fantasy, fiction, love

The Dwarf’s Dryad

There’s a new story available from me! It’s a fantasy short, something a little different.

You can buy it here now, it will be up on Amazon in a few hours.

It’s up now!

Cedar Sanderson, cover artist
The cover for the story

Excerpt:

The Dwarf’s Introduction

The blacksmith first met her in his shop. He had not seen her come in, hidden in the shadow of her Lord. The burly noble towered over the smith, and had a nasty habit of looking down his nose at the smaller man. He held out a scrap of paper.

“Make me this. When can you have it done?”

The smith took the paper and walked over to the window. He studied the drawing for a moment, and then looked up. “What is it for?”

She stepped out of the shadows, and with a sidelong glance at the Lord, answered, “It is a device for controlling my climbing ropes. Please, it must be as smooth as you can make it.”

The Lord cuffed her and she flinched back into the shadows. The smith held his tongue. Literally, between his teeth. He loathed the way women were treated in this country, but until he was free…

Between gritted teeth, he addressed the shadowy girl. “Lady, it will be smoother than glass.”

The Lord raised his brows. “Lady? Hah – call her Gardener, more like. When will it be done?”

“By tonight.”

He boldly turned his back on the big man, ostensibly to study the drawing once more.

When they had left the shop, he sighed and set to work on the design, deceptively simple conjoined circles, but with a little set of horns projecting at the rear… In the heat of the forge and the familiar rhythms of his work he finally relaxed again. His day passed pleasantly, and he had all but forgotten the mysterious woman.

He was seated at the table below the window, working in the last light of the sun,  when a tap on his shoulder startled him. He whirled, knocking over his stool, to face the Gardener.

“I am so sorry.” She was pale, one hand to her throat in her surprise.

He caught his breath and straightened from his half-crouch. “My fault, Lady. I was  thinking of other things.”

She regarded him for a moment, and he wondered what she saw. She was caught in the light from the window, and the setting sun gilded her hair and reflected from her eyes, like a fire was lit in her brain. She smiled, finally.

“Thank you for your words, Smith. I am rarely acknowledged, much less addressed.”

“Women in my country are not treated like animals,” he replied stiffly.

“Oh, it is more than that with me.” Sadly, she smiled at him. He realized that they were eye to eye. He had gotten so used to craning his neck to talk to anyone, men and women alike… He looked her up and down, from head to toe, and the warmth in her cheeks had nothing to do with the sun’s light.

He turned and picked up a package from his worktable. “Here you are.”

She took it from him, and with a shy look through her lashes at him, opened it.  She pursed her lips and slid her hand through the larger opening, feeling the smooth finish. He noticed for the first time that her hands were rough and cracked.

He turned back to the table, and picked up what he had been working on when she entered and scared the living daylight out of him. “Lady…”

He turned with it in his hand, but she was gone. He sagged back on his stool. Why had he thought of her, with this gift? He’d been paid for the climbing device, but the second item had been for her. She was the Lord’s thief, sent to take what was not his. Tonight she had been sent to steal rapunzel from the witch’s garden, he was sure. The witch and the Lord were allies, but in their twisted power games, minions were disposable. They often tried to get one up on the other, and the rapunzel’s healing powers would be an asset to the Lord.

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