Race to the bottom of Mine №1

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The den den mushi are fascinating creatures. They have, in an amazing feat of Self Organization/Spontaneous Order, created a complex psychic network between each other that spans the entire world. In exchange for food and shelter they access this network for their owners, transmitting messages, video feeds and pictures to their destinations. These streams of data don't just go straight from sender to reciever, but instead get passed along from snail to snail.
This of course presents a perfect opportunity for a very particular kind of predator. It's a curious one, an eavesdropper, a voyeur taking sick pleasure in listening in on the conversations pinging through the aether. The black den den mushi of course also offer their services to humans, using their own thirst for secrets to earn comfortable livings.
So when on one fateful day a conversation was carelessly dancing on the brainwaves, it was no wonder it got picked up in several locations, where it caused clusters of connections to light up with (encrypted) activity.
This is what was picked up:
"-chht- Needs tœ -chht- secræt -chht- Can't knœw. Where -chhhht-? "
"-chht- bottom of Mine œn -chht- The Mc§uffin is ready for -chht- Will you -chhht-"
"-chht-
morrow. Prepare -chht- conditioñchhhhhhht-"
Everything written like thïš is slightly unintelligible due to static.
Within hours the call had been traced to a island and certain organizations sent out certain people to certify what had been heard. Let us now take a look at the island they were sent to:
Khazâd Dûm is an island that, during the day you can hear before you even see it on the horizon. From dawn till dusk the sound of the hammers is a better guide than the log pose. At night however, all the sounds of civilization are gone, except for the snores of 1000 heavy sleepers.
The island itself is a rather jarring sight. It might once have been rather beautiful, a small oval of ground on which seven mountains huddle around a bigger eighth one for warmth, sheltering a wooded valley that surrounds their leader, with two small rivers that merge together in a lagoon, creating a natural harbour.
Now however the mountains bleed their blood as lava, and their pulsating guts lay strewn about as roads.
Each of the most gaping wounds is accompanied by a painful branding, designating it a number. The central peak however is suffering the most. It has been broken down almost completely, and a dwelling permeates what's left of its stump with tunnels, cellars and storage caves. This village stretches out towards the lagoon, for two of the encircling mountains have also fallen victim to the ravages of time, accelerated by the ravages of pickaxes.
The river waters are dirty, and all the rubble and sand it carries have made the lagoon a treacherous water.
Yet still it is a harbour, but most times just to a single disaster of a longboat, ripped out of the forest by merciless axes and held together by way to many nails in some, and way to few in other places. It seems like the axes that provided the wood also used it to travel and left quite a few scars on this poor vessel.

Excerpt from "Accounts of Krypto-Biology in Humanoid Species, compiled by Wallaby Walters, Ph.D. K.Bio/sci."
NameKhazad (Homo dwarvus golem/ Golem Homo dwarvus)
Family
Infraorder
Suborder
Order
Class
Phylum
Kingdom
Hominidae
Simiiformes
Haplorhini
Primates
Mammalia
Chordata
Animalia (?*)
Distributionalmost exclusively Khazad Dûm
Subspecies/VariantsSee "Lifecycle"
Common NameDwarf
Crazy Dwarf
"Those Damn (Crazy) Dwarves"
Height<1.5m
Weight50-200 kg
Age300-350

Description:

-Appearance:
The Khazad are a two legged, vaguely humanoid species. Most of their features are obscured by their thick body hair, but they appear to have the (almost) unanimously agreed upon standard amount of knees and elbows. They must also possess a mouth, for they have been observed eating and are capable of speech, but the existence of a nose or any kind of olfactory organ has yet to be proven.

-The Beard:
The Khazads most distinguishing feature is their large beard, which covers their entire bodies. Technically it is made up of body hair growing from their entire body and would thus be classified as a coat of fur, but the hair growing from the face ie indeed the longest and they insist on calling it a beard, so the official terminology will reflect this.
Their beards are the sole reason the Khazad are able to live the lives they live due to the protections they offer. The individual hairs making them up are extremely thick and inflexible, and also completely fireproof. The young Dwarves very quickly develop a hard crust of dirt and rock on the outside of their beards, sealing in a thick layer of air.
This air is useful both as an insulator against heat and as an emergency oxygen supply in case of a cave in.
An adult dwarf can be distinguished from a child by the braids in his beard that are keeping the hair out of their eyes. These braids are according to some questioned specimen also the only way to tell a female Khazad from a male, however none of the researchers were able to tell how they differ.

-Lifecycle:
A Khazad can live up to 350 years of age. On average they spend the first 50 years of their lives as a child, before transitioning to the adult stage. The exact procedure for this is unknown, because it is happening in the mines, where none of the researchers have spent much time, but it seems to involve a three days long ritual that includes a majority of the tribe, and afterwards the new adult emerges with the braids in his beard and without his protective crust of dirt, which will reform itself within a week.
This most likely means it is a kind of cleansing ritual, perhaps explaining how they manage to braid the extremely inflexible beard hair.
The age at which this occurrs seems arbitrary to outsiders, as there is evidence of children not transitioning even while reaching a very advanced age.
Based on overheard conversations the act of "floating" seems to be a factor. I, Wallaby Walters (Ph.D. k.Bio/Sci) will soon start to an expedition to test a few theories, at which point I shall edit this page.


-Internal Biology/Structure:
Not much is known about their internal Biology, for no autopsy has been possible so far due to their incredibly tough beards. However, certain guesses can be made based on external evidence.
Research papers found in 722 p.VC. on the shipwrecked "HMS Beagle II" suggest that a Khazad can survive without oxygen for extremely much longer than the air in their beards could conceivably allow them to. The author, Karlos Lamarck, who is believed to have spent quite long on the island and to have even explored the mines to an extent unrepeated by modern day researchers, wrote down a few notes about a "Deprivation Coma", which apparently happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen for too long. Most of his notes have been lost to sea water, but on one page the words "buried for ..0 years... new teacher" and "Brain slows...Good thing... focus" are still readable.
The scientific community* took this to suggest that during this anaerobic stasis the brain is forced to slow down its operation, soon stopping it completely, and upon reviving it doesn't get back up to the same speed, partially "curing" the Dwarf of its hyperactive/addictive attention deficits.
These resurfaced dwarves are then chosen to perform more municipal tasks, where their more sane, rational brains are of much use to the community. It it unclear just how long they can survive buried, but a link between the time without oxygen and their resulting clear-headedness is possible.
Scattered all about the pages was also this symbol, however it is unclear how it relates to this process.
Is this some kind of rune?


