Far across the Great Savanna, the Golem thrashed around in its cave. The magically hardened rock of its body collided with the insides of the Impassable Mountains, causing rocks to crack as they fell onto its head. The Golem felt many things; confusion, loneliness, and even despair, although it couldn’t remember why. It couldn’t even remember why it was thrashing around to begin with, so it stopped. His home was wider now, far too wide for only him to reside. As he let himself fall backward, his body pressing into gravel until it formed around him, he caught a glimpse of a strange face carved into a stone on the floor to his right. It was somewhat familiar, and consumed all of the Golem’s limited attention span for an entire half hour. Then the Purterber stood, threw a massive fist into the cave wall and pulled out another stone. Bringing its hand up to its eyes, the creature inspected its fingers. They were bulbous and thicker than they were long, except for the pinky finger. That one was relatively sharp. Pushed on by a vague sense of who he used to be, Patrick began to carve the tall stone with his smallest finger. He had a flickering idea of what he wanted to accomplish: something that would calm the aching in its chest, something that he could look at and remember, something that he could embrace.
Stoneworking Skill Higher Now
The words intruded into the Golem’s vision like an explosion. He reeled back, falling into the cave wall and leaving a dent. He laid there, remembering. He used to carve statues. He might have even been good at it once. Why couldn’t he remember more?
Without taking his eyes off the crude human carving in the center of the cave, Patrick stood again. For a second, his loneliness crawled into a hole inside him and didn’t come back out. Carefully, he embraced the statue as his friend. It crumbled under his touch, just as the previous statue did. This time the Golem didn’t feel pain, but anger. It realized that the humans were not his friends, because they were not made from rock. They did feel familiar for some reason, but now that he thought about it, they felt dangerous too. He couldn’t remember much after fighting that Prakx in the strange cave, but he did recall the frightened faces that stared at him after he re-spawned. They were horrified at the sight of him. Even the Martyr that carried a staff seemed to look through the Golem and find him wanting.
The Golem’s face hardened, which was an impressive sight, considering. The two rectangular protrusions that could be considered his cheeks, sharpened. Their chipped or eroded edges filling in with the same strong magic that kept humans animate long after their souls left, only of a different element. The hole in his face was liable to scuff up a human hand, long before it could reach the Golem’s mouth, which was sunken into its craggy face and not much different than the cave he paced inside. Deep within his porous head, a thought stirred. He knew the name of things, yet he didn’t know the names of all things. Like the origins of the glimmering gems in his mouth that he uses to smash up the tasty rock, which always happened to be the hardest. Or the reason that the humans and the Martyrs tried to cage him in that wooden hut. Or why his thoughts became muddy any time he wielded his War hammer. The Golem paused to marvel the creation at the thought. It was long and heavy, but in his hands, it was a perfect one-handed weapon. Anytime he used it, the golden etchings of its round backside reflected against the orange of his eyes. That was about the only thing he remembered if he carried it for too long. That was why he forced his eyes away from the evil object, lest it take him over again.
Patrick decided that he needed to find his people, whatever and wherever they might be. Maybe they wouldn’t look at him like the humans did, and maybe they would be able to help him get his memories back. He punched the floor, causing various minerals and ore to fly at his face like shrapnel from a grenade. Then he punched it again and again until he stood in a hole, a constant stream of pebbly sand gathering along the edges and trickling back inside to slowly undo his work. Opening his fists, he began to tunnel downward at an angle. He dug deeper and deeper into the ground, where the rarest of rocks hid. If there were creatures like him, that’s where they would be.
When the weight on his back became to much the bear, Patrick turned around and pushed on the rubble he pulverized. It was straining, even for him. His wide feet and stubby toes dug into the soft rock, giving him a slippery source of leverage. He pushed and pushed until the tunnel he was creating bore the regular spacing of deep grooves in the floor. The Golem paid no mind to the smaller rocks falling past his hands, he would smash them on his way back down or grab them on his next haul up. After a while, the rock debris became too heavy to push. Although he wasn’t consciously aware of why, he knew it to be that the far end of the rocks had gotten stuck in the cave. He also knew that if he kept pushing, one of them would break and allow the rest to stream out. Sure enough, with only a slightly deeper groove in the floor to show for it, the magical stone of his body won out, and he could push again.
