Age had done nothing to diminish the handsome features of Waybrun Heft, father to the legendary fighter, Taen the Terror. As the Queen of Kelgrond took in the sight of the still gorgeous male, her mind drifted to the memories of their time spent together. It put an arch in her brow and a smile on her royal lips. "Yer still one damn good lookin' dwarf, Waybrun. Och, I miss ye in me bed sometimes," she purred at the wealthy banker.
"Ye do me great honor, me Queen. I, too, think of yer body many a night as I lay in bed alone. Which, these days, is all too bloody often," Waybrun replied. "But ye didn't summon me ta yer chambers ta talk about how we used ta fuck, did ye now? I'm thinkin' that yer ta be needin' some information on a certain brash and petulant son o' ours. Is that about right, Yer Highness?"
At the mention of her bastard son, Queen Taena's lewd smirk fled from her royal face as quickly as it had appeared, replaced by a scowl that threatened ill tidings. "Aye, I have need o' the bastard, Waybrun. Where is he, then?"
"Can no' say, me Queen, cuz I do no' be knowin'. I sent them lad from me home many years ago, and have no' heard a lick from him since. We did no' end our last meetin' in a cordial manner, ye see."
Taena rolled her eyes and spat back, "So I've heard, What'd ye go and do all that for? Ye were supposed to protect him and keep him safe so that he'd be ready to lead me army one day. How in the fuck did ye no' remember my only bloody instructions to ye in regards to our son, then?"
"Lass," Waybrun began, but at an icy look from Taena, he quickly amended his words, "Err, I mean, Yer Royal Highness, it was no' my plan. The lad just would no' listen ta me. ME! His bloody Da'! I lost me temper, I do admit it. I regret what I said ta him. I... I miss Taen. Dreadfully, if ye care ta hear it."
"Weel, be that as it may, Waybrun, the dwarf is in the winds. He's out in the wide world, and it just so happens I may have need o' his bloody skills sooner rather than later. Orcs are on the move, or so me scouts tell me. But they also say that somethin' else moves through the wilderness. Somethin' booming, they say. My scouts never can find the cause, but they fear that whatever it is... it's heading for Kelgrond Mountain."
The wealthy banker wrung his hands, sweat pooling under his arms, showing through on his expensive silk shirt. "Ye've got generals already, do ye no'? Why do ye need him so urgently? Can they no' do for ye, then?"
Taena leaned forward from her throne and looked calmly into her ex-lover's scared eyes. "No. They can no', lad. They are competent, ta be sure, but they have a habit of losin' battles on occasion. If something dark and evil has it's eyes set on our home, then we need a special dwarf to lead me soldiers - a dwarf that does no' lose."
"Lass... I mean, me Queen, that's just nonsense the dwarves in the bettin' halls chattered about. The lad can lose, he's just lucky, he is," Waybrun replied.
The Queen of Kelgrond slowly shook her head and reached to her side, where a stand held something covered by a cloth. She removed the covering and revealed a magnificently crafted dwarven-made helmet. The designs that traced the surface of the artifact matched those of Taen's axe and shield. "This is the companion piece to the weapons I told ye ta give our son. Just as the axe and shield were, this helmet was worn by the first King of Kelgrond, me own ancestor, bless the Gods that keep him."
At this revelation, Waybrun's eyes popped wide and his mouth fell open. Once he found the ability to do so, the banker said, "But ye told me those were crafted especially for Taen, as a gift for his time at the academy."
"I lied, ye fool. I could no' tell the truth o' them fine weapons, and the spell they carry. Only one o' royal blood - o' the King's blood, that is ta say - can benefit from the magic those items hold. It's a battle awareness they lend the user, making Taen think faster in combat than his opponents can. Ta be true, they won't help Rex or meself all that much, cuz ye do have ta be a master fighter to really make use o' that magic. It's why Taen is perfect for it. Once I knew he was so damned good at fightin' I knew he had ta have them."
Looking at the elegant dwarven craftsmanship of the helmet owned by the first King of Kelgrond, Waybrun spoke softly. "Why did ye no' give the lad that helmet, then?"
In response, Taena picked up the helmet and placed it on her own head. The helmet emitted a soft orange glow and produced a hum that filled the room for a split second. "Kneel before me, Waybrun Heft," she commanded, her voice booming in the large chamber. Without thought or hesitation, the banker fell to his knees and groveled before his Queen. "Now rise and go find our son. Bring him ta me. Do no' fail. If ye do, then do no' ever return ta Kelgrond Central."
"As ye desire, Yer Highness," Waybrun Heft said before racing from the throne room, his mind desperately thinking of ways to find a dwarf that he had not seen for many years. But the how was not what drove him, it was the magical suggestion provided by the helmet that guided his steps and thoughts; a compulsion that would last until his dying breath or until he completed the task set forth by the Queen. The ancient artifact, when worn by one of the first King's blood relatives, could compel any dwarf to do what the wearer commanded.
"That is why I never gave him, nor me other son, the bloody helmet," Taena said to the empty room. "None shall command me kingdom except for meself. But desperate times call for bold moves, and if this threat is as dangerous ta us as I'm led ta believe, Taen may have need of this magic ta control me army in the field. Once the threat is over, though, I'll have ta find a way ta kill me new General, ta be true. No one can know o' this power. It is mine alone ta wield."
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The Gods That Keep ThemFantasy
A foul-mouthed warrior with a sword almost too big to be used. A halfbreed former prostitute with a secret power flowing through her veins. A wizard who wants to harvest and use that power. A mysterious chef who has never lost a fight. An innocent m...