Another piece of information about the body underneath the beard can be gleaned from a popular song among the Khazad People.
"Born underground, suckled from a teat of stone
Raised in the dark, the safety of our mountain home
Skin made of iron, steel in our bones"
These lyrics at the very least confirm the existence of bones and skin in and on their bodies, disproving theories that the Khazad were just sentient lumps of hair. Unfortunately they do however lend credence to the old pervasive theory that these Dwarfs are actually just very sophisticated golems or creatures formed from the earth instead of a naturally evolved living species. Of course there is more evidence against this theory (the reliance on sleep and food, the clearly biological eyes, the existence of baby dwarves, calling each other "Brother", etc.), but it stubbornly keeps its place in the minds of many a layman, and some who should know better, too.** To settle this once and for all, on my expedition to Khazad Dûm I will collect evidence of them being living beings, and disprove this theory once and for all.

*Notes from the Editor: That just means him. He doesn't have any friends
Notes from the "Editors" Editor: Little Sisters who draw in their brothers books get extra homework. I talked to your teacher!

**The Editor here again: You are clearly biased against this theory. You are completely disregarding any evidence that would actually support it. The food intake might be an advanced power generation mechanism, and when it runs out of oxygen it just powers down for a while. The line "suckled from a teat of stone" can suggest that they take in many minerals when they are young to facilitate early growth, and as they get older they grow by taking these minerals from their food. When they sleep they perform maintenance on their bodies. The eyes are simply complex machines designed to look biological. Also, the full phrase they call each other by is "Brother of the Mine". They were just born from the stone in the same mine. You should fairly represent both theories.
Stop writing stuff in my book! I don't want to write this whole thing down all over again!

Etymology/Taxonomy:

The name Khazad is, according to the namees, an ancient word from a forgotten language, but it could possibly be a combination of cava (latin, cavity, hollow) or cave (English) and Saat (German, seed), thus it translates as "Cave Seed".

Their scientific name is Homo Dwarvus Golem.
They have not yet been proven to actually be a species of the genus Homo, but due to them being an intelligent humanoid species this assumption has been made.
The Dwarvus part of the name is owed to their diminutive statures, though they are still much bigger than the smallest humanoid species, Homo naivus micro, the Tontatta dwarves. A close relation between these two species is possible, as the Tontatta also live underground, and their bushy tails might have evolved from the same body hair as the beards of the Khazad.
The name Golem is in contrast a reference to the pervasive theory that the Khazad are in fact not living organisms but very advanced Golems.
Believers of this theory like to change the order of the names to Golem Homo Dwarvus to emphasize their standpoint.

Society/Culture/Behavior:
True to their colloquial name, the crazy Dwarves do appear to be in a constant state of mania, always full of energy and with only one desire. Mining.

Curiously, the children are even worse in that regard, reaching a state of HYPER-Mania. The dwarves then that got buried for long periods of time and are now working mostly above ground could range from hypomanic to even just normal, sane behaviour.

In his logbook the GOAT(!) Mont Blanc Noland mentioned to have met a group of "Walking, talking Beard-Men", who he described as "calm fellows, stoic and proud, but a bit glum".

This might suggest that their entire species has a kind of bipolar disorder, where they are happy and way too energetic when on land, but they get much calmer and almost depressed when they are at sea for some time.


-Mining/Industry/Economy

The main focus of life on Khazad Dûm revolves around mining. About 85% of all inhabitants are involved in the operation of the mines. Of the ca. 150 Dwarfs that remain on the surface around 100 are directly supplying and/or getting supplied by the mines, i.e. blacksmiths, jewelers and a canteen crew.

The Khazad don't actually have an economy among themselves, collecting all resources in central warehouses. All citizens get their food in the canteen, staggered throughout the day. The main reward for their work seems to be social status. The crust on their Beards seems to be a symbol for now hard each dwarf has worked, and they appear eager to add to it, by standing near forges from which specks of molten metal may fly or by actively causing dust and shrapnel while mining.
The traders, cooks and teachers, while their jobs don't create much crust, are still considered at least equal to the rest of the citizens. These jobs are mainly held by those who have been buried for some time, and thus they are still covered in an impressive assortment of debris.
While they don't trade among themselves they do possess an understanding of the concept, and regularly exchange precious minerals and gems for food and other necessities with a neighboring island. They are, however, getting massively ripped off.



-Childcare:

The tribe of the Khazad approach the care for their children very different to other sentient races. Bonds between parent and child are wholly nonexistent, it is unclear if the parents even know which of the children is theirs. All newborn are put together into the same living cave, where two dwarves are responsible for feeding them. They are able to walk after just a few days, and after a month can swing a pickaxe well enough to start spending their days in the mine.
The mine Nr. 1 is exclusively worked by the children, functioning as a play- and and a training ground. They are mostly left to do as they please, with only one mine overseer. Due to the Khazads ridiculous durability not much harm can actually befall these younglings, and so they live very carefree lives, until whatever process turns them into adults forces them to part their hair and "Look at what you're mining".
Once a week Mine Nr. 1 rests for half a day, when the younger children attend a school, where they learn speech and other necessary skills. The adolescents who don't need these lessons roam the village on these days, observing/pestering adults doing their job.

Diplomatic Relations/Leadership:

The tribe of the Khazad does not maintain many relationships to other islands, apart from their trading arrangement with the Protzia Kingdom. They have been the main source of wealth for the Protzian Royalty for almost 190 years. To protect this lucrative arrangement the Protzian Navy is blocking access to the island for every ship big enough to do trade.
The Khazad are not aware of this, and also do trade with every merchant who manages to break through the barricade.
Records of extensive trade with the khazad only go back 200 years, so they presumably acquired their supplies some other way before. I postulate that they used to go to sea to raid other islands. I'll elaborate on that in the paragraph "Pillaging Raids".

