Fifteen Year Challenge: Sure Things
The Truthhammer estate in Ironforge was quiet on the day of the eldest daughter's birthday. A grand event had occurred two days before to mark it, leaving the many young and old who attended feeling stuffed with food, drink, and good times. Lauralei sat comfortably in an old chair, musing over the her day. It had been a full day event, with plenty of food, her first real drink, and plenty of dancing with cute boys who's beards were starting to come in. And of course, the gifts and well wishes from her seemingly endless line of aunts and uncles who wore the Meddler tabard. Nestled in her lap was a book from her human godmother, an older hardcover called "Pillar of Fire" that was supposedly by her father's assistant, Gilberte. Mama Lirri had handed it to her with a wink, saying that she was "old enough now", whatver that meant.
Laying one hand on the head of her pet bear Torm, who chewed on a tasty ram bone treat, she did her best to ignore her younger siblings antics, who were trying to get her attention so she could watch them do something stupid. Twelve year old Holden and his little sister Shin were mirrors of each other, both with deep brown eyes and hair, a contrast to the bright blue eyes Lauralei had gotten from their father. Lei's face was much like her mother's, though she had also inherited her father's angular nose, and her figure had been filling out to her delight and her father's dismay. She turned and smiled as her mother came down the stairs clutching her newest baby.
"Good morning my loves, and happy birthday pet!" Darlain beamed as she leaned over to kiss her eldest on the cheek, cradling the cooing infant in her arms. "Now Holden, I certainly hope you and Shin mean nothing by the way yer balancing all those wee kegs on my clean table, hm?" She turned, long inured to the adventuresome ways of the young dwarves, both of whom put their hands behind their backs and did their best to look innocent.
"Looks t' meh like th' start of a catapult. Though they're goin' t' need some string." Drogar's voice called out from the stairs, as he slowly limped down them using his cane. Lauralei rolled her eyes, her father hadn't honestly needed the cane for years. He just liked having an excuse to get out of work he found demeaning. She then had to suppress a smile as she saw him trying to hide a large, colorful box behind his back. He'd always insisted that her actual birthday be spent with only family, having her party days before to get it out of the way. So she'd always had to wait to get her present from him, and had rarely been disappointed, aside from that time with the automatic sock darner.
The younger children's eyes lit up with mischief, as they dashed in opposite directions to evade capture from their mother and search for the string they'd need, causing Darlain to huff in frustration as Drogar chuckled to himself. "Wee industrious lad and lass they are."
"More like wee terrors my love, hold Andor while I go gather them up would ye?" Darlain declared in her most stern mom voice, holding the infant out.
"Bah! I wasn't th' one who came back from a grand adventure desperate for another child, yer on yer own with this one, woman." Drogar mocked indignation, unaware of his eldest daughter mouthing along in perfect sync to his rant.
"Maybe so, but yeh had no troubles providin' now did yeh, blasted old codger!" Darlain couldn't suppress her smile, as she leaned in to kiss her husband and deposit the babe in his arms and go off hunting her wild middle children. Drogar himself placed young Andor carefully in his playpen near the kitchen, filled with soft plush toys, rather than the mechanical wonders Drogar had wanted to stock it with. Pausing a moment to stroke his new son's hair as the boy chewed on a pink fluffy elekk, he turned to size up his eldest.
"Well now, eighteen years old today. Seems just yesterday you were a pudgy wee pair of pigtails ridin' old Balinore's back through th' streets after imaginary nogoodniks." Drogar chuckled.
"Dad, I'm not a kid anymore! Mum says I'm old enough I should be looking at suitors!" Lauralei had no interest in marriage, but she knew that bringing it up was a lovely opening salvo against her father's attempts to gain control of any conversation. It was a game they'd played for years.
"Suitors? Bah! I'll tan th' hide of any lad foolish enough t' seek th' 'and of my beautiful princess! And Torm will gobble up what's left, won't yeh boy?" Drogar declared, moving over to the chair to pat the head of the smaller bear, who murfed in gratitude for the attention. A large lump next to the fire stirred, raising a massive bear head with a gray muzzle and sleepy eyes. "Oh now don't yeh go gettin' all jealous yeh old fuzzball, yer th' one that brought wee Torm home for her!" Drogar shouted at the massive old bear, who huffed and laid his head back down to go back to his nap.
"Well Da, I'll just need to find a suitor who can outrun that bum leg of yours now won't I? Someone strong and manly to take me up on his horse and ride me away from home." Lauralei declared, clucthing the unopened book to her chest and batting her eyes.
"Bah, yeh've been talkin' too much to yer godmother. Fills yer 'ead up with human fancies I bet. Still, yer a dwarf, and what's more, yer a Truthhammer! And that means things, doesnae it?" Drogar asked, turning a stern eye on his willful daughter.
Rolling her eyes, Lauralei began to recite by rote. "Always carry the Family name with duty and honor, always ask if what I'm doing will reflect well on the clan, and never tell mum when Da and I perform experiments." She finished with a mischevious smile, knowing her mother just might be in range to hear. Drogar's widened eyes told her she'd scored another point.
"Och, lass, what have I told yeh about that, keep it quiet when your darling mother is in th' house, she doesnae need t' know things tha' she willnae understand." Drogar coughed, waiting a moment to see if he'd finally been caught. "And with those responsibilities..." Drogar cleared his throat, regaining his composure, "come priviliges as well. Which brings us t' this." he said, finally revealing the long, narrow box wrapped in green paper and a brown bow.
Lauralei considered for a moment feigning disinterest, but was overruled when her hands acting of their own volition, snatching the gift and tearing at the paper as though she was a child again. Clearing away the refuse, she opened the box to find a rifle inside, a wooden stock with bright silver siding and a steel barrel. She hefted it, feeling the weight. "This is.... this is real?"
Drogar beamed at his daughter. "Aye lass, it is. Hand made it for yeh o'er th' last few months. That's a truesilver forestock, with liveoak for th' butt. One of my finest works, and it's all yers."
Lauralei paused for a moment, remembering a moment years ago when she'd torn open a similar package to pull out her first popgun, a cherished toy she'd taken on many adventures when she wasn't old enough to attend school. Remembering her father taking her to his lab to show her his old rifle collection, regaling her with stories of the monsters he'd slain with each one. It took all her strength to fight back the tears welling up in her eyes.
"Now lass, I know you and I have 'ad a rough run of it as of late. Yeh've made it clear..." Drogar coughed, having trouble getting the words out, "that yeh dunnae necessarily want t' walk th' path I want for yeh. So I want yeh to have this, so that where'er yeh end up, yeh can remember that even if yer old man doesnae agree with yeh, he loves yeh very much." Drogar laid his hand on his daughter's arm, smiling through his shaggy auburn beard.
Lauralei couldn't fight it anymore, and the tears started to flow. "I love yeh too, da, always." she said, setting the rifle aside to pull her father into a hug, burying her face into his beard like she had when she was young.
They held that hug for close to a minute, before Drogar finally let her go. "Alright lass, enough of that. What do yeh say we get cleaned up, and head outside to try that thing out?"
Lauralei smiled at her dad. "Sure thing da. Sure thing."