Chapter 55: Dwarfs
As night fell, Frostaxe ended the day's work as he went up from the underground dwarven city to Norland on the surface.
"Great Elder, I'm going to crush these fools beneath my flagon! I'll head off first!"
"Shut your gob and get lost!"
Frostaxe stared at the young dwarfs as he watched their figures disappeared into the corners of Norland's streets. Stroking his white beard, he let out a sigh.
He was older than Norland itself, and he was one of the first dwarfs to have discovered the ruins beneath the city, a pioneer of the underground ruins and… the builder and founder of the city of Norland.
From Norland initially being a village of mages to the most prosperous city in the world, Frostaxe had seen his fair share of trouble the length of his beard.
But times had changed, and even a long-lived dwarf will still age, even if he was the Great Elder of the Frostaxe Clan.
With Frostaxe's aged body, he can no longer be like those younger dwarfs holding and gorging upon wooden flagons of beer until he was satisfied.
The older a person gets, the more they like to seek excitement, and dwarfs were no exception to this principle.
What Frostaxe loved to do lately was to roam around the streets of Norland to see the changes that have taken place in the city he had built himself.
The recent preparations for the World Exhibition had brought many new faces to Norland. Frostaxe could see several new shops every time he came to a street, although most of them were selling girly dresses or those troublesome mages thingamajigs.
And today, he found a tavern on Commercial Street, a tavern named Hearthstone.
Dwarvenkind had a very unique pub culture, and all of the dwarfs had heard their own mother shouting at them, saying, "You sorry lots are what I got after I lost in a drinking game!"
Frostaxe, who was already hundreds of years old, was no longer interested in those rowdy, noisy pubs, but this tavern known as the Hearthstone was unexpectedly quiet.
To describe it as quiet was praise, and when Frostaxe walked in, he only found one or two people inside it.
"Welcome… Please feel free to find a seat."
Coming up to Frostaxe was a little girl… or a little boy?
Frostaxe looked at the human with wooden-framed glasses. It did not matter to him whether the child was a boy or a girl. In any case, any races that were taller than him were ugly in his eyes, and more pertinently he found their body size hideous. To him, the epitome of female dwarven beauty was that of a size of a barrel!
Frostaxe took a liking to this quiet tavern, as he followed the human into the tavern and sat down.
The moment the light armor worn by Frostaxe and his body weight lay upon the chair, the entire floor creaked.
"Do… you need anything?"
Ynor looked at the old dwarf before him. The job in the tavern was a proper job, but his past experience in running errands back then was not as good now. He had a place to live and the opportunity to go to school and study. Compared with the last time when he could just eke out a living, it was far, far better.
So after returning from school, Ynor volunteered to be one of the tavern's staff.
"Do you have Daxian Liquor here?"
Frostaxe did not look at the menu, the liquor provided by a tavern were mostly the usual fare, lousy ale, or not-so-lousy ale, or that premium black rye mead from Byskel, the Nation of Steel, or the red wine that those pompous elves loved to drink.
These drinks had long been tasteless for Frostaxe, and he had recently taken a liking to a liquor from Daxia. It was a clear liquor, and drinking a bottle felt like his throat was burning.
Ynor nodded as he immediately ran back to the back of the bar counter. One of the alcohol supplier Melina had talked to came from Daxia, so such alcohol was indeed offered.
"I want the best!"
Frostaxe yelled out loud, and his voice echoed throughout the tavern, but soon another voice replaced his.
"Sorry but my magic will tear you into pieces."
What was going on?! Did a mage came to the tavern?
Frostaxe heard the voice and looked on curiously at the other side of the tavern, and noticed two unknown figures were at the corner of the tavern, but what really attracted Frostaxe's attention was that… their table was glowing!
"I… I won! Four-cost fireball!"
Ciri had a projection of a card in her hand, on it read "Fireball: Deal 6 Damage".
Joshua who was seated opposite of Ciri shrugged and could only watch as the character he controlled, Garrosh Hellscream, a warrior was struck in the face with the fireball and shattered into many pieces.
Joshua was testing out the gameplay of the arcade version of Hearthstone with Ciri. Before Joshua was the only finished prototype of the machine, and the version of Hearthstone within it was a very outdated version.
There were no deck editors, and only two professions available for selection, warrior and mage, that could be used. The deck too was a preset deck Joshua had set up in advance, as Joshua had meant to use this machine for testing.
The display of the arcade version of Hearthstone was a transparent screen on a table-sized tablet. Joshua had used the projection function of Hyrlan's device, allowing the cards to be projected before the players, but this was just an auxiliary feature.
The real gameplay was still to drag and click on the transparent screen.
Joshua and Ciri had tested for a total of twelve rounds since the afternoon until now. After Ciri had been defeated by Joshua eleven times in a row, and the smart petite mage had finally mastered the technique, and with a little luck, had beaten Joshua just now.
"Hurry! It's time for you to keep your promise."
Ciri could not describe her feelings when she had won.
Joshua had even specifically told her to say ‘sorry' before using Fireball or Pyroblast to go for the kill. That made Ciri realize how important the word ‘sorry' is for the mages.
If not for the fact that Ciri was an adherent of the God of Order and did not know how to cast Fireball, she might very well be doing just that if she were to cast it in the future.
"Willing better willing loser."
Joshua had made a bet with Ciri before starting the tests. As long as Ciri was able to beat Joshua within fifteen games, Joshua would promise Ciri something as long as it was not too excessive.
If she failed, Ciri will obediently return Hyrlan's atelier and complete the remaining original artworks.
"Have you completed the final parts of "Leon: The Demon"?"
What Ciri asked for surprised Joshua somewhat as the "not too excessive" request also included letting her go free.
He did not expect that the petite lady mage had already forgotten her status as a prisoner, and was more concerned about the script Joshua had shown her a few days ago. The preliminary script of "Leon: The Demon".
"I have not finished the final parts yet. I will only start filming the movie once I'm done with the production of Hearthstone."
Joshua had been busy coding these few days, and he had only written the start of the script on a whim and was discovered by Ciri who lived under the same roof.
After "Beauty and the Demon", Ciri had once again become a glorious member of the "Update PLS!" gang.
"Production…The original art you gave me still has about a hundred of them, but I have completed the basic card layout. Give me a few days."
Joshua had no complaints about Ciri's work efficiency. After Joshua had finished the outline in advance, she directly filled in the details and colored them.
Ciri was not in a hurry either. As long as she follows Joshua, she will be able to read the completed script of "Leon: The Demon", and participate in the filming of the movie!
This was what Ciri anticipated the most.
"Alright, the testing is almost done."
Joshua had planned to stop providing power to the machine as he felt a slight tremor on the ground.
A dwarf had been standing by the machine without him noticing with wide-opened eyes staring at the screen seemingly trying to figure out what the machine was.
That scene reminded Joshua of the first time he visited an arcade hall, and simply just stood behind someone watching them play, and only mustering the courage to try it out himself after a long while.
"Want to give it a try?" Joshua looked at the seemingly ancient old dwarf and asked.