The Unrepentant (Skharr DeathEater #6) by Michael Anderle



"How long ago did this warning come to you?" he asked. He had a feeling that he already knew which of Throk's kin prayed to a god of thieves, but he didn't want to make any assumptions that could not be withdrawn.

"A few weeks past. I told my kin of my dream, in which the woman asked me to cast protection over the young Brahgen. I did as she asked, and sure enough, there was a slaughter and all those who ruled the undercouncil of Verenvan were killed and a new undercouncil royalty was born."

The barbarian nodded and took a bite of the juicy, well-cooked pork. "I think I know the occasion you speak of."

"Aye. I should have cast a warning your way as well. There aren’t many barbarians in these parts she could have been referring to, of course. You were still in the city and I could have acted or found some way to help."

"It’s no matter," Skharr answered. "It turned out well enough in the end and I am glad your…nephew?"

Throk nodded.

"I am glad your nephew is safe."

"Your concern is appreciated. And yet…there is a rub. Brahgen has to leave and go to another clan. He can't be seen by the humans here who might know he was not killed and assume he was part of the coup. Too many in this city have a mistrust of us as it is, and I would not see him fall victim to that, especially over something that is not his doing."

The barbarian tugged one of his forelocks thoughtfully before he tucked it behind his ear. "Are there no others you could trust this business to?"

"No." The dwarf shook his head and carefully cleaned some grease that had spilled from the pork belly onto his beard. "You are the only one I trust to accomplish this, especially since you might find that Brahgen himself gives ye the most trouble."

"Is that so?"

"The lad fancies himself as something of a thief." Throk snorted. "Simply because he hasn't the body for smithing, he assumes a thief is what he must be. He's barely reached manhood and he's about to get himself killed. The only wise thing he did was pray to some…demigoddess who gave a rat's ass about his sorry skin."

It seemed as though his companion could have revealed a little more of who or what the dream intruder was. He wasn't sure why the dwarf felt the need for secrecy but he decided not to question it. As long as Throk needed something from him, it was only good manners to at least give the idea some serious thought.

"I have intended to leave the city, in all honesty," he admitted and drew a deep breath. "I was involved in that business you mentioned, and… Well, suffice it to say there are still those who would see a certain barbarian breathing the water in the sewers."

"I see."

"There is a matter we need to discuss, however."

Throk nodded. "Your ax. It isn’t quite finished yet but it will be by the morrow. If you wish, I could have the weapon sent to you when you arrive at your destination."

Skharr shook his head. "The weapon was never intended for my hands. I would need it sent to the DeathEater clan."

"Ah…that would be in the opposite direction of where you're going. I know of some who could deliver the weapon safely to your clan at the earliest opportunity. Would you have any…words that you would send with it?"

The warrior nodded, cut a slice from the pork, and added bread to it as he considered what he wanted to say.

"Tell them…" He paused, shook his head, and smirked. "Tell them that Skharr DeathEater has paid The Clan all that is due and more. Should they desire anything more in recompense or deeds, they should look to others among them."

Throk leaned forward, his eyes suddenly focused. "You…you sunder all obligation to The Clan, then?"

"They already sundered it," he answered. "I am merely…rubbing salt in the wound. There is no way for them to ever right the injustice of what they allowed. This ax will ensure that my mother, father, and those siblings who might still be among their number know there is no shame—no greater DeathEater than the one named Skharr. I am my own man and my decisions were correct. The council of the Clans can suck my—"

The dwarf coughed loudly. "I'll…leave that last part of the message out."

After a moment of thought, Skharr nodded and a small smirk touched his lips. "Aye, perhaps that is for the best. There is no need to get your messenger killed."

"I…I doubt it would happen." Throk grinned and cleared his throat. "So that is what the ax was for the whole time. A final declaration?"