Carmichael Village Square
You stand in the center of a quaint little country village, nestled in the foothills of the Western Mountains. There are a few shops surrounding the square, including Isfar’s blacksmith shop to the east, which is ringing with the sound of iron-on-iron. To the southwest is a small tavern, which smells of good home-cooked food. There is a traveller’s shelter to the northwest with a sign over the door that reads “Carmichael Lodge”. There is also a shop to the northeast, and two others, to the southeast and to the west, respectively. In the midst of the square stands a a stone well.
The main road heads south toward the settlement, a collection of humble, neatly-kept homes to the southwest of the main town.
Loc stands by the well, one of his feet tapping the ground to manage the excess energy. He looks around the square, waiting for something or someone, almost like a child going on a long awaited trip.
Lanisen leaves the lodge. His eyes are on a piece of paper in his hand that looks like it has been folded and refolded many times.
Loc grins when he spots Lanisen. He doesn’t move but waits patiently–well, mostly.
Lanisen pauses in the middle of the square, glancing around at the buildings on all sides. He fists one hand in his hair helplessly.
Loc rolls his eyes and finally heads over. “Lookin’ for something?”
Lanisen starts slightly and folds the paper. “Not really,” he answers, pocketing it.
Loc tilts his head to the side a bit inquistively. “Oh…. So.–You busy?”
Lanisen says, “Ahh, no. Not–no. Why?”
Loc says, “Chief said he didn’t mind if I brought a guest today.” He grins.
Lanisen says, “A guest–oh! Ohh. Now?”
Loc nods eagerly, “Yeah–” He pauses, “Well, I mean… it doesn’t have to be /right/ now but now would be good. I think.”
Lanisen says, “Oh! Um. All right!”
Loc gestures, “Follow me.”
Lanisen decides to follow Loc.
Loc keeps an easy pace despite his excitement.
Carmichael Mine Entrance
High above you, the snow-capped peak of Mount Car rises up against the sky,
its peak obscured by scattered clouds. Sadly, however, you cannot see it
from here, forested in at the mountain’s foot. Trees grow in wild tangles
here, sheltered as they are from the harsher elements, but denied the amount
of sunlight necessary to grow tall and straight. The ground is covered with
rocks, leaves and bracken, but the path here is still distinct. It leads
directly into a vertical stretch of the mountain’s base and disappears into a
cavernous opening there.
Lanisen falls into step beside him, equally excited and apprehensive.
Loc leads the way to the mine, motioning to the surroundings as they approach. “You know, at first you don’t even realize it’s here–but they wanted it to be that way. First for protection, the other ‘cuz they like their mines ‘organic’ or something or another.”
A cavernous opening, reinforced on either side by thick wooden bracing, leads into the mountainside here.
Lanisen scratches his head. “Huh,” he comments. His eyes fix on the mine’s entrance with interest.
Loc says, “Now, especially on the real hot days we do a lot of stuff outside in this area.” As they reach the entrance, there are more visible signs of work. “Don’t think you ever saw me when I first started. That spot over there is where I did a lot of work.” He points. “They didn’t like the idea of me bein’ in the mine till they could trust me.”
Lanisen nods, looking at each landmark as it is pointed out. “Makes sense.”
Loc says, “Made for some pretty chilly autumn afternoons.” He laughs a bit. “Though wasn’t very funny to me at the time.–And you shoulda heard Armel. At least I was used ta hard labor.” He proceeds toward the interior.
Lanisen trails after him.
You stand inside the mouth of a mine that leads right into the center of the mountain. The passage in which you stand is quite wide and has clearly been hewn out, as opposed to formed by nature. The walls are periodically reinforced by great wooden beams, from which hang flickering lanterns. The ground beneath your feet is worn and pitted from frequent foot and cart traffic.
This area appears to be a kind of hub. A passage leads down an incline here to the north, while the main tunnel continues on to the east. The mine opens to the outside to the northeast.
