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Old April 24, 2020, 05:03 AM   #1
Argon Shatterskin
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[Aslan's forge] As the hammer fell

ERA XXVIII - somewhere before the end of all known reality in the age of heroes, in Summer

Aslan's forge was possibly the most instantly recognisable natural feature of the whole of the empire. Large and looking it towered over the countryside darkening the skies and shadowing the valleys. Humans occupied surface settlements now often accompanied by many surface dwarves. The Dwarven kingdom's dwelled beneath in vast caverns comprising many miners and specialists.

Unlike those dark elves the dwarves lit their halls well with fire and other tricks as their sight was not capable of seeing in pitch black.

Argon found himself headed toward the forge. He had purchased enough coin and supplies to see give him some time to literally explore. He had heard rumours about some ruins that had been revealed by a rockfall and sought to see if there were any truth to it. He had gained as much as he could of a hint of the approximate location from dubious sources and now wondered the forge.

He had delivered that letter to the abandoned house and never knew what the letter contained and came here with clear conscience after his adventures helping out that tavern lady. Then again Argon's conscience was everclear with justifications for every action.

So where was that rockfall? Everywhere about this part of the forge was rocks and rockfalls! Pumice, obsidian and other volcanic rock marred the land and sulphur permeated the air. The smell of a long forgotten home. At least he had plenty of bark to eat. Uniquely nutritious to Argon and yet totally free without the risk of being hurt in its capture (save splinters)

What did the forge have in stall for a risk taking adventure such as he? Hopefully not immortality realised by pyroclastic events.
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Old April 30, 2020, 01:00 AM   #2
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Behold, Aslan's Forge!

For all that the area was certainly active, locals had at least been lucky enough to be able to avoid any particular catastrophic events. The closer one got, the more hostile the terrain became, certainly, but the actual volcano was so far up that a person really needed to seek it out to get into any danger. There were plenty of relatively traveled paths in the shadow of the volcanic summit that were traversed, with more danger coming from the mountainous inhabitants than the volcano itself.

Still, it was best to be prepared. Heavy ashfall was common, and heat quickly escalated. Actual pyroclastic or lava flows were quite rare, but that didn't mean it was good to be neglectful and unwary of one's surroundings.

A bit of hiking and climbing ahead of Argon, then! Especially when all he had seemed to be vague approximations, which meant plenty of wandering would likely be needed to track down what he was looking for. Whatever it might be, wherever it might be. Some would say that dwarves were more subterranean folk, and that mountains (and the necessary ascending of them) seemed a polar opposite to their usual modus operandi.

He reached a point in his current path where it was time to make some decisions. A figurative (and literal) branching path ahead of him. One way seemed to be a steeper ascent into the mountains ahead, the other a gentler slope that seemed to curve around. Or, of course, he could forego any paths and blaze his own trail, do a bit of mountain climbing!
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Old May 2, 2020, 11:16 PM   #3
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Argon had a climbing set ever since the events that saw him opening to the arts of ikos. That hole in the ground had found his way into a small structure which seemed to have been dedicated to the power in some way. He hadn't been out west since that time so was in no position to explore it again for further insights.

Either way he had lugged climbing gear everywhere he went since then. It came in handy on some routes to allow him to be a lookout on mapunta ous treks but for the most part it was just more weight.

Here, though, it presented him a degree of opportunity but it came with a logical issue: would rumours of a rockfall really have come from the mountain itself?

Of the three paths it was the roughshod trek that a rockfall would most likely occur on that would also be noticed. Still if he went up the mountain a bit he would purchase a greater view and might be able to spot the rockfall above.

Well it seemed it were Providence that he would have a basic set of climbing gear suitable to his wealth therefore it would be a waste if he were to ignore it.

It took sometime to equip.the gear and then take to the task of finding suitable places to put the supports. He wasn't and experienced mountaineer but even surface dwarves knew that a rope was only as good as the place you put its loop so he was cautious and tested every nook he used before putting his weight forwards and upwards.

He wasn't in a hurry right now. He had no reason to suspect he was in a race. Afterall who else had shown even the remotest interest in that rumour? The only suggestion had been to alert the authorities so that the road may be cleared and even that didn't seem it was going to happen anytime soon. Either way it was better late than dead. There were plenty of shattered bodies in Aslan's forge if you took the time to look. Argon didn't intend to be one of them.
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Old May 10, 2020, 03:57 PM   #4
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Behold, the adventurer's kit! Surely full of various items that fulfilled a various niche, but were otherwise utterly useless. But if you didn't have the right equipment at the right time, wouldn't you look silly? With the myriad and varied situations that an adventurer might run into out in the world, it was important to be prepared for every and anything that one might run into!