The internal hierarchy of the tribe is rather flat. While the crustier Dwarves have a higher social status they don't actually have any more "political" power. Due to their single focus society they have little use for a full governmental body, and the few necessary decisions are made by a small council of unburied Dwarves, similar to an elder council in other tribal communities.
There has however been mention of a missing king among some of the council members, specifically in the context of food shortage. I speculate that the Protzia Kingdom secretly abducted their King to weaken them and make them dependent on trading for food.

Pillaging Raids:

The information in this paragraph is mostly extrapolated from folklore on many different islands.
There are multiple mentions of beings whose description fits the khazad landing on beaches and stealing food. There are numerous mentions of the name "Grandfather's Axe" for their ship, though it's description seems to vary.
In some tales the "Halfling Hairballs" were known to leave a few valuable gems in empty pantries as payment, while in others they seem to be conflated with the tontatta dwarves, stealing small items, but helping out the household. Small children on St. Poplar who play with their fathers shaving equipment will be abducted by a band of seafaring Beards, and forced to scrub the decks with their body hair.
The monastery on the Holy Island of Lindwurmfang was "attacked" by wild men who could through prayer be persuaded to help build the decrepit buildings back up, in exchange for food and supplies. They also left some gold, which the monastery still cherishes.
Other tales suggest that after longer journeys at sea the Khazad, craving to get below ground again perform a different kind of landfall. These stories speak of mysterious mineshafts appearing, or the sound of hammers echoing through the air, often accompanied by dwarves buying food with giant diamonds. These diamonds often became heirlooms, a practice so common the term Dwarf Treasure is, on some islands, synonymous with inherited wealth.
As the Khazad are mining on foreign turf, i hereby coin the term for this practice as "Raubbau". That, dear reader, was a pun. In german.

Despite these accounts of dwarves leaving diamonds and "helping in the household", a pillaging raid is not a harmless occurrence. The Waru Tetsu Kingdom, now called the Evil Black Drum Kingdom, had an entire squadron of Warmaker Soldiers eliminated after they antagonized a raiding party of "small dirty sea trolls".
The recommended action in case you get raided is to offer your food in exchange for payment.


Combat:

While the riches of Khazad Dûm might seem like an enticing target for conquering kingdoms and marauding pirates, it is inadvisable to try an all out offense. Putting the sea blockade aside the khazad are absolutely capable of defending themselves. Their beards make them virtually impenetrable to damage, and they are very proficient in the use of (pick-)axes.
In the Walters Combat Statistics System™ I would give the Khazad the following racial scores:

Child:
+5 Strength
+20 Vitality
-15 Mind
Cant have mind stat

Adult:
+6 Strength
+20 Vitality
-10 Mind
Cant have mind stat

UnBuried Adult:
+4 Strength
+18 Vitality
-6 Mind
Mind stat caps at 60

The crusts on their bodies add another 10-30 points to their durability, similar to a suit of armor. Every dwarf carries his own pickaxe, and can effortlessly crush rocks with it. Some children were known to cause small rocks to fall from the ceiling and accurately hitting others with them. Battling a Khazad underground is a death sentence. You get a free burial, though.

Researching Difficulties:

There are many roadblocks to fully researching the Khazad race. The first hurdle is the sea blockade surrounding the island, only letting through small vessels, meaning the bigger exploratory ships cant even reach the island.
The second hurdle is the island itself. Due to the constant mining most of the area is in danger of collapsing, so most researchers don't like to stay long.
There is also a great deal of volcanic activity, which is considerably more dangerous to homo sapiens (or mandrillus sphinx homo in the case of Dr. Gabon) than it is to the dwarves.
The mines, arguably the most important places on the island are gaping chasms of death, so the only researcher to ever set a foot down there was the late Karlos Lamarck, who got shipwrecked before he could share his findings.
I, Wallaby Walters, Ph.D. K.Bio/sci. hereby solemnly swear that on my expedition to Khazad Dûm I shall not fear the deep, and that I won't leave before I have thoroughly explored the mines.
Look forward to my updated article once i return.
I will not write another one of these at the end of the bg, you can figure out where he was right and wrong yourself.
Probably.
Maybe.
Maybe just a small section.
It won't be as long as this one.

It is early spring on Khazad Dûm, but the morning wind still carries the remnants of winter that bloom in cloudless nights as it wakes the shreds of sail on the mast of the "Grandfathers Axe". The Klabautermann of the ancient ship looks out through the lagoon onto the vast ocean. The sea breeze brought an anticipation, a foreboding feeling that something will change, that something is coming.
It always yearns to sail again, and it also dreads it. During the long voyages it could forget the pain, but it also knows it will become worse upon its return. Everytime it got repaired they replaced parts of it. It knew that it was still the same ship that once carried King Theseus of the Khazad, but by now there were entire warehouses filled with old planks, broken railings and seven replaced keels. It could feel all of it, all the pain, all the rot. The wood in the warehouses, that was still part of it. But it was never allowed to rest. So it just yearned to forget the pain for a while, to sail out to deliver the Khazad onto foreign shores and to feel the swell caress its sides again, to brave the storms and laugh with its comrades.
It was of course aware of the blockade around the island. The Klabautermänner of the trade ships, weak though they were, had told him everything.
But there was something in the wind... The sails taste another breeze. Tar and wood. The blockade is agitated, at attention. A threat? No not yet. There isn't enough hemp in the air. Most of the ships are keeping their positions, their ropes taut, yes, but they weren't being pulled yet.
Something already passed through, though, apparently ignored by the fleet. A small nutshell, a dinghy, painted in colours that drag back some painful memories, is drifting into the harbour as if on purpose, even though it has no apparent way of steering.
It reaches the quay, and a hooded figure jumps out to tie it to a bollard right next to the hulking mass of the "Grandfathers Axe". The old Klabautermann initiates the conversation in the language of the ships, creaking and a few bubbles. It is not a fast language.
Slower even, as if unfamiliar with the very concept of communication, the small fry answers. Its name is "Property of Camp Green"...
________________________
While the two vessels have their conversation, the blockade fleet is indeed standing at attention.

