A story from a friend

From: Posselt, Theo (US - DC/Foster City) (tposselt@dttus.com)
Date: Thu 09 Mar 2000 - 18:51:40 EET


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Hello, everyone -

The question of 'humanizing' Mostali came up recently, so I thought I'd send
in this story from a friend of mine. Let me know what you think. From my
standpoint, it's a great description of what an individualist would go
through.

As an aside, this started out as a 100-word description for HW.

Anyway, on to the story:

Thorak Magreck Mostali Heretic
Written 2/25/00 By Dave M.

For 94 cycles Thorak worked as an assayer of precious materials. He lived
his life in the service of the world machine, and was content.
In his capacity as Second Section Trade Marshal and Outside Goods Inspector
Thorak came into contact with many human merchants. Over time, Thorak
became more and more fascinated with humans and their habits. He had pitied
humans for their ignorance of the World Machine and the pointlessness of
their short lives. Humans seemed to lack any shame; they showed no
hesitation to waste their own and each other's time. They were lazy in
their habits, uninterested in their own salvation, and ignorant of the very
elements that made up their lives.
Yet the merchantmen Thorak dealt with seemed more often than not to be happy
and content, since they always approached him smiling and seemingly pleased
to see him. At first Thorak believed this to be because of their ignorance,
as they seemed to believe that he could be swayed in the prices he gave them
by feigning happiness and pretending to care about his wellbeing. But as
the cycles passed, young merchants became old, their robes deepening in
color and showing the gloss of higher qualities, and the then old merchants
would stop coming to the citadel each summer, replaced by their sons and
daughters. Over time, generations of smiling merchants stood with Thorak by
the scales, awaiting his verdicts.
Eventually, Thorak thought to himself that he had discovered the secret
these men seemed to possess. The one passion he shared with them was for
the proximity and possession of precious elements. The accumulation of
material wealth seemed to give meaning to the lives of these men. Thorak,
in this one thing, began to feel a kinship with these humans. For many
cycles he mentioned this to no one but it grew within his mind and, on a
whim, he spoke to a workmate of the carefree and reckless habits he had
observed amongst the humans. He mused about what he might do if he were
free to act as he saw fit in the service of the world machine. To these
musings there was no reply.
Soon after, a senior engineer appeared and questioned Thorak about what he
had said. Thorak respectfully and thoroughly explained how he had come to
say these things. The engineer asked a few curt questions and then left him
to his work.
It was at the end of last shift of the cycle on the eve of a maintenance
festival that the engineer returned. He led Thorak down into the citadel's
workshops and, upon reaching a particularly dingy shop, he stopped and
produced a work order. He explained that Thorak had been reassigned to this
low skill shop and that pending a efficiency review he was to work under the
direction of the Junior Outgoing Goods Inspector at the human military
export disassembly and inspection shop. He was to be a disassembler. The
engineer also added that if Thorak did not improve his production skills and
curb his heretical tendencies he would be asked to turn himself over to the
reengineering and replacement section for review.
Thorak was shocked and dismayed by the turn of events. His job was menial
and never varied. He was charged with the disassembly and inspection of the
tensioning apparatus of catapults. The catapults and for that matter all of
the machines built in this shop were of the lowest quality. It was shocking
to see these poor imperfect machines be produced in a Dwarven citadel.
Thorak sunk himself into his new job. For eight cycles he did all that he
could to prove himself worthy to his new work group. He often worked past
the shift breaks hurrying through his own maintenance schedule to make time
for work. He eventually learned that the siege engines produced by his work
group were sold to warring human kingdoms that paid handsomely for the worst
the Dwarves could produce. The machines themselves were designed down to
the last scratch in their tin plating. They had specific flaws built in, to
require either the purchase of new machines after only five or ten cycles or
the purchase of expensive iron parts. The iron was of the lowest quality -
impure and with hardly a glimmer of magic to it. The iron dwarves would
sweep the debris from the anvils and the shavings from their sharpening
stones into the morass of metals used in its manufacture.
Though Thorak respected the skill and cunning that went into this shops
operation he longed to work with his gems and gold coins again, to be
surprised and delighted by the treasures the merchants would produce for him
to appraise. Fantastic crystals of every size and power would be produced
from under the red robes of his merchant friends; amulets and golden swords
would adorn the walls around his scales. He dreamed of inspecting the
filigree on some fine piece of armor, his seeing crystal held snugly to his
eye. Thorack felt poor and unappreciated, working away at a task not meant
for him. The path laid out to him at his awakening had become lost in the
glare he was unhappy and agitated. He looked to Mostal for guidance and
found only himself. He realized that only his own ingenuity and
perseverance would allow him to regain his rightful place in the world
machine. Mostal wanted him to use what he had to fix his own problem.
Thorak approached the Jr. Outgoing Goods Inspector and endeavored to explain
the inefficiencies of the current arrangement. He told the Jr. Inspector
that, though he endeavored to be the best disassembler he could, he felt the
