The Orphan, the Merc, and the Queen...

The world was dark, cold and surrounded by rock. Quite perfect for raising a family by dwarf standards. The mines and homes of the dwarf community were deep under the mountains. The mother, father, and daughter picnic'd beside the Waters of Mana, an underground river that flowed into an enormous cavern, and cascaded down a rocky fall rich with veins of precious ore. It was one of the most beloved of places for all the dwarves to spend leisure time.

An ugly frog like creature played aside the river in one of the shallows. The little girl, who had just learned to walk the previous season, was now running beside the river, giggleling trying to catch the hoppy toad. Her parents munched on greasy fried mudrat legs, laughing at their daughters antics. The toad would hop off with Simoriah fast after him, just to turn and hop back towards her, making her stumble backwards and fall on her bum. It was a very good day, the mother thought.

A deep rumble burst forth from the deep within the mountain... the ground trembled. The mother bolted for her daughter only to be crushed by a massive boulder fallen from high above. Simoriah stepped backwards as she watched. She saw her mother, then only rock. The small child took another step, this time loosing balance and falling into the now fast churning river of mud. The earthquake had caused rocks and mud to slide into the river... Her father called out "Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmyyyyyyyy!". The little dwarven male fell to his knees. His mate, crushed, and the child of his heart swept away.. it was too late.. it was not fair... and he cursed the gods out loud.

Somehow the small child survived the river of mud and rock. The river ran its course underground and burst into the light. Far off, down stream, where the mountains were unseen, the child was washed ashore. She awoke in a strange place. She felt so exposed in the open. No rock above to protect your head! It was so bright! Why was the air pushing her? There were no 'draft tunnels' here to cause the air to move. The little girls mind raced with all the images of what she knew, her dwarf heritage. This strange world, she was old enough to start understanding the world that was home, but too young to conceive of a place with no walls to exist.

The spring breezes flowed over the meadow and across the child, her young face red with fright.

Ashlynn, a young elven girl, found Simoriah that day and bought her home. To Ashlynn, this ugly short girl would be better then a pet. Her mom didn't like pets. Simoriah, was amazed by the unusual girl with the pointed ears. She couldn't understand a word Ashlynn said, but her grand smiles and delightful giggles made Simmy feel comfortable. This was the first time she was ever alone and exposed in life, she would have followed Ashlynn anywhere.

Ashlynn's mother and father knew the little dwarf girl must be an orphan. No properly looked after child would be aloud to wander this far from the mountain range. They had no idea how long the child was abandoned for, she was scrawny for a dwarf, even a child. Ashlynn's mother was a tender woman with a warm heart. She had always longed for a large family but was only blessed with one child. She sought after the young girls wounds, and taught her to speak proper elf. She became sister to Ashlynn and was well loved. Simoriah blocked out her dwarven memories, and embraced her new family and life.

As the girls grew, it became apparent that, although they were raised with equal love and attention, they were destined to be very different as adults. Ashlynn was gifted with the magical heritage of the elves. She was content in the elven community and admired for her growing magical skills. Simoriah was envious of her sister's gift. She possessed no magic. She upset her adopted parents with her constant exploration of the dense forests and small mountains nearby. Instead of doing her chores and partaking in community gatherings, she would wander away and explore every nook and cranny she could find. Her favorite escape was to a hollowed tree trunk where she would chip away at the insides with makeshift tools like rock picks and hammers. She was skilled in the making of tools without even knowing it. Once while exploring she found a nodule of flint. She ran home with it, full of excitement - not knowing why. She chipped away the chalky outside and was delighted by the shiny flakes of stone she made when she struck the nodule with a stone. Excellent knives for skinning and butchering animals. She would learn to hunt.

As Simoriah grew, she started to travel. Her love for exotic places was only second to her need to collect weapons and tools, or learn how to make them. She would hunt the lands and work as an apprentice fixing weapons and tools here and there. Deep within her, was the memory of closed places and large smashing rocks, and the more she traveled the less she was apt to settle down. She was an oddity to all the other dwarves she met, preferring not to settle with her own kind in the safety of the mountains. She loved the freedom of the world as her home.

Her travels took her to a town called Cabeiri. The wonderful seaside town was bustling with activity and offered many sights and delights for many people of various races and origins. Maybe it was the sweet salty air, or the delightful vibrancy of the city, but she was charmed by the little town and by a Knight she met, named Mercutio. He swept her off her feet and before she what was happening, she was married. He shared her love of travel and took her to his home far away. The Jeweled Queendom on the continent of Cardania. She was totally accepted by Mercutio's people there. A large seafaring town, full of life and strangers stopping into port to trade goods and celebrate life. She quickly became part of the town and a familiar face to most of the regular visitors. As her bonds with others grew the one with Mercutio diminished. He didn't like sharing her and in the end divorced her.

She was crushed. She had just been accepted as a squire to a more distinguished Knight. She had hoped to train and join her husband as a Jeweled Knight one day. Turning within once again to herself, she decided she would be the best Knight ever. She would serve and uphold the laws of Jewel. She would make Jewel more then just her home, it would be her life.

Simmy became an Emerald Knight of the Queendom. Her training had been hard, but she was worthy of the title. The Knights worked as a family, crusading together in far off lands. She found other dwarves like herself, the flourished in the light. They taught her about her proud heritage and in turn she touched them with her only memories of waking up afraid, alone, and unfamiliar with the open atmosphere. All dwarves remember the first time they venture forth from the mountains. Most quiver as adolescents, the thought of a tot, orphaned! Made them respect her even more.

