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December 12, 2012, 7:01 am

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A Dwarf on the Water

By:

A story about a young Dwarf, the girl he met and the Goddess he insulted.   

Today: A soul is lost



Exchanging a master-worked copper and steel crossbow for your soul, heart and home is a deal nobody would make knowingly.  But my 15-year old human girl named Kiijanavyre (KEE-jaw-nah-ver) was tricked into making that deal by a dwarf named Gorn when she climbed out of the surf and laid down in the bed of a nine foot long dwarven fishing currach. She had been one of my truly faithful, her soul carried all my echoes, and as I watched her wade out from the beach clutching that filthy piece of worked metal with her tears hidden by the spray of salt water: I wished the tide on that beach would pull her under and send me her soul.  But the great wager prevented my will from being manifested and she followed her own will out into the boat and away from me.     




             I am called Yaw’naw by Kiijanavyre’s people, and I am worshipped as a Goddess by humanity. I suppose I am a God, because my very existence shapes reality.  Before I existed life did not propagate on its own, nothing had a will to live, true my Uncle Droven had given the world existence, but I gave the world life and independence.  I allowed creation to self-replicate and adapt.  And I want the world to stay the way I envisioned it, a world of basic life, with free growth controlled only by whims and directed by chaos.  That is the true nature of creation, you may find patterns and form, but those are only the children of your own imagination, as when you look at a cloud and a see serpent or your mother in its misting blossom.  These patterns, these forms, are only the contraptions of a witted mind, even the other gods suffer these contraptions.  I fear I alone among my siblings see the Universe for what it is, and I am must convince those that shape the universe (the other Gods) of its true nature or the universe will never be fully realized. Rather than warring upon each other and destroying creation in the process our mother gave us humanity, and placed before us the great wager. The souls of humanity can occupy any of our visions, and the God who’s vision occupies the most human souls will be granted dominion over all creation.



Kiijanavyre’s parents had been faithful to me, bound their souls to me and raised Kiijanavyre to live as they did. She was taught to hunt and gather like an animal. They showed her how to live life freely with out oath or structure.  There were shades of my sister Bell’ra and my brother Obber in her soul, but it was still a beautiful free soul that consciously followed my path over those other influences.  When I first begin my relationship with humanity, I would ask my faithful to kill these young forms in their prime, before they could be corrupted, and you may ask why didn’t I take Kiijanavyre in such a fashion. 



If I am to lament the loss of these young souls when the other forces of creation push them away from me, should my faithful send up their souls before they are corrupted?  I will answer this using a of phrase of the dwarves “I have to play the long game”, these human sacrifices gained me a few souls true, but they corrupted the souls of those that carried out the sacrifices and pushed away those that might come to me.  My mother was wise when she constructed these humans, a life must be lived, chaos must be allowed to work that life and I must have faith that my way is the true way.   I had placed faith in Kiijanavyre and so had her family.  And that was our flaw, we asked too much of her, and she gave too much of herself.  Then she and our faith was corrupted by a dwarven teamster named Gorn. 



Kiijanavyre was chosen by her parents and the druid that advised them to leave her home in my forests and travel across plains of Bell’ra's faithful, over the Dwarven mountains to the sea and receive an item of no general value but an item vital to the survival of my forests. The journey was not one of great physical risk, it was late spring when she was leave, and she would be traveling with a caravan of dwarves, professional travelers and members of the dwarven teamsters guild that guaranteed her safety. The journey would take her through guarded safe countryside. Indeed my forests and the chaos they cradled was more a threat to her physical well being than any dwarven road she might travel along. In the ways of my people Kiijanavyre had just reached the age of adulthood.  At the age 15 she could leave her parents shelter, have her own children and make her won choices.  These young adults are most often the ones spared for these types of task.  Those with families need to tend to their, and the very old do not have the energy for such trips.  Of the young adults among my faithful Kiijanavyre was a singular talent.  She was chosen to take this journey because she had shown a skill for languages, possessed a great deal of physical and personal charm, and most of all she wanted to go.  She wanted to see the mountains and the ocean.  When the dwarven caravan of five ox carts entered the forest, she was excited and anxious to leave.  It just never occurred to her or me that she wouldn’t come home.  


8 days before: The first day of Gorn and Kiijanavyre

 

The past ten days had been the loneliest Kiijanavyre had ever known, but yet in her soul I did not see despair.  I have never understood the self satisfied suffering of young humans, but I feel that is the corrupting influence of my sister Ullena. Ullena had always chosen not to create and I wonder if her gifts to the world are truly gifts of destruction. Upon entering the Ven mountains the dwarven caravan with which Kiijanavyre was traveling split up.  Most of the caravan, including all the handlers took a north branch of the road directly past Goldenfraye falls leaving Gorn and Kiijanavyre to travel east along the high ridge roads of the Ven mountains alone.  The ridge roads were large sweeping landscapes that scared Kiijanavyre. Even the expanse of the stars and night, while beautiful seemed so immense that she felt she might get swallowed or crushed by all the sky. Unlike the plains outside her home forest, the horizon seemed to never end and the stars and sky appeared both above and below her.  The nights were freezing and there was no fuel to burn along the ridge roads.  There was little food and what Gorn did make for her she found barely palatable. He did not speak to her and the only interaction he really had with her was to take the crossbow and document she had received at Goldenfraye falls and place them in the bench box on which he sat while guiding his teams of oxen. 



There were some strange moments, they passed along two ridges with numerous pillar of smoke coming out the ground and a lot of small structures and statues of dwarves along the ridge.   Also around these smokey fields had a good deal more traffic. The dwarves around these smokey and congested roads looked different then Gorn, most them didn’t dye their beards, they had smooth white skin, not at all like the rough brown hide that Gorn sported.  These were the tops of  underground dwarven cities and among the small structures were teamster houses, where Gorn would change out oxen.  Although Gorn seemed cruel and indifferent to Kiijanavyre most of the time, he did make some kind gestures when they stopped to change teams. Both of the times he acquired Kiijanavyre a pitcher of fresh water, and he traded a few pieces of pressed metal for piece of fresh cooked meat for her to eat.


When they came to the end of ridge roads it was dark, and they rounded the southern side of the great of peak Ironspear to make their final descent to the coast.  Ironspear is a mountain that over looks the ocean and the largest dwarven city, as called Ironspear.  Gorn and Kiijanavyre passed through the city of Ironspear, along the metropolis’s great central road that descends from the Ironspear ridge all the way to the sea.  As my Uncle Zapotech made is his appearance over the ocean, Kiijanavyre took stock of the city. Foreign and strange smelling though it was, the city felt more a home to Kiijanavyre than any place she had been in over a week.  The wide views of the wind swept, treeless ridge roads she and Gorn had traveled since departing the rest of the caravan had been frightening. Kiijanavyre was after all 15 year old girl born and raised in a dense old growth forest.  In the forest you could rarely see more than 100 yards in front of you. Kiijanavyre felt enclosed in the forest, safe.  The city was much the same, buildings took the places of thickets and trees.  The sounds of work shops, haggling, pack animals and the approaching surf stood in place of the sounds of insects, birds and the wind in trees.



The ocean was grey green, and the sky grey blue, but not like the grey and blue of the Nili sea.  And the waves of this ocean were furious; they were each tiny storms that came tumbling onto the rock covered beaches.  Gorn stopped the wagon directly at end of the road before the oxen took a step onto the pebbled beach. Kiijanavyre jumped out the back and Gorn secured the break and climbed  down from the driver’s bench. Kiijanavyre scanned the beach for Jumata, the young man sent as a courier whom she was to meet and travel back home with.  The beach was a wide crescent that jutted out into the ocean at the southern end to make a small bay, she new from having seen the lay out of the land form the road on the other side of that jetting spear of rock was another bay. That bay had wooden wharfs and docks for larger ships.  This bay had no such structures, but there were many ships or small boats (she did not know the difference) pulled on to the beach.  Dwarves were tending them, hulling out nets of fish, patching holes in the hulls, and generally behaving like seafaring folk.  She did note however, that almost all the dwarves working on the beach had their beards dyed bright unnatural colors.



 Gorn walked up next to her and spoke. She was so startled by the sound his voice that a shiver ran down her spine. “I grew up on the ocean, just up the coast a town called Quartzhammer.  My father was in the fisherdwarf’s guild up there, he has currach, like those.” His tone sounded familiar and respectful. She looked at him for long moment than looked around to see if perhaps this was another dwarf that looked like Gorn and the real Gorn was nearby.

 

“I thought dwarves were afraid of the water” she replied.

 

“Please do not say dwarves are afraid of the water, or anything else that other humans told you.  It is not a fact.  Saying dwarves are afraid of water, is stating a conclusion. A conclusion that was based on an observation which is based on facts.  The fact, the FACT, that you don’t know the difference between a conclusion, an observation and a fact, I conclude, is what separates human thought from dwarven thought.” She recognized the tone he was using, it was the same as he when commanded Coalvine to leave caravan.

 

Her face flushed red and that surprised her.  There was something about this place, the homesickness, the tiredness, the hunger, it all made her feel vulnerable. In this strange place Gorn was the only being with which she had a connection, the only thing that was not unfamiliar, and having Gorn speak to her after weeks of stoic silence felt nourishing.  Yet his tone was painful. My poor Kiijanavyre, she was so lonely  that she would put with abuse from this fool dwarf. She had lost her usual flippant tone and responded this emotion choked plea “Gorn please....stop...it is not fair... you won’t talk to me...I asked you to talk to me...the first day I met you...and now... how am I supposed to learn anything...please just tell me what it is I should know.”

 

Gorn nodded in agreement or dismissal she could not tell but it certainly was not an apology. If the dwarf was aware of Kiijanavyre emotional state, he did not let it on. Gorn spoke, his tone harsh and unchanged,“Please, let us go talk to the fisherdwarves, they will have known if your human named….”

 

“Jumata.” 

 

“....has been on this beach”

 

They asked the dwarves working the boats before coming to a dwarf gutting a fish outside a small smoke house just above the tide line. This fisherdwarf pointed them to a group four seadwarves standing in the surf holding a 9 foot open boat steady, a as fifth dwarf loaded it with items from a pile of baggage further up the beach.

 

Kiijanavyre and Gorn approached the five dwarves and Gorn spoke to them, while Kiijanavyre could not understand what they were saying she was impressed at quantity of the speech produced by the sea dwarf and the speed at which it was generated. They were glib. They spoke to Gorn and back and forth to each other.  Their tone and animation, even when balanced in rough waves reminded her of her people talked and seemed nothing like the behaviors of the dwarves she had seen since leaving the forest. After few minutes, Gorn nodded to the dwarves and left them to finish launching their boat. Gorn lead Kiijanavyre back towards the city without a word. She assumed that his query had yield no information about Jumata and that he was giving up on getting information from the dwarves along the North bay. 


 “Shouldn’t we check the southern bay, see if Jumata arrived there.” Kiijanavyre asked

 


“They know where he is” Gorn gestured at the dwarves launching the boat.



 “Where is he?!”, she shouted and jumped. Kiijanavyre had never liked Jumata, but all of sudden she was excited to find him, talk to a human from her home and finally be on her way back. 



 “He is on island, called Eight, he is being cared for by the Nobles that own the island and he is waiting for boat bound for Ironspear. Those dwarves fished him out of the water…recently…and dropped him off on the Island.  They would have taken him to Ironspear, but they were heading to Mota, which is four hundred miles south of here.”



 “Then why are they here,” Kiijanavyre snapped, disappointed, still hungry and understandably frustrated with Gorn.

 


“You have to understand seadwarves to understand what happened. We will just have to wait till they arrive and could be days.”



 “Why don’t we go get him.”

 


“He may have already left, he could arrive today or next week.  If he is going to be carried here by seadwarves than we should wait.”


“There is no wood on the beach, will need a fire.” Kiijanavyre said feeling the cold sea breezes.


“We will spend the nights in the guild hall, lower Ironspear is not safe at night.”



 “Why not?”



 Gorn sighed and paused “We will be here for a while, and you are write, I should teach you something of the dwarves.  Now that I will not be spending all day leading my team, I was be able to devote some energy to your...education.  Some energy...you can ask me one question for each day we wait, no more.”


 


“Why just one question?”



“I want to you learn how to ask a good question?” 



“Okay, do these fisherdwarves” she said gesturing the dwarves on the beach "do they travel out to the island with Jumata?”


"No."


“How do we know he won’t arrive here at night? And why did asking why I could only ask one question count as todays question? Is that fair?”


 “Those are three more questions I am not going to answer today.You already asked your one question today, and you are not just asking me to clarify my answer, you are asking a whole new question. Now we will wait here till sunset and return tomorrow to continue the watch.” Gorn spoke these words with a tone that suggested a smile but his face betrayed no emotion. 





39 days before: The day my faithful meets her corrupter



 There were 12 dwarven teamsters in the caravan and to Kiijanavyre the sight of them was stunning. They looked like nothing she had ever seen before.  She had seen the Dwarven exiles that lived in the Mitirangu villages, so she knew that a dwarf had tan wrinkled skin, folded ears that stuck straight out from their heads, their ears looked like some body had pinched a human ear shut, their heads were larger then human heads and their eyes were twice the size of any man’s though proportional.  And of course there were the beards that hung past their waste and seem to extend up the sides of their face to join the hair on their heads. The beards almost joined with the great bushy eye brows that stuck out from their heads.  The dwarves she had seen previously had beards the color of human hair that were either grey or black, they spoke Mitirangu (the common human tongue in the villages) and they wore the same plain butternut tunics that all the human farmers wore.  The forest people, my followers, wore mostly animal skin clothing or nothing at all. When Kiijanavyre first saw Gorn, she had climbed an old ash tree to watch the wagons travel up a shallow stream towards the glade were her father and the druid waited.  She nearly fell from the tree at the site of him. Would that she had fallen, her soul would still be mine.



Gorn’s beard was dyed sky blue, her wore a soft leather hat with a brim at least two hands wide and it was dyed a sunflower yellow. The right side of the brim had been pinned to top of the hat with a peacock feather revealing the light catching crystal jewelry that dangled from his right ear.  He wore pants like some huaman dids, but they were a deep purple embroidered with silver thread and small semi-precious stones.  He wore a vest, purple as well, though she could not see it clearly and his arms were bare revealing wrinkled brown skin pilled on top of thick roped muscles all covered in soft blonde hair that glowed in the sunlight.  Everything about him seemed to catch the light. 



The other dwarves were not less spectacular to Kiijanavyre, the next driver had a bright green beard, the one behind him a pink beard, and walking along side the five wagons were 7 other dwarves each with distinctive outfits and beard colors one even had his beard divided into 7 braids each a different color of the rainbow. Once they passed, she descend the tree and followed the caravan up and out the stream and into clearing were the druid waited for them. Kiijanavyre stood anxiously next to one of the diseased and ailing oak trees at the edge of the clearing and watched my faithful outline the journey that would change her life.



 The druid who spoke dwarven, conversed with the pink bearded dwarf. It was an odd juxtaposition, one that Kiijanavyre accepted too readily for my taste. The druid was a tall lithe middle-aged woman with straight fine black hair that extended down her back and she wore nothing but a large loop of twine with leaves tied to it that stretched from her right shoulder to her left hip. When the druid spoke it was almost like a dance, she made wide gestures with her arms, stooped, hopped and shifted her weight as she spoke. It seemed that the forest responded to her gestures, except for the oak trees like the one Kiijanavyre leaned against. The dwarf, to borrow a phrase from Bell’ra’s faithful, “looked like a turd in the soup”.  He didn’t belong in my forests, with a team of castrated animals that moved for fear of his lash. He was adorned with fine clothing covered in worked gem stones, and he had an eye for only what he could get from the woods.  If the dwarf said any thing in response to Kiijanavyre’s Druid, Kiijanavyre could not see it.  He was completely still and to my Kiijanavyre he looked a painted stump.  After the negations were finished, the druid excused herself before money could be exchanged and exited the clearing towards Kiijanavyre. She paused long enough to place her hand on the oak tree, the look of her of grief on her face turned into a warm but demanding smile as her gaze settled on Kiijanavyre.  Then, having made her case, she walked past Kiijanavyre without speaking. Seeing the druid fade into the trees Kiijanavyre’s father brought out a bag of coin from with his elk skin shirt.  He gestured Kiijanavyre over from the edge of the clearing and the Pink bearded dwarf gestured for Gorn.  Gorn and Kiijanavyre were soon a single pace apart in the middle of clearing.



Kiijanavyre’s father spoke in Mitirangu his Ivanial accent still heavy after many years , “Here is da coin, Dere are four golden planks and 18 silver’d pieces.  Dea goods you are too pick up are still being gadered, we should have dem ready by night 'all. Da apples are here, 'orty sacks,  just as 'resh’d as when dey were picked danks to Yaw’naw.   Mus'rooms, are in da sacks, why 'ife is still binding herbs, and da skins are still being gadered.  Dis is my daughder, Kiijanavyre, she will be tra..veil...ing to Ironspear and returning with item detaileds in da contract.” Kiijanavyre’s father couldn’t read but her father had paid with goods a traveling Priest Droven to draft a contract. “Kiijanavyre speak few 'ords of dwa..oar..ven but may'aps you could 'elp her speak a 'ew more be'ore see comes 'ome.”



