|Issue:||Issue 24, October 2003|
The Dwarfen Mines
Contrary to popular opinion, this area is populated neither by pick-wielding songsters of small stature, nor by items of Australian sporting equipment. This is the real deal, an honest to goodness working mining community. Connected directly to the main Land by railway, for easy transportation, this is the last known working dwarf mine in existence.
Now I know a lot of you have wandered this area, especially during the fired up enthusiasm of a mobile bash, but how many of you have really explored it? For example, the south easterly part of the complex. It's dark, mysterious, virtually magic proof in some bits. Why is that? What lurks there, what treasures that are hidden from human eyes? But beware! People who lurk here too long may get the sack!
Follow the perilous passages, and you come out on a ledge, where one of the most powerful items of the game is to be found. No, not the osselesu, although rumours abound, about what this could do if you could only get it out via the tunnels. I mean the reset button.
Since when could mortals reset the game for themselves, surely that is the province of wizzes. But no! Meet the criteria stipulated, press the button, and presto, you are a few points better off, and 120 seconds from a brand new reset.
OK, once you have had your fill of this area, backtrack to the main passage. Heading due east, you come to some of the outer workings. Climb the stairs to the valve room, up to a platform with a well-stocked shed, and if you are brave enough to climb the vertical shaft, you come to a side passage and one of the main workfaces. If you are lucky you may discover one of the canaries that were once used as gas detectors in the mines.
This particular section has been mainly abandoned, and the careful explorer may come across the odd treasure, such as an abandoned bit of ore, or a discarded coin, if they check carefully.
Back to the main passage, and head north and east. You are now heading for the main living area. But beware. Dwarfs are hardy folk, they are not easily put off by the fact that large numbers of their kin vanish mysteriously and never return (they call them the Doomed Ones), nor by the fact that after working in some areas for too long even the lady dwarfs lose their beards and grow ill.
Further in, and the passageway grows tight, or at least for beings of our stature it does. But persevere, and marvel at the panoramic view over the legendary dwarfen citadel, surrounded by walls and forests.
Here lies one of the most frequented rooms of the land. Legend has it that there is a magical spring to be found nearby, and that drinking from its waters has a threefold effect. But rumour always has it there is a magical something somewhere. I leave it for you to see if it is true.
Heading east, you eventually encounter a gateway, with the cryptic message carved in it, "Drop the key to open me...". Should you find the key, you are in for a treat. Life here has remained unchanged for centuries. The passages lead to many formal areas. Of particular importance to dwarfs are the sleeping arrangements. The children have their own dormitory. There is a section for married couples, one for officers, and a dormitory for unmarried dwarfs (required as it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the male from the female of the species, so fraternisation is a risky business).
Day to day minutia are dealt with at the north part of the citadel, where all the cooking, food storage, and waste disposal occur. But it is south from the hall where the real treasures lie. Literally. So literally that this area is off limits, and guarded by the stockiest, heftiest, burliest, surliest, and generally most thickset dwarfs it could be your misfortune to meet.
You see dwarfs, for all their lack of stature, are big on respect. Most of all to their king, and queen. Not for them the gaudy display of their crown jewels. Their throne and royal treasures are locked well away, and their king is not king for nothing. He is the toughest, nastiest, and of course, the one who uses magic to rig the ballot boxes.
Just one final word of warning. Dwarfs bear grudges. So if you do decide on a little illicit souvenir collecting, don't let them catch you at it! Have fun exploring this fascinating working community.
Until next time, when we check out what goes on at that most convivial of places, the Inn!
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