“The Mad Scientist”
From the journal of Kadrin Dampwick;
I was raised in a small village 200 miles underground with little interaction with other dwarves, or in my case, Duergar. We lived in a small but successful part of the underground tunnel system where my clan was tasked to create structural support for the caverns and work on removing the toxic fumes from the caves. This required lots of planning and coordinating among the clan, and everyone was important to the success of our mission.
See, my pa was the lead architect for our clan and had many duties to attend to. As the oldest of three children, I was expected to be right by his side, assisting him. In my mind I wanted to be anywhere but there. I spent my entire childhood, and most of my adolescent years, following my pa from project to project, doing menial tasks like carrying his blueprints or picking up his tools. I was so infuriating at times as all I wanted to do was play like the other kids my age. To keep myself from boredom I would often draw or sketch in my journal. I had a wild imagination, and this lead to some interesting depictions of the mines.
While my pa was busy working on architecture designs, I would wander off. At first, it was just a few minutes at a time. The busier my father was the further I wandered. At some point, I would be gone for hours before one of the workers would tell my pa where they saw me. Of course my pa was worried about me, but he hardly ever showed it. He was worried more about his image as a leader than a father. Rarely did my pa notice what I was doing in the tunnels; he just assumed I was bored. However, what I was doing was sketching the world in my eyes, taking in details and focusing on the unusual or abnormal. One day I pulled my pa aside and showed him some of the sketches I had drawn. At first he was furious, but the more I showed him the more he admired the artwork. Some were simple things like mushrooms, rope pulleys, and lanterns. Others were the long exorbitant fictional drawings of people climbing on walls, creatures flying through the caverns, or just a strange array of lights adorning the tunnel structure.
This went on for many years, while my pa would organize the Dwarves and delegate different duties. He would always keep an easy assignment for me, allowing me more free time to roam and draw. My father knew I had great potential, but wasn’t sure how it fit into the clan’s overall goals. This troubled him, until one day he sought counsel with a our clan elders whom purposed I be sent to the academy where I could be counseled and given direction.
This troubled my family as my father was still afraid of tarnishing his image as a leader. He didn’t want rumors circulating that he was not a good father, nor that I was unable to follow in his footsteps; many assumed I would. After a long hard discussion about my future, it was decided on my next name day I would be sent to the Academy of Grothier, a prestigious school in the capital city of Bemgron, to see if I could find my new purpose. As my parents and I accepted my fate, I gathered my things and said my goodbyes. I wrapped both hands around my ma and gave her the biggest hug I have ever given; and without a pause, I reached down picked up my little sister in one arm and pulled my baby brother in close with the other.
“Never lose your sense of wonder.” I said, silently putting one of my old drawing books in their hands.
Bemgron was the first Dwarven city created after the Groundbreaking summit nearly 2000 years ago. It was there the elders of the clans would gather to discuss the developments of the islands and to plan for future expansions, among other things. The Academy is mostly run by the Elders; the oldest and wisest of our race that are be too old to work but experienced enough to teach. Many of these Elders were salty and determined; they didn’t understand or embrace change easily. As the clans would present more advanced ideas and contraptions, many elders would often disregarded or ignore them. However, over time they found a few artisans that truly impressed them. My pa was one of them. He was very respected in the industry and many of his improvements were noted and implemented right away. This was unfortunate for me as, upon my arrival to the academy, the word spread quickly of which clan I had come from and who my father was. Many elders assumed I was as brilliant and gifted as my father, so their expectations were high from the start.
I was reluctant to come to the Academy, and now with the increased expectations of my pa’s reputation looming over me, it concerned me that I wouldn’t fit in and I would let my family down… again. I was assigned four sets of uniforms and encouraged to change often. Despite my upbringing and my lack of care for hygiene, I reluctantly followed orders, and tried to fit in the best I could. I was assigned many classes to test my aptitude but, like working in the mines, I would find myself bored. My thoughts would drift off to different places. This posed a challenge to the elders as they had plans for me. They had thought with my experience of the mines and the knowledge from my father, they could mold me into the next headmaster and harness my natural leader abilities. Oh, how they were wrong!
Trial after trial, lesson after lesson, nothing was sticking, I was still mentally distracted by other things of unimportance. It was not until my fifth year at the academy when the elders had almost given up on me; they accepted my fate. I was not going to be a great leader, nor follow in my father’s footsteps. They decided as a final act of guidance they would send me over to learn from one of the more unusual elders, Hogar Coalwever.