A massive ship has been intercepted and is now demanding to be let through.

The "WW Wasat" utterly dwarfs the First Rate Ship of the Line "RMS Resolute Prince" that was currently aiming her broadside at the offending vessel. Vice-Admiral of the Blues Willie Nelson, 1st Duke of Bragia stands behind the railing on the main deck next to his signal officer, John Riggs Pasco.
"What's their strategy? That's clearly a military vessel, and yet they seem completely open to attacks."
"They did signal for parlay. But just in case, we have the flags ready to order the attack. The ships are at attention, and we received a message from the Admiral of the Gold. You have the authority to engage with the full Blues Squadron."
"Hah, if their commander is actually stupid enough to get on our ship they can't do anything. There, they are lowering their captains gig. Let's see what kind of fool we are dealing with."

A small rowboat makes its way toward the "Resolute Prince". There are only two people on it. It docks right below the Vice Admirals position, and the first greetings are exchanged between the "invading" commander and a random gunner manning one of the cannons on the lowest gun deck.
"Hi there. Who may you be? Wow, you are a big one! Do you want a nutrition bar? Its not poisonous, see?"
"Hello? I'm Barry. Who.. Did you call me fat? No, I don't want one. You just took a bite out of it!
(Not important enough to get his own colour)
"It's good, see. Mmhh."
"I still don't want one. Stop waving it in front of my face!"
"Too bad. But you really are a big specimen. Do you have high social status?"
"If you don't stop calling me fat you'll loose your eardrums at least. We were told to be ready to blow your swimming behemoth into matchsticks!"
"A swimming behemoth? That sounds interesting. As a seasoned sailor, have you ever seen such a creature?"
At this point the second figure in the small boat speaks up.
»That will not be necessary, "I'm Barry". «
»Commander, they have thrown down a rope ladder.«
»We should meet«»Enemy Commander«

"I know, rustbucket. And call me Doctor, not Commander.
While the two climb up the ladder, leaving a bewildered Barry behind, the "rustbucket" is checking its database if it has ever been offered food by »Commander« "Doctor". It hasn't.

Vice Admiral Nelson has heard parts of the conversation and is eager to meet this "Doctor". He is now quite sure he is dealing with a lunatic. It would be easy to simply hold him hostage and demand that his crew give up their ship.
That massive floating fortress would make a magnificent flagship.
As the Doctor trips while trying to get over the railing Nelson notices that, despite their incompetence, they managed to approach the fleet with the morning sun in their back.
Disregarding this as coincidence or fools luck he takes a closer look at his adversary. His attire can best be described by the word "cargo". There are pockets everywhere, even on his hat. And he also carries a backpack.
As he gets up and dusts himself off he turns just enough that the sunlight illuminates his face. What Nelson sees is the facial equivalent of a cave troll in wizard robes. Its a face clearly meant for a suspicious old bastard, but it somehow got given to a curious and friendly young man. Eyes meant for squinting are wide open, taking in every detail, and even though its owner is clearly at most 30 years old he already has deep wrinkles around the eyes.
While the Vice Admiral is still taken aback he notices the second man climbing over the railing. No, "man" wasn't the right word. The shape id mostly correct, but the thing is made completely out of metal. Its eyes are piercing red lights, and its "mouth" is just a loudspeaker. It is about 2.5 meters tall, much taller than its "Doctor". Despite its size it isn't especially intimidating, because its limbs are just pipes connected with flimsy joints and its main body is just a metal cylinder, slightly larger than a standard oil drum. Someone welded a big "W" to its chest. The whole apparatus seems badly made and moved rather janky. It was an ill fated attempt at intimidation. So Nelson just ignores it.
He steps forth and introduces himself:
"I am the Right Honourable Lord Nelson, Vice Admiral of the Blues Squadron of the Fleet of the Kingdom of Protzia, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bragia, Holder of 13 Grammys, Distinguished Member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Knight of the most Honourable Order of the Guitar, Hero of the Battle against the Nashville Sound,..."
He goes on like that for some time, while the Doctor watches him like he was a curious and rare animal.
"... You may have heard of me."
The robot starts whirring, no doubt checking its database, but the human by its side answers faster:
"No. Do you want a chocolate bar? Its good, see?"
"I don't want your half eaten..."
"What is wrong with your body? Is that some kind of mutation? Did that hinder your rise to high social status?"
"Why do you care? Its a war injury. And one day Trafalgar Law will pay for this!"
He gestures with his right arm, which pointed backwards. Nelson had once been a very handsome man, but now he looks like he was taken apart and then put together by someone without much experience with puzzles. One eye blinks sideways.
The Robot stops whirring and speaks up:

»Sir, I found seven instances when you mentioned...«
"Shut up! What did I tell you about interrupting me? Where were we, Admiral? That war injury, does it garner much sympathy with the females? You must be popular. Are you proud of your scars? Do you want some more?"
Nelson feels like he was loosing control of the conversation, but that last sentence was clearly a threat, and with that the ball is back in his court.
He draws himself to full height and puffs out his chest (which has some interesting effects on his silhouette. His doctor was a really bad puzzler), and bellows:
"You are trespassing on seas belonging to His Majesty, King Docious of the Protzia Kingdom, and now you are threatening a Vice Admiral. State your purpose or prepare to do battle. Our fleet is ready to form a battle line and sink your ship. And you will be our hostage."
"My name is Dr. Wallaby Walters, and I would like to pass through here to conduct a Krypto-Biological and Sociological Study on Khazad Dûm, the island you are guarding. This piece of junk has been assigned to be my bodyguard. Its called "Protecto-Bot" or something."
»Actually, I am currently designated as "Autonomous Security System, hehe" but my original handle was »Safety and Companionship Droid 2.0««
"Anyway, i have this letter you might want to read... Where did I put it? Ah, here it is."
With that he produces a piece of paper from one of his pockets, unfolds it (it had been folded 9 times) and hands it over to the Vice Admiral. It may once have been a a very official looking document, but now it is barely readable. Nelson reads it aloud:
""With this Letter We, the High Council of the Esteemed Walters Family Clan assure the Reader that it is in his best Interest that he not lay a hand on the Person delivering it. The Reader should be advised that not complying with this "Recommendation" will have serious drawback on their well-being, and that of any superiors, direct or not. Military action would be unavoidable.""
"What is this? I have never heard of this "Walters Family Clan"."