citadel and the entire world machine would gain greater efficiency if he
were reassigned to his original duties. He explained how from the moment of
his manufacture he had been trained for that role alone, he exhorted the
inspector to remember the shift the Jr. Inspector received his own work
assignment and the many cycles of training that had gone into preparing him
for the position he so ably filled. Still feeling desperate and unsure,
Thorak went on telling him how his body template and predecessor had filed
the requisition for his addition to the incoming goods department schedule
some four hundred cycles before his awakening date, and how his role at this
citadel had been engineered before even the construction of this part of the
complex had been completed. Thorak said how much respect he had for the
skill of all his workmates and in particular the impressive example the Jr.
Inspector had been to him. He said at last in a quiet voice that he wished
the Jr. Inspector to file a report to the efficiency reengineers requesting
his reassignment to his prior position. With that he put his hands up
before him in the Dwarven hand signal that meant both gratitude and the
desire to work on into the next rotation.
The Junior Outgoing Goods Inspector seemed to have listened to all that
Thorak had said and after a pause replied that Thorak's reassignment
request would be given to the reengineering department in accordance with
proper procedure. The Jr. Inspector continued that in the mean time Thorak
should return to the disassembly bay, and attempted to make up the time he
had squandered. The Jr. Inspector also accepted Thorak's offer to work
until the next rotation, and warned that while the extra work was approved,
it would not be accepted as sufficient explanation for any slippage in his
disassembly rate for the next normally scheduled work period.
Thorack returned to his workstation, elated that his request would be
submitted. He had not been sure it was even possible to do such a thing.
He worked happily, thinking to himself about returning to the incoming goods
department, and believing that his days inspecting garbage made for gullible
humans were almost over.
That work quarter Thorak worked double and triple shifts, as often as his
personal maintenance duties allowed. He pushed himself as hard as he could,
breaking all disassembly records for his workgroup, and making it possible
for the Sr. Outgoing Inspection Marshal to raise the quotas in his subgroup
to a new high. He and his shift mates seemed to fall into a peaceful trance
of efficiency whenever Thorak came on shift. All conversation and banter
would cease upon his arrivals at the disassembly bay. And they would work in
speedy silence all shift.
This went on for several rotations until a cycle had passed. It being a odd
numbered cycle, Thorak expected that they were waiting for the next cycle to
reassign him, as odd cycle numbers were inefficient for the beginning of new
projects. But another cycle passed without a word. His hopes sagging,
Thorak despaired, until he realized that it was only two more cycles until
the maintenance festival. That being the very best time for the beginning
of new projects, he held on to the hope that his reassignment was immanent.
Feeling that he would surely be reassigned, he let his quotas slip a little
and, perhaps sensing a change, very slowly all his workmates also began to
slow their pace. At first the change in work habits was so small that
Thorak did not notice. But finally, one day he looked up from the half
rotten tensioning assembly he had been re installing, and realized that some
of his workmates had been signaling to eachother for some time, and that
they had fallen two catapults behind for the day. When he called at them to
hurry up they laughed, and told him not to worry. They said with cruel
smiles that neither they nor the catapults were likely going anywhere any
time soon.
Waves of dread washed over Thorak. He realized that his workmates knew, or
had known for some time, that he was never going to be transferred. Tears
rolled down his face as he stood there - his future stretching out before
him, his true role taken from him. Then he saw in his memory the soft
smiling simple minded faces of his merchant friends, their shiny eyes
peering down past him to the needle on the assayer scale, hoping against
hope that they would somehow get more than their baubles were worth.
Before he knew what was happening, he found himself walking out of the shop.
The shift was not over, but his pace quickened as the shouts of his
coworkers rose behind him. For a moment he thought he heard the pinched,
disapproving voice of the engineer who had first brought him down to these
shops, but he wasn't sure, as he was now fleeing.
He quickly passed the waste reclamation pits where he was required to go
after every shift Running now, Thorak made his way to the outgoing goods
staging and inventory bay. He passed between row after row of too familiar
catapults and siege towers he headed towards the great iron doors that led
to the out going loading area. He knew that the steep outside road would be
crowded with merchants waiting for the delivery of their goods, or for
permission to meet with the assayer, and he made for the maintenance
passage that would allow him to bypass the main gate. As he groped the
smooth wall for the passage latch, he could hear the approach of what must
be passage guards or shift monitors sent to retrieve him.
He suddenly realized that he was a heretic, and would be reengineered if
caught. Finally the pop and hiss of air told him he had found the catch.
Hurrying through the passage, he was suddenly disoriented. The light was
glaring and painful to his eyes, and the open sky made him feel as if he
were falling from a great height. It took several moments for him to
realize he was standing in a very smelly crowd of red clad humans. He saw a
smattering of the rich robes he had hoped to see and, closing the passage
behind him, he hurried into the crowd.