Hogar Coldweaver was a very excitable dwarf. Unlike the other elders, he didn’t let tradition hold him back. He loved what he did and others found him peculiar because of it. What did he do? Well, he mixes random components together to create formulas. Each formula has its own unique properties, color, flavor, odor, and chemical composition. Each has its own unique utility. Some are used for aiding the sick. Others are retrofitted into the machinery to increase durability or performance.
Despite Hogar’s successes, some of the elders raised concern about his mental stability. He was so passionate about his work that he would often miss meetings and make references to the historical stories that included supernatural abilities, which didn’t make sense to the other elders. However, his work was very important to the others so they needed to keep an eye on him.They didn’t understand him just as the elders couldn’t figure me out. They decided it would be best served if I did something that eased their time, and that was to keep an eye on Hogar and report back to them weekly with what he was working on.
Initially, like the other tasks I had been given, it was boring. I was annoyed with all the little details I had to write down. The colors of his clothes, the fragrances that came from his lab, and the amount of time he spent doing daily activities; notes so boring it would put the most avid reader to sleep.
However, as the days, weeks, and months went by, I found myself more and more intrigued with Hogar’s work. At first, it was unusual for me to show interest in anything other than myself, but I found myself fixated on the ingredients Hogar’s was using. I started sketching them in my books and finding new ways to depict the reaction each chemical. It was obvious I was enjoying myself as my notes went from monotonous details, to in-depth about each mixture he concocted. Shortly after that I found myself side by side with Hogar, learning from his every move. I was so fixated on his work that I wanted to be involved in his work, so I started volunteering to wash up dirty beakers and flasks or to run across the Academy to fetch specific ingredients he required.
My duties to Hogar began to encompass my entire day. I had became his trusted apprentice and, knowing the council had asked me to report back on his behavior, he began to help me craft new and creative ways to prank the council to entertain ourselves. We would add a little lilac or sage oil to the letters and upon opening them, the council chamber would be overcome with pheromones or pungent odors that would make the hardiest of Dwarves evacuate the room.
The more I learned the more I began to understand the underlying truths. Hogar was more than just an alchemist, he was a scholar. He studied all kinds of principles from alteration to manipulation, and he was trying to understand the meaning of life and how the universe worked. He often referenced stories about the deities and spoke to Aura, the God of elements, in hopes to learn more. With each discovery and formula Hogar created the greater his determination for answers grew. It was this that made Hogar truly strange.
While Hogar’s work was still being scrutinized by some of the elders, they noticed I was happy and had truly found my calling. I was staying out of trouble and I was contributing to the overall success of the islands. With Hogar as my mentor and me his trusted apprentice there was no end to what we could come up with. For example, a blue and green liquid that when injected into a cave rat, would mutate it to grow twice it’s size and be able to smash through rocks in seconds with minor side effects. It was a great success! I began to receive recognition for my hard work, something I had never experienced before.
As the years went on, I found myself traveling island to island doing research for Hogar. It wasn’t long until I found my way back home, reuniting with my family. My ma and little sister took care of the clan and my father was training his new apprentice, my younger brother. I was so excited to see everyone happy and the joy of it filled my heart with glee to know I made the right decision so many years ago.
See, I knew the The Groundbreaking ceremonies were quickly approaching, and Hogar had once again used his peculiar wit to convince the other elders to send me instead of himself to represent the Dwarves and Duergar. He was far too old and,though my abilities were still novice compared to his, he trusted me and knew that I had the ability to learn quickly; I could adapt to change. I still had a young mind and a lot to learn, but if I kept a good record of what I saw and focused on being me, I would be more open to trade and could bring back great things to our civilization.
I was born in a small town in Southern Utah with not much to do other than farm work. I found myself bored and couldn’t wait to leave. At the age of 17, I graduated High school and moved 1,078 miles from home to Vancouver, Washington, where I attended three years of trade school and got certificates in Computer Science.
After finding myself in a rut, I was persuaded by my sister and mother to move to Boise, Idaho where I reside today. While in Boise, I returned to the education system where I completed the Bachelor’s Degree program at Boise State University. With seven years of education behind me, I settled down and purchased a house and currently live happily ever after in the City of Tree’s.
~~~ Yes, Kadrin’s Backstory was seriously more interesting than my personal life. 🙂