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An Encounter with a Dwarf

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Recent excavations within the Temple of Knowledge at Nochet have uncovered a variety of records by the noted scholar and traveler, Sorala, particularly of her exploits during the early years of the Hero Wars in the company of the Colymar thane Harmast Ernaldori of Clearwine.  This scroll proved of particular interest as it recorded in detail an encounter with a dwarf, possibly of the variety commonly referred to as a "tin" dwarf, and particularly as this type is rarely recorded as interacting with humans.  We believe the episode occurred in a section of Dragon Pass known as the Dwarf Run.

From the Recordings of Sorala of Nochet, Wildday, Harmonyweek, Earthseason, 1626 ST

It was a quiet day as they travel along the River. Sometimes the River is wide and flat, almost resembling a lake; other times it flows fast and quick through its broad track and down steps of stone creating rapids and small falls. The latter demonstrates why there are few who traverse the River northward. Occasionally, we caught sight of small herds of deer, or other animals along the water's edge upon the western bank, but no signs of other travelers.

What became puzzling was the unusual stone boulders we found along the way - great square cubes, with perfectly flat sides and precise edges. The first was an oddity - a thing of granite a meter's length on each side set where a pathway descended into a small vale and across a narrow, easily fordable stream. The second was equally unexpected, sitting by itself in an open field, and suggesting more than just happenstance. It, too, was a similar precision with flat sides and sharp edges, though of white stone marbled with veins of green. When we crested a small stony rise to find a third stone cube, this of a hard, slate-like appearance though only a half meter in height, width, and depth, we determined that there was nothing natural about them.

Our dragonewt companion seemed utterly indifferent to the stones, and expressed no thought as to their origin or presence. Otherwise, investigation showed no indication that these stones were anything other than hard, cold stone - no magic, no life, no signs of tracks or anything to indicate their source.

My investigations showed that each stone was very precise. Each side seemed to be exactly on the same length. Each edge was perfectly carved. I had seen references to similar stone cubes before - always connected or related to the dwarfs. There was nothing else interesting about the stone - no marks, no indentations, no pictures, no writing.

It was while I was investigating that Harmast spotted to the south, and moving towards us through an area of heavier brush and grass, what appeared to be a small wheeled wagon bearing a rather squat figure and pulled by two creatures.  As the cart got within 200 meters of us, we could see that the cart was pulled by a pair of what look to be "goats"... except that they had a dull, metallic sheen and looked like animals encased in armor. The cart was relatively small and appeared to be of metal with metal wheels. The driver of the cart was clearly a very stocky dwarf with a very broad face, long grey eyebrows, long grey beard, and a long grey ponytail. He was dressed in what appeared to be a cloak or robe of metal rings. He looked periodically at something attached to his left wrist, holding his arm up at odd angles, or at some object held in his right hand, and then towards us before glancing back down at the object in his hand. As he got within 100 meters of you, he put down the object from his right hand, picked up another object which he opened and looked at intently.

I have done my best to recall the subsequent conversation and the dwarf's varied gestures as clearly as possible.

When the dwarf reached some 20 meters away, he pulled upon some handle in his cart and the goats and cart came to a halt. The dwarf looked down at the opened object in his right hand, glanced at his left wrist, looked up at Harmast, repeated the process, and then said rather haltingly in Tradetalk, "Well greeted! May the rain wet your hair and storms burst around you! Be you the Frigid Effluence of the Sky Falling Bronze Cauldron? Do you bring the," he paused, looked at the object in his right hand, and added, "Twentieth-fifth Projection of the Attendant Triangulation?"

Harmast replied, "Good greeting to you. I am Harmast, son of Baranthos, a thane of the Colymar tribe. The terms you used, Frigid Effluence of the Sky Falling Bronze Cauldron, and Twentieth-fifth Projection of the Attendant Triangulation? mean nothing to me. Perhaps you could describe them. In any case, I have a request. Our friend", points to Nabok, "has been possessed by an evil spirit. We fear he will die if it is not cast out. Can you provide any aid?"

