Daily Words

by Friday Jones

Friday in a pink beret and a blue dress, cartoon version.


[A Kingdom Story]

The reason, they found out later, that there were two versions of the plural for Dwarf, was that the first, Dwarves, was used for the mass of Dwarves, the population as a whole. That body of persons under about four and a half feet high and living in caves or dug mines, not able to see outside without the aid of some pretty serious shades; as a whole, they would call themselves Dwarves.

But, the second version, Dwarfs, refers to a collection of individual Dwarfs, each bloody-minded and definitely with an opinion of his or her own. Each Dwarf wouldn’t mind voicing this opinion in any arena where Dwarfs were welcome and the constant murmur from outside the bathhouse told Queen Marjorie and Sir Millie that their presence was a topic for hot debate. While they had been in the presence of King Rolf, they had been among Dwarves. Now that they were partaking in what for most Dwarves would seem like a fairly normal pleasure, that of a hot bath, attended by Dwarf ladies in waiting; the population had transformed into its argumentative, collection of selves, and were haranguing King Rolf about the matter.

King Rolf, for his part, was not enjoying this haranguing, though he usually would, because this seemed to hinge on matters of policy and philosophy, at which he was not an expert. He had fixed the current speaker on the floor of the Senate with a glare designed to melt iron, but the pomposity of the Dwarf seemed to give him some extra protection from the King’s displeasure.

“…and so to conclude,” he continued, settling in for a long run, “the questions we have are many! Are we to become the mole-like servants of the new Emperor? How do we know these ladies have the right and authority to negotiate? Do we, as Dwarfs, in fact, want anything from the Empire when we have lived down here peacefully for hundreds if not now thousands of years? Are we going to capitulate to…” King Rolf cut him off by the expedient of banging his axe handle on the floor and rising from the throne. Dwarves, being dwarves, had carved this out of stone, but it was much padded at the, ah, fundament, the arms and back so that it looked more like an oversized chair covered in blankets and cushions than anything else. There were steps up to it. Rolf ignored these and jumped down.

“It seems to me, Hole-Borer Foundersson,” a respected name and job title among Dwarfs, “that your, and your friend’s, objections are based on nothing more than suspicion, conjecture and dislike of the outside.” There was a murmur of various opinions running through the crowd at this, but King Rolf raised his hand slightly and waited for it to die down. “Now far be it from me to praise the outside, with the strong sun waiting every daylight minute to blind us, and the moon no less when she is out, but it seems to me that the King has sent his most competent and his heart to negotiate with us. While we have had little to do with the outside, we have always traded and farmed locally, we have always had good relations with the humans, and I for one would like to continue to do so.”

The hubbub resumed for a while and King Rolf let this continue for a few moments. Hole-Borer Foundersson, who was still standing on the floor of the senate, politely raised his hand and looked around. King Rolf sat on the top seat or step of the raised tiers surrounding the senate floor, indicating that Foundersson could continue.

“I’m sure that those of us in disagreement with King Rolf will act in the best interests of all Dwarves.” He said with a heavy inflexion on the word all. “We wouldn’t of course do any visible harm to the King’s reputation or bring disapprobation upon the dwarf nation, and as such, we place ourselves at your service.” He bowed.

“Right then.” Said King Rolf, rising, “That’s settled then. I’ll be interviewing a few likely candidates for the initial look around, and when they’ve seen what they can see, we’ll work out how everyone can benefit.”

“I’d like to put myself forward.” Spoke up Foundersson. “You know, cast a bit of a more cynical eye over foreign climes, that sort of thing.” There was a murmur of agreement at the idea.

“Well now, I wasn’t going to…” began King Rolf, but another, Hrolg Deepcut, interrupted.

“Well that the choice were made in front of everyone don’t you think, my King?” He turned to sweep his gaze over the assemblage from his place in the Senate. “Where we might inspect the attitudes and proclivities of those sent into strange places.” Another murmur went up, mostly agreement again. King Rolf was trapped, he knew, in the gaze of all. He could not now lay claim to greater wisdom, indeed he felt he had none, but here he was forced to send whatever the Senate decided, instead of choosing steady hands who would take in all that they saw without prejudice. The fear and distrust of the outside among some Dwarfs was strong, their leaders here and now trying to take a hand in the shaping of Dwarf-Human relations. The caves were the exclusive purview of the Dwarves, but they could not live without the outside, King Rolf knew, even though some of the community leaders thought otherwise.

