File GSB-067: Rumblings

Griggin walked through the corridor that connects the Mystic Ward to the Forlorn Cavern. The Forlorn Cavern was a place for quiet contemplation, with a small, still, underground pool and only a few shops that sold mostly religious items, ingredients for potions and material for enchantments. Griggin liked this place, even though it had become the prime spot for the Circle to have secret meetings. Rather than go against tradition, Griggin had asked Bezoar to meet him here. Griggin saw Bezoar standing by the pool, deep in conversation with a Human woman. She was wearing a robe, hood pulled up over her face. The robe fit her well, and she had pulled it tight round herself so that it followed the curves of her body. Griggin moved where Bezoar could see him, and Bezoar gave the woman a polite nod, spoke a few words. The woman looked at his back as he joined Griggin.

“Good morning, Sir.”

“Morning Bezoar. Have you made a friend?”

“I wouldn’t go that far, Sir. She wanted to know where the enchanting trainer was, and we started talking about enchanting in general.”

Griggin looked at the woman, who was still looking in their direction. When she saw Griggin looking at her, she turned round and walked towards the Hall of Explorers.

“Well, time to get started,” said Griggin. “Today we will concentrate on the important skill of sensing Daemons with one’s mind. We can, of course, only sense the Daemon’s hither projection, unless we were fool enough to enter the Daemon’s demesne.” Griggin smiled. “Which would be a singular enjoyment, and a brief one. I will summon my Imp, Ruptik, and have him walk round you. I want you to follow him with your eyes closed, and point at him when I say.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“But first, let’s find a more private place. I find that summoning Daemons in town upsets people.”

“That is because people are afraid of them, because they do not know them.”

“Possibly,” said Griggin. “But a persuasive argument may be made that they would fear them even more if they did know what they are, and what they are capable of.”

“That may well be the case,” said Bezoar, with a hint of a laugh in his voice. “I feared the Daemons greatly, until I learnt how to control them. I do not fear them now, though. My knowledge protects me.”

Griggin looked at Bezoar. “Don’t get complacent, young Warlock. We cannot possibly know all that is to know about them. It is when we think that we know everything that they surprise us and try to have us for lunch.”

“Yes, Master,” said Bezoar.

Griggin let that pass. They found a quiet spot somewhere in the snowy valley of Dun Morogh, and Griggin summoned his imp, Ruptik.

“What is it now?”

Griggin bowed his head to the creature, even smaller than a Gnome and nowhere near as handsome.

“Ruptik, I wish my student to see you as you were meant to be seen, with the mind. But I do not trust him, so I will ask him to close his eyes. You will walk round him, quiet as you can, and he will try to see you with his mind, and point his finger at you.”

Ruptik sneered at Bezoar. “You are right not to trust him. He looks like he’d try to cheat. If I were you, I’d poke his eyes out to make sure he doesn’t.”

“But I need him to see afterwards. How will he read the tomes of lore without his eyes?”

“Pah! If he doesn’t know them yet, then he’s not worthy.”

“Nevertheless, he must keep his eyes, because that suits my purposes. Now attention Bezoar, close your eyes. Don’t peek. Ruptik, move to a random place.”

Griggin and Bezoar spent some time with Ruptik wandering this way and that, while Bezoar pointed him out. To start with, Bezoar would sometimes point in the wrong direction, making Ruptik explode with cackling laughter, which was not helping the exercise. Soon, though, Bezoar improved, and pointed at the Imp without fail. Griggin dismissed Ruptik, and summoned Hurzag, his Voidwalker, who glided this way and that, noiselessly, without comment. Finally, he dismissed Hurzag, and summoned a Daemon that he did not summon often. People who didn’t know better usually had no trouble referring to an Imp, Voidwalker, or the four-legged Felhunter as “it”. A Daemon’s hither presence did not need to reproduce, and gender was merely ornamental. This one, however, was extremely difficult not to refer to as “she”.

“Why Master… You wish your student not to look at me?”

Darva, the Succubus bound to Griggin, licked a long, long-nailed finger, and ran it between large, artfully sculpted breasts, looking into Bezoar’s eyes. A thin line of dark blood appeared, only to heal up almost immediately. Darva laughed, a sound of joy that nevertheless sent shivers up one’s spine.

“And they say I am cruel.”