Willpower increased by 1
The Golem batted away the pesky words and finished clearing out his tunnel. Now he was standing on a large pile of the rubble outside his cave. He considered reaching down and eating some of it since it was already ground down into the size he liked but thought better of it. The good stuff would be hidden deep below the surface, he just had to find it. It took him two housekeeping trips to the surface and doubling the depth of his tunnel before he did.
The first tasty rock was a deep maroon. A small portion of it protruded from the tunnel wall. He couldn’t see it in the darkness of the deep, but he still knew it was there, just like he was subtly aware of all the rock around him. It was almost as if he could smell it. If he had saliva glands, he would be drooling. He did have a silicon version of lungs though, so he growled in anticipation instead. Never in his short life did he happen upon such a tasty smelling meal. The Golem’s stubby fingers dug into the cave wall and snatched away the gem. His diamond teeth greedily chomped it to pieces before the slab of metamorphic rock in his mouth forced the flavorful sand down his gullet.
Strength increased by 1
The tunnel grew steadily deeper, but no other gems of the same color showed themselves. The Golem found that he could dig a little faster after the last words entered his vision, so he focused his rock sense ability on the maroon gems. They would help him find his people faster.
Days came and went in the complete blackness of the Golem’s tunnel. When he could no longer dig, he rested and tried to remember. When his hands were chipped and cracked, he rested and waited for them to heal. It was a lonely and solemn period for the Golem. Over time, all his fears and his desire to remember went away. He became one with the rock and soil. He would dig, clear rubble, and eat iron ore, again and again without much thought at all. The most stressful part of his day was when he needed to touch his Warhammer to bring it along with him.
The Golem was now deeper under the Great Savanna than anyone had been in ages. He was below the underground Ingo lakes were the creatures were born and raised. He was below the vast network of roots of an ancient tree waiting to be reborn. He was even below the vine-filled cave that contained the Heart of the Great Savanna. Life pressed on above him, but he was blissfully unaware that life pressed on below as well.
The fully Perturbed human fell into a pile of rocks for his usual rest break. The days passed by in such a rhythmic manner that he had forgotten to think while he lay there, the cracks in his body slowly filling with reflective silicon. If someone were to see him, they would think him asleep, but his kind didn’t need that. They thrived in simplicity, and laying down for long periods without a thought to disturb them was as simple as it got for Golems. Two days came and went in utter silence, and more would have if he wasn’t disturbed.
A small creature tunneled in the wall above him. It had all the same parts as a human, only smaller. It was twelve inches of honor and bravery with a beard and a pickaxe, and it just stumbled upon the largest Sapphire it had ever seen. It swung its tiny pickaxe with precise strikes and had the giant gem nearly free when it disappeared. There was now a dark hole were the Sapphire had been.
Thoughts began to stir within the Golem’s head after a large Sapphire fell onto it and skittered down his tunnel. A high pitched voice echoed above, but the Golem was too focused on the new smell of the softly glowing blue gem to pay it any mind.
“We have another cave in!” the small creature yelled while looking over the edge of the hole from the Sapphire. He reached behind his back and pulled out an unlit torch. He lit it with a snap of his fingers then tossed it into the hole. From his perspective, it fell for ages. A flicker of movement caught the creature's eye, so he squeezed his pickax harder. “Gistoud, Bronzegut, Nordra, get over here!”
“Hold your hound dogs Grimthane,” Nordra said with a wave of her free hand. She wore her long hair an nothing else, apart from the leather strap that held her pickax to her back and covered her sensitive bits. Leather was in short supply in the world below the surface. If it hadn’t been for the fight with the Long Worms they wouldn’t have any at all. “We’ll all get to the surface when we are ready. There’s no use in rushing it.”
