Friendship reaches across race, religion and culture on every corner of our world today. This is no exception in literature today, especially fantasy stories. Anyone who’s played Dungeons and Dragons has been in a party with any combination of Human, Elf, Dwarf, Half-Elf, Gnome, Half-Orc and Halfling. It’s what makes adventures fun.
Most of us who enjoy reading fantasy novels harken to The Lord of the Rings with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. These three (along with the rest of the Fellowship if you want to get technical about it) are the standard bearers when it comes to the bonds of friendship between fantasy races in literature.
In the Forever Avalon series, I had the same inkling when I put together the friends and allies of Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh. They included the Wizard Archibald Browbridge, Eonis the Elf, Master Dinius of the Gilded Halls of the Dwarves and many others. It may seem cliché or even repetitive when putting these types of characters together, but it seemed natural to me. Also, I tried to take a slightly different approach with their personalities.
I wanted characters with their own heart and soul, not based on formulaic pre-conceptions. Eonis is a true warrior at heart, looking for adventure outside his home of Alfheimer to see first-hand what it means to be human. Master Dinius is the Lord of the Gilded Halls, but he is a Dwarf first and foremost. He loves his ale, telling stories of his many adventures and never letting anyone get the best of him.
In this excerpt from The Dark Tides, you get to see how the three friends first met and where their travels took them during the Gil-Gamesh’s Grand Tour.
Every man and women wanted to shake the hand of the new Gil- Gamesh, or even just touch him on the arm. The talk around the tavern grew louder and louder. Even the bards were already making up songs about the new Gil- Gamesh and how he stood up to Constable Durm.
Bryan sat down as Lily brought him a fresh pint of ale. Through all the excitement, he noticed that Dinius never stopped eating and drinking. Bryan was amazed at his ignorance.
“Well now, Gil- Gamesh …” Dinius ascertained, “… You sit down and drink with a Dwarf and don’t tell him who you really are?”
“I apologize Master Dinius,” Bryan retorted, “My deception was necessary to maintain a low profile during my Grand Tour of Avalon, especially now since I’m travelling alone.”
“Alone?” Dinius asked. “I thought Sir Thomas was travelling with you?”
Now Bryan wondered who this Dinius Oddbottom was. How does he know Sir Thomas? “Sir Thomas is heading to Cornish on a personal matter,” Bryan interjected. “He’s meeting me at Strongürd Keep after I confer with the Wizard’s Council.”
Dinius nearly choked on his drink when he heard this. “You’re going to Strongürd alone? Are you mad? That’s takes you through Blackbriar Forest? Every cutthroat and brigand will be waiting for you in there?”
“Well, I’m going to have to deal with them sooner or later,” Bryan insisted. “It might as well be now. I’m not going to cower like a frightened child.”
Dinius smiled at the brash attitude this young man had. “Well, I am heading back to the Gilded Halls and it just so happens that Strongürd is on the way there. That is, if you don’t mind the company.”
Bryan thought about his proposal. He didn’t know this Dwarf, so it could be a trap for an easy kill to collect the bounty. Before he could answer, an Elf approached their table. He was handsome with long brown hair. His pointed ears stuck out through his hair. He wore a shining chain mail under a green and brown wrap and a long green cloak. A long sword hung at his belt and a bow and quiver were slung across his shoulders.
“Salüs dai Tulafáir Gil-Gamesh, I am Eonis,” he introduced himself, placing his hand over his heart and bowing— a sign of respect in Avalon. “I bring you greetings from the Elves of Alfheimer.”
Bryan stood and extended his hand to Eonis. The Elf took it as a sign of human friendship. “Thank you Eonis. I hope to be in Alfheimer sometime soon to pay my respects.”
“I will inform Lord Baldrid of your intent,” Eonis concurred. “We will anticipate your arrival.” Eonis quickly turned his attention to the Gil- Gamesh’s companion, whom he recognized.
“Master Dinius,” he said, bowing again with respect. “What brings the Lord of the Gilded Halls to this corner of Avalon?”
Bryan turned to Dinius with a look of disdain at the Dwarf he’s been buying drinks and food for all night. “Lord of the Gilded Halls, huh?” he inquired. Bryan’s heard about the Gilded Halls, the home of the Dwarves of Avalon. It seemed Dinius Oddbottom wasn’t what he appeared to be. “I guess I wasn’t the only one ‘hiding in plain sight’, eh Master Dinius?” Bryan joked.
Dinius gulped his ale, aware that his own deception had been uncovered. “Yes, well, Sam makes the best ale this old Dwarf has ever tasted,” he tried to explain. “I come here from time to time to satisfy my thirst.”
Dinius got up from the table and walked over to Bryan. “Forgive my deception lad, but the Wizard Browbridge mentioned you may be coming this way and, knowing that I frequent the Weathered Wren, he asked me to keep an eye out for you … Indiscreetly that is.”
Now everything was starting to make sense to Bryan. “I suppose Archie sent you too,” he asked Eonis.
“Sir Charles, actually …” Eonis explained. “He asked me look in on you as well. This was a logical stopping point on your journey to Strongürd Keep so I came here and waited.”
“And is there anything else I should be aware of?”
“Besides an embarrassed Dwarf and Elf, nothing at all,” Eonis bemused, attempting a joke, something Elves were not known for. “But truthfully, Gil- Gamesh, Blackbriar Forest is no place for any man to go alone, including you.”
“He’s right lad, just think of us as close companions on your journey,” Dinius added.
Bryan couldn’t believe it. Since his arrival on Avalon, people who never knew him had gone out of their way to protect and aid him. The devotion to the Gil- Gamesh was overwhelming to him.
“Alright, you can accompany me to Strongürd,” Bryan noted. “We’ll be leaving in the morning. Until then, good- night.” Bryan walked over to Sam to ask about his room. Sam motioned for Lily to escort Bryan upstairs to one of the rooms at the tavern.
Eonis and Dinius kept a close eye on him until he disappeared behind the door. “Well, that didn’t go as well as expected,” Dinius lamented.
Eonis looked down at him, visibly upset. “It may have helped if you didn’t scrounge food and drink off him all night,” he declared.
Dinius huffed and returned to his seat. “A Dwarf’s got to eat, you know,” Dinius told Eonis, drinking down his ale then belching loudly as he finished his meal.