Loc follows the trail as it gently slopes downward. Inside, the clamor of pick axes hacking stone and a chorus of hammers on anvils drift upward. Loc motions to the ground, “Watch your step. Sometimes it can get a bit uneven, specially as we get to the tracked area.”
The dirt and gravel make a soft crunch underfoot.
Lanisen nods, picking his steps with care. He is quiet and wide-eyed, glancing about with keen interest.
Loc’s eyes dart about and he smiles, his feet familiar with the trail. A faint scent of smoke drifts toward them, and a lingering damp earth smell pervades the atmosphere. The ceiling height isn’t as high as one might expect, capping out around seven feet. “One of the first major projects I had was to help them ‘lift’ the tunnels–including this one.” He gestures to the walls, where the rock is smooth but has faint indentations. “Nothing real pretty here ‘cept the mountain rock. Well… I take that back, it’s pretty enough–but not valuable like the stuff deeper.”
Lanisen nods again, reaching out to trail his hand along the wall. “What sort of rock is this?”
Every fifteen feet or so there are study wood supports, with a system of beams put into the ceiling. The walls are mostly smooth and have a rough finish. The striations, like tree rings, have a similar hue although different tints and some sections have a faint swirl.
Loc glances back and grins, “They call it… sedimentary or something. It’s not just one like they got in Coghill–it’s a bunch a different kinds all meshed together. I think that’s why they don’t really quarry it. Makes for a lovely show though, even if it ain’t particularly valuable on the market. Sometimes they do sell the gravel though for roads and such.”
Lanisen nods, pausing briefly as they pass a light to look closer at it.
Loc pauses as well, running a hand over the wall. It shimmers in places in the soft light of the lanterns, which hand by an iron hook on the supports. “Love the little glimmers here.”
Lanisen agrees, “It’s real pretty.”
Loc nods, beaming. “Wait till ya see the shafts.–It’s… it’s really quite breath taking.”
Loc motions for Lanisen to follow.
Lanisen pauses, opening his mouth to say something, then bites his lip and glances past Loc. “All right.”
Loc looks confused and stops, then a realization slowly dawns on him. He hesitates and asks, “You ah… okay? I mean, it can take some gettin’ used to–I know I was’t much fer it when I got here but… it can… grow on you.”
Lanisen says, a little too quickly, “I’m okay.”
Loc doesn’t look entirely convinced but gives a small nod. “Kay. Let me know if… you need to get back or something–I know you probably want to spend as much time with yer sister as ya can bein’ out here and all.”
Lanisen gives Loc a quick grateful look. He nods.
Loc opens his mouth and closes it, turning to move deeper in. “So, this is where you enter. Not a lotta fancy stuff ta see here sides the sparkles.”
Lanisen asks, “Are the sparkles the gems?”
Loc says, “No. I’m not exactly sure what they are–one a the miners would know. It’s a different sorta stone and other particles.
Lanisen says, “Oh. Huh.”
Loc laughs, “All that glitters isn’t gold they say.–And it’s true. Sometimes it’s foo’s gold. Other’s, its glass or just something else pretty.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, I’ve seen fool’s gold. I had a big chunk of it when I was a kid… hm.”
Loc pauses as they reach the main hub, placing his hands in his pocket, he leans against the support near the entrance. “And this is first heart of the mine.” He gestures inside, quick is quite higher than the tunnel.
Loc mutters, “Fool’s gold abounded on the Chesterton black market.”
Lanisen eyes him askance. “Why?”
Loc hms, “Why what?”
Lanisen asks, “You mean people thinkin’ it was real?”
Loc says, “Well it–” He frowns and gives a dismissive gesture. “It ain’t important.” He looks vaguely uncomfortable. “I learned my lesson quick about Fool’s gold and once learned you were careful. But that ain’t matterin’ now.” He motions again, “This is the real deal.”
Lanisen blinks at him. He throws back his head and laughs out loud. “/YOU/ thought it was real??”
