The Hammer of Hu'Mod Part 22
by Joe Solmo
Once Grian got his feet moving it wasn’t that difficult to enter the village. He realized that his elf companion was right. He had faced a lot harder obstacles in his time away from home. He led the dwarves past the first houses, the farms that surrounded the village center. Evening was approaching and excited dwarves were leaving their dinners for their front doors to see who approached. Grian watched as many of the dwarves that travelled with him broke off to see their loved ones. It was an exciting time and soon the village broke out into celebration.
Grian was relieved when no one stopped him from going home. His house looked exactly the same as when he left and he could smell his mother’s cooking before he even opened the door. Some kind of stew, he thought. Mutton? It was now only Birell, Jyr and himself now. He reached out with a hand and knocked on the door.
“What are you doing lad, it’s your home,” Jyr said.
“It doesn’t feel like home. Not yet,” Grian said and waited. He heard his mother’s footsteps as she made her way to the door.
“Who is it?” he heard her voice from the other side. There was definitely something different about it. A sense of worry he didn’t remember her having before.
“The constable ma’am,” Grian responded in his most authoritative voice.
“Hamas, is that you?” he heard her call out. Grian smiled.
“It’s your damned fool son playing a prank!” the impatient Jyr called out and opened the door. Grian saw his mother for the first time in years looking back at him. Over all she hadn’t changed that much. He did see a few gray hairs sparkling in the lantern light, and a few more wrinkles than he remembered, but for the most part she was the same. He ran in and gave her a hug without thinking about how she would receive him.
His mother wrapped her strong arms around him, strong from years of cleaning up after the members of her family. Grian couldn’t believe how great it felt to be in his mother’s arms again.
“Is that mutton stew, Alma?” Jyr asked pushing past them. Grian pulled back and smiled at his mother.
“Your father hasn’t changed,” she said with a warm smile. “But you have, me son. Look at ye. You’re a man now.”
“Things have changed for me, but I am the same, on the inside,” he responded.
“How is….your gift? I have heard things,” she said.
“It is good. Let us talk about this another time, we are starving,” Grian said.
“Oh? Who is we?” his mother asked and looked over Grian’s shoulder at the stranger on her doorstep.
“How rude of me,” Grian said over the clamor of his father rooting through the cabinets looking from something to eat stew out of. “Mother, may I introduce, Birell Wildwood of the Charindril elves, but don’t hold it against her, it’s not her fault she was born an elf,” he said in turned towards Birell.
“Any friend of my son’s is a friend to my home,” Alma said and bowed to Birell.
“I thank you for the hospitality,” Birell replied.
“ALMA! DID YOU MOVE THE BOWLS!” came Jyr’s voice from the other room. Grian watched as his mother rolled her eyes and sighed.
“Please come in,” she said to Birell and headed to her husband. Grian smiled at his elf friend and shrugged.
Over dinner the estranged family got back together. Soon laughter was heard throughout the home and Grian couldn’t be happier. This was the life he had always wanted. He didn’t want to leave, especially the way he did, but hadn’t a choice at the time. For the first time in a long time he could let his guard down and truly enjoy life. The ale flowed freely, even in Birell’s mug, which Grian was surprised at. Not once over dinner and the subsequent dessert did he notice the eyes watching him through the round window that hung over the sink.
Not everyone was happy that Grian had returned. It’s true the returning dwarf soldiers spoke highly of him, but the constable, Hamas was sworn to protect this village from all dangers, including returning sons with strange powers. Powers weren’t natural, and even more than that, mystical powers was something he wasn’t equipped to deal with. As soon as he heard from the village scouts that Grian was returning with the party of dwarves, not as a prisoner, but as a leader, he had sent for help. He just hoped it would arrive in time before Grian tried anything he couldn’t handle… The eyes turned to the darkness that enveloped the village and quietly walked off towards the village center.
Birell awoke to bright sunlight shining in through a small round window above the bed. She wondered how with light so bright she could feel so cold. The thin mountain air must be the culprit, she thought as she got dressed. She scanned the room the dwarven family had given her for the time being, it at one point belonged to Grian’s brother.
The elf left the room and walked down the short hall to the kitchen area. The family was already awake and breakfast was cooking. She always prided herself on being an early riser, but this morning somehow got away from her.
By midday, Grian had finished the chores his mother gave him to do. She said no matter how old he was, he wasn’t too old to help with mother out. In all honesty he didn’t mind helping out. It helped alleviate the guilt of leaving home when he did, even if it wasn’t his idea. Grian walked Birell around the village playing tour guide, and introducing her to old friends and families of the soldiers they had met.
Birell was most excited about the wares for sale. She wanted to refit herself with supplies and weapons before she moved on. There were many shops and booths to choose from. There was no shortage of dwarven forgemen. Grian helped her avoid the shadier traders in the village, the ones that preyed on travelers.