It was clear to Kiijanavyre that the pink bearded dwarf did not understand Mitirangu, but Gorn spoke up to translate. His translation was “Hur ba theek” he said. Meaning “They are not ready to leave”. Kiijanavyre only recognized the word ba, meaning no. The pink bearded dwarf nodded and gestured towards Kiijanavyre. Gorn spoke again, this time to Kiijanavyre. This would be first of only three conversations they would have over the 30 days between my forest and that long corrupting conversations they would share on the Ironspear shore.  “Kiijanavyre,” Gorn said in Mitirangu, his accent perfect. He squared his wide body opposite hers. Though he was likely 4 stone heavier then Kiijanavyre, they were the same height. She smiled at him, Kiijanavyre’s upper lip had a deep thin scar in it and she was missing two upper teeth just beneath the scar.  “You will be riding with me to Ironspear.”




“That will be wonderful” she said. 




“It is not wonderful, it is convenient, I am the only driver that speaks your language.”




“Even better, you can help me learn dwarven.”




“I won’t.” Gorn said. He looked at her father and looked at her. “Are you in good health, your cheeks looks swollen did you break your teeth.” 




“Oh, no that happened a long time ago" Kiijanavyre stuck a finger in the gap where  an incisor and an canine use to be.   She tilted her head so Gorn could see more clearly.  "The swelling went do a long time ago, my mom just says a I have the cheeks of a ground squirrel.” She poked her cheeks with her fingers to demonstrated their pliancy.




“Are you feverish, why is your skin spotted? Does your family have a pox”




“Spotted? I am not spotted”




Gorn used two wide calloused fingers to point at her arm and her fathers arm.




“Oh those are freckles, my father has them too, we are fair skinned.” Kiijanavyre said cheerfully.




“How old are you? Why do you have white hair?” Gorn asked




Kiijanavyre’s name mean “frozen leaf head or head of ice leaves” and her hair is truly a light brown, but she has a single streak of white hair on the right side of her head. She was born with it, I have always suspected that one of the other gods tried to mark her for something, to interfere in the world of men by shaping her destiny.  I am still not sure they didn’t, and this suspicion caused me to keep my gazes abreast with Kiijanavyre’s path in the world. I think perhaps Gorn saw something special in her as well. She explained to him that she was 15 winters old and that her hair had always been this way.




“15? It could not have been a long time ago when you broke your teeth” Gorn replied, “My wagon has the stars on the wheels…”




“I know which one is yours…”




“Please put your baggage on it, please don’t touch the brakes and please stay with it till we are ready to leave.”




“No, I want to show you around first,” she exclaimed with a smile, a clap of the hands and a small hop. Gorn eyes rounded such that Kiijanavyre thought his orbits might break. His forehead folded up from dry cracked plain to series of sandstone ridges. Kiijanavyre would see this expression often, and never quite learn what this expression meant. Eventually she decided that this look did not express pleasure or approval. But Kiijanavyre in her pure dedication to me took the five ox drivers around the little glen of trees where she and her extended family lived.  She took them to the make shift winery, where the dwarves drank all the wine, she took them to the pond where they fished, showed them the tents they lived in and the berry pushes that were in bloom and would have fruit soon.  The dwarves were polite and looked at everything with a stoic node, and took what ever was offered.  It never occurred to Kiijanavyre that a grown adult would do something they didn’t want to do.  But guilddwarves tend to respect the client. 



39 days before: The second conversation



Kiijanavyre’s second conversation with Gorn came as the wagon train was leaving the clearing loaded with wares and dwarven grumblings about the schedule. The wagons were four wheeled flat bed items made with the bed resting three feet above the ground and the driver sitting on a raised box at the front the wagon. The wagon’s driver’s bench was a rectangular box with a hinged seat raised up from the frame of the wagon, like a small chest.  In front of it was the floor board that had two metal rods extending through slits in the floor and then turning 90 degrees to make inverse L shapes.  These were the brake pedals, Gorn pushed on them with light tension and there was a snap of one spring then another and the wagon rocked back and forth slightly. Kiijanavyre made to climb up onto the driver’s bench next to Gorn and she noticed a large round water smoothed flat bottomed beige rock sitting next to him.  It must have been at least the size of Gorn’s head and had little sparkling flecks of crystals in it. 




“Move the rock” she said




Gorn’s eyes widened “Please ride in the back, my rock stays here, I need it here.”




“What for?” Kiijanavyre asked




“I pet it.” He laid a hand on the stone




“You have a pet rock?” she asked climbing over the stone into the back with the supplies of ox oats and dwarven rations. But that was the end of the conversation and Gorn snapped his large pull whip and his team of four oxen began to move.

 


The wagon train headed southeast for most of that day, they exited the forest at sunset and started trecking across the long expanses of farmland maintained by the followers of my sister Bell’ra.  As the wagon train creeked slowly across the field paths, Kiijanavyre marveled at the expanse of the sky.  She had been out the forest at night before and seen how the sky opened up out on the plains, how the stars stretched from one horizon to the other, but still she marveled.  She was amazed that dwarves did not, the drivers seemed to be  singularly focused on the oxen.  They were like statues or puppets, their moves were only deliberate they did not fidget or shift as humans would do in their place.  When the sliver of the second moon was low in the sky, the pink bearded dwarf whistled something and the team turned off the road towards a small pond. 



As the oxen’s drank, Kiijanavyre’s was struck at how quiet the fields were at night compared to the forest. Then a feint sound of laughter broke the night air. Kiijanavyre looked around to find the source of the noise and discovered that it was wafting in from a distance.  The pond was in  a small depression, and Kiijanavyre’s ran up the low rise to more precisely know where that laugh came from, Gorn ran after her.  Standing at the top the rise she could see the source.  Less than a mile away from the pond there was a cluster of sod houses and one wooden frame structure with light pouring out its door and a controlled cloud of cooking smoke rising out from its roof. Kiijanavyre’s was told that her mother had been born in a hamlet such as that one, and that the wood built houses would be the houses of Bell’ra. Bless Kiijanavyre’s soul, she felt an aversion at the sight of another faith, a desire to run back to me and her parents. The sight of this other way of life threatened her.  She turned quickly from the hamlet and saw that Gorn was a foot away from her and was not looking at the view, but looking at her. His eyes widened and he gestured back at the wagons.


7 days before:  What is a dwarf on the water?



Kiijanavyre had spent the night in a small cell of a large granite building, the teamster’s guild hall, and after breaking fast on water and beer. Gorn and Kiijanavyre returned to the beach. Then my precious Kiijanavyre asked her first question of the dwarf that would lead to her eventual corruption.



“Why don’t you expect dwarven boatmen or the seadwarves or whatever you call them to arrive in timely fashion?”



“Cause they are insane, that is a conclusion, based on observations, that I have found to be factual.  They are insane not because they are delusional, they don’t believe they are gods or think they can smelt steel form their beards, they are insane because no dwarf on the water is in possession of his full faculties.  But also," he shook his finger knowingly at this point, "but also because society considers them insane, every respectable dwarf treats them as insane.  Please understand Kiijanavyre a dwarf needs to be in contact with earth.  Earth speaks to us.  Take this beach for example, it is moving right now.” He kicked a few pebbles under his feet, and dug a little rut in the gravel with his boot toe.  “Beaches are special because the water pulls their skin off and if you can stand in surf or even near the surf you can feel the ground being pulled out, but this beach is also moving another direction, it is moving west away from the ocean and south.  We dwarves can tell if there is even the slightest incline in the ground, we tell how strong a stone is and we can feel what it is made of, you see Kiijanavyre the earth is a marvelous conglomerate of creation that sings like a choir, only a trained ear can pick out an individual voice.” The sound of Gorn saying her name and using so many words she didn’t know made her blush. “Some dwarves are quicker to notice these things than others, good mining dwarves can feel changes in the rock thickness.  My brother’s wife is a mine surveyor in one of the guilds in the city of Tincry.  If you were to walk her along a flat uniform rock face, she can tell you how thick the rock is at any given point.  All dwarves can do this, I could do it, she is just a little faster on the uptake as they say.   Yet to understand the earth you have to be close enough to feel the earth, or I as the priests say ‘Hear the voice of Droven’. For example right now, even though I staring at this loud ocean I can hear Ironspear mountain behind us, pushing its way up, and shedding its skin like a snake, but I can’t feel the different curves, the different pits and angles of the mountain.  I would have to be on the mountain to hear that.




       "Now, think about the seadwarves, imagine the decisions you would make if you couldn’t hear or feel anything, if you were deaf and numb?  Most beings would use caution, they would take their actions carefully so their other senses could compensate for what they lost.   The sea dwarves are anything but cautious like that, they willingly work all day in a stone deaf environment.  If you were to take any dwarf form Ironspear, doesn’t matter if he is an experienced Seadwarf or not and you put him on raft in the middle of a lake, he will have no sense of direction and no sense of time, he won’t know what is up, down, left or right.  That because we dwarves are always listening the earth, even in our sleep the earth is drawing maps in our mind.  If the sun,”  Gorn gestured at the grey sky “were to be blocked out even more than it is now and everything were black…no let says you cut out my eyes” Kiijanavyre flinched at that thought.  “I would be able to walk right back up to the wagon, if I were in Quartzhammer where I was raised, I could walk through whole town and never bump into single corner or stone because I have been there before and remember how the earth in every stone and piece of dried wood sounds. Of course things changes if the earth moves, you would have to draw a new map in your mind and that means talking to time to listen to all the stones.  The ocean is always moving, and so a dwarf never knows where he is. Return to that idea of a dwarf on a raft I mentioned earlier, lets say that raft is on the river Parna, slow moving wide river, and is floating down the river, besides being dizzy, he is likely to walk right off the raft.  ” 




        Kiijanavyre said “But there is earth in the river bed, there is earth on the river bank” and Gorn’s  eye widened and brow folded into that familiar expression, and then his face cracked open. The crack was so sudden Kiijanavyre flinched and took a step back.  Gorn was smiling at her, her heart skipped a beat, and she flushed and looked away. 




         “I will just count that as part of your first question, as it seems you received no education from your parents.  Everything is made up of one of the four elements: air, fire, water or earth.”




         “The soul is made from the fifth element…” Kiijanavyre was embarrassed that Gorn felt the need to give such a basic introduction to the way the world, and she wanted to redeem herself in his eyes by adding a fact.  But his smile snapped away and he raised a hand to silence her. 




         “We dwarves were made from stone, from the earth, we may have been forged in fire fanned by air and cooled in water, but those elements make up very little of us.  We have no equilibrium if we are not in contact with the earth.  Even when riding in the wagon, I get dizzy and have trouble sensing direction.  This why driving a cart is such a skill, most dwarves could not do it.”




           “The stone on the bench next to you... helps you to stay centered.” Kiijanavyre guessed.




            “It keeps me from falling off the cart, but I still lose track of time.  I have to look at the sun or moon to tell whether or not to rest the oxen. Most sea dwarves wear a rock around their neck so they can feel the ship move.  You see if you just stick a human in boat and the boat rocks the humans feels it, he responds to it before he falls.  A dwarf would not feel it, cause they are not close enough to the ground.  Human children spin around in circles to make themselves dizzy, dwarven children do not, a dwarf would never lose their sense of direction while standing on earth.  A seadwarf with a stone around his neck can feel the stone move and thus knows the ship is moving.  Despite that a dwarf on the water is a lost dwarf.  What is worse is that dwarves have no sense of time on the water. My father would take me and my brother to work in the boat when we were young, I remember being out on the water as boy on moonless starless nights, and there was no way of knowing how much time has passed.  You see Kiijanavyre the earth always knows how much time is passing, but the other elements flicker and flutter with time.  Some nights I would feel like I had been out there for only a minute and then see the sunrise, other nights I would feel lost and abandoned like I had been on the water for days, and then count me breaths and find I may have only been there for few heart beats.  That is why those dwarves missed Mota by 400 miles, they have no compass, no sense of time and they are just as prepared to die as they are to make a profit. Please understand also that seadwarves are a fatalistic group, every one of them assumes they are going to drown on the next trip and their bodies will never be buried in the way Droven commands and their souls will never be returned to Droven’s workshop.”



“Why do they do it, I am just asking for a clarification within the answer.”


Kiijanavyre said.  Gorn smiled again.


 

“My father was seadwarf-fisher dwarf really, he drowned of course, but he loved the ocean. He loved how it was something the clans couldn’t control, he loved the risk, and most of all he loved the wealth of the sea.   ‘Gorn’ he would say ‘it is all there, out there oysters make gem stones, there is food and materials a plenty.’  He was still a dwarf focused on raw materials, he had the soul of gatherer or a hoarder.  He embodied many of the things people criticize about the guilds, he didn’t craft anything.   But growing up on the sea I saw, another possibility for wealth, I saw merchants and middlemen.  So I am seadwarf like my father, I just ride across the land. “


38 days:  Kiijanavyre does battle with a Priest and has her first dwarven meal  



Just before dawn on the second day of Kiijanavyre's journey, the wagon train pulled into a larger hamlet, almost a town. Kiijanavyre could smell bread being baked at the local house of Bell’ra and in the grey morning light saw the brown skinned Mitirangu worshippers of Bell’ra walking out towards fields, groggy but spirited.  They each spoke a greeting to the train as they passed, some even in dwarven, but the dwarves remained stoic. The town had an outpost from the Teamster’s guild.  The guild's carriage house was the only hybrid structure in town, made from rough cut stone as well as timber. It produced another set of dwarves in day glow beards, that changed out the teams for all the wagons with fresh oxen.  As Kiijanavyre waited outside the Teamster’s simple carriage house a Mitirangu man wearing a butternut robe of rough flax cloth approached her.  He was carrying an unglazed ceramic pitcher and a loaf of steaming bread. He was priest of Bell’ra who offered the bread and suggested that the way of Bell’ra provided warmth and comfort to all.  The Dwarves had not stopped to eat or drink since they left 16 hours ago, but as hungry as she was and a much as she cherished the experience of eating that warm bread, her soul never even flicker away from me.  Kiijanavyre was not one to be corrupted by simple comforts.


“My name Fillaiwa.” The priest said once Kiijanavyre had begun eating.  He spoke Mitirangu as native but his accent suggested that he did not come from this area. 


“Thank you for the warm wheat bread, Fillaiwa” Kiijanavyre answered. 


The Priest smile warmly and sat down on the long wood bench the ajoined the teamster’s carriage house. Kiijanavyre sat on the wet ground, using the bench as a table to eat from. He spoke, “You are a Mitirangu as well, I thought because your light skin that you might be an Ivanvil.”


Kiijanavyre replied in Ivanvil “E vara omse”   


The priest smiled and warmly said, “I am sorry I didn’t understand.”


E vara omse, it is Ivanvil, it means ‘I am both’.  You see my father is Ivanvil and my mother Mitirangu.” She took a bite of the bread and before swallowing said “You see Priest, isn’t silly to dry and draw lines between people.”  Her tone was aggressive and condescending. I think the priest was not use to being spoken to in such a fashion, particularly by teenage girls. 


“I don’t draw lines…I may see them, but I don’t draw them…but the way of Bell’ra is not just for the Mitirangu, Ivanvil, Sabatallee and men and women of every race should follow her path.”


“Well priest, I have always thought that we should follow our owns paths, and once we build a house like yours, build a village this one, we are following the path of the village not our own path.”


Fillaiwa came to a long over due realization. He looked at Kiijanavyre anew, he saw her elk skin tunic, her bare calloused feet, and her mixed heritage and realized that he was talking with one of my followers.  Living so close to the great forest Fillaiwa was accustomed to the arguments that my faithful made regarding villages and freedom. 


“Did the Druid’s teach you that?”  he asked his tone no longer warm.  


Kiijanavyre’s nature has always been flippant, though I never saw in her a desire to offend.  She was one of those young humans that thought rudeness from her was charming . “You are quicker than I thought, but I am also learning it for myself right here and now in this village.” She took a large drink of water, she was getting excited at the prospect of arguing with a Priest.  She was confident that the arguments she had learned from the druid would be enough show this priest the holes in his religion.  I loved her confidence, even if I knew it was misplaced, she was young and had not yet met the intractability of dogma.  She would have been better served to try her arguments on a common man, instead of an indoctrinated holy man. But I must confess, I too as eager to see what Kiijanavyre could do in her first battle. 


The priest of Bell’ra was clever and a little mean, so he did not take Kiijanavyre’s bait and ask what she learning about the village. Instead he chose to probe his opponent. “I am surprised you know who your father is, I thought that the children of Yaw’naw faithful were conceived at the festivals. Are you certain he was Ivanvil?”

