The Golem-Maker's QuestSome animals sleep in trees to avoid the lions, tigers and other predators that stalk the jungle. I use the same principle for survival. When I finally have time to sleep, I wrest a stepladder from a gnome, climb up one of the golems, onto the part hooks and sleep in the rafters. Height isn't his strong point - he can't be bothered to climb that far to find me.
"You! Wake up!"
I yawned and blinked. I looked straight into the half-crazed eyes of Golem Lord Argelmach, who was, displaying admirable agility for a dwarf, perching on a golem part hook.
"Let me sleep just a little longer..." I curled up in a ball again.
"You've been asleep for three days, you lazy bastard!" he snapped. He reached for something to throw at me but couldn't find anything except his favourite spanner, which already had a dent in it. He was probably worried about it but didn't have time to fix it. Come to think of it, he looked a little rough. His hair looked like he had tried to shave it with a thresher and his eyes looked like they had at some point been replaced with new ones and then he had broken the new ones.
I just shrugged in reply. It could be true. There was no way to measure the passage of time in this place.
"I have an urgent request of you." he said, "You will follow me."
I sighed, hopped off my perch and made my way down to the floor. He pointed at the wall with his wrench.
"Now, the route we are taking and the area you are entering is forbidden." he said, "You will wear a blindfold at all times. You will not take it off until I give you permission."
I gasped in mock amazement.
"You mean to say that the lights actually WORK somewhere in this place?"
He didn't look amused, so I just took the blindfold. I was used to suddenly being plunged into complete darkness by now. I expected a long walk, perhaps up the Spire, maybe even right to the top of the Upper Spire. I was quite surprised when I was pushed by a dwarf on a stepladder with wheels through what I always believed to be a solid wall. I felt a sickening tingling feeling that sent static electricity down my spine, then the comfortable heat drained out of me and I was somewhere as cold and blue as the grave. I didn't need to be able to see to know that I was somewhere utterly forbidden, not only by Argelmach, but by the creators of this world, sealed forever unto mortals except those shadowy half-people who stood at the right hand of the Gods and mocked us all. I was committing a great sin just by being here. I was grateful for the blindfold. I didn't want to know what kind of things happened here. The music was deceptively pleasant - it sounded like 'Purification of Darkness' from the Grandia 2 OST.
Then I heard his voice again.
"As you may have noticed if you were being at all attentive, we were infested by adventurers last night." he said, "Unfortunately, there were five of them and they were a lot more powerful than the kind we usually have to deal with. Despite his best efforts, my most recent physical shell was overpowered and the adventurers managed to remove its head."
"They... decapitated him?" This made me feel slightly sick, even though I knew that Argelmach was mechanical. The adventurers didn't know that, after all. Were they such barbarians that they stole people's heads?
"This is the twentieth head I've lost this week alone." continued the voice, "Our thorium veins are running low. As for the jewels I make the eyes from... I cannot afford to keep replacing my physical shell. I need those heads back, boy."
"I have been... investigating the problem." he continued, "A certain company in Ironforge is paying quest-givers a great deal of money to employ adventurers to obtain my heads. They are selling them for raw materials on the streets of Ironforge for double the profit."
"I want you to go and relinquish the heads for me, boy."
"Er..." I stepped back. The wall had handily solidified. "To Ironforge?"
"It isn't as bad as its made out to be. I usually disguise myself as a Dwarf."
"You want me to... let me get this right... sneak into Ironforge, steal your head and escape with it. From Ironforge."
"Not A head! I need at least 250."
"Don't worry. They pack them in crates of 50. You'll just need to steal five crates."
"How do I even lift a box of fifty solid thorium golem heads?"
"Oh, they're not THAT heavy. They're not solid."
"Mr. Argelmach, sir..." I sighed, trying to think of a way to phrase it so that I wouldn't have the life thrashed out of me with a spanner, "Do you give out quests often?"
"I dare say I don't usually have the leisure to think them up."
"Usually, when a quest giver asks you to collect things or kill things, they ask for eight or ten or twelve. Not 250."
"They have thousands of people per day going for their quests." he explained, folding his arms, "It must add up to millions of quest items handed in per day. Certainly, they can afford to pay out their quest rewards and still make a 500 profit. I have only you." after a moment's consideration, he added "And you are useless and incompetent."
"Speaking of quest rewards..."
"If you bring them back to me within three days, your punishment shall be less merciless."
I sighed. If his sudden passion for creative quest-giving ended here, that would be mercy enough.
"One more thing..." he said, "Do not worry about death."
"I'm afraid its one of the things I worry about every day, sir."
"You will not remain dead for long." he promised.
"You have a priest in here?"
"I do not need to resurrect in order to immortalise." he said.
"You wouldn't!" I gasped.
"I know, a copy of something faulty is even more faulty. One day you may stop moving altogether. But I will do my best to correct the mistakes made by your creators. I have lived in a world I control for too long, it will be refreshing to have to correct for so many errors again." he said. I could hear him drumming his fingers on his desk, "Leave now. Do not forget that you have stood in the presence of the original Argelmach, and that he still lives. Nobody knows that. I have taken pains and made deals beyond your feeble imagination to ensure that it will remain that way. Do you understand?"
I nodded. Then I walked backwards through the wall. It worked this time. I removed the blindfold and shook my hair away from my eyes. A piece of paper fell on my head.
"Oh, don't you lot start." I sighed. Another piece of paper replaced it.
I CAN TANK.
A short pause. Then, from the other direction:
I CAN HEAL.
"Now you're just making things up."
TWO GOLEMS LFM.
OKAY, THREE GOLEMS LFM.
I sighed. It was going to be a quest of annoyingly epic proportions.