Loc looks peevish and growls, “I was /eight/ Lanny. You don’t just come inta the world knowin’ that kinda stuff.” He suddenly snaps his mouth shut and looks toward the hub. He asks with perhaps an unintentional sharpness, “Do you want ta see the mine or not?”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, all right,” and prepares to follow him, still snickering under his breath.
Loc makes his way to the center of the central hub. “Watch yer step” he gestures to the tracks that begin at a corral. There are small stalls the carts to be pushed into so they can be unloaded into wheel and a small stations where the gems are sorted, catalogued and stored. Loc turns to Lanisen. “So. Where do you want to start?”
The room hums with activity as carts are being brought up, unloaded, and pushed back down. Further in the sound of axes and hammers create a strange symphony of metal and stone, while various chorus of voices can be heard shouting orders, idly chatting or exchanging various information on the product being mined.
Lanisen turns in a circle to see as much as possible. He cranes his head back to look at the ceiling, then quickly steps out of the way of a cart as it rattles past. “There’s…” he begins, then shakes his head. “There’s a whole lot more goin’ on down here than I figured on.”
Loc laughs and grins, “Ain’t there? Was so thunderstruck my first day down here I nearly got run over by a cart.”
Lanisen asks, “That what happened to your face?”
Loc snorts and makes a face at Lanisen. He says sarcastically–tinged by bitterness, “You know Myrd was always the pretty one.” He rolls his eyes and turns. Despite the sarcasm, he runs a hand over his face, as if to inspect it. He says more seriously, “When you’re down here in the dust it tends to stick on the scars and creases you’d otherwise be able to conceal up top.”
Lanisen bursts out laughing again, giddy with the new experience. “/Lion/ you’re an easy mark! There’s nothin’ wrong with your face, I’m pullin’ your leg.”
Grimbor, the dwarf from the Lancelyn Green trip, is close enough to overhear the remark. He gives a jovial laugh and says, “Aw, ol’ headbanger here messed up that pretty face a his when he fergot ta duck in the lower tunnels!” A handful fellow miners whoop with laughter.
Loc scowls in their general direction, “Yeah yeah. Laugh at the tall guy.” He absent mindedly rubs a spot by his left temple.
Lanisen snickers. “Bound to happen, I’m sure.”
Loc carefully minds the walkways and traffic. “Yeah. ‘specially when they’re barkin’ orders at ya and ya turn ta see what they’re yellin’ at ya.” He picks his way along the tracks to the loading station and cart corral. “So, this is where pretty much all the labor of the lower levels culminates. You mine the rough stuff and send it here. They unload and send it over there.” He points to a small waystation done for sorting. “That’s where they pick out what’s what and put it in small, wheeled carts which goes to there.” He points to a large workshop. “And that’s where ya make ’em pretty.”
Lanisen’s head whips one direction, then the next as Loc points out places of interest. “It’s only gems here, then?” he asks.
Loc turns to look at Lanisen, eyebrow raised. “/Only/ gems? Makes it seem like a rather small accomplishment.”
Lanisen says, “Come on, you know what I mean. No iron or anything like that?”
Loc says, “Well, we got small deposits here or there but the gems is the main focus.”
Loc adds, “But Chesterton needs ta get its baubles from somewhere.”
Lanisen says, “Makes sense.” He tilts his head back to stare at the ceiling again, as if half-expecting to see sapphires and emeralds sparkling right there.
Loc follows Lanisen’s gaze and lowers it again, smirking a bit. “Well, you don’t just trip over the riches–usually at any rate. You need to poke around for them.” He glances upward again, “Tho might be cool ta do something with the fragments and make the area prettier.”
Lanisen hmms. “Be prettier outside, where there’s light.”
Loc shrugs and makes his way to the workshop. “Dunno. There’s something almost magical when the light catches a cache in the right way–all the glimmer in the dark, with the gems so thin and pretty–the color hangs in the air like a mist and it just…” He gestures. “Refracts everywhere, like suspended fireflies.”
Lanisen trails after him, laughing again. “This place’s made a right poet out of you.”