Grimthane chuckled, causing his portly stomach to jiggle, “Oh what’s that I hear? Nordra is giving up her share of the Saphire I just found?”
Bronzegut rounded the corner of the small tunnel in an instant, always one to perk up at the mention of food. His hair was a deep red and twisted into a thick braid behind his back, as to not draw attention away from his prized bronze colored stomach. He took great care in dipping it in mud any chance he got. “Did you say Ruby?”
Grimthane let his head fall backward, “No, Bronzegut. I said Sapphire. You know there hasn’t been any rubies in months.”
If Bronzegut was disappointed in the news, he didn’t show it very well. “Well, where is it?”
“It’s here, down this cave,” Grimthane said, pointing behind himself with his torch.
Gistoud and Nordra caught up and they all peered down the hole together. Gistoud spoke up first. He was the smallest of the bunch and joined the group just six months ago. As such, he didn’t find many Rubys on his own, which accounted for his smaller stature and lower strength. “That… that’s not a Sapphire.”
Nordra extended her torch out of the hole as far as she could without falling. Then she waved it around. “I think your right. That looks like two Citrines to me.”
Bronzegut was confused, “I thought you said Saphire, not Citrines, Grimthane.”
Grimthane scoffed, “Do you think I would lie about such things? Do you think I would lie about anything at all!?”
“Now now,” Nordra said with a calming gesture. Gistoud slowly stepped backward, just in case it didn’t work. His kind was always liable to fight, especially for reasons of honor, and he had no desire to be caught up in the middle. “Whatever the gems are, we are going to eat them. So let us stop bickering and get down there. Gistoud,” Nordra looked around, “Where did you run off too? Fetch me the rope will ya?”
Bronzegut’s bronze gut rumbled, “Hey, uh, I think those citrines are moving.” The cave became quiet as everyone watched the citrines soft orange flow sway in the blackness of the hole.
Grimthane was the first to consider the fact the orange gems might belong to a Golem. They were apt to use various gems for teeth and eyes. He knew of only one way to be sure of it though. Golems were mystical creatures born from the rock and soil, just like he was. Yet they did have their differences. One of those differences had to do with their skin, or more precisely, the fact that Golems didn’t have any. When they got hurt, or the rock that made up their bodies cracked or chipped in any manner, the injuries would refill with shiny silicone before solidifying further.
“Watch this,” Grimthane said as he tossed another torch into the hole. It fell to the ground in much the same manner as the last one. This time though, its light reflected off a web of silicone.
Like a deer caught in headlights, the Golem stood there as the cracks in his body came alive with reflected light. When the minuscule torch fell to his feet, he looked back up at the strange creatures.
“Greetings Rockborn, I am Grimthane the Dwif. This is Bronzegut, Nordra, and uh, Gistoud is here somewhere.”
“Where’s that rope!?” Nordra yelled down the small tunnel.
A low grumble escaped the Golem’s diamond filled mouth, “WWwwwww” Patrick moaned, “Wwwwhaat’s aaaa Dwifff?”
Bronzegut proudly gave his stomach a pounding, “We are!”
“And you are a Golem,” Grimthane said, knowing that it was always best to keep things simple when around other Rockborn. Then the Dwif threw up his hands in frustration. “It looks like Gistoud got lost again. Say Golem, would you be so kind as to bring us down there with you?”
Bulbous fingers floated out of the darkness and up to the edge of the small hole. The Dwifs climbed on top, leaving their slower counterpart behind, as it was understood Gistoud would benefit from the physical labor of climbing down a long rope. The Golem carried the Dwifs with all the gentleness it could muster and set them safely down on his tunnel floor. They promptly skittered away. He looked around, trying to follow the light of their torches, but his eyesight wasn’t any good so far below ground. Instead it relied on its nose. The Dwifs smelled of coal and iron. A rather comfortable combination as far as the Golem was concerned. He tracked down the creatures and took a half step to catch up to them. They were marveling over a blue gem that fell onto his head just moments ago. It smelled tasty, so he picked it up. He almost tossed it into his mouth too, but the mouthwatering smell of the Sapphire was tainted with iron.