The life of a jack of all trades was certainly not easy.

It was time for the dwarf to do a bit of ascending. Not an expert by any means - only the most basic understanding of theory there to assist him. Nevertheless, Argon went with equipment in hand. Luckily, this far down, the terrain wasn't really all that difficult. There wouldn't be a test on the advanced material quite yet, likely for the best for somebody who hadn't even passed the basic course yet. A fall from here would probably hurt, but his body wouldn't shatter into pieces. Perhaps that would be comforting to him.

There were nevertheless a few close calls. Times when Argon thought the supports could hold the weight, but he wound up being wrong. Supports that were poorly placed, misunderstanding of terrain. Slips and slides. Lessons learned, and heart-pounding instances of almost becoming a shattered body.

But not quite yet. Eventually he reached a point where he could take a rest, and possessed a rather nice view of the surroundings. Argon had yet to spot the rockfall from where he was, however. Perhaps the mountainous terrain continued to hide it somewhere beneath those peaks and crags, perhaps he just wasn't in the right area yet.

In the distance, he did spy a bit of black smoke coming up. A campfire? Ash from volcanic activity? Something, certainly. It wasn't quite clear how he might want to head over if he wished it - one of the paths from before seemed to lead in that general direction, but of course, Argon could try to carve out his own path as the crow flew.
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Old May 13, 2020, 07:20 PM   #5
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Come to think of it, Argon thought after a particularly frightful slip, didn't I nearly break my neck last time too?

Perhaps he really should invest some time in learning to climb. He tended to not avoid the rocky paths so perhaps he better grow accustomed.

In either case there was no harm done and there didn't appear to be a gathering crowd of spectators so there was no pride to be wounded.

Now he could enjoy the view. As many could attest the area was a patchwork of wasteland and fertile valleys. It was pleasant to behold but today it wasn't a restful holiday he was seeking.

But there marring the sky coming from a little o'er there rose some black smoke. Black smoke? That wasn't usually a campfire which was more ashen grey so what was it? Volcanoes had different kinds of plumes, Argon knew, but he didn't know the details of volcanology. He had met an amateur volcanology a along in his journeys but aside from being an amiable travel companion hadn't made Argon any wiser on the topic. Argon doubted the man was more than a vague fan of volcanoes or, just as likely, was a con artist afrer a free meal ticket.

Either way Argon never had anything that guy wanted except for a willing ear to hear those fables.

So before him was a path. Not the straightest of paths. He could try at some more rugged terrain traversing or he could take that path. Undoubtably he would lose any element of surprise using the path but he risked life and limb traversing the rocky way!

So which would he do? Risk life and limb! That said he was no fool. It was time to rest and study the path laid out before him. What way looked to have the less dangerous falls? Was there a way to traverse the low-ricka and avoid climbing up unnecessarily? Risking life and limb was fine but may as well be smart about it.

He vaguely recalled that animals could sometimes find safe paths that you couldn't easily see by the naked untrained eye. He kept an eye out for any animals of his size that might be making their path and studied their movements. If they did things he clearly could not then he would ignore that path and go with his estimation of the 'low path that didn't involve great risk of drastic falls'.
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Old May 23, 2020, 12:41 PM   #6
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On the one hand, having one's pride wounded in front of spectators would be something that might dwell on a person for a while, perhaps be one of those experiences that periodically cropped up at night, when one's mind liked to dredge up such embarrassing memories. On the other hand, of course, if he'd slipped particularly wrong, Argon could have wound up dying, and in that case-

Well, probably the same thing, honestly. One imagined that he'd have had plenty of time to dwell upon it in the afterlife, wherever he wound up. Although in this case, said spectators would have also been mentally scarred, likely.

Although the good thing about spectators was that if Argon was injured, they'd at least likely help. There was a threshold, where any serious injury capable of debilitating the dwarf was more or less the same as dying - if he couldn't move, or was otherwise crippled, he was done for. Unless he was particularly lucky and somebody else happened to pass by the area, it would have been quite the lonely end.

The more he climbed, the greater the risk. One could only hope that the rate by which Argon gained climbing experience might keep pace.

From what Argon could see (or guess, really), the less beaten path was perhaps less beaten for a reason. While the terrain around here was still relatively placid compared to the proper crags further above, there was still plenty of danger present, far more than one might expect walking along a path. There was no avoiding it if the dwarf wanted to head straight for his destination without any detour - which the established path might provide further on, to be fair. Or it might not.

