The Storm Queen gets what she wants, and she has sent Varya to collect industrious dwarves from the Winter War. Read on to discover more!
- Ice-blue fur-lined dragonmail robes
- Furry onion-top helm
- Blue gladiator sandals
The Secret City was silent, muted by falling snow. Varya walked down an empty road between looming barracks, watchtowers, and tall, wide chimneys from which billowed thick smoke. The war between the two mage princes of the Sleeping Land had played out for fifty years, had spanned thousands of bitter cold miles, had eradicated dozens of nomadic tribes. In the Book of Futures, the Worldseer had seen the victory of Prince Aleksandr, but not for another fifty bloody years.
Today, the future would be rewritten.
Varya paused, the icy breeze playing at the fur lining her robes and helm. Snow and ice steamed and melted around her bare legs and sandaled feet. She stomped one foot and the ground below gave a metal clang.
With the rusty creak of hinges, a door in the street swung open and a mop of curly hair popped out.
“Are you the foreman?” Varya asked in the dwarven language.
“Fore-woman,” growled the dwarf in the trap door.
“Very well,” said Varya. “The Storm Queen calls your people to war in Mont Lille.”
The dwarf shook her head free of snow and glared up at Varya. “We’re fine with this war, thanks.”
With one quick yank, Varya pulled the dwarf out of the hole, yowling, by her hair. “The Storm Queen is impressed by your innovations, in particular the tower defenses,” she said, placing the forewoman on her feet.
The forewoman pinched the bridge of her nose, looking down at the dwarves who had collected below. The hammering and steam-whistling echoes of the steel and chrome secret city below the Secret City had gone silent. “Yeah? What’s in it for us?”
Behind Varya, soldiers filed out of the barracks with rifles. From rolling garages came grumbling snow beasts.
“You will outfit the queen’s Citadel and harness the energy of the Well of Power within the mountain. You will have gold, and crystal, and prestige, and if you are successful in defending the Eventides, you will have the rarest payment of all: the thanks of a queen.”
The army made a half-circle behind them. A rifle cocked. A snow beast bellowed with hunger and shook its curled tusks.
A strange sound came from the forewoman’s nose. Only after several moments did Varya realize that she was laughing.
“The thanks! The thanks of a queen!” the dwarf cried, and the ugly nose-sounds grew hysterical. From down below came more of the strange dwarven laughter. “Dwarves have been collecting the thanks of queens and kings since the beginning of our days. With a barrel of royal thanks and a quarter, you could buy a wish from a fountain.”
A rumble sounded in the sky, a faraway thundering; the clouds tumbled over themselves, forming into a dense darkness overhead. Varya held out one hand and smiled. A blue light glowed through her eyes.
The laughter stopped.
With a deafening series of sky-splitting cracks, lightning struck the army, bolt after bolt hammering down from the clouds. Soldiers and beasts alike went stiff and fell dead on their faces in the burnt mud left behind.
The forewoman peered up at Varya, whose mouth formed words unhearable over the loud ringing in her ears. She sighed and looked down the ladder at the other dwarves.
“Alright, pack it up,” she yelled. “We’re going with this lady.”
Read Varya’s canon lore: