Mimir's Well (The Oracles of Kurnugi Book 3)

BOOK: Mimir's Well (The Oracles of Kurnugi Book 3)
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Mimir’s Well

 

The Oracles of Kurnugi
 

BOOK 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

WRITTEN BY
Gama Ray Martinez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Rudder Writing, LLC
7301 Seascape Drive, Rowlett, TX 75088

972-207-6087

 

 

The Oracles of Kurnugi: Mimir's Well (Book 3)

© 2014 by Gama Ray Martinez

 

 

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, contact Rudder Writing, LLC.

 

The views expressed within this book may not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of Rudder Writing, LLC and its members.

 

 

 

Martinez, Gama Ray

              The Oracles of Kurnugi: Mimir's Well (Book 3)

 

 

ISBN-13:

978-0692423837
 

ISBN-10:

0692423834

 

RUDDER WRITING, LLC is a registered trademark.

 

Manufactured in the United States of America

 

Cover design by Emerald Studios

 

CHAPTER 1

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

             
H
enry kept his eyes on the glowing emberstone in Valin's hand as the dwarf led them forward. Total darkness waited just beyond the stone's reach as if threatening to swallow them whole. Henry could practically feel the tons upon tons of earth bearing down on them as they made their way through the underground tunnel.

              "I swear, I don't even remember what the sun looks like," he grumbled. The cavern echoed his words, distorting his voice slightly.

              "Stop complaining," Andromeda said. "It hasn't been that long."

              He glared at her. Almost involuntarily, his eyes wandered to her hair, which had changed from black to blond several days ago, the result of crossing the boundary between worlds. Neither she nor Valin seemed to notice, and Henry had learned long ago that pointing out such things did no good. If the details of different worlds were remembered at all, it was only in the vaguest terms.

              "It's been close," he said under his breath.

              Without the rising and falling of the sun, it was hard to tell how long they'd been underground. They'd stopped to sleep several times, but sometimes, it felt like they had walked for days, and others it was only a few hours. Henry suspected it had been at least a week since they'd left the kingdom of Argath, a realm rooted in the story of Snow White. After helping to win a war against the evil witch queen Zuab, Henry had convinced the dwarven prince Valin to lead them deep underground, to the home of Hreidmar, High King over all dwarfkind. He'd thought it would be a relatively quick journey. No such luck. The earth was honeycombed with so many passages, it might as well have been a maze. Though it shouldn't have caught him by surprise, he hadn't expected the darkness to be so absolute. Valin's yellow emberstone, the only source of light they carried, seemed pitifully small when compared with the darkness pressing in on all sides.

              "How deep would you say we are, Valin?" Henry asked.

              The dwarf thought for a second. "Seven or eight miles, maybe as many as nine, but no more than that."

              Henry wracked his brain, trying to remember just how thick the earth's crust was, but he'd never been the best science student. In the end, he didn't suppose it mattered. Kurnugi, the land of human imagination, had a way of ignoring pesky little details like geology, gravity, and the laws of physics.

              "How long until we reach Jord?"

              "Another day or so, depending on the weather."

              "The weather?"

              Valin shrugged. "Earthquakes or dust showers caused by shifted masses of rocks. Giant worms burrowing through stone occasionally collapse passages. Sometimes volcanic activity melts underground deposits of ice, and water seeps through cracks making it rain in some of the larger caverns. In the wrong place, that can cause mudslides that cut off entire passages."

              "I had no idea conditions down here could be so complex," Andromeda said.

              Valin smiled. "No less so than on the surface."

              Henry glanced from the ever-thinning bags of oats to the horses he and Andromeda rode. Henry had never ridden a horse before coming to Kurnugi, and Andromeda was a princess who'd always had others to take care of her animals. The dwarves had little experience with horses, and no one had anticipated how the animals would eat when not supplemented by grazing. Both Pegasus and Andromeda's mare, Oakash, were huge creatures, and they needed plenty of food. Henry just hoped they wouldn't run out of supplies before making it to Jord.

              Suddenly, the horses' hooves seemed much louder, and their steps echoed through the cavern. They came upon a large lake and made camp on the shore.  The surface of the water was a smooth as glass and stretched far beyond the light provided by the emberstone. If Henry listened, he could just make out the sound of drops of water falling into the lake. The horses kept giving the water sidelong glances, and Henry checked their water skins and found most of them empty.

              "Is it safe to drink?" he asked.

              Valin looked up from a map he was studying by the light of his emberstone. He wrinkled his brow and thought for a second before looking down at his map.

              "This would be Lake Tungl," he said, though it sounded more like a question than a statement.

              "You don't seem very sure," Henry said.

              Valin waved off his concern. "There's a large deposit of silver on the other side. It'll give the water a strange taste, but it's not actually dangerous."

              "Unless this isn't Lake Tungl," Henry said flatly.

