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2004-01-30 - 8:47 a.m.

Chapter 1 - Clang-Bang

Clang-Bang wasn’t so much Mad nor Alchemist as much as he was a well-funded, eccentric amateur Underground Botanist with Alchemists tools. He was 6 years into a “metallurological field expedition of an undefined nature” (which was, in actuality, more of a really long mushroom safari interspersed with the collection interesting and shiny bits of metal and gems) when he saw the bottle green flush that came from only one source – feeding Bright Blight Toadstools.

Now, this expedition was entirely funded as a so-called, “Metal Hunt”, a search for new sources of ores and riches for his Andvarian investors to accumulate in their ragged stores of “Places to Check Out”. These lists were, by nature, incredibly long and complicated and as Dark Dwarves could, as a rule, neither read nor write intelligibly, these “finds” that Clang-Bang would “report” would, in theory, never be followed up on.

So Clang-Bang could pretty much report anything his investors most wished to hear. But let it be said that his sponsors were not being bilked as much as it would seem (well, maybe a little, but a Dwarf has to eat, right?) as many advances that made subterranean living a little more comfortable came from Mushroom Safari’s just like this.

The day before the Investors meeting, he and Pick-Word would etch strange charts and diagrams and made sure to include declarations such as, “Immediate substrata terradox,” and “Negative Field disseminations” in both the illustrations and his speech. Clang-Bang would go on for hours as such, as he had for the funding for this very Safari and by the time he was through, his Sponsors sat like stumpy stone lumps – all slack-jawed and dazed.

They hadn’t a single clue what had just been said and 10 minutes into Clang-Bang’s spiel had moved past confusion into utter hypnotic transpiration, for one thing Dwarves are, is slow. One thing they aren’t, is bright. The one thing all Dwarves have in common, however, is a deathly fear of owning up to this dim sluggishness.

Once, before he learned how to “play the audience”, his investors sat staring at him for 19 Tings before the would-be sponsors began falling from their chairs like stubbornly confounded totems.

This time, Clang-Bang broke the perplexed tension, brought about by his Byzantine presentation, with his latest and greatest invention; a tallow and fungus concoction that Pick-Word shaped into hand-sized, colourful bars and called it, “Saop”. Saop was an invention purely of a selfish nature.

To a Human’s nose, Saop would smell like dried porcini, but considering that Dwarves smelled like various things, all ranging from “Stagnanty Sumpy” to “Moldy Cheesy”, “Mushroom Fresh” was perfume and soon became Urban Dwarf Chic - much to the gratification of Pick-Word’s ample and sensitive olfactory region.

Saop was a hit and big leap in daily Dwarven hygiene, if not in daily Dwarven humour in the form of bubble-burps; as Murky the Tunneler proved frothily that very day, at the Investors meeting, by chasing a bar and a half of Saop with a pint and a half of ale.

Tension abated, and each investor armed with a case of Saop apiece for smelly family and friends alike, he was, in the end, granted double what he’d asked for this particular Expedition. It was, on the books, an Expedition to hunt for ore, because REAL Dwarves don’t care about gardening and if they did, none would be daft enough to admit it.

So six years later, he pulls to a halt his CATRAPILR(1) , now near full to the regulators, squinting at green glow tunnel – “daylight” bright – dismounts, pulls from an empty segment of the CATalogue a tall stack of thin metal plates(2).

Clang-Bang was giddy when he saw the illumination and was breathless (he really wasn’t much of an athlete) when he came to the light source. Leaning on his old Rootstone cane, trying to pull wind through his big, tangled beard, between long puffs off his pipe, he looked down into the room, surveying the cave and it’s contents. Inside lived HUNDREDS of Bright Blight specimens, dazzlingly hungry – the patch must have caught itself a little snack recently, for their spores to be glowing that green.

Hefting the metal filing system over his shoulder, Clang-Bang gives the chain, attached to the Cat, a tug, throws the balance over the edge into the toadstool patch and lowers himself to the cave floor.

(1) CAtalogue of Tubers, Roots And Porphyries all In a Long Row, or “CAT” for short, is a long, segmented metal tunnel-vehicle that looks much like a long, black mechanical millipede, powered by three Giant Blind Moles (two large males supporting the cockpit in the middle, the female Mole in the lead). A Dwarf can steer the Cat with a set of mechanical bridles, and the pace is set by how much female Giant Blind Mole pheromone is released by remote atomizer onto the female’s rump. It was “carrot and stick” simple, and very effective but was, at the end of the day, ahem, hard on the lead Mole. Through a series of baffles, plumbing and clockwork, the Cat would compress, file, and dehydrate the plant specimens Clang-Bang collects (in his metal-leafed ‘books’), draining their liquid into again, catalogued jars, stored in a cabinet under the Driver – for easy access.

(2) Inside each segment of the CAT was a metal “book” of sorts. It looked like a “book,” but was made of thin metal plates for pages and was bound with strong iron. Curved in a “U,” the pages were edged with drill holes that were placed on binding rods set in the spine, very much like a clumsy Dwarven version of the Human “duo-tang.”

Previous Chapters:

I. The Slaughter

II. The Hunt

III. The Devil

III. The Tattooed Infant

Spit it OUT, Snapperhead!

1 of you fuckers have been accounted for.

old shit. - newer shit.

Y'can't Keep a Fringe Man Down. - 2005-08-03
So Long, Fucko's. - 2004-02-02
Feedback. - 2004-01-31
Chapter 1 - Clang-Bang - 2004-01-30
The Tattooed Infant - 2004-01-29

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