Gottlieb, the Chief of the Dwarves
After descending into the hole, the old man pulled out a black jar from his pocket.
“This is a secret substance known as gunpowder. Only some of us dwarves know how to make it. Filling cylinders with this and igniting them can cause an explosion.”
“It is a type of bomb, then.”
“So you know of bombs.”
“I always did like to research across many topics.”
Eve had told me that there were no firearms in this world, but that gunpowder existed.
Alchemy was rather advanced here, and so the existence of gunpowder was not too surprising.
However, the fact that it hadn’t advanced far enough for guns to be invented and developed, suggested a strong reliance on magic, which was after all, incredibly advanced in comparison.
Magic could replicate the powerful force of a gunshot. And this was causing a delay in scientific discoveries.
I thought of such things as the old man lit the bomb.
The fuse sparked loudly.
“Step away, it will explode very soon.”
I had an idea of what kind of damage it would do. Jeanne and Eve moved back and I protected them with my coat.
A few seconds later, the bomb detonated just as we expected, with a storm of dust and wind.
The girls remained clean, as they were behind me, but for some reason, the old man was in front of us and covered from head to toe.
He directed his dirt-stained face at me and smiled.
“I wanted to see how it would explode and how the cave would collapse.”
He said, and then removed his goggles.
It was here that we finally had a proper greeting.
“It is an honor to meet you. My name is Gottlieb. I am the chief of the earth dwarves.”
“The chief of the dwarves?”
Now, this was a surprise. I could not have hoped for a more pleasing one.
Our very purpose for coming here was to meet him.
I inspected him with this new information.
His hair was white, as was his long beard. And he had the frame of a beer barrel.
Yes, it was much the same as a classic dwarven image.
However, aside from the short arms and legs, he was very much like any human.
It might be difficult to distinguish some humans and dwarves then.
“By the way, I see that you and that maid are demons. But the one with golden hair appears to be human. Are you a demon lord?”
It would be poor manners and quite pointless to conceal the truth here.
And so I said,
“That is correct. However, what I want is nothing like Eligos’s design to subjugate. I want to collaborate.”
Which was our honest purpose.
“I am currently expanding my castle. I wish to build a city where many races from all over the world will gather. And it was so I could have dwarves help me in building this city, that I came here to look for help.”
“I see, yes. That is a wonderful idea. There is no end to demon lords in this world, and yet I cannot recall seeing any who wished for humans and other races to coexist. I like the way you think. And it would be my pleasure to collaborate with you.”
The old man smiled for a moment, but it quickly disappeared as his shoulders drooped.
“…I wish I could say that. But… There is something you should see first. This settlement has been ravaged by Eligos. Many of my friends have been killed in their raids.”
“But not all of them?”
“Half of our number were able to escape into the mines. These mines are a labyrinth. And besides, we have bombs to prevent the enemy from coming in too deep. But there is a problem.”
“It is food. We have water from underground streams, but our food supplies are limited. This place was merely a place for us to work. It was not meant for such a long stay.”
“And so we have occasionally created escape exits in order to leave and search for food. But we are reaching our limits.”
“How much longer can you last?”
“Let me think… Around a week.”
“And how many dwarven warriors have you?”
“We earth dwarves are a gentle tribe. Not many of us are warriors by trade. However, some of the miners can fight. Their pickaxes could pierce the scales of dragons.”
“I suppose they must be very strong.”