The start

“Papa, why don’t you marry the Queen?” the little girl asked. Her face was covered is dirt and soot and her clothes were in need of a wash and a good stretching. The girl had grown over two finger widths in the last two months. Soon the boys would take notice of her and the real work would begin.

Belric was cooking some stew on what was someday to be the forge. Once the stone walls of the furnace were rebuilt and the ever present leaning of the walls and the roof were straightened. The building leaned like an old man with a cane. The three things it had going for it was that it was in a bad part of town two blocks from the harbor – convenient for activities that you did not want the guards to know about, that the price was right as the owner died and Belric found the deed, and best of all, the roof did not leak most of the time. The young dwarf had been drawn to the city by stories of a library and university. He had yet to find neither them nor enough gold to pay the entrance fees if he did.

Today was a good day, the children had managed to lift the coin purse of a ship captain and he had managed to find a sailor desperate enough to have a sword repaired by him. This meant that they were having meat with their vegetables in a stew. Tomorrow he would set about the task of clothing his little throng.

“Because Elven Queens just do not marry grumpy Dwarves that are caring for a gang of children,” he said popping one of the boys on the head with the ladle as he that was starting to get into a fight with another child a little smaller than he. Belric had learned a lot over the years, one of the key things was that beardless exiled dwarves and fancy dressed Elves tend not to see things the same way. It just was the way things were. He tried to explain it to the mob of children.

“Elves and Dwarves were like soap and bread, fire and stone, or pickles and Sour Kraut. Well, Pickles and Sour Kraut and a pint of dark ale do go together,” he said stirring before the stew before it burned.

“or Boys and girls,” the youngest girl said making the eldest child blush as he was girl crazy.
Another girl piped in, “And fire and stone makes your forge.”
And the Orc piped in, “and we should have washed up before we ate.”

Belric sighed and shook his head. and started ladling the stew into bowls that were cleaner than the hands that held them. He ate last, which meant that he ate the least. Tonight they would all warm and fed. Tomorrow, they would head for the market to buy new clothes, maybe a book or two, and tools.

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