Gram, part 2

That Gram had decided to keep his imminent departure a secret mattered very little. He was coming to the end of the long walk to the Forgers when the first of many interruptions hit him.

\”Hi! Gram! What happened at Maud\’s?\”

The day would be very long indeed.

Sadly, Gram really could not recall many of the details of his encounter with Tad, the Foreman. It was such an insignificant day that he thought very little of it until his summons to Maud\’s. Somehow it had something to do with Firetooth.

Of course Firetooth was the surname of a dwarf named Antti. The title wasn\’t even familial; the rumour went that there was some kind of accident involving Lickspittle that got him the name. Lickspittle is essentially syruppy and fermented fungus and Antti was fond of it as brewed by some of the poorer families of the Miner\’s Cog; rancid but more than enough to get one drunk quickly. The drink was especially favored by the lower and less cultured cusp of the dwarven society for its ease of preparation and fast effect. More to the point, Antti was on his second mug of the stuff, alone at home as was his wont, when he took a bit too much. He began to cough and choke. Before he knew it a spray of Lickspittle shot out between his clenched teeth directly onto the hearth. The drink, which might as well be gunpowder, caught fire and incinerated all the way back into his mouth. The validity of this tale was questionable at best but the name stuck.

Name aside, Antti Firetooth was in desperate need of the strongest and most fearsome black-steel halberd ever seen. This, he said, was to be the new symbol of House Firetooth, the grandest family line of his Cog. Unimpressed, Gram agreed to the job along with another of the Forgers.

It was in the Wall Hole that the Incident had happened. The Wall Hole was nothing special, especially by dwarven standards. It was, in fact, a hole in the wall, albeit a big one. While the valuable gems and iron-ore had long been stripped and the Fargoers (Prospectors in more crude terms) had rendered the site exhausted until it was discovered that the wall-rock, the simple stuff that made the cavern itself, had certain inexplicable properties. Properly handled the wall-rock was malleable as molten gold and when fired and refined with copper it solidified into a material otherworldly. It felt like coarse cloth, looked like coal but caught light in such a way that poets had compared it to the crown jewel of the Queen of the Stars, whatever that meant. Using it for inlay work was a common practice among the Forgers.

And so, to capture the magnificence of House Firetooth Gram needed the wall-rock. Another order was not due until after his deadline for the halberd and so he took it upon himself, in typical fashion, to go and retrieve a bit of the stuff to finish the job. There Foreman Tad had found him, chipping away at the Wall Hole, presumably another grunt there to work. When Gram stopped Tad was livid at best.

\”Hoy there! Why\’ve you stopped! Back to work if you don\’t want me taking this hour\’s wage!\”

Gram gave a pause and sigh of annoyance before beginning. \”That wall\’s bearing water. You need to put a stop to any more tunneling you have planned and bring it up with the Dredge.\”

Tad was now red in the face. \”Shut it! I\’ll have no more lip from you! Back to work!\”

\”I am not one of your Miners, you dotard! I\’m a Forger!\”

Tad seemed to calm down momentarily in a strange swoon. It didn\’t take him long to retort.

\”I don\’t care if you\’re the sodding Guard of the Great Lady! You\’ll be getting a summons soon from the Lady Maud. I recommend you obey it!\”

Gram had little left after that. No energy to argue with this fool, nor will to complete the job. He felt drained and upset and so he went home. A summons from a Lady could not be contested, save by the Great Lady herself and according to rumour she was about as pleasant as Maud. For reasons inexplicable the old Rules still held the society of The Homes firmly in place; they were effective but entirely antiquated and, at least to Gram in that moment, entirely unfair. The next day, a bit hungover, Gram got the summons and found himself knocking on Maud\’s door that evening.

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