Old March 25, 2018, 07:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[Arconis]Opera vicerit Gigantum, Part Firstus (Gloan)

Timestamp: Early Winter XXV PF, around the same time as the Mercuria thread

Hoskuld pored critically over the drawing for what must have been the hundredth time. ”Phedos feth it,” he muttered at last, laying it finally on the table. ”It’s as done as it’s gonna be. Time to just go an’ do this thing.” The dwarf rolled up the piece of bleached burlap carefully, so as not to smudge the charcoal lines of the simple map he had drawn and tucked it carefully into his jacket. Standing up, he patted himself down to make sure he had everything.

“Everything” wasn’t much: apart from the map he had drawn, and a few notes scrawled onto another piece of burlap salvaged from the same busted sack, he had his visa and the names a couple references from his previous time in Arconis, references that could if nothing else confirm his account of what he had done here. Silently breathing a prayer to Cetheron, Hosuld set out for Xaxit Industries.

On warmer brightenings the massive doors to Xarxit’s offices would have stood ajar, welcoming visitors to come straight in without knocking. On this winter morning, however, the Khardans were breathing an icy wind into the streets of Arconis, so Hoskuld arrived to find those doors closed. Hoping that this wasn’t an ill omen for his endeavor, he lifted the brass knocker and rapped firmly on the door.
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Old August 5, 2018, 08:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The ‘bang’, of the knocker against it’s stop on the door, resonated through the entrance hall of the building. The place sounded hollow, maybe unoccupied. There was a short period of time where nothing was heard, the silence was only broken by the sound of the bitter cold breeze that had caused the doors to be closed. After what seemed to be a few candlemarks, but in reality was a fraction of a single one, there was the sound of footfall coming towards the doors. After what seemed to be an eternity, the door opened, on hinges that were oiled and smooth to operate. A little face appeared and looked out to see who had hit the knocker so. As he set eyes on the dwarf that stood at the interface, the Cether smiled and opened the door a little bit wider.

”Serale, I am Volhelm Treegar. What might you be wanting with Xaxit Industries, on this brightenings.”

He looked around the dwarf, just to see if anyone else was with the dwarf, and then stood waiting for Hoskuld to state what was his agenda.
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Old August 7, 2018, 07:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The knocks resounded in a way that made Hoskuld think of a war drum: loud, demanding, unfriendly. It was not the sound with which he had wanted to announce himself. Still, he couldn’t help but feel that whoever, if anybody, waited on the other side of that door, they were bound to have heard him knocking.

The dwarf waited. Time seemed to creep like a torporous bear in this cold. He did not know how long he waited but after however many moments he believed he heard something stirring on the other side of the door, and then at length it opened to reveal the face of an aged Cether, eyes roughly level with his own.

Hoskuld had hoped to be invited right in, and he was a bit put off that the Cether continued to stand in the doorway in front of him. Then again, maybe Volhelm was alone, in which case he could understand his caution. And also why it had taken him so long to answer.

”Serale, Master Treegar,” he greeted, before belatedly remembering to pull down the scarf from his mouth. ”I’m Hoskuld Coal-beard, and I have a proposal for a project, one I’d like the opportunity to carry out for this city.” He looked meaningfully about the chilly streets. ”One I’d kinda prefer to present and explain somewhere outa this weather.”
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Old November 27, 2018, 10:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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A roar of laughter burst out of the Cether. His entire body laughed with him. His eyes laughed with him - eyes that were wrinkled from frequent fits of joy. His entire face was alight. He stepped back from the small opening in the door he had made, and leaned back. It took all of the jovial man's weight to heft the thick oaken door open.

"And I can't blame you Master Cold-beard! I was so afeared of the cold myself, that I could barely bring myself to open the door! That and it's a right heavy thing for a Cether to be hefting about. Must've been Dwarves who built it," he said with a wink.

The inside was as beautiful as the outside. Fine, white Arconian marble was hard to subdue, even if most of the furnishings were gone from the building. Oddly enough, a colourful tapestry of the once beloved Goddess Diana hung from the back wall that faced the entrance. A bold stance given the Church's denunciation of its former patron after Her fall.

