Glorin the dwarf snuck back underground, hoping his absence hadn’t been noticed. He had managed to steal away again to the surface to tend his little garden, but now it was time to return to his family tasks. After all, metal didn’t work itself.
But one day soon, Glorin hoped to leave the smithy behind. On that day when he could walk into the great dining hall of his family and present them with a basketful of produce, on that day he would announce his intention to leave behind the foundry and the forge and the fire. On that day, he would begin a new life working the earth in a much different way than his brothers and sisters. While they drew forth minerals and metals from the land, he would coax the ground to yield up plants and foods instead.
Glorin the dwarf watched in dismay as his eldest sister viciously swept aside his basket, scattering vegetables along the length of the table and throughout the dining hall.
“A farmer? Is that what we’ve raised you to be? Some sort of peasant who grubs about in the mud of the surface?”
His other siblings, his cousins, and the rest of the family, none of them offered him assistance; some appeared embarrassed for him—and of him—while others openly shared his sister’s scorn.
“But Fraiya!” he protested. “We need food, we buy it from the traders anyway! And I enjoy growing it! What’s so wrong with that?”
Grabbing the front of his leather apron, she pulled Glorin up, nearly off his feet. “You’re a dwarf! We are the masters of stone and metal. You shame us to plant seeds in the dirt like a man or a fairy.” She slammed his head down on the table, grinding his face into what remained of a plump tomato. “You… are… a… dwarf,” she growled, lifting his head a few inches and brutally pounding it back down in time with her words. “Not… a… farmer.”
Confident that she had made her point, she lifted him clear and flung him to the floor. She and the rest of his dwarf kin returned to their meal while Glorin climbed to his feet and spit out a tooth. Then he staggered from the hall to set his broken nose and wash tomato pulp from his beard.
Glorin the dwarf refused to speak to Fraiya in the days and weeks that followed. She was tempted to discipline him, to take him to task for his sullen attitude. On the other hand, his work had undergone something of a transformation. The quality of his finished products seemed to be increasing each day.
“It’s because I knocked that ridiculous notion about farming out of his head,” she commented to their mother one evening while going over business notes. “Now that he’s applying himself to the family work, instead of putting his energy into mucking about in the sunshine, he’s really coming into his own.”
Glorin the dwarf walked into the dining hall as his family was about to sit down to their evening meal. “Fraiya, I want you to look at these.”
Normally, she would have chided him for breaking both dinner and family protocol, but it had been some eight months since their argument, and this was the first time he had spoken to her. His metalworking skills had blossomed—the quality of his work now surpassed even her own—but in all that time, he had acknowledged neither compliment nor praise from her.
“Finally done sulking, are we?” she asked as Glorin placed a pair of gauntlets onto the table in front of her. Picking them up for closer examination, she felt herself go dizzy. They were… magnificent. A set of metal gloves, designed for combat, but a set of metal gloves as the world had never before seen. Lightweight and easily handled, yet weighted and reinforced at the knuckles, with interwoven mesh at the finger joints and a clever armored fish-scale design at the wrists for maximum flexibility and protection. In her professional assessment, Fraiya could see that Glorin’s innovations in the construction of these gloves would forever change certain standards in the world of metalworking. She handed them back to her younger brother. “Oh, Glorin… these are gauntlets fit for a king!”
He accepted the gloves from her and pulled them onto his hands, a perfect fit. “No, Fraiya, you’re wrong. These are gauntlets fit not for a king, but for a farmer.” And Glorin the dwarf punched his sister in the face, knocking the family leader to the ground.
Dazed and furious, she jumped to her feet and swung at him, a powerful haymaker that had more than once settled family arguments and cemented her claim to leadership. His gauntlets easily deflected the blow.
“And you were wrong before, as well. I am a dwarf,” he stated, with another punch to her face. She swung again. He deflected again, then used his left hand to grab her by the front of her tunic, much as she had done to him those months ago. Her hands scrabbled ineffectually against the gauntlet that clutched her clothing while Glorin’s armored right-hand fist pummeled her face, a bone-rattling blow emphasizing each of his words.
“And… I… am… a… farmer!” He released his grip and Frayia slumped to the floor. Glorin turned to face the rest of the family. “Does anyone else here want to dispute this?”
No one did.
Glorin the dwarf strode back underground from his thriving garden and entered the dining hall as his family sat down to their evening meal. From a large basket of green vegetables, he withdrew a smaller basket—a delicate little thing filled with some two dozen ripe red strawberries—and handed it to Frayia. Nodding, she accepted. Tasting, she smiled. And Glorin the farmer returned the smile as the strawberries were passed around the table for all to share in the fruit of his labor.
— RK Rugg