194 Chapter 191 Tinker Town
The city was well lit, with the light seeming to come from the barrier. In fact, as Joseph looked up, he realized he could see an illusion of the sky above. Impressed, he noted that for future possibilities and headed for the alley that was before them. As they walked between the buildings, they saw many more of the tiny golems working to keep the city in good order.
Stepping out onto the street, they saw gnomes trundling around with their daily activities, but as soon as one saw them, he stopped in his tracks and stared. It wasn't long before every gnome on the street had seen them. None of them seemed to know what to do, and just stood where they were, frozen.
"Excuse me," said Joseph to the nearest gnome. "I'm looking for the library, could you please direct me in that direction?"
The gnome pointed towards the center of the street, not even trying to speak, still gaping at them.
"Thank you," he said, with a small nod, and they turned down the closest road that led in that direction.
Stella slid her arm into his, much to his delight, and they walked down the road at a leisurely pace, admiring the gears that turned for some purpose or another on the walls and sides of buildings. Some formed intricate designs, meant to dazzle and stun, while others seemed to have actual reasons for their placement. A few buildings had holes cut into the walls to allow gears and machinery to poke out.
Everywhere they went, the gnomes would stop dead in their tracts and watch as they went by, unable to move or speak until they had moved on. Stella seemed to be enjoying it immensely, but Joseph started to wonder what was going on. He paused to look around, as they came to a small clearing. Small golems and constructs were flying and crawling all over the area, mimicking birds and small creatures, as they also upkept the buildings and streets. Every gnome he could see had stopped by this time. Turning, Joseph could see that the gnomes they had passed by already, had followed them, forgetting whatever task they were on.
An explosion in the building next to him, had Joseph reacting immediately.
The debris from the explosion hit the wall and fell harmless to the ground. The gnome that also flew at them hit the wall, but Joseph twisted his hand and instead of a solid surface, the wall twisted with his hand, depositing the gnome in front of him, unharmed from the impact with the wall.
Glancing into the building, Joseph could see flames licking at everything.
The gnome coughed and patted himself down. His whiskers were pure white, and the top of his head was shiny and bare, except for the little bit of soot that marred it.
"Thank you, thank you," said the gnome, not really glancing at him, and he turned back to his workshop. "Come inside and I'll recompense you for the service."
With a wave of his hand, the gnome started back towards the open hole in the wall before them.
Raising her eyebrow in amusement, Stella followed Joseph as they followed the gnome inside. The ceiling brushed the hair on the top of his head, making him want to duck, but Joseph refused.
The gnome rummaged under a table laden with half started projects and finally reappeared, completely covered in dust, holding up a leather bag.
"Ah! Here we are! Alright…" he took off his glasses, which had miraculously survived the explosion, and wiped them off with a grey rag off the table, before putting them back on. His eyes blinked a few times, oversized in the glass of his spectacles, as he took in who he had invited into his workshop.
Joseph looked around calmly, noting the large mech that was the source of the explosion, positioned in the corner, before turning back to the gnome that seemed to have frozen just like all of the other gnomes.
"Is this a common greeting for their race?" asked Stella, barely glancing at the mech and focusing on the little man who stood barely two feet tall.
"I believe it may be a side affect from lack of contact with those from outside the city. I wonder if the shock will linger for very long?"
At the sound of their words, the old gnome shook himself and held out the leather bag.
"I promised to pay ye, for saving me the pain of that hard knock, and I don't back down from my word."
Joseph stepped forward and took the small bag, hefting it curiously, before opening it up and pouring a few coins out onto his open palm. They were made of a particular metal that he didn't recognize.
It seemed to be a material that should have been unstable in normal atmosphere, but a chemical overcoat seemed to keep it stable.
"Is that silver?" asked Stella, not able to get a good look.
"It's trit. In one of my other lives it was used as a material to build space ships with, but it was too unstable in the atmosphere of a planet to be used for anything else. They've coated it in a chemical to stabilize it."
"Is that good?" she asked.
"It's fantastic," he said, straightening up and replacing the coins in the leather bag. "I'll have to run some experiments on it later to see just what it can do."
She nodded in understanding. Anything new was always exciting for him.
"You know what it is, just from looking at it?" asked the gnome. His huge fluffy eyebrows wiggled in curiosity.
Stella stifled her groan as Joseph smiled.
"I can tell some things," he said, moving over to the worktable and looking over the scattered objects.
She leaned against a stable section of the wall, glancing outside at the curious gnomes that were peeking in, as Joseph and the gnome quickly fell into a deep conversation on the various methods of tinkering. This was going to take a while; she could just tell.