Kiijanavyre blushed, she had not yet been to festival as an adult.   It was not the topic of parentage that made her nervous, it was the reminder that she would be expected to attend a festival this year and potentially bare a child. “I was conceived outside a festival, and my parents live together and raised me together.”


“I bet you are your father’s favorite of all your sibilings,” Fillaiwa said with a flattering smile.  This time Kiijanavyre took his bait.


She smiled, “I might be, why do you say so?” 


“Several reason, one I am sure that some of your sibilings, however many you have…were conceived at a festival and thus don’t resemble your father as you do.  Furthermore, you are his oldest daughter?”


“Yes, how did you…”


“Among the Ivanvil, the oldest daughter is special, an heir to the clan leadership and such, even if your father lives a very different life than the Ivanvil tribes, he lived it long enough to learn the language well enough to teach it to his favorite daughter.  Because he lived that life so long he can’t completely divorce that upbringing from who he is….”


Kiijanavyre stopped him and through a mouthful of bread asked, “What does divorce mean?”


The priest replied, “It means to separate, you see I can tell that you are father’s favorite daughter because the book of Bell’ra tells me that during a child’s early years…”



Kiijanavyre had heard of books, but she had never seen one.  “How can a book tell you, I thought books didn’t speak, I thought they just had symbols,” she interjected.


“True, but those symbols mean things…”


“Why do you need symbols to mean something, why not just know what things are, I don’t need to put a symbol on Oak tree to know it is an Oak tree,” she was the Druid’s best student.


“We you say ‘Oak tree’, those spoken words themselves are a symbol, we could not discuss Oak tree’s away from an Oak tree without it.”


Kiijanavyre stared at the priest blankly for a moment, she had not thought of this.  “No a symbol is something you draw, it is a mark you make.” Oh my poor girl, her first day defending the faith and this cruel priest had side tracked her. 


“A symbol is anything that reminds you of something that isn’t there, a good symbol reminds everyone who knows it of the same thing,” he was aggressive in his tone now.


Kiijanavyre had been taught everything the druids had to offer regarding the nature of religion and she was not going to give up. She now tried a different tact to try convince this priest that his beliefs were wrong and foolish.  “So you learned about Bell’ra from a book, who wrote this book?”


“Wisemen wrote it, they recorded the wisdom of others who gained it from experience.”  


“You see,” she was prepared for this particular point “Why read the book at all, why not just talk to wisemen, why not just go practice the arts described in the book?" She dropped her bread on the bench and point at he chest with both hands. "I know things because somebody taught me, I saw it or I did it, I don’t need a book to act as go-between. We acquire knowledge directly,” the last sentence was direct quote from her Druid.   


“The book is no different than the spoken word, you should not feel threatened by it.” Fillaiwa changed tactics once again.  “How old are you?”


“I just turned 15 two moons ago.”


“So you are now old enough to attend Yaw’naw’s festivals as a woman, but the spring festival is next week, if you are still with these dwarves you will miss it.  Why are you traveling with these dwarves instead of worshipping freedom and inhibition in the woods with your mother and father?”  This priest was cruel and intuitive, he knew she was avoiding the festival and was little embarrassed by her actions. I am surprised my sister would allow such a wicked man to be her servant. 


Kiijanavyre blushed again, “There is something very important, more important that the festival, and I have to that …, I need to make sure that the dwarves bring something back from the coast.” 


“There is another thing, I know that the Teamsters will not work without a contract, which is a written document, how did you work that if you don’t read or write.”


“We paid a Priest of Droven, another dwarf, to write the contract for us.”


“How do you know what it said?”


“My father talked to the Priest directly, looked him in the eye and trusted him,” there was some fear Kiijanavyre’s voice.  She began to feel over her head.  It was a feeling with which she was not well acquainted. I think this fear shamed the priest a bit because his tone suddenly shifted.


“I am sorry young girl,” he looked at her again. He really looked at her and I believe he saw through his prejudices and looked again at the tired hungry girl before him.  He said “I will pray for your safety and your well being, I hope that you have many healthy children …in your own time.  This trip to the coast is a long journey for young girl, even if she is an adult, and I do not wish you any harm.  Between here and the coast there are a lot more villages like this one and lot more priests…like myself.  Indeed they are probably kinder than I am, and better followers of Bell’ra than I am.  If you seek them out in a village they will always make a gift of food or beer to you.  It is our way.  Also be mindful of the dwarves, they are not human.  Do not expect them to behave like humans.  They live in the same creation that we live, so they suffer and they love, but the manner in which they do these things is not human.  It is going to be a lonely trip for you, and though I shouldn’t say this, I hope your faith is good company. Because the dwarves will not be.” He rose from the bench, “I have an oven to attend to, but girl I hope that both Bell’ra and Yaw’naw bless your journey.  But if you ever decide to take another look at the path of Bell’ra just remember our book holds only truth, not commands, so do not be afraid of it.”  He left and Kiijanavyre went back to the dwarves in a state of profound fatigue.     


 

Kiijanavyre does not read and neither do most of my faithful.  I have resisted the use of a Holy text by my faithful, and thus far there have been no substantial theological treatise put into writing by any of my followers. Yet four of my five siblings with which, I am vying for the souls of humanity have directed their followers to construct or utilize holy texts.  If the written word becomes the major vehicle by which humanity approaches religion, morality and thus life style than I may in the future have to direct the construction of a holy text or verse.  I doubt it will come to that because I foresee that an emphasis on the written word in spiritual pursuits will eventually damage or undermine any theology. The religions of my siblings Bell’ra, Roarck, Xang’ze and Zu’xia all frame reading as an elevating experience.  Their theologies hold that just by reading a human can gain insight into the nature of the universe and improve the nature of his or her existence. I think the propagation of literacy and literature among humanity is dangerous enough, but glorifying the act of reading as a means of self-improvement is simply foolish.


First there are the reasons to which Kiijanavyre alluded.  When reading a line of text you cannot interrogate that text the way in which you could interrogate the spoken word.  Thus, if a text says “Owls only hunt at night,” than you would not be able to ask the writer how and why they reached this conclusion.  A spoken lie can be judged in part by one’s judgment of the person, but a written lie may exist independently of the speaker.  The written word may not even be a lie, it may just be an error, but because you receive the information through the page you cannot interrogate the source. When the word is spoken you cannot divorce the idea from the person having the idea, and written ideas are presented with impunity.  Additionally writing lessens personal knowledge, because what does a person need to know when that knowledge is in a book? Why remember anything when you can write it down?  The threat of reading is that people will become puppets of the written word.  If the written word ever finds a place among my faithful, I will demand that it encourage debate and arguments that would defend the true nature of the universe and dismiss false assertions regarding creation.


The largest problem with the written word is that it allows humanity to generate a controlled and thus false reality.  By possessing a written language by which all aspects of the world can be represented a human writer could recreate that world on the page.  More disturbingly that writer could recreate the world such that it supports only his beliefs.  For example, the Book of Bell’ra is full of anecdotes regarding the benefits of a living in a farming community and how glorifying motherhood benefits everyone. These stories may not be true, but if the person reading this text substitutes the written experience for an actual experience they will begin to view the world the way author wishes.  Thus, by consuming text the reader will make a false inspection of the universe.  What is more frightening is that humans may eventually begin to construct texts that completely divorce them from reality.  It is my goal to reveal the true nature of the universe to humanity, but I do not see how I could achieve that if a mortal builds his vocabulary of experience through fiction.  After Kiijanavyre’s journey I learned what the world of humanity would look like when dominated by the written word.  It would like the world of the dwarves.  Only the dwarves go a step farther, instead of creating a false universe on the page, they have carved up creation itself to match their vision of the universe.  I fear that one day the written medium will dominate the way humanity experiences life and the actual experience will only be a novelty.      




      After leaving the small town, the dwarves pushed till well after noon that day. Kiijanavyre had ridden that day in the back of Gorn’s wagon, which carried the supplies for the caravan.  She wore a straw hat her mother had made for to keep the sun from her face, but despite this bit of shade and having been awake all night she still could not sleep.  Finally they stopped along side a slow moving stream.  The oxen were unhitched and the handlers brushed the beasts down while the drivers slept underneath the wagons. As the oxen drank from stream and the rainbow bearded dwarf took an iron pot out of Gorn’s wagon and proceeded to boil a stew from dried strawberries, a dried fungus that Kiijanavyre didn’t recognize, and dried horse meat. The drivers slept beneath their wagon’s while the food was prepared.  The rainbow bearded dwarf who spoke some Mitirangu, said his name was Darius Coalvine.  He told Kiijanavyre that he had two names because “he was born to clan" and then he offered with a hint of resentment  "Gorn was low born, that is why Gorn was just Gorn, because his father and mother were born to nothing.”  He also explained to Kiijanavyre that they had traded for the food with a Sabatallee caravan a week ago. He said that the human lands are so rich in food that the Teamster often don’t take supplies, most goods can be traded for easily.  The Dwarven lands are different he said, "you can’t just buy food anywhere." Kiijanavrye was about to ask what the word "buy" meant when he offered her an apple.




      “Isn’t this one of the apples from the sacks?”




       “Yes, but our contract only states how many sacks, it doesn’t say how many apples are in them and the sacks aren’t sealed. No one will know”




        She took the apple and tucked into the patch work quilt of pelts she carried with her.  “You speak Mitirangu, could I ride with you some?”




        “I am no driver lass, you’d have to ask one of the those dwarves snoozing under their wagons”




        “Gorn doesn’t seem to be interested in talking to me and so maybe I could walk along with you.” Kiijanavyre smiled her gap toothed smile.




        Coalvine looked at the other dwarves behind him, and said “Vii pak, Gorn ba pak.”  She heard a great rustling of beards, that was dwarven laughter.  “Gorn won’t be happy if you walk along, you are his cargo and he is sworn to protect you, so no that won’t happen.  Not one of us would want to ride with Gorn, either”




       Kiijanavyre suddenly felt as if she had done something wrong or was some how in danger. “Why not?” she asked a little panicked.



        “He talks to much”



Dinner was not what Kiijanavyre expected, the stew was salty for something containing fruit, she had to pick a few small stones out of her portion and the stew was served warm but not hot. Yet it was satisfying for young a girl that had not eaten in hours.    She was disappointed that the dwarves did not eat as group. She had hoped to observe their interaction and pick up some language. Yet after Coalvine had prepared the food he left it out and each dwarf came and got it in turn, then went a short distance a way to eat alone or in two cases stood over the pot until they had finished. There was no conversation or community to the meal.  Coalvine also left a glass bottle containing a fermented grain drink that smelled of smoke, the drink burned Kiijanavyre’s throat all the way down and made her dizzy.  She would have only had one drink but she was fascinated by glass, it was the first time she had ever seen it. By nightfall the dwarves were on the move again, despite the nausea induced by the drink,  she managed to sleep in the wagon.



    I watched her laying there, and I worried. When Coalvine offered her that apple I began to see the seeds of corruption in her and was doubly worried because of where she was and who she was with.   I believe that aesthetics are very important to faith, some of my siblings scoff at this, and allow their faithful to dress, live and act however they wish.  But I see these pluralistic life style choices as inroads for corruption.  This championing of aesthetics is something I share with my Uncle Droven’s religions.  Kiijanavyre was surrounded by corrupting tactile and visual experiences, the neatly arranged fields of Bell’ra’s faithful, and the carefully groomed dwarves suggested values that were not her own.  The average human observer, even among my followers, does not realize that the forests and plains under my influence are carefully laid out by my Druids. The swaths of nature are planned and maintained to achieve a balance and beauty that inspires love of my gifts.  I encourage my druids to teach my faithful to observe how each plant and animals strives constantly for success.    They are not like Bell’ra farms, which are controlled and directed at every step, my forests may be planned but they are free to grow as they wish.   I was worried that the dwarves’ desire to keep a tight hold on the visual and tactile aspect of their surrounding might isolate Kiijanavyre from her faith and cause her to abandon it.  But I was wrong.


6 days before-Why some dwarves dye their beards



Jumata had not arrived the day before, but after days and days without conversation, Kiijanavyre was enchanted by the possibility of taking with somebody, but each question posed a risk because if Gorn had nothing to say about it there would be no conversation.  The next day they went to the beach again, this time they walked without the wagon, and in the road along the guild hall Kiijanavyre saw dozen a dyed beard dwarves and two dwarves with natural colored beards.  



“Why do some dwarves dye their beards, why did you dye yours?”


 

“Cause bugger the clans that is why." Gorn snapped his voice like two stone being smack together. "Those that dye their beards are all members of a labor guild and every dyed beard reminds the clans and the church of their hypocrisy.  A long time ago there was a war, it so long ago nobody is sure if it really happened.  During this war the dwarves were given the gift of steel and the gift of war by the gods Droven and Roarck respectively.  But not all dwarves went to war, some stay behind to work the mines, harvest the trees, repair the dams and so on. After the war 627 dwarven males came back, which I find too conveinent a number since there are 314 peaks in the Ven mountains." Gorn gestured at the mountain over the city. "When they returned all the land in the Ven range was divided among these 627 dwarves, with one dwarf named Bronzebeard getting an entire mountain being declared king and nobody got Ironspear peak...but that is whole other line of history.  What is important is that the dwarves that were not part of the first army became chattel of these new lords.  My ancestors were part of the group that stayed behind to do Droven’s work , supposedly in the sand pits north of here. When the war was over, they were told that they all now belonged to Quartzhammer and he would direct our labors and our crafts.


    The Ven was like that for a along time, the descendants of the 627, commanding all the land and we all lived under the rule of the king who was said to speak for Droven.  But then things started to change, and this is still distant history, but the church started to get organized and their was another war, against the elves this time, this war is different, there are records of it, the happening of the war was recorded. The war was good for some clans and bad for others, some clans got a lot richer and more powerful, mostly cause those clans were already rich and had more resources to give to the war effort: these are the Noble clans.  The power in the kingdom became divided between the nobles and the King, with the church taking the role as Droven’s spokesdwarf.  In the period after the war, a thousand years or more mind you, the church of Droven, starts to settle disputes between Nobles and between the Nobles and the king. The Nobles and the King treated the resolutions of these arguments as law. Eventually one argument about a badly made suit of armor comes before the church and the church declares that it is crime to waste resources.  So if I have a bar of iron, it would be a crime for me to work it if I wasn’t a blacksmith.  The Church then decides the same holds true for the instruments of war, it would be a crime to use an instrument of war if the dwarf was not descended from the original clans chosen to be part of the first army, never mind that the army included baggage handlers, cooks, and so on.  Thus is against the law for me to carry, weapon. “


Kiijanavyre remembered the bench with the crossbow hidden it in and looked the whip on his belt even though he didn’t have his team with him. Gorn seemed to take her meaning “We guildsmen need to defend ourselves, and we refuse to be at the mercy of those dwarves allowed to carry weapons, so we find ways around it.  No one can fault a miner for carrying a hammer or a pick, nobody can say a member of the woodcutter’s guild can’t carry an ax, as a teamster I need a whip, but if I get caught using that crossbow then I criminal, but if I don’t have it I could be robbed.”


Kiijanavyre nodded in understanding, then asked again “Why do you dye your beard?”


“Because the clans don’t respect the law, maybe a few clans, GoldenFreye the one at the border remember, I trust them to be honest, but for example Flintdagger, we passed some of them on the road, they can field 1,200 spear men all within in 25 years of age of each other.   No Dwarf should believe they are all cousins.  No the clans go out and find dwarves that look the part, they either go to the Mountain clans, they recruit from the guilds sometimes or the round up freedwarves who look the part. When it comes to clans looking the part is all about your beard color, so Flintdagger’s agents go out with hair samples and try and find young dwarves to fill their ranks or worse they dye the beards of dwarven recruits to match the color.  By dying my beard I am saying that I want no part of your clan or your fake lineage and also they know why we are doing it, we are saying that all beard colors are false.  Clan recruitment is the worst kept secret in the Ven mountains, the church knows about it I am certain and we making sure that nobody every forgets we know about it.  The clans just use the law of weapon lineages to keep us from threatening them, keeps us from standing up to them. That is why I dye my beard.”


23 days before: The day the Kiijanavyre comes home for awhile




Kiijanavyre was getting frustrated with the dwarves and was regretting her choice to travel with them and I am sure she would have turned against them if not for the events of the next two days. Kiijanavyre’s first frustration was hunger: dwarves only ate once a day.  Which would have sustained Kiijanavyre better if she had stayed in the wagons and not walked along side them.  She supplement the dwarven provided meals with bread from the local villages and towns.   But by the time they reached the Hearnt, the forested foothills of the Ven mountains, Kiijanavyre had traded most of the herbs she had brought to use for personal barter to the local farmers for bread, milk and beer.  Her interactions with these farmers always drew a wide eyed and brow wrinkled stare from Gorn.  Particularly because she often jumped out a moving wagon and ran over to the farmers to negotiate.  Often they would offer her the bread for free, but she almost always succeeded in convincing the farmer to accept something in trade.  Gorn had reminded silent thus far on the trip and Coalvine had not proved much more interesting. His conversation topics seemed to be limited to mocking the drivers while they slept. He did giver her an apple every day however. Additionally, the dwarves rarely spoke amongst themselves and thus her dwarven speak was not improving.   The interactions with the farmers were her only real opportunity for conversation. Though when she saw the tree covered hills of the Hearnt ahead she grew more excited namely because the Hearnt promised food.  But also because the Hearnt would provide her with a degree of familiarity.  Though much hillier than her home forest, the Hearnt was largely the same with regard to foliage and fauna.  Where the Hearnt was very different from her home forest was in the populations of humans that made a living in it. Kiijanavyre’s father had been born in the Hearnt, and my faithful and I considered the Hearnt to be rich soil to cultivate our beliefs.  The people that lived in the Hearnt did not follow any God or Goddess exclusively, and their cultural identity was not died to any form of worship.