Loc shoots a glance over his shoulder and smirks, “Pfft. I might not a had a silver tongue but you have to admit, I was pretty well spoken when I wanted ta be. Chesterton had a whole part a town devoted ta poets and nature lovin’ folk and stuff. They liked their tea and ta spot nonsense.–‘sides, it’s the only way I can really… convey what it’s like ta see stuff like that. It’s better to use poor words than just shrug it all off.”
Lanisen says, “Whatever makes you happy, I s’pose.”
Loc brings Lanisen into the workshop and motions around, “This is what I’m hopin’ ta be able to do.”
Lanisen approaches one of the benches, keeping his hands folded behind his back, and bends to look at the work. “Wow…”
The workshop hums with the soft sound of stones being cut, pens scratching, and various murmurings about the qaulity of the gems. There are large bins for each type of gem and tables set up with a variety of stone cutting knives, eye pieces, tomes, and other tools useful for such work.
Lanisen, self-conscious after a moment, backs to stand by Loc.
Loc points to a particularly aged red dwarf in the back, eying a young gem cutter. “no one gets ta do that until you pass his inspection. If you cut the gem wrong, you can ruin the whole stone–or make a nice sized one a lot less worth.”
Lanisen says, “I s’pose…”
Loc says in a low voice, “They’re very serious business about all this. They take a lotta pride in what they produce–and they want it ta be the best, ‘specially since they can’t make lotsa fancy stuff with it. Most of the stuff here goes to the castle as part of the dues, and mosta what’s left goes to Chesterton so they can make jewelry and such.”
The aged red dwarf points out several things to the novice ‘jeweler’ who seems somewhat put out and goes back to working on his gem, apparently making improvements to his project.
Lanisen’s forehead furrows slightly in concentration as he watches. “If you find somethin’ to do, might as well be good at it…” he agrees absently.
Loc nods. He keeps his voice low, “Though truth be told–I think they’re a bit put out thay can’t do more with it. I think they’d give the Chesterton lot a run for their money. I’ve seen them do some beautiful things when they got a mind to.” He grins and points to the novice. “They usually start you with the more common stuff that ain’t so bad if you mess up and then move you to /that/.” He points to an older dwarf who holds up a beautiful blue gem to the light. It twinkles and shimmers holding the light of inside, casting soft blue patches around the workbench.
Lanisen blows out a small, awed breath. “I’d be terrified,” he says frankly.
Loc gives a soft laugh, “Yeah, I know right?”
Lanisen stands and watches for a little longer. Finally, he backs to the doorway, glancing at Loc expectantly.
Loc adds in a low voice, “And is if they weren’t picky enough, now they got a Son a Adam whose goin’ ta be doin’ this–and doesn’t have the experience or ‘feel’ for this sort of thing.” He looks mildly self conscious and catches the glance. “Anyway…” He leads the way out of the workshop and back toward the carts. He points to a dwarf barking at a novice miner angrily. “That’d be Chief Lidwyrt. He’s good at gettin’ folks in line.”
Lanisen looks mildly alarmed. “He looks it,” he agrees in a very low voice.
Loc grins and leads Lanisen toward one of the mining shafts, “He ain’t so bad when ya do what yer told–and once ya get to know him. I like him.”
Lanisen follows after him, still looking around and trying to take in everything.
Loc moves down the shaft, motioning for Lanisen to keep to one side. The tunnels are once again around seven feet or so, reinforced every fifteen feet or so by sood supports with iron hooks and lanterns. As they enter the actual shafts, the ‘smooth’ gives way to carved walls that are striated with sedimentary rock shot through with different colors. This tunnel holds a soft pink rock in the normal rock, looking a little like crystalized sugar. It glimmers, translucent, and stands out against the more opaque rock.
Lanisen goes quiet as they go deeper. He reaches up to touch the low ceiling, looking from side to side at the different sorts of rock that present themselves.
