Monday, August 31, 2020

Found brotherhood and found treasures


 By Christopher Robin Negelein    Art: Public Domain 

Here is the third installment of the tri-beginning of the Solar Sails superpower, Trokia. Three city state bastions joined together with three miraculous budges of the finest materials and arcanagineering. This is the start of how the dwarven bastion, Pinnachal, discovered tarra, the material that makes void vessels floats. 

 Regardless, dig in and enjoy! (The below excerpt is under the usual first draft disclaimer and probably has a few typos. Be gentle, but feel free feedback.) 

There in the mines of Pinnachal were two dwarven brothers and the last of their clan. Despite their hard work and determination, hardship and misfortune followed them everywhere. For those who knew both Karlimin and Aleximin, suspected that before the Shattering the brothers’ clan ancestors must have done something so wrong the bloodline had been cursed with bad luck. A curse so strong that it protected the family from the catastrophe so they could keep suffering to pay off their karmic debt. 

And the brothers had become so despondent, they would have to agree. Sadly, it was the only thing they could agree on in those days. The two fought constantly and if not out of a sense of familial duty, they might have split up years ago.

Then their luck took a turn for the worse. 

On a prospecting trip down an old abandoned shaft, they fell through the floor and landed in an undiscovered corridor. It was covered in runes neither of them recognized. It had been constructed and abandoned even before the Shatter. 

With no way back up, they wandered the unlit caverns for days in the dark as their rations ran low. Worse yet, they found the place to be littered with devilish death traps that they would have fallen to if not for their darkvision and rare teamwork. But as they constantly escaped death while also slowly starving, something happened. They slowly learned to work together to solve the traps and remember better times. Their brotherly bond strengthened even as they grew tired and weaker. 

Perhaps the karmic wheel of fate had begun to spin clockwise again because the brother’s found an underground river that slaked their thirst and found blind cave fish to fill their bellies. Refreshed, rested and rebounded, the siblings had higher spirits, despite being lost in unexplored, strange caverns in the grand Basalt Crown mountain. Determined to find their way back home, they followed the river upstream in hopes that going upward would take them towards civilization of some kind. What they found would change the history of the Flow forever. 

Part wading, part swimming and part diving, the brothers finally reached an expansive cavern that gave off a twinkling glitter, like underground starlight. The river’s source was a waterfall, whose source was hidden in the dark and distance, very high up. 

The veins of  the strange material were unknown to them. The cavern, which a replica can be visited today, was filled with unprocessed taara ore. While the brothers had no idea what the mineral was, they were excited to discover something new. It could be a useless rock, but the curious and the collectors could provide enough to survive on until a better opportunity arose. Karmlinin, though, noticed that loose bits of  the minerals hovered just barely off the floor. 

Fascinated, and distracted, they didn’t notice the giant cave crab sneaking up behind them. They only noticed when it grabbed Aleximin and dragged him into the cold river. Karmlinin dove into the black water to save his only kin. The water was ice cold and even darksight gave no help. In the dark, he scrambled for his sibling, but he grabbed a chitinous limb instead. With fierce desperation, he yanked with his boots digging into the riverbed. He heaved with all his might and pulled the creature right out of the water, including his brother. Both siblings beat the crab from both sides until its claws stopped moving. The brothers dragged themselves to the riverside, dined on raw crab and then slept, exhausted. 

The next day they investigated both the waterfall and the strange rocks. Petramlinin noticed that as more of the ore was gathered it lifted all the other pieces higher. They spent hours collecting every single piece they could find and even pulled some of the mineral from the cavern walls with their fingernails. The brothers also used sharp flint and crude runes on a crab claw to stake a claim on the cavern, all mineral veins touching it, and the river until the next body of water or waterfall. 

With each bit of taara ore tucked under the empty shell of the crab, the raft of rocks and shell rose slowly and precariously. The brothers balanced on the huge crab shell as it drifted towards the top of the waterfall. As they floated past it, the brothers climbed the cavern cave ceiling, hand over hand until they came closer to the sounds and smells of a clanner mine or outpost. It was definitely more than just a couple of prospectors. 

As they got closer, they reached under and plucked rocks from their floating raft to ease into a decent. Shortly after landing, they were discovered by Baltistone prospectors, the wealthiest clan on the bastion. In this, their luck had finally turned around. They were an upstanding clan. Fate could have delivered the two to an outpost of villains who could have arranged for an accident both to the brothers and their makeshift claim marker. 

As it was, they were given fair terms -- and then discovered their soul mates in the clan. Both were married within the year, which brought their wealth back into the clan. But even then the fortune continued. Their years of survival made them persistent and savvy, which in turn made them excellent clan merchants. Given new opportunities, they flourished, rising up in the ranks to be cherished advisers and elder statesmen. Centuries later, the cave crab is a popular symbol in the clan arts and the fable of the two brothers exalts the values of determination and family bonds.

The clans invented uses for the strange, new material, which included sky barges. With such vessels, the clans eventually discovered the limits of their bastion. Their early void craft were already harvesting nearby debris asteroids and establishing an outpost on a dead bastion when a prospector craft, Light Sifting, had spotted a joint Nesol/Tandrial explorer and salvage vessel, Obsidian Gazer.

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