Carnifex (Legends of the Nameless Dwarf Book 1)

Carnifex (Legends of the Nameless Dwarf Book 1) by D.P. Prior Read Free Book Online

Book: Carnifex (Legends of the Nameless Dwarf Book 1) by D.P. Prior Read Free Book Online
Authors: D.P. Prior
any case. Foreman knows what day it is. Knew your ma, he did. Oh, that reminds me.” He came back out into the hallway and clapped a shovel-like hand on Carnifex’s shoulder. “Happy birthday, son.”
    “What did you get me?”
    Droom winced and chewed on his top lip.
    “Don’t tell me, you drank it?”
    “I’ll pick up another on my way home from work. Urbs Sapientii mead. The best there is.”
    Carnifex shook his head and wandered toward the kitchen. “You should know, Pa.”  
    And judging by Droom’s notorious forgetfulness, he’d be the only one to know. The chances of him remembering to buy another cask were the same as Lucius giving up the pies and going for a run each morning.
    His brother was at the kitchen table, still in his night robe, which was threatening to burst open for a completely different reason to Droom’s jacket. Droom was all muscle, earned from a life in the mines, but Lucius had the physique of a dwarf who sat on his arse all day poring over books. And it wasn’t just his waistline that suffered: he was blind as a bat and had to wear one set of eyeglasses for reading, and another for everything else.
    On the opposite side of the table, tamping down tobacco in a pipe, a steaming cup of kaffa set before him, was someone Carnifex hadn’t seen for donkey’s years.
    “Aristodeus.”
    “Carnifex, my boy. Happy birthday.” The philosopher said it with a sympathetic smile. He knew how hard it was.
    As usual, Aristodeus wore a simple robe of white that draped over one shoulder and left the other bare. He insisted on calling it a ‘toga’. Even seated, his balding head nearly touched the ceiling. He was a human, which was only one step down from a giant. Whether or not he was tall for a human was anyone’s guess. He was the only outsider Carnifex had ever seen. More than that, he was the only outsider permitted in the ravine city. Shog knew why, and shog only knew how long he’d been visiting the dwarves. Generations, it seemed. Certainly from before Carnifex was born.
    “So,” Carnifex said, crossing to the hearth, where the copper kettle sat atop its cast iron trivet so that it didn’t boil dry. “You came all the way from wherever it is you come from to wish me happy birthday. Laddie, I’m touched.”
    “Thought I’d kill two birds with one stone,” Aristodeus said. He took a shiny silver object from his robe pocket and pressed down on one end with his thumb. A wavering flame sprang up, and he used it to light his pipe. He took a couple of draws on the stem and then pocketed the silver flame-maker. “I’ve always loved that about dwarves: having the entire family together under one roof. Your brother’s thesis on the Annals is nearing completion, and I’ve come to offer my two pennies’ worth.” When Carnifex frowned his confusion, the philosopher added, “Two tokens’ worth?”
    Carnifex glanced over the hearth for something to eat. There were links of sausages hanging from the hook in the ceiling, along with a cured haunch of ham. To one side was a covered plate of cheese, and he helped himself to a chunk, grimacing as he chewed. It was hard and tasted faintly of mold.
    “Didn’t know you were an expert on dwarf records,” he said, grabbing a couple of cups and adding a spoonful of powdered kaffa to each, and then pouring on hot water from the kettle.
    “I’m not,” the philosopher said. “But I know history.”
    Droom bustled in, both feet now booted, and his hair slightly less of a muss than it had been just now. He was running a comb through his beard but gave up with a cuss. It was too tangled to do much about.
    “You’ll have to shave it off,” Aristodeus said.
    “That what happened to your head,” Droom said. He took a kaffa from Carnifex and pulled out a chair. “So, laddie, what’s this trouble you mentioned?”
    Carnifex leaned against the hearth. The heat from the fire seemed to thaw away some of the numbness that had crept into his limbs with

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