2010-03-02, 07:22 PM (ISO 8601)
Bugbear in the Playground
Re: All a dwarf needs - the saga of the Zuntir Clan (DF Community Fort)
Milski wished that what happened to him could be summed up into a neat adage, a valuable life's lesson to be passed on to any hypothetical offspring he might produce some time in the future. Something about how life's unpredictable and you should make the most of it, or that mistakes don't cancel out, but tend to grow on one another.
So far he had "it sucks to be me."
It started twenty three years ago with a failed mandate for an electrum throne, which resulted in five hammerstrikes for the completely blameless Medtob Libasherith, master engineer, and the brilliant (if somewhat erratic) mind behind the mountainhome's vast system of water pipes and magma tunnels. Needless to say, he did not survive the punishment.
Soon afterwards, the noble who issued the mandate was found murdered by means of a lever-operated spike trap. The cleverness of the design pointed at Medtob's daughter, Udil, as the culprit. She was quickly found guilty and executed.
Thus died the second of two dwarves who knew how the weblike array of channels, floodgates, pipes, gears, waterwheels, pumps, and pressure plates actually worked.
However, Medtob wasn't called a genius for nothing. His design was precise, robust, fully automated, and uncharacteristically safe. A system of pressure plates and counterweight ensured that the magmaworks could work without stopping, and that the well always had a fresh water supply. The engineering detail knew better than to touch anything, and as a result the fortress enjoyed two decades of no mechanical breakdowns.
The massive flood, triggered by undermining the main artery of the water system, only served to prove how resilient Medtob's creation was. The water level in the well dropped by a couple of handspans, then returned normal within a day. A few dwarves complained about noise as several forgotten, sealed off pumping stations kicked in around the fortress. That was it.
And perhaps in the end it would've been better if some minor disaster did happen. It may have stopped the nobles from thinking that the magma channels were designed with similar redundancy. They may have not decided to cork the breach with an obsidian plug.
Even so, maybe they'd still have been reluctant if it wasn't for some crazed dwarf with a pick and a grudge, who gave the floodwaters release, turning the passage into the valley into a river of mud. As long as the flood was the mountainhome's private problem, everyone could've taken as long as needed to clean it up. But with the human, and then the dwarven caravan due in several months, this mess needed to disappear now, before their fortress became the laughingstock of the world.
A hasty tunnel was dug, and a system of pumps set up. The engineers carefully breached Medtob's system and slowly pumped magma up several levels and into the plug. The whole operation went off without a hitch.
And everything was fine up until the point where the central chamber under the royal magmaworks overflowed, burning two furnace operators alive and scorching off most of Milski's beard.
The only reason he was still alive at all, was that the emergency measure, i.e. dropping a few dozen metric tonnes of water into the 'works, malfunctioned.
Correction, the emergency release worked fine. It's just that there wasn't any water left in the tanks. A throughout examination determined that it was used to balance out the deficiency caused by the breach in the mines and was only starting to fill back up.
Either way, the magmaworks were sealed off and Milski was being treated for burns, when in waltzed some baron or other, and declared that he heard many wonderful things about weapons made of this stone called obsidian that the fortress now seemed to have, and he'd really like a sword made of it, so where's a weaponsmith he could entrust with the task?
And someone helpfully pointed at Milski. Who couldn't protest, since his face was all bandaged up.
And even though there was plenty of obsidian once they managed to flood the magmaworks, it didn't change the fact that he was a weaponsmith. He didn't know the next thing about working with stone.
And even though his best friend Iton who worked the craftshops, patiently walked him through constructing a wooden (wooden!) handle in such a way that it could be inset with obsidian "teeth", it didn't stop the shards Milski used from turning his hands into a gory mess.
So at this point Milski wasn't in the best of moods. In fact, he was feeling rather miserable. And his only mistake - the only mistake he was willing to admit to making - was that given a choice between acting out quietly now, or loudly and violently later, he went with the former.
The pain from the burns and the cuts on his hands, the story of Medtob that resurfaced due to the recent events, the death, and misery, and lack of of stability, it all swirled and twisted like cloudy beer in his mind, bubbled and strained, and spat out an image of the noble killed by Udil.
The image then found its way onto the sword's handle. It was fairly good, as far as Milski was concerned. And he did feel better for making it.
Until he found out that the baron who commissioned the sword was the son of the noble Udil killed.
At this point, as he stood with the group of dwarves who no longer had the right to call themselves dwarves, Milski wouldn't have been surprised if one of the muskoxes suddenly caught fire.
Not surprised at all.
This took way too long to write in a way I was satisfied with.
Pictures tommorow, once I get a chance to sleep for more than a few hours at a time.
Last edited by Maxymiuk; 2010-03-05 at 06:36 PM.