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<P><FONT FACE=3D"Berlin Sans FB">Hello, everyone -</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT FACE=3D"Berlin Sans FB">The question of 'humanizing' Mostali =
came up recently, so I thought I'd send in this story from a friend of =
mine.&nbsp; Let me know what you think.&nbsp; From my standpoint, it's =
a great description of what an individualist would go =
through.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT FACE=3D"Berlin Sans FB">As an aside, this started out as a =
100-word description for HW.</FONT>
</P>

<P><FONT FACE=3D"Berlin Sans FB">Anyway, on to the story:</FONT>
</P>

<P ALIGN=3DCENTER><B><FONT SIZE=3D4 FACE=3D"Arial">Thorak Magreck =
Mostali Heretic</FONT></B></P>

<P ALIGN=3DCENTER><B><I><FONT FACE=3D"Arial">Written 2/25/00 By Dave =
M.</FONT></I></B></P>
<BR>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">For 94 cycles Thorak worked =
as an assayer of precious materials.&nbsp; He lived his life in the =
service of the world machine, and was content. </FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">In his capacity as Second =
Section Trade Marshal and Outside Goods Inspector Thorak came into =
contact with many human merchants.&nbsp; Over time, Thorak became more =
and more fascinated with humans and their habits.&nbsp; He had pitied =
humans for their ignorance of the World Machine and the pointlessness =
of their short lives.&nbsp; Humans seemed to lack any shame; they =
showed no hesitation to waste their own and each other's time.&nbsp; =
They were lazy in their habits, uninterested in their own salvation, =
and ignorant of the very elements that made up their lives.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Yet the merchantmen Thorak =
dealt with seemed more often than not to be happy and content, since =
they always approached him smiling and seemingly pleased to see =
him.&nbsp; At first Thorak believed this to be because of their =
ignorance, as they seemed to believe that he could be swayed in the =
prices he gave them by feigning happiness and pretending to care about =
his wellbeing.&nbsp; But as the cycles passed, young merchants became =
old, their robes deepening in color and showing the gloss of higher =
qualities, and the then old merchants would stop coming to the citadel =
each summer, replaced by their sons and daughters.&nbsp; Over time, =
generations of smiling merchants stood with Thorak by the scales, =
awaiting his verdicts.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Eventually, Thorak thought =
to himself that he had discovered the secret these men seemed to =
possess.&nbsp; The one passion he shared with them was for the =
proximity and possession of precious elements.&nbsp; The accumulation =
of material wealth seemed to give meaning to the lives of these =
men.&nbsp; Thorak, in this one thing, began to feel a kinship with =
these humans.&nbsp; For many cycles he mentioned this to no one but it =
grew within his mind and, on a whim, he spoke to a workmate of the =
carefree and reckless habits he had observed amongst the humans.&nbsp; =
He mused about what he might do if he were free to act as he saw fit in =
the service of the world machine.&nbsp; To these musings there was no =
reply. </FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Soon after, a senior =
engineer appeared and questioned Thorak about what he had said.&nbsp; =
Thorak respectfully and thoroughly explained how he had come to say =
these things.&nbsp; The engineer asked a few curt questions and then =
left him to his work. </FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">It was at the end of last =
shift of the cycle on the eve of a maintenance festival that the =
engineer returned.&nbsp; He led Thorak down into the citadel's =
workshops and, upon reaching a particularly dingy shop, he stopped and =
produced a work order. He explained that Thorak had been reassigned to =
this low skill shop and that pending a efficiency review he was to work =
under the direction of the Junior Outgoing Goods Inspector at the human =
military export disassembly and inspection shop.&nbsp; He was to be a =
disassembler.&nbsp; The engineer also added that if Thorak did not =
improve his production skills and curb his heretical tendencies he =
would be asked to turn himself over to the reengineering and =
replacement section for review. </FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Thorak was shocked and =
dismayed by the turn of events.&nbsp; His job was menial and never =
varied.&nbsp; He was charged with the disassembly and inspection of the =
tensioning apparatus of catapults.&nbsp; The catapults and for that =
matter all of the machines built in this shop were of the lowest =
