of its walls. There was no arguing with that. When the squad turned east, rounding a small wood, the stronghold came into sight.
At its highest point it was over thirty paces high, proudly displaying to travelers precisely who ruled this tract of land. And anyone who knew about dwarf-runes would be able to see that the incumbent hated all dwarves apart from the thirdling folk.
From afar, the inscription on the castle wall promised all other dwarves death and destruction. Elsewhere the chiseled devices contained general vilifications. To the ignorant they might look like decoration, but any child of the Smith happening on these runes would be incensed and would attack immediately. Hargorin grinned in satisfaction as he admired his home. Smoke billowed up from the chimneys of the houses and the shacks surrounding Vraccas-Spite. The human residents of Morningvale had sought the shelter and warmth of their own dwellings. He left them in peace. There was no urgent need for them to be doing the forced labor they owed him.
He was distracted by the sound of cloth tearing on the cart behind him. Hargorin turned his head and looked at the sack that had torn because of the weight of its contents. He would have to make good anything missing from the tribute and that went against the grain. Hargorin was certainly not going to do that. Instead, without warning, he hurled himself to the right. A whizzing brought a dull blow to his left shoulder. He only felt the pain a moment or two later.
The dwarf cowered down to get protection from the side of the wagon, but the horses, terrified by his swift movement and the sound of the arrow, whinnied wildly and bolted, leaving the reins trailing in the snow. They galloped up against the ponies in front of them, veering round to overtake them, the wagon swaying uncontrollably.
Then they changed direction and headed for the trees, exactly the course the woman had demanded. The thirdlings riding alongside watched in alarm and spurred their mounts to keep up with the runaway horses. He drew his long-handled hatchet and plunged its cutting edge into the sack where he thought the woman was hiding. In the meantime two dwarves were trying to get their ponies in front of the horses so that they could grab their reins, but the petrified animals were going too fast.
One by one the members of the Black Squadron fell back, leaving the speeding cart still heading toward the wood.
Hargorin was on his own. The hatchet blade had met something hard and there was a dull moan. The sack fell forward and, surrounded by fragments of wood and silver coins, a young woman tumbled to the floor. The dwarf presumed the rebels had put the wood in the sacks to create a space for the archer woman. Hargorin recognized her immediately. You were there. The blade sank into the wood immediately next to her. Mallenia, descendant of the famous hero Prince Mallen of Idoslane, aimed a kick at the thirdling and hit him in the chest.
The dwarf fell back onto another sack, the crossbow bolt burying itself deeper into his flesh and emerging the other side, making a bump in the chain-mail shirt. He could feel that something had been severed in the shoulder joint; groaning, he let his arm hang down. The chest Hargorin had been standing on opened up and a masked figure stepped out in a shower of coins. Suddenly she spotted the Black Squadron galloping after them through the snow; they had not given up their pursuit by a long chalk.
No thirdlings willingly resign themselves to failure, and this elite unit of the Desirers would be the last to think of doing so. In contrast to most other dwarf folk, they were excellent riders who had been perfecting their art for more than a hundred cycles. Because the other children of the Smith preferred not to use ponies, the thirdlings had the upper hand on the battlefield. This had been proved painfully time and again to the humans and dwarves who opposed them. The lock had jammed, preventing him from freeing himself from his hiding place. The horses rushed along the narrow woodland path, clouds of snow rising in their wake.
They had hardly reached the shelter of the trees before seven tree trunks came crashing down onto the path behind them to prevent pursuit. Anyone wishing to give chase would have to slash their way through dense undergrowth. This had all been prepared in advance and worked a treat. Mallenia clambered over to the thirdling and sat on the sack next to him.
Her eyes scanned the wrinkled face of her captive; then she pulled a blanket over her shoulders. She was wearing only thin clothing instead of protective armor—a considerable risk, given her mission, but that could not be avoided. Otherwise she would not have been able to hide in the sack. Her long blond hair was gathered in a braid. Black knee-high laced boots each had long-handled daggers strapped to them, and she held a small crossbow, which she aimed at Hargorin.