Loc pauses every so often so Lanisen can take his time. “Here you have some pretty manicured veins because we’re relatively high up. You’ll notice the wall’s pretty smooth and it looks like… Like ice cream or such. Or like color meltin inta water. It ain’t as nice when ya first find it tho.”
Lanisen asks, “This is high?”
The walls here are relatively smooth, worn and crafted by generations of mine. There is a soft pink color rock which melds into the striated sedimentary rock. it catches the light and sparkles. The pale, translucent color stands out against the opaque surrounding rock.
Loc laughs a bit. “Yeah. It’s a deep mine–with a lot of other shafts. You tend to find the more valuable stuff further in.”
Lanisen asks, tracing a line of the pink rock, “What’s this stuff?”
Loc says proudly, “Rose quartz.”
Loc adds with a grin, “Don’t need the book ta tell me /that/ one.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, ’cause it’s pink.” He looks closer at it, interested. “Is this stuff valuable?”
Loc nods to the mention of pink and says, “It’s considered semi-precious because it’s fairly common–it fetches a decent price in market tho.”
Lanisen asks, “Where do you buy it?”
Loc says, “Well… Chesterton is one of the largest buyers as they like ta work with it. There might be a few smaller places near the castle and stuff. Or other small shops. It’d be nice to have a shop here someday.”
Lanisen scratches his head. “If I want to buy a chunk of this stuff do I gotta go to Chesterton to do it?”
Loc says, “Well, you could talk to the dwarfs. I think they’d be more than willing to sell you some–just be prepared to haggle.”
Lanisen looks rather alarmed at this prospect.
Loc laughs, “Aw, they like their gold as much as their gems–” He lowers his voice, “Specially the black dwarfs.–So they start a little high with a price in mind and you work them down a bit till you get to a reasonable offer. Ain’t that scary.”
Lanisen looks unconvinced. “What else is there?” he asks to change the subject.
Loc pushes it, “Ain’t you ever haggled before?”
Lanisen says, “‘Course I have. Just I don’t like doin’ it, especially when I don’t /really/ know what a thing is worth.”
Loc ahs and grins, “I can talk ta them if you want some.” He gestures to the quartz and then turns, “So… if you… think you need to be back soon let me know.” He heads deeper down a shaft.
Lanisen pauses, briefly uneasy, and looks past Loc down the tunnel. He glances at the glittering wall again, then sets his jaw and follows a step or two behind.
Loc takes a turn and heads down another shaft. The inclines are gradual, working with the earth around it. After a while the pink transitions into a lovely blue of varying degrees. “This is one of my favorites.” He stops in front of a particularly gem filled section of the wall. “Aquamarine.”
Lanisen steps closer, fascinated. “How come ain’t they mined this out yet?”
Loc says, “Well, there’s more of it further down the line and more valuable stuff–” He gestures around. “I think too that… the way it moves through the wall is like water. If that makes sense–the way the oceans pull back and forth. It’s pretty. And sometimes they just like to appreciate those sort of finds.”
Loc says, “To a dwarf, mining just ain’t a business, it’s an art.”
Lanisen backs away from the vein. “Never thought about that.”
Loc says, “Treats like this make mining more fun.–I think too it helps ya feel more… determined. The labor is long and slow, but when you think of things like this you remember how the work is worth it in the end.”
Lanisen says, “Huh.” He looks faintly wistful for a moment, then glances at Loc.
Loc takes a moment to observe the natural mural and then perks up a bit, as if an idea’s occured to him. “This way.” They head up the path back toward the center, then turn into a shaft that starts to move upward.
Lanisen follows, curious.
Loc explains as they move up, “The mountain has a lot of produce–and secrets. And the dwarfs found that as much as they got down, they could also get by going up.” They pass through several shafts, carefully crafted to intersect each other. As they move, the walls have a varying degree of rough or smooth patches depending on where most of the work is done. “I thought I’d show you some of the neat stuff we find higher up.”
Lanisen counts the branches they pass on his fingers.
