[Story] Story a Week 26

[[ Halfway! I decided to do the actual “rabbit” story! ]]

The tavern had closed up for the night, though Blackbrew still talked at a back table with a few of his friends. Or “associates”, that’s what he always called them. Sorias thought that sounded more professional, and there weren’t any messy feelings involved. The dwarves often stayed up into the early hours of the morning — they might be surprised to learn how well they’d fit in among the elves. Sorias himself took some time to adjust to the different schedule, but as they rose late and stayed up late, it wasn’t too far off. In addition, being far under the mountain, the sun, moon and stars weren’t around to remind him that he really should be sleeping. There was a sameness to the city inside the mountain, the lanterns burned the same no matter the hour.

Sorias gathered the mugs and dishes onto his tray, dumping them into the sink behind the bar. He’d have to get to them before he slept, otherwise the mice would come in and start sniffing around. Blackbrew had a dog; a giant wrinkled drooling thing, but it had no interest at all in chasing the mice, so Sorias had to be on guard against them. He wiped up the spills and crumbs with a wet cloth, straightening the chairs and benches. Handfuls of sawdust from the barrel covered up the spills and drips on the floor. Sorias kept a curious ear toward the conversation as he tidied up, he didn’t exactly mean to eavesdrop, but it was hard not to overhear when the dwarves were being drunk and loud.

From the colorful language he could hear, Sorias guessed they were talking about politics. Dwarves had all sorts of councils and boards, and they were always having elections to elect people to them. Blackbrew often put up flyers for those he supported — usually business associates, Sorias noted — in the tavern. Sometimes they had special nights where all the money raised went to a candidate’s fund. Or, more likely, to his pockets. But Sorias found it all very interesting; back home there was no such system. Someone higher up always decided who would do what. He thought he rather preferred the dwarves’ way, where you could come from nothing and still end up on a council. Sure, it helped to have a good family and money, as with most things, but it wasn’t required.

Sorias squeezed past the table with the last tray of empty mugs. He wanted to take a break and join in the conversation, but he hadn’t been invited, and he felt too self-conscious just sitting down among them. Some of the dwarves he recognized, but not all of them, and who knows how they felt about elves. It had surprised Sorias to learn that some of them disliked elves, often a great deal. Some had never even met one in person, but they’d heard things from other dwarves and made up their minds without any evidence. The things they said seemed outlandish to Sorias, but he could only imagine what the elves in Astranaar would have said about dwarves. So probably it was just something that people did, no matter what race they were. Still, he did his best to be polite and friendly, even when a dwarf called him a tree-licking nutter or something similar.

There was a rabbit sitting on the table. Well, it was the size of a rabbit, and it looked like a rabbit, but it was made entirely of metal. Forgetting his shyness, Sorias drew closer to the thing. It paused, raised its head and turned its ears, with a quiet humming noise coming from within. Without realizing what he was doing, he reached a hand across to touch it.

“Ey, careful with that, lad,” said one of the dwarves. He had a very long brown beard, woven into two thick braids. He scooped up the rabbit and flipped it over. The underside was a tangle of gears and intricate metal parts, as well as a key for winding. The dwarf gave the key another few turns, and set the rabbit back down again. This time it sprang forward in a jaunty hop, and Sorias gasped in amazement.

“But it’s metal,” he said. “How–?”

The dwarf seemed pleased by Sorias’s interest, leaning back in his chair and smiling broadly. “That’s all clockwork, no magic at all. Jus’ a hobby of mine.”

Looking more closely, Sorias could see the hammer marks in the metal that covered the rabbit. Though they had been rubbed and polished, they were still visible beneath the shine. Sorias couldn’t imagine how much work it must have taken to make something like that. He’d seen dwarven smithing before, of course, fine swords and shields and armor, but nothing like this. This was magical.

“Do you think you could teach me?” Sorias asked. Blackbrew’s brow raised, but he didn’t argue.

The braided dwarf let out a braying laugh. “You?”

“Yes, I want to learn. It’s okay, right?” He glanced to Blackbrew again. “In my time off, of course.”

“Bout time you learned a proper trade anyway,” Blackbrew sniffed. “Can’t be a barmaid forever.”

The dwarf with the braided beard shook his head. “All right, kid. Come by my shop tomorrow. It’s ‘round the corner, with the clock on the sign.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: