Urath-Book 4 Chapter 7:Masters of the Tower
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Here we see our bad boys as they posed in last months GQ (Gnomes Quarterly)
Brigit and Levi sped along the rails. The k'chung, k' chung as they passed over the connected rails was almost hypnotizing and soon began to come closer and closer together as they picked up more speed.
'Hold on!' Levi yelled.
Before Brigit could ask what was coming, she felt the wagons pick up speed suddenly and could see a sudden increase in the slope ahead, despite the darkness. The wagon train sped down the ever increasing slope at incredible speed. When Brigit was sure they would crash they came to the bottom and suddenly were heading up a slope. The momentum carried them up the incline and leveled out before they truly slowed down. Still coasting, Brigit could see light at the end of the tunnel and really understood that turn of phrase after this wild ride. The tunnel gave way to an open cavern and the other rails came into view again.
This cavern was smaller than the last, but was also illuminated by dwarfstones and three shafts that let in light from the surface. A dock or platform similar to the embarkation cavern was just ahead and this area looked to be under an even greater level of construction.
The three wagons continued to slow, but seemingly not enough to keep them from colliding violently with the wall ahead. Levi lifted another lever from the floor of the wagon they were on and then put her weight into it. A horrid screeching noise filled the stone cavern and the whole group slowed dramatically. Levi eased up a bit until they reached the platform then pushed hard on the lever again bringing them to a full stop. Brigit was duly impressed once again.
'Whad'ya think of that!' Levi exclaimed.
Brigit smiled and shook her head. 'Amazing and exhilarating. We covered, what, half a league in only a few minutes in loaded metal wagons. Incredible.'
'The gnomes call them cars.' Said Levi
Two gnomes were waiting and introduced themselves as Weir and Addwyn. Weir immediately reminded Brigit of the fellow she already met. The other, Addwyn, looked older and had a shaved head and prominent whiskers on his face. He caught Brigit's look and said. 'Weir is Fergus' twin.'
Brigit smiled and nodded.
'Glawd tew meet ya in person miss Brigit. Shalivar speaks a ya' highly.'
'Thank you Addwyn. Your works here are nothing short of impressive. Inspiring even.'
He smiled broadly and put down his load for a moment to bow. ' Tank ya so much missy. Yer words mean the sky. But yew gots to give credit to the Order tew. Without the fire magic we couldn't make it work.'
'A mutually beneficial relationship can work wonders.' Brigit replied.
'To be sure.' Addwyn smiled then picked up his burden to finish his task. Just then another small figure crawled from underneath one of the big machines. Covered in greasy looking grime and a head sporting some very curly hair he spoke aloud. 'Should be workin' smooth as silk now.'
'Thats what ya said before.' Prodded Fergus' twin, Weir. The other just scowled.
Levi smiled and waved to the small but muscular gnome.
'Aye! Gud ta see ya Levvy! And whew's the fine missy wid ya? Brigit I presume.'
'You presume right....' As she extended a hand to the gnome as he approached.
'Brach (Brock) atch yer service.' Before taking her hand he bowed the reached out and instead of a firm shake turned her hand and gave it a kiss. 'You are a beauty m'lady and am pleased ta meet ya.'
Brigit couldn't help but give a little laugh. Levi noticed this with awe, because Brigit was not really known for laughing much. Except when Levi's whiskey is involved.
'Thank you Brach. You are quite the charmer.' She thought she could see him blush but it was hard to tell under all the grease and grime.
'Tank ya lady. Yer tew kind.' Brach bowed again and joined the other two unloading the cars.
With smiles and whistling while they worked, they quickly unloaded the 'cars' moving the crates and boxes to various spots. Most of the crates seemed to be for here and a few were moved on wheeled carts into an open double doorway at the end of the platform. Brigit and Levi gathered up their few things and Levi led the way to the opening where a few of the crates were taken. Brigit saw massive geared machinery similar to the ones in the first hall, but these had cables and leading from them and into the walls and ceiling. They were obviously being used.
The air smelled of damp rock, metal and oil and was quite warm and humid. Steam rose from the machinery and Brigit sensed an obvious presence of fire elemental magic.
'What is all this for?' Brigit asked.
'Steamworks we calls it, my lady.' Said Addwyn. 'We've tapped into a water aquifer that feeds that big machine and then we super heat the water with some help from the fire magic the elves have provided. Then we tap the massive pressure from the steam and use it as force to operate the elevation car.' The diminutive figure explained all this with a sense she should know what he was talking about. Brigit got some of it, but was afraid to guess what an elevation car was.
Reacting with a smile to Brigit's raised eyebrow Addwyn added in, 'Dunt worry m'lady, we're professionals.' And added in a wink.
Levi led the way and the two women entered the small room beyond the double doors and the gnomes closed the doors behind them.
Before closing the doors Brach spoke up, 'You ready ladies?'
'As we'll ever be.' Replied Levi.
