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Lost Souls: Standing in the Shadows

Torak Lodebreaker looked up from the bench as a few of what they called Elders on this side shuffled in. Clothed as they were his tools were safe, but the heat still made him lean back despite himself. He managed a sufficiently respectful bow before putting his tools away – the unfinished works could catch fire for all he cared as he hadn’t made anything of worth since he’d arrived here.

“Torak, your attitude remains insolent. Have you not learned that you must respect us here, as you would in your native lands?”, said one of the robed and masked figures. The others nodded agreement as they stepped into place around him. Torak could hear his teeth grinding (and his knee joints) as he stood up to greet them. The strange blend of heat and inappropriate formality almost made him feel ill, with their presumption at addressing him as a simple clansman all the more grating. That those who should have the greatest of respect for tradition would be wrong about such an important matter… it hurt him to hear it from them.

“I forget my position”, he said, bowing gracelessly to the depths they believed they deserved, “I remain grateful to the clanhold for offering me this place for my work. If you require anything of me, it is only yours to ask.”. He grimaced as he bowed, hoping that they could not hear his spine cracking with the effort. They demanded the respect he would gladly have given to one chosen by fire, but these had simply inherited their position. Not for the first time, he wished he had never left his workshop.

“We have need of your expertise once again Torak. There has been agreement with several groups who wish to travel to Deephome and beyond. They have paid in certain items of great value for the right to travel, and the timing is fortunate. The latest assizes have concluded, and although we know that you have already turned down all their offers, I believe that they will still pay for your personal expenses.”, at this the figure paused as though uncomfortable at discussing payment. It was beyond Torak why a true dwarf should have any hesitation in discussing gold-lust, but then many things were strange in this place. He lost his chance to comment due to this musing, and his silence was taken as acceptance. “They will be expecting you in the caverns in a week. I trust you will be able to set your affairs in order by then.”

Torak was left alone again, staring at the malformed creations on his workbench. He sold them sometimes, he was not so proud as a Stonecarver who would not let anything but his best be seen. But if he returned he knew that the difference would be seen. A hard thing, to return a cripple even when it was home. But he would not get a better opportunity.

He was partway through considering how he would take his payment when the first of the earthquakes hit. After that, he had nowhere to come back to even had he wanted it.

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Standing in the Shadows popeyedoyle