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The Wedding Gift
It was not Dwarvish custom to produce useless things; ever was beauty sanctified by purpose. So when his day's work was done, Gloín would take his finest tools, delicate of design yet strong as bird's-bones, to craft his gift in secret.
Chalcedony and carnelian, gold-flecked crystal, shimmering mother of pearl. One by one he carved and polished, knotting each bead into place on a chain of braided dragonsilver. He wished it were mithril.
At last with trembling hands he lifted aside the rich veil of her hair, her beard, his lips caressing that delicate curve of neck and shoulder. Tenderly he fastened the single strand about her throat; her eyes shone with wonder.
No-one but the two of them would ever see the gift; still, to his mind it was barely worthy. What art could match the beauty of his Nandi, of all dwarf-maids the fairest?
A present for Marta, October 2007
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