When the doors shut, Brigit heard a whoosh! And the sound of metal on metal. The small room they were in suddenly jerked and Brigit got the sudden sense of being pushed into the floor as she realized they were rising. 'Incredible.' She breathed. 'Where did these people come from?'
Levi smiled and offered up a short tale. 'Well, we've got a few minutes before we reach the top so I can fill you in a bit.'
'A group of these little folk, about fifty, showed up on the coast in one of their airships. It was actually in the water and the balloon had been stowed. The ship was very damaged and they were lucky they didn't sink. Though the ship could be sailed on the sea, it was in serious need of repair.'
'They were about twenty men and twenty women and the rest were children. Their story is that they came from the great archipelago in the middle of the Aegirhjem Ocean, the same place the people of Neuwaullen originated. They coexisted with those people, but were often forced in to servitude or to create some invention for the humans' needs. When it became clear a volcano was going to blow, the humans left but did not offer to take the Gnomorgon people with them. That was a thousand years ago now and despite the violent eruption of the volcano, enough of the archipelago survived as did many of the gnomes, as we call them now, that they were able to rebuild their society and now be free of any human dominance.'
'Resources, however, eventually began to dwindle and in the most recent years extreme measures were being taken to minimize the population. Birth controls and exiling criminals were among the most prominent. No one wanted to explore beyond the islands except for a few and so they too were exiled. The rulers reasoned that if they wanted to explore, then they had no reason to stay.' Levi shrugged and had a sour look on her face, Brigit sharing the look.
'Four ships were launched and only these fifty made it to the shores of Sylvanauro. One ship went missing in a storm and two others were seen to fall and sink into the ocean in the same storm. A very tragic tale, but it seems to have led to a happy new beginning. '
'When did all this occur?' Asked Brigit.
'Just after you left actually. An area of land was given to them by king Galaeus and in short time we began to work and learn from them. They seem to possess a certain mechanical magic and a natural ability to engineer and reverse engineer machines and just about anything else. They examined and modified the dwarfcrystals so they could be used underground. They realized that the light the crystals gave off could also be used to energize them. So they created enchanted reflective surfaces to partially surround the crystals creating a perpetual light source. They are not as bright as a true dwarfcrystal, but provide enough light, especially when using more than one.'
'Incredible. You'll have to tell me what else they've done. Mechanical lifts, cars, lights. And only partial magic. The potential is mind boggling.'
'That's an understatement really.' Said Levi.
With that the rising lift came to a sudden and shaking halt.
'Dammit!' Exclaimed Levi. 'Almost to the top and we stop. The guys usually get it restarted quickly.'
'Well if we have some time, perhaps you should fill me in on your crew and any more specifics on the mission ahead.' Said Brigit.
'The crew I've worked with many times and I trust with my life. I'll introduce them when we get to the top, they should all be assembled by now. As for the plan, it's fairly straightforward in design. We are looking for the Lost Tribe and hoping to find some survivors of Rilaun, but the main goal is to find the Lost Tribe and enlist their help in protecting the passes in the north.' Levi kept a steady eye on Brigit as she spoke, seemingly challenging her to scoff at this idea.
Brigit's eyebrow went up as soon as Levi mentioned the Lost Tribe. 'I'll assume you must have some new intelligence about the rebel elves or we wouldn't be doing this.'
Levis visibly relaxed. 'Yes. The last phoenix I summoned revealed their relative location to me in return for and unspecified favor when it asks.'
Brigit's face turned to shock and surprise. 'An unspecified favor!? You do realize the danger in that. You cannot refuse and if may be something literally impossible, in which case you will most likely forfeit your life!'
'I'm well aware of the dangers and am confident in what I'm capable of!' Levi said adamantly. 'The upcoming possibility of full scale war is too big to ignore any chance of gaining an advantage.' She calmed down, but her brow was squeezed in simmering anger. Brigit knew they would have to talk more about her absence, but that had to wait for now. Instead she offered some words that might support rather than detract.
'You sound more like someone thinking of the many rather than oneself. Someone who is a leader.'
Levi gave Brigit a look slight exasperation. 'Indeed. Well for now, you are the leader and you should have more information on the mission ahead, but all I have is that those of the Lost Tribe are in the highlands east of the passes to Jael's realm and east of what was Rilaun. The phoenix gave me the name Heladria and Iladro. They are the leaders.'
'So it would seem the so called Lost Tribe is not so lost. You understand their history do you not? They chose not to live under the King's rule and at a time of war left.'
'Yes I understand, but though that makes them rebels at that time, it does not make them our enemy and when it comes to Jael and Asmodeus, even they will not be able to hide.' Levi defended.
The lift car suddenly jolted and began to rise again.
'Let us hope they see it that way too.' Brigit ended with. Silently Levi agreed with her and silently she dread the promise she made to the phoenix. Powerful and unpredictable, but usually a force for good. She would face it in her time.
In less than a minute the lift slowed to a stop and the doors opened.
Thanks for stopping by and your time.