The thing to know about species relations in the world was that nearly all species had a common ancestor at some point, everyone knew that. If you didn’t have scales or wings or rock for brains, then your species was, probably, at some time in the past, more or less human.

The Wizard Wars had pushed people apart. Great glass plains had appeared in the world where nothing grew, and possibly never would again. The people, decimated by the ferocity of the wars had retired to their respective bolt holes, or more often, just somewhere where the Wizards weren’t.

The Dwarves had retired underground, specialists emerging from the dark to hunt and farm, but only on the darkest of nights. Their eyes gradually adapted to the extreme dark, gaining the silvery glow that captured and reflected the tiniest bit of light. If anyone could have known it, it would have been fascinating to humans to discover that Dwarves could only see in black and white and shades of grey now, so long had they been in the caves.

The Icimin rarely came from the frozen north now, unable to bear the heat of even temperate climes. Their skin ice blue, they slept in the heat of summer, short as it was, and ventured further south in the winter, to trade and hunt.

The Elves retired across the sea, skimming the waters in their catamarans, taking with them the secrets of their designs and their magics.

Trolls awoke from their aeons-long slumber to find themselves in deserts of glass, and most of them returned to the deeps of the earth to await the final trump, leaving only a few to record the passing of men in the stone of their massive cairns.

The races had parted, and humans had procreated and adapted even as the others had shrunk from the world. Only the dwarves had kept truly informed, and so they continued to be part of the world.

“Well, then,” said King Rolf, evenly, “Foundersson and Deepcut, since you’re so concerned about this, you’re going to go, the pair of you.” Deepcut opened his mouth to protest, but King Rolf continued, “You’ll be my eyes and ears, and I expect you’ll be cynical about it right enough, we know the human cities can seem a bit overrun, but the value you’ll bring will outweigh any prejudices you’ve developed.” He stopped and reflected a moment. “I expect anyway.” There was a chorus of protests, but King Rolf waved them down.

“I’ve made my choice. I don’t intend to send yes men to the city, just those who can open their eyes a bit.” And have them opened, he thought, in the glare of the midday sun, out of my beard for a bit.


“You’ll understand, ladies, that we’re experienced Dwarfs in the wild, we know what we’re doing and so we expect you’ll take a bit of direction from us, see?” Queen Marjorie drew a breath for a sharp retort, but Millie shook her head minutely, and the Queen subsided.

“I’m sure that the noble Dwarfs have a great deal of experience in the local environs and their wisdom will be most welcome. I would remind the gentlemen that we have recently travelled these byways and have the latest news, of scoundrels, bandits and such. We know the hostels and the villages, the hamlets and farms. Are you willing to provide the service we gave to them? Can you put in the good day’s work for some food and good mead?” The Dwarfs looked at her.

“I’ve never had a problem putting in a good day’s work young miss,” began Deepcut, flexing his arms, “and I daresay that should it be required I can do so again, but these people owe you fealty, their service should be a given.” He leaned on his rough walking stick as he said this, which handily combined a club and an aid for those steeper slopes. “There is no-one in the local area who would demand any service from a Dwarf, they know what we give, and they’re grateful for it.”

Millie looked at Deepcut for a moment before she replied, he got the impression that she was looking through the back of this head.

“My title, Sir, is ‘My Lord’ technically, I am Sir Millie Gladewalker. My mother is Rowana Gladewalker, and my grandmother Mrs Hevina Smith, she took her husband’s family, and I swear by all that is holy that if you call me ‘young miss’ again I will spank you with the flat of my blade on your bare behind. Have I made myself clear?” The Queen whipped out her handkerchief and blew her nose noisily. Deepcut looked appalled, and then offended, and then contrite. It was, Millie thought, a very interesting display of diplomacy played out in a few seconds.

“I’m very sorry for any offence given, Sir Millie. I’m sure I didn’t mean any, it’s just that…” he trailed off lamely and spread his hands in a gesture that, to Millie, meant “I’m an old man and set in my ways, and this slip of a girl is giving the orders and even her Queen defers to her. I’m out of my depth.”

“Well, Sir, if no offence was meant, we’ll let the matter rest there. We have a long way to go and friends to meet on the way.” he gestured to the exit, “Shall we?”


Site Design by Friday Jones.  Coded by Hand in vanilla HTML, CSS and JavaScript, for a better web experience.

No data is collected, we'll let you know if that changes.

We believe in simplicity for websites. Write to Friday about the site at aniakovas@gmail.com