Part 174: Zyla: Update 12
Hematite, Summer, 148
The siege is broken. The spawn seemingly have lost the will to fight. The group to the south that destroyed many of the statutes on the Ziggurat where Daeren's soul statue resides have seemingly decided to not attack the fortress, terrified of the horrible weapon unleashed against its brethren. Truly, these moles rival the might of Holistic herself for the spawn to be terrified of them.
They mill about, terrified.
And it is not particularly shocking when one surveys the devastation of their kind upon the gates and bridges of Syrupleaf.
In particular they stand in fear of the legendary warrior tehsid who is the greatest champion standing in Syrupleaf. His work in the last siege has been tallied.
The mysterious fish continue to multiply, and efforts are underway to exploit this new, precious resource.
The spawn are behaving extremely erratically, as single spawn keep charging the gates, one by one, only to be slaughtered easily by the now experienced wrestling squad.
Meanwhile, tehsid, Caleros, and Pumpinglemma stand by for the breach into the first of a serious of troglodyte holes.
The fish are multiplying alarmingly rapidly now...
Yet another spawn, this one a higher ranked spawn, apparently in command of the third wave, charges and meets the same fate as the others.
Crackmaster's squad tears the demon apart.
It happens...Phrederick has a breakthrough...
TremendousMajestic wrote :-
"ZYLA!" I shouted, walking quickly down the main hall. "Zyla, I've been looking all over for you."
Zyla didn't flinch. When the fortress Hammerer said such things to most dwarves, their first instinct was to bolt. Zyla had impeccable integrity, however, and an impending Hammering was the furthest thing from his mind.
"What is it, Tremendous?"
"We need a soap industry," I said, catching my breath.
He probably didn't hear me. Behind him, several dwarves were pulling a resistant stray Polar Bear down the corridor, and a small group of rowdy Wrestler's, high off their recent breaking of the siege headed into the mess. I knew what I'd said was lost on Zyla when, deadpan, he replied "What."
"Knockknees needs to make soap. We have enough haulers in the fort as it is, and she's the only one of them who has any idea what she wants to do with her life. She has dreams."
I guess I was sounding ridiculous.
"What kind of dreams? What the hell are you talking about, Hammerer?"
I had to explain.
I'd just finished with the Felsite issue of BLUDGEONING and threw it against the wall in disgust. Were they ever going to print my letter about what we (the Hammerers, and all the rest) were going through down here? The damn rag is mostly hammer ads these days.
I rolled over, and an item on the daily report caught my eye.
My heart jumped. At a glance, I thought my dear friend Knockknees has been struck down! I made a mental note to bring up the idea of changing some color notifications at the next weekly meeting. When I read that she'd found some work, I was happy for her. I felt confident she was beginning to adjust to life here.
When I ran into Knockknees a few weeks later, I asked how her artifact went. She said it was fine, that she was happy about it, but I knew better. I insisted on a pint, and after a few she told me how it went down: She was laying there, fast asleep, when out of nowhere she bolted up and headed for a craftdwarf's shop.
"I don't know what came over me," she said, kind of vacant and sad. "I've spent my whole life memorizing recipes and daydreaming about soap, and the next thing I know, I've got a crowd of people around me talking about how amazing this helm was I just made. I looked down in my hands and I'm holding this...this hat made from a bunch of turtles. For some reason, I put a picture of a tree on it with some dog skin I sewed on there. I mean, what is that? What the hell is that? Has anything like that ever happened to you?"
I had to admit that it had not.
I felt horrible for her. I knew she wanted to be known for her soaps, and was lobbying for a space for her workshop and equipment, and trying to get her soapsongs to catch on amongst the dwarves. She seemed inconsolable, but I told her she was lucky: If things had gone slightly differently, she'd have been put on shellcraft duty permanently, churning out baubles for the caravans. At least there was still a chance she could work on her soaps.
She slumped off, despondent. It killed me to see her like this...her soaps are fantastic! I know I've teased her about them in the past, but I've actually tried them. I used them on my hands and on my face, and all of the dirt and dust came off of them and I felt...what is it called? Clean? And it felt good! It felt good to "be clean"!
I'm sure I sound like some sort of pervert when I say something so crazy.
Ah, my poor friend Knockknees! I wished there was someone I could simply smash with a hammer to make it better! Alas, this was going to require some sort of conversation with someone. A word-smashing.
"And that's why I'm talking to you right now, Zyla. I am asking in my official capacity as Hammerdwarf of Syrupleaf. I know that it's unusual for a humble noble to make mandates, and I know overseers are always happy to do exactly as we ask. In this particular case, I'd owe you one."
Zyla gestured non-committaly and said he'd see about it.
I don't know if even I, noble Hammerdwarf of Syrupleaf, can spring an entirely new industry to life, but I tried. Oh! And I've crafted something as well. The craftsdwarfship is not at all of the highest quality (destruction is my field of expertise, and I never do this sort of thing) but I plan on presenting this to Knockknees to use as labeling on her small, craft batches of soaps. I hope it makes her feel better!