"Neither had the Pirate Kingdom on what is now called "Little Garden"."
"There is no Kingdom on Little Garden! Are you trying to bluff me? You just want the gold from Khazad Dûm, don't you? With that massive Ship you could get half a years worth of gold out of the country. You shall not pass!"
And with a theatrical flourish he tears the letter in half.
Dr. Walters sighs, and to Nelsons horror, instead of caving he sees that the wizard troll is picking up his club.
Squinty eyes squint, wrinkles deepen, and a slight frown establishes itself. The Doctor fishes out a nutrition bar from one of his many pockets (is that all he is carrying?) and begins fumbling with the wrapper.

"I really didn't want to have to do this. Consider this, dear Willie. You may not believe my family is real, but what makes you so sure you can even take on my little star? The WW Wazat is filled with weapons technology you wouldn't dream of, and currently about half of your fleet is in some kind of crosshairs. Its sister ship the Yonta Maria is the flagship of the Standing Kingdoms entire Navy, and is doing excellent work. We can be completely battle ready within a few minutes. How long did you say it would take for you to form this battle line? Your squadron will be driftwood by the time the flag signal reaches your Admiral of the Gold. All he will find when he gets here will be some of your nice blue bunting flowing in the water. And all that death will be on your hands. What do you say to that?"
This isn't what Nelson expected from the man. This is a dangerous person. And..
"How did you know my first name? And what is that supposed to be, "weapons technology i wouldn't dream about"? That's a bad bluff! And we still have you hostage on our ship. And our broadside is aimed straight at you!"
And with that he cocks his pistol and aims it straight at Dr. Walters head.
Who doesn't even notice. He is preoccupied with opening the wrapper of his nutrition bar. It won't open.
He mumbles
""Screw it!" And holds it high into the air with his right hand. In the morning sun it casts a shadow onto the deck. A short spark of light appears on the railing of the WW Wazat, and suddenly the shadow has a small hole. "That's better." He takes the hand down and unwraps the bar. He takes a bite.
Nelson starts sweating profusely.
"How did... What.. You got snipers?... But if you attack this ship, you will die, too."
A small drop of water falls onto his gun. He looks up and sees a metallic hand hover there. He hasn't even noticed the robot move. He has just ignored it. Instinctively he pulls the trigger. The wet lock fails to produce a spark.
"Stupid as it may be, it's still useful. See, he is here to protect me. Inside its body i will be save enough to survive. See, the whole front section can swing open and a small person can fit in there quite comfortably. Then we'd just jump into the ocean while the Wazat blows all of you to Kingdom Gone."
And suddenly there is shadow. Not a shadow, but rather the world has suddenly turned into shadow. The massive "Research Vessel" has, in full sail, performed a 90° turn to starboard, and is now blocking all sunlight from reaching the comparatively tiny "Resolute Prince".
Still, the black circles contrast enough with the light wood that the crew of the line ship can realize they are staring at the biggest broadside they have ever seen.
Multiple damp patches formed on Nelson's uniform. That poor mans anatomy was really screwed up.
He didn't know what to do, he was desperate for a way out of this situation. And then he saw something: The cave troll had put away the club and was offering him a nutrition bar.
"How about a compromise then. While you "negotiate" with my family for my safe passage, you keep me as a hostage, and where better to put a hostage but the well guarded island right in the middle of this beautiful blockade. My crew will come back for me when i call them. There might even be a reward in it if for you for keeping me safe."
»But "Doctor", your Father will not be amused about this. And that island is not safe for you to be there alone. I must insist you take your safety more serious. I will send a report to the High Council.«
"Ugh, you are so annoying, screwloose."
That is a new insult and gets immediately added to the database.

About 10 minutes later the hostage has promoted itself to captain of a 10 man rowboat. But just before they can depart it pats its head, finding no hat there.
He turns to his bodyguard, and says:

"Oh no, my hat is missing. I must have left it on the ship. Would you please find it for me?"
»I am your Bodyguard, I am not supposed to leave your side.«
"And I hereby order you to go back to the ship and not return until you found my hat."
So the Robot has no choice but to climb back onto the "Resolute Prince" and look for the hat that he knows full well isn't there.
"Lets go, mates. Bring me to the island. I can't wait to meet the Khazad. Do you want some chocolate?"
And so Wallaby Walters got a personal escort to the island of Khazad Dûm, and after he put his hat back on he couldn't help but feel exited. He hadn't been allowed to go anywhere alone his whole life, and now he had the opportunity to explore this interesting island without anyone stopping him from getting "too close to the dangerous animals".
He was going to enjoy this. He had already almost forgotten the bad taste the family business had left in his mouth.


Here I'll explain some of the names for ships, people and places. You don't need to read this, it won't be in the test.

Khazad Dûm: This is obvious, right? In Khuzdûl, the language of LotR Dwarves, it just means Dwarf Dwelling.

HMS Beagle II: The HMS Beagle was the ship on which Charles Darwin made his famous expedition. The Beagle 2 was a mars lander that crashed in 2003.
Karlos Lamarck: Charles-> Karlos, Darwin->Lamarck
Lamarckism is a different theory of evolution. A wrong one.

Grandfathers Axe: This ship was inspired by the thought experiment "Ship of Theseus". An Axe had its handle and head replaced multiple times. Is it still the same axe? Etc.

Protzia: The name comes from the German word "Protzen", which means "to brag".