The dwarf seemed to listen, turned over sheets of something in whatever he was holding, seemed to consider something, turned over some additional sheets, paused to think, turned back to another sheet, nodded, and at last responded, "Be you the Bearers of the Stoned Water due upon the Equalization of the Pillars of Clay? Am I the Replenisher of the Interim Stations of Substantive Fuel. Bring I Beta Green slash two five six, Delta White slash four seven naught, and Zeta slash six Yellow slash nine Green. Provision for non-Death by said fuel satisfied? Transfer for Stoned Water one Gata block per Form seven three alpha six five one unit, else for Imminent Requisition per Form six six four stroke gamma agreement of extended requisition plus one Circle Moon purity point nine nine eight one unit."

Harmast looked confused as he listened to the dwarf, looked around at the rest of us, and asked, "Does anyone have any idea what he's talking about?"

The dwarf watched, but when he did not get an immediate response, he climbed down from his cart and went around to the back of it. We could see him fiddling with something, then raising some cover from which fog or steam seemed to rise, and picking up several objects. He came back around and approached us with a number of objects tucked under his left arm.

He repeated some of his earlier statements, "Am I the Replenisher of the Interim Stations of Substantive Fuel." He pointed towards the odd stone cube which I was investigating. "Bring I Beta Green slash two five six." He took what appeared to be a short cylindrical object of green color from under his left arm and held it up for us to see, then tucked it back under his arm. "Bring I Delta White slash four seven naught." He grabbed a similar cylindrical object, this one colored white, and held it up before tucking it back. Then he took one more cylindrical object, this of some rather bright yellowish-green color and said, "Bring I Zeta slash six Yellow slash nine Green." He looked at us, nodded, and added, "Substantive fuel. Aqueous state. Provision for non-Death by said fuel satisfied?"

He looked down again at the object in his hand, nodded, and looked up expectantly at Harmast.  I thought for a bit for anything in my memory that might help, before responding, "I fear that we are not understanding your query, good sir. Are you asking about commerce?"

The dwarf looked puzzled. Finally, he headed back to his cart, set down the cylinders that he was carrying, and picked up another object. He opened it, flipped sections of it back and forth, and did that for some time. It dawned upon me that he must be looking at some small book or codex.

At last he turned back to us and approached again while carrying one cylindrical object in one hand, the book in the other, and spoke while repeatedly referencing his text. "Authorization per Order one Bronze Alpha seven stroke two sealed per Grand Chief General Master Pass Station hence, heretofore, and hereinafter Isidilian. Transference of Substantive Fuel by designated terms of 'commerce' to identified Children of Sartar. Approved, one unit Substantive Fuel, including said units indicated and presented, for exchange in event of terminal breakdown. Approved, in exchange, one Gata block Stoned Water, else agreement of Extended Requisition plus one Circle Moon purity point nine nine eight one unit, all terms and conditions to apply."

He nodded, and looks back at me. He then gestured towards poor Nabok, "Event of terminal breakdown." Then towards all of us, "Identified Children of Sartar." And then held up the cylinder, "One unit Substantive Fuel, approved for exchange."

Tarkalor, who had been silent, listening and trying to work out what the stumpy dwarf was talking about and with its latest words seemed to be getting the gist of it.  "I think he's saying he travels around filling the stone blocks perhaps, from those tubes, though I'm not sure how that happens. That bit I'm not quite sure on, thought all of it I'm not sure on. The next bit is I think clearer. He recognizes at least something of Nabok's state, if not all of it. I think he recognizes at least that little man is dying and as we are Sartarites he is prepared to trade a Substantive Fuel unit, which I think is a healing thing. If I'm right, then we have to work out what one Gata block Stoned Water is as that seems to be what he wants. That or else an agreement of Extended Requisition plus one Circle Moon purity point nine nine eight one unit which might be even harder to work out!"

Harmast nodded, and said, "I think you may be on to something, Tarkalor. I wonder, could Stoned Water be ice? Even so, what is a Gata Block? "

Sonvia, perhaps most familiar with rituals and deities of the Earth, added, "Gata I believe is another name for Ga, mother Primal Earth and may refer to an amount of copper or maybe Quicksilver. Circle Moon is likely Silver slash Lunars of a quality and quantity he is specifying. Perhaps we lay out our coins and see what he will take for it?"

