I glanced back after a moment and noticed the man still watched, so I put the helmet on and paused. I had hair. I ran my fingers through it. Normal hair as I used to have. Magic. I laughed and put the helmet on, which fit closely and covered my ears – shutting out most of the sound. I continued on in the direction the miners with the pickaxes went. I glanced back one last time and the man had gone. I breathed out and relaxed a little. With the masque around my neck and the helm and vest, I looked almost like any other miner. Anonymity seemed like a good idea. I wanted to explore this cavern and maybe find a place to hide until the upset upstairs passed.
I found the area where the pickaxe miners were digging some sort of dark, greasy mineral that crumbled easily. Its dust covered everything. Coughing, I slipped the goggle masque over my face and experimented with breathing. Not easy, but better than coughing. The inventions stored in this cave reminded me of some of the books I’d read of supposed past eras – purely fictional I’m certain – of mechanized civilizations. I left the miners without notice and moved toward the furnace.
Men and some Dvergr shoveled piles of charcoal into the open mouth of the furnace to add to the smelting process. Som, who was the most skilled at blacksmithing in Oakdale, would have found it fascinating. I hadn’t been very good at it. I wondered how the tavern and Jeslynn got on without me – probably very well – and whether Torgood had reported his sins to his mother. Shaking my head, I moved away. I doubted I’d ever find out.
As I made my way to examine the lines of metal that ore carts traveled, I noticed a commotion near the slope that lead up to the surface. Large mechanical plows, driven by men, pushed flat carts of metal up the slope and outside. A miner lead a horse down the slope. The horse didn’t like the noise and reared, striking out with its hooves. The man took one in the chest and fell backward, but didn’t let the reins loose. He got up and retaliated by hitting the horse in the head and dragging it into the SS/E building. Although it happened many meters away and the colors in this orange haze were hard to determine, I suspected that the horse had been mine. I hurried to the building, jumping the ore cart tracks and ducking behind piles of ore. I found the back of the building and entered with as much stealth as possible.