A few of the Knights were Mercenaries. They would travel the lands, often for hire, and clean out infestations too dangerous for normal folk. It was natural that Simoriah would be drawn to such work. Her years of travel and exploration had shown her the evils that walk the lands, the fear they can spread and the cries of the simple people unable to protect themselves. These people cried for mercy and seldom found any. She traded her skills as a weapon smith and gained access to the world of the mercenaries. They took her along on their frequent hunts, and soon she was accepted as one of them.

She was now very proud of her gains and happy with her life. She had many friends and to her knowledge few if any enemies. Once in a while she would meet an elf and think of her adopted family far, far, away. She would have to journey home one day... one day...

In the taverns of Jewel she overheard a traveler speak of a place called WhiteStorm, nestled in the southern shores of Atheria. "You must mean Cabeiri." she interrupted. The stranger smiled and noted the highly decorated Knight that spoke. "No, WhiteStorm is more East upon the lands then Cabeiri.". He warmly responded. She was intrigued by the man, tall, warm and seasoned. He included her in the conversation from that point on... He told of the city and how busy it was, busier then the Jeweled seaport, he spoke of the rogues, pirates, and antipaladins that called Whitestorm home. "Now mind ya," he said, " there are a lot of good simple folk there, but they live with the rift raft that comes from an open port. The worst of infestations is an old troll that has settled somewhere nearby. Heck, it could be a family or pride of trolls for all I know. They plague the town, sneaking in the shadows at night, stealing babies right out of their cradles, kidnapping old feeble woman - only for their family to find their half eaten bodies laid to waste in the forests or farmers fields." Simoriah wanted to puke. Then the stranger told her that the Mercs of Jewel turned down the job. Not even they would mess with a pride of trolls. Simoriah wanted to puke again. She left that very night, on a ship headed west, she would start in the town center known as Riathan Square, she sought to single handily expel this beast from the town full of simple folk. She wept at the thought of a child stolen, alone, exposed, only to be eaten by a troll. She ventured deep into the Atherian forest in search of the child stealing, grandmother eating beast!

She searched the forest like a true mercenary, but had found no such beast. She had just decided that the beast was just rumor when she sat upon a bridge to eat a small lunch. The hideous creature jumped from the shadows, growling at her madly. Caught off guard he threw her weapons aside in a flash and grabbed her by the hair and dragged her beneath the small muddy bridge. There he bounded her and tied her and prepped his fire, yes, she would make a fine meal indeed.. a fine meal.

Simoriah's screams went unnoticed. The fire grew hotter.. The ugly troll drool as he collected potatoes and carrot to round out his fresh meal. A sudden dread washed over her as she studied the large troll. Hopeless she began to cry.

The troll heard her sobs... he had heard many sob before, yet hers were different.... he looked at the female dwarf. She was handsome for that race. Her skin was dark like his own, her nose quite cute in fact. He found himself listening to her sobs.. watching the tears fall down her high cheekbones. Her curly hair, glimmered with the sheen of clean, unlike his own matted muddy hair. He made a decision. He would keep her. Yeah, be nice to have some company.

Several days later, Simoriah was annoyed, unhappy, and starting to feel angry.If he was going to kill her, why donít he get it over with already? He left the bridge and hunted, and when he returned home he would show her his kill and pat her on the head. He kept her well fed and bought her little trinkets from theforest. Stupid feathers, and bear claws, a newbie ring, a burnt out torch... WHAT WAS GOING ON?

He knew she wasn't happy. He didn't know how to please her. Finally he turned to her and told her he loved her and didn't want to see her so unhappy. She said she could never be happy being a prisoner. So he unbounded her and let her go.

As Simoriah left, she heard his wails of pain, her heart broke. She quickly ran back to the little bridge and would forever remember the glee in his smile as he saw her return! "WE WILL LIVE HERE SO HAPPY! FOREVER AND FOREVER!" Krook screamed in pure delight! "Uhmmm... no. I want a proper house, and a respectable husband!" she couldnít believe what she was saying, "You need to learn to bathe! Brushing your teeth every once in a while would be good too, and those clothes, ick! We are going to burn them NOW. I will go to town and buy you some respectable armour.". Somehow, deep down she knew.. this murderous grandma stealing, baby eating troll was to be her life mate. He needed her. She needed him. Sometimes life is just like that.

She quickly introduced the newly cleaned up troll to her friends. Only her closest and most trusted friend, Marie-Antoinette knew the truth, about her and Krook and how they met. She showed the troll the grand world beyond the forest and adventured together to new places and in the City of Merland, her and Krook, surrounded by the strange fish-people united their love in a ceremony of matrimony. Together they fought well. His trollish-roguish skills and her combat prowess greatly complemented each other. His love for her was only matched by her love for him. They journeyed far and wide, cleaning out evil, honeymooning in the bloodlust. Life was sweet and perfect in Simoriahís eyes, yes you can't ask for anything more.

She was summoned back to Jewel. Her life was to be changed forever. Solitaire, the heir to the throne of the Queendom, leader of the Jeweled Knights, without much explanation, other then informing Simoriah it was with careful consideration, she was to be Queen Simoriah. Solitaire needed to step down. She knew Simoriah would hold dear the values and ideals that built the Knights. Solitaire disappeared shortly after. How could she, an orphan dwarven girl, a vagabond, possibly rule such a wondrous people and land? The answer was easy: You are only as good a ruler as the people you rule. That thought brought her joy as the people of the Jeweled Queendom are some of the finest in all of Merentha.

To hopefully be continued

The Jeweled Knights of Merentha!