“For perfectly good reasons,” said Griggin. “Bezoar, close your eyes. Note how the imprint on your mind differs from that of Imps or voidwalkers. Darva, move. Quietly.”

Darva conceded to move to a spot behind Bezoar, off to one side. Bezoar pointed at it without fail. Griggin pointed, and Darva moved, with Bezoar following with his eyes closed, finger never wavering an inch from the Daemon.

“Oh I can tell, he wants me,” said Darva.

“That will be enough, Darva,” said Griggin. “Please return to your demesne in peace, with my thanks for your help.”

“Well, that was fun,” said Darva. “Perhaps next time, we’ll kill something?”

The Daemon faded to nothing. Bezoar put his hands in front of him, in the long sleeves of his robes. He bowed his head towards Griggin.

“How did I do, Sir?”

“Very well, Bezoar. I’m quite pleased with your progress.”

“That latest Daemon, the Succubus… do people not see through her deceptions? She was trying to seduce me, even though she knew I could see her for what she really was.”

Griggin laughed. “Darva definitely wasn’t trying hard. Succubi are well aware of our most powerful emotions and driving forces, and use them to our detriment.”

“I would be aware of her trying to control me, and that would activate my mental defences. She would not be able to penetrate them.”

Griggin gave Bezoar a little grin.

“It,” he said.

Nix spotted Dora coming out of her school. Not everybody stopped to look at her, which as far as Nix was concerned was his gain and their loss. She gave him a quick glance as he caught up with her.

“Hiya! I got something for you. I hear you’re a herbalist.”


“So I got you some herbs.”

Nix handed Dora a small box. In it was a small selection of flowers and herbs. He’d spent the afternoon outside gathering them all. Dora looked at the display, then up at Nix.

“You’re not a herbalist yourself, are you?”

“Nope. I do engineering and mining. Always after the ores, I am. Look, I spot-welded a few leftover bits of copper tube together to put them in, in a bit of water. Keep them fresh.”

“Hmm. Well, if you’d have asked a herbalist, you’d know. This is Kingsblood. You need to get it out of the ground, roots and all, because you need both the petals and the roots for mana potions.”

“Oh,” said Nix, and his face sagged.

“Bloody hard to get out of the ground intact, especially if the ground is dry or frozen. The roots are quite delicate, and if you break them, the sap runs out.”

“I see,” said Nix, mentally kicking himself for not doing the research. For goodness’ sake, his own sister did herbalism. He could have asked her.

“Thanks, though. They do smell nice even if I can’t use them for potions.”

“No worries.” Nix beamed at Dora. “So how do you get the roots out in one piece?”

“Mucking in. You loosen the soil with your fingers and pull very, very gently.”

“Hmmm,” said Nix. Then, he suddenly grinned. “I’ve just thought of something. Enjoy your herbs see you later.”

Nix waved. Dora looked at the purple flowers in her hands. Well, he probably meant well. And the little, well, vases were actually quite nice for an improvised job. Dora watched Nix disappear into the tunnel leading to the Commons, shook her head and walked home.

The IGNITE workshop in Tinker Town usually rang to the sound of hammers on anvils, the whine of power tools, and the screams of metal being shaped. At the moment, the tools were silent, and the Gnomes themselves were making the noise. Chint Waterspray sat on one of the workbenches, tobacco pouch in one hand, piece of vloo in the other. He was observing his fellow engineers facing off, glaring at each other, as he rolled the cigarette between his fingers. Finally! Griggin and Anton had been glaring at each other for a week now, and it was getting on his nerves. It looked like a nice refreshing shouting match was coming.

“Well, she’d still be here if that wife of yours hadn’t told her to up stakes and run.”

“Opinions on that differ,” said Griggin.

“And it didn’t occur to you to ask where she might have gone?”

“She didn’t say,” said Griggin. “Lenna’s opinion was that spending some time away from you would be beneficial to Beatrice’s general well-being. I find myself unable to argue against that. Perhaps if you could provide a cogent argument…”

“She’s my wife, dammit!”

“Indeed. All that I have, I share with you. All that I am, I give to you. I will love you, comfort you, honour and keep you, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, and be faithful to you as long as we both shall live.”

Anton knew exactly what Griggin meant. His eyes burnt with fire.