Vice Admiral Willie Nelson:
-Nelson: Obviously he is named after Horatio Nelson
-Willie: And Willie Nelson, the country singer. And William Nelson, Horatio's Brother.
-Vice Admiral of the Blues Squadron: In the British Royal Navy around the time of the battle of Trafalgar the fleet was organized like this:
There are three squadrons, the blue, the white and the red. Each squadron has a Rear Admiral, a Vice Admiral and an Admiral. In battle the ships would form a line, with the blue squadron in the Rear, the White squadron in the front (van) and the Red squadron in the middle.
Then in each squadron the Rear admiral was in the back, the Vice Admiral in the front and the Admiral in the middle. Promotion goes Rear Admiral of Blue to White to Red, and then Vice Admiral of Blue, etc. The Admiral of the Red was the Fleet Admiral. (Later the Fleet Admiral would be one position higher than the Admiral of the Red). Horatio Nelson was a Vice Admiral of the White, so he was in the very front of the Fleet. But since Willie Nelson is a country/blues singer, I changed it to Vice Admiral of the Blues.
Therefore the squadrons of the Protzian Navy are as follows:
White->Blues
Red-> Gold
Blue-> Green
--1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke Bragia: Nelson had many titles, including 1st Duke of Brontë, which was created especially for him. Bragia is of course part of the Protzia Kingdom.
Holder of 13 Grammys: Check Willie Nelsons Wikipedia Page. He is prolific.
The arm and eye: Nelson actually lost an arm and an eye. I decided Law was a bit more merciful than that.

Resolute Prince: This one is easy: Named after the Prince Royal, which during the time of the Commonwealth of England was called Resolution. They weren't too keen on royals for a time.
First rate ships of the line were the biggest ships in the fleet, and often lead them.
The Prince Royal sailed 195-139 years before the battle of Trafalgar, but I didn't want to drag the HMS Victory, Nelsons Ship, into this. She is suffering enough in her dry dock.

WW Wazat: Walters Watercraft. Named after a star. The fourth brightest in the Gemini constellation. The Walters Family likes their alliterative "W"s.

John Riggs Pasco: Named after John Pasco, Nelsons signal officer who signaled his famous words:"England expects that every man will do his duty", and Home Riggs Popham, who invented the code used to transfer the message.

Autonomous Security System: Nothing to see here.

Safety and Companionship Droid 2.0: I gave up trying to find something that starts with a "W". Maybe the Walters bought it from someone else.
 
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Level 36
Fishman (+12 strength, +12 vitality, +3 speed)
Strength: 40 (+12)
Speed: 51 (+3)
-Reaction: 54
-Movement: 54
Vitality: 30 (+12)
-Durability: 42
-Stamina: 42
Martial Arts: 49
Fīdo: 54
Gutslinging: 44
Narration
"Dialogue"
Thought & OP terms
Emphasis & Attack Names

In a small noisy section of the Grand Line a small vessel floats carrying a little blue monster holding a screaming Den Den Mushi. In the face of the perfectly sharpened fangs of the young blue pirate, the slimy teal transponder snail had been wailing and sobbing out for mercy from the small predator.

Gochi, the monster is question pulled down on his bottom jaw enlarging his already freakish mouth. His glistening bear trap-like mouth dripped with thick globs of drool. He intended to eat the little creature whole; the boy had no plans to savor this rare treat.

The small fishman boy paused and stared at the sobbing snail. He looked at the poor mollusk for a good long while before smiling once more and tossing the prey into his awaiting jaws and slamming his fangs down on it. As the little fishboy opened his mouth to chew, the snail screamed out:
Magimasterkarp said:
"-chht- Needs tœ -chht- secræt -chht- Can't knœw. Where -chhhht-? "
Gochi shut his mouth once on the creature and pondered over the odd message delivered by the snail. He opened his mouth a few more times to chew again.
Magimasterkarp said:
"-chht- bottom of Mine œn -chht- The Mc§uffin is ready for -chht- Will you -chhht-"
"-chht- morrow.
Prepare -chht- conditioñchhhhhhht-"
The boy pondered over the message delivered by the terrified Den Den Mushi as he swallowed the maimed snail corpse. The splintering shell slid down his throat while he pondered over a specific word he definitely caught. 'MCMUFFIN...'

His eyes shot open and his tongue began to sweat. He swallowed hard once more as he tried to remember the entire message; Gochi was not the type of person to leave a legendary muffin uneaten.


Upon the far distance of the fishboy's vision, a rocky outcrop against the surface of the water, powerful mountains surrounding the land known as Khazad Dûm sat proudly on the horizon.
'This must be the land of the legendary muffin.' He thought.

The small beast known by his first name, Gochi, kicked his anchor from the floating debris he masqueraded as his ship and leaped into the Grand Line somewhat gracefully. The fishy creature sped through the waters towards the island. Actively ignoring the large ships stationed all around waters surrounding the mountainous island.

Gochi kicked his little legs through the salty water and closed in on what seemed to be a harbor of sorts. Small blue feet settled on the small amount of rocky sand; Gochi studied his surroundings, he smelled no muffin, mostly just soot and dusty warm stone.

Night was resting upon the hardened land and Gochi was utterly lost; the young fishman walked around the harbor for many moments until coming across a cavernous little building resting near the Khazad Dûm harbor. While entering the stone cave the boy grabbed a whiff of the air. His hidden eyes widened beneath his hat, he smelled meat. It was faint and smelled burnt but it didn't dissuade him from attempting to treat it as he did nearly all other materials.

Responding as he always does, Gochi opened his jaws and slammed them shut on the object. However, instead of the shatter and crunch of stones in Gochi's mouth he was met with a dull thunk.
The monster's teeth buzzed for a moment from the unusual feeling of failing to pierce food.

"Huh?" The boy vocalized. He stamped his feet defiantly and tried to bite into the dark stone once more, and more, and more...And again.

For hours the fishboy chewed and slobbered on the shadowy object trying to break it, but was instead met with unending failure. Of course the tiny predator was not planning on giving up so easily...

The sun began to rise up in the sky above Khazad Dûm, casting light upon the rocky island. Even now Gochi chewed with an undying sense of enthusiasm and ferocity.
 