        Thus my druids spent much their time preaching my truth in the Hearnt, and making offerings of my gifts to the people.  I would send my sister Leethanna to my woodsmen, my holy warriors, in their sleep so that they would dream of the Hearnt and these visions would persist until they someday wandered it. I hoped that Kiijanavyre would grow into the woman who could take the people of Hearnt away from their stone cutting, steal working corruption in which they now lived and restore them to the forest. Her father was of their tribe, she knew their language, had a grasp of their customs and loved me more than herself. She seemed perfect for the task.  Thus on this day, the significance of which I did not then know, I returned one of my gaze’s to Kiijanavyre in order to observe her interaction with what I had hoped would be her destiny. 


      The Hearnt is dangerous and the Teamsters knew it.  The human tribes of the Hearnt respect customs more than laws and their moral code is based on personal honor rather than individual dignity.  Thus, if a dwarf, to whom the people of the Hearnt had no ties, failed to respect their customs, than they would have no problem stripping that dwarf of his dignity through violence. Yet the dwarves knew that taking the Northern road on the other side of the Hearnt would save them time, and though I could not read Gorn’s thoughts I believe he wished to test himself in a conflict.


     At the edge the forest the dwarves stopped their wagons at a well commonly used by the teamsters to water their oxen.  There they prepared the daily meal and as always the driver’s slept on the ground under their wagons while the handlers tended to the oxen and prepared the rations.  The land around them was not worked plains but an over trodden scrub forest turned pink and white with spring flowers. Kiijanavyre, wandered from camp to gather some necktree buds, which she ate immediately, and when she returned she found Gorn and the other drivers gathered around a map talking.  It was the first time she seen any communal conversation on the part of the dwarves aside from a few shared jokes between Coalvine and the other handlers.  When Kiijanavyre approach the groups, Gorn looked up and stared her with his eyes wide and his forehead wrinkled.   He then shot a look at Coalvine who approached her. 



     “Don’t leave camp again,” he said and slipped her one of the apples discretely. 



       Frustrated and annoyed she still was, so she walked back to Gorn’s wagon, tucked the apple into her pelt roll before noting that the rock on his bench had been moved and the bench top had been opened. A hesitant curiosity would be something Kiijanavyre would have to learn for today she immediately dove her hands into the small chest and begin to move the stuff around.  An oily flax cloth covered 5 short metal arrows, beneath that was a mechanical bow that looked to Kiijanavyre to be made of polished and etched bone, but was truly a master work of rune imbued copper on a thin steel stock.  Beneath that was a bound cluster of flaps made from a wood pulp or flax material held together with leather twine and with dozens of small dyed scratches on each flap.  Beneath all of those was a small wooden box and a leather wallet.  The wallet contained three types of knives with differently shaped blades and a small spike.  The box, which was tied to shut with a piece of string, she opened to find it packed with wood dust and three small partially carved wooden figurines.  One figurine was a seal, the other some type of bird and the third was less worked the then the others but appeared to be a feminie form with a beard.  She held it up to the light to see it better when she saw Gorn approaching the wagon.  He looked at her without surprise and held out his hand.  She placed the figure back in the small box and handed it to Gorn.   Gorn placed the map and other items into the bench box and took out the crossbow and the five bolts. He replaced his wide brim hat with small steel cap, and took the large bull whip of his belt and laid in on top of the rock.  Kiijanavyre looked back at the camp as it was being packed up.  She noticed that the handlers were removing spears and small shield from beneath the wagons, the drivers had armed themselves and few were wearing steel caps like Gorn’s.



    Once everything had been restowed the caravan began moving eastward again, but this time resting between himself and his pet rock Gorn kept the crossbow bolted and at his side.  The handlers, who had been riding now walked along side the wagons, three on either side and Coalvine bringing up the rear.  Gorn and Kiijanavyre’s wagon was in the lead.  It was still a worked road, but the terrain was hillier. Gorn had to work the team more closely going up hill and use the breaks more on downhills to keep the wagon moving at a controlled pace.  They crossed one last hill of scrub forest, forded a small stream and then were enclosed in a dense forest again. For Kiijanavyre the cool mossy air of the forest was like being held to a mother’s cheek.  As I always say the forest is better than a mother, for it is from my milk from which humanity will thrive.  The branches of trees were encroaching upon the trail and Kiijanavyre could reach and touch the green twigs with the small leaves of spring on them. This enclosure by the tree was the way of life she new, and her love for the forest was a love of me. I saw her pain when the caravan passed a stand of dying oak trees, their young branchlings split and their trunks’ bleeding sap. I know she must have felt a sense of personal loss when the caravan passed a Ivanvil man burning a small section of the forest to create a fertile field. The dwarves did not greet him and he did not offer a greeting.



     The human man did hold eyes Kiijanavyre while the wagon passed.  She could tell by the look of him he was of the Ivanvil tribe.  He wore a white flax cloth hood, though no shirt or cape, he was covered in sweat and debris that detailed his days work slashing and burning the forest, the skin of his torso was reddened around shoulders but the rest was as white as milk, and rippled with lithe muscle. He held a long steel blade in his right hand that he grasped both lightly but rigidly in front of him. Through the shadows of his hood she could see he had no beard, a smooth skinned face and blue eyes like her father.  He appeared both relaxed and dangerous like a cat.  As they were moving past him, Gorn’s the wagon suddenly paused.  She turned to see Gorn not looking at his team, but twisted around on the bench looking at her.



“Ba” he said to her and the wagon jerked forward.   Her face reddened and she pulled her mothers straw hat down over her brow.  For the first time Kiijanavyre’s soul went to a place I could not see and for second I thought of breaking the wager and asserting my power directly on the earth again.  I did not of course, I turned my gaze elsewhere for a time. 


5 days before-The Nature of Dwarven Society According to Gorn


 

“If the clans are so rich and powerful, why was Coalvine in a clan and guild, why was that?” Kiijanavyre was wrapped in her fur quilt and she and Gorn were reclining  against a rather pointy rock staring out at the sky and the rough ocean.  The grey dawn had turned into a grey afternoon and wine they had been sharing since breakfast was making Kiijanavyre's checks flush and warm against the cool wind.  Gulls were swooping down in front of her picking at the beard covered rocks Kiijanavyre had picked out of her lunch.  Kiijanavyre was considering if it was worth the effort to kill and eat a gull when Gorn spoke up.

 


"Coalvine was from a Mountain clan they are different.  They are not really part of Dwarven society, they live away from the cities, they farm small plots, keep small flocks, work small mines.  They often don’t even use money, they live in extended families and survive on what they can grow or make.  Coalvine was one of those, so it doesn’t really matter if he got kicked out the Guild, he can go back and live in his family's mountain or valley.  A lot of those young Mountain clansdwarves will join a guild for a while, learn a few skills earn few coins, and move to back to his family land or maybe live as freedwarf, rarely do mountain clansdwarves find advancement in the guilds. “




“You said a Mountain clan is different, that is conclusion, you said they are not really part of society that is a conclusion Gorn, and then you offered me a few observation….” Kiijanavyre said with a bit of self satisfaction. Gorn raised his hand.




“Aye it seems clear I have been spending too much time with you humans,” and he smiled at her and took a drink of the wine they had brought that day. “Please let me start again with the facts.  The mountain clans claimed to be descended from the 627 dwarves and many of them still live on their original land grants.  I bet that …well…I mean if Coalvine’s family still lives on an original land grant they have stone tablet with an iron seal of Droven on it somewhere in their home or cave that outlines the borders of their land.   For some reason or another these Mountain clans were not granted the valuable sites, and some of them do not have weapon legacies.  For example there was a smuggler named Cizern Soilsack whose ancestor was the chief laborer during the first war, he dug ditches.  His clan didn’t have a weapon legacy, and his land was half a mountain above the tree line with few known mineral deposits.  He was recently arrested for smuggling and unlawful transport of goods for profit. He was doing the teamster’s job. Normally the Priest of Droven just ignore the mountain clans, but Cizern was making a profit and moving goods without permits or paying taxes.  His land grant was revoked and his property sold, to Flintdagger no less.  Thus you can understand that over the centuries since the first war the fate of many mountain clans has changed.  Some have become warrior clans, and strive to insert themselves into the upper echelons of Ven Mountain society. They wish to become like the Noble clans.  Others have expanded a lucrative trade legacies to become rich families of craftdwarves. But most Mountain clans live away from the cities, they have a might a few families of Freedwarves they keep as vassals or the freedwarves living on their land that take a version of the clan’s name.”

 


“We recruit a lot of Guilds men from their ranks, in the teamsters guild last year four out of ten our new members came from mountain dwarf clans. Most of them will leave the guild in a year that is why we use them as handlers or laborers.  It is not worth it to train them because they will return to their wild mountains."  



    Gorn paused, took another swig of the wine and started again, “I don’t know what they do out there really.  But for the most part they are not important to guilds or the Noble clans because they use very little money, they have their own land usually so they aren’t using Noble clan land.     The two most unusual Noble clans, Ironspear, which is more like a cult then a clan and Bronzebeard, which is the clan of the King, allow the Mountain clans to host market days in their cities.  The mountain clans do a lot of farming and crafting without legacy or guild rights, so it is illegal for them to sell their wares normally. They don’t have a lot of surplus and they have no quality control, so these markets are not really a threat to the guilds or any clan with a trade legacy, but there are so many mountain clans that they can compensate for their own individual inefficiency and lack talent.  A mountain clan dwarf that ventures to market day might import enough foodstuff to feed a dwarf for 3 days, but because hundreds of mountain dwarves venture out to sell materials on market days, a dedicated buyer could feed an army. The chroniclers did a survey recently of Mountain dwarves and the teamsters guild bought the survey results to see if it would be profitable to. . . .that is not something you would be interested in.  But according the survey if there were only 20 dwarves 15 would be mountain dwarves. “



“You are saying 15 out of 20 dwarves are mountain dwarves.” Kiijanavyre stated,  “It sounds…” she paused to chose a more dwarven phrasing “You and the Noble clans are the ones that are not participating in society. The Druid’s talk about this; how ridiculous it is that the people who live in nations think that only the actions of the rich or powerful are important, when in truth the rich and powerful are just a few people, and they are only rich and powerful cause people think they are rich and powerful."



Gorn shook his head no, “No, your Druids are wrong, a society is defined by wealth.  I have not observed, in you any capacity for understanding wealth. This is in part because you live in a wild forest. Your society, the Yaw’naw worshipers have little wealth and are barely aware of it.  If you please I will make a tentative conclusion, that you are not conscious of the role of wealth among your people because they have so little of it.  A society is a group of people through which materials flow.  The Noble clans have most of the wealth, so they are the center of society.  The mountain clans do little to increase that wealth or to stake a claim in the current wealth. Thus their participation in society is minimal if they participate at all.”



Kiijanavyre paused, this sounded wrong to her, and it is wrong. My faithful taught her that dwarves like demons, dragons and the other children of the other Gods are perversions of the universe’s true nature.   The universe is about life, it is about propagation and simple balanced interactions with others that propagate, there is no true dominance, so thus there is no order.  In place of dominance, there should only be truth. Perhaps once the humans are won over to me, the dragons banished and the elves exterminated there will be a place for dwarves upon my world.  Their dedication to truth will be their salvation.   I believe Kiijanavyre was trying to convert Gorn.  “Why can’t the mountain dwarves be their own society then?  If somebody buries all their wealth in the ground are they no longer participating in…” she was uncertain of her argument in part because she was not sure what the word society meant so she tried a different tact. “You are just a group people, all the rules are just sort of made up, you dwarfs just decide what to call things, it doesn’t matter what I call a flower it is still a flower.”  That last line was direct quote from one of my great profits.



Kiijanavyre was surprised that Gorn was not angry with her disagreement. “ It is a great temptation to dismiss complicated observations as fictions, but the Chroniclers have made many studies of the interaction of witted beings and society is defined by the flow wealth and how the people in the society appreciate that wealth.” Gorn took another drink of that day’s wine, and looked westward over his shoulder at the great peak of Ironspear.  “Kiijanavyre, I don’t think a boat will arrive today, let us return to the guild hall.” 

  

22 days before-Conflict and Kiijanavyre’s third conversation with her corruptor.




 I returned my gaze to Kiijanavyre and the dwarves at dawn following their entrance into the Hearnt. I found them in the company of a sixth dwarven wagon. There were no places to change teams in the Hearnt so the dwarves had to rest their oxen at night.  During the night another dwarven wagon had come upon Kiijanavyre’s caravan heading west down the road.  Because the encounter happened at night there was not catalog of time for me to review, my uncle Zapotec, the Sun, had been resting.  I wished that I had more gazes or more of my faithful in the Hearnt.


The first thing I saw when directing my gaze was that Kiijanavyre’s soul was still mine, and the other wagon had three dwarves with it, one of which was an injured Priest of Droven and the other two dwarves were beard dyed teamsters.  The priest and the wagon he was laid in were burnt, also the oxen team of the newly arrived wagon was only two oxen instead of four.  When I turned my gaze on to them at dawn the dwarves were distributing the load of the newly met wagon between their wagons to reduce the strain on their poor enslaved castrated beasts. 




    Kiijanavyre was tending to the wounded dwarf he had been wearing steel skin armor when he was touched by flame, Kiijanavyre had attempted to remove it but in many places the wounds and the metal had fused. Kiijanavyre was able to step outside her task for a moment to marvel at how flame resistant the dwarven beard is. The wounded dwarf had not spoken, but occasionally he opened his unburnt eye to look about, the sight of the human girl over him gave him a taste my brother Obber’s wares (fear), but his dwarven nature did not let him show it to her.  Thus it was clear to me that these dwarves had been attacked by humans.  Perhaps the very humans that were now quietly surrounding the entire dwarven caravan.




    The dwarves had made camp by a stream at a crossroads and were preparing to head south instead of continuing west.  One of the newly encountered dwarves was behaving oddly.  He was mumbling to himself sweating and drawing shapes in the dirt.  He bright orange beard was filthy and there were bits of foam around his mouth.  The wagon train had begun to move and no dwarf had made a move to assist the orange bearded dwarf playing in the dirt.  It was while staring at that dwarf Kiijanavyre noticed the human man standing on the hill behind him.  He had a black cloak, a long blade in his hand and was wearing black dyed boiled leather of his chest and forearms.  The human was standing very still. She looked to her right and there was another man on the rise along the road dressed as the first one carrying a sword as well.  Gorn was still leading the caravan, when she stood up and looked southward towards the road.  There were three Ivanvil standing in the road two armed men and an older woman.  Gorn was heading straight for them with his crossbow in hand. Kiijanavyre knew what to do.




She jumped out the new wagon and started walking quickly past the other wagons towards the Ivanvil trio standing along the dirt road.  She kept her hands outstretched and placed her self directly between Gorn’s team and the humans.  She paused and looked at the older woman standing between the two men. Her father had told her how Ivanvil women behaved, confident and reserved.  As she walked towards the woman she was doing her best not to act like Kiijanavyre, but to act like what she thought and Ivanvil woman would be like. Kiijanavyre locked eyes with the woman, nodded and started to approach as did the woman.  Her father told her that the Ivanvil are usually  lead by women and are alway wary of spell casting.  Thus it considered rude or threatening among the Ivanvil to speak with strangers at a distance, least you cast a spell upon them.  Kiijanavyre noted that the woman was wearing a long black tunic or dress, with white lace covering her arms and rising up along her throat. More menacingly the woman had a large dirk hanging form her dress’s waist cord. The Ivanvil looked at is if she had bathed with in the week and her fair hair was carefully brushed and held out of her face by small combs. Kiijanavyre, for the first time ever, became aware of how her clothes and such must look: unwashed, unbrushed and wearing a rough animal skin tunic.  I saw in her soul that she experienced not exactly shame but a mix of pride and uncertainty regarding the presentation of herself.  The two women paused in front of each and extended hands first touching lightly, then fully grasping hand, despite the Ivanvil woman being a head taller Kiijanavyre, they each placed hand on each others shoulder.  Kiijanavyre's soul warmed with pride.  She had done everything her father had told he to do and it was going very well.


