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By the Light of the Moon: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

By the Light of the Moon: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

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No matter where their journeys take them, Barlo and Iarion always seem to find trouble.

The eve of the Harvest Festival. The dwarf and elf pair find themselves potentially lost on the way to the closest human village. A blanket of mist drifts from the nearby hills to obscure the dirt road as night closes in.

Barlo remains content to let Iarion lead the way. At least then he can blame his elf friend if—no, when—things go wrong. Still, Barlo’s hand stays close to his ax.

What danger lurks in the darkness beyond the mist?

The infamous duo of Barlo and Iarion return in this spooky, stand-alone misadventure story from the Legends of Lasniniar fantasy series. (Previously published as “Legends of Lasniniar: By the Light of the Moon.” This adventure takes place between the World of Lasniniar novels Wave Runners and Godmaker.)

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“Are we there yet?” Barlo asked, allowing a slight moan to creep into his voice.

Iarion’s brow furrowed. “I think so…”

“What do you mean, you think so?” Barlo demanded as he did his best to keep pace with his elf friend’s long legs.

Iarion shrugged. His long, white braids rustled around his shoulders. “I’ve never actually been to Misthaven before.”

Barlo rolled his eyes. “Well that’s comforting…”

Iarion looked over his shoulder past his bow and quiver to give the dwarf a dark look with his golden-flecked, sapphire eyes. “Do you want to lead the way?” He cocked a slender eyebrow.

“Oh, no.” Barlo shook his bearded head. “And miss my chance to complain? Be serious, Iarion.”

They both fell silent for the next few moments. The only sound was the faint jingle of Barlo’s chain mail. He knew they made an odd pair—not that anyone was around on the well-worn dirt track to see them.

Iarion glided ahead of him on silent feet with all the innate grace of his kind. Barlo did his best to emulate him. Countless years with the elf had made Barlo more graceful than most dwarves, but he knew there was no comparison. His lips twisted beneath his long, brown whiskers. Iarion was quick to remind him of it, with half-joking comments about Barlo’s ‘tromping,’ as he called it.

Still, Iarion had little cause to complain this time. Barlo’s heavy boots made hardly any sound against the dirt road that led south along the Mountains of Shadow. The late afternoon air was damp and close beneath the gray, low-hanging clouds, carrying the scent of rain to come. It seemed to muffle all sound like a thick blanket, creating a feeling of isolation.

And then there was the mist.

Barlo had somehow forgotten how close they were to the Hills of Mist that bordered the Barrier Mountains to the south, marking the entry to Middle Lasniniar. Pale, translucent fingers of air seemed to brush against Barlo’s feet as he walked, often obscuring the dirt road from view. It carried a thick, earthy smell that filled his mouth with the taste of wet grass.

Their destination was invisible, hidden by tentacles of the swirling mist. Barlo narrowed his brown eyes in an effort to pierce it, but all he could sense was vague shadows. Anything could be out there, just off the side of the road, and he wouldn’t know it. He stifled a shiver and let his callused fingers wander to the ax that hung from his belt.

“Couldn’t we have gone to Nal Nungalid instead?” he asked Iarion in a hushed voice.

He forced himself to admit that his suggestion was at least partially motivated by the idea of running into Paige. The young dwarf orphan who had adopted Barlo as her only family had set out from Melaquenya several months ago in search of her own adventures. His last message from her had outlined her journey to Northern Lasniniar. He knew she was a capable lass, and more than able to take care of herself, but still…

He trotted forward to walk alongside the elf. The mist was making him uneasy.

“This is closer,” Iarion said without looking back. His arms swung at ease at his sides.

Barlo took a measure of comfort from his lack of concern. As much as they both often joked about it, Iarion’s elven eyesight and pointed ears were much more sensitive than his own. Not only that, but Iarion’s survival and fighting skills were the stuff of legend. If he didn’t sense anything in the mist to be worried about…

Barlo shrugged and returned to peering through the mist. Iarion might have lived for thousands of years and traveled the length of Lasniniar, but Barlo’s own fighting skills were nothing to sneeze at, and he had even managed to save the elf’s skin on more than one occasion.

No point in letting my guard down.

His lips tugged in a smile at the idea of noticing an attacker in the mist before Iarion did. Barlo would never let him hear the end of it.

Iarion wrinkled his nose and continued speaking as if no time had passed. “Besides, the sooner you have a bath, the better.”

Barlo spluttered, his determination to remain vigilant forgotten. “The sooner I have a bath? We’ve both been traveling for weeks.”

“Yes, but I’m not wearing chain mail.”

“So?” Barlo felt his face flush beneath his beard as he suddenly became aware of the metallic funk that had practically become a part of him.

“You smell like a rusty, old pot.” The Light Elf’s golden-skinned features were expressionless.

“Oh, and I suppose you smell like roses?” Barlo’s voice was heavy with sarcasm as he rose to the bait.

Iarion gave a casual shrug, but Barlo thought he saw the corner of the elf’s mouth twitch.

“I am an elf, Barlo.” He sniffed. “My body is used to wandering out in the open air for weeks at a time, not like some half-grown creature that’s meant to stay deep beneath the ground. It’s just common sense.”

“Half-grown—”

Barlo’s words devolved into a stream of Dwarvish curses. Iarion burst out laughing.

“I don’t care what you say, elf,” Barlo growled when he got a hold of himself. He should know better by now than to spar with Iarion… “I’m walking downwind of you, and you’re just as rank as any dwarf who’s been working at the forge all day.”

Iarion gave an untroubled smile. “All the more reason for us to find an inn with baths as soon as possible.”

“Good thing Lodariel’s not here to smell you,” Barlo said with a smirk at his friend’s roundabout admission.

Iarion’s mate was far to the south, visiting her parents in the jungles of Melahalas with her twin brother, Daroandir. Iarion and Barlo had decided to use her absence as an excuse to make an exploratory foray into the north lands—just like the old days.

There hadn’t been much to find in the Mountains of Shadow, but Barlo had enjoyed them nonetheless. He was always happy to explore a mountain range he wasn’t as familiar with. But after a few weeks of hard travel, food was running low, and both of them found themselves yearning for an actual bed.

Hence, the journey to Misthaven—an outpost village of Nal Huraseadro that huddled between the Mountains of Shadow and Hills of Mist.

Barlo stumbled as he heard a creaking sound somewhere up ahead.

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