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Quicksilver: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

Quicksilver: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

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Hero of Lasniniar. Dwarvenhome’s Chief of Clans. Barlo can claim both these titles, and more. (But never ‘Master Chef.’)

Brave, stubborn, and loyal to a fault, he takes pride in his judgment of character. And he holds no qualms about sharing his opinions. (Much to his elf friend Iarion’s chagrin.)

...Even when it means he must tell an unwelcome truth.

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

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Barlo softly hummed a dwarven tune as he checked on the contents of his compact, iron stove for the umpteenth time. Hot air warmed his face and made the whiskers of his long, brown beard seem to sizzle. His bushy brows knit together in a scowl.

The cake hadn’t risen yet.

The edges were browning, sure enough. But the middle was still a sunken, sodden mess.

He slammed the metal door closed with a curse. How? How had he managed to mess it up this time?

He had followed the instructions of Narilga’s recipe exactly. He went to the sanded, wooden table and ran a finger along his deceased wife’s elegant scrawl in the hand-bound recipe book to check again.

Wait. Did I use one third of a cup of toadstools, or two thirds?

He threw his callused hands in the air and turned away with a grumble of annoyance.

Bah! Why am I even bothering with this nonsense anyway?

Barlo was no chef, and he had no real desire to become one. He was happy enough being the former Chief of Clans of Dwarvenhome, a hero of Lasniniar, and the only dwarf to ever be reborn.

No, the cake was meant to prove a point.

For years, Iarion had mocked Barlo about the cake he had attempted to make for Narilga’s birthday. Both Barlo and his elf friend had consumed the initial test-run version, and it had ended badly for both of them. Barlo’s lips twitched. The only silver lining of the event was the memory of Iarion heaving from both ends, so to speak.

Still, Barlo tired of Iarion’s continual references to the failed cake, to the point where he was actually trying to redeem himself.

Not that it was going very well.

Maybe Narilga didn’t make the recipe exactly as it’s written.

For centuries, Barlo had been a metalsmith by trade, which was hardly an exact science. No, you had to make adjustments as you went along, depending on how things went. He pursed his lips. Perhaps baking was the same…

An abrupt knock at the door of his burrow scattered his thoughts. He left the kitchen and walked past the sitting room to answer.

He found Lodariel waiting on the other side, her knuckles still raised.

“He’s seeing her again, isn’t he?” the elf woman said as she ducked through the low door and shouldered her way inside.

“Hello, Lodariel,” Barlo said in a dry voice as he closed the sturdy, wooden door behind her. “Nice to see you too.”

Lodariel flopped onto the battered couch that dominated the sitting room and faced the burrow’s rounded window.

“I’m sorry.” Lodariel gave a negligent wave. “But he is, isn’t he?”

She wore her usual scouting leathers and soft-soled boots. If she had brought her spear and bow, she had remembered enough of her courtesy to leave them outside the burrow. Despite her dramatic entrance, she moved with languid grace, running an anxious hand through her long, red-gold braids and revealing the tips of her pointed ears. Her golden skin seemed to glow in the slanting, afternoon light as it filtered through the window.

Her nose wrinkled as she looked up at him from where she sat. “Ugh. Were you in the middle of something before I got here?”

She jerked her head in the direction of Barlo’s personal indoor facilities, which happened to be down the hallway, past the kitchen. He suddenly realized he had forgotten his cake. The air was filled with the acrid scent of burning fungus.

“What?” Barlo flushed at the idea. “No, I—”

“It happens to the best of us, Barlo.” Lodariel gave him another wave. “Was it a bad bit of meat?” She pulled another face. “Phew. Definitely something rancid.”

Barlo sighed and scurried over to the stove. “I was trying to bake something.”

He put on a pair of padded mitts and pulled out the charred remains of his cake to prove his point before setting the tray down to cool. He bit back a cough as the burning stench tickled the back of his throat.

“Ah, we don’t have to tell Iarion about this, do we?” he asked as he removed the mitts and joined her in the sitting room in the comfy chair that faced the couch.

Lodariel’s green eyes turned sly. “I don’t see any reason to tell him about this little visit at all.”

Barlo gave her a level look. “It’s like that, is it?” Lodariel’s gaze slid away from his in confirmation.

He knew why she had come, of course. He had been expecting it for some time. Part of him was relieved. Like Lodariel, he also wanted someone to talk to about the concerns that had been weighing on his mind recently. He was hesitant to go behind Iarion’s back, but Lodariel had a right to know at least a few of the details…

He sighed again. “Very well. What do you want to know?”

She pinned him with a hungry gaze. “Everything.”

Barlo suppressed a wince. He should have guessed as much. He wouldn’t tell her everything, of course. There were some details she had no need to know, and had no bearing on the current situation.

Besides, Barlo was always careful to make sure his stories always portrayed him in a flattering light. With Iarion’s sense of humor, it was always better to get out in front of things, before the elf came along and deflated his ego.

He leaned back in his seat and tried to figure out where to start…

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