 

 Kiijanavyre spoke first in her father’s native tounge “Greetings, my name is Kiijanavyre, despite that Mitirangu name my father was born in these woods, and though I was raised in Bucknall forest, I have often heard him say how beautiful these woods are, but this my first time seeing them for myself.”  Her father had said the first line exchanged between Ivanvil can never be about business of disagreement. 



The woman replied “Kiijanavyre, I am Angwen, your father must be a handsome man, my sons and I have several have often talked about traveling to Bucknall for one of Yaw’naw’s festivals.” The woman spoke in warm tone but her her eyes stayed with the dwarves and her companions surrounding the dwarves.




 


“Angwen, I am sure there are many festivals for Yaw’naw here in the Hearnt, I am sure, but Bucknall would welcome all you son.“ Kiijanavyre was not sure what was offensive about what she just said, but the woman calling herself Angwen tightened her grip on Kiijanavyre's hand.




“I do try to keep my sons away Yaw’naw’s people as much as possible, least they throw off their clothes and swords to live off apples and berries, Kiijanavyre.”




Kiijanavyre smiled and decided to try a veiled threat. “Then I should not delay long with you, least Yaw’naw ask her other faithful to come look for me, I am afraid if I am gone to long your sons could not pass a tree without running to an attractive young woman offering them apples of all types.”



“Please, move on with my best wishes then Kiijanavyre, I will remember you to my family.” 




Kiijanavyre “My dwarves and I will be going, thank you.”  Neither released their embrace, though both turned to see the orange bearded dwarf break the silence by mumbling to himself and gathering sticks. The Ivanvil woman’s face contorted with anger and she made to pull away from Kiijanavyre’s grip. But Kiijanavyre held tight and pleaded her voice urgent and cracking.  She was no longer pretending to be Ivanvil woman with their double-speak and small lies.  Kiijanavyre was of a sincere nature and fell quickly into a desperate but honest plea. “No, please, the dwarves do not have a spoken magic and that dwarf is not a priest, he is ill, taken by Obber or Leethana.” The names of the unloved gods brought the woman’s eyes back to Kiijanavyre.  “Please, I am not an Ivanvil and can not pretend to match you in phrases.  But I need to pass for Yaw’naw. The oak trees are sick, you have seen them, that is not just here but in Bucknall as well, and I hear the BayaMiti’s oaks have also been attacked.  It is demon plaque, we can not cure it with our arts.  But the first men have away to expel the demons from the trees.  I am traveling to the sea with these dwarves to retrieve that cure.   I need to pass, Yaw’naw needs me to pass and I need these dwarves to get me to the sea.  Please, you do not want to lose all the oaks in your forest and once the demons are done with oaks perhaps they move on to a fruit tree or a sweet nut tree. Please.”



Angwen's face contorted in obvious displeasure almost pain and then relaxed into resignation “If you had had an Ivanvil mother than she would have taught you to be beautiful and charming as well as brave,” the woman sighed “We will not delay your passing, and tell Yaw’naw that the Ackharts wish her success.”  The matriarch of the Ackhart family is wise, for indeed I was watching. Kiijanavyre and the woman released and walked backwards away from each other.  When Kiijanavyre reached Gorn’s oxen and when the Ackhart matriarch reached her armed companions they both turned. Kiijanavyre smiled broadly to Gorn, “We can pass” she said in Mitirangu 



“It still could be a trap” he said.



Kiijanavyre guided his eyes around with her own and revealed to him the near twenty Ivanvil warriors surrounding them.  “It already is a trap Gorn, and I just got you out of it.  Now I have deadline to meet, lets get moving or do your teamsters need to rest some more.” Kiijanavyre was feeling more powerful in part because she realized her own ability and in part because I was imbuing her with ability.  With that she reached in the roll of pelts she had in the back of Gorn’s wagon, grabbed her apple from the day before and started eating it while leading the wagons down the trail.  The orange bearded dwarf continued to pick stick examine then closely and then discard them but he traveled with the caravan.  After they had traveled near half a mile, and Kiijanavyre had long finished her apple. Gorn asked  “Kiijanavyre, was that one of the apples from the cargo.”




Kiijanavyre “Yes”




Gorn spoke his eyes wide “You stole it, we are under contract to carry those apples.”




Kiijanavyre replied still confident “Coalvine said that the contract stated only the number of sacks, not the number of apples. So it was okay to eat them.”




Gorn replied his voice a little uneven, “So you have been into the sacks, please, how many have you eaten?”



Kiijanavyre still not understanding that Gorn was distressed “Just one a day, and just the ones Coalvine gave at meals.”



Gorn in a low voice “Did Coalvine eat apples also?”



Kiijanavyre replied “Well…yes.”




Gorn stopped his team and applied the breaks.   He stood up on his bench, crossbow in hand and called out in dwarven. The other wagon’s stopped.  He yelled something else in dwarven, Kiijanavyre recognized the name Darius, Coalvine’s first name.  The pink bearded dwarf and Coalvine walked up to along side Gorn’s wagon.  Gorn began speaking in dwarven.  I could translate but Kiijanavyre did not understand, so the effects of his words on her were unimportant, except that it was the most she had ever seen a dwarf speak.  Gorn spat out no less than twelve hundred words, then for emphasis leveled his load crossbow at Coalvine and said “Theek” 




The pink bearded dwarf nodded and step away brandishing a small hand ax, Coalvine who was still armed with spear and shield looked from side to side in anger then spat out a few lines in dwarven at the Pink beard dwarf.  The dwarf just shook his head ‘no’ and Gorn repeated “Theek.”  Coalvine’s skin turned form a dark brown to a deep purple, and the orange bearded dwarf ran past Kiijanavyre to grab a white stone off the road and before hurling it away.   Coalvine looked at Kiijanavyre, for a long moment that made her nervous, then he started speaking to Gorn in Mitirangu.




“This is not about laws at all, you are hypocrite carrying a crossbow, this is about that human girl isn’t it? You want to impress.  This about you Gorn not wanting to be a teamster, not wanting to be guildsman but wanting to be some sort of damned important philosopher, well you are not. And if you were, your work would be philosophical equivalent of toad vomit!  Droven did build you and your type with a purpose and it was to serve me and my ancestors to come.  You are descended from cowards, and the only way you can feel powerful, the only way you can feel like a son of Droven is to bully and humiliate a true clandwarf like myself.  I will leave, I will take the north road too, cause I am not afraid to ford some water, you and your cowards can fight your way down the river road during the spring droves” Coalvine paused and looked north back along the trail. He took a deep breath and then appeared to start his rant all over again, still in Mitirangu.



“ This is ABSURD GORN, ABSURD!  You have a dying priest in a wagon, one of your teamster brothers has gone mad with Droven’s compulsion” Coalvine gestured at the orange beard dwarf with his spear. “And you are counting apples.  Counting apples that the humans never bothered to count. Kiijanavyre, this dwarf you are with is a fool.” Kiijanavyre stopped a breath.  She had thought of herself as with Gorn. “When you are my age Gorn, when you grow up a bit you will look back to this day, you will look back on this day and realize you were just a arrogant boy-dwarf who thought he had destiny in the eye of Droven.  When you are my age, you will say ‘that boy-dwarf was a fool, but I do have a destiny, it is to clean the boots of the Coalvine clan’.  I will see your spirit completely broken.  Because remember, this is as far as you can go Gorn: driver for the teamster guild. You will never be any more than this.  I will be more, I can wash this out of my beard, gather my cousins and raise up a warrior clan that will stand up to your labor guilds.”   What shocked Kiijanavyre about this rant was the thought that the dwarves might be very different ages. They all looked the same age to her.  The other points of Coalvine speech she didn’t understand, but she would not forget it either.  Finally Colavine added, “I am keeping, the spear and shield too, back wages.” 



Gorn said one more phrase in dwarven and Coalvine pulled out a ceramic tablet he wore on a string around his neck. He threw it against the wagon wheel and it shattered, and the oxen stirred a bit.   The orange bearded dwarf ran up to the shards to inspect them while Coalvine turned and started walking north back to where the caravan had left the Ivanvil ambush.   Kiijanavyre did not ride with Gorn the rest of the day.  She stayed with the wounded Priest until he died. 


4 days before: the clouds remove the city




The next morning Kiijanavyre laid in the small windowless cell that the dwarves had assigned her and cried. She was hungry, she missed her parents, missed the trees, her friends and everything familiar to her. She hated making water or defecating in the chamber pot and then having to sleep all night in the same room as her filth.  She hated dwarven food, she hated having beer or whiskey with every meal, and she hated that they only ate once a day.  She hated having to sleep in a framed bed with rocks in the mattress.  Despite all this when she heard the morning drum of the guild she did not want to get up.  She curled herself into a ball and laid in that dark smelly room on that uncomfortable mattress, mourned her current situation and cried herself into a state of half sleep.  She was in this half wake half dream state when Gorn knocked at her door.  She knew it was Gorn nobody else spoke to her and because since they met he had never been absent from her dreams.  I have wondered if these dreams were her own or if my sister Leethana had been playing at her games again.  But I suppose that does not mater, in that crowded dense stone city of the dwarves, Gorn was all she had and it didn’t matter if she dreamed of him or not.




She opened the door and could see the outline of Gorn and the silver shine of his animal like dwarven eyes. “I brought your morning water, there is still some ale in the hall if you want it.”



“I don’t want to go down to the beach today, just go watch for me please.”



“You can not let me do that, what if I fail, what if I miss the boat, receiving the cargo is your responsibility, yes I signed a contract and I will honor it, but your family sent you to receive, you can not let somebody else carry that burden.  If you stay here, you will have failed them, even if I collect and deliver the cargo, then you still will have failed them because you did not full fill your task.” 



“Can we get something some food…I am hungry” she was trying not to use her question yet.



“Did you not get a meal brought to you last night?”



“I did, but I want to eat this morning too, please” Gorn nodded and gestured for her to leave the room.



A dense fog had covered Ironspear that morning, and Gorn lead Kiijanavyre directly out into it. He paused and then instead of turning right to walk easterward towards the ocean, Gorn lead Kiijanavyre westward towards the peak of Ironspear.  For near an hour they walk up the streets between large grey granite buildings, each one, covered with statues, engravings and bejeweled mosaics on every door and shutter. The fog seemed to dissolve the grey parts of the building and emphasized the color.  Each building they passed was either spewing out or sucking up Guild dwarvers with colorful beards.  The greyness though only darkened her mood and for some reason every bright green or apple red beard she saw reminded her of home.  Then the climb got steeper, and the streets were replaced by wide staircases.  The Dwarven beards lost their bright colors as she saw more and more dwarves with natural colored hair. The buildings began to change as well. They were smaller, more like entrances to the mountain side, or tiny one room stone shacks. The ground was terraced and every level they ascended to revealed a narrow street lined with these small buildings. Then at one terrace the tone of the buildings abruptly changed and the streets were also different, they were enameled with some sort of beige paint that made them slippery when combined with morning dew.  The dwarves, below and all been coming or going, but the few dwarves she noted at these levels seemed to be tasked to a location. They stooped outside of the buildings setting up things that resembled tables, perhaps, she could not tell the fog was still very thick, but Gorn lead her on up stair case after stair case.  Eventually she stopped taking in the scenery.  Her thighs ached, each breath scrape against her lungs as she inhaled, and her stomach roared with hunger.  I cast my gaze upon her at this time, and watched as she followed this dwarf up these stairs against every instinct and feeling.  Her head was down gasping for air, she was watching Gorn’s short sturdy legs take each step with out effort, she was in a tunnel of her own suffering and each step Gorn took seemed to pull her painfully up the next step.  Just as she as was about to speak out, about to demand to leave, swear off Gorn and return to me forever the light of Zapotech fell upon her.  She turned on the stair case to look east across the city at the source of the light but the city was gone.  All she could see was soft white cloud stretching from her feet out over to the ocean. Only the great dome Droven’s Court was visible just beneath the surface of the clouds.  To the North and South of her were other peaks rising above the clouds, The light of the my uncle, the sun, warmed her heart and the beauty of seeing that an entire city could be erased by a cloud reminded her of the ephemeral nature that humanity possessed. 




    “I have never been above the clouds before,” she said.  The weather had been clear by the time she reached the ridge roads. She remembered that this is why she went on this trip, to see things like this, and she believed that one day soon she would return home tell the others of things that she saw.  I could not begrudge her these desires, but I had no faithful nearby to council her.  Only the Dwarf was with her.




   “Please, Kiijanavyre come up just a little farther there is something else I want show you.”  Gorn asked from a dozen steps up.




     She paused a moment long, marveling at the beauty of the sun and the clouds.   I cursed the Dragons for not giving me one more day of poor weather.  The sun alone had lifted her spirits and I had hoped that despair would drive her away from this debasing  metropolis. She climbed a dozen stairs more and found herself standing on a narrow street that sloped downward to her left and upward to her right.  She looked first up the mountain and saw a whole city in its own right rising up along the side of the mountain hundreds of streams of smoke denoted hundred cooks fires, ovens and forges about the mountain side.  She would have to remember all these details when she returned home.




 




Gorn was to her left, standing on the east side of the street in a column of sunlight that protruded from between two small beige enameled peak roofed stone bungalows.  Next to Gorn and half in the shadows was a shorter dwarf, natural red hair, and a small copper pot with a soot blacked base held by a tripod above a tiny cook fire that burned right on the street  “Thank Yaw’naw” she said realizing she didn’t have walk up the hill anymore.  She walked down towards Gorn, she could smell the burning dung from the fire but also something sweet and spicy from the kettle. 




      Gorn was holding a cup in his hand staring over the masked city. The red bearded little dwarf nodded to her and handed her a unenameled rough fired ceramic cup. He then ladled in a small portion of the simmering liquid.  The cup  warmed in her hand and smelled of spices and fruit.  The drink was the color of ash leaves in the autumn with specs of light brown spices floating in it.  She saw Gorn take sip and followed suit.  It was warm and extremely sweet, so much so that it left syrup in the back of her throat.  It was also tangy and sour, it made her eyes wrinkle up. She relaxed and enjoyed the after taste of cloves.  The redhaired dwarf nodded to her again and stirred the copper pot with his ladel. 




     It was hard for Kiijanavyre to adjust her eyes from the shadow to the sunlight quickly, and the beige enamel had a gloss to it, so every unshadowed area on the mountain side shown brightly, but they were all simple buildings. Not the elaborately carved structures like the Guild halls below and they were none over a story tall.  She finished her drink, and handed ceramic cup back the to smaller dwarf, he placed the cup into woven bag and then did the same with Gorn’s cup. Kiijanavyre noted a few points of crack enamel in the peaked roof build and saw that it was brilliant white stone underneath, different than the grey granite of the buildings below. 




       A female dwarf passed them, her black beard short and neatly curled. She was carrying a large bucket of water and wore a simple dress and bonnet.  She entered the small peak roughed home without offering the trio a greeting. Kiijanavyre spied two young dwarves on the floor in that house, so young that they were they still more beard than body.  Indeed they looked like little piles of black hair with legs, arms and eyes. Kiijanavyre realized that she had never seen a dwarven child before and turned to Gorn who was still admiring the view.  She tossed her questions around on her tongue but none felt like the right question to use that day.  I saw the corrupting question in her mind, and I wished I could have seen Gorn’s mind to know his answer. 




 




“It is unlikely that boat, even manned by seadwarves would try to approach the shore in this fog,” that had not been the answer to any of her questions. “Let us get some food, there is baker down this street named Graniteloaf, I find the bread pies to be delicious.”




   “They aren’t made of Granite….I can’t eat a Granite loaf “ Kiijanavyre stated, again learning to speak like dwarf. Though, I would have loved it if she focused her mental energies on dwarven cooking.




     “The main ingredient in bread pies are wheat flour and meat, Graniteloaf is the man’s clan name.” 




         Gorn lead them down the hill past numerous stairwells heading up and down the mountain. As they walked south, Kiijanavyre was stopped in her tracks by sight of something moving above the roof tops of the small building. She saw the shoulders and the head of  a hairless grey skinned humanoid.  It was 18 to 20 feet tall at least, with a thin frame, huge hairless brow ridge that cast shadows over, tiny eye sockets that glowed blue.  Instinctly she reached out and grabed Gorn’s shoulder and pulled her self to him. Then giant, for that is what it was even though Kiijanavyre had never seen one of this type before, stepped out of one of the descending stair wells and into the narrow street. It was wearing a loose beige tunic that had the emblem of a grey mountain peak behind two crossed black spears. The giant was accompanied by three dwarves and human all wearing armor, all four brandishing coal black beards and wearing smaller versions of the giants tunic over their armor.   The five of them were carrying solid iron spears each about six feet long.  The human nodded to her with smile as they passed and she released Gorn.  She stared into his face expecting the wide eyed look of disapproval but it wasn’t there.  She fought back another question and he led her on.