“So you heard about that, did you? Figured it out yourself? Well sod you, and the sanctimonious holier-than-thou horse you rode in on. Do you think I was the only one in the arrangement to sleep out of doors now and then? What if I told you that my poor, long-suffering wife was the first to start it? Actually, I’m surprised that she didn’t try it on with either of you. Chint?”

Chint licked the piece of paper and, mindful of the prohibition against smoking in the workshop, stuck the roll-up behind his ear for later.

“Can’t say that I ever had the pleasure of her intimate acquaintance. Which is a great pity.”

Anton looked at Griggin. “You, perhaps?”

Griggin said nothing. Anton grinned.

“Well bless my welds, she did, didn’t she? Enjoy it?”

“I declined her offer,” said Griggin. “For reasons stated.”

Anton scowled. “You think I don’t love her, do you? You think I don’t bloody care that she was ready to throw herself off the sodding bridge. Do you think I married Beatrice for her tits?” Anton took a deep breath and bent forward a bit, looking deep into Griggin’s eyes. “Beatrice has the most brilliant engineering mind that it has been my privilege ever to encounter. Even after two bottles of wine, she can think rings around anyone in this room, including myself. Simply being in the same room she’s in, as she thinks up designs so simple and elegant, that everyone who ever welded two pipes together should spend the rest of their life kicking themselves for not thinking of them, is better than a night with a hundred of the most beautiful women on the planet.”

A long, deep silence fell. Eventually, Chint chuckled to himself. Anton glared at him.

“You see something funny, Mr. Waterspray?”

Chint grinned broadly.

“You were only using her for techs,” he said. He retrieved his cigarette from behind his ear, and walked out of the shop, laughing, fumbling in his pocket for a lighter.

Anton looked back at Griggin.

“Well, wherever she is, I hope she comes back soon. Because without her, we’re screwed.”

The Gomeregan Warlock Circle in Exile was in session in their secret headquarters. Griggin sat in his usual place in a dark corner of the room, admittedly thinking more of pipes, steam, heat transfer and wives than about the lack of new young warlocks lately. People had noticed that of late, the influx of new fresh-faced Warlock boys and girls was at a bit of a low. Actually, they had managed to help three boys, not counting Bezoar, but no girls at all. Acting Chief Briarthorn thought this was a good sign, because evidently, fewer and fewer children were discovered with part of their minds in the Twisting Nethers, for which he was profoundly grateful. The Gnome looked so wonderfully optimistic that nobody thought of putting forward an alternative explanation: That they were simply missing them and Ironforge was due an outbreak of dark magic. Everybody was quite content to let that problem be somebody else’s. Even Griggin had to admit that he probably should be looking harder, but what with his new charge, and a sudden load of design work that had been dropped on him due to Beatrice leaving, he was too busy to take on another task.

The meeting ended with a small ritual of welcome to the new Warlocks. Bezoar and a few other boys, one Human, two Gnomes. Griggin was cautiously proud of Bezoar’s accomplishments. He had added a Voidwalker to his arsenal, and could do a respectable Rain of Fire. Griggin was watching him carefully for signs of relapse, but so far, none had come. Chief Briarthorn closed the meeting, and people filed out.

Griggin walked to his own small workshop. The air between him and Anton Glowpipe had not quite cleared yet, and he preferred to work by himself. Despite Anton’s warnings, they were coping, and exceptionally brilliant feats of design were not needed. This was simple, solid engineering grindwork. Distribution pipes to the major areas in Ironforge. Primary and secondary pump stations, based mostly on Griggin’s Optimal Prime pumps, but optimised for throughput, not temperature. They were making slow, steady progress, the customers were happy, and didn’t grumble too much about the gold this was all costing.

Griggin opened the door to his workshop to find Nix already there, at the large workbench, assembling some kind of mechanism.

“Evening Son. What are you working on?”

Nix showed his father his device. It was a length of copper pipe, with three prongs sticking out. A few adjusting wheels were on the other end of the pipe.

“It’s a present for this girl I know,” said Nix. “It’s a herbalising fork, basically, except I added a whirring gizmo so the prongs vibrate and loosen the soil around the roots of the herb, and you can extract it without damaging the root.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” said Griggin. Are those prongs spring-loaded?”

“Yep. You can set them to the width of the individual plant’s root system.”

“Hmm. You’d better add a sheath for them. They look sharp. Someone could hurt themselves.”

