After camping in the Steamfont Mountains, I settled in for a night’s sleep. At about 3:00 in the morning, I was awakened by an ominous rumble from the mountains to the northeast. I broke camp, activated my roboboar, and rushed back to the mine area where I reckoned the sound had come from.
What I found was chaos! Startled and unnerved, Minotaur workers were scattering across the valley in panic. What had happened? Their panic made them no more talkative to me, that is for certain. Even my keen skill of mystical collaboration could not bring them to trust me. Their fear of crossing Meldrath must be absolute
I decided to go back into the caves where I found my old friend, the Brownie I had reported about previously. Still seemingly guarding the mysterious door, he looked off into space, as if in deep thought. “Can you remember anything about the Minotaurs, my friend?” I asked.
“When they got really mad at us they would lock us up in a dark place, like one of their empty tool kits. Sometimes the Minotaurs would come along and play kick the toolbox for a few hours. Those sadistic monsters never get tired of it. Never! And don’t think that just because you won’t fit into a tool box that you’re safe. You’re not. You’ll fit just fine into an oil drum. They like kicking those, too.”
The Brownie trembled. I asked him what exactly they wanted him for. “They used us to test their insane inventions. My cousin was killed when they tried to launch him off one of their crazy towers. Something about giving him a boost to make flying easier. Flying! Does it look like I have wings? No!”
He had answered his own question. I was curious about whether or not they tried to resist their captors. “Some of us tried to form a rebellion. They tried to escape into the steam vents. I don’t know if any made it, but I saw plenty that didn’t. Those spiders do nasty things to any of us they catch.’ The brownie shudders, ‘They come through the floors and ceilings. You can’t stop them. I’m telling you, the game’s over. Game over, man!”
I pulled on the door. The Brownie eyed at me and warned, “If he catches you, you’ll be sorry.” I offered to partner with him to help free his kin. The Brownie looked at me in disbelief. I asked him, “Can you help me open this door?” He blurted out, “Horns! Horns everywhere! Gouging and poking! Don’t make me go back there!”
His lucidness faded again as he started running around in circles, flailing his arms about, screaming, “Lalala! Hahaha! The steamworks are coming!” I put my hand on his shoulder and pleaded with him. “Let me get you to a safe place.”
His eyes darted up at me, slyly, and he made a run for the mine exit. The last words I heard from him were the most telling of all, “They keep coming. They’re relentless! And all the ticking! It’s enough to drive a brownie mad.”
I followed him out and decided to find these ‘steamworks’ the Brownie had mentioned. When I found one, I was struck by how similar to clockworks they were. I could glean no information from the one I cornered save for a simple serial number engraving and the word “STEAMWORK” in capital letters.
I decided to disassemble one. I salvaged many parts, but I found that they were not necessarily interchangeable with clockwork parts when I tried to apply them to a nearby inactive clockwork.
From here, I decided to journey out to every corner of Steamfont with the goal of interviewing every resident about the recent happenings in the mountains. Perhaps I could piece together a larger picture of what was going on.
I met many an eccentric resident, but nowhere did I find the information I was looking for. Gnomes just aren’t that talkative. It’s our somewhat reclusive nature. I was actually told by Forpar Fizfla in one of the windmills, “Get out, you pesky Gnome! I don’t need any Gnome germs! Out, ye filthy beast!” I lost that exchange for lack of a mirror.
As the day drew to a close, I decided to camp near the Druid ring. I’m not sure how I know this, but in my gut, I’m afraid for what tomorrow may bring. There does indeed seem to be mounting danger against Ak’Anon. I only hope that I can uncover it before it can do us harm.