CH 15: Kempt in the Beer Hall
Chapters of Diary of an Adamant Seducer
The mountain folks are not known for their engineering. The abundance of magic keeps that comparatively tedious art to a minimum. But there are the trolls, who have only the weakest, most flop-prone of magics. They do some engineering. Nothing on a grand scale. Mostly mining stuff. Wide-winding conveyor belts and deep-plunging elevators. The occasional locomotive, which, due to the uneven terrain and the trolls’ general love of walking, only ever travel over very short stretches, hauling rubble out of mines towards rubble-piles that, to the general annoyance of the more-refined mountain creatures, dot many a slope and slide into many a valley. But the mountains are many and the trolls few, and in recent years they’ve even agreed to repurpose a large percentage of the rubble for mountain plazas, hanging gardens, and other public works. Because trolls, for whatever reason(s), only ever want to work anyway.
Trolls are very industrious. It could be argued (and indeed has been time and time again over yet another glass of mountain grog imbibed at yet another long-plank mountain feasting table by yet another youthful wag of some more magic-reliant species) that there’s no need for all this chipping away of mountain stone and stirring up and hauling out precious metals and gems. But it’s what trolls do and the mountain king has always ruled that, as long as all activities are contained within larger systems that allow for the general health and welfare of all, all the mountain folk are free to follow their own natures, be they ever so perverse.
Here let it be parenthetically noted that the mountain king is always there and always wise enough and respected, and thereby himself constitutes a type of magic and makes possible a system of governance that we magic-less denizens cannot hope to recreate in our lumpier, less finesse-able realities.
Kempt Whistletown, having discussed with the mountain king the actions and statements of his brother Amble and his friend Bartleby during their several months crashing in the hall of the mountain king, finds himself in a cavernous (it is literally in a cavern) beer hall a few hundred feet below the hall of the mountain king. This is perhaps the most cosmopolitan beer hall in the mountain lands. They even built an extra wide door so dragons and giants could hang out.
The hall offers a special beverage only to dragons, giants, and minotaurs. Because it would kill anyone else. It’s called big-beer (it was named by giants, who are not known for their literature) and it is strong enough that a couple gallons will make a minotaur silly, a barrel will get a giant to tell you about the hilarious time she accidentally threw a cow through a brick wall, and five or six barrels will make a dragon giggle about this one knight that mistook him for one of those princess-stealing dragons, and then hiccup in regret and repeat half a dozen times that he’d just meant to give the noble soul in shining armor a little tap-down and he hadn’t realized how flimsy they make those helmets.
(“Pity my brother hadn’t made the helmet!” chimes in some troll. “Oh come on!” replies another troll. “What!? He’s the best schmied, everyone knows that!” “Well, I don’t know about BEST. That’s a big word. No one’s gonna deny he’s a great schmied, but …” “Yeah, and all I’m saying is, had he made that helmet, that knight would be here today, laughing along with the rest of us.” Here the dragon has to anchor the conversation in at least a vestige of reality: “Probably not. It was a thousand years ago or so.” “Oh. Well, you get my point!” “Look, your brother’s a good schmied, but you don’t need to work that fact into every conversation.” “I don’t! It just, well, it fit, it flowed naturally from the conversation we were having.” “Uh huh.” “What?!? Are you saying it didn’t? Are you saying there was a more logical comment in that sequence of exchanges?”)
So there’s Kempt, nursing a human-grade beer in the beer hall below the hall of the mountain king and talking to a fairy and a troll about this idea he’s had for a flying car. The fairy, who of course can already fly and could easily enchant anything so that it also flew, smiles in polite and somewhat-real interest. But the troll, a buxom young beauty in a blue flowing robe and with a sparkling diamond tiara atop her soft, richly-flowing dark hair, taps her dainty fingers on the thousand-year-old tabletop and exclaims, “No, but I think that would work! I think we could put that together! We have been working on just the material for the body of such a vehicle!” And here the fairy perks up. “If you want a little” (and he stirs the air with open, inward-curving fingers) “I could speed up the production process.”
Kempt takes another sip of this melodious, earthen, oaky, full-bodied beer with a medium alcohol content and a molasses-like, sobering keel. “Yeah! We could, I mean, with your help.”
The fairy nods. “We could make one in five minutes.”