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Deck the Dwarvenhall: A Legends of Lasniniar Short (Bonus Edition)

Deck the Dwarvenhall: A Legends of Lasniniar Short (Bonus Edition)

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Iarion loves shopping for Solstice gifts—even when it means getting swindled by dwarven merchants.

The elf knows he should feel out of place in the dwarves’ underground city, but his best friend Barlo and his family have welcomed him as one of their own.

Of course, Barlo’s invitation to spend the holidays in Dwarvenhome comes with strings attached—Iarion’s aid in a friendly competition known as the Festival Throwdown.

...But old grudges run deep, and not everything in Dwarvenhome proves as festive as it seems.

Enjoy some holiday misadventure and mayhem in this stand-alone story from the Legends of Lasniniar fantasy series. (This adventure takes place between the World of Lasniniar novels Kinslayer and Soul Seeker.)

This edition includes a bonus chapter. (Direct exclusive.)


Iarion Carivanyar—longest-lived of the Shadow Elves, wanderer of Lasniniar, friend of dwarves, humans, and the Learnéd, and scourge of goblins, ogres, and trolls alike—knew when he had been defeated. He had allowed his opponent to outmaneuver him, and now he must pay the price. He bowed his head in acknowledgment and reached for his belt.

“Nineteen silver pieces?” he repeated the final offer in the Common Tongue with only the faintest hope the dwarven merchant might reconsider.

“That’s right,” the merchant said as he extended a hand with sturdy, callused fingers, palm-upward.

Iarion uttered a sigh and loosened the strings of his leather purse. After a moment to make certain he had withdrawn the proper amount (nineteen silvers for a pair of starsilver hair combs decorated with lesser gems was already highway robbery as it was), he clinked the stack of coins into the merchant’s palm.

The dwarf’s lips tightened in a smile beneath his gray beard as the money changed hands, his eyes gleaming at the sight of it. 

“I’ll just put them in a gift box for you,” he said. “No charge.”

Iarion resisted the urge to roll his silver-flecked sapphire eyes. He knew well enough his nineteen silvers ought to include complimentary gift wrap. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling as the merchant carefully placed the pair of combs into a simple, fabric-lined wooden box that smelled faintly of cedar. He presented the final product with a flourish.

“Happy Solstice. I hope your niece enjoys them.”

To the dwarf’s credit, he barely stumbled over the word ‘niece.’ Even though Iarion had been visiting Dwarvenhome for years, and was best friends with Barlo, the mountain hall’s Chief of Clans, the age-long enmity between dwarves and elves ran deep. Despite his show of reluctance, Iarion had been happy to have the various merchants of Dwarvenhome’s market fleece him. If dwarves loved anything, it was getting the better end of a bargain. Being bested by an elf wouldn’t have gone over well at all. Not that Iarion cared about squandering his coin anyway. What else did he have to spend it on? Besides, it was Solstice. He was happy to splurge on Barlo and his wife and children, who had become an adopted family to him.

Iarion nodded his thanks to the merchant and added the box to the growing assortment of packages in his arms. Thankfully, it was his last purchase. He already had a marble mixing bowl and matching cutting board for Barlo’s wife, Narilga, which weighed heavily in the pile. Then there was the tooled leather scabbard he had bought to match the dagger Barlo and his wife were gifting their eldest son, Khalid, and a fanciful mobile of frolicking moles and badgers wrought of intricately shaped metal for their new son, Fidar.

Iarion knew Ralla would love the jeweled hair combs. Barlo’s middle child had lovely dark hair, and even though the jewels were lesser gems, they had enough sparkle to please a young dwarven girl. For Barlo, he had purchased a starsilver-wrought beard-grooming set that included an embossed pair of scissors, comb, brush, straight razor, and mirror. (Like every male dwarf, Barlo was proud of his beard, and was even a regular competitor in Dwarvenhome’s annual facial hair competition, Bristle Brawl.) Now all Iarion had to do was wrap everything.

Even though the packages were awkward in his arms, Iarion balanced them with the ease and grace of his kind. His lips stretched in a smile as he imagined everyone’s reactions on Solstice morning. He was quite pleased with his haul, and happy to be spending another Solstice in Dwarvenhome, even though most of the dwarf inhabitants still looked in askance at his pointed ears, dusky skin, and long, silver braids when they thought he wasn’t paying attention. (The fact that they were forced to crane their necks to do so probably didn’t help Iarion’s case either.)

Iarion had spent Solstice in many places during the thousands of years he had wandered Lasniniar. In the beginning, he had celebrated with his own tribe within the Shadow Elves (the Wood Elves), until all those who had been family or friends eventually passed on, leaving him on his own. For many years, he had spent the holiday alone, during his travels across the continent, with only birds and animals—and the occasional horde of attacking goblins—for company. In more recent years, he had passed Solstice among the Sea Elves. They were a solemn tribe, but the holiday brought some levity. The Wild Elves, on the other hand, used the excuse of Solstice to be even more raucous than usual—a feat Iarion had deemed impossible until he had witnessed it for himself.

It might seem strange for him to want to spend the holiday among the dwarves, instead of his own kind, but after his unlikely first meeting with Barlo, and their ensuing adventures together over the past few years, Barlo, Narilga, and the children had become family to Iarion in a way that none of the elves ever had. Iarion felt honored to be included in their celebrations and enjoyed spending the holidays in their company—even though this year had already proved a bit more stressful than usual.

The dwarves of Dwarvenhome celebrated Solstice with their own set of traditions. Most of them were normal enough, and not unlike the festivities of the elves during this time of year. (It seemed strange that a race that lived almost entirely underground would celebrate the longest night of the year, but if Iarion had learned anything over the past few years since he had met Barlo, it was that dwarves loved any excuse for a good feast and some heavy drinking.) Solstice Eve and the following morning were spent with close family, with lots of food and presents. Dinner on Solstice Day was an affair that involved every dwarf in the mountain hall, with a feast that lasted long into the night, where everyone could visit with friends and fellow clan mates.

…But then there was the Festival Throwdown.

During the week leading up to Solstice Day, teams of dwarves worked to decorate the underground halls and galleries of Dwarvenhome. The work was completed in utmost secrecy, with no one other than the assigned team getting a peek at the results until the official tour on Solstice Day, when the people of Dwarvenhome would vote to decide who had done the most spectacular job.

Barlo had never participated during the years Iarion had known him. But now that Khalid and Ralla were old enough to assist with the decorating, Barlo had taken to the idea with wild enthusiasm—and he had roped Iarion into helping as well.

Iarion knew he had been lucky to sneak off to do some shopping. Like every other male dwarf Iarion had ever encountered, Barlo was fiercely competitive. And while Iarion’s friend was no doubt enjoying spending the time with his children, he was obsessed with coming in first place. Hopefully, he wouldn’t be disappointed, or things might get ugly once the drinking started after the winner was announced.

Iarion balanced his packages and turned to start walking the smooth stone street in the direction that led toward Barlo’s home when an agitated voice caught his attention and made him pause. The acoustics of the underground halls made everything echo, adding to the babel of voices from shoppers and merchants alike. Iarion had paid the overlapping conversations little attention as he had browsed the various stalls. But he honed in on the words of this speaker immediately.

“…If that pompous ass Barlo wins, I’m going to rip his beard out.”

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