The Unrepentant (Skharr DeathEater #6) by Michael Anderle

He could still hear Brahgen complaining to the woman for a good ten minutes after she had dragged him by the ear ahead of the group that escorted their visitor. In his mind, it likely meant some complaining had been earned. Even so, from the way the guards paid more mind to the youth than to him, he had a feeling the young dwarf had earned the treatment he was receiving as well.

"I would say this is a city in its own right," he said as they continued to move through what could only be described as streets beneath Verenvan. A short while later, their path wound toward a massive cavern lit by hundreds of fires and thousands of torches.

"I'd heard rumors of the Dwarven City under the City," Skharr continued and looked around the massive chamber. "I never dreamed that it was under Verenvan. Or that it would be so…large."

"Verenth var Chrondagh is a closely held secret among my kin," the woman answered and diverted her attention from the young dwarf for a moment. "I am surprised you heard of it. I suppose the dwarves in the mountains talk a little too much."

"DeathEaters and dwarves have a close bond in the mountains," he answered. "And even then, it was when we were all drunk that they told stories none were meant to speak of. I can see why, as you have hidden it under one of the empire's largest port cities."

She laughed, grasped Brahgen by the neck, and dragged him to where he could see rich fortifications, all marked with AnvilForged's sigil carved into the stone.

"If you wait at the fountain over there, I'll tell Throkrag you have arrived to speak to him," she said and shoved the younger dwarf forward and through the doors.

The barbarian nodded, moved to the fountain, and studied a variety of markings in the stone. From what he could see, it looked like a story being told. Dwarves in full battle plate marched into combat and wound upward to the top of the fountain, where a carved dragon spewed the water that filled the fountain.

Perhaps it was a fictional battle against a dragon that was in the AnvilForged legends. It might not have been fictional, of course, but that was the most likely possibility.

"DeathEater! They told me that you were waiting for me out here."

He turned as a barrel-chested dwarf approached him. His eyes looked heavy and his steps weren't as sure as they usually were. Skharr was uncertain what to make of seeing him like this. There appeared to be something of a feast happening inside, and Throk motioned for the barbarian to join him at a nearby stone table where food and drink were being set out.

"I see fine stonework here," he noted as he sat across from the dwarf. "Your hands?"

"My grandfather's. He had a hand for stone, where my hand is mostly for metal. You know…I've been thinking of you lately. There aren’t many DeathEaters in this region of the world. The Clan knows my kind a little better and you appreciate us better than most humans."

"Perhaps because we've seen what dwarves are capable of in large numbers."

"Aye. Aye, I suppose that is true. But most humans would see one of our cities and have a mind to claim it and make it theirs, while The Clan simply see and admire it. I like that about you and your kin."

Skharr nodded. "That is appreciated."

"I had a dream, you know, and a human female entered my dream. She was beautiful, I suppose, if you have a preference for human females. Have you ever been with a dwarf woman?"

"I can't say I have. They don't like a human my size much."

"They wouldn't, come to think of it. But back to my tale. She was beautiful with rich black hair and dressed in flowing silks, she looked rather like a goddess, but not any I have ever heard of or seen."

"From what I've heard, there are numerous gods and goddesses who aren't too well-known."

"Aye, it could be. But the point is, she came into the dream to warn me. She said there is a plot afoot between the local Thieves and Assassins' guilds to kill a barbarian but that the gods were in support of the barbarian in this. So perhaps she was some kind of oracle, although why an oracle would need to peep into my dreams escapes me."

Throk paused, took a few bites from the freshly roasted pork belly that was set out in front of them, and motioned for his guest to join him. It was impolite to allow a dwarf to eat alone when in company, and Skharr cut a slab of the pork for himself.

"I tried to think of who she might have been, and I found one of my kin who prays to the goddess of thieves. She’s not too well known and most humans bow their heads to…uh, Neuregh, although I don't think he's a high god in his own right. Still, no matter."