“Hey!” Grimthane screamed, causing the Golem to cringe as the high pitched noise pierced through his body. “Gentle Golemsir. You seem to have forgotten the law of the Rockborn! We share all the gems we come across down here. Otherwise, you are no better than the Long Worms!”
Nordra, who was also attached to the Sapphire hovering far too high in the air, whispered, “Don’t taunt him. Not now.”
“It is not a taunt,” Grimthane said, vehemently shaking his head, “It is a fact. Us Rockborn need to stick together, Golem. We look out for each other.” The Golem was clearly out of his element, but something about the Dwifs words stuck out. He did want people looking after his well being. And he wanted to look out for the well-being of others even more, so he nodded.
“Good,” Grimthane said with a smile, “Now set us down and we will split this Sapphire properly.” A few seconds and an impressive pickax strike later, the Golem had half of a Sapphire in his mouth.
Intelligence Increased by 5
Patrick, the Golem thought. His name flooded into his head faster than he could realize what it was. My name is Patrick. In his cumbersome and drawn out manner of speech, Patrick told the Dwifs as much.
“Nice to meet you, Patrick,” Bronzegut said, holding out a hand then awkwardly putting it back on his belly after a moment.
Behind Bronzegut, Grimthane eyed the Golem. They don’t usually have names…
“I’m back,” Gistoud announced, unaware he was walking between the Golems legs. When he did realize it, he jumped and ran away. Norda shoved something into his chest when he got close. It smelled fresh and clean, with a hint of what Gistoud imagined how the sky would smell.
“Eat this,” Norda said, letting go of the other half of the Sapphire.
Bronzegut whirled, “All of it?” he complained.
Grimthane put a hand on his shoulder, “Yes. Our brother needs it more than we do. If he is going to make it to the surface, he’ll need to make up for his lack of strength.”
Gistoud bowed, “Thank you Grimthane.” He took a bite of the gem. It tasted exactly as it smelled and even though it was almost as large as he was, the jewel was gone before he knew it. Ancient knowledge rushed into the smallest Dwif's head. He used it to move his hands in a pattern he had never considered before.
High above the tunnel floor, the Golem was piecing together his short life. His first memory was of a different cave. It smelled of corrupted iron and molten rock, the type that gave him a stomach ache. He vaguely remembered fighting a Vagrant Praxk. He now knew that it was odd for such a creature to be so far underground with him. That wasn’t the cave I was born in, Patrick thought. All of this came slowly, and with much strain.
Meanwhile, Gistoud was zipping around the tunnel like a fly on fire while his companions scurried below him, doing their best to find a position to catch him when his new spell ended.
“I neeeeed mooooore bluee rocks,” the Golem’s voice rumbled above like the first warning signs of a rock slide.
Grimthane was the one that finally caught Gistoud. He set him down and stepped up to the Golem. “Fellow Rockborn.! We will help find you more Sapphires if you help us get to the surface. How does that sound?” Patrick shook his head. The surface was violent and harsh — no place for a tiny Dwif to go. Grimthane expected to be met with stubbornness from the creature, and already had a plan prepared. “Whatever you wish Golem,” he bowed, “Our destiny calls us to the surface. I thank you for your help. Good day Golem.”
With that, Patrick was alone again.
