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Workers
Far underground, among the soil and stone, two workers had been busy for an entire day. They considered their work within the gloomy cavern pleasant and distracting. The constant flow of warriors skittering by and the sounds of clashing swords and armor echoing down the rocky dirt hallways had stopped bothering the pair hours ago, not that such workers were easily distracted. They toiled under request of the Matriarch. Besides, the two workers had created their own distractions while they labored.

“… Your most embarrassing scientific moment?” Borvin asked Krett.

Krett looked up from the tall contraption he was building beside a large pool of water. He thoughtfully scratched his chin. “Most embarrassing… ah… that is a difficult one.” The tinker leaned forward again to reach inside the device with one of his tools, making a few squeaky adjustments. “That’s ah… hmm, that’s a difficult one.” Krett blushed slightly in the dim light. “There have been so many.”

“Just choose one!” Borvin sat on a small stool by the underground spring with alchemy equipment spread out before him. He leaned down with a small glass vial to gather another sample of the water. After dripping a few drops of a deep blue liquid into the vial, he shook his head and tossed the contents out. “I’ll go first if you like.”

“Please, ah… after you, by all means.” Krett’s voiced slightly echoed out from the device that he had stuck his head into.

Borvin looked towards the shy tinker and raised an eyebrow. “Are you certain that it is safe for you to have your head in that thing? There are quite a few moving parts in there. Aren’t you worried about losing an ear?”

Krett pulled his head out of the device and smiled at Borvin. “Only if I don’t move my head every seventeen and a half seconds.” The machine made an almost fierce swooshing sound, as if a blade were being swung. Krett stuck his head back inside and continued making adjustments. “It’s your turn.”

“Ah, yes, right, my most embarrassing scientific moment.” Borvin thought for a moment as he stared into a beaker. “That would have to be the day I blew up my alchemy instructor.”

Krett giggled from within his machine. “I… ah, I know I shouldn’t laugh at that, but you, ah… you blew him up? That sounds rather violent.”

“Oh he wasn’t hurt,” Borvin’s gut shook slightly as he chuckled, “although I’m still not sure how. I was nearly finished with my instruction from this particular professor my father had sent me to. The fellow didn’t seem to care for my prowess, thought I was too smart for my own good.”

Krett pulled his head out of his device again, just before a slicing sound came out. He grabbed another of his tinker tools and climbed back in. “I’ve, ah… I’ve had instructors like that before. They always thought I was too smart for my own good as… ah… as well.”

“Well this teacher was correct; I was slightly big for my own britches. Some things never change, eh?” Borvin patted his stomach. “It was my final project and I mixed a new potion that I thought was going to revolutionize alchemy. Unfortunately I had made a very simple mistake. When my instructor came to test it, the potion exploded and “revolutionized” him right through the wall of his house and halfway down the street.”

Krett’s laughter echoed inside his device.

“I was terrified. There I am standing blackened with soot in this shell of a house, with my instructor lying in the street looking rather dead. After I stood there in shock for ages, he slowly stood up, walked back to the house and told me very calmly to go home.”

“Go home?” Krett again dodged whatever horrible fate awaited those who did not move every seventeen and a half seconds. “That’s… ah, that’s it? Just go home? Oh, hello there.” Krett blushed slightly, realizing he had said hello to a passing Solen worker that was curiously inspecting the two men who had been made friends of the hive.

“Well, that day, yes. The next day I started working for him. It took a year and a half to help pay off the damage I had done.” Borvin combined two of his potions together, then poured a few drops of the spring water in the mixture. “Hmmm, I think Adranath was correct; their water supply does seem to have some effects of the decay in it. Probably turned them into their current form, but it could also kill them before too long.”

“I guess maybe they, ah… they came to the surface looking for water?” Krett asked.

“Could be, could be.” Borvin poured the mixture out and began packing up his bottles and potions. “Now it’s your turn. Your most embarrassing moment in science, what is it?”

Krett’s hand felt along the ground near his tools. He pulled his head out of the machine to look around. “Possibly right now, I, ah… I seem to have lost one of my wrenches.”

“That’s your most embarrassing moment?” Borvin asked.

“Well I… ah, I’ve never lost a tool before!” “That was a perfectly good wrench and… Krett looked nervously at the ground, then looked up to see the curious Solen worker a few steps down the tunnel trying to chew on his wrench. ”Ah, there! You!”

He ran up to the worker and gently tried to put his hands on the tinker tool to take it away. It was like watching a mother fight with a fussy baby. The worker squealed slightly and tried to brush Krett’s hands away. “I need that… ah, give me the wrench, please! You want me to, ah… to help your Matriarch, don’t you?”

Borvin walked up behind Krett with a small jar of a golden-looking clear substance and waved it in front of the upset Solen. “Mmmmm, doesn’t that smell good, yes?” The workers antennae shifted towards the jar. It suddenly let go of the wrench, causing Krett to stumble backwards into the pool of water with a yelp. Borvin held the jar out to the creature as it snatched it away and walked down the tunnel chirping to itself.

“What did you give him?” Krett asked spitting out water as he took Borvin’s hand to help him stand.

“Honey. I brought some for the bread I had with lunch.” Borvin grinned. “They may be six feet tall, with a talking Queen, but some things never change. Are you alright?”

Krett wiped the water off his face. “Yes, I’m fine.” He walked back over to his device, reached into the opening with his wrench, and made one twist. “And I’m, ah… I’m all done here.”

“Do you think it will work?” Borvin asked as he gathered up his things to leave.

“I hope so, if not it’s going to, ah…. Well it would be rather, ah… embarrassing.” Krett smiled.

The two examined their work with pride. The new device they had come up with looked strange, but it was the only hope for the Solen Matriarch and her people.

As the pair of scientists began the hike out of the tunnels, Borvin turned to Krett with a slight smile. “You never did tell me what your most embarrassing moment was.”

“You just saw it.” Krett said.


Published: October 2002
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
Ultima Online ESRB Rating
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