I brought out some of the Lunars I carried, and presented these to the dwarf.  The dwarf saw what I held out, and went back to his cart, put down the cylindrical objects, and retrieved some other object. He then approached carrying what appears to be some sort of scale with two trays, and a set of weights.

When he reaches me, he said, "Evaluation one unit Circle Moon for purity point nine nine eight." He placed a weight on one tray and indicates to me to put one of my Lunar coins on the other. It did not prove sufficient to balance the weight. The dwarf indicated to me to add additional. The scale finally balances after I had placed 5 Lunar silvers upon the scale.

The dwarf looked at the number of coins and shook his head, "Measured ul-metal in Circle Moon indicative of impurities. Probability eight nine two impurity ze-metal. Probability one aught seven impurity lo-metal. Refinement," he paused to calculate something in his head, "five units Circle Moon of noted impurity. Additional achievement purity point nine nine eight, two units Circle Moon of noted impurity. Summation twelve units Circle Moon of noted impurity." And he nodded strongly in the affirmative with that statement.

He added, "Selection of desired unit Substantive Fuel," and gestured for me to follow him to the cart.

I asked as we reached his cart, "Are there differences in your elixirs?"

The dwarf nodded in response. He pointed to a cylinder, roughly a handspan high and a palm-width in diameter across. The cylinder was colored or painted green like tree leaves or grass and had some writing in black across the top. "Affirmative differences. Beta Green slash two five six. Maximal acceleration harmonious accretion. Favored iron unit repair." He pointed to another of equal size and shape but of a pure white coloration, and also with some black writing on top though it looked different. "Delta White slash four seven naught. Progressive transference luminous incandescence. Multi-unit factor." And he seemed to deliberately touch his nose and slowly winked with one eye. Then pointing to a final cylinder, this of same size and shape but a garish yellowed-green like an unusual flower, he noted, "Zeta slash six Yellow slash nine Green. Initiating juxtaposition liminal equilibrium. Amalgamated condensates per extramundane consideration." After which he shook his head back-and-forth and then spread his hands. "Requisition request?"

I considered momentarily then before responding finally firming her resolve, "The Beta Green slash two five six is maximal in your estimation? If that is with regards to our dying friend, we gladly requisition Beta Green slash two five six with our thanks for your aid. "

"Judicious exercise observational circumstance. One unit Beta Green slash two five six."
He went back to the cart and opened up some small metal box. He proceeded to shuffle through what looked like scrolls, paused, nodded, and pulled one out.
"Requirement for Immediate Requisition. Delivery twelve units Circle Moon of noted impurity. Assignment form six six four stroke gamma agreement of extended requisition. Affix designated identification malkionic units heretofore." He held up something that looks like a quill feather and pointed to a place upon the scroll he'd laid out.

He appeared to expect me to mark something on the scroll.

I handed over 12 lunars and took the quill, " Identification? You would like my signature mark? For your records? " Seeing his assent, I made my marks upon the document and returned the quill to the strange dwarf.

The dwarf noded. As I finished, he checked the scroll, nodded again, picked up the green cylinder and handed it to me and said, "Assignment form six six four stroke gamma agreement of extended requisition. Delivery twelve units Circle Moon of noted impurity complete. Delivery one unit Beta Green slash two five six complete. Transaction Immediate Requisition complete."

He nodded again, then looked at some odd metallic object on his left wrist, held it up as if trying to align it with something, paused, then nodded. "Recalibration task cycle complete. Replenishment Interim Stations of Substantive Fuel proceeds."

He then led his heavily armored goats and cart towards the odd little stone cube, otherwise ignoring the rest of the party. When he got to it, he took a couple objects out of his cart, walked to the cube, put one item on top, then seemed to attach another to a side of the cube, and opened a previously hidden door into the small cube. He took out some sort of tray, looked in, shook his head, and poured out what appeared to be water onto the ground, before putting the tray back in. At last he went to the cart, took several cylinders of each type that he previously showed us and placed them in the stone cube. Once done, he closed the door, removed each object from the side and top of the stone cube, and returned them to his cart before climbing onto the cart itself.

And without further word, he rode off on his strange little cart pulled by the heavily armored goats....

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