Loc says with a laugh, “I remember the first couple weeks in here. They made me study a map before they took me in the tunnels, then one day just told me a location. I had to find it on my own.–They had a pool going in how long it’d take me to find it.”
Lanisen’s eyebrows go up, and he glances quickly around the tunnel. “…Did you get lost?”
Loc laughs, “Yeah.”
Miners pass to and fro in the tunnels as they pass, some helping fill carts, some breaking for a meal, and others socializing.
Loc adds, “And they weren’t always helpful in tellin’ me the right direction if I asked.”
Lanisen looks slightly horrified.
Loc gives a small shrug, “Eh, they do it to their own as well. I think too they wanted to test me.–See just how long I’d stick it out… I eventually found the location.”
Lanisen asks, “How long did it take you?”
Loc coughs and says sheepishly, “Three days–but they’d bring me back to the main location at the end of the shift and then let me go home. Then they’d let me try again the next day. Turns out I’d actually found the location on the first day but no one was stationed there, so I went past it.” He tries to recover some dignity, “I found after the whole thing that I had been able to make mental notes about what I was see and where, so I felt more comfortable going around on my own.”
Lanisen is quiet, torn between disturbed and relieved.
Loc explains, catching Lanisen’s look, “It’s like when you enter a new territory or town. You don’t know the land or places, and you got to get familiar with them. ‘Get a feel’ for the land as the dwarfs say. I mean, there were miners around, it wasn’t like I was alone. And sometimes they’d tell me real useful stuff. It was like when I was first learning the streets a Carmichael or Chesterton just… underground.”
Lanisen says, “I guess.”
Loc says, “They’re a hearty people. They share what they have and even if they’re messin’ with you, they make sure you won’t be harmed. Chief said it was like being a wood duck.”
Lanisen gives Loc the sidelong look best described as ‘…’.
Loc continues upward on the trail, “Ever hear of the wood duck?” He nods to a group of miners working carefully to extract gems from the wall.
Lanisen says, annoyed, “What do you take me for.”
Loc says, “A hound master and squire.”
Lanisen says, “Who ain’t heard of ducks?”
Loc says, “You know how the wood duck deals with its young then?”
Lanisen says, “Sits on ’em like any other bird, I reckon.”
Loc grins a little, “I mean after she sits on ’em and they hatch.”
Lanisen says, “Kicks ’em out of the nest. You know I grew up around here, right?”
Loc says, making a face, “Only when ya introduced me ta Cass.”
Lanisen shrugs. “‘S not my fault you weren’t payin’ attention before. I seen wood ducks fledgin’, is what I’m sayin’.”
Loc makes another turn, “Forest stuff must be pretty natural ta you then.”
Lanisen frowns at him. “Some of it is,” he says defensively, following without paying much attention to where they’re going.
Loc says, “Guess it ain’t as exciting ta folks when ya lived here your whole life.” He pauses at an intersection, where a faint breeze passes through. He goes straight and motions, “I never really thought much about ducks or foxes or anything like that before the road. The only birds I really knew about were swans.”
Lanisen gives him a very skeptical look.
Loc pauses, turning to look at Lanisen. “Now what?” He almost sounds annoyed.
Lanisen says, “Swans?”
Loc nods. “Yeah. /Swans./”
Loc makes a face, “Beautiful, nasty vicious creatures.”
Lanisen says, “City’s overrun with ’em, is it?”
Loc says, “City don’t gotta be overrun with ’em to encounter one.”
Loc says, “You just have to be unlucky.”
Lanisen says, “What about pigeons? Starlings, chickadees? Ravens, you can’t tell me a city ain’t got ravens.”
Loc pauses, “Well. Crows and ravens they got a bit… Maybe pigeons. I wasn’t really a bird person. I liked dogs.–Cats were okay.”
Lanisen eyes him again, then looks away, shaking his head and laughing under his breath. “Where’re we goin’?”