    Gorn turned into a narrow alley that descended into the mountain side a short ways and the smell of bread became apparent. He stopped and lifted up a grate on the ground revealing a narrow stair case heading down. Kiijanavyre followed Gorn into a warm low tunnel illuminated by feint orange light coming from around different corner and smelling of bread and wood smoke. Kiijanavyre noted that they were actually at an intersection of three tunnels, but the direction of the bakery was clear.  Gorn lead them throw a arched doorway into a hot room with an oven and grey bearded dwarf standing at a granite work bench, cracking eggs in to bowl, a small cage of doves sat in the corner and Gorn and the man exchanged some words in dwarvish.  Then Gorn lead Kiijanavyre through another, passage into a small room with chair and tables, all the chairs faced the wall and each chair was paired to single table.  She had learned by now that dwarves generally ate alone, but she took the chair to next Gorn’s after he sat.  She could only assume they were waiting for the food, but she wasn’t going to waste today’s question on a clarification.  She pondered the things she seen and attempted to phrase her question in the most dwarven fashion. 


    “What is the nature of the baker’s clan with respect to how does it relates to the clan of those three dwarves wearing the mountain and spear emblem we just saw on the street?”



     “The baker’s name is Loris Graniteloaf and he is part of trade or craft clan, those dwarves on the street were part of the Ironspear clan, as does the human and the giant that were with them.  First, trade or craft, you humans don’t have good word for it, clans are different than noble clans, warrior clans and mountain clans.  As you likely gathered the only real difference legally between a noble clan, a warrior and mountain clan is how many resources they possess.  As I stated before the church of Droven declared that it was crime for a task to be performed poorly cause it wasted resources.  This doesn’t just apply to the use of weapons, but it applies to anything the church deemed a craft.  Baking for example, it was declared illegal for a dwarf to distribute goods they produced unless they’re skills had been tested approved by an expert.  Thus, I couldn’t be a blacksmith unless I was apprenticed to a blacksmith and learned from a blacksmith who had already been approved.  What this truly amounts to are trade legacies.  Quartzhammer for example has glassmakers, engineers, weaponsmiths, blacksmiths and carpenters that are all members of the clan.  The town of Quartzhammer is much smaller than Ironspear, less than 700 dwarves live there, and I knew the blacksmiths, the glassmaker and the carpenter.  Every single one of them is a grey bearded Quartzhammer and I never could have learned any of those professions because they don’t take apprentices from outside the clan. This hoarding of knowledge within a single family is what we call a trade legacy.  The maintaining of trade legacies is what makes some of the Noble clans so powerful.  Again Quartzhammer, they have one of only two glass making legacies in the Ven mountains. 




  Yet at the time of church’s edict that required only skilled tradedwarves be allowed to work there were skilled craftdwarves outside of the clans. They worked either as freedwarves or as conscripted labor for the clans.  But because of the edict, many dwarves, like Granitieloaf’s grandfather, were able to petition the court of Droven to recognize their talents.  To this end they were granted names, and thus were able to establish trade legacies of their own.  They often don’t own land, have no right to practice the way of war and are held in little regard by the Noble clans.  Yet they can make a living and teach their craft either to their offspring or they can if they wish adopt an apprentice.  That apprentice will then take their names, thus if you meet another Graniteloaf, regardless of what color his beard is you know that he learned his skills from a Graniteloaf.    The crime of the trade legacy system is that it prevents dwarves from all walks of life from creating.  Which for a dwarf the inability to craft and create can be deadly. 



Graniteloaf brought in two round, dark brown buns and placed them on the stone tables in front of Gorn and Kiijanavyre.  They were steaming hot and smelled of bird flesh, bread and spices.  “Please note how they are made of wheat flour and not of Granite. I ordered the bread pies stuffed with dove as well, it appeared fresher than the other stuffings. Just be sure to chew back and forth when you eat it, you want the gravel in the pie to wear down your teeth not to break them.”



When they left the bakery, Kiijanavyre had managed to pick most of the rocks out of her bread pie to get the meal down.  The fog and lifted and moved up the mountain.  They were now under a grey sky, though unfortunately it wasn’t raining or cold.  They returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day watching the waves, and Kiijanavyre had a salted cod for her midday meal, which thankfully did not have any stones or rocks in it.  At dusk they walked among the members of the local fishing guild as they pulled their boats and there catches ashore.  There had been no sign of a dwarven seaboat.  At teamsters guild hall, Gorn gave her horn of ale and showed her to cell. The air was still stagnet and stiffiling, but the room had been cleaned in her absence.   Despite still longing for home, Kiijanavyre went to sleep easily, her question for tomorrow prepared.  


20 days before: The Road

 

      When I retuned one of my gazes to Kiijanavyre two days had passed. It was a hot, humid sunny day, Kiijanavyre had removed hot leather tunic and was traveling in only a flax fiber loin cloth and the straw hat made by her mother.   She was walking along side Gorn’s wagon, eating small succulent leaves, sharing them with the oxen, this disturbed Gorn, she could tell by his facial expression and that please her more.  She had not seen any sick oak trees for the past half day, indicating the demon blight had not spread every where yet and thus even if many of the old oaks died, they would be able to replant and replace many of the oak groves.



     The dwarf with the orange beard had not been calmed, he had also not eaten or drank anything.  The other handlers had taken to laying their spears in the back of one of the wagons and helping the mad dwarf rummage through the debris in the forest.  But it seem to be no use, “Ya kula spurg, ya kula spurg, ya kula cooper, ya kula spurg na cooper” he kept repeating.  The word cooper was the same in both Ivanvil and dwarven so Kiijanavyre recognized it.  From what I saw in Kiijanavyre’s mind he was the only dwarf to speak in the past two days and Kiijanavyre was missing companionship.  Even the few lines Coalvine had said to her each day had been sustaining, and unlike being among the farm fields there were no farmers to speak with in the Hearnt.



   By midday heading south along a winding forest trail Kiijanavyre took to noticing a very unpleasant smell every time the wind came up from the south.  It was clear to her that the oxen also responded strongly to the odor every time a south wind blew. Kiijanavyre was approaching the great River Road and it was drover season, the time when that herders from the three human tribes in the area moved from winter and spring pastures.  It was also the time of year that the Dwarves imported beef, mutton and goat from the human land and made good on all the contracts they could not fulfill during the winter months when the roads were snow bound. During this time as in the fall following harvest, the road was like a moving village, and it got denser the closer you got to the major centers of human greed and dwarven (well I need not be redundant)…centers of dwarvenness.  The road is an elevated construction, a 1000 mile long mound of dirt that runs from the GoldenFraye falls in the dwarven Ven mountains 1000 miles west to the Nili sea.  It is one of the ugliest constructions ever to scar the earth.  Though, I was pleased the dwarves changed directions to meet it.  The sight of the mass of humanity forcing animals and each other into unnatural states would further bind Kiijanavyre to me.  I was certain.



 Kiijanavyre turned to Gorn, “Do you smell that?” she asked in Mitirangu.  After he failed to respond she tried a different track “Do you have any ‘cooper’ or spurg for him.”  Gorn shook his head and Kiijanavyre was encouraged.  “He should drink some water.”  “Why are we going south, isn’t the ocean to the east?” Finally as if in answer Gorn stopped the caravan as they crested a hill. With the constant creek of the wagons gone and her own voice silent Kiijanavyre was confronted with sounds of the road though she could not yet see it.  Thousand of hooved beasts, hundreds of men and dozen of wagons were moving in both directions across the road. Ferry men were trying to coax cattle onto rickety rafts in order to cross the broad fast moving river, people were talking in all dialects of three human languages known to Kiijanavyre and perhaps a few languages she did not know.



    Gorn had stopped them at the last hill before the road The caravan planned to descend the hill cross a small marsh, then ascend the short step rise of the road and join the masses trying to press them selves to and from the dwarven homeland or across the great river. Kiijanavyre stood transfixed, the light filtering down on her skin through the young leafed trees was not enough to keep her warm once she stopped walking, and a foul smelling but cooling breeze was lifting the sweat of her body.  She heard the dwarves rustling behind her, but could not look away from the hints of images she could see through the trees between her and the road.  The fragments of cattle, people and horses that she could see through the trees did not truly form a shape in her mind, but teased her into staring harder.  She was brought back to the moment when her elk-skin tunic hit her in the back.  She turned and saw Gorn standing on the wagon bench, having just hurled her clothes at her, and she realized that he all the dwarves had changed clothes.  Gorn had his gaudy crystal jewelry on again, he changed into a purple waist coat, with diamond pattern made with green dyed shell beads, his hat was now pined up one side, and he was wearing shiny leather boots she had not seen. The handlers she noticed were securing the spears and shield under the wagons in such a way as to conceal their presence.  Gorn took his crossbow and placed on Kiijanavyre pellet quilt in the back of the wagon. He pointed at it and he pointed at her.   Only the mad orange bearded dwarf did not look cleaned or distinguished, his eyes looked sunken, his lips were beginning to chap and his clothes were caked in mud.  His calls for spurg and copper were getting horse and scratchy. 


Kiijanavyre acquiesced and put the long elk-skin tunic back on, even though it was hot and it made her suffer.  Then the caravan descended the hill, climbed the rise and joined the road in the middle of a Sabatallee horse herd heading west.  But the sight of the massive number of beings on the road was nothing compared to the sight of the river gorge itself, they were at low point in the gorge but to the west she could see the road extended up ward in elevation and beyond the vanishing point of the road she saw the eastern peaks of the Ven mountains, snow capped and extremely close. “Why are the mountains white Gorn,” she asked. 



Gorn did not answer, he focused intently on guiding his team and wagon around the horse heard safely.  Each of the ox teams had to be guided by a handler, and the Sabatallee tenders had to ride between their heard and the oxen.  Once they past that heard, it was flock on Ivanvil sheep being shepparded down off the road to a moss covered barge with single rutterman. Following that it was heard of Mitirangu cattle that they dared not mix the oxen with and so needless to say the travel was more difficult and slower going.  But Kiijanavyre took to the road like a natural missionary.  She befriend every human she met and drove Gorn’’s brow to near destruction with her wandering.  Yet all her encounters with the humans, were only surface encounters, not one touched her soul.  She would laugh, ask questions, express concern, mention details about her life and family, share my wisdom but sadly I saw in her soul that the presence of the dwarves and specifically Gorn never truly left her consciousness. 


3 days before: Guilds



 Kiijanavyre was awake and ready to go the next morning when the morning drum sounded and she met Gorn outside the hall.  They took the wagon down to the beach again, Gorn looked to her explain why they were taking the wagon but Kiijanavyre was ready with her question.  “Gorn, you explained Noble clans, mountain clans, trade clans and I know warrior clans are somewhere between mountain clans and noble clans in your hierarchy, but I don’t know what a guild, why guilds exist or how they are different.  What is a guild and why are you in guild?” 


“Guilds are organization of laborers, who agree to set wages and set standard of work.  In the time of my grand father and in the early days of my father, the noble clans conscripted labor from freedwarves that they found on their land.  My ancestors worked the mines, felled trees, tended farms and whatever else the clans declared necessary.  It was commonly held that our work was without value or off little value because it did not produce a finished product. The old cultures of the clans held that if you mined gem, you were considered less important than the dwarf, or Droven forgive, even a Gnome, that cut the gem.  Eventually members of what would become the stone masons guild, were able to argue before the church of Droven, that they owned their labor, that even though they didn’t design the building, that stone cutting was a artful skill and it should be afforded similar considerations to traditional craft skills such as blacksmithing, gem cutting,….even bone carving has been declared a craft legacy.  Once it was successfully argued that stone masonry should be protected under the laws of Droven, the society of the Ven mountains began to change quickly.  It soon followed that the miners made a similar argument, the farmers, the fisherman, the teamsters, smelters, the woodcutters and so on.  But because these undertaking required large labor forces, they were not divided into legacies like other trades., Organizations were formed, these were guilds that allowed us to regulate standards and prices.  Thus in some ways the guilds are like trade legacies, the only people allowed to transport goods across the mountain by an animal pulled cart are members of the Teamster’s guild.  The only dwarves allowed to pull ore out the ground are members of the various mining guilds.  We are essential to dwarven society, we are the first step in the production    Finally those of us that were on the fringes of society, the freedwarves who worked only as conscripted labor, have a means to force the clans to give us a significant portion of the wealth.   In some cities the guilds are more powerful than the namesake Noble clan.



Unlike the trade legacies though we guilddwarves do not treat our talents as hereditary rights.  Any dwarf can join a guild, we will supervise them, train them and ensure that their work matches the guild’s quality.  I wasn’t always a driver, I started out as an animal tender and then worked with the wagon wrights. Because I have a talent for driving, I was promoted quickly, and thus the wealth I earn is based on my talents not my birthright.



 No individual guilddwarf is as rich as a Noble clandwarf this is true, and I do not own my wagon, my team or the room I sleep in but I am also not denied items of quality craftdwarfship. My shirt for example, the wool, the thread, the stitching, and the dying all were done with the greatest quality of material by the greatest craftsdwarves   Every day I am in Ironspear I enter into a guildhall with glorious statues and perfect mosaics.  These are things I could not see or own if the guilds did not exist.  I have money in my purse, which I would not were I a conscripted freedwarf.  The guilds are means by which we laborers can get a piece of the wealth and access to things of quality.  Droven designed dwarves to create, to create objects from his many gifts, but in order to achieve that he as created the dwarf as a being with a singular appreciation for quality.  We that were denied the rights enjoyed by clan dwarves could not live Droven’s life, not truly, till we formed the guilds.  But we are not done with reform, the craft legacies have to be broken.  Every dwarf should have the right to create, the right to build a workshop and the right to act on his compulsion.” Gorn looked up to the sky in the southwest and pointed at the silver dome of Droven’s Courthouse.  “They know it is a death sentence to deny a dwarf with a compulsion the right to build and craft but they do it anyway, because they are scared of losing the Noble clans loyality the way the King lost the Noble clans.”



 Kiijanavyre looked at Gorn, she sensed in him that he enjoyed this indignation, if only because he spoke more about things that angered him than pleased him. Something struck a disingenuous about his kind of rage, but she was still only young girl and not yet able to articulate such things.  “Why not just live free lives Gorn, why have all these laws at all?  Who stops you from doing what you want?”


Gorn eyes widened and his brow rose with an expression she had not seen in days, “Those are different questions Kiijanavyre and you have already asked yours today.  But I will say this, there are dwarves that leave the Ven Mountains to practice and develop crafts in the lands of other races.  A dwarf can live with the dwarves or live free.”


Kiijanavyre said “There are a lot of things I don’t understand, why there are giants and humans walking around with dwarves on the mountain, how can your God keep making new rules, why do you follow some rules not others.  But mostly I don’t understand why you need so many shirts and vests and pieces of jewelry.  My mother made this tunic from a deer my father killed in winter, my hat my mother wove from the grass, and anyone can make these things.  I have seen nothing worth all of this effort.  You have torn down forests, cut up mountains and live each day not being able to do what you want. Why do you live this way?”  This is why I needed her soul, all creatures embody the truth of universe, but most them don’t realize it, even among the Gods.



Gorn surprised Kiijanavyre by smiling  and said “ that is another question Kiijanavyre I will answer it  tomorrow”. They both climbed up on the wagon’s bench and with the rock crammed in between them Gorn lead the wagon back to the guild hall.

 For lunch Gorn produced a ceramic kettle containing a cold soup of red meat and cucumbers that was so salty that it almost tasted like seawater. Kiijanavyre had to drink an entire jar of water just to get it down. She was thankful there were no rocks in it.  It was the first time she eaten plant flesh since entering the Ven. 


A human helmed sailing craft came into the Ironspear bay from the North, at Kiijanavyre’s insistence they walked down to the pier to watch it  dock and unload.  “Perhaps Jumata go on this ship instead of a dwarven ship,” Kiijanavyre said. 


Gorn nodded, “Human helmed ships do visit the dwarven islands”


19 day before: A dwarven sacrifice 



The caravan traveled all through the night, and Kiijanavyre slept in back of Gorn’s wagon until she was awoken to a grey dawn of heavy rain.  The road was on higher hills now, and indeed was no longer a raised above the natural elevation. Kiijanavyre could see nothing but the outlines of the great peaks. Kiijanavyre stayed in the back of the wagon rather than try to walk among the slipping Mitirangu cattle as they climbed hills along a muddy road which was getting higher and higher above the river.  As she expected, two cows form the heard ahead collided gently, but then buck at one another violenty and one cow slipped and went falling end over down the two hundred foot slope to river.  The river itself was narrower, and faster with small white caps, and no one was attempting to forge this far upstream. 



“Ya kule spurg” spat a raspy week voice from behind Gorn’s wagon and he went around the wagon in a stunted a wobbling run towards the edge of the cliff were the cow had fallen.  The mad orange bearded dwarf looked down, then sat down on the edge of the muddy road.  Without further hesitation or announcement he pushed himself forward on his hands and went sliding down the hill after the cow. 