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Dō's narration
General narration
"Walters speech"


Yasashì te Dō examined the harbour he had landed in. It was clear that the quay housing the hulking mass of the -he read the nameplate- "Grandfather's Axe" had been abandoned ages ago.

It was so overgrown that it was hard to tell where the crumbling stones stopped and the rotting planks started.

Hiding his nutshell in the shadow of the ancient ship was definitely the smart thing to do, as a dinghy in marine colours would certainly rouse suspicion, but he was a little worried about the mushrooms growing there. Some of them were very bizarrely shaped and spewing spores - did that one just move?

But he had no choice. He had been told to expect other parties to take interest in his objective. Brushing a crows feather from his shoulder he wondered what exactly this "McGuffin" is supposed to be.

He could see a path leading further into the island from the other quay. This one seemed to be in more use, with assorted crates, ropes and gangways strewn about. His briefing had been short, but that was probably where the trade ships from the Protzia Kingdom landed.

As he was crossing the harbour he saw movement in the mouth of the lagoon.

It was a ten man rowboat, cutting through the swell with the sleek efficiency of military trained rowers. In the stern a coxswain was controlling the pace of the eight rowers, while in the bow the passenger, a green and black mass of pockets that, as it came closer, separated into a man and his giant backpack, was looking around at the landscape with the curiosity of a child.

Dō quickened his step to get to the path. He found a small bush to hide in and observe the harbour. His green robes blended in with the leaves, and his black fur with the small red stripes emulated the volcanic sand and dead grass. Two red spots on his ears hid among the berries the bush was carrying.



The ancient Klabautermann could still see the weird tiger man.
A ship is an object in the river of time, connecting itself to itself through time. (Check the Wikipedia page for Theseus's ship). The bush Dō is hiding in will eventually, after some growth setbacks grow big enough to be harvested for wood, and it's trunk will be used to construct a steering wheel. The future wheel observes the observer.
But it was more interested in the rowboat gliding into the harbour now. It had met this boat before. It had a rather faint spirit, but it was usually teeming with arrogance. Apparently it had won several rowing competitions in Protzia, defeating the team of the Humbridge University for its alma mater, Bullford College. But now it was visibly uncomfortable, its strokes slightly less coordinated and getting disrupted by even the tiniest waves. The source of this discomfort clearly was the man with the giant backpack.
Usually the seasoned crew manages a smooth landing at the quay, but this time it almost crashed into it, spewing its passenger out onto the stones. But the weird man didn't even seem to have noticed. Before he even got up properly he already had a notebook in his hands and was taking notes. Soon after he examined all the flagstones and poked around in the crates he turned his attention to the old ship.
He stormed over, shouting:
"This must be the legendary "Grandfather's Axe"! It looks so different than the drawings on Lindwurmfang!"
He reached the ship and began feeling up the old planks and ropes.
"This hasn't been cared for in a long time, but its still a very beautiful ship. It feels strangely powerful. I bet she could tell some interesting stories."
Ships cannot blush, but the deck planks began creaking and all the forms of life inhabiting the "Grandfather's Axe" began to stir. The armor crabs clicked their pincers, the catbirds in the crows nest began purring and rustling their feathers, the iron barnacles fanned out their cirre, the family of grass otters living below deck started banging some oyster shells together and all the mushrooms growing on the wood began spewing their spores.

The changes with the ship weren't visible from where Dō was hiding. He had been worried when the man ran over to where he left his boat, but he was clearly more interested in the ancient vessel. Relieved that the weird man was just a weirdo and probably not after his objective he stood back up to go and continue his search.
When he turned around he was suddenly facing a...
He jumped back in surprise. 'What the hell is that?'
 
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As day broke the kiss of sun bloomed across the dark sky. It seemed as the first bit of light stretched across Khazâd Dûm the meaty stone rumbled beneath Gochi. The lump arose on presumably two legs with the savage piranha-boy attached to its head like a parasite.

The creature seemed to stretch a bit before shuffling off towards the beach, all the while Gochi furiously tried to bite through what he know knew to be alive and on the ropes. The little blue monster was oblivious to sunlight and had no clue where he was headed due to his reliance on smell.

It seemed that the creature, unknown to Gochi, was completely oblivious to his assailant. With each bite from the fishman's fangs it visible left no scratch on either the fangs nor the thick, stony fibers they were smashing into.

The smell of sea water grew stronger in Gochi's nose, as he honed in on the smell he picked up another scent.

'...Familiar.' He pondered while continuously trying to start his meal. As Gochi's "victim" moved closer and closer to the smell of the ocean, the pace suddenly quickened; enough so that the piranha chose to clamp tightly to his prey rather than chomp repeatedly.

Before Gochi knew it the vaguely familiar scent was
incredibly close, far closer than the fish would assume possible. It was as if they simply appeared in a new location to Gochi.

The scent was distracting to him but Gochi kept on trying to bite through the crusty beast. The little slobbery boy was growling like a dog with a bone before a much louder growl cut off his own.

'GRrroooooa--!' The startling noise emerged from Gochi as well but from his stomach instead of his maw.

Beneath his hat, Gochi's eyes went frantically wide. The creature unlatched his jaws from the stone and snapped his head towards the next available food source. His jaw fell open accompanied with a slow but whiny giggle.

This creature, Gochi had caught whiffs of them before but never had the chance to pursue the scents. He was being gifted with a feline-mink, but wouldn't be sentient enough to enjoy it at all; the small monster could only think about filling his stomach immediately.

"FOOD!" The chaotic bundle of fangs cried as he bounded towards the tiger-mink, Dō. As grew closer he finally pushed his webbed feet into the ground and propelled himself towards like a hungry torpedo.
 
