In which Lenny meets a hot half-dwarf
Dunno what happened to my gall-durn diary so I guess I’m startin’ a new one.
If’n you want to know the truth, I think Bettie done took it. Caught her readin’ it the other day’n it was harder’n hell to get it back.
She ain’t talkin’ to me right now, but when I asked her if she done took it, she just glared at me’n smacked her hammer into her hand.
She had her hammer set to fire and flames shot from her palm, but she didn’t flinch. I love her, but she’cn be dag-burned scary.
When yer woman is taller, louder’n scarier than you, life can be a challenge. ‘Specially if’n she’s carryin’ yer baby.
She was ornery before and I liked her that way, but now she’s dag-gum hell-fire. Even a fire-hardened smithy like me’s bound to get scorched.
There’s only one girl I ever met louder than Bettie. Besides the kholoth . . . and my gall-durn mother. Her name was Sandruh.
Dag-gum, it must’ve been a good eighty years ago. I was tryin’ to decide where to put my new shop. I’d been lookin’ at Sampo and Dremald.
But Dremaldria was gettin’ purty stuffy fer dwarves back then and I set my eyes on Razbeck. They was happy to take on dwarves.
I found me a nice border city in Northeast Razbeck right by the Wide River. It was called Kiestra, named after their big arsed mayor.
I remember the first time I done met Mayor Kiestra. I come into town on my wagon, lookin’ fer a place to sell my wares.
Used to do that lots back then. I’d decided to stop adventurin’ fer a while, its a thing I do from time to time.
When you got both adventurnin’ and smithin’ in yer blood, yer constantly pulled both dag-gum ways. I try to do both when I can.
But to really make money as a smithy, you gotta set down roots, ‘least fer a time. Kiestra looked like a durn fine place to set up a forge.
The town was placed at a perfect spot fer growth. They’d set themselves in a spot on the Wide River where the surface current was slow.
The river was wide and deep there, perfect fer fishin’ and they’d set themselves up a large ferry big ‘nuff to take four wagons across.
On top of it all, Kiestra was tryin’ somethin no one’d ever attempted. She was gonna build a dag-burned bridge ‘cross the Wide River.
It was a crazy project, But Kiestra was known as a woman that got stuff done and the city was growin’ so fast folks believed she’cd do it.
The dag-gum King of Razbeck hisself had dug deep into his coffers to fund the town and the bridge project.
Now I know Y’all ain’t never heard of no Wide River bridge. Prolly ain’t never heard of Kiestra neither. That’s partly my fault.
You see, Kiestra had a daughter and she was one of the rarest of half breeds. A gall-durn half-dwarf. Her name was Sandruh.
When I come into town, I thought the place was gonna be special. Farmers was settin’ up homesteads all ‘round’n the market was hotter’n hell.
I started askin’ round and heard of a dag-gum nice spot fer sale right on the main road at the edge of the market.
The edge of the market is a good spot fer a smithy. Folks got to see you comin’ and goin’. They’ll think, maybe I’cn use a good knife.
Then if they leave the market with money in their hand, they’ll stop right in and buy one. Specially if’n the sign says Firegobbler.
Yeah, my family name has a reputation. My grandpappy started it. My father grew it, and dag-blast it, I done a good job with it too.
Anyways, the name just sounds good. Folks see Firegobbler and they think, “Hell, they must be good at the forge.”
So I rode my wagon over to the mayor’s office with a sack of gold and went to buy me a spot to build my forge.
When I walked in that mayor’s office I done saw Sandruh fer the first time. My dag-burned eyeballs done near fell out my face.
She was a dream. She had the body of a hard workin’ dwarf woman, but the face of an human angel. Bettie’s the only purtier gall I done seen.
She was waitin’ to see her mama, but when she done saw the stupified look on my face, she gave me a glower that’d melt diamonds.
“What? You never seen a half dwarf before?” she yelled. “I have, but none a purty as you,” I said. She punched me in the eye.
“Lyin’ to me ain’t gettin’ you nowheres with my momma!” Sandruh spat. I held my dag-gum eye in surprise fer a second, then I laughed.
“Why’d I care ‘bout that,” I asked her. “Ain’t no way yer momma’s purtier than you, darlin’.” She punched my other friggin’ eye!
“Momma!” she yelled. Sandruh had this piercin’ depth to her voice that could shatter yer gall-durn eardrum.
Even though my ears was ringin, I heard a bunch of complaints risin’ from the next room. The door flew open and out stomped Miss Kiestra.
Kiestra was a human. A well endowed woman, prolly in her forties at the time. She was definitely a looker by human standards.
Red hair, blue eyes, stern glare. I’d heard ‘nough bout Kiestra to know who the woman was. Hadn’t heard bout no half-dwarf daughter.
“What the hell you want, Sandruh?” Kiestra snapped. “I’m holdin’ a meetin’ with prospective landowners here!”
“This dwarf!” Sandruh said, pointin’ and shakin’ her blond curls in my direction. “Just waltzed in here and called you ugly!”
Kiestra raised an eyebrow’n looked me over. “That is the strangest way anyone’s ever tried to get my attention before,” she said.
“That weren’t what I meant!” I said, my hands raised. “I merely told yer daughter she was purty.”
“That won’t get you nowhere’s with me, dwarf,” Kiestra said. I bowed. “I was just bein’ honest, Ma’am. Didn’t know who she was at the time.”
“I’m here ‘bout some land, ma’am,” I said. “I’m a smithy see, and I heard you got a piece of property fer sale just at the end of the market.”
“Hell, son,” she said. “You ain’t alone. Come on in.” She opened the door wide behind her. “Ladies first,” I said. She rolled her eyes.
I followed Kiestra’s fine caboose into her meetin’ room. Five men was sittin’ in there waitin’. ‘Spite their fancy clothin’, I knew they was smithy’s.
You’cn tell a smithy right off if’n you know how to look fer one, no matter how gussied up we try to get, there’s always soot we missed.
Also you’cn look at the dag-gum arms. Yer muscles grow a certain way when yer workin’ at the gall-durn forge.
In human blacksmiths you’cn usually see tiny scars on their face’n hands from spark burns. Ain’t as tough as dwarfs, see?
“Gentlemen,” Kiestra said as she swayed to her desk. “Seems y’all got company. I got two market spots and six smithys.”
“What’s a girl to do?” she said, takin’ a seat in a high-backed cushioned chair. “He’s late,” said one of the humans, Mister Fisk was his name.
“That’s right,” said another’n this one a dwarf. Ugly rascal. His name was Pudd. Likely thought bein’ a dwarf was an advantage. Which it was.
“Didn’t hear ‘bout no meetin’.” I said. “I’m sorry, Lady Kiestra, you already made a decision?” “No,” she said. “Yer in the runnin’.”
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