27 December 2015

Dwarf Stories

The Dig is set on for a January release. The text is mostly done, layout begins, art is trickling in. I've even settled on a name for my little publishing imprint: Shoreless Skies.

'Last Ship' was too trademarked by Turner to be used safely for a business venture. Shoreless Skies works well: it's nautical and Tolkien related (a recurring theme with me) and seemingly unused. Anyways, I've written some original fiction for the game and here is one I like particularly. Enjoy!




The Dig
The crowd had been growing for the entire working day and the little cave was reaching capacity. Peruser elbowed passerby jostled whoever happened to be coming through on actual business. And then they stopped and stared. Picnics began and mugs were passed around, poured from tapped barrels resting atop the heads of the more opportunistic residents of the Homes. The dwarves were marveling at, or using as an excuse to dodge work for the day, a tremendous statue, such as had not been seen in the Homes for a generation at least.

'Yes, I found it,' said one who stood on the cyclopean torso, waving a hand importantly. 'I had an inkling that this might be the site of something big when I was on duty, you see. My eye caught what was a rock, but surely could not be a rock. It was too smooth and of a different sort than the wall-rock here.' She pointed then quickly snapped her hand back. The bewilderment of the listeners grew.

She cleared her throat and continued with her arms crossed. 'Turns out that was the...nose-guard of this...nasal helm here.' She trailed off. The listeners waited expectantly. They would be waiting a while.

At the far side of the cave, near one of the statue's fingers protruding like a column from the cave floor, stood Gipi. He was frowning and unsure of what to think of Ulna's display. Moreover he felt confused. Was she, in fact, the one who'd spotted the statue? Hadn't it been him?  Why were there no crowds surrounding him? Why was she talking nose-guards? The helm had no nose-guard!

He sighed and leaned against the mighty finger, which would surely become a mighty hand with just a bit more digging. The figure was imposing, even if it was just the chest and head and shoulders that had been unearthed. It was a dwarf of old, some hero or other, perhaps one of the line of Teppo Steeltruss the Hornripper. Perhaps not. It was an inspiring sight, though, and hundreds of dwarves had come out to bear witness as soon as word was spread (mostly by Ulna). The breastplate was curiously detailed; the eyes imposing, awe-striking; the beard spectacular. This was the sort of history lesson the Homes needed, the kind of figure one could look up to -- literally in this case.

The dig had taken them only a week so far. When Gipi and Ulna nearly bumped heads in the dim spur of cave below Nobottle, what was almost an overlarge tube, they had the same idea. They looked at each other, shook hands, and conspired. But distrust came as quickly as the plan. Neither denied seeing it first.

Between the two of them, Gipi, a Cog-less wanderer, and Ulna, a Cog-less entrepreneur, founded a fine little conspiracy. There was Rill the Miner, Odo the Guard, Harsip the...well, they weren't quite sure what Harsip did but she had an uncanny knack for turning up just the right bit of equipment at just the right time and a mad laugh to boot. A few dwarves more, a couple rounds of drinks, even a map or two, and the project was underway.

They worked in shifts: then digging, now excavating, then digging some more. Some hauled, others swung mattocks; some provided refreshment; more sat around and swapped stories about who, or what, they thought the massive figure was. Then He began to emerge. An eye was first, peeping gaily from the rocks under which it had been sealed. Gipi shouted excitedly when that handsome gaze met his. The rest of the helm came next: one edge of the Y-shaped opening emerged and then the next and the wide face was unearthed. And as the dozen or so of the company stepped back to enjoy their work and the enormity of their accomplishment took hold, Ulna said, 'We're going to be rich.'

Gipi wasn’t so sure. He might be slow in thought (‘Deliberate,’ he would have corrected) but he was no less sharp than Ulna. Her fast talk had made her their leader but she was swiftly becoming their dictator. It went on this way for the rest of the week. Every move needed approval by Ulna, each step towards fame directed by her avarice. And yet so sure were her words that none doubted her. The working week climaxed in the current party, the teaser for what would later be a paid experience: So-and-so the Mighty Warrior of Old. Ulna hadn’t settled on a name yet but she was sure it would be great.

Gipi stared the harder at her, his eyes boring holes as best they could. There appeared to be no effect. But the wheels of his thought whirred more swiftly than they had in a long, long time. It came to him, words for this unease: she would turn their history into an amusement! Surely he was not the only one to feel this enmity. There must be others in their company, more to turn against Ulna. He...whoever he was, wide-eyed and terrible and grand, carved of stone and inspiring, belonged to the Homes. It was not only for those who had a coin to toss Ulna’s way. No, Gipi thought, this story needs a turn and I will be the one to write it.

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