The Unrepentant (Skharr DeathEater #6) by Michael Anderle



"It was always a possibility but not the only one that came to mind when I commissioned the weapon. But as time passed, it proved to be the only purpose it could serve."

They shared a moment of silence, but he tilted his head in query when his companion started to chuckle softly and shook his head.

"I thought I could not possibly rise to new fame, and yet I will be known as the dwarf who forged the ax of the DeathEaters, the…Ax of Infamy. Hmm, the Ax—"

"Of Skharr, Barbarian of Theros," he completed for him. "A name need not be forced. Our chieftain can accept the weapon with humility or I will pay him a visit and leave it buried in his chest, and he can choke his acceptance out through the gaping hole."

"I see your negotiation skills have not improved." Throk sighed. "Barbarian of Theros?"

"The high god and I have come to an agreement," he admitted. "I cannot change who I am and he does not promise me any explicit help."

"That seems like nothing has changed."

He shrugged. "I am who I am."

"We'll be happy to pay you for your efforts to help my nephew," the dwarf said and changed the subject quickly. "You will be tasked with escorting him out of the city through one of the back ways. And with that, I must ask for your oath that you will never speak of the city you've seen to any you might encounter and not even the gods themselves. Not that I do not believe they already know of this place, but if they have no intention to see what occurs under the ground, we have no intention to attract their attention."

Another point of pride for the dwarves was the belief that they never needed the help of the gods—with a few exceptions.

The barbarian smirked. "What city? All I saw were the dank Warrens the dwarves prefer to live in instead of a real city around them."

Throk nodded. "I'll consider that your oath, of course. Brahgen is a fine lad and brilliant in his way, but he's wound himself into the intrigue that fills this city to the brim. Verenvan is no longer safe for him so he needs to go far from the city's walls to where we would know he is in some semblance of safety. Back to his mother’s clan's home, I think—in the mountains. I know he'll find himself in trouble there as well but he will be considered an equal instead of an outsider among his kin."

"How long do you think he'll last before they send him away?"

"I'll give them two years, I think," Throk admitted with a subtle grin. "We are a longsuffering folk but there are limits to their reserves of patience. That is about as long as he's lasted here."

"Will they send him back here?"

"I doubt it. There is more than sufficient trouble to engage him between Verenvan and the mountains the dwarves call home. You will become more acquainted with the dangers yourself, given that you will likely travel through them. Across the Sea of Dragon Kites, in particular, seems to be the most danger you will face along the way."

"I have no fear of deep water or sea dragons."

"You're a fool, then."

"Possibly. But sea dragons are far less defensive and violent than their land-living cousins. A few even helped to guide my ship through treacherous waters and asked only for a few pieces of silver in exchange."

"Silver?"

"They preferred how silver shimmered under the water to gold."

"So the sea dragons can speak?"

"Not in words but they are capable of communicating. Not all of them, however."

"You'll have to tell me about how you know so much about sea dragons sometime."

Skharr smirked but looked up when Brahgen approached the table with a couple of guards, neither of whom were those who had escorted him. He had a feeling that the woman had decided to engage in the revelry the other dwarves were enjoying, although it appeared that her charge was not happy to be dragged across the Warrens like some kind of prisoner.

His glare was a little difficult to miss. The barbarian wasn't sure how he hadn't caught it before. Then again, he had worn a hood that covered his face but it was plain to see as he now studied the visitor with all the rage that came with youth. It was odd how similar human and dwarf younglings were.

"You killed them!" the young dwarf shouted suddenly. He jerked forward like he meant to attack him but was stopped barely an inch into his assault. "You killed them all. Some of them were my friends."

Skharr shrugged and pushed from his seat. "Then you had friends who put your life at risk for no reason. My cutting your time with them short saved your life, even if I didn't kill them all myself."