"Come, come, have a seat Master Cold-beard," Volhelm motioned toward a rather comfortable chair in front of his elegantly lacquered desk built of the most beautiful cherry wood any man had likely ever seen.

As soon as Hoskuld was in, Volhelm started pushing against the inside of the door. His feet slipped on the pristinely kept floors from the effort. But with a few quick shuffles and a purpled face, he managed to close the thing once again. It echoed through the cavernous room when it slammed shut. The cold rushed in as the door returned to its rightful place, as though it protested being shut out and away from the warmth of the two braziers stationed next to Volhelm's desk.

The Cether shivered through his whole body, shook his tush like a merry lamb, and rubbed his arms. He grinned and winked at Hoskuld, "Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful! We've no place better to go though, so let it snow!"

With that he rushed over to the warmth ensconced around his desk and flopped himself down in his plush chair.

"Do you like treats? Cheeses, meats, and sweets? I do! Let's have some." His appropriately plump hand - for a Cether - snatched a little bell from near his ink well and he gave it a little ring.

Smile stuck to his face he asked with what seemed like genuine excitement, "So, just how do you plan to have me help you, that helps me?"
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Old November 30, 2018, 09:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hoskuld breathed his gratitude as he slipped into the cavernous hall and out of the icy grip of the winter winds. The interior was not exactly balmy, he knew; both his and the cether’s breath steamed whenever they were more than a few paces away from a fire. But it was appreciably warmer than outside, and out of the wind.

”Yer probably not wrong,” he observed in response to his host’s comment, with a touch of good humor creeping into his thawing face. ”Dwarves do like their things solid. An’ hefty. Whether it be shields, doors, beer, or women…”

Hoskuld voice trailed off as his eyes landed on the tapestry of Diana. It was tragic, what had happened to her cult, and supposedly to herself. And it was a bit surprising to see her image so openly displayed. The dwarf just had time for an intrigued grunt before moving along, as the cether was already leading the way deeper within.

They arrived at a large desk flanked by blazing braziers, an island of warmth in the chilly marble chamber. Hoskuld had eaten a decent rosyun, but what about second rosyun? Cethers knew about second rosyun. ”I could probably chew a thing or two, thank you,” he said in response to Volheim’s offer. And with that out of the way and a certain bell rung, Volheim asked his visitor to present his business.

Feeling uncharacteristically lightheaded, Hoskuld retrieved from the folds of his heavy cloak the rolled-up burlap on which he had crudely scrawled his ambition in charcoal. This was it, this was the chance he had to pitch his idea. He had mulled for several brightenings over the words he was to say next. At last, he had elected to start with simple ones: “I would like to conduct a survey of the areas north of Arconis.”

The sentence tumbled out of Hoskuld’s mouth quickly, and it ended much sooner than he had expected. Now that it had left the safe harbor of his head and lay exposed to another’s hearing, it seemed inadequate and vulnerable. To reinforce it, he rushed hastily-marshalled verbiage to its aid.

“I mean a good, thorough, proper survey” he elaborated, ”of *all* the area north of here that Xaxit and Arconis might someday want to develop, so that we already have a good idea what the country’s like beforehand. All of it, not just the immediate area for the next mine. And not just the rocks, neither. The water. The vegetation, the people that might live there that we’d have to negotiate with for rights. The critters. All of it.”

Pausing, he realized he was starting to babble a bit. He also realized that he was still on his feet, and wearing most of his warm clothes. He paused awkwardly to remove his cloak, hat, and gloves, and placed them on a chair. The other chair he pulled up closer to the large desk and seated himself. On that desk, he placed his burlap roll and opened it, revealing his crudely-drawn, though accurately-scaled map beneath the legend: “ARCONIS AND ONVIRONS”.

Taking a deep breath and rallying himself, he continued:

”The mining activity around Arconis is concentrated to the east and south,” he indicated the directions, relative to where he had drawn the city. ”That area’s better settled, has better roads, and it’s easier to get stuff from those mines to markets in Daltina and Port Alyxandria.” Then he shift his stubby, calloused fingers towards edge of the map marked “North”. ”It’s wilder up north. Less developed. More dangers like orcs an’ even giants. But there’s riches up there, too. People have gone up there chasin’ rumors of mithril in the hill for many an era now. And there’s a decent mine or two up there. But no one’s ever done an accountable survey of these areas, the way the south and east have been done. That’s what I want to do.

