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Close Quarters: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

Close Quarters: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

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Narilga needs to find her missing brother. If she can also find a decent, male dwarf who wants to settle down, even better.

Barlo works the mines. Like all male dwarves, marriage remains the furthest thing from his mind.

Their chance meeting and mutual attraction catches both Barlo and Narilga by surprise.

Can they work together to rescue Narilga’s brother?

A stand-alone, meet-cute story from the Legends of Lasniniar fantasy series. (Previously published as “Legends of Lasniniar: Close Quarters.” This adventure takes place between the World of Lasniniar novels Kinslayer and Soul Seeker.)

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Narilga wandered the streets of Dwarvenhome looking for her brother. Delano had a habit of going missing when bath time came around. As the eldest, it was her job to make sure he was scrubbed up in time for dinner when their father came home from another day of mining the dwarven city’s extensive tunnels that lay beneath the Jagged Mountains. She stifled a sigh.

Doesn’t he realize I have better things to do than wander the entire city looking for him?

Narilga shook her head as she walked. She suspected her mother had made Delano her charge as some sort of preparation for having children of her own. Narilga hoped that day was a long way off. She liked children well enough, but she wasn’t ready to be a mother.

Not that I have anything to worry about. None of the boys my age are ready to settle down anyway. It’s a wonder any dwarf children are born at all, the way the men cling to their bachelor ways!

Narilga was at that stage where she had been ‘walking out’ with various dwarven boys for a few years, but nothing serious had come of it. She knew that was normal, but the thought of spending several more years in the same manner, living with her parents and taking care of Delano while waiting for one of those boys to finally grow up and take things seriously made her want to scream.

She had considered moving out on her own, but it simply wasn’t done, and she knew it would crush her parents. But what was the alternative? None of the boys she knew were suitable husband material, and she didn’t want to settle.

Maybe I’m destined to be a spinster. I’ll spend the rest of my days looking after Delano and then helping him with his children, who will no doubt be more little blockheads who go into hiding whenever bath time rolls around.

Narilga spoke with other passing dwarves as she checked all Delano’s usual haunts. No one had seen him. She stood at a high-vaulted crossroad, scanning the torchlit thoroughfares for any sign of Delano while silently fuming. As much as she wanted to return home, she didn’t dare go back without him.

I swear to the First Father, when I find him, I’m going to kill him.

She racked her brain for any idea where Delano might have gone. He wouldn’t have tried to leave the city. Few dwarves traveled above ground these days, and Delano had always been more interested in what lay at the roots of the mountains, not what was above them. He always claimed he wanted to be a miner, like their father.

A miner...

Narilga turned down a side street and headed for the mining district. The smooth, polished rock beneath her feet became rough and uneven and the tunnels narrowed. She kept an eye on her footing. The dwarven men who worked these tunnels wore heavy boots, which were much more suited to the terrain than her slippers, sturdy as they were.

The tunnels were empty. The miners would still be at work, deeper within the mountains. She hoped she wouldn’t have to go much farther. Delano should have better sense than to get in the way of working dwarves.

“Delano!” she called as she walked. “Where are you?”

No one answered, but a scuffle of loose pebbles to her right drew her attention. A narrow tunnel that had been dug several feet above the ground branched off from the main road. No light came from within.

“Delano?” She grabbed a torch from a nearby bracket and poked her head inside.

The tunnel opened into a small, rough-hewn chamber with no other exits. A dwarf boy huddled at the far end, his ruddy features covered in dirt and his dark hair in disarray. He gave her a guilty look.

Narilga sighed. “Delano, come out of there this instant. I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”

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