CHAPTER ONE: Born to be a Hero (9)

     “Papa,” Grom said as he laid down a slim knife to one side of a wooden plate, “will you tell me about another one of those adventures? You know, about the family and the legacy, and what not.”

     Shenon, who was giving the ham a second coating of glaze for good measure, glanced over at the elderly dwarf disapprovingly.

     “Well,” Bornen noticed the sidelong look and hazarded, “I suppose one couldn’t hurt.” A brilliant idea struck his mind. “How about a short tale of Dhumond, hmm?” Even Shenon couldn’t oppose the regaling of an harrowing story if it involved her late husband. Her ears perked up slightly, though she refused to show any amount of interest as she double-checked the broth.

     Grom took a seat at the table. His eyes flashed with curiosity. “Really? I’d like to hear one of those.”

     “Very well,” his grandfather began excitedly, sitting down next to the young boy, “it happened long ago, near the plains of Evermist . . .”

     Grom’s imagination was transported to a place and time unfamiliar to him, yet he could smell and breathe the open air of the prairies as they were described to him, and for the duration of the tale he felt as if he was actually there, observing his father in mid-action like some unseen phantom floating in the background. His attention was undivided, even as the meal was presented. He admired Dhumond’s courage while enjoying healthy cuts of ham, was enamored by his tenacity with every mouthful of broth, and his father’s undaunted demeanor somehow improved the taste of the biscuits he nibbled away.

     Before Bornen concluded the tale however, Shenon interjected abruptly. “That’s enough,” she said, “let’s not fill his head with fictitious exaggerations. It wasn’t entirely like that, Grom.” She was worried about his intrigued expression and what impressions the recollection was having on him.

     “But Mam-“

     He halted his objection hastily when his mother glowered at him with such seriousness that he would’ve curdled if he was a glass of milk. Bornen remained tight lipped as well, not wanting to make her more cross than she already was. (Though Bornen felled many a-foe in his prime, the poor dwarf was disarmed and defeated any time he challenged Shenon’s wits).

     “That’s better. Now tell me, dear, how are your studies coming along hmm?”

     Grom shrugged nonchalantly. “My studies are going fine, I guess.

     “Come this next Fharen,” Shenon reminded firmly, “you’ll need to choose a trade to pursue. Have you been thinking about what you’d like to do?”

     “Well, sort of . . .” he replied with wavering uncertainty.

     “Out with it then, let’s hear what you’ve decided.”

     “Um, I uh,” Grom muttered, “I-uh, well-“ He was doing everything he could to avert his eyes away from his mother’s scrupulous stare.

     Bornen heartily slapped a hand upon the young boy’s back. “What’s wrong, cat got your tongue or something?”

The End

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