The Tunorea Chronicles – The Warrior Queen – Chapter 13

I thought I’d share an excerpt from┬áThe Tunorea Chronicles, book 2 featuring Jondalar (I freely admit he’s one of my favorite characters from this book). Later I’ll try to pick a good excerpt from book 1 to share. By all means, let me know what you think. Color formatting is done strictly to make dialogue easier to read.

He sat and listened to the man across from him give the details of the job he wanted done, picking at his claw like fingernails with a knife as he did so; rocking his chair on it’s back legs as his feet propped up on the corner of the table. It wasn’t a challenging job from the sound of things either. He frowned some, finally looking up to lock pure black eyes on the man.
“This barely sounds worth my time Dunst, tell me again, why you want this done so badly?”
“This… this is for the King. Jon, even you should have appreciation for that!”
“Hmph, I could give a rat’s ass about that spoiled, indulgent prat that calls himself your king.” he said spitting off to the side. “I could do a better job as king then he’s done so far!”
The man called Dunst leaned in and spoke in a harsh whisper, “Jon, you ask for trouble speaking in such a way! He’s having people killed for far less. Please, just take this job and be done with it. It pays well and you said yourself, it will be easy to do.”
He sighed and set his chair on the floor, elbows propped on the table. “Okay, let’s go over this step by step once more…”
Dunst hung his head and nodded, “There is a girl, late teens to early twenties that fancies herself a bit of a thief. She’s been sent to the Temple of Amadaria to retrieve the necklace, the Legend of Amadaria, for some two bit collector. We don’t know how he heard about it, but it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that King Tynan needs it.”
“A mere girl and you need me to take care of her? This is the part I’m not understanding Dunst, it’s not like you usually have a problem getting your hands dirty. In fact, you’re usually even more willing than I am to do so. Spill it, what aren’t you telling me?” he shifted in his seat slightly as he stretched, the movement making it clear that he could in fact reach the other man from across the table if needs be.
Dunst cleared his throat nervously, “Well, you see, she travels with her brother and the two of them are apparently mesmers, though it would seem that they aren’t really aware of it.”
This made Jondalar laugh as he leaned forward some more, thunking Dunst in the head with the hilt of his knife, “And you’re such the coward that you’re afraid she’ll be able to enslave you and whatever else her kind are supposedly able to do yeah?”
Dunst didn’t answer, he didn’t want to admit to being a coward, but rumors of what a mesmer could do were far and wide some of the most spread ones around. They included everything from stealing one’s soul to enslaving their mind and keeping them as a pet. He didn’t want to take a chance on any of it being true, but supposedly Jondalar was completely immune to magic somehow, and surely that would include anything a mesmer could do.
He rapped his fingers on the table and finally he snatched up the bag of gold between them, “Fine, I’ll do it. I must say though, it’s a sad day that a group of the king’s supposed finest are afraid of just two people. Am I to kill them both?”
Dunst nodded quickly, “Yes, yes we don’t want this coming back on the king at all, nor do we want there to be anyone that knows about the treasure that might try to retrieve it.”
“Fine, I can set out first thing in the morning then.”
He stood from his chair, tucking the heavy pouch away as he stretched to his full height of nearly seven feet tall. He looked down at the men opposite him and smirked a toothy grin at them, fangs showing for the first time as he flicked red streaked hair out his eyes.
“By the way, my meal’s on you tonight Dunst. Night…” he turned and walked away then leaving the men to look in horror at the mess of dishes on the table that marked a very expensive meal.
He stepped outside the small pub and stared up at the night sky, the snow falling steadily around him. He debated a moment on just how to proceed. He could fly all the way to the isolated temple, but that would be both taxing and dangerous and he really had no interest in being someone’s trophy somewhere. Thick nails scratched at the scruff of hair on his chin as he considered his few options. He couldn’t exactly take a horse, even in this form they could sense what he really was and it spooked them, never mind that he’d never exactly developed a taste for horse. He always mused that the horse was just so bloody prideful that they of course assumed that any carnivorous creature wanted to eat them. He’d spent far too much time in his elven form though and tended to prefer his meat butchered and at least partially cooked. He chuckled to himself. That left moving about on foot, and while his strides were naturally far longer then that of most humans, it would still take him quite a while to make the trip.
He walked the short distance to the inn and ducked inside the door, slouching some until he was standing at the counter where a young woman was working. He cast her a disarming smile as he pulled a few coins from the pouch he’d gotten as payment from from Dunst.
“I’d like a room for the night, one with a nice fireplace…”
The young woman blushed as she looked up at him and nodded a bit, “Of course sir, I have the perfect room,” she said just before grabbing a key off the hook board behind her motioning for him to follow her. She stops by the door to the room and unlocks it for him before handing him the key.
“Here you go sir, if you need anything just let me know,” she says giving an almost hopeful smile.
He grinned a toothy grin down at her, “Thank you, but I think I am set for the night.” Oh he had been sorely tempted to name off a need she could fill but he needed to keep his mind on what he was doing. As much as he would have enjoyed a distraction, it would have been just that, a distraction. He gave a nod and slipped into the room, locking the door behind him.
He looked around the small room and smiled when he saw the large fireplace that dominated the side wall. He dropped his things on the floor at the foot of the bed and with just the snap of his fingers, a fire roared to life. He took one of the chairs and dragged it to rest in front of the fireplace before dropping into it and letting it warm him. He had enjoyed a very large and filling meal, one that could carry him through till midday easily and the best part was that he’d ended up not paying a single coin for it.
He let himself simply relax as he mulls things over. Something about this job felt wrong to him, but he just couldn’t put his finger on what it was. After sitting there for a while soaking up the heat from the fire he gave a stretch and made himself get up so he could crawl into the small bed in the room.
When morning came he was quick to wake, though it took him some time before he was able to push himself from the comfort of the bed to wash up and quickly dress only then starting the fire up once more and settling by it to eat breakfast. After he took his time with his meal he gathered his things, still moving at a leisurely pace, as he saw no need to hurry. He gathered his things and left the room, stopping at the counter to pay the man who stood there for the room. With a polite nod of his head he stepped outside into the crisp, cold winter air.
He made a few adjustments to the gear he was carrying and set off on what he figured would be a week long trek into the mountains. He shrugged some to himself and counted his blessings that, unlike the humans that had hired him, the cold would not bother him as badly. Perhaps that was the real reason they didn’t want to go? But then, his thoughts turned to this girl. A girl and her brother, it puzzled him as to why they would be such a threat but, a job was a job and even though he didn’t admit it in front of Dunst, he really actually needed the money right about now.
While he liked to feign disinterest in the affairs of the humans and elves of these lands, the truth of the matter was, in just a couple of years he would have little choice but to care, and in fact he would likely have to get to know the king he was about to do a job for far better then he might wish. He hadn’t lied when he spoke his opinion on Tynan, he thought him a selfish, spoiled, over privileged half-elf; worse yet, one that was getting away with whatever he pleased and, Jondalar suspected that included murder. Oh sure, Jon killed for pay when the price was right, but he would never strike out at his own family. No, his kind revered their parents and elders even if they didn’t always like them. If any killing of their kind was done, it came from one of the other clans, never from within. It was that difference between them and most other races that so intrigued Jon and what kept him lingering around Espea rather then returning home. With a final stretch, he set off for the west.

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