quality.&nbsp; It was shocking to see these poor imperfect machines be =
produced in a Dwarven citadel. </FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Thorak sunk himself into his =
new job.&nbsp; For eight cycles he did all that he could to prove =
himself worthy to his new work group.&nbsp; He often worked past the =
shift breaks hurrying through his own maintenance schedule to make time =
for work.&nbsp; He eventually learned that the siege engines produced =
by his work group were sold to warring human kingdoms that paid =
handsomely for the worst the Dwarves could produce.&nbsp; The machines =
themselves were designed down to the last scratch in their tin =
plating.&nbsp; They had specific flaws built in, to require either the =
purchase of new machines after only five or ten cycles or the purchase =
of expensive iron parts.&nbsp; The iron was of the lowest quality - =
impure and with hardly a glimmer of magic to it.&nbsp; The iron dwarves =
would sweep the debris from the anvils and the shavings from their =
sharpening stones into the morass of metals used in its manufacture. =
</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Though Thorak respected the =
skill and cunning that went into this shops operation he longed to work =
with his gems and gold coins again, to be surprised and delighted by =
the treasures the merchants would produce for him to appraise.&nbsp; =
Fantastic crystals of every size and power would be produced from under =
the red robes of his merchant friends; amulets and golden swords would =
adorn the walls around his scales.&nbsp; He dreamed of inspecting the =
filigree on some fine piece of armor, his seeing crystal held snugly to =
his eye.&nbsp; Thorack felt poor and unappreciated, working away at a =
task not meant for him. The path laid out to him at his awakening had =
become lost in the glare he was unhappy and agitated. He looked to =
Mostal for guidance and found only himself.&nbsp; He realized that only =
his own ingenuity and perseverance would allow him to regain his =
rightful place in the world machine.&nbsp; Mostal wanted him to use =
what he had to fix his own problem. </FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Thorak approached the Jr. =
Outgoing Goods Inspector and endeavored to explain the inefficiencies =
of the current arrangement.&nbsp; He told the Jr. Inspector that, =
though he endeavored to be the best disassembler he could, he felt the =
citadel and the entire world machine would gain greater efficiency if =
he were reassigned to his original duties.&nbsp; He explained how from =
the moment of his manufacture he had been trained for that role alone, =
he exhorted the inspector to remember the shift the Jr. Inspector =
received his own work assignment and the many cycles of training that =
had gone into preparing him for the position he so ably filled.&nbsp; =
Still feeling desperate and unsure, Thorak went on telling him how his =
body template and predecessor had filed the requisition for his =
addition to the incoming goods department schedule some four hundred =
cycles before his awakening date, and how his role at this citadel had =
been engineered before even the construction of this part of the =
complex had been completed.&nbsp; Thorak said how much respect he had =
for the skill of all his workmates and in particular the impressive =
example the Jr. Inspector had been to him.&nbsp; He said at last in a =
quiet voice that he wished the Jr. Inspector to file a report to the =
efficiency reengineers requesting his reassignment to his prior =
position.&nbsp; With that he put his hands up before him in the Dwarven =
hand signal that meant both gratitude and the desire to work on into =
the next rotation.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">The Junior Outgoing Goods =
Inspector seemed to have listened to all that Thorak had said and after =
a pause&nbsp; replied that Thorak's reassignment request would be given =
to the reengineering department in accordance with proper =
procedure.&nbsp; The Jr. Inspector continued that in the mean time =
Thorak should return to the disassembly bay, and attempted to make up =
the time he had squandered.&nbsp; The Jr. Inspector also accepted =
Thorak's offer to work until the next rotation, and warned that while =
the extra work was approved, it would not be accepted as sufficient =
explanation for any slippage in his disassembly rate for the next =
normally scheduled work period.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Thorack returned to his =
workstation, elated that his request would be submitted.&nbsp; He had =
not been sure it was even possible to do such a thing.&nbsp; He worked =