Loc makes a face, “We’re /gettin’/ there.” He turns and begins moving again. The damp, dusty smell of the caves begins to decrease and there’s a more ‘woodsy’ smell to the tunnels as they head up, the tunnels start to become higher and open up into a vertical strip of mining, a wall along a cavern. Several pieces on the far side are open to the outside, allowing sunlight to stream in–some look natural while others have scaffolding by them and look like constructions. Along the vertical shaft the darker rock is shot through with a beautiful, semi-transparent stone of a milk color. Loc draws a breath of fresh air, “This is one of the higher shafts.”
Pulleys, scaffolding, and hooks help the dwarfs mine the vertical strip of stone and minerals. There’s a chorus of clinking, clanging, and shouting as a tight network of communication allows for the safe harvesting of the stone. Some miners who have ‘climbed’ the wall use buckets, others drop their finds directing into the cart below the scaffolding.
Lanisen’s shoulders untense as they come into the sunlight, and he takes a minute to breathe deeply. “I see that.” He watches the workers curiously. “What’re they mining for up here?”
Loc says excitedly, “Moonstone. They like to say the hafts help ‘cultivate’ it and the moonlight keeps the stones fresh–bunch a bunk I know, but still. ANd man, when that’s polished! Pretty as a pearl!”
Lanisen says absently, “I think you’re makin’ that up.” But he watches the miners work with unabashed interest.
Loc says, “The whole stones from moonlight thing? I’m not makin’ that up, they told /me/ that cuz it makes a nice story. Course it ain’t true!–Still. Fun to pretend.”
Lanisen says, “I never figured dwarfs for the pretendin’ type.”
Loc says, “Well, they like to call it tellin’ tall tales… Tho if they have any magic left over from Narnia maybe they ain’t so tall. Ever hear of the Narnian queen who was so pretty a lake held her reflection for a year?”
Lanisen says, unexpectedly, “Swanwhite, yeah.”
Loc nods, giving a faint rogiush grin, “Might be the only Swan I ever liked.” He laughs and turns, watching the work. The sunlight catches the dust, causing the beams to shimmer, twist and turn as they fall on the miners working below. Outside, if one listens closely, the faint sounds of the forest can be heard.
Loc quirks an eyebrow.
Lanisen sniffs and wriggles his nose like a rabbit. “‘S dusty.”
Loc rolls his eyes, “Well, it’s a /mine/. What’d ya expect?”
Loc turns and heads back toward the shaft, “C’mon.”
Lanisen follows, glancing back over his shoulder at the mining activity.
Loc winds back down the tunnels toward the main hub area. “So… that’s… pretty much the mine. Lotsa repitious stuff.”
Lanisen seems disoriented and glances uncertainly from side to side as they go, making sure not to fall behind. “It’s not as… close as I thought it would be,” he remarks.
Loc keeps an easy pace. He gives a small nod. “And there’s more too. Up and down. Takes a while to get the feel for it. Once you start working the tunnel you notice the little things.” He pauses and motions to a trunk with a small sign over it. It has been set back into the wall. “Like this.”
Lanisen follows him, eying the trunk curiously. “What is it?”
Loc says, “Supplies. Candles, lanterns, oil. Waterskins, some bandages.–A cache. There’s lotsa ’em packed away here and there. Also little stations along certain routes.” He motions and begins walking again.
Lanisen blinks. “Oh, huh,” he says. “That’s smart.”
Loc nods. “As much as they love the mountain they know it’s like anything else in nature.”
Loc says, “And they like to be prepared.”
Lanisen gives him a questioning look.
Loc catches the look but doesn’t pause in their trek or look at Lanisen. He doesn’t speak for a while, then finally says, “Nature is beautiful–and often times man and dwarf like to think he’s tamed it. But you don’t ever take the wild outta nature. And that’s why you got ta respect it.”
Lanisen’s forehead furrows deeply, and he glances around the tunnel with new apprehension. “You mean…”
Loc says, “Like any other job Lanny.”
Loc says, “Sometimes things don’t go right.”
Lanisen’s face blanks and he swallows several times. “What do you mean, Loc.”
