The members of the council didn’t take long to arrive. Within minutes, every chair at the table was full except two. There were eight dwarfs and four humans. Jocov sat at the head, with me to his left, followed by Faiza and Ethan. Rachael sat directly across from me on Jocov’s right. Next to her sat the balding dwarf that had complained about us being here earlier. I think Rachael had called him Gilmmold.
Gilmmold looked at Samel, who was standing behind Rachael’s chair. The curly-haired dwarf looked like a child on his birthday. He kept glancing at me, and I thought he must be excited to see the gemstone. I wondered if he was younger than I first thought. I guessed he was 16 or 17, but maybe he was a bit younger. Though it was hard to tell with dwarves. With his small face and short stature, he looked like an 11-year-old of our kind.
“What are you doing here?” Gilmmold asked Samel.
Samel shrugged. “Same as everyone else I guess.”
Gilmmold scowled at him. “You are not a part of the council.”
“No, but the council hasn’t started yet.” He gave a cheeky grin.
“Well we’re about to, so get out.”
“I won’t make a sound. Something like this only happens once in a hundred years. I wouldn’t want to miss it.”
Gilmmold harrumphed. “Do you see any other non-members of the council here? You can ‘miss it’ like everyone else.”
“You’re too cruel,” Samel hung his head and shook it. “Too cruel.”
“Go on, Samel.” Rachael rolled her eyes and grinned at Samel’s theatrics.
Gilmmold didn’t take his eyes off the curly-haired dwarf as he walked toward the door. When Samel reached it, he turned to look back at the table. Seeing Gilmmold was looking at him, he gave him a huge grin and went through the door.
“Trouble-maker,” Gilmmold muttered to himself.
When the last of the dwarves arrived, Jocov spoke.
“Let’s begin. Dalan, will you place the stone on the table?”
“Don’t,” said Faiza who was sitting between me and Ethan. “First, we want to know why you wanted it brought here. What right do you have to it?”
“How dare you!” cried Gilmmold. The room erupted in similar outbursts. “What right do we have to it? What right?” he continued. “I suppose because we aren’t royalty or ten feet tall, you think we should have no say about the stone?”
Jocov pounded on the table with his fist. “Quiet! Quiet down.” The room hushed, though Gilmmold muttered under his breath.
Rachael looked puzzled. “Do you really not know?”
“Yes, I know all about it.” Faiza rolled her eyes. “That’s why I asked the question.”
“It was made here. By them.” She gestured to those sitting at the table. “This is the very group that created it.”
“What did you make it for?” I asked, thinking of how I wasn’t hurt by the grimulin that attacked me yesterday. Was it made to be worn in battle?
The dwarves stared at me like I’d just proclaimed myself to be a Dakshen.
“Unbelievable,” said Gilmmold, disgusted.
My face grew hot. Was I not supposed to ask? Maybe it was a secret.
Jocov gave Gilmmold a chastising look before addressing me.
“What do you know of the stone you found?”
“Nothing. I found it in a cave a few weeks ago and started having those dreams you sent.”
“It was in a cave?” asked one of the dwarves farther down the table.
“That would explain why we couldn’t see it,” said another.
They began talking amongst themselves and Jocov cleared his throat to get them re-focused.
“Did you notice anything strange about it?” he asked.
I nodded. “When the grimulin attacked—“
“Who would conjure a grimulin?”
The room erupted in cries of surprise. At least I now knew the dwarves didn’t conjure it.
“Quiet.” Jacov raised his voice to be heard over the confused noise. He looked at me. “When did you see a grimulin?”
“Yesterday,” I said. “It came after the gemstone.”
“We killed it,” Ethan added.
Jocov didn’t say anything for a moment, seeming deep in thought.
“Are you going to tell us what’s so special about this necklace?” asked Faiza. “And why is there a grimulin after it?”
Jocov looked up, seeming unfazed by her rudeness. “I’m surprised you don’t recognize it. It’s a famous stone. We—this council—made it as a gift for your king.”
My heart sped up. I had to let the words play through my mind again. What he said couldn’t be true. There was only one magical gemstone that the king of Minaria had. It was given as a gift for saving the dwarves from the Dakshen.
“The Hashna Stone.” My voice came out in an awed whisper.
I whipped the necklace from around my neck, revealing it from under my shirt.
“This.” I laid it in the center of the table. “This is the Hashna stone? The gift given to King Radon after he drove the Dakshen from Hashna?”
“It is,” Jocov said without picking up to examine it.
“Are you sure?” Ethan asked. “You didn’t even look at it. What if it just looks like the Hashna Stone?”
Jacov looked amused. “I knew it was the Hashna Stone the moment I saw Dalan.”
How did he know that it was the Hashna Stone, just from seeing me?
“Would you just tell us what’s going on already?” Faiza was clearly aggravated with this whole meeting. “How could the King’s amulet be in a cave the King was never near?”
“That, we don’t know,” Jocov said patiently. “But there is no doubt that the stone in front of us is the same gemstone that we made for King Radon. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have been able to see you when you put it on.”
“You saw me?” I knew the dwarves were known for their magic, but it was hard to believe that they somehow saw me from such a distance.
“Only because you were wearing the gemstone,” Jocov said. “Items of powerful magic such as the stone are able to be seen by those who made it.”
“You’ve been watching us this whole time?” Ethan asked.
“Only Dalan. We couldn’t see Faiza or you. The magic on the stone only allows us to see it and the wearer and maybe a foot or two around him. Once we saw that someone was wearing the stone, I sent you the dreams hoping you would bring it to us. We had no idea where you were.
“And we haven’t been watching the whole time. We’ve only checked on the stone a few times, and only lingered for a few seconds. Just long enough to know that you were still wearing it.”
“If you don’t see the gemstone all the time,” I said, “then how did you know I put it on? I only had it two days before you sent me the first dream.”
“We’ve periodically tried to see it since…. Well, I’ll start at the beginning.” Jocov sat forward. “Your King came here about three years ago and asked us to make another amulet. He said the Hashna Stone was taken from him. It was a little strange that someone would be able to take it from him. The stone shocks anyone who tries to take it from the wearer with something like lightning.”
I wondered why it didn’t burn the grimulin when it tried to take the stone from me, but I kept quiet. I was finally getting the story to this whole strange mess and I didn’t want to interrupt.
“The King told us that someone snuck into his room at night and took it from the box he put it in while he was asleep. We thought it was unwise of him to take such a precious item off when he slept, but we offered to try to see where the Hashna Stone was, but he became angry and told us not to look. Then he threatened to break the alliance if we didn’t make him a new one. His behavior was suspicious, so we refused.”
“Did you try to see who was wearing the Hashna Stone?” Ethan asked.
Jocov nodded. “As soon as he left we used our magic and hoped that whoever took it was wearing it. We expected not to see it at all. We thought that the king was trying to trick us into making another one for him when he still had the first one. The Hashna Stone was probably hidden somewhere. We were surprised when a red stone appeared before us.”
“Who was wearing it?” I asked, leaning forward.
“Of course he was,” said Faiza, “He probably had it on the whole time. He just had it under his shirt like Dalan did.”
“We would have thought that, except this king wasn’t on a horse traveling back to his kingdom.”
“Where was he?” Ethan asked.
“In a prison.”
Check out the Hashna Stone Page for previous chapters
What?! How could he be in…? Why was he…? Just tell us what’s going on here!
I know that’s what you’re all thinking. I’m sorry to leave it hanging like this (or am I *evil author grin*), but I thought three chapters in one week would be too much to make you read. So you’ll have to wait until next week for an explanation of what’s going on. And it will end with a decision to be made, so the voting will be back. 🙂