”Now I’m not sure if there’s any mithril, but there’s plenty o’ copper, iron, the normal stuff that’s good to mine. And the day will come when the other mines are played out. I don’t think Arconis should wait until that happens to find out what’s to the north of them, or be ready to do something about it.”


He paused and leaned back from the desk to look at the old Cether. There was still plenty to discuss and explain: whether he was qualified to do the job, where the money would come from for this, and why it would be worth spending that money, and so on. But for now he would await Volhelm’s response. And perhaps munch on a slice of cheese or two.
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Old December 9, 2018, 10:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Amusement sprung across Volheim's face when the burlap map, replete with coal for ink was sprawled out in front of him. It was a far cry from the vellum and parchment on his own desk, and nothing like the fine ink or delicate writing that graced those record keeping sheets and scrolls. A Cether could be forgiven for thinking it was just the difference between his own kind and Dwarven kind, but he'd met a fair number of Dwarves who presented a fair bit better and kept meticulous, and rather beautiful, records for themselves.

Rather, it seemed, Hoskuld was that kind of Dwarf. Already, Volheim had begun to decide that the man might make a good foreman in the mines, maybe even a superintendent one era. But a surveyor? A man who could lead an expedition and operation of the size that the Dwarf was proposing? Those sorts of fellows didn't write with coal on burlap sacks. Certainly not when they'd come to one of the most prestigious companies in all of Arconis asking for - he assumed - crowns, materials, manpower, and permission.

Volheim fingered the drawing, his thick digits turned it slightly to see it better, and he looked at Hoskuld as though to say, 'May I?'. He was visibly fighting off laughter as he looked at the map.

"Ha! You are rather ambitious, aren't you Master Cold-beard!" The map was pushed back toward Hoskuld. Not as an outright rejection. The food had arrived. Cheeses of various types, crackers and jams, little bits of rolled up meat, and sliced bits of bread with melted butter on them. Drinks too - a pair of stout mugs for each of them. Two mugs were full of a lager, and two were full of a pale ale. Volheim took a pale ale for himself and began to get busy with spreading a bit of jam on a piece of bread, followed by a slice of cheese.

The Cether took a bite and his face made it clear he was in Aetheria over the food. He exclaimed, through his mouth full of food, "Business should always be discussed over food! Eat!"

A gulp of the ale to wash it all down and a contented sigh. The plump fingers of the Cether got to gathering up more food. A cracker with cheese and a slice of ham this time.

"Orcs, and Giants, sure. Not too many troubling us too the north right now - of course, we don't go there much. Rodenti have been a bigger problem recently. They like to raid."

Volheim shuddered, "Awful little rats and mice made into the form of better things."

He sat back and shoved his meated cracker into his mouth. Another swig of ale to wash it down. He sighed as he looked Hoskuld once over, "Miners don't like going where they're not safe being. And we don't like sending them where they're not safe being, because when they die it's hard to get more to go back there. Too many guards gets too expensive. So does replacing mining equipment that gets stolen. Having ore and gems stolen is also crippling. This business is owned by the people of Arconis. We don't like making bad investments on behalf of the people of Arconis."

He sat forward and looked Hoskuld dead in the eye, "We aren't funding mithril expeditions to the north. We aren't risking lives for copper and tin. They're valuable, sure. It's worth knowing about, but if Xaxit Industries believed the profit outweighed the risk, we'd be there doing it ourselves already." Iron would be infinitely more interesting, especially to an Empire that had lost a major source in the Vorgan mines, but that was left unsaid.

The mug of ale was placed back on the table, and his hands clasped together, "I usually know the best miners and prospectors in Arconis. And I usually know when a big new fish has arrived in our city. So who are you, Master Cold-beard? Where have you worked? What have you prospected? What mines have you run? What resources do you bring to the table? Are you a mineralogist? A gemologist? A professional prospector from the depths of Primus Gaudeo? Why do you merit sinking our crowns, materials, and manpower into?"
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