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POV Bharelsia– Bharelsia is the Daughter of Stone. She is a part of the leadership group of the Stoneskin Clan. She has shown to be a talented qi manipulator, however not in combat, like all dwarves, her speciality lies in making and organising. Similar to when Mother created the design and implemented the transformation of the Alpine Forest, using qi from the Land Core; Bharelsia was the planner and manipulator of the Dwarven Stronghold. It was a simpler task, although Benzhi assisted her due to her inexperience. With experience who knows what she is capable of.
‘It was extremely easy for Benzhi to say…”Build a city for the people of Vaugend, right here. Outside your front door”…it took him moments to utter those words. But I am the one who has to make it happen. Does that freakin idiot have any idea what is involved? I should make him dig the terraces into the rockface, freakin asshole,’ Bhar thought to herself as she worked through all the details of what had to be done.
Building works had begun in earnest outside the dwarven stronghold. Makeshift lean-tos and tents were sprawled across the mountainside, using the natural formation of the rock for cover from the wind where possible.
Bhar was managing hundreds of men, three hundred dwarves and a hundred grey elves, who kindly offered to help. Also, one hundred Gaels who happily worked as labourers.
Fortunately, Benzhi had set up portals, to and from their homes, so not all workers had to be accommodated onsite.
Most dwarves had curtailed their normal daily routine to a minimum to join the workforce. Hundreds of Vaugend immigrants who had arrived were sharing the makeshift accommodation and tents provided by the grey elves, as their own dwellings had come along at a rapid pace. The grey elves went so far as to double up on all their living space to be of more assistance. As building in the glade progressed, they would be able to relieve the cramped living conditions.
Out of three hundred dwarves, half were assisting with the engineering, planning and building. A hundred were collecting resources for the building works, and the rest were providing support by providing food and general chores that always needed doing.
Despite having their own dwellings to build, they grey elves sent one hundred people to assist with the initial works, and once a semblance of order was established, they could go back to working on their own homes, bless their tiny little elf hearts.
The Gaels were freakin stong, and they could work all day at an outstanding rate. They were following her engineer’s instructions and flattening the terrain into the planned terraced city. By utilising the rockface, less stone had to be carted to the site, and natural structural advantages were being leveraged to save time and work.
The city would eventually look like giant steps up the natural incline. The engineers had planned water capture and storage at the very top which would enable a gravity fed system to keep the city clean and water. A damn sight of an improvement from that shitehole they came from in Vaugend. Should have been called Smellyend, Bhar thought.
Despite Benzhi asking the ridiculously stupid of them, and then prancing around saying nice things to everyone, while she did all the hard work, and had to yell at everyone to stop everything going balls up. Bhar was quite happy how the Alpine Forest community had come together.
The wood elves were doing their best to keep everyone fed with some additional mean from the Gaels to supplement all the forest harvested green, beige and brown stuff the woodies supplied.
Benzhi, the stupid freakin idiot, was good for one thing, those portals were useful. He had gone off to add all the cores to the Glade and said powering them is not an issue. At least that was one less thing Bhar had to worry about.
Bhar joined her engineers and site managers for their predawn meeting, stuffing her face with food before entering the planning room in the Dwarven stronghold.
“The road, where are we at with that?” Bhar asked the room. The wood elf architect, Radelia was quiet, she only spoke when she had something important to say or to stop what she thought was a mistake. Her two main engineers did most of the arguing, they were good, but she often had to knock sense into them. And the best of all was Kindeag, who worked on supplying stone, he needed no instruction, you just asked the dwarf for stone, and it happened. His main mine leaders were requisitioned and assigned to lead the labourers in building the foundation. So he made it happen without his best people. Lastly, there was the Gael Ulfgrim who’s role it was to keep his people happy and safe and working hard. He really did not have any expertise other than being a very good leader.
“The road has to be central to reduce lateral traffic,” the old engineer said.
“No, the road has to be on the easternmost edge to reduce the incline down into the valley,” the younger engineer argued.
“I don’t see how either will slow down construction, but we need to plan where the road enters the city now, after today it is set in stone, no changes,” Bhar instructed.
“If the road exits at the centre, initially curves to the east and follows the city wall, then another curve of the same angle south, it will hug the mountainside and look picturesque,” Radelia, the elf architect, offered.
Bhar didn’t give a shite about picturesque normally, only if it did not cost them, beauty was in the form and decoration could be added later, however, whenever Radelia spoke, which was rare, she tended to be spot on. She had hit on a solution that satisfied both dwarven engineers and the works of a longer road would not slow down the building of the dwellings it could be done after.
It could also have certain defence aspects, if an army had to use to the road, they would be under the wall for longer.
“Done, add that to the plan,” she said to the younger engineer before any more unnecessary points were brought up, “gate in the centre, the road to be specked in south, curving east, following the wall, then curving south again. Allow Radelia to draw the curvature after surveying the terrain.”
The meeting then discussed the day's work schedule, materials needed, workers needed. All the details that Benzhi didn’t have to deal with. Freakin bastard.
