Monday, August 08, 2005

The caverns beneath the Pole

A wonderful day, but a day also of memories.

At one p.m., I arrived at the great hall to find Gimlitin waiting. He had a lantern, spare torches, a pick, an ax, and a dagger!

“My goodness,” I said. “What do you expect to find?”

“I believe in being prepared,” he said. “I heard what happened there before.”

His words brought back memories of the great goblin battles in the early 1930s. The goblins had gotten into the great caverns beneath the North Pole, and had tunneled into our storage rooms.

At first, they used the tunnels just to steal things. But then they attacked us. The worst battle was in 1933.

The North Polar Bear’s great-grandfather had held to defeat the goblins then. Oh, I remember him swinging right and left with his great paws, sending dozens of goblins flying.

So I invited our current North Polar Bear to come with us. I also invited Dwobnab, the leader of the gnome guild, for gnomes played a key role in defeating the goblins. And I invited Eomar, the head of North Pole security, and Eidin, the chief research elf to join us.

When Gimlitin saw then, he almost looked disappointed.

“No dwarf has ever seen these caverns and tunnels,” I said. “It is an honor to have you with us.”

That seemed to help a little. At least his grunt seemed a little happier.

I took out the key to the door, and unlocked it. We swung the door open … to reveal a second door. I took out the key for that door.

We swung it open to reveal stairs leading down into the darkness.

With lanterns turned on we went down, down, down, until we came to the main tunnel. We could see other tunnels branching off in several directions.

Gimlitin studied the walls.

“Not well made,” he grunted.

“Goblin work,” I said.

He grunted.

I led them to a tunnel running off the tunnel we were in. This slopped downward. Sometimes the slope was so steep we nearly slipped.

Finally we entered the first of the great caverns.

Gimlitin said “Ha” in a way that showed he liked what he saw.

“This is part of a system of caverns that run under the North Pole. The Cave Bears used to live in here. They all moved out after the Goblin troubles. The goblins also used to live down here, until we drove them away.”

I turned to the North Polar Bear.

“Do you smell any goblins?”

He sniffed deeply several times, then nodded no.

“Dwobnab, your people were a great help in defeating the goblins,” I said.

“My people still tell stores about the battles here, and in the places where the goblins fled,” he said.

Yes, I remember, what the human nations called the Second World War. Even as the humans fought, the powers of darkness the goblins were part of fought the elves, dwarves, gnomes and others.

It had been a terrible time.

“Your people fought well,” I said.

We wandered through the caverns. In many, we found ancient paintings on the walls. They’d been made centuries before by cave bears, early men who had explored here long before I moved to the North Pole., and, more recently, goblins.

Gimlitin studied the drawings.

“Some good ones of animals,” he said. “Dwarves could do better.”

“Dwarves are known the world over for their art,” I said.

We continued to explore for several hours.

Suddenly the North Polar Bear’s stomach growled!

“Ah,” I said. “I think it’s about time for dinner.”

It took us nearly an hour to get back into the great hall.

I carefully locked both doors, then tuned to Gimlitin.

“I know you will need to explore these tunnels and caverns more as you make your plans,” I said.

I handed him the key.

For the second day in a row, I think he wanted to hug me.

“You and your fellow dwarves should explore down there some more,” I said. “In a week, we can meet to see what ideas you have.”

Eomar gave me a questioning look.

I just smiled.

But it made me uneasy. I hope it’s nothing.


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