happily, thinking to himself about returning to the incoming goods =
department, and believing that his days inspecting garbage made for =
gullible humans were almost over.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">That work quarter Thorak =
worked double and triple shifts, as often as his personal maintenance =
duties allowed.&nbsp; He pushed himself as hard as he could, breaking =
all disassembly records for his workgroup, and making it possible for =
the Sr. Outgoing Inspection Marshal to raise the quotas in his subgroup =
to a new high.&nbsp; He and his shift mates seemed to fall into a =
peaceful trance of efficiency whenever Thorak came on shift.&nbsp; All =
conversation and banter would cease upon his arrivals at the =
disassembly bay. And they would work in speedy silence all shift. =
</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">This went on for several =
rotations until a cycle had passed. It being a odd numbered cycle, =
Thorak expected that they were waiting for the next cycle to reassign =
him, as odd cycle numbers were inefficient for the beginning of new =
projects.&nbsp; But another cycle passed without a word.&nbsp; His =
hopes sagging, Thorak despaired, until he realized that it was only two =
more cycles until the maintenance festival.&nbsp; That being the very =
best time for the beginning of new projects, he held on to the hope =
that his reassignment was immanent. </FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Feeling that he would surely =
be reassigned, he let his quotas slip a little and, perhaps sensing a =
change, very slowly all his workmates also began to slow their =
pace.&nbsp; At first the change in work habits was so small that Thorak =
did not notice.&nbsp; But finally, one day he looked up from the half =
rotten tensioning assembly he had been re installing, and realized that =
some of his workmates had been signaling to eachother for some time, =
and that they had fallen two catapults behind for the day.&nbsp; When =
he called at them to hurry up they laughed, and told him not to =
worry.&nbsp; They said with cruel smiles that neither they nor the =
catapults were likely going anywhere any time soon.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Waves of dread washed over =
Thorak.&nbsp; He realized that his workmates knew, or had known for =
some time, that he was never going to be transferred.&nbsp; Tears =
rolled down his face as he stood there - his future stretching out =
before him, his true role taken from him.&nbsp; Then he saw in his =
memory the soft smiling simple minded faces of his merchant friends, =
their shiny eyes peering down past him to the needle on the assayer =
scale, hoping against hope that they would somehow get more than their =
baubles were worth.</FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">Before he knew what was =
happening, he found himself walking out of the shop.&nbsp; The shift =
was not over, but his pace quickened as the shouts of his coworkers =
rose behind him.&nbsp; For a moment he thought he heard the pinched, =
disapproving voice of the engineer who had first brought him down to =
these shops, but he wasn't sure, as he was now fleeing. </FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">He quickly passed the waste =
reclamation pits where he was required to go after every shift Running =
now, Thorak made his way to the outgoing goods staging and inventory =
bay.&nbsp; He passed between row after row of too familiar catapults =
and siege towers he headed towards the great iron doors that led to the =
out going loading area.&nbsp; He knew that the steep outside road would =
be crowded with merchants waiting for the delivery of their goods, or =
for permission to meet with the assayer, and he&nbsp; made for the =
maintenance passage that would allow him to bypass the main gate.&nbsp; =
As he groped the smooth wall for the passage latch, he could hear the =
approach of what must be passage guards or shift monitors sent to =
retrieve him. </FONT></P>

<P><FONT SIZE=3D2 FACE=3D"Times New Roman">He suddenly realized that he =
was a heretic, and would be reengineered if caught.&nbsp; Finally the =
pop and hiss of air told him he had found the catch.&nbsp; Hurrying =
through the passage, he was suddenly disoriented.&nbsp; The light was =
glaring and painful to his eyes, and the open sky made him feel as if =
he were falling from a great height.&nbsp; It took several moments for =
him to realize he was standing in a very smelly crowd of red clad =
humans.&nbsp; He saw a smattering of the rich robes he had hoped to see =
and, closing the passage behind him, he hurried into the =
crowd.</FONT></P>
<BR>

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