Tackling finally assembled a delegation, A Brick was finally ready to receive them, and so we emerged from the waters and guarded the delegation all the way down. Weakling was sad to see me go, but I promised that I would come back if I could.
We followed the river down. There was a dead, stinky hill giant that had an odd familiarity to it. The dwarves, none of whom had seen a hill giant, gathered around and started studying the poor fellow.
The dwarves were funny to watch as they had never been outside for so long nor so far from home. I think they were quite terrified of some mountain goats we saw; actually, Barrel seemed a little shaken too. But the dwarves were amazed. Fortunately, we had no incidents on the way down. I think the dwarves would poke and prod an attacker more than attack them.
When we got to Carrot Clan, A Brick greeted us and escorted the Tackling dwarves to their quarters; fancy quarters they were--we never got fancy quarters. A Brick did pause, looked at me, and said, "We need to talk. Tomorrow morning."
Well, that left me plenty of time to catch up with drinking and wrestling. Which I did.
In the blur of the morning, A Brick told me that he had heard what I did to the foredwarf. He was not pleased. He lectured me for over an hour on containing my anger and violence and that such and such would not be tolerated, etc, etc. I tuned him out and thought of Fiola. She had been on my mind recently. It had been a long time since I last saw her. How was she doing? I did not dare yet try to talk to her or find her. She scares me. Yet I think of her.
"Mord, hey, Mord! Are you listening? That's better. Now, any dwarf in my command that did that would be in the stocks for a month. But you are not under my command. I want you instead to do a small task. Something that will teach you some patience and maybe some respect. As you know, Core was a great smith, but it has come time to move his stuff and go through his shop. I want you to go through his stuff and take away anything that is personal or private, to be locked up in his family's vault. Leave that which would be useful to us."
I looked at him with pain and grudging respect. He knew me too well. I could take the stocks, I could take a beating, but to go back to Core's, to go through his stuff, to remember it all, that, that was torture. A Brick most have read my face, smiled, and said, "Never forget this, Mord. I know how big your heart is. I don't know why the two of you became so close so quickly, but I know that Core seemed to be a new dwarf with you around. He had a pride about him that I had not seen in years. This honor should be yours. And the burden."
I hung my head and agreed. The next day I went to Core's place. It was a complete mess. It took me hours and hours to go through it all. Most everything was smith stuff and I cleaned it all up best as I could. I did assemble a trunk of trinkets that looked personal. I saw his spiked gauntlets and touched the scars they had left, his blistering rope that had torn my hands, and all of the other training equipment that had made me into the Kordian journeyman I am today. I broke down, the pain was overwhelming. I need to go smash something.
I also found what seemed to be a drawing of a beautiful dwarf, well, I imagine beautiful. Perhaps his wife? Daughter? Mother? There was so much I did not know of Core. Well, I suppose it does not matter now.
And I found a note, a note addressed to me. I took a look at it, and it was a map and a letter. I couldn't read it so well, so I had Barrel read it:
"Mord, if you are reading this, it is a miracle. If someone else is reading this, well, hello! I must be dead. Don't cry, those of us with faith always continue on. But if you need the services of a smith with that something special, try to find my master of old, Smitmar. He comes from another clan, an outcast of that clan for being a follower of Kord. He had come here in my youth and he was the one that led me to my travels. He taught me everything I knew. After the colony, he traveled to a location deep in the mountains, marked here on the map. It is a hard journey, take friends. But he is the best smith I have ever known. Perhaps it is even time for him to come home."
"Thank you Barrel. Up for a trip?" Barrel smiled, nodded, and stroked his longbow in anticipation. I looked away.
Mords of Wisdom: Go through people's stuff after they die.