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Adventure Takes a Holiday: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

Adventure Takes a Holiday: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

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Barlo lumbers through the snow along a narrow mountain path. A substantial trail follows in the dwarf’s wake.

Iarion leads the way. His light, elven feet barely make an impression in the snow. Barlo would like to blame his pulled groin for his own awkwardness, but he knows Iarion would never let him get away with it.

As night falls, a storm closes in.

...Definitely not the holiday Barlo hoped for.

A stand-alone misadventure story of the unlikely friends Iarion and Barlo from the Legends of Lasniniar fantasy series. (Previously published as “Legends of Lasniniar: Adventure Takes a Holiday.” This adventure takes place between the World of Lasniniar novels Kinslayer and Soul Seeker.)

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“This isn’t funny, you know,” Barlo grumbled as he lumbered through the snow along a narrow mountain path, leaving a substantial trail in his wake.

An icy blast of wind smelling of more snow to come whistled past his ears, ruffling his long, brown beard. He clung to the edge of his hooded cloak with one hand as he held the other out for stability. The ground beneath his boots was uneven, and it was a long way down.

“I never said that it was,” Iarion said.

The elf glanced over his shoulder as he spoke, revealing his dusky, angular features. His long, silver braids slithered down his back among his pack, bow, and quiver in a windswept tangle. The edges of his gray cloak flapped in the wind behind him.

He said the words without so much as a twitch of his lips, but his silver-flecked sapphire eyes glimmered with amusement. Barlo scowled. Despite being well over a foot taller, the lean elf’s boots made barely an impression in the deep snow, forcing Barlo to crane his neck up at him even more than usual.

The haft of Barlo’s ax thumped against his leg with each wincing step and his chain mail jingled beneath his cloak in an unsteady rhythm. He stifled an oath. It was bad enough having short, dwarven legs when the snow was knee-deep, but the pulled muscle in his groin had reduced him to a graceless waddle.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to make you a sled?” This time Iarion’s lips did twitch.

Barlo’s brown eyes narrowed. “And have you drag me along like some kind of invalid? Be serious, Iarion. I have some dignity, you know.”

Iarion quirked a slender brow as Barlo continued to wallow through the snow toward him at a snail’s pace, struggling to keep his groin as still as possible in a wide-legged shamble.

“Yes, I can see that.”

“Shut up, elf. I’ll have you know, I blame my injuries on you.”

Iarion gave him a dubious look. “Well, that hardly seems reasonable. I’m not the one whose wife kicked him out of Dwarvenhome.”

Barlo spluttered and almost lost his balance. “That’s not how it happened! Narilga only suggested I take a little holiday away from the city.”

‘Suggested’ was probably an understatement. Barlo’s wife was pregnant with their second child. Barlo loved Narilga dearly, and had taken some time away from his work at the forge as she had gotten further along to help take care of her. If he was being honest with himself, it was mostly an attempt to make up for how he had left her to go on an adventure during her last pregnancy a few years before, which part of him had always felt a bit guilty about. 

She seemed to enjoy his attentiveness—at least at first. But Narilga was an independent woman, and unaccustomed to being waited on hand and foot. Barlo had known he was smothering her, but he couldn’t seem to help himself.

He suspected his attempts to help in the kitchen had been the last straw. He had somehow managed to burn dinner to a crisp, curdle the milk, and break Narilga’s favorite mixing bowl—all in one go. If Iarion hadn’t happened to swing by Dwarvenhome for a visit the next morning, Barlo suspected Narilga would have sent for him.

“And whose idea was it to wander all the way up to the heights of the Barrier Mountains in the middle of winter?” Iarion said with a knowing tilt of his head.

“I’ve already wandered all over the Jagged Mountains...” Barlo rolled his eyes. “And I haven’t had thousands of years to wander the entire length of Lasniniar like certain a certain ancient elf.”

“Ancient?”

Now it was Barlo’s turn to stifle a smile. “You’ve lived thousands of years longer than any other Shadow Elf, haven’t you? I’d say that qualifies.”

“I hardly see how that’s relevant. It’s not as if I’m a bearded, doddering old gaffer.” He ran a hand over his smooth, unlined face. His expression turned sly. “If anything, most people probably think you’re older than me.”

“They do not!”

Iarion shrugged. “It’s the beard, Barlo. If you shaved it off, it might be different...”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Even if I wanted to, it would probably only grow back in a matter of hours.” Barlo raised his bearded chin with a smug look. “Besides, it’s keeping my face warm.”

Iarion shook his head with a smile. “I knew there must be a reason for it. But you still haven’t managed to explain how any of this is my fault. Most dwarves never even bother to leave their underground cities at all, never mind go looking for trolls up in the mountains in the middle of winter.”

“I didn’t know we were going to run into those trolls, all right?”

Iarion gave him a long look, but remained silent as he continued walking.

Barlo knew he had no one to blame but himself—no matter how much he might protest otherwise. He wasn’t like other dwarves who could spend their entire lives beneath the shadows of their own mountains without getting bored. He had been the one to choose their destination. The Barrier Mountains were the next closest range to Dwarvenhome, and he had never explored them thoroughly. Now had seemed as good a time as any. Snow rarely came to Middle Lasniniar, and never as far south as Dwarvenhome, which made the mountain heights even more intriguing. And then they had found the troll tracks...

“I knew we would be able to take them down,” Barlo said with a careless shrug. “And I was right, wasn’t I? It was a good fight—no wounds or broken bones.”

Iarion ran his slender fingers over the left side of his padded leather jerkin and winced. “Just a mass of bruises and pulled muscles.” He gave Barlo a pointed look as the dwarf continued his awkward, shuffling gait. “I don’t know why I let you talk me into that brawl,” he said with a sniff.

“Talk you into it? You nearly bowled me over to charge them all by yourself!” Barlo shook his head. “I would have been fine if there wasn’t that icy patch hidden under the snow.”

“That, and the troll that fell on top of you.” Iarion smirked.

“How much farther are we going to travel today?” Barlo asked in an effort to change the subject. “The days are short, and it’s getting dark already.”

The gray skies loomed over them. The sun was nowhere in sight behind the thick mass of clouds that obscured the jutting mountain peaks.

“At this rate, we’ll never get out of the mountains before your child is born,” Iarion muttered in a voice pitched just loud enough for Barlo to hear.

“What was that?” Barlo asked, his eyes narrowing.

Iarion’s expression turned innocent. “Just talking to myself.”

“In Common?” Barlo raised a bushy eyebrow. Iarion’s native tongue was Elvish—a musical language Barlo did not understand.

“Did it sound like Common to you?” Iarion asked in a bland voice. “You must have misheard me. Dwarven hearing isn’t as sharp, from what I understand.”

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