Report #00013: The Upper Levels of Personal Transformation
I apologize for not numbering properly the last thing I filed. I was ill, in a hurry, and I suppose using the report as a means of making sure someone would know where I had run off to if I met my end out there. Still, that does not excuse abandoning proper procedure. As everyone learns at a very early age in Gnomeregan, there is no excuse for a poorly written report!
I did make it to the Storm Peaks. I did make it to Bouldercrag’s Refuge, though not exactly as I had intended to. My plan was to fly my gyrocopter right up to the small landing at the mouth of the cavern, but still land a decent enough distance from the gryphons that I wouldn’t upset them. The last place I clearly remember flying over was Frosthold. I remember looking down and wondering how they’re getting on down there with Icebellow leading them now. He’s a fine dwarf. Prince Muradin was right to leave him in charge, I suppose.
I was still in the air when the aches I had been feeling as part of my illness suddenly became intense, sharp pains. My skin felt like it was on fire and everything inside of me seemed to be stretching in every direction at once! I don’t remember crashing the gyrocopter, but I don’t see how I could have landed it. Either way, it hasn’t been found. The gyrocopter, the flying carpets… everything I was carrying with me is just gone. I even lost the beautiful amulet my dearest friend made for me. At least I can keep the memory of it. The stone was the color of my eyes, but it sparkled like the snow of Dun Morogh.
The way I made it to Bouldercrag Refuge was that the Earthen themselves went out to find me and carried me back there. I woke up wrapped in several coarse blankets, which I finally realized were sacks they’d torn open to spread out as blankets for me, and Brann was huddled up next to me the way he always sleeps. He hasn’t grown much since I took him in, but that little bear is as strong as any dwarf! Whatever exactly happened out there, it doesn’t seem like he left my side for even a minute.
Bouldercrag had already sent for my brother by the time I woke up. He had some materials for me to make myself something to wear, as my robes weren’t good for much besides cleaning rags at that point, and left me alone to get myself together a bit before we talked. What he explained to me was that they had suddenly become aware of my presence outside, still some distance from the refuge, in a way they never had been before. It was Andurg Slatechest and Blackmaw who went out to find me, and Bouldercrag was both surprised and felt the sudden awareness of my presence made sense once he saw me.
Something happened out there that no one knows how to explain. I left Ironforge the same as I’ve always been. Mostly… not taking into account how ill I’d been feeling. I was still likely to be mistaken for a gnome by any bloody git who hadn’t been around long enough to be told of my history. A tall gnome, mind you, but I was still within the proper height range, proper shape, squeaky little gnome voice. I still looked like I’d just been pulled from Gnomeregan the week before. When the Earthen found me, though… I suppose I wasn’t so ill, after all. I’d just caught dwarf.
I stand a bit taller than I did before. I suppose my brother will always call me “little one”, though, and he’d still be justified in doing so. Instead of looking like a tall gnome, I look a great deal more like a short dwarf. Not too short… there’s a fellow down near Kharanos, over where Rumbleshot sells his ammo, who is still considerably shorter than myself. I don’t think anyone’s going to be mistaking me for a gnome again, though. Besides being taller, I’m quite a bit more muscular and my face has taken on some distinctly dwarven features.
That being said, I still seem to be immediately recognized by those who know me. I suppose it helps that they can all recognize Brann, and they know he wouldn’t leave my side and go walk around with someone else. But it’s also that my face is still my face. My nose still turns up just a wee bit, and my eyes are still the same color. My lips still have about the same shape and color, and I don’t have any plans for changing my hair style. The buns work just fine for me. If anything, several folks have commented that I look more like myself now than I ever did before.
To be honest, I think that’s a hint of what really happened to me. I was just too much dwarf to fit inside a gnome any longer.
