Taking another dwarf's pick was wrong. A crime. As bad - almost worse - as murder. "Take it back," the hands grasping it screamed at her. "Throw it away."

"No," Zazit muttered through clenched teeth, and struck the point into the stubborn rock. "I must."

Besides, if all went well, it'd be back by her brother's bed well before he woke up, with no one knowing anything. And all would go well - she knew it. Was it not by Armok's hand that caused the flood that now had mining teams scrambling all over the mountain, trying to reach inaccessible sections that may still hold survivors? In this glorious chaos, no one would pay attention to yet another dwarf wielding a pick that may or may not be theirs.

She was close. Already the granite she pierced with the fine iron tool bled water. Her brother spoke the truth, when he mentioned the old depleted gold vein that came close to the surface by the Halfway Inn.



She took a short break to sneer at the buildings down the slope. The king had the beginning of the right idea. Only the dwarven caravans from other mountainhomes were admitted into the marketplaces of the fortress proper. The humans making their yearly trek for the priviledge of purchasing fine dwarven crafts had to stop here, halfway between the first gate down by the entrance to the valley, and the great gate leading into the mountainhome at the end of the highway. That was the proper place for them - close enough to be awed by dwarven architecture, but far enough that they didn't trample all over it.

What was not proper was that the king has also allowed elves to come here. Elves! These carrion eaters had no place here, or anywhere else in the world. Their existence was a mistake, and a blight upon the world. Armok declared it so.

And by His will, tonight there'd be a few less of them.

Zazit went back into the tunnel. She had never held a pick before, and she was weary, but the vision of bloated elven bodies floating in the waters gave her strength.

The pick's blade lodged in a crack, and when she pulled it out, a spray of water hit her in the face. At last! Just a few more swings and-



That she survived was obvious - her work was far from over. That she was caught and sentenced was unfortunate, but Armok would see that she was free before long. That none of the elves died was a bitter disappointment - someone had managed to pull the lever lowering the bridge in time to let the water drain out.

That among the charges she heard - theft of a pick, destruction of property, endangerment of fortress security and dwarven lives - she didn't hear a singe word against her attempt to kill the elves, was glorious.

Her cause was just.


*****************************************


Couple notes:

TheLogman: I know, but as the release is already in the bughunting phase, I'm really hoping for early-to-mid march.

Milskidasith: keep in mind that obsidian swords are created using the Stonecrafting skill.

Raroy: when saying "Artist", what skills do you have in mind? Or are you giving me free reign?

Rockphed: The question you should be asking is "what biome are you going to embark on?"