Back to normal POV Benzhi
“The armours should be ready today,” he said, “Nasven and the…’
“His name is Aeson,” Anastasia interrupted, “I feel bad when you call him the Master Tailor, he has a name you know. Be more thoughtful and learn peoples names.” As time went by, Anastasia became more comfortable with the Vanguard. Finding her place and voice. She was never shy on advising Benzhi in relation to certain matters, perhaps not in regards to combat strategy and qi manipulation, but certainly as a moral compass and how he treated people.
Benzhi looked sheepish, “ah, Okay, Nasven and A..e..son were putting the final touches on yesterday,” he sounded out the word as it was his first time saying the grey elf master tailors name.
Reyas slapped Benzhi’s shoulder playfully, both in punishment for being bad and congratulations for saying the master tailors name.
Gisael was usually above such activity as she was this time, she sat straight-backed and asked in her melodic voice, “have you decided what you want us to do once equipped?”
The armour would complete the plans that Benzhi put in motion ever since the skills of the dwarves became apparent. Everyone in the Vanguard now possessed a qi weapon and would soon possess qi armour. After the dwarves and other crafters got past the urgent building works, they would start to outfit the warband with qi weapons and armour.
The dwarven contingent was already well equipped, as they had been mining and crafting for the Clan for years. However, the Gaels could certainly use upgrades, being on the front lines they were in the most need compared to the Guardians who could use range and cover to stay out of harm's way. Effectively every Guardian used a qi bow, if they did not possess qi arrow, they would not be a Guardian in the first place.
“We have the issue of a possible threat from the Myrkalfar, the QWP and the Demon Lords, whoever they are,” Benzhi started with summarising the situation.
“The good news is, the Alpine Forest is not their enemy, I am, the only danger to the Alpine Forest would be if the QWP or Myrkalfar found out about the grey elves, which according to the Seer is unlikely, but not impossible,” Benzhi said.
“We do not worry about unlikely, anything is possible, it is possible the world would end. It is possible an earthquake will destroy everything, let us worry only about real threats,” Gisael advised.
Benzhi nodded, “it is minor, from what the Seer has informed us, they have only spoken to me.”
“Benzhi,” Anastasia said delicately, “ah, I know you are close with Huineng, the Seer, but…we cannot assume everything he tells us is fact. If you do, we could be in great trouble and not even know it, or alternatively, you could think we are in great trouble, and in fact, we are not.”
Benzhi nodded solemnly, “everything he says must be weighed carefully. He has never outright betrayed us or put anyone in harm's way. When I put him to the test, he passed, but….the old man is cunning beyond belief. He has told me things just to get me to act a certain way, a way which suited him, that I later found out, the premise was untrue. These lies are often surrounded by truth, to hide in, or they could just be speculation … which allows me no conclusion but to act a certain way.”
“All I know is, if he were against us, the Myrkalfar or someone, would have been here already, a month ago at least. And on the contrary, you can trust that whatever he says is for his benefit, which may or may not coincide with ours,” Benzhi finished.
Anastasia and Gisael nodded, Reyas merely looked hurt. She had taken the revelations about the Seer to heart, but dare not tell her people, he had caused them no harm, in fact, the Seer had been beneficial to the Clans, but he had deceived them.
Anastasia was solemn, “it’s not easy having someone on your team that you can’t fully trust, especially if you like them. But I cannot think of any advice to give you, other than to limit his involvement as much as possible.”
Benzhi nodded slowly, “I have been doing that since I finished the tower in Dawnharbour, although they are probably our most terrifying enemy, the Myrkalfar gave me information that made me trust no one from the QWP, you and the Seer included.”
“Why did they give you that information?” Reyas asked she had only Benzhi’s story of the events in Dawnharbour to go by.
Benzhi laughed, “because they had no idea that I wasn’t just another QWP representative, they viewed me as one that should take over the QWP operation in Dawnharbour due to my qi manipulation level.”
Anastasia had lived for over seventy years on Earth and sometimes much wiser than Benzhi, “it is because, like most people, using the term loosely, they use reflection when judging behaviour. They expect you to act like they would have, given the roles were reversed. They did not consider you would be very different. Which is surprising given how powerful they are. That is a rookie mistake.”
“We say noob now Anastasia, not rookie,” Benzhi continued to upgrade her lingo education.
She waved it away annoyed, “that is hardly important now.”
“Agreed,” said Gisael who had been quiet. “We know that possible enemies are looking for Benzhi. These enemies, mostly have no interest in the Alpine Forest itself,” she said concisely. “It is easy to determine that Benzhi needs to leave the Alpine Forest for some time, removing the threat.”
Reyas gasped. Anastasia sat uncomfortably.
Benzhi had been solemnly nodding, all afternoon, and continued to do so.
“She is right,” he said, “I should leave. It is the best way to protect the people of the Alpine Forest, I am the one putting them at risk.”
Gisael sighed, “you are still stupid sometimes. We will go with you and clear a trade route like you wanted, all the way to Loctris. This way we are away from the Alpine Forest and still achieving something for it. The only people in danger would be the ones travelling with you. But since when has that not been the case?”
“We will keep you away for a time, once in Loctris there are things you will want to do, and if the enemy finds you, it will be far away from the Alpine Forest.” She arched her brow, Gisael was exceedingly beautiful and competent at the same time.
“Ok, it's been decided then. Good chat.” Benzhi laughed at his own joke and, for once, so did everyone else.