   Gorn called to the handlers and the  stopped the wagon slowly, set the break, and climbed down. Kiijanavyre climbed out of the back as well.  With all the wagons stopped the a herd sheep behind them began to push forward, and Kiijanavyre became surrounded and restrained by bleats and bahs.  But the dwarf with the pink beard, Gorn and the mad dwarf’s only surviving companion had already waded through the livestock to the cliff’s edge and were looking downward.  When Kiijanavyre got to them they were speaking back in forth in dwarven, she looked down her self and saw the orange beard dwarf, still slidding himself down the steep hill on his backside.  The hillside had few trees and was mostly brush and grass, but it has had many clear areas that had been transformed to a thick mud by the rain.  The dwarf now appeared to be solid creature of mud. She watched him until he reached small outcropping of rocks a few dozen feet above and away from the river.  The cow had landed and died there and the dwarf immediately began to carve at with a knife.     



Gorn and the other two walked back to the caravan and all the dwarves gathered in complete council, the first she had ever seen.  The dwarves stood around the back of pink beard’s of a braked wagon and let the sheep move about them. The oxen whined and wailed at being harnessed while surrounded by other animals.   Gorn took a good sized empty leather bag out of teamsters stores and placed it on the wagon back. The dwarves then all placed items in it, mostly coins, Gorn went to his bench box and fished out the small set of carving tools he kept in the leather wallet.  He placed those in the bag, the pink bearded dwarf placed some dried meat and they tied up the bag and tied a piece of twine about the opening.  Before they could act upon whatever plan they had one of the dwarves, Kiijanavyre wasn’t sure which but not Gorn pointed at something farther down the road. Gorn looked up and nodded, apparently in agreement. Some more discussion and Gorn head back down the road on foot. Kiijanavyre felt somebody had to stay and monitor the mad dwarf even though his companions had abandoned him, but watching the strange dwarf carve the oxen disturbed her despite her own huntresses past.   Yet still Kiijanavyre kept vigil, poor girl was without a positive influence, and wondered how they might get the dwarf back up to the road.



    The rain continued and though the weather was still warm Kiijanavyre grew cold, but stayed at her position. The dwarves did not join her but tended their teams and wagons down the road.  Except Gorn whom she had not seen since he disappeared westward down the road.  The flock of sheep and their Ivanvil shepherds passed and the road cleared momentarily until another caravan of bright bearded dwarves approach from the east. These three wagons, were sturdier looking, than Gorn’s and the others’, the wheels had metal spokes, and the wagons were lead by teams of eight oxen and driven by two dwarves. These new wagons had high wooden sides and backs. The first two were filled to the top with sparkling stones and they sunk deep into the mud of the road.  The third wagon carried what looked like small cottage. It had hand angled tarred roof, shuttered windows and a door facing backward. This  final wagon was leading a group of sixteen dwarves marching in four rows of four.  They wore tunics made of steel chains, wore bright steel toed boots, and steel half helms with a piece of flint flaked into a knife affixed to the forehead of the helm. The dwarven soldiers carried long spears up right in one hand, and large square steel belted shields in the other hand. The wood of the shield was painted deep red and there was a black and white painting of a piece of flint flaked into knife.   Behind the sixteen marching dwarves was a smaller dwarf also wearing metal armor and carrying weapons but Kiijanavyre saw something different about his style. He was not wearing a helmet, but instead wore a wide brimmed straw hat on which the rain water beaded and rolled off, he carried a small metal round shield with the same black and white stone symbol as the other shields, but he let his shield arm hang lose at his side.  His chain shirt had gold and silver links in it and he wore a deep red cape that hung down to his knees. Strapped across his back over the cape he had a quiver with three short metal spears in it and on his waist he wore a sword and his boots were made of a polished red leather noticeable still through the mud. His gate was also different. The other dwarves marched with a rhythm and kept a forward case.  This dwarf seemed to stroll, and he bounced his glances from the tree line to his right and the river on his left. He even smiled at Kiijanavyre.  That was when she noticed the thing that most unsettled her about these dwarves, unlike the wagon’s drivers they had naturally colored beards and hair.   Yet all their beards were an identical shade of brown and were presented proudly on top of their armor. Then suddenly the smaller dwarf in the rear shouted.  “Gleevit!”.  The formation of soldiers stopped, as did the wagons.  One of the dwarves from the front wagon climbed down, his beard was a shimmering sapphire color with small bejeweled decorative combs placed in it to divide it into a fork. He was waited for the brown bearded dwarf in the cape and together they walked side by side to the pink bearded dwarf with which Kiijanavyre had grown familiar.



      She thinks they spoke to each, though she could not tell for certain because their body language did not betray speech.  The only clue she got to the significance of the events was something she didn’t understand. The blue bearded dwarf with the forked beard opened up his coin purse and hand the pink beard dwarf a fist full of silver.  The armor dwarf removed steel a gauntlet to reveal a hand five times adorned with precious metal and gems. Two of these rings he gave to Kiijanavyre’s dwarf, and then they started moving their caravan again. But as the guarded caravan passed each dwarf in the group, including the soldiers in formation paused to contribute a coin to the pink dwarf.  All of this money was added to the black leather bag, and then Gorn returned, carrying two thin sheets of copper. The copper was rolled into tubes and placed in the black bag as well. Finally one of the handlers placed a glass bottle full of the fermented grain drink and then they tied the end of the back shut.  Gorn tied a long piece of twine to the bag, and brought it up Kiijanavyre.  Gorn looked down the hill at the mad dwarf and lowered the bag down to him.  I said Kiijanavyre could not understand the significance of what happened, because she did not understand money, nor did she understand what wealth means to dwarves. But the dwarves just delivered a lot of money and wealth to half a starved, dehydrated dwarf and then they left him there and moved on.


2 days before



The next morning Gorn woke Kiijanavyre up before dawn. Gorn served her a breakfast of a very sour of oyster and ash stew, but Kiijanavyre knew that getting that breakfast was special effort Gorn took just for her. Then Gorn took Kiijanavyre back up Ironspear mountain. This time Kiijanavyre and Gorn took a wagon and team up a road that required Gorn to pay a silver piece to an Ironspear dwarf standing along side a turnpike.  The road was busy with day glow bearded dwarves and small heards of goats. It was becoming light when Gorn  walked Kiijanavyre into one of the beige buildings. The room had a table in it, with many colorful cones of thread and three bolts of fabric and several pieces of fur.  It was a dwarven tailor’ shop, but Kiijanavyre had never seen such tools or objects. The room’s sole occupant was a one eyed dwarf, with a black beard, bald head and missing two of his upper teeth.  He stood slightly taller then Kiijanavyre, and stared at her with gaze that made her self-conscious. There was some conversation in dwarven and Gorn handed the dwarf two pieces of gold.  Then the black beard dwarf approached her, and started pulling at her arms, he stretched pieces of string across her arms, around her neck, and over her chest. She struggled a bit, but he was strong and quick. It was over before she really new what was happening.  Then Gorn walked out, when Kiijanavyre paused he gestured for her to follow. Without further discussion, they climbed back onto the drivers into the wagon descended the mountain again along the roads.  Gorn hummed, or made some satisfied rumbiling even it started to rain again, Kiijanavyre choked back tears at the thought of another day on the beach in the rain.



“You said you would answer my question today Gorn. I asked you yesterday what is the point of all this, why is any of this worth anything?”



Gorn stopped his satisfied humming, and his eyes widened with displeasure.  “That wasn’t your question, I was answering your question from yesterday right now, you will get your answer tomorrow.”



“What about today Gorn, what today’s question?”



“You asked that yesterday and that is a question.”



“But you aren’t answering that until tomorrow, so I should get to ask one that you could answer today and calling any part of this exchange a question is breaking the spirit of this agreement”


“Ask your question.”



“ Even if Jumata hasn’t arrived, will you take me home, if I ask you to…if I request it.  Will you take me home when I request it?”



There was long pause, Kiijanavyre stared hard at Gorn who kept his eyes on the team in front of him.  “Yes, I would Kiijanavyre,” he said. 



They waited that day on the beach in silence, Kiijanavyre gathered shells to take home.  Gorn sat in his wagon and watched her.


18 days before: Gorn's shame


The next morning Kiijanavyre awoke in the wagon beneath her fur quilt, above her was strange blonde dwarf with a long blonde beard, braided hair and fierce blue eyes.  He stood in the wagon and spoke.

“Mitirangu, Ivanvil or Sabatallee?”

 

Kiijanavyre was started and looked about, it was noisy, extremely loud and wet. She looked up and saw Gorn’s back, he still sat on the wagon bench still wearing his purple jacket. She was thirsty and hungry, and looked around for a jar of water.  All she saw was the supplies in the wagon and the crossbow.   A loud constant roar hummed in her ears, she sat up, leaning against Gorn’s back slightly, and her ears popped as she open her jaw to speak.   She looked again at the blonde dwarf. “What” she said in Mitirangu.

 

This new dwarf replied in Mitirangu “Do you speak Mitirangu?”

 

She replied in same “Yes” before taking notice that her whole caravan was stopped on the road, each with its own yellow bearded dwarf alongside or standing in the back.  The sky was grey and they had moved away from the rivers edge in the night and were now on road flanked on ether side by terraced farmland land.  There were handful of dwarves in simple clothes and undyed beards working planting the fields and east of them just to the south of the road was enormous water fall.  The water fall was shrouded in mist, she could barley see it, and crossing in front of the water, connecting two hills tops was great single arched stone bridge. The mist was obscuring the source of the water and to Kiijanavyre this looked as if entire volume of the river was being emptied out from the sky.  I know these falls well, and they are one of my Uncle Droven’s simpler but more attractive constructions. It is near one thousand feet from GoldenFraye pass to the start of the river below, and in the spring and summer the falls are a loud and violent thing of beauty.  The waterfall’s spray catches the light to form rainbows and it’s form is at once constant and shifting.  The sight of the falls captivates the dwarves more than any being I have seen. I do not understand it. Even I an immortal being with no need to count time cannot stare it as long as a dwarf will on his first passing. Thus the blonde dwarf was understanding when Kiijanavyre stared at the waterfall did not answer the dwarf the first time he asked.

 

“Are you the owner of that runed crossbow?”

 

Kiijanavyre looked at Gorn’s crossbow and at the dwarf.  In earnest she asked, “Why do you care?”

 

“Because it is the law, what is your name?”

 

“Kiijanavyre and you?”

 

“Just Kiijanavyre no family name?”

 

“My father’s family name was named Jonik, but I was not claimed by…..”

 

“Kiijanavyre Jonik” he said, that is when Kiijanavyre saw that a second blonde dwarf wearing a large silver medallion and scratching on a wood pallet with a small carved stick was standing next the to the wagon. “Citizen of Parna possession of one rune marked copper and steel crossbow.” He pick up the bow at looked at a rune of the stock.  “There is a craftsman’s… correction … craftdwarf’s mark, it is G diamond diamond B.”  Upon reading that he looked at the dwarf next to the wagon with a narrow eyed expression. He then said something in dwarven “Gorn, thall ba kulant soon bro’ode”

 

The dwarf next to the wagon lifted something form his belt to the pallet and there was brief glow that Kiijanavyre did not understand as this dwarevn priest invoked the power for Droven.  He then took the thin sheet of a sheepskin on which he been making marks and handed it up to the blonde dwarf in the wagon.

 

“Kiijanavyre” the dwarf in the wagon said “Do not sell this crossbow, do not loose this sealed document. If you melt it down or destroy the crossbow, though Droven would shed a tear, make sure a priest of Droven is present, and have this crossbow and this document with you when you leave The Ven.”    

The priest walked up to front of wagon said to Gorn, “Juk na humaz grift cur”

I thought then that the priest was wrong and that it was not her crossbow, but little did I know how much Gorn would give her.



 1 day before: What the Gods intend and a nice jacket 



Kiijanavyre started that day in her tiny guildhall cell, still uncomfortable, still hungry but with more hope. Just the knowledge that she could return to the forest and the true way of life that it and I offered her raised her spirits.  She felt more in control, but there was still piece of her soul I couldn’t see. It was something that had been there all along, that looking back now I see that it was wrapped up in love for me, her family, her home and the forest.  But it was not part of the true freedom that I offered to her.  She was dedicated to her quest which was a quest I desired fulfilled. However, she was dedicated to the cause for the wrong reasons, she was dedicated out of selfless love.  Despite this dark seed in her, I was not worried about losing her that day as Jumata was returning, her quest was being fulfilled and she could return to her life.



    Gorn gathered her from the dark room and took her down to carriage houses.  He was dressed in a plain leather jerkin, brown tunic and pants. His jewelry was simple pieces of silver or gold on his ears and fingers.  He carried a parcel wrapped in rough undyed flax cloth under his arm.



     Gorn went to the stall were his wagon was stored, and pulled out the wagon into the large main corridor of the carriage house. He handed the parcel to Kiijanavyre, “That Kiijanavyre is answer to you question and least it is the beginning of an answer.”  She could tell that Gorn was displeased with her about something.  I believe he was upset that she wanted to leave.


Kiijanavyre unwrapped the parcel and saw soft light brown cloth inside with small enlaid pearls.  I think Gorn’s mood brightened a bit when he saw the fabric in the parcel. “Those are sea pearls, Kiijanavyre, not the truly precious ones, but each is unique.” She then folded the cloth and found a long sleeved short coat.  “Look at the lining, that is a weave of fine linen, very soft, absorbent, but it dries very quickly, now run your hand over the outer sleeved.” She did and what appeared to solid fabric bristle delicately under her touch.  Gorn was speaking very quickly now. “That is a foe-feather fabric, the tailor actually makes little feathers out of seal skin, he then places them together so tightly that when pressure is applied in one direction it forms a seal and in the other direction it allows air to pass.  So the coat is soft to the touch but water resistant as well.  Instead of making an air-tight coat, you get a coat that breathes and is water resistant as long water hits the coat from a downward angle or direct angle.  This is the perfect coat for a stormy summers day, like when Vengar  climbed down the hill after that cow.  I saw how cold you got standing in the rain by the cliff.”


“Is this for me?” Kiijanavyre did not understand, it was just a coat, but Gorn seemed very excited.


“Yes”



 “But how does it answer my question?”


“A mountain dwarf could not make that coat, the flax for the Linen came all the way from Swaazcar, it was woven by a master weaver in Tincry, the pearls came from Quartzhammer, the leather from Parna and the feathers were made assembled here by a master who has spent one hundred years of his life perfecting this art. It is all he does, he does not farm, he does not hunt, he does not cut stone, the construction of masterful clothing is his only ambition.  Furthermore, he only makes thin coats or shirts from this type of material.  It is of unparallelled quality Kiijanavyre, and we couldn’t have this type of work without the society that we have. Now that you have it you can appreciate it, so please put in on.”


She did, there were two sets of ceramic medallions glazed a shimmering silver and sewn to the right side of the jacket.  “Those are buttons,” Gorn said as stepped closer. He buttoned up the jacket for her, and Kiijanavyre did not watch what he was doing but stared at his large eyes while he worked.



“Thank you for getting me this Gorn” 


“Thank you for saving me from Ivanvil brigands Kiijanavyre”, when I looked into Kiijanavyre’s soul at that moment, I knew I must intervene.  One of my holy warriors was completing a quest near the Ven mountains, I had Leethanna send him a dream, a dream of Gorn and Kiijanavyre.   I would keep plying him with visions until he made the separation of Gorn and Kiijanavyre his personal quest, and he returned Kiijanavyre to my service.   Sending Kiijanavyre on this quest had been a mistake, but she had wanted to go and I did not intervene soon enough.


“Gorn what if we, you and I....” but Kiijanavyre did not finish her sentence.  “Leave the cart Gorn, let us walk down the beach today.”


As Gorn and Kiijanavyre walked through the streets I could not look away. Instead all of my gazes begin to focus on them.  There was something different, the colors of Kiijanavyre’s soul was shifting and I was losing her.  I can step back now and say that perhaps I underappreciated her soul. Kiijanavyre had already developed a truly complicated and powerful inner spirit by the time she was eight years old.  If she was properly cared for, her spiritual growth could provide me with a harvest seen perhaps once a generation.  But if neglected or missmanged her soul could shrink, it could sour or grow the wrong way.  I may admit that I was over focused on this girl, but for we six in the wager there is nothing more precious than a human soul.  When harvesting thousands at a time you can lose sight of the beauty they possess, and every one of my siblings fills the hunger for creation by cultivating favorites among the humans.  I turned all gazes upon her and Gorn so that they would feel my presence. While we six are forbidden from influencing the earth directly the full gaze of a god is felt on the mortal plain.


“Gorn tell me something,” Kiijanavyre asked both of them seeming to forget Gorn’s rules. “Vengar, that was the name orange bearded dwarf we met in the forest?”


“It may still be his name” Gorn stated.

 “What happened to him, was he cursed or enchanted, why did you leave him there, and why did every dwarf give metal pieces to him… ” she searched for the word “coins.”