My brother collected myself and Brann, and Bouldercrag explained to him what they knew. I wasn’t very fit to explain anything myself at that point. Friginne took me as far as Dalaran, and then I needed to stop for a rest. We sat outside behind A Hero’s Welcome, and he arranged for my dearest friend to come see me. Yablo and Friginne got me through a lot of self-doubt and fear that night. And Yablo was patient with me while I tried to get my mouth to form words in Common properly again. Dwarven speech was flowing perfectly from my tongue, but even though I hadn’t forgotten a word of Common it just didn’t feel natural when I tried to speak it. It was as if I had to get my jaw and muscles to loosen up enough to form the words properly. I wish I’d tried writing some notes then… just to see if I could have written in Common any better than I was speaking it.
That trouble passed quickly enough, though. The only truly strange lingering effect I’ve noticed is that I am acutely aware of rocks. Stones, mountains, quarries… I can feel them. It’s like they’re a part of my own body, just not physically attached. My brother seems to think this may be because the feeling is so new for me… that I’m not feeling that connection any more than any other dwarf does, but that I haven’t got any way of simply holding it in the back of my mind yet.
I stood and looked at the Great Forge for a long time today. I’ve always tried to explain to outsiders who don’t understand the attraction of living inside a mountain that the lava that flows there is like the blood of Azeroth. That we are not living inside some dead cone of rock, but inside a living heart where the blood flows through and back out again into all the veins under the surface of the ground. I had no idea how right I was about that! It isn’t just the blood of land, but my own blood… the blood of every dwarf! When I finally managed to pull myself away from watching it, I felt that tears had run down my face. The heart of Ironforge Mountain is a treasure like none other.
When I went to see King Magni, he listened to me explain things in that very patient way he always does. And I’m so proud of Brann for just sitting at my feet and not trying to climb into the King’s lap this time! When I’d finished explaining myself, King Magni simple asked me, “And how do you feel, Fizzy? Are you well?” Everyone seems to keep asking that question when they talk to me, but I don’t really understand why. I told King Magni as much, and said I couldn’t imagine how I’d not be well since I feel like I’m finally a real dwarf! He smiled at me and said, “Fizzy, you’ve always been a real dwarf. I expect no less of you than I would from any other Stouthammer. When one of Ironforge’s finest champions… a member of the Argent Crusade, no less… will stand before me and attest that you are his own kin, I like to think I am a wise enough leader to know when not to question whether or not you are a real dwarf.” I was a bit ashamed of myself then, and assured him that I know enough not to doubt his wisdom.
He told me he had no more understanding of what had happened to me than Bouldercrag did, and he laughed when I told him what I think about just being too much dwarf to fit inside a gnome. “I wouldn’t bet against that idea!” he said. But in the end, he said I might be more of a mystery for his youngest brother to try to solve than himself. That he’s happy enough just to see one of Ironforge’s own return home safely.
I’ve never understood what it is that makes King Magni mention Brann Bronzebeard so often when I go in front of him.
I’ve decided not to be a mage anymore, though I promised I would continue to do research on runecasting… especially if I can find some other mage who’d be willing to help. I told him I’d like to train as a hunter, since no one laughs at the idea of me carrying a gun anymore. King Magni sent me over to the Military Ward with a note he wrote himself and had me give it to Olmin Burningbeard. I can’t say Burningbeard looked very happy about it. “I don’t much care how important you got to be with your spellcasting,” he told me, “because we don’t shoot snowballs out of these here rifles! His Majesty can say you’re an ambassador of whatever, but you just look like a little girl with a toy gun to me. Now, if you want to learn how to shoot anything besides your own foot, you’ll do as I tell you!”
That’s how I ended up in Kharanos running errands for everyone who wants me to. It’s mostly the same work I did early on in my mage training, but I suppose Burningbeard is trying to teach me discipline, and the folks in Kharanos are busy and can use the help.
It seems a bit like my life is going in circles. In some ways I’ve reached the beginning again, just like when I was rescued from Gnomeregan. I even had someone nearby to give me cheese again this time. It’s not a bad way to live. Every now and then, I wake up to find someone handing me a block of Dwarven Mild and it turns out I’m a dwarf.
Not a bad way to live at all.
– Fizzy Stouthammer