Loc says, “Watch yer step” as they re-enter the central “heart” of the mine, with the workshops, and cart corrales, and area leading to the settlement. He asks one of the dwarfs quietly and motions to the workshop. The dwarf nods and heads over. Loc says, “Just that you need to be prepared in case stuff happens.”
Lanisen glances automatically up at the ceiling.
The dwarf goes to the workshop and returns a short while later with a small, beautiful round stone that’s a milky white. It has a semi-transclucent qaulity and swirls in the interior. He holds it up proudly for both men to see. “This be what yer wantin’ ta show off? Moonstone?”
Loc says, “The dwarfs’ work is secure, and thorough. Maintaince is just as important as mining.” He looks to the dwarf and nods, “Yeah, moonstone.” He gestures to the stone the dwarf is holding up.
Lanisen’s face is very pale, and he makes no response to Loc’s assertion, but he wrenches his attention from the ceiling and walls to the gem in the dwarf’s hand.
The dwarf tries to help, “Don’t worry laddie. We hadn’t had problems in this part since it was first carved out. We take good care of the mines. Well worth the risks for a treasure like this.”
Loc coughs and says, “Thanks Gamlin… and uh… thanks for bringing that over.”
Lanisen says, “I–I’m sure.” He takes a deep breath and adds, making a valiant attempt to cover his unease with politeness, “I didn’t mean to– I’m sorry. It’s a very beautiful mine.”
Gamlin looks deeply pleased by this, “Nice ta hear the Sons a Adam appreciatin’ our work. Not enough townfolk do. Now I think I best be gettin’ back with this or the Chief Jeweler will be none too pleased.” He laughs heartily and gives a small wave as he toddles off.
Lanisen tugs at his collar and swallows again.
Loc looks at Lanisen and says, “I uh–got something for ya. Those this ain’t the best lightin’ fer it.”
Lanisen looks at him blankly.
Loc motions and leads the way out.
Carmichael Mine Entrance
Lanisen follows him, oddly stiff in his movements. There is sweat beaded on his forehead and upper lip.
Loc waits until they’re out of the mine to pause. He rummages around his pockets and pulls something out. He hands a small, odd metal object with a neat printing of “Lanisen” across the middle metal band. The jeweler’s monocle is similar to Loc’s save for it doesn’t have a leather strap. “I talked to Isfar…” He doesn’t look directly at Lanisen, trying to keep his tone casual. “He thought it was neat someone enjoyed his work so much…”
Lanisen has to blink at it several times before he understands. He looks quickly up at Loc, startled and confused.
Loc says, “So….”
Lanisen says, “This is…?”
Loc turns and starts heading back toward town, “One of those eye things you seemed to enjoy the other day.”
Lanisen asks, “You had this– this is… for me?”
Loc says, “Got yet name on it, don’t it?”
Lanisen shakes his head slightly, disbelieving, and turns it carefully over in his hands, still pale but smiling. “…I don’t know what to say, this is… /wow/.”
Loc glances over his shoulder, “Thought you might find some entertainment with it once ya got back ta the castle. Lots to see there.”
Lanisen realizes that Loc is walking away and quickly catches up. He brings the glass to his eye to try it out, grinning involuntarily at the distorted world seen through the lens. “Thank you.”
Loc grins a little. “Thank Isfar, it’s his handiwork.”
Lanisen says, “I will. But, I mean. Thank you, too.”
Loc coughs, looking a bit sheepish and says, “Yer welcome.”
Lanisen glances over his shoulder at the mine entrance shrinking behind them and adds, “And thanks for… showin’ me the mine. It’s really somethin’ else.”
Loc gives a small nod, “It really is.–I’m glad they sent me here. It’s… nice.” He straightens a bit and says, “Tho Fisvher’s ale isn’t as strong as the dwarfs.”
Lanisen says, “Think I’ll stick with Fischer there.” He nods toward the road into town and thence to the tavern, raising an eyebrow at Loc.
Loc walks up the path, heading toward town.