“Vengar was taken by Droven’s compulsion.  It is state that can occur in any dwarf, but occurs most often when a dwarf is practicing a craft.   The dwarf becomes obsessed with a vision of an object, something that he hasn’t created, and this obsession is total, the dwarf won’t eat or sleep or carry out any other task until his creation is complete.  This is very often how the great masterpieces are made, but it can also be deadly.  If the dwarf doesn’t have the materials or the tools to create his object, than he will starve or become violently unstable, in almost all cases they withdraw from society.  I was surprised Vengar stayed with us as long as he did, but he must have thought that we would give him what he need complete his task. Vengar’s compulsion was still relatively mild, Julian, the teamster with him, said that he started demanding bone and copper after they were attacked.  The compulsion can make dwarves violent and the longer it lasts the more dangerous they become. I was worried he would attack one of us, if he couldn’t find the bone he needed.  I don’t know what Vengar wanted to build, but whatever it was it involved copper and bone.”



“Wasn’t there anything you could do to stop it?”



“Kiijanavyre, Droven’s compulsion is a blessing, and we all hope that someday we will be taken by it.  That is why everyone gave what they could, I bought copper sheets from tinker’s wagon on the road, and we all gave him money or food for when he finished his work.  Even after all that time he went without food or water there was still a chance he could finish his work before he starved.  A dwarf with the compulsion will work many times faster than a dwarf without it.  We couldn’t try to force him to come with us either, once he starts working it is a death sentence to separate a dwarf from his crafts.  A dwarf with the compulsion will die of starvation and thirst if he cannot complete his object.  Some dwarves, get impossible compulsions, requiring something like a scale from an exotic beast or an excessive amount of gems or precious metals. They will certainly die because they can not realize their vision. What is worse is what happened to my mother, she got a the compulsion. Mother had always made shell jewelry, she didn’t sell it, she obviously didn’t have a trade legacy, but she made it anyway.  Then one day, my father and I come home and we find her focused on her carving.  We left her be, but she stayed at her work for two days, and eventually a Priest came to the house and explained to me what was happening.  After a few days she demanded more shells and  then more shells.  Father and I would bring her more shells, but we keep finding discard pieces of carved shell or half finished bracelets.  She did not have the skill to realize her objective and she died of thirst still working at her carvings.”  Gorn pulled the collar of his shirt wide and revealed a small scar on his collar bone.  “She stabbed me with an awl when I tried to force water down her throat.  But if you are a lucky dwarf, you will have a workshop, materials and skill when you have the compulsions. That tailor we went to has had two compulsions during his lifetime.  The vest he made during one compulsion is owned by the King and the shirt he made during another compulsion is worn by the patriarch. The compulsions are gifts from Droven and they are the truest dwarven state, I have never met any dwarf that doesn’t respect and admire it.  But as you can guess, the trade legacies prevent some dwarves from….”



 “There he is” Kiijanavyre shouted and ran down on to the beach.  Jumata was standing in the middle of the beach wet and cold, wrapped in a wool blanket looking very lost.



 Jumata



During Kiijanavyre's time in Ironspear, I turned one of my gazes to Jumata, he was still alive.  He was on a Dwarven occupied island being entertained by member of the Dwarven Nobility: a young member of the clan Flamecopper . They were delaying Jumata’s departure in order to press him for information.  The Flamecopper dwarf had promised Jumata transport on a human helmed galley in one-months time. Jumata agreed, he had already been aboard one dwarven boat that sank, he was reluctant to board another one.  Jumata’s soul was mine, but it was weak, it was not the prize that Kiijanavyre’s soul was and I knew that souls like Jumata’s would never bring in more souls. 



As a person, Jumata had his uses, he had an easy charm that attracted people to him, though he lacked the spark that inspired people.  He was willing to take risks, not because he was brave but because he lacked the imagination it took to understand the risks before he undertook them.  Souls like his were easily lost and easily gained.  But unfortunately I began to see that the fate of Kiijanavyre’s soul was tied to his actions.  Like many humans Jumata was influenced by atheistic and the tactile details of his surrounding more than any concept or personal connection.



In the day prior to turning one of my gazes upon Jumata, I had my sister Leethana construct a dream about the forest in which Kiijanavyre and Jumata had been born, she focused the dream on the food, the smells and the idyllic moments when the wind would pick up the scents of wild flowers and berries.  The dream would stand in contrast to the overcast sea sprayed city of Ironspear, but also to cold pine covered salt-wind swept island that Jumata had been stranded on.  I had intended to send the dream to Kiijanavyre to push her to leave the city. But instead I used it push Jumata to leave early. Kiijanavyre was already extremely homesick but she still hadn’t left, I knew it would take some event to push her to give up her quest.  I was willing risk Jumata’s life to this end. I was certain that if Jumata didn’t go I would lose Kiijanavyre’s soul to the dwarven corruptor, and if Jumata drowned, well his soul was mine already. 


Earlier Today


Kiijanavyre figured out how to use a candle and came to Gorn’s room in the middle of the night.  “Jumata has failed,” she said.  “He traveled to islands of the first men, he met with their elders and they gave him the cure to our oak blighted oak trees, but he lost it when his dwarven ship sank off the coast of the Standfast Islands. He says he has learned of away back to the islands of the first men, but he refused to go.  He says he is done with quest and he just wants to go home.  But if we go home then it is all for nothing, the oak trees will die. What should I do Gorn?”




“I have two thoughts on this, first I say let the Oak trees die, you’re people aren’t using them anyway, they are going to waste.  Second I also say you need to finish your quest, there is an answer to the problem you and Jumata were sent to solve.   It doesn’t matter why you left, what matters is that you undertook something, you are honor bound to finish your task.”



“But I don’t want to go Gorn, I am tired of traveling, I miss mother and father, I miss my forest, I miss my food, I am tired of salt and picking rocks out of everything I eat.  I just want to go home, eat berries, sleep till I am not tired any more, drink sweet water from my streams, make wine and gather eggs. It will be summer soon, I want to have the easy warmth of those days.”



    “Kiijanavyre, you have to go after this cure, not because of the trees but because you have a duty to your Goddess and your people.  It doesn’t matter what you want, it matters more what your society needs of you. And I will help you, I will take you down to the shore today and I will find you a boat heading to the Brigand island.”



“Gorn,” she said, his chamber was dark despite the candle and though she couldn’t see his face she looked away from him. “I want to go home, take me home today, we should leave right now.”



Gorn’s speeches about duty and honor had not over come Kiijanavyre’s sense of the truth, not yet.  They gathered their materials and Gorn signed out supplies for the two of them from the teamster’s storehouse. Kiijanavyre wore her new jacket. But there was no talk of Jumata or how he would return home. When they exited the carriage house, it another grey dawn in Ironspear, but along the granite street Kiijanavyre noticed something that had not been there yesterday.  Coming up through the cracks between the road brick were the sprouts of tiny ferns and moss had grown up out the cracks in the granite brick to form a trail heading from the carriage house towards the ocean.  The newly sprouted plants formed a path, just wide enough for Kiijanavyre and Gorn to walk down, and it indeed followed the exact path that the two took the beach yesterday. 



Kiijanavyre began to weep, and Gorn spoke “It is sign a Kiijanavyre, it is a sign, Yaw’naw wants to you continue, these plants, they are her way of telling you to go.”



Kiijanavyre nodded and Gorn turned the wagon to follow the trail to beach to the beach.  But Gorn and Kiijanavyre were wrong, it was not a sign, it was the result of the intense attention I gave to them yesterday.  My full gaze, my full attention, inspires life to take root, those spores were already there, but because the full weight of my being was focused on that area they grew faster.  And now Gorn, this fool of a dwarf, who was created from things I threw away, had corrupted my power and used it against me!



When they reached the beach, Kiijanavyre stayed in the wagon and Gorn went to speak to the dwarves among the currachs.  After a few minutes and an exchange of coin he returned.  “Kiijanavyre, those four dwarves will take you the islands of Brigand they speak Ivanvil on the Brigand islands, so you should be fine.  There will be a ship there, sooner or later, that can take you to the isles of the First men.” He handed Kiijanavyre his coin purse. “This all the coin, I have”.  He then reached into the waist pocket of the embroidered vest he was wearing.  He pulled a very small leather pouch, “There are two perfect pearls in here and small sapphire. Trade them carefully, one of each should be enough to get you passage on ship, but never reveal you have them until you are ready to trade.”




Kiijanavyre was still weeping.  “This feels wrong, Gorn, I am scared.”




Gorn replied, “It is your duty Kiijanavyre”



“I have one question I want answered Gorn?”



“Please ask it Kiijanavyre” he said.



“Could you love me if I don’t go.”



Gorn did not hesitate in his answer “No, no I couldn’t”



“Damn it Gorn” she shouted her voice being drowned out over the surf. She climbed down and gathered up her rolled pelt quilt.  “Maybe I won’t go.  I have so many questions still, I don’t know what a King is, I don’t know what a Parna is, or a Swaazcar is, I don’t know how there can be giants and humans in dwarven clans but you get upset about the clans adopting dwarves. And I  now realized, I don’t care what the answers are, cause I know you have answers to them.  But I have some questions I want you to ask yourself.  First, I think you forced Coalvine to leave cause he broke some rules, but you break rules, with that crossbow and you say want to change the rules the Nobles make up cause you disagree with them.  Gorn I think that it is wrong, to just follow the rules you like or agree with.  You are asking me to obey my god when I don’t want to, but you don’t obey the laws you don’t want to.” It started to rain.  “Also ask yourself this question about the value of your society, what did your father really value about the sea?  It sounded like he valued his freedom.  You say you want freedom to live the life of dwarf but I don’t think you respect freedom, I don’t think you are willing sacrifice enough for freedom, and you don't have freedom to follow your….” I knew what she was going to say and I am glad she didn’t get a chance say it.  The best thing Gorn ever did in my eyes was to cut of Kiijanavyre off before she declared something unfortunate.




“You are right Kiijanavyre.” Gorn turned from her and opened the bench box on the wagon, letting the rain soak his goods  and he took out the crossbow.  “Take this. . . legally it is yours anyway, it is my most prized possession.  You are right, how can I ask you to be righteous if I won’t be righteous myself.  You should go Kiijanavyre, and it would break me if you did not go because I am a bad example, because I corrupted you with my own weakness. You are right, we have to do the things we don’t agree with to protect those things larger than ourselves.  Here are the bolts for the bow, I am certain any dwarf on that boat can show how to use it.” He smiled at her, and said “you are making me a better dwarf by doing this.”



She took the crossbow and walked out into the surf where two dwarves were holding the nine foot currach and two more were inside.  She climbed in and laid down clutching the crossbow and the rolled up pelt quilt containing everything else.  The other two dwarves pulled themselves into the boat. One stood over here and gave her an inquisitive eyebrow raise.  She looked at this new dwarf with a stone tied around his neck and through tears she said “Ya kula ta theek.”  The seadwarf nodded and the four dwarves began working the oars as the boat moved away from the shore and Kiijanavyre’s soul was no longer mine. I looked at her but could not see her thoughts nor imbue her with my power. I saw that she alone now possessed her soul.




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Comments ( 9 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Scrasamax
October 8, 2012, 9:11
6xp
As long as this is, I want more. The perspective of the goddess was sometimes distracting, but at other times, sublime. I found both characters of Gorn and Kiijan interesting, and while the pace was slow, I think that is what made it dwarven. Well done.
Voted Murometz
October 9, 2012, 16:15
5xp
Ok, read it finally. Now have to go pass out from exhaustion :-) But not before saying, this is outstanding and I really enjoyed reading it. Some solid dwarvisms and an original voice!
Murometz
October 9, 2012, 20:07
0xp
I may just end up picking out my favorite bits from this piece, randomly over the years, and say, "i like it".

Here is the first:

 "...they are insane because no dwarf on the water can think properly."
axlerowes
October 9, 2012, 21:21
1xp
This has both dwarven sea captains and pet rocks...just for you
Voted Dossta
October 11, 2012, 13:47
6xp
First let me lead off my saying that there is a LOT of really solid information in this piece. The society that you describe is well-ordered, consistent, flavorful and vibrant. I love the distinction between the different classes of dwarf -- clan- (noble, warrior or mountain), guild- and free-dwarves all have their own quirks and customs. The little things you used to draw those lines, like the beard dying or the ability to carry weapons, really tied the whole thing together. In whole, the culture is beautifully realized.

Some of my favorite parts: everything about eating; the inclusion of rocks in dwarven food to wear down their teeth, the fact that dwarves only need to eat once a day and that they prefer to take their meals alone. The beard dying (both natural and false colors). I was also fascinated with Droven's Compulsion -- that one detail was enough to fill an entire submission on its own!

You obviously spent a lot of time on this piece, and I really respect it. However, there are still some rough patches which keep its full potential from being realized. If you want this to stand as a story and not a purely informative work, they may need to be addressed.

The two biggest issues I had were the ordering of events and Kiijanavyre's character. You skip around in the timeline a LOT, and it got very confusing even with the headers. I would either rework it so that it stays chronological, and have some of the questions be asked on the wagon rather than on the beach to avoid the huge info-dump at the end -OR- I would find some way of better marking those passages. The beach scenes aren't really flashbacks (more like "future"backs? what the hell do you call them?), but there's a reason why flashbacks and scenes that break up the main timeline are used sparingly in literature. They are just too damn jarring most of the time.

Second, Kiijanavyre. A 15-year-old girl who can speak 3 languages and some dwarven on the side, can debate philosophy and has the confidence and poise to negotiate safe passage out of an ambush with a culture that she is only passingly familiar with. You keep trying to emphasize her girlish or naive nature, but then make her speak like a university graduate in her conversations with Gorn on the beach. Gorn has similar problems (in that he didn't speak much on the journey and was supposed to be pretty stingy with his words, but then waxes philosophical and disgorges whole paragraphs of dialogue at once), but he's not quite as bad. I don't care if she speaks formally or not, just make it consistent from the beginning of the story and try to explain it a little with her background. Perhaps she was so sheltered by her parents and her goddess that she never interacted with other children, and thus has a highly formal way of speaking?

Anyway, I'll shut up now before this gets too long. Thank you for writing this; I really enjoyed it.
axlerowes
October 11, 2012, 19:48
1xp
This exactly the kind of feed back you hope to get, when you post something on the Citadel you hope to get 5 readers in five years, maybe….so I am really honored and excited to have three people read this, and thanks for taking the time to suggest improvements.


The main focus of this story was to be an information dump about dwarves society without just listing facts, but by placing those facts in the context of personal interactions. It is esoteric piece of work, but I enjoyed writing. I also found that writing a story like this went much faster than writing "fact" posts.


The precocious Kiijanavyre character may have been out of my depth as a writer. I needed and wanted a character that was both a child and an adult, that possessed great talents and an intuitive intelligence, but at the same time lacked a great deal of self knowledge and certainty. The type of character/person that can be playful one minute and sophisticated the next because they lack a pretense or sense of self-awareness that would require them to maintain a persona. This is meant to be indirect contrast with the dwarves who very much keep a persona, and are very much worried about presentation. As she interacts with Gorn at the beach she becomes a little self-conscious, starts to pick her words, and eventually in a larger sense no longer pursues her sincere wants but takes a path of duty. I thought it would be banal to make these contrasts any more stark than I did, but I can certainly go in say these things. Yet I would love to know if you saw those things in the story, because what I wanted to put in the story is irrelevant until I put it in the story. I will try to go through say these things more explicitly.

I could make her older if that makes more palatable, I pretty much pulled 15 out of a hat, cause that is likely an adult in a stone age society. If make her 19, will she still seem as vulnerable, will her uncertainty regarding a course of action be understandable? The language thing is cultural, and I only meant her to speak two language fluently, clearly defining the events as they happen in different languages has always been a problem with this setting.

I will add a few lines to the first section to really emphasize her wunderkin status. That also might make the goddess's preoccupation with her specifically more understandable. But I do feel that wunderkin characters are basically annoying and I was trying to strike a balance. The characterization of Kiijanavyre may also be stunted by the lack other interactions with other characters. We can't know if she is a typical 15 year old girls if she never talks to any other humans, we also don't get much a sense for her in her element. Tell me what you think about the addition of scene, in the forest in which
1) she either talks with the druid some about what is coming and what she can expect

2) In beginning when she show the dwarves around, her lecturing Gorn might make a nice arc.

3) Her talking with the Mitirangu priest who gave her bread.

Okay the chronology, I like starting and ending with Kiijanavyre getting in the boat. But you nailed the other jumps directly, I wanted to keep the beach from being an information dump. But I also want to distinguish Gorn on the road from Gorn at the beach, the contrast in behaviors was deliberate, but maybe I am trying to do too much. I wrote this in a linear fashion and then cut it up when posting. So there are not even designed transitions between the scenes.
axlerowes
October 28, 2012, 12:13
1xp
Update: reworked the chronology some, the beach events are now in order. I also added more details regarding Kiijanavyre's inner dialog and another Kiijanavyre conversation in order to try address some of Dossta's comments.
Scrasamax
October 28, 2012, 13:37
5xp
Have an HoH sir
Murometz
November 21, 2013, 17:13
0xp
Holy sweet Jesus!

Regions

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Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

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