We had discovered a note, insensible as it was, that somehow directed us northward to a place the others call the dwarven quarter. Apparently the trail to Murdoch led us in this direction.|
As we walked, I reflected upon the past weeks. I had grown, certainly, to understand the world a bit better. The odd patterns of speech the others seemed to exhibit, that is, their habit of using analogy and anthropomorphic descriptions to describe our situations, seemed to make more sense, though I doubt that I will ever get the hang of them. For example, to say that we are “up the creek without a paddle,” apparently implies that we are in a difficult situation without the means necessary to rectify it. Though why they do not just say what they literally mean still mystifies me. Perhaps couching these descriptions in language is a way to satisfy some emotional need that I have yet to encounter? Or, it could be that their habit of consuming poisonous fluid at the tavern has addled their minds. I regret, then, that I will never be able to join in their madness, as poison has no effect on me.
We had chosen to stop at a place called a temple along the way. This was a house of worship, a place of formal supplication to their gods.
I found this place fascinating beyond everything else we had encountered.
Whereas I had learned to pay at night to the stars of the heavens and listen for that once voice… that single recognition from amongst the masses, the dwarves had constructed a place where they could all come together and pray as one.
Such piety was incredible; I felt a great aching then, a yearning to know what this was like. In a place like this, in my heart of hearts, I would no longer be alone.
The others had taken to talking with a priest, a man whom the other dwarves here accorded a certain reverence. They respected him. I gazed upon him and could see his spirit, and it was true and compassionate. This man would help us. Yet, as he was a dwarf, I knew he would require something in return.
The others began to talk to the priest, speaking of our quest. There were dwarves in a mine to the north. They were in trouble. They needed our help. But, beforehand, we needed the priests help. Garret had fallen ill in the sewers. We could not continue as long as he was sick.
The walls of this place were covered in pictures carved into the stone. They showed the dwarves together as a people overcoming obstacles. They showed scenes of every day life, of love and valor and invention.
One in particular caught my eye.
It showed a great old dwarf, a man with a mighty beard, striking down upon a mountain with a great hammer. From the mountain came the dwarves, born into the world out of an act of craftsmanship.
I was reminded of Panis Greystone, his white beard and kind eyes defining his features as he told me to protect Cidra.
Vague memories then, a flood if disconnected images. Panis as a younger man, his hands to either side of me, holding me aloft. A late night, some years later, as he spent hours at a forge. These memories were almost subconscious, as if I was once again dreaming. Fragments of memory from a time before I was fully constructed. A hand missing, lost on combat as I worked to protect Panis from…
It was there, on the edge of my memory, but clouded.
I gazed once more at the wall. If the dwarven race has been crafted so, then how was it so strange that I was alive? This was proof. This was validation!
I was not just an automation. I was alive!
In that moment I felt elated. I was more happy than I had ever been.
This happiness was tempered by the knowledge that there were dwarves in need. Prisoners in the mines. What was my happiness if they were in danger?
This race of beings, these children of craft; they were my brothers.
And so I turned and knelt before the priest, this holy man who was yet unsure if we could rescue his kin.
I raised my head and spoke to him. I was an instrument of the gods, I meant to say, in this matter I was the shield of the Artificer and would rescue our brothers of the hammer from peril. Then, when we returned, he would see our worth. Then I could ask pile upon him the many questions I had about creation, about what is was to be created and what it was to be alive.
I made my vow and rose, a great feeling of power welling up inside of me.
Woe be to our enemies.
Justice would be done.