Blackstone (Deepwoods Saga) - Honor Raconteur

Dear Reader,

I am proud to present to you Blackstone, book two of the Deepwoods Saga. I have also included a short story at the end, titled “The Story of Erik Wolfinsky.” This is the first of the Origin Tales, all short stories that will share how each member came into the Deepwoods guild. I had lots of fun writing them, and I’m proud to share Wolf’s story with you here.

Happy reading!

~Honor Raconteur

Siobhan plopped onto the bench and leaned over, pushing a set of blond bangs out of the way. “Rune? You fall asleep studying again?”

A bloodshot eye slowly creaked open. “No.” The ex-assassin pushed back from the table, rolling his head around on his shoulders in a clear gesture of stress and exhaustion. “I just gave my eyes a break, is all.”

“I see.” She studied him openly, planting an elbow against the table and propping her chin in her hand. Ever since they’d returned to Goldschmidt six months ago, Rune had been studying nearly non-stop. If he wasn’t learning reading or arithmetic from Markl, he was engrossed in pathmaking lessons with Grae. His brain hadn’t yet melted or started smoking from the overuse, but Siobhan had a side bet with Wolf on when it would happen. “I know you have your first pathmaking test tomorrow, but…”

Rune swallowed hard. “Grae says he’s a stickler.”

Ahhh. Hence why he was so nervous. “I think he meant he was a stickler for manners, dearling, not the finer points of pathmaking. You’ve only been learning half a year anyway, they don’t expect you to know it all at this point.”

“Eh, but—” Rune faltered, eyes darting about the hall. At this mid-hour of the morning, no one else was about, as they were all off on their own routines. He lowered his tone anyway to a more confidential level. “It’s Grae that’s my master. And I’m his first student!”

“Hence they’ll expect more out of you than any other apprentice in your position?” she finished doubtfully.

He nodded emphatically.

“Rune.” Siobhan took a deep breath for patience. “Darling. I don’t know where you got the idea that Grae was this prodigy at pathmaking and understood everything the first time it was explained to him. That’s not the case. He struggled to understand concepts just as much as you do.”

Those wide blue eyes nearly crossed. “But he’s a genius at it!”

“He certainly is. But his genius lies in taking what he already knows and using those concepts to form something extraordinary. Rune, it took him five years as a master Pathmaker before he figured out how to create the coral pattern. And I was there the first time he tried it and it didn’t work!”

“It didn’t work?” Rune repeated incredulously.

She chuckled at not only his flabbergasted expression but also the memory of those days. “It took a solid week of him fussing and experimenting before it finally worked right. And even to this day he’s making improvements on it, as the pattern looks a little different every time I see it.”

“Oh.” Rune sat back and looked blindly at the far wall, processing this.

Siobhan waited him out patiently, letting him come to his own conclusions.

“Siobhan…” Rune asked slowly, “were ya there when Grae took his test as journeyman?”

“I was.”

“How did he do?”

“He was so nervous the entire test he could barely speak. We all wondered if he’d pass.”

Rune’s forehead wrinkled up in bemusement. “Who tested him?”

“Master Lynn,” she answered with rich amusement.

“Same Master Lynn that’s coming ta test me?” Rune hazarded.

“Same one,” she confirmed cheerfully. Patting him on the shoulder she said kindly, “As long as you can speak, answer questions, and not accidentally send those two into a marsh somewhere, I think you’ll be fine.”

All the tension drained out of him. He ran a hand roughshod over his face. Something that could have been an amused snort came from behind his hand but she couldn’t see his face to be sure. He finally lowered it and looked at her directly. “Yeah, I can do better than that. He’s due in at dinner. Wake me up before then?”

“You finally going to sleep?” she asked, not unsympathetic, although very amused that he had pulled an all-nighter to be ready.

“I think I’d best, don’t ya?”

“Can’t argue that,” she agreed, shooing him off with both hands.

With a heavy tread, Rune disappeared up the stairs and to the third level. His was the only bedroom up there, as everyone else took up rooms on the second story. But he seemed to like his loftier perch.

She watched