              He looked over the dwarf's shoulder, but the map was covered in dwarven runes, and the lines crisscrossed each other in strange ways, to take into account the three-dimensional nature of traveling underground. Valin had tried to explain it to him a few times, but the explanations went over Henry's head.

              "No, I'm sure it is," Valin said as he rolled up the map and put it in a round case of polished stone. Henry glared at him, but the dwarf only shrugged. "I did offer to send someone else to guide you."

              Henry shook his head. "The mirror said it had to be you."

              "Then, you may as well trust me."

              Henry let out a breath and walked to the shore. His boot sunk into wet clay as he approached, and he took a second to pull it out before dipping his hand into the water and bringing it to his mouth. He stopped and looked up at Valin.

              "You know, the mirror can't actually see the future. It might not have thought about you leading us to poison water."

              Valin rolled his eyes. "Master Henry, there are no poison lakes this side of Jord. I'm almost positive about that."

              Henry groaned, but Andromeda sighed and forced her way past him, heedless of the water soaking her dress.

              "For someone with a magic shirt that makes him immune to poison, you're awfully squeamish."

              She brought water up in her cupped hands and drank. As soon as she swallowed, Valin went pale. He tore open the map case and practically ripped the map out. He unrolled it and ran his fingers down the paper. Henry's blood went cold, but Valin let out a breath of relief.

              "No, it's not poisonous."

              "Valin!"

              "I thought we were somewhere else for a second, but don't worry. This is definitely Lake Tungl."

              Laughter erupted from the shadows. Henry spun around. His sword hissed as he drew it, and he pointed it in the direction of the sound. A second later, Valin hefted an axe as big as he was, but he lowered it when half a dozen armored dwarves came out of the darkness. Each had skin the color of earth or stone, and they wore armor of interlocking plates. Given what little Henry knew of dwarven magic, he doubted that armor was ordinary steel. A three foot tall red bearded dwarf walked over to Valin and clapped him on the back.

              "Valin, you old goat," he said through a smile. "How many times have you made this trip? Don't tell me you still don't know how to read a map."

              "Normally, I'm not the one plotting the route, Nabbi," Valin said between laughs.

              "King Hreidmar heard your footsteps on the stone and sent us to guide you the rest of the way." Nabbi looked at Henry and Andromeda. When he spoke, his voice had lost all hint of laughter. "He said nothing of these, though."

              "They are my friends and allies of King Fjalar."

              "They are human." The way he said 'human' made it sound almost like a curse.

              Valin picked up his axe again and moved to stand in front of Andromeda. Henry stood beside him. He held his sword low but didn't sheathe it.

              "They are under my protection, and you will not harm them, not while I can prevent it."

              His voice practically dripped with the threat, and his feet were spread wide in a stance used by dwarven warriors. The other dwarves scrambled to surround them, their armored boots clanking on the stone.

              "Gentlemen." Andromeda's voice was soft but somehow carried over the commotion. "We shouldn't be hasty here. King Hreidmar wants to see Valin, and we are his companions. Surely, the king can decide what to do with us."

              "And who are you, girl?" Nabbi almost spat the words.

              "I am Princess Andromeda daughter of..." she hesitated for a second. "Daughter of Budli, King of Gothia."

              Henry's shock only lasted a second. He'd been half expecting something like this. Though she didn't realize it, Andromeda was the princess of every story. Who her father was and what land he ruled changed whenever they crossed the boundary between tales. When he'd met her, she was a Greek princess. In Argath, her stepmother had poisoned her with an apple. He'd hoped when she finally revealed her new identity in this world, it would tell him something about the story he was in, but the names were a complete mystery.

              "And this is Master Henry Alexander Gideon," Valin said. "Surely, his exploits have reached even as far as Jord."

              Murmurs rippled through the dwarves, but Nabbi raised his hand to silence them. Some of the edge had gone out of his voice. "Noble visitors, but they're still human."

              "Noble enough that the king would want to know of them."

              Nabbi scowled. "If it were anyone but you, Valin..." He looked at the other dwarves. "Take the human's weapon."

              "I wouldn't," Valin said.

              "I won't take him into Jord armed."

              "That is a
forged
blade, Nabbi, freely given to him by a forgemaster. It is his and may not be taken from him, save in battle."

              "One of your forgemasters gave him a weapon? A human?"

              For a second, Henry thought Nabbi would order his dwarves to attack, and he tightened his grip on his sword. Valin just shook his head.

              "My forgemasters couldn't duplicate that weapon if they had a thousand years. Neither could Hreidmar's, I'd wager."

              "Then, how do you know it was given to him? He could have stolen it."

              "It doesn't matter how I know. All that matters is that you have the sworn word of a prince of the Nordi Mountains that it is so."

              Nabbi clenched his teeth and nodded. The soldiers put down their weapons, though many threw Henry nervous glances.

              "Very well, Valin. Come with us. The high king himself will decide your fate."

BOOK: Mimir's Well (The Oracles of Kurnugi Book 3)
10.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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