We knew something wasn’t right as soon as we breached the vault doors. There wasn’t the smell of decay you normally get from the old tomes once they’ve been left for a century or two. The Sarge whooped as he pulled a thick manual from the shelf nearest us. I remember him saying something about hitting the jackpot, then his head snapped back and something burst through his neck. Circle help me, I ran like a little girl…
- Corporal Ilya of the 2nd Expeditionary Force
The Book Keepers were created by Dwarven Magesmiths to catalogue and maintain their extensive archives. These skeletal constructs work tirelessly cataloguing, restoring and copying ancient texts for their Dwarven masters so that no information is lost to the corrupting influence of time. It is unknown If they were originally designed to act in defence of their archives but defend they do. More than one unwary vault raider has fallen to the quick blows of a Book keeper in a forgotten vault far from aid.
These mechanical creatures range in size depending on their maker but generally stand around 3 feet tall and are most commonly bipedal although it isn’t unheard of for quadrupedal or even winged keepers to be found amongst some of the older archives.
Skeletal in nature, they are built around a central power core mounted in their chest cavity. An intricate interlacing of cogs, pistons and cables run from the central plant down over the majority of the skeleton, allowing it strangely graceful movement. The skeleton itself is covered with Dwarven runes, barely visible through the interlacing cogs and pistons. When the Keeper is active the runes glow with an eerie blue light, illuminating the area around it for several feet.
The art of creating the Book Keepers is a closely guarded secret within the ranks of Dwarven smiths with few smiths from other races trusted with the secret of construction. The difficulty in creating such a small construct that will last the ages lies in giving it the ability to reform itself, replacing damaged components and renewing it’s runes of activation without external aid. Thanks to this only the most talented and focused of Magesmiths are able to create these constructs.
The first step in construction is the forging of the skeleton of the Keeper. This is done in a full night’s work at the forge where the smith must form the skeleton from a single ingot of adamantine. If longer than 8 hours is spent forging the skeleton, the adamantine will become corrupt and will be little more than scrap metal.
Once the skeleton is complete it must be engraved with the various runes required for its activation. These include basic runes of activation, runes of repair and runes of consciousness. These must also be crafted in a single sitting otherwise the runes will not mesh correctly with each other and will ultimately clash, causing the construct to behave erratically and without reason or control.
From this point all that remains is the crafting of the mechanics that will allow the construct locomotion. There is no magic required in this step, only traditional smithing methods. Due to the complexity of the crafting required though this is still a test of even the most experienced smith’s skills.
Once these three steps are completed the Keeper is able to be activated. This is most commonly done in the library or archives it will be overseeing but it is not necessary.
If they or their libraries are threatened the Keepers will react efficiently with extreme violence. Their strong limbs while designed for delicate penmanship are able to double as effective weapons due to their sheer strength. Survivors of encounters with Keepers describe how efficient they were at ripping through even the most elite of warriors. In one instance a survivor of a Circle Expeditionary Force described how a keeper knocked down a full grown man and ripped open his chest in one swift movement before moving on to disembowel another.