“Well look at that face, last time I saw it, it was as hairless as me baby’s arse,” Grian heard from behind him and spun around. He looked at the black haired dwarf standing in fron of him.
“Kregas?” he said tilting his head a little to the left.
“Yes sir, you bet yer arse,” the black haired dwarf said and ran up and gave Grian a giant hug.
“Who’s the stick?” Kregas asked.
“This is my friend, Birell. She helped me as I travelled the world,” Grian said pointing to the elf.
“Hello, nice to meet you,” Birell said with a curtsy that was more at home in the royal court than in a village square.
“She’s a fancy one, I see. I am Kregas,” the dwarf said and tried to bow in the most fanciful manner he could, but he failed miserably. Birell stifled a laugh with the back of her hand.
“How’s your father doing?” Grian asked the dwarf.
“He’s doing well,” Kregas said.
“It’s not about how I am doing, Grian, but how are you doing. I have heard some concerning things about you. Things you have done that no decent dwarf should ever do,” came a voice from behind. Grian spun around again and saw the constable of the village standing there with his right hand resting on the handle of a club he carried everywhere he goes.
“Constable Hamas you look exactly the same,” Grian said. Birell’s eyes went back and forth between the dwarves. She found her own hand resting on the pommel of her weapon.
“I would like you to come to my office, Grian. I have some questions I would like answered. To put my mind to rest with you back here in the village,” the constable said.
“You have nothing to fear from me. I am a good guy,” Grian said.
“I hear that from others as well. Just come see me. For the sake of my sanity,” Hamas said and turned to his son. “Kregas, come!” The pair walked off without another word. Grian let out the breath he didn’t realize he was holding in.
“What an arsehole,” he said under his breath.
“Don’t listen to Hamas, he hasn’t been right in the head since he fell out of his mum,” the store owner said with a smile. “If half of what he believed was true, this surely would be a time of darkness. Grian I watched you grow, I know you are a good lad. I hear good things from those that traveled with you. I just wanted to tell you that you have my support,” he finished. Grian smiled back at the shopkeep.
“I wish everyone felt that way,” Grian said.
“I know they will when they get a chance to talk with you,” Birell said and paid the shopkeeper for a pair of matching short swords. The shopkeeper handed Birell back the coins.
“I can’t take your money. Just promise me you will use them to keep him safe” the old shopkeeper said with a nod.
“You have my word, Sir Dwarf,” Birell responded. Together they walked off towards the tavern on the far side of the square.
Most afternoons the dwarves gather in the tavern and talk about the gossip of the day, week or stories they make up. Sometimes the break in the workday can come as early as one in the afternoon, sometimes it continues on through the evening and into the night. On very rare occasions on gossip session at the tavern could last over several days.
Several of the soldiers from the road had started the gossip session a little early today and when Grian and Birell entered they waved them over. Grian knew he had his work cut out for him, being behind on the drinking. He relayed what the constable had told him to his friends. They all nodded when he told them of Hamas’s aggressive behavior.
It seemed the general consensus was that Hamas was just a jerk. Grian still thought that the confrontation with Hamas wasn’t going to be a good time. The soldiers told Grian not to worry about it. It wouldn’t take long before the people came around and Hamas would have to admit that Grian was a good guy.
They stayed until darkness began to fall on the village, then made their way back to Grian’s home for dinner. It was important to him to be there for the evening meal while he was back in town. It was the only time during the dwarf’s day where everyone gets together and catches up with each other.
His father had returned to work at the brewery since returning, and mentioned a few times how they could use another there, but Grian knew that even though he loved being home, he wasn’t going to stay around for much longer. His destiny didn’t lie in the village. His calling would take him to different places.
“Hamas came by the brewery today,” Jyr said between forkfuls of meat. “He was asking all kinds of questions about you.”
“We also had a run in with him,” Grian said. “He was less than pleasant.”
“He is always rude,” Alma said. “Such a miserable dwarf,” she finished and placed more potatoes on her plate with a wooden spoon. Grian looked at the spoon. It was the first thing he had every tried to carve. It was bumpy and the handle was crooked. Imperfect, just like him.
“Will this constable cause trouble for us?” Birell asked.
“Nothing we can’t handle,” Jyr said and finished off his ale.
“I can talk to Kregas, maybe he could give us some insight,” Grian said.
“He has been recently falling into his father’s footsteps. I am pretty sure if Hamas stops short, poor Kregas will put himself right up his father’s arse,” Jyr said and laughed.
“Oh really, at the table?” Alma said.
“Sorry, my love,” Jyr replied and belched. “A fine meal.” The dinner came to an abrupt halt when a scream rang out from the village center.
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