The dwarves delved deep under the mountains. They lived their whole lives underground, searching the earth for treasure. Their great hollowed mountains were the things of legend. They delved through earth and stone for their whole lives creating great mazes of tunnels. They have an elected chief, who rules for twenty years or his death whatever comes first. The chief makes all important decisions about where they will dig, shipping, and trade. All of the residents of the tunnels needed to agree on a chief, it was a long process, but left it so few could complain. The mines were a dangerous place where total corporation was necessary.
Elaghen was a young dwarf, since dwarves lived very long lives unless unfortunate accidents befell them, he was at the bottom of the latter. He worked along side his fellows harmoniously. There was the occasional squabble over who had found the gem but it all went to the chief. He worked close to the surface refining walls into smooth tunnels. There were a few others who worked with him. There were very few riches in the mined out tunnels near the surface.
The more riches that a dwarf contributed the more highly they were thought of by the chief and the community as a whole. Elaghen knew that he needed to contribute fifty pounds of gold to be able to get his own room in the communal quarters. He wasn’t going to find it up here. They chipped away and chiseled the walls to smooth, sleek sheets of rock. Eventually they would work their way down to areas that were not barren of precious metals. Every dwarf needed to pay his dues.
Elaghen hated being so close to the surface, the tunnels were hot and the pollen from the trees just outside of the door gave him allergies. The others did not seem so afflicted. His team was made of three dwarves, himself, Thoaknar, and Kip.
“So it’s fifty pounds of gold for our own room.” Kip said between hammer strikes. “Another fifty pounds and twenty pounds of emeralds for our own home away from the others. Eighty pounds of copper to add space to your home, which of course you will want to do since you start off with just a rock inlet with a bed.”
“Quit complaining,” Thoaknar muttered.
“If you hit a vein at the wrong time you might end up mining copper before you have enough for a house.” Kip worried.
“It will happen when it happens.” Thoaknar groaned.
They had all grown tired of Kips constant worrying.
They returned to the common room for the night ready to do the same thing the next day. They slowly worked their way down into the mountain leaving behind smooth walls. The deeper they went the rougher the walls were. Huge gouges were left behind from pickax strikes. Large piles of debris lingered along the base of the walls. Often the walls had to be expanded quickly, and side tunnels shot off as veins of ore were found, pockets dotted the walls where gems had been hacked out. They cleaned out the debris taking it to the surface and putting it outside adding to the sides of the mountain. This task alone took months of hauling. Smoothing the chewed up walls took even longer. The team enjoyed this work much more, since occasionally they would come across some metal missed by the previous miners. Just a few ounces but it was enough to excite them.
They worked faster to collect more metal missed by their forefathers, since these walls had not been mined for generations. Most of the work was happening deep within the mountain, nowhere near where they were working. They turned in their metals each day. Kip was counting the seconds until he had enough. Elaghen was just happy to be away from the entrance. They always left behind the smoothest walls they could, but these walls were not nearly as smooth as the entrance. The deeper they went into the mines the more they found that their predecessors had missed. They turned in pounds instead of ounces at the end of the day. Kip was excited when he turned in his second pound of silver.
“Can you imagine if we found a gold vein?” Kip gushed. “We would all be able to get our own quarters!”
“We told you not to worry.” Elaghen said smiling at his friend.
Before long they had gotten their own quarters and had been working on getting their homes. The deeper they went the less time it took to get things. Some of the tunnels they worked on had homes in them. Heavy curtains blocked off the entrances, the walls around them still needed to be smoothed. Their entrances were pushed deep into the rock. Elaghen couldn’t help but wonder what the insides looked like.
They found more and more gems as they cleared out the walls. They were all excited when they stumbled upon an emerald vein. there was thirty pounds for each of them. They were getting close to their goals.
“What do we do after we get out houses?” Elaghen asked. “I mean besides mining for copper to expand it.”
“There is a rumor that once you’ve turned in your second copper expansion you can petition the chief for a wife. You’ve got to ask first then you have to turn in five pounds of diamond, twenty of ruby, thirty emerald, forty sapphire, fifty topaz, and you have to bring in a pound of gold, three silver, nine copper, and three ounces of platinum.” Kip said. “I don’t know if the numbers are right…”
“And does he just give you a wife after that?” Elaghen asked, he would be turning in his last silver today and had a load of copper in his cart waiting.
“I guess?” Kip wasn’t too sure on this last part, he was the farthest from getting his house.
They worked diligently, Elaghen carved out his home and expanded it several times, the area they were in was rich with copper but poor with gems. They continued to smooth the walls. Kip had been right about the numbers after all when Elaghen asked the chief for a wife. They worked their way down the tunnels gathering up left behind jewels, and ore. There were almost too many for them to gather now. The walls were very rough there were veins everywhere. They were getting to newer portions of the tunnels.
Elaghen quickly met his requirement for the petition. He was presented with a lovely lady she seemed equally enamored with him. The two genders were kept separate until they were married. Shedwarfs would process the metals and gems getting them ready for trade. She seemed equally enamored with him. His home was large and easily accommodated both of them. He still went out to the mines and she went to the forges every day. They worked tirelessly.
She would bring home items for them to use, new china plates, wall sconces, heavy blankets, and bolts of fabric, he worked to expand their home. He liked it there, the draped fabric brought softness to all the hard stone.
“What did you have to do to be able to marry me?” She asked one night.
“I had to bring the chief five pounds of diamond, twenty of ruby, thirty emerald, forty sapphire, fifty topaz, a pound of gold, three silver, nine copper, and three ounces of platinum.” He said proudly.
“That is a lot. I can’t imagine how long that must have taken you. I had to smith a hundred ring with a hundred perfect cut gems.” She snuggled into their bed, “Was it worth all the work?”
He looked around the room and then at his wife. “Yes, it was.”