Fantasy Excerpt: Source of the River-Featuring Female Dwarves

Hello everyone! I’d love to share an excerpt from my upcoming high fantasy novel Source of the River. This story takes place well before the other novels in my Tales from Nol’Deron series. It presents a view of life among the dwarves of Nol’Deron, who have yet to appear in my other works. What is truly exciting is that my readers will have a chance to see things through the eyes of a female dwarf–a rarity in fantasy fiction! I hope you will love Kaiya as much as I do.

Darkness settled over the mountains. The stars hid themselves behind the clouds, but the moon’s glow fought its way through the thickness, providing a dim, hazy light. The wind gently rustled the leaves on the trees, and the creatures of the night sang softly to the sky.

Kaiya lay awake in her bed, unable to put her mind at ease. Earlier in the evening, her father had expressly forbidden her to go anywhere near town, thanks to the hostility the pair had encountered. No matter her age, he would always think of her as a child who needed his protection. She was the youngest of his children and had no husband, which gave her father the excuse he needed to carry on in the role of her protector.

She understood her father’s need to protect her, but it wasn’t necessary. Kaiya was not an average dwarf girl who was expected only to have children and run a home. Her magical powers were strong, and she had spent her life honing her talents. Without the distraction of friends and their silly childhood games, Kaiya was able to spend her days practicing magic and teaching herself to harness the wind. She was not helpless. She was a strong woman who could look after herself.

As quietly as she could manage, Kaiya rose from her bed and headed for the front door. Her urge to discover the presence in the caves was far stronger than her need to listen to her father’s warnings. She did not fear the miners. Their weapons were nothing compared to her powers. The magical being within the cave, however, was something unknown. She could not decide whether it was malevolent, and she wanted to know if it was the source of the illness that had been spreading among the miners.

As she tiptoed to the door in the darkness, she reached out with her hand to avoid tripping on any unseen obstacles in her path. To her surprise, her cloak had been hung on the doorknob, and a wooden torch was propped against the door as well. Mum, she thought. Somehow her mother knew she would be going out tonight, even before Kaiya herself had made up her mind to do so.

Stepping out into the night, she quietly closed the door behind her. Her magic could provide her with excellent night vision, but she decided to light the torch instead. She did not want to waste any magical energy that she might need later inside the cave. Creeping across the yard, she hoped Doozle would not bark and wake her parents before she could reach the dirt road that would lead her to town.

The nighttime air in the mountains was cool despite it being early summer. She pulled her cloak a bit closer to her skin, but the chill she felt had more to do with her nerves than the weather. She could sense the magic emitting from deep inside the cave and felt compelled to investigate.

Her pace quickened as her eyes adjusted to the dark. The torch in her hand provided enough light to save her from tripping over the rocks along the path. Images of monsters from childhood tales flashed in her mind as she tried to prepare herself for what might await her in the cave. Never in her life had she encountered true evil. Ignorance and prejudice had presented themselves, but not evil. The monsters were not real, but something real was in the caves, and she feared it might be the true cause of the illness.

Reaching the edge of town, she doused the flame on her torch to avoid being noticed. Being after midnight, the town was deserted, and all the dwarves were safely tucked away in their homes. If this night proved dangerous for Kaiya, there was little chance of assistance from her kinsmen.

A single night watchman stood guard outside the cave. More security was not necessary, since most dwarves did not easily turn to a life of crime. Severe punishments, including loss of limb, had been used in the past, and that had deterred most criminal behavior for centuries. The watchman was responsible mainly for keeping out vandals and teenage lovers looking for a bit of privacy.

The silver-bearded dwarf stood at the ready with no sign of drowsiness apparent in his posture. Taking great care to stay hidden, Kaiya slowly lifted a hand and closed her eyes. A gentle gust of wind passed by the guard, gaining momentum as it traveled. In the nearby mining camp, a cart began to roll and quickly crashed into a rickety wooden table, overturning both in the process. A loud clang was followed by a crash as used dishes toppled from the table to the ground. A little too much, she thought, promising to hold back a bit next time.

The guard readied a large hammer in his hand and trudged off to investigate the disturbance. Kaiya made a dash for the cave with only the moonlight to guide her path. Safely inside the cave, the sound of dripping water filled her ears. Proceeding deeper within, the light became dimmer and dimmer, until she was forced to use magic to see. Her eyes sparkled with silver as she willed herself to see in the pitch-black surroundings.

The walls shimmered and reflected the light from her eyes. An overwhelming sense of foreboding came over her, and she hesitated in her steps. Taking a deep breath, she knew she would have to continue to find the source of the magic. Her heart pounded in her ears, but her feet kept moving forward.

She paused again deep within the cave where a rock formation resembling a large basin glistened white among the gray interior. From the ceiling, a second white formation descended, providing a rain shower into the tub below. The water rushed forth with great strength, and the sound echoed loudly from the walls. Directly behind the tub, a clear pool lay motionless. As she peered into the pool, she saw the reflection of the ceiling, which made the water appear to delve deep into eternity. She glimpsed her own face among the water and smiled slightly, amused at the sight of her eyes as they sparkled with magic.

A white light started to form at the edge of the pool, circling inward and becoming ever brighter. Kaiya lifted her arm to shield her eyes from the sudden light….

Thanks for reading!

Enjoy the sample? Chapters 1-4 are available here!