Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Apr 7, 2008

Cold Blood: The Metal

Note: Chronologically this happens *before* session 19.

Sheen stood over the forge uncertainly, not really sure why she’d come in here at all. She should really be going to Chirper’s to meet with the others, but the prospect horrified her. It wasn’t so much that she’d have to face Haden—what could he do that was worse than what had already happened?—but that she wouldn’t be able to hope for something better any more once it was had happened. It was almost as though letting the uncertain future become the past killed it somehow, and the pain of that death went on inside her own body. She couldn’t avoid it forever, but she wanted to hold it off for as long as she could.

In order to wait, though, Sheen needed some sort of activity to make the waiting bearable. That was why she had come here, she decided, she was looking for occupation. But the very feeling that made her seek occupation made the occupation itself impossible.

“Hello, there, lass, I had a feeling I’d be finding you here today,” a rough and somehow very definitely short voice said. Sheen turned around to see a dwarf entering the room. He smiled, and Sheen found herself smiling in answer.

“Eldgrim?” She asked, recognizing this particular dwarf from the Twelve Factols building.

“That’s right.” He flipped over a tub and sat down on it, watching her carefully.

“What can I do for you?” Sheen asked. “I’m surprised to see you, really.”

Eldgrim shrugged. “Are you now? I knew I’d be seeing you again the first time I saw you. You’re a strange one, for a human. You’ve got the metal in you.”

“What?” Sheen asked.

Eldgrim frowned in thought. “It’s hard to explain. It’s a rare thing, even with dwarves. It means that some part of your nature . . . your very soul, maybe, is metal. It’s a precious thing, among dwarves. You could be bound for great things. That’s why I’ve come.”

Sheen shook her head ruefully. “If there’s any greatness in me, I have yet to find it. Maybe you’re just imagining it.”

“Maybe so,” Eldgrim said, “but I’d be remiss if I just let it go by without at least making an effort. So I came more to talk about what I can do for you than what you can do for me. I can teach you . . . well, I shouldn’t say that, exactly. I mean that I can help you find a way that you can learn. That’s why I brought this,” he added, pulling out a bulky wad of leather and slowly unrolling it.

“What is it?” Sheen asked cautiously.

“It’s a Belt of Dwarvenkind,” Eldgrim explained. “Here, put it on.” He held it up to Sheen’s waist and cinched the buckles closed.

“These are rare,” Sheen said, fingering the leather. “You’re just giving it to me?”

“Well, not exactly,” Eldgrim said. “Being a dwarf, I don’t have much use for it, myself, but there may come a time when I need you. This is a down payment.”

“You don’t have to . . .”

“Hush, now, that ain’t our way! You should know that if you know anything about dwarves. The other thing is this,” he held out a few small vials. They appeared to be full of metal flakes, ground into a fine glittering powder. “There’s some metal in you, but it’s just the soul of the metal for now. It needs material to work with. Add a little bit of this into whatever you eat or drink . . .”

“I don’t eat or drink, usually,” Sheen interrupted.

“Then you should start. The belt will keep it from poisoning you or making you sick, and it’ll give you something to draw on when you need it the most,” Eldgrim said. “Now, I’d better be going, but it wouldn’t hurt you to come ‘round to Twelve Factols on occasion to watch and learn.”

“All right,” Sheen said. “Thank you.”

“Well, we’ll see about that,” Eldgrim said.

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