The Unrepentant (Skharr DeathEater #6) by Michael Anderle





Chapter One





It unsettled Skharr to have to remain constantly alert in the city. After all, he had begun to regard it as being as close to a home as he'd ever had since leaving the DeathEater clan.

Still, it had been so many years since he left his true home behind that he sometimes struggled to picture what it was like in his quiet moments. The Clan would have changed entirely by the time he decided to return—if he ever did.

This wasn’t as likely a scenario as he had once thought.

Until that happened, Verenvan was where he spent most of his time, and while it had irked him somewhat when he had first arrived, there was something comforting about it now. Not that he would ever feel homesick if he left. It wasn’t the city itself that appealed to him but the sense of familiarity it brought.

Despite this, he could still feel gazes following him as he wandered through the streets. It was not an uncommon occurrence. A barbarian was an odd sight in most cities and towns of the world, but there was a darker tone to the stares in Verenvan. It hadn't been long since avarice had driven the desperate and the violent of the city to try to kill him.

He had been assured that this was no longer the case, but it was never a good idea to assume there were no others who wanted him dead badly enough to pay for the effort required to accomplish it.

The barbarian slid his hand to the dagger he carried on his belt when he caught a glimpse of movement that suggested someone was following him through the narrow streets of the workshop section of the city. The buildings were taller and the streets were narrower, which thinned the crowd that moved through them and made it easier to detect any who might have dogged his footsteps.

Surprisingly, he soon identified what looked like a dwarf trailing him, and not with any kind of professionalism. In fact, it seemed as though he wanted to catch up to him without breaking out into a full sprint through the cramped streets.

After a few moments of thought, Skharr stopped completely and pretended he had paused to inspect his belt and adjust his clothes. He made sure his hand didn’t stray far from his dagger and watched the cloaked figure cautiously as it closed the distance between the two of them without even a pretense of subterfuge.

"Heavens above, barbarian." The dwarf gasped as he approached and pulled his hood back. He looked out of breath, his skin pink and covered in sweat. "Your long legs are a true challenge to keep up with. I would have had to start running outright if you hadn't slowed. And you must know it is impolite to make a dwarf run after you."

"Hmm." The warrior grunted and narrowed his eyes. "Why?"

"Because dwarves don't like running. Our build is better suited to efficient, long-distance walking, not sprinting like a godsbedammed fucking elf."

"No," he interrupted before his pursuer could go off at a tangent. "Why following?" He was well aware that dwarves liked to walk at their own pace. They made a point of mentioning it to him and usually assured him that at a good pace, they could outlast almost any other species in the world. The problem was that they could not move quickly.

"Oh. Yes, well, Throk sent me. He asked me to mention to you that he would appreciate it if you used another route."

Skharr narrowed his eyes and inched forward. "What other route? And who are you?"

The dwarf opened his mouth to answer but the barbarian twisted sharply. Another hand was reaching for his coin purse and before he even fully registered it, he had grasped it in a vice-like hold and squeezed and twisted as hard as he could manage in his awkward position. He turned fully, expecting to find one of the local young pickpockets from the size of the hand.

Surprise registered on his face when he realized he had almost picked another dwarf up. He wore a heavy hood and cloak as well but looked leaner than most of his kind, although with his feet almost off the ground, he displayed no real sense of malice or danger.

The first dwarf did not look surprised. His eyes rolled and he drew a deep breath as if he tried to restrain himself.

"Throk would also appreciate if you stopped short of killing this little pest as well.”

"Pest?" the smaller one retorted as Skharr lifted him fully off his feet. "I'll teach you to call me a pest—"

"If you don't snap your jaw shut, dwarf, I'll drop you on your head four or five times and see how well you talk then," he warned.

The hanging dwarf didn't answer and instead, reached up to try to pry his hand loose from the unyielding hold. His efforts were futile, and the barbarian simply studied the captive as he struggled.