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jumped to her knees. “Fire! Fire!” She pointed to the ice dwellers, then lifted
Ven out of his bedroll.
swat the giant while dangling upside-down in the air.
bedroll. A red stone rolled out, its color fading to pale white as it came to
rest beside Ryne’s foot.
pointed at the giant, his pale eyes lit with fury. “It is Ven’s warming stone.”
Ven back on the ground. He hit the dirt with a thud, cursing as he rolled onto his side.
sharing startled looks with his cousins. “Warming stone?”
bedroll, scooping up the stone. “I use it to chase away the chill.”
gleam in his eyes. “Is this stone like the one Markus used to deflect the
proof his story was not a hoax. “It’s exactly like the stone Markus used.”
out as the dwarves jumped to their feet, heads bent and arms wildly waving.
him on the knee. “I’m sorry for doubting you, son.”
cut through the dwarves’ chatter.
sound could be heard except for Gorpat blowing her nose into her sleeve. Ryne
glared at them with legs braced apart, his hand on the hilt of his blade.
for a long, tense moment. “How many do the ice people have?”
through clenched teeth. “Again, why do you ask?”
a stone,” Zier answered.
bedroll and went to stand beside Ryne, his youthful face transformed into a
mask of hard angles. “This stone has been in my family for generations and is
not for trade.”
have spices, gold, weapons.” He waddled back to the campfire, lifting the
shield with a groan. “Look at this fine workmanship.”
ice dwellers rose from their beds and flanked him, “this stone is not for
overly-dramatic sigh and lowered the shield. “But if you should change your
at the murderous look in Ryne’s eyes, the same look the dwarves were
reciprocating as they flanked Zier, their hands resting on the hilts of their
swords. The dwarves outnumbered the ice dwellers seven to one, not to mention
they had a giant on their side who could flatten them all into hotcakes.
if he’d just been pulled from an icy river. Tar stood between the dwarves and
Ryne, dancing on his paws.
slinking over to Ryne, his tail between his legs.
master fight with the dwarves, and neither did Alec. He had to think of
something, and fast, before their disagreement escalated.
Ryne, holding up both hands. “Why don’t we all get some sleep?” He did his best
to keep his composure, despite the wild beating of his heart. “We can discuss
the stone in the morning.”
Ryne pointed at Alec with an accusatory finger. “There will be no discussion.”
through a frozen smile.
foolish, or both. Either way, Alec had had enough of his temper. Balling his
hands, he channeled his dead father’s dark and violent moods as he stalked
toward Ryne. “I said, go to bed!” He jutted a finger at Ryne’s bedroll, feeling
the heat creep into his chest as he and Ryne locked gazes for several
interminable, thudding heartbeats.
aware of his own shallow breathing or of Gorpat sniveling behind them.
battle of wills. As the dwarves’ grumbles grew louder, Alec knew their lives
depended on Ryne backing down.
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