“They are sharp, so yeah, I will. Look.”

Nix pulled up a bucket he’d filled with sand, well stamped down. He wound up his device, then pushed it into the sand. There was a buzzing noise, and the fork sunk down easily.

“Every girl needs a hammer drill,” said Nix. “You can even adjust the intensity of the vibrations to the optimum between speed of descent and risk of damage to the herb.”

Griggin nodded. “Ingenious.” He watched Nix loosen the sand in the bucket with his new tool. Nix looked pleased with himself. “So you have found a friend, then?”

“Yeah. She’s one of Trixie’s classmates. Hope she likes this.”

“Well, it looks very well made. Pay enough attention to the finish, and I daresay you have a winner.”

Griggin finished his notes on where to locate one of the main water pumps near the Mystic Ward. From there, hot and cold water would be pumped all over Death Valley. And just in time for lunch, too. Griggin wandered over to one of his favourite restaurants at the very end. The food was still good there. Further down, it deteriorated into bits of he dared not guess what creature, with sauce freshly scooped out of the Great Forge, mixed with sulphuric acid and enough garlic to kill any vampire, or for that matter any Gnome, in a thirty yard radius. He walked in, and ordered his usual. While he waited, he went over his notes once more. This part of Ironforge was mostly sandstone, so drilling would be easy. Griggin added up lengths of pipe till his lunch arrived. He gave the innkeeper a grateful look, and tucked in. He frowned. The innkeeper noticed, and walked over.

“Is something the matter, Sir?”

“Well, there’s nothing wrong with this as such, but didn’t you tell your daughter I was here? She usually puts in more spices for me.”

“Forgive me, Sir. I didn’t know. This wasn’t prepared by me daughter, I did it meself.”

“Oh? She’s not ill, I hope?”

“I don’t know, Sir,” said the Inkeeper. “She’s disappeared, and we cannot find her. It’s a worry, as she’s not wont to wander off on her own for so long. We fear she may have come to harm.”

“I’m very sorry to hear that, Sir. Don’t give up hope.”

The Dwarf looked out of the window, shaking his head.

“Something dreadful has happened to her, I feel it in me bones.” He shook himself. “I beg your pardon, Sir. I didnae mean to saddle you with my troubles.”

“If I can help in any way, you have but to ask.”

“Thank you. Enjoy your meal, Sir.”

There was a scream in the night. Lenna woke up, stepped out of bed, and went to the small space where Bieslook’s bed was. Bieslook was sitting up, staring at the wall, tears rolling down her cheeks. Lenna sat down on the bed with her, and pulled her onto her lap.

“What’s the matter, sweetheart?”

“Papa is not coming back.”

Lenna held Bieslook close to her, and gently rocked her.

“No, he isn’t. I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

“I want my papa.”

“I know.”

More sobs followed.

“He made too much fire, and then he went away.”

“That was so the Troggs wouldn’t get you, sweetie. He made the Troggs go away too.” Lenna looked into Bieslook’s eyes. “He wanted you to live, and be happy.”

“I want my papa.”

Lenna held Bieslook close to her, gently stroking her hair. Nothing else that she could do for the young girl. Finally the sobbing stopped.

“You can let go now,” said Bieslook. “I’m better.”

“Don’t want to,” said Lenna.

Bieslook wriggled a bit, making herself more comfortable on Lenna’s lap. They sat together, by the flickering light of a candle, for some time. Then, Lenna put Bieslook back in bed, pulled the blanket over her.

“Thank you,” said Lenna.

“Will I be a mage, like papa?”

Lenna stroked Bieslook’s hair. “Nobody is going to be a mage like your papa. You’re going to be good, though. You’ve got the gift.”

“Can already shoot fire.”

“That’s just for emergencies, dear.”

“What’s an emercery?”

“E-mer-gen-cy. It’s when bad people want to hurt you, like the Troggs.”


“That’s right. You don’t want to get those headaches you do just for playing.”


“Good night, sweetheart.”


Lenna returned to her bed, to find her dear husband had taken over most of it. She grabbed his leg, and flung it across, making him turn over.

“Gmwlf,” said Griggin, accusingly, and slept on. Lenna got back in bed.

“That’s what you always say.”

Copyright: © 2008,2009,2010 Menno Willemse. All rights reserved.


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