Silverfig and Toadleaf talked a good game, proclaiming to every fey who listened that a giant Dwarf King took up evil residence below us, with his great big army, crafting swords for the War Against Men.
Silverfig ranted about how ugly and brutish dwarves must be. Toadleaf loudly proclaimed that all dwarves did was work; they worked until their fingers bled and sang awful songs about murderous fighting. But my brothers refused to follow me down to the mines to see.
They’ve always been stupid that way, both so biased, and silly, and terrified of things. But not me. They call me Shadowthorn the reckless—and it’s true. Last night, I did venture down there, all by my lonesome, in my nightclothes, while Silverfig and Toadleaf were nestled safely in our trundle beds.
While those two gooseheads drooled and snored, I bravely followed. I chased the clink and clank of laboring, the sweltering heat of the forge, and the cheery bass of ale-kissed voices raised in merriment. I zipped, and dodged, and flew, and I discovered them—a glorious hoard of great, bare-chested beasts.
They weren’t at all spindly like the fey. They had fire-bronzed muscles, and molten eyes, and really brazen beards. And, I swear that it’s true, they wore nothing but loincloths in the heat.
I fluttered there, glistening from a light sheen of sweat in the glow of my own little lantern. We stared, back and forth, barely breathing, for an eternity. All I wanted was their happiness and songs again, but the wretched silence just kept going. No more singing, no more banging, no more any other thing—just quiet, blinking eyes, and mutual curiosity.
“You poor dears,” I said—since I was smaller, I guessed, the first move was up to me. “I’m terribly sorry for frightening you. I only came down to see what I could see.”
There was laughter and growling, and then, goodness gracious, you wouldn’t believe all the things they showed sweet little me.
…And it turned out that Silverfig and Toadleaf had been right, all along, in their estimation of the King.