It belongs to them, after all. You deserve death. It seemed Hargorin wanted to say something, but then thought better of it. He looked at the man with the saber, then dropped his voice. A shudder of fear went through Mallenia. His words had not sounded icy or arrogant, but like an honest warning. Probably a thirdling trick to intimidate and confuse her. She laughed out loud to show she did not believe him.
He frowned. Three siblings: Threefold viciousness and threefold cruelty. They want you to lose your support base among the people of Idoslane, Urgon and Gauragar. In her hiding place she had been unable to hear anything when her relative was killed other than dull murmurs, and she had likewise seen nothing through the slits in the sacking. She gulped. Hargorin gritted his teeth to bite back a moan, then cursed out loud.
Mallenia did not know what to do. Ride back to her family? Or go on ahead with the men? The wagon soon left the shelter of the wood and the driver brought it to a halt near a group of two dozen riders. They cheered Mallenia and started to unload the treasure. The Desirers would have to follow twenty-four different trails to retrieve the coins and gold bars.
They would have no chance at all on their short-legged ponies, in spite of their riding prowess. The tall woman was handed her padded armor with its engraved coat of arms of the family of Prince Mallen of Ido. She attached her short swords to her weapons belt, threw a hooded cloak around her shoulders and mounted her white steed. Mallenia rode next to the cart on which the thirdling was being guarded. There was a pool of blood by his shoulder wound, dripping through the boards onto the snow. She considered the dwarf at length.
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Then she spurred her horse to take her back to Hangtower. She wanted to help her family and prayed to the gods she might arrive in time. The tribute money had been distributed and most of the messengers had left. Four of them were stowing the last of the sacks behind their saddles when the sound of approaching troops alerted them.
The Black Squadron were coming up fast. The dwarf had fended off the blade with his hand! He kicked the box and turned it over. Then, while his adversary was trying to regain his balance, he jumped up and punched the man in the face with his bloodied fist. The latter groaned and fell into the open chest, the lid banging shut on top of him.
The man could not parry the powerful blow, and his sword arm was severed between wrist and elbow. The heavy blade edge carried on its trajectory; fatally injured in the back of the neck, the dying man fell to the ground, spattering blood from the wound as if trying to write his own name in the snow. The last two men made off but Hargorin took aim and hurled his ax after them with a wild shout.
The weapon hummed through the air and split the spine of the messenger on the right. He fell at full gallop without a sound, somersaulting over and over. When he reached where the dead man lay with the hatchet in his back, Hargorin leaned down and picked up the weapon. Hargorin soon overtook the messenger, who was zigzagging his mount in an attempt to shake the pursuer off, but to no avail. The terrified man even tried cutting the ropes securing the money sacks, one by one, to lose weight and gain speed, but it was no use.
After a skillful piece of deception and a nifty feint to the right, Hargorin came level with the man and landed a blow powerful enough to slice through reins, armor and clothing. With a scream the last of the messengers fell out of the saddle backwards and crashed onto the snow-covered earth. The thirdling brought his mount to a halt and turned.
He saw that the Black Squadron was approaching, some through the forest and others skirting the woods to the right and left. His injured shoulder was throbbing badly and his hand was hurting, but it did not matter as long as he could still move the fingers. The bones and tendons were untouched. The man moaned and struggled.
It was not an easy decision. Not in these times. He shook his head. I should be able to get there in spite of the injury. There was a crack, and blood poured out of the cut and out of his mouth and nose. When the thirdling pulled the blade out again, the lifeless corpse fell back. He steered his horse round the body, back to the wagon and the Black Squadron. This orbit had cost him dear and his fortune would be plundered for it.
Mallenia took a look behind her and recognized a unit of the Black Squadron coming round the edge of the wood. She was far enough away from the dwarves. The Desirers no longer presented a danger. But when she looked ahead, her heart sank.
A huge cloud of smoke was billowing up from Hangtower; a sight that made deadly sense in light of those words of Hargorin Deathbringer. She spurred her horse on to greater speed still, taking it back off open ground to the road to gain time. The town gates stood wide open and several bodies—which, as she slowed her horse, she saw to be those of the sentries—lay out in the snow. A raging fire was crackling and hissing, a hubbub of voices reached her ears, and the horse snorted in fear. The guards had been killed with precise stab wounds. The decapitated body of a woman lay in the middle of the path.
