The Eighteen Blades of Vode Nulan

O-Z confides...

Otto Zwanziger, merchant guard, former Gleaming Valley caver and, by most accounts, a bubber of a dwarf, opens up about recent events in his life…

“Yuh, I got a nick. Pa and the caver lads call ‘e OZee, ya know, for ’a initial, O-Z.
Life to this point was spent ’ostly in the ’ines, it’s sort of ‘een a family callin for years, startin with aged grand-hap who disappear’t down a ‘ine tunnel and never return’t – though plenny have run inno the old ‘oy in the tunnels and shafts ‘elow the ’ountains, he just got no need to return to the surface.

Our clan or family is what ye call cavers and in a ‘ining commun’ty like this one we serve a value’t purpose. ‘iners, as you well know, tunnel unner the earth. Well, from ti’e to ti’e they ‘ound to open up a shaft into a natural caver’, someti’es even a series or complex o’ caves and caverns. Now you don’t want a ‘unch of ‘iners wannerin’ through these regions, who know what sort of danger lurk under these ol’ ‘ountains? So, those what own the ’ines send in a team o’ cavers. Paw been cavin’ for nearly eight decades, ‘y oldest siblings been at it for as ’any as forty and I’z nearing my tenth year afore ’y reti’ent.

It’s dannerrous work and the wages are ‘arely enough to support a fa’ily – or at least they used to ‘e. Recently, due to hard times or some such hog-wash ‘scuse, our wages been cut. Paw says, “Lads, they doin’ wrong ‘y us and we not gonna stan’ fr’it.” ‘y ‘rothers decided to move further north and seek out opportunities with other ’ining op’rations, but not ol’ OZee. I says, “Paw, Not sure how you gonna ’e liken this, ‘ut I’m gonna strike out into the surface worlt and make a go of life a’ove the ’ountains.”

Well, ‘y family already thought I was a wee ‘it odd and soft – ’y older ‘rothers so’etimes called me the ‘awler cause I been knowt to go ‘isty in the eye on tha ’ccasion. Paw just look at ’e and says, “If your heart’s telling you to go then you got to go your own daisy-picken way and ‘est of luck to ya.” So, with the ‘lessings of ’y father and ’y fa’ily, I left the ‘ining commu’ty and joined on a car’van where I was able to ‘ake some coin servin as a guart to the High-’erchant ‘ash’one. I ‘een travellin’ with Sir ‘ash’one for a few ’onths now, we got an unnerstandin’ with one another: I do ‘y work and he pays ’y wage. It’s a fair ’nough life, I get to see the worlt and enjoy a spot of travellin’. ‘Ut, as paw says, follow your heart, so I ‘ay ’ove on to ‘igger and ‘etter things should they show themselves. ’ash’one always say, “The next sack of gold is just ’rount the ‘end.” And the same holds true for dreams and happ’ness. So I’m keeping my options open."

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