Tunnel progress had slowed the past couple of days. Every time Patrick got into a grove of smashing and digging, a sudden pang of loneliness attacked him. It shot through his body in an instant and stole his breath away. In moments like these, he remembered the Dwifs. They were strange and squeaky creatures, but they were more like him than the humans. He remembered their time splitting the Sapphire well, and it warmed him. That warmth made the biting cold of his loneliness all the more painful. He wanted nothing more than to dig and be absent of thoughts and the pain they brought. That was why when he found a cluster of gems, he was hesitant to eat the blue ones. If he did, he would think more, he would feel more. Words entered his vision as he chewed a spicy yellow gem and regarded the Sapphire.
Constitution Increased by 2
Is thinking bad? Patrick pondered, is digging good? Yes. Why is digging good? Because I can find people like me. What if thinking will help like digging will? Do I want to know? His thoughts continued in a roundabout way before finally making sense to him. Or at least, until hunger won out and he ate the Sapphire anyway. For good measure, he tossed a handful of emeralds in as well. Flavor bloomed in his mouth like all of springs flowers. The clean crispness of the Sapphire contrasted against the earthy crunch of the emeralds in such a pleasant way that Patrick fell over in delight.
Intelligence Increased by 3
Agility Increased by 6
“Nooooo,” Patrick bellowed, regretfully spitting out a portion of his gem salad. “Dwiiiiiiifs,” he cried as he carefully peeled himself off the floor. “Dwifs.” He whispered to himself once more, hoping his words would summon them. When they didn’t, a small glint appeared in Patrick's eye. It was white, and illuminated the tunnel he sat inside. When the glimmer solidified and twinkled to the floor, more followed. Tiny and precious jewels fells from his eyes as he let his loneliness consume him. When it was done, Patrick sat in a small pile of his mineral tears. If an alchemist has stumbled upon them, he or she would have a heart attack, for Golem tears are so rarely made. It takes a lot to make a Golem cry, but Patrick wasn’t a normal Golem.
Regretting his decision to eat the Sapphire, Patrick stood up and gripped his Warhammer. He let the mental fog wash over him and struck his tunnel wall. An entire section of ore and stone as massive as he was, disintegrated. He hit it again and again. Eventually, his mind went quiet.
Patrick woke up sometime later. He was much deeper underground now, and his Warhammer was splayed out on the ground just as he was. With a grunt, he sat up and looked around. Purple gleamed from his left, causing the cracks in his body to reflect the color. Carefully, he crawled into the cave of color. Did I make this? His head bumped into the ceiling, eliciting a dangerous ruble from the earth above. No, it’s much too small. Human-sized. Patrick glanced back to his Warhammer. It was still there, silently taunting him. The strange light came from a circular disk floating in the air. It was mostly one dimensional, a fact that perplexed the Golem for a long moment.
Its edges were violent. They cracked and sputtered as if the circle was going to collapse at any moment. He looked into the purple surface. Blacks and violets swirled around, creating shapes that played tricks on his brain. He thought he saw a human he recognized, but when he focused on it, a Martyr tackled him and they both disappeared. A Praxk this time. It was smaller, obviously not Vagrant like the one he fought. It was friendly, even going as far as to stretch its hand out to Patrick. The hand gained another dimension and bubbled from the surface of the circle. Then with a loud crack, it popped. The image of the friendly Praxk was gone, replaced by a bone.
A haunting chuckle echoed through the small cave, setting Patrick’s diamonds on edge. “Is this our welcome party? We weren’t expecting you to find us so far down below the Great Savanna.” The human bone pulled itself out of the circle until a skeleton tumbled out. More came afterward, forcing Patrick to grab his hammer. “It makes sense. You have grown quite strong since the last time we saw each other in Salmaana’s battleground.” The skeletons formed up and faced Patrick, but none of them were speaking, only sizing up the worth of his soul. “Or have you…” The voice was intrigued now, “Oh! Look at this! You have become a Mystic the wrong way!” another ethereal chuckle, “Oh, what a delightful turn of events. James has lost one his best soldiers!” Without warning, all semblance of humor evaporated from the voice, “Enjoy my army, Patrick. I know they will enjoy tearing your limbs off and leaving you here to succumb to your sleepiness.”