After getting filled in by Vedis regarding her extensive questioning about her psionic fire-starting abilities by Diadan Cartan, we gather our new compatriot Parvatt / Parvatta and leave from Bral for Ironpiece, the Gnomish discworld. The trip will take a few days, so to pass the time Ayrun Sorpic and I decide to play some chess with our newly obtained set. If Parvatt / Parvatta‘s city spirits say it’s important, then perhaps playing a game with it will reveal something.
…worth a shot, anyway.
Time passes rather uneventfully (for once), and we arrive at Ironpiece with a rather unique greeting from a strange tower-like contraption that unfolds and shoots exploding lights into the sky. “Welcome to Ironpiece,” indeed. I look around sheepishly as I realize I was the only one applauding the show. The others may not appreciate Gnomish invention… but I find a small race with such grand aspirations fascinating; I am not the only one trying to be more than people’s expectations, after all.
We explain to our welcoming committee that we are here to inform any involved parties that the “Clashbang” has been lost to 10th Pit mercenaries, and are soon allowed to land. As we disembark I see my friends nudge each other as they point out some of the other odd ships docked here (a Spudnik I particularly), but I am too wrapped up in a discussion with our Gnome escort over a new boarding device I’m trying to invent involving balista bolts, pulleys and ropes.
Eventually we are greeted by the head of security here, and I am caught by surprise as it isn’t a Gnome… it’s a Giff named Herphan Gomja. Well, well… I guess the Giff like these kinds of positions of authority so much that they don’t care where they have to go. We inform him of the loss of the “Crashbang” and the 10th Pit’s involvement, and he promptly excuses himself to start an investigation into the matter as they left port 3 months ago and hadn’t been heard from since. He will meet with us later in the day, however, to let us know what he has found.
Thankfully Parvatt / Parvatta, thanks to their communion with the spirits, is familiar with the place and able to show us around as we do some window-shopping. While I was rather disappointed that Gnomish weaponry wasn’t readily available, we did see some sights that I am sure I will probably never see again. This large machine that looked sort of like a catapult was in the main square, but it wasn’t launching boulders… it was launching what looked like eggs. Ayrun Sorpic was particularly interested in the device that was supposedly a “breakfast launcher,” and gave the lead inventor there some ideas that seemed to make him quite happy.
Hmmn… I like this wizard more and more; at the very least, he seems non-plussed when life throws chaos at you in loads.
Ayrun and I are sharing ideas for a breakfast machine of our own on the ship, when we round the corner to see something else I’ve never seen before: a Gnomish military parade. I hear Ef Utan Izenik trying not to snicker as we step to the side and watch the diminutive review pass, but it soon turns to gasps from all of us as something I’ve only seen in my dreams after a night of too much firewater comes barreling out of control down the street: a rather large, rabid…and fire-breathing hamster.
“You have got to be kidding me…” I hear from behind me as we spring into action to try and stop the carnage. Though honestly, I’m not quite sure what we should be doing… because I have no idea how one is supposed to stop something like that. I have to think that my claws and guns are only going to annoy the thing… so I scramble to the rooftops to see if I can get into a better position to try something while the rest attack it from below.
“It may be large, but it’s still an animal,” I say to myself as a crazy idea pops into my head and I climb up the mountain of fur to its ears. “Who’s a good hamster?” I coo softly as I start scratching it behind the ear in that place that makes most animals turn into puddles of goo. Before long the creature stops focusing on the scrambling gnomes below and tilts its head as its foot starts to thump happily. Gods… I hope the others are thinking of something, because I don’t know how long this will last.
A beam of green light shoots out from below into the creature that makes me feel slightly ill. I hear the creature moan in confusion and hold on for dear life as it begins to stumble… and grow. Before I know it the hamster has more than doubled in size before it stumbles over its feet one last time and falls to the ground with a “WHOMP” of dust and fur. As soon as I feel the heaving breaths of a deep sleep come over the hamster I do my best to scramble down to rejoin my friends and the remains of a grateful Gnomish military thanking us for bringing “Boo Boo” down without harm.
I find that it was Ayrun Sorpic who cast the beam, and that it definitely wasn’t supposed to make the creature grow like that. Note to self: magic and space hamsters don’t mix very well. They are cute, though. Maybe if we just had a small one…
After our little morning adventure we decide to head to someplace a little more quiet: The Hall of Records of Inventions. There we discover that the “Clashbang” was a research vessel investigating something called “complex thermodynamics” in the Flow, and that they were to go from here to Spiral and Bral. Well, that gives us a path to follow, at least. After here we should head to Spiral and see what we can find. Before we leave, however, we go to one of the best places for a source of information on any world: the bar.
We end the day at a bar whose name is more than a handful: “The Illustrious Sign of the Failed Experiment in the Advance of Science in Size 37 Footsteps” is about all I can remember, especially after the amount of drinking we accomplished during our impromptu wake of the ill-fated crew of “The Crashbang.” Thankfully between us we were able to figure out that the Dream Stone was never the goal of the crew, and they didn’t leave Ironpiece with it.
Me, all I remember is trying to get one of the Gnomes to invent a compact automatic lockpicker. He seemed to be offended at the thought of making the invention smaller than a room, until I reminded him that Gnomes were proof that great power can come in small packages. I sleep off my hangover dreaming of mechanical steam-powered wonders getting washed away in tidal waves of beer, and wake up the next morning with matted fur and a smelly reminder that the “beer wave” actually happened last night.
Don’t ask… just be cautious when someone wants to show you their high-powered beer delivery system.
After a much needed bath, we meet with Herphan Gomja once again to be informed that “The Clashbang” was on a mission to test experimental phlogiston bolts. Hmmn… those could be handy if the ever get out of the experimental stage. Then again, just about every Gnomish invention is always “experimental.”
We thank Gonja and prepare to depart when we receive a letter and a package with holes in it from the Gnomes. I read the note and smile as I realize what’s in the box. I quickly tear into the wrapping as Lenata of Celestian reads the note to the others.
“It seems they gave us a space hamster out of gratitude,” she says with a look of shock as I take the lid off the box and squeal in delight.
“Aren’t you the most adorable thing?” I say as I hug the ball of fluff that’s the size of a large dog and scratch it behind the ears.
“Gods, no…” I hear Ef Utan Izenik mutter.
“Hey, Vedis has her monkey, why can’t I have a pet?”
“HE’S NOT A MONKEY!” Vedis says as she crosses her arms in a huff.
“So we’re starting a menagerie,” Ef Utan says with a defeated sigh as we load my new pet on board and head to Spiral to continue our investigations into the Dream Stone.
Illustration by Syreene