There were, alas, no animal companions around to dispense their wisdom to Argon.

The least risky climbing paths, from what Argon could tell, were essentially at the edge of the normal path either way! One imagined that it had been formed where the terrain had been gentlest to begin with, after all.
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Old May 27, 2020, 07:14 PM   #7
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Well sensible roadbuilders were a good thing. Argon could see that the safest route was clearly the road and the next safest route was next to it.

How much it really let Argon sneak when it was the direction to be watched anyway when he really did not have much in the ways of practice was clearly dubious. He sure could use the practice but might 'set the tone' of this bardic tale wrong.

Already Argon was composing the story

'The inteprid hero, Argon Shatterskin, great grandson of Stoneaxe Shatterskin (or was it his grandfather as the annulus of the time had been mixed with legend!) bravely took the main road declaring or daring to any evildoer to challenge him ...'

Thus it was set. Argon, with his head held high decided to carefully make his way back to the road and walk along the road singing proudly and cheerfully as he did so a traditional Dwarven drinking song. He didn't know the proper words but that wasn't the point. After the 2nd verse most people had already lost the ability to speak or announciate anyway (which was mainly why no one knew the proper words!).

So what lay beyond? When Argon arrived he announced himself clearly and without raising a weapon. Now was not the time for that. He was confident he could dodge any deadly attack from a skalker if necessary.

"Serale!" Argon said as he came upon the approximate location of the smoke "Any friend here? Or perhaps someone to share salt with?"

Salt was a precious commodity and with many uses. Barely any a travel ration pack of any quality did not contain a salted meal. Preserving foodstuffs for long trips was generally a must for any caravan and came in high demand for trade anywhere in the empire. Arakmat in particular had a roaring trade in salt and salted foodstuffs but alas that market had effectively closed with it being ceded to those snake people.
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Old June 6, 2020, 01:38 AM   #8
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The road, then. It must surely have been glad to be used, for such was its purpose, after all. Would a road be offended if somebody like Argon decided to take an alternative path, when a perfectly good road was capable of bringing him to the same destination? Perhaps whoever had put in the effort to make the road would have been.

It did seem that there was a bit of effort put into it, and was not simply a path that had been worn into the side of the mountain by the tramping of many boots over time. There were some stairs here and there as opposed to merely slopes, a bit of paving early on, even ditches to ensure there was a good flow of water as opposed to the path being flooded.

There were a few splits in the path here and there, as it seemed numerous trails forked off of the main path. Luckily for Argon, however, it was obvious each time which one seemed to be the one he needed to take to get where he needed to go, and it always seemed to be the continuing section of main road. This did seem to be going somewhere, although the further the dwarf went, the more primitive the road became. Perhaps it was a work in progress, still?

Such did seem to be the case, as Argon came across another dwarf before he reached the smoke. He had a shovel and a pick with him, and currently seemed to be working on carving out the ditches along the side of the road. With his back to Argon, he had yet to notice the other traveler.
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Old June 7, 2020, 06:02 PM   #9
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Argon saw people like this before. Farmers? Sometimes they built ditches. Marked out the boundaries of their properties so they had criss cross little moats everywhere. He wasn't sure why they did this. Here? Well the water would run down the Chan el instead of washing away the road so perhaps that was the practical purpose.

Now a brigand might take the opportunity to gut the dwarf to take his stuff but since he appeared to be doing an honest trade it did not suit a gallant hero to do any gutting today.

Perhaps some polite conversation then? Keep those weapons packed at the hilt - those throwing axes at your side and instead start the charm offensive!

"Serale friend Argonbegan "Ye be far from civilisation doing this hear honest work."

Argon looked and watched the reaction of this new dwarf before him. Perhaps he was the owner of this cottage of billowing smoke?

"Can ye tell me what kind of place be it that I have stumbled upon?" Argon inquired alluding to the nearby billowing smoke "I did not expect to see co'erce and industry all the way out here!"

Now came the time where Argon was schooled. He patiently wondered how surly this worker dwarf may be. Perhaps if he picked up a pick and did some work alongside him?

That offer would wait until he knew what he was getting into
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Old June 15, 2020, 09:09 PM   #10
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The response seemed affable enough.

"Aye," the dwarf replied, taking a break from his work, leaning on his shovel as he spoke with Argon. "Far from all, makes things difficult at times, but a good arrangement I'd say with the work being done."