Mallenia could see it was Tilda Cooperstone. Although she already knew she was too late. The streets were filled with people shouting and lamenting, clutching their possessions; some were carrying their children while others were gathering what was most necessary or valuable, loading it onto horses, donkeys or oxen, and heading out of town.
The building was in the middle of the inferno. Mallenia stopped, while a stream of fleeing townspeople swept past her, some blindly bumping into her horse, which danced nervously on the spot. No one was fighting the flames—perhaps they had tried but been forced to give up the attempt. Without a miracle the whole of Hangtower would be razed to the ground. Her thoughts were racing. She had not known Tilda well but had liked her open and generous spirit. They could not have met more than ten or so times altogether and Tilda would have had no inkling of the plan to steal the tribute.
The punishment that had been meted out to Tilda and Hangtower was unjustifiable. Totally unjustifiable. They were out to destroy all descendants of the house of Mallen and that was all. In that, at least, Hargorin had spoken the truth. His woolen coat and boots had been destroyed by the flames, as if he had been walking through the fire itself.
Get away, keep up the resistance and never give up, do you hear? I was a fool not to support you all. Her struggle seemed pointless to her now if it dragged innocent victims down with it. Rotha patted her leg, his badly burned hand leaving a damp mark on her boot, and she thought she could feel the heat his body exuded. If you die, all is lost. However hard she tried to rein it in, Mallenia could not slow it down. Mallenia left Hangtower feeling more vulnerable and cast-down than ever, in spite of the success of the mission and her victory over the Desirers.
Even the triumph she had scored over their leader. It was all fading fast. Am I right, Scholar?
Passar bra ihop
The walls were hung with weaponry and shields and one side of the room was covered with various maps of Girdlegard. The table they were sitting at had a detailed plan of the fortress displayed under a sheet of glass. The room spoke of attention to detail, strategy and combat readiness, such as befitted a general.
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Tungdil had taken off his tionium armor and was wearing a dark beige garment decorated with runes and symbols; his brown beard was still trimmed short, as always, but now it was thicker and showed a distinctly silvery streak on the right side. His long brown hair was dressed close to the scalp with oil and hung down loose at the back.
He stopped chewing. Are all your soldiers drunkards, then? He slammed it down on the table, wiped the foam from his lips and gave a resounding belch. Goda introduced you just now. And the two sturdily built boys will be fine warriors. That makes them unique! He had the air of being uncomfortably affected as he continued. Tungdil seemed to search for the right words. Their stonework is excellent. As if you were… one of them. Tungdil looked down and touched his golden eye patch with his left hand.
The mirth had disappeared and shadows returned to his countenance. The dwarves have a saying: Memories and worries need beer. They waited in silence until the door opened and the drink was served to them. Wordlessly, they each drained their next tankard, then Tungdil forced himself to speak. No one who knew the Tungdil I once was. But to survive in the places I have been, searching for a way out of the demonic world, I had to do these things. To get them subject to my will I had to be even worse. Tungdil shook his head.
I have lived too long in the darkness. Allow me to adjust to the light of your friendship. They drank a toast to each other. There was no communication as long as the shield was in place. Sounds worrying. How much of this is true? Be the first to write a review. Add to Wishlist. In Stock. Unable to Load Delivery Dates. Enter an Australian post code for delivery estimate.
Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Description Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! The Revenge of the Dwarves Dwarves. The Dwarves Dwarves : Book 1. Popular Searches inner game of work the kingmaker chronicles the kingkiller chronicles the lost rainforest mez's magic chronicles of ancient darkness. Out of the entire series this has to be the best. From the start it had me thinking about the old characters and how the story has evolved.
The Fate of the Dwarves
Your local Waterstones may have stock of this item. The concluding novel in the international bestselling Dwarves series. Added to basket. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Early Riser. Jasper Fforde. Lies Sleeping. Ben Aaronovitch. Jay Kristoff. Good Omens. Neil Gaiman. Norse Mythology.