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General Narration
Dō´s Narration
Dō´s Speech (The bigger the louder)


Level 27
Strength: 31
Speed: 34
-Movement: 32
-Reaction: 36 +5= 41
Vitality: 21
-Durability: 21
-Stamina: 21
Mind: 39 +2=41
-Music: 45
-Navigation: 31
-Unallocated: 6 Points
Martial Arts: 26 -> 52 subpoints
-SoftPaw Style: 41
-Weapon: Bo Staff: 11

Standing before Dō was the strangest creature he had ever seen. It was very vaguely humanoid, like a mass of stone with two short arms and legs. Had it not suddenly appeared behind him while he was distracted he would have thought it was a statue, made by a sculptor with bad eyesight and parkinsons. In stark contrast to this beings dull grey surface was its hat, which seemed entirely too alive. It was a pirate hat, decorated with pearls. From under this hat erupted a burst of colour. Dō could make out a red jacket, and he saw occasional flashes of blue. The entire colourful monstrosity was almost half as big as the rocky creature, and attached near the area where one would assume the head to be by a big set of teeth, like a fashionable parasite.
Just as Dō was about to adress this creature the parasite dislodged itself from its head and sped towards him. This wasn´t a fashion statement, it was a weapon! A terrifying maw, armed with sharp teeth as big as knives, was accelerating towards him.

It screamed
Dō had to dodge. He tried to step to the side, but his foot got caught in some branches of the berry bush he had been standing in. He nearly fell over, and only caught his balance after a few steps. At least this mishap helped him get out of the way of that creatures first assault. He hoped that crashing into the thicket would stall this monster long enough for him to negotiate with its handler, the stone person.
He yelled:

"I´m not here to hurt you!"
Dō was aware that there was a cliff behind him, so he moved parallel to the edge towards the path he came from, trying to increase the distance between himself and the guard and his pet.
The commotion could be heard down at the docks, where Dr. Wallaby Walters was still examining the "Grandfathers Axe". He was just feeding some of the otters with one of his nutrition bars, but he dropped it when he heard Dō´s voice. The otters waved after him wistfully, but the Klabautermann of the "Grandfathers Axe" was familiar with this type of behaviour. It had experienced it often enough when it arrived on an island after a particularly long voyage. The Khazad would be so antsy to mine something that they started digging small holes directly on the beach, only to then hurry away once one of them had struck solid rock to tunnel through. It had never heard of this affliction known as curiosity, but it knew addiction like the back of its rudder. It decided to follow Wallaby. It could not leave its body, but as a ship that has and will be repaired and rebuild a lot, past and future parts of its body were strewn all about the island.
 
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The blue piranha monster rose out from the berry bush with dark lilac goo oozing from his exposed set of fangs. The same substance stained his face and clothes, the boy chewed on the gooey berries while continuing his approach towards the tiger mink.

With each separation of the fishboy's jaws it was becoming apparent that they were glued together by the plant he had just devoured. The berry flesh stretched like mixture of taffy and hot glue.
Despite the boy's clear struggle to even open his mouth he kept silently approaching Dō with an outstretched hand.
Hardly decipherable words bubbled through the goo and he strained to speak to his prey.
"Ee...." His jaws slammed shut once more from the strength of the goo. "..eat-" Once more they slammed.

As Gochi's saliva began building up his mouth once more they goop began to become more and more chewable for the creature; however he maw was clamped shut for the time being.

He took in the sweet smell rising up from the berry paste in his mouth (they reminded him of salty blackberries), the aroma was filling his senses and making it a bit harder to keep a sense of location for his prey, nevertheless Gochi moved after Dō patiently as he tried to free his jaws from the confusing substance.
The boy had seemingly completely forgotten about the meat rock that he chewed on throughout the night. The boy had to force his smile to overpower the paste in his mouth as he followed the mink.
 
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Dō´s Narrator
General, all knowing Narrator
Narrator with the prettier font
Superior, onmiscient, General Narrator
Admiral Narrator
Fleet Admiral Narrator
King of Narration!

The little creature had crashed into the berry bush and seemed to have eaten quite a few berries. Clearly a messy eater, it was now covered in lilac goo. It was still coming towards Dō, but it seemed to have trouble opening its horrifying bear trap mouth. The goo from the berries was glueing it shut. This might be a opportunity.
When Dō had been in Navy Boot camp he had seen a squadron of the Watchdog Unit work with their dogs. These savage monsters, only called dogs because wolfs aren´t officially domesticated, had been putty in the hands of their handlers. It didn't seem that hard. Dō was just about to try imitating their sing-song baby talk and use their magic word "wusagudboi" when he heard..

"Ee...." "..eat-"
This wasn´t just a tamed creature. This was a sentient being! It could be reasoned with. It was apparently hungry. Dō patted his green monks robes. His search for something edible came up empty. And still he saw those teeth approach him, homing in on him with a terrible purpose, and Dō realized that he was in fact in possession of something edible. Underneath his robes there was, though a bit sinewy, a perfectly edible tiger mink! This was a cannibal! Or at least a sentient creature eating other sentients! Though it also ate the berries on the bush, so it might not be exclusively a carnivore. He remembered the barrel full of oranges he left on his little dinghy in the harbor. But there was no getting at those now.
Suddenly something grabbed his tail from behind. A flash of white fur was visible in the gap between Dō´s green face scarf and his green robes when he recoiled away from his assailant.


The Pirate Captain, who the all knowing general Narrator knows is called Gochi, had broken off a stem of the thicket, and this wound would, in time, heal in such a shape that it could be simply cut off and used as a knob on a steering wheel. The Grandfathers Axe was observing the situation.
It saw Dr. Walters scurry up the path towards the group on the cliff overlooking the harbour. When he arrived, with no regards for personal space, he grabbed the Tiger Minks tail, and while his victim recoiled in surprise (He really shouldn't be wearing that hood over his head. It blocks his peripheral vision, and it is SUPER conspicuous) he blurted out:
"Wow, are you a tiger mink? Why is you fur so black? You don´t see many minks this far away from Zou. Do you live here?"

"No, I´m just.."
And before Dō could finish his sentence he turned around to Captain Gochi:
"And crikey, what might you be? I´m Dr. Wallaby Walters. Do you want to have a nutrition bar? It´s good, see."

Will Gochi accept this nutrition bar? And will that stone person finally start talking? Find out next time.

We are hiring!
We are looking for a new General Narrator. Visual distinction is encouraged. Omniscience not required.
 
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