“Ya can throw a lil’ tantrum, but ya still ain’t getting it”, stated a dwarf with complete confidence. He wore simple clothes of earthen tones; a loose fitting tunic which overlapped his broad chest and buttoned on his side, and loose pants. His posturing, however, suggested he was anything but simple. The dwarf was standing slightly on his toes, ready to move at a moment’s notice. He had his hands on his hips with his legs spread shoulder width apart. His skin was dark, like mahogany, which was contrasted by the stark white beard that hung all the way down past his belt. Under his feet a broken pot laid with dirt strewn all over the wooden floor of the dwarf’s home, which at first seemed as simple as his clothing. However, there was a distinct beauty to the place. Ancient dwarven symbols were painted on small banners around the house.
A small tree, with roots exposed, seemed to be the victim of the “tantrum”. The dwarf stood face to face with a young man who was kneeling as if he had tried to save the tree at the last moment. The contrast in the two faces was amazing. The dwarf’s face was calm and caring, almost sympathetic; yet the young man’s visage was red and flustered.
“It’s mine,” the angry teen claimed through clenched teeth. “I can unlock its…”
“No, Brooks. It’s mine ‘til yer ready.” Pnils interrupted.
“But… I am ready, Pnils!” Brooks raged as he quickly stood up.
“Doesn’t this prove that ya aren’t, though,” Pnils, the dwarf, turned his thick palm up and passed it over the broken pot. The absurdity of Brooks’ statement caused the dwarf to chuckle. It was a good natured chuckle, with no harm intended. However, it was not received that way.
“Soon enough we will see who is laughing, Master!” Brooks spat the last word with such hatred that the dwarf’s amber eyes narrowed, all mirth lost. The young man recognized the look and for a moment returned it. However, when Pnils took a step toward Brooks, he quickly ran out of the house. He left the door dangling on its hinge after crashing through in his wild flight.
Pnils cleaned up the mess, lovingly repotted the tree, and quickly fixed the door in silence. He then went out to a small pond in his yard, and softly spoke to the two koi that swam there. The dwarf stripped off his brown shirt, leaving only the loose pants drawn together at the waist by a small rope. Pnils was pure muscle, and his anger only added to the definition of his arms and chest. Almost all dwarves like to claim certain physical characteristics of rock and earth, but Pnils truly could have been carved from jasper stone. He had spent over two hundred years preparing his body and mind for battle.
The dwarf started a workout routine, yet his mind was not focused on the task. He longed to understand how to handle Brooks and the cursed lantern that his best friend had left in his care. Self-doubt and a certain level of fear clouded his mind, yet his kata never missed a movement. Anyone watching would have never known the turmoil behind those eyes. Hours went by as Pnils punched, kicked and twisted his way through a series of forms. So lost was the dwarven monk in his thoughts, that he never heard the men enter his home through the recently busted door.