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Realm Wardens, Book 1


Are they carrying a gift of peace or war?

Dufin an ex-warrior dwarf is tasked by his king to deliver an unknown package to the High Kingdom. Duty-bound, Dufin took to the task enlisting a fellow warrior.

Enya, a human raised by dwarves struggled to find her place in the world. With only drinking to be done she agrees to accompany Dufin.

Blood Magic is the first book in the high fantasy series, Realm Wardens. What does the package they carry contain? Will it throw the world into chaos or is it a peaceful gesture between two kings?




Chapter One

A high-pitched whistle blew louder and louder as the seconds ticked by. Then the next one screamed out, then the third. In less than a minute, all five boilers were overheating and reaching their pressure limits. The dwarves scrambled about trying to contain the situation when Dufin strode out of the steam. He was steady and calm, no sense of urgency in his stride. The others couldn’t help but stop and stare at the dwarf. He was a legend, a warrior, and his mighty and beautiful beard.

     His stories were only matched by those of the greatest warrior known to all in the Realm of Totriga: Gronk. Known to never have lost a battle, man and beast would turn and run whenever the goblin stepped onto the field. Of course, this was centuries ago and many of the stories were lost but his reputation stood tall.

     Dufin slammed his large wrench over the gigantic bolt on the third boiler and twisted to the left to release the pressure safely. As the needle on the gauge began to come down he moved to the next, then the next. One by one the whistling and the danger was averted.

     “Thank you, Master Warrior Rustbeard,” one of the youngest dwarves working in the boiler rooms said. He gripped his own wrench with both hands as he struggled to keep it on his shoulder like Dufin’s, his puny arms shaking under the strain of his wrench’s weight.

     Dufin grunted and took the nearly expended cigar out of his mouth before speaking. “Ye needin’ tae be mair careful. If they had blown it would have taken all the mine down with it.”

     “Yes, of course.” The young miner watched as Dufin pushed past and carried on to the next chamber.

     It had been a long day. Boilers were overheating everywhere and Dufin was tired of having to pick up the slack. The young dwarves watching them should never have been given such an important job. They should all be down digging in the mines earning their keep, but they were either the new king’s friends or family of friends. Everyone knew working the boilers was for the experienced. For those who had dug for decades and earned their place or who, like Dufin, had gone to war. He had fought for ten long years in the Kings War and come back in one piece. Mostly.

     Dufin finished the rest of his shift without incident and was relieved when he got to go home. He was happy he didn’t have to dig anymore, but he would have preferred not to work in the mines in any capacity. His interests lay elsewhere. Botany was his passion now. He decided he’d stop off at the local apothecary on his way home. He rested his wrench on his shoulder and he set off down the small streets of his village. Many shops were closed down for the night, but he knew of some, like the apothecary, stayed open several hours after the mine’s second shift was over.

     Pushing open the door to the tiny little shop a bell jingled above his head. There were three other patrons in the shop. None looked up as he entered and he payed no mind of them. The shop owner stepped up to the counter and smiled at Dufin.

     “Good-even’ to ya, Dufin sir. What are ye lookin’ for this fine night?”

     “Winter flowers.” Dufin appreciated the man wanted to be friendly but he was tired.

     “Along the side wall there, Master Warrior.” He pointed to a rack filled with little packets with tiny lettering on them.

     Dufin studied them for a time, picking up one reading it, then putting it back. None seemed to satisfy him.

     He glanced over his shoulder. A tall figure stood with mostly his back to him. Dufin couldn’t tell if the man was well-built or if his coat was thick. His hood was pushed back from his short, black salt-and-pepper hair, which had a bit of a wave to it. His hair was pulled down close to his face where his day-old beard blended in. Dufin wasn’t certain if he was trying to hide the fact that he was an elf or not but everyone would know he was no dwarf. He was entirely too tall.

     It was uncommon but not unheard of for other peoples to come into Theakredel, the dwarf kingdom. His eyes drifted to the person across from of the elf. The full-length leather jacket did nothing to hide his build. With his back to Dufin the only detail he could see was the man’s mohawk.

     Absently, Dufin stroked the middle braid of his glorious beard. As he turned back to the seed collection, a figure appeared by his side. He peered at it from the corner of his eye. The boy was pale and had feminine features. There was a tattoo on the right side of his face, and he had light blue eyes.

     The boy held his hand over the left side of his chest, tapping his fingers gently then smiling. “I like trees. Trees are very beautiful. They grow big and strong.” The boy continued to smile at Dufin and Dufin gave a tight smile back as he scanned over the different seeds. “Are you planting trees? Trees are good for the world and the spirits.”

     “No, no’ plantin’ any trees.”

     “Not ever?” His eyes widened and his lip trembled.

     Dufin looked into his eyes then studied his features, the long slender ears, snow white hair... but it was the tattoo... It vaguely resembled the rings of a tree and were the same color as his eyes. That told him the boy was a tree spirit, a dryad. His color and features would indicate he was of oak, his slim and tall build, the long slender fingers like branches of the tree. Dufin wondered how he could be so far away from home. They were a simple race. Dryads usually didn’t roam far from their tree, it would be impossible, and there were no oak trees this far west. Magic had to be keeping him alive without his tree.

     Dufin sighed. “Mebbe Ah will plant some next season, fer now Ah just need a hardy flower tae last the winter months. Would ye like tae help me choose one?”

     The dryad bounced on the balls of his feet as a large smile grew on his face. “Oh yes, I would very much like to help you with that!” He began to shuffle through the selection when he stopped and looked at the dwarf. “You are a strange dwarf. You are a dwarf, right?”

     Dufin stood a little straighter and stroked his mighty beard. “Ah am.” His tone was stern but he wasn’t sure if anger was the right reaction for the question. Any other being who questioned his lineage would have gotten a mouth full of fist, but he believed the dryad meant no disrespect.

     “Most dwarves I have met do not like to speak to me. They do not like flowers either. You are a strange dwarf.”

     Dufin snorted. “As Ah’ve bin told by many. Come help me with my flower picking sae Ah can get home before dark.” Dufin glanced up at the time piece on the wall above the counter. The pendulum swung gently as it ticked the seconds down. He had about two hours before the sun would fully set and darkness would take over.

     The dryad’s face dropped along with his voice. “There are bad things in the darkness. Bad things. Are you afraid of the bad things, too? Niviel tells me to be a warrior but I’m too afraid of the bad things.”

     Niviel? Dufin thought. Must be one o’ the lads in the long cloaks. “Yer right tae be afraid o’ the shadows. The creatures that lurk there aire pure evil and must be wiped from our Realm. Sent back tae where they came.” Dufin realized he was clenching his fists when he heard the crunch of the seeds in his hand.

     “Master Warrior, I’m afraid if ye break ye buy,” the clerk said pointing at the crumbling seeds.

     “Right. O’ course.” He wiped his hand clean letting the dust of the seeds fall to the floor.

     The dryad gingerly handed him two new packets of different flowers. “Here, these grow nicely during cold months.”

     “Ah, thank ye fer yer assistance.” Dufin took the flowers and put them on the counter. The clerk charged him for the dust as well as the flowers he chose. “My apologies—”

     The clerk put his hand up. “No need, sir. Ye have a good nigh’.”

     “Aye, and ye as well.” Dufin shoved the seeds in his pocket, grabbed his wrench, and nodded to the dryad. The dryad gave a tiny wave then tapped his left chest with his fingers.

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