He gestured up the path, in the direction of the smoke. "A master smith lies that way. A strange sort, one who prefers his own company. Eccentric, but that often comes with genius they say. I don't mind much since I hardly ever speak with him, I'm just here to help improve the roads that lead there - helps with getting supplies and materials up, see. I can't imagine how his apprentices deal with him, though."

One imagined that with less foot traffic, that it was easier to maintain and improve the road as well.

Argon could consider himself schooled.
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Old June 29, 2020, 07:28 PM   #11
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"A real sour one eh?" Argon counted on the dwarf's commentary of the smith below the smoke "Well the bendy, but well maintained, roads of fortune 'ave delive'ed me to 'ere. It seems I am to meet this Smithy. Good fortune to ye"

Argon bade the worker farewell having given credit to the work been done. It seemed fate had thrown Argon a 'Master Smithy'. He knew he could learn to properly and we'll maintain his weapons and tools from a smithy better than an adequate axeman could. He knew he might even learn of ways to prove his weapon come time toaster the art. Dwarven story had plenty of hero-smith tropes to them of which Argon would be able to easily gain a foothold in the Dwarven realm of bards were to tell his story with this traditional heroic trapping.

It seems his moment to learn smithing had been granted and with a story-worthy grouchy hermit master no less! Was there a swamp nearby? Argon casually wondered this because such a detail would add great value to the story. Never the less he knew in telling the story, impossible as it may be for a swamp to also be halfway up a mountain, he could always embellish that detail.

Argon didn't immediately yell out a greeting first hoping to observe the smithy and partly to not disturb any critical work. He knew many grouchy dwarves that did not invite guests. This master sounded exactly the sort. Argon would await the opportune ment to introduce himself and wagered immediately making himself useful would endear him to the dwarf
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Old July 9, 2020, 12:33 AM   #12
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Argon's well wishes were reciprocated politely, and as one dwarf got back to work, the other continued his way forward. The road did seem to get quite rougher from here on out, less well-protected against the ravages of weather, small mudslides in places that needed to be walked around, some parts rather slippery due to erosion. In a few places, a wrong step could send you tumbling down the mountainside! No doubt the dwarf from earlier planned on putting some guardrails up.

The closer he got, the more acrid the smell of the air. It was obvious enough that Argon had been told the truth, he could smell the metal now, even. And soon enough from there, the sounds of hammering, of metalworking, of distant shouting.

No swamp, though.

It was obvious now that the smoke from the work here was what he had seen earlier. There seemed to be several buildings scattered about, although only one of them seemed to have a currently active chimney, and looked the part of a workshop. The rest seemed to be more along the lines of outhouses, bunkhouses, and other such logistical locations. There were actually quite a few forges that were outside, not housed in proper building but still shielded by simple awnings that essentially guarded against the rain, or the heat of direct sunlight.

A smattering of dwarves were gathered around, some hauling ore to the forge, some hammering away, some eating, some relaxing, some going over paperwork, some arguing, some repairing, some noticing Argon and calling out to him.

"Ho! Stranger!" And that was about it, leaving it up to Argon to introduce and explain himself.
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Old July 9, 2020, 04:57 AM   #13
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There it was. Argon had heard various stories in the past of strange otherly being that needed acknowledgement, some even an invitation, before they interacted with others or passed beyond the threshold but that's all they were. He supposed he could pretty himself up, acres a library or college of the appropriate sort and find out more. That would not happen right now.

"Serape" Argon greeted by imperial speech inflexiviely whilst thinking he should have used a more Dwarven approach "I happened upon this.. nuzzling industry! A smithy? All the ways up here?"

Argon said inviting explanation back

"Pardon my intrusion but I have come a ways out here on rumours of setting interesting" Argon said truthfully "Be this a place of a grandmaster smithy?"

Argon was curious and more this felt like an opportunity presenting itself. As thought before; this would make for a great part of his origin story for bards to tell. His mind played out the idea...

the young Dwarven hero as yet untested found himself a ways off the major routes of Commerce and trade, mooted by swamp and upon the grand mountain of Aslan's forge he found upon it a wizened hermitic grandmaster working away on wondrous things. So swoon with the great works of weaponry and armour found therein the young dwarf immediately set about proving himself worthy of the grand secrets of the old and wizened weaponsmith

It didn't reflect reality, sure, but Argon reasoned bards had the right to take such creative licence. Indeed the unverifiable fantasy would only add to the legendary status such a story would evoke.

"I am Argon of the clan Shatterskin" Argon introduced himself "by which clan do I humbly request hospitality in exchange for honest work?"

The polite way to ask for work was not to ask too much.
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