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Bond Forger: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

Bond Forger: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

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Barlo guards a secret. Only his best friend Iarion shares it, along with the rest of the Light Elves.

No one else can ever know.

Barlo’s secret keeps him apart from other dwarves. Even his own family. Memories of another time haunt him. He longs for a way to claim his identity. To be himself.

…A hero of Lasniniar, capable of leaving Dwarvenhome to go on adventures. (With Iarion, of course.)

But his secret acts as both a blessing and a curse. And the call to adventure proves too strong to deny.

A stand-alone story of the infamous friends Barlo and Iarion from the Legends of Lasniniar fantasy series. (Previously published as “Legends of Lasniniar: Bond Forger.” This adventure takes place between the World of Lasniniar novels Storm Rider and Wave Runners.)

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Barlo was restless. His hair was damp, and a trickle of sweat traveled down his neck. His fingers moved without conscious thought, setting polished stones in newly crafted weapons and jewelry, but his mind was elsewhere. His thoughts kept wandering from the confines of the family forge and Dwarvenhome’s mountain halls to the wide world beyond.

“Pass me the tongs, will you?” Fidar asked.

Barlo suspected from Fidar’s tone this wasn’t the first time he had made the request. Barlo shook his head to clear it and handed his son the metal tongs. Wincing inwardly, he corrected himself for the umpteenth time.

My father. Fidar is my father now.

Twenty-three years had passed since Barlo had been reborn, and he still had a hard time keeping his relations straight. In his previous life, Barlo and Fidar’s roles had been reversed. For hundreds of years, Barlo had been the father, and Fidar had been his youngest son. Barlo’s final quest to overthrow a terrible evil that had threatened all of Lasniniar had changed everything.

“Woolgathering again?” Fidar asked with wry smile.

“I suppose I was,” Barlo said. “Sorry. I’m having a hard time staying focused lately.”

As much as he wished he could unburden himself to Fidar, Barlo was forced to keep his memories of his previous life to himself. He had sworn not to reveal the secret of his reincarnation, which only made his situation more awkward.

Fidar returned to his work, using the tongs to retrieve a mold and place it into a bucket of water. He ducked back from the rising cloud of steam. Barlo watched him from the corner of his eye. They both had the same short, solid form all dwarves shared, and the same broad nose, but the similarities ended there. Unlike Barlo’s matching brown eyes and beard, Fidar’s whiskers were the color of coal, and his merry eyes were a deep blue. Fidar had inherited his mother’s coloring. Barlo thought of Narilga with a pang. He still missed his wife terribly.

Barlo realized his hands had stopped moving and forced himself to focus on his task. He was supposed to be helping Fidar, not staring off into space like some moonstruck elf having a vision.

And of course, that thought only made him wonder how Iarion was doing. How long had it been since he had visited his elven friend? It couldn’t have been that long, but it seemed like ages. The elves were the only ones who knew and understood Barlo’s situation. Unlike dwarves, reincarnation was a regular part of their life cycle. It was a relief to be able to be himself around other people, even if they were a different race. Maybe he should plan another trip to Melaquenya. The Light Elves’ wood had become a second home to him over the years. Surely no one here would miss him for a few days...

Fidar cleared his throat. Barlo stifled a curse as he realized he was leaning against the worktable with his chin propped on his fist. What was wrong with him?

“I think you’re done for the day,” Fidar said in a kindly voice. “I can finish the rest myself.”

Barlo flushed with guilt. “Are you sure? You said you had to get all these orders done for tomorrow.”

“I know, but one more day probably won’t make a difference. I’m only rushing because I’m supposed to go to Dwarvendeep for our regular meeting.” Fidar sighed. “I don’t know why I bother. We welcome their envoys here, but they have sent no one, and they still refuse to allow any outsiders into their city. I’ll just end up sitting on their doorstep while Khamud relays messages from their Moon Council.”

“Why are they so stubborn?” Barlo wondered aloud.

He had met Khamud near the end of his previous life. All the other dwarven clans had been shocked to learn of the exiles living in the Copper Mountains to the southwest in a city they called Lomolud—the Dwarvendeep. He had learned that rather than take a side against their own kind, they had splintered off from the other clans during the Dwarven Wars. They had become extremely insular and untrusting of strangers—even other dwarves. If Barlo had not saved Khamud’s life during a goblin attack, he doubted Dwarvendeep’s Moon Council would have bothered to make connections with them at all.

Fidar shrugged. “Who knows why they do anything? They are ruled by women.”

“Are you saying women aren’t smart enough to rule?” Barlo asked in a deceptively mild tone.

“Of course not. Everyone knows it’s the clan chiefs’ wives who make most of the decisions around here, and in the other dwarven cities. They just don’t do it openly. It’s unnatural.”

Barlo suppressed his irritation. Even though the other dwarves saw him as only a youth, he had traveled and experienced more than any of them, thanks to his previous life. It had certainly made him more open minded. He had set the wheels in motion for change to come to Dwarvenhome before he had died, but it came slowly.

“You don’t think the Moon Council will mind if you’re late for your meeting?” Barlo asked, changing the subject back to its original course.

“They might, but will it really change anything? I’ve been dancing to their tune for years, and they’ve only agreed to the most basic trade with us. We have goods they could use, and I’m sure they have materials we would like to buy, if they would only be a little more forthcoming. It’s ridiculous! Who ever heard of a dwarf that didn’t want to strike a deal?”

It was odd. “Maybe this time will be different,” Barlo said with a shrug.

“I doubt it.” Fidar’s expression was sour. “Maybe I should see if I can find someone to take my place as envoy after this trip. It’s a waste of time. Besides, your mother hates it when I leave.”

A surge of excitement went through Barlo. This was the kind of adventure he needed! It might just be a routine visit to Dwarvendeep, but at least it would get him away from Dwarvenhome, and the weight of his secret.

“Why don’t I go instead?” Barlo said, trying to maintain an outward appearance of calm. “You can stay here with Mother, and not worry about having to rush your work. It’s not as if I’m much help right now anyway.”

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