||[Oct. 19th, 2005|09:42 am]
The door at the end of the hallway past the hall of dog armor was chained and had a padlock in surprisingly good condition on it. Determined to explore it today, I had brought my lockpicks.|
Lockpicking is one of those glamorous skills that you think would be really handy for an explorer, and turns out not to be. Surprisingly few cultures use conventional locks, and on the off chance you’re looking for a lost colony or expedition from one of them, generally by the time you find the lock, it’s been rusted or gummed up for so long there’s nothing you can do with it. The few times that one may have a working lock, it’s usually faster and more efficient to simply apply the proper tool (i.e. Heinrich.)
If one is looking to be an explorer, therefore, I suggest one take up darning. One may or may not ever encounter a lock in the darkest wilds, but it’s a given that one’s clothes will be more hole than cloth by the end of an expedition.
At any rate, finding my lockpicks in the jumble of our no-longer-organized camp was the hardest part. It was a very large lock with only two tumblers, and even as unskilled as I am, it didn’t take very long to pick. There was even a handy gear embedded sideways in the floor that made a convenient seat. I unwrapped the chain and pushed the door open with a creak.
The room revealed was a small cube about ten feet on a side, floored with flagstones (the walls were still sand-colored concrete) with a square stand in the middle of the room. On the stand was a gong, and hanging next to it, a mallet.
The gong was beaten copper, the only design a simple, tightly wound spiral, but as if to make up for this restraint, the metalsmith had gone completely overboard with the mallet, and not in a good way. The head was a kneeling, nude woman, mostly human but with the flayed, pop-eyed skull of some gnawing rodent. Enormous chisel-like buck-teeth made up one end, and squared off buttocks the other. Each of the six breasts that the artist had seen fit to bestow on this figure extended off the head of the mallet, and wrapped down the ebony haft in a tight spiral, holding it in place, and ending in an ornate fringe of nipples at the end cap. Perhaps feeling that his creation had not gone quite far enough, the artist had worked each nipple into the likeness of a screaming chisel-toothed mouth, except for one that was a tiny, ornate chrysanthemum.
“Yow,” I said.
Heinrich didn’t have to say anything. I could feel his eyebrows go up from across the room.
Bolted to the front of the platform was a metal plaque with carefully inscribed letters:
PLEASE DO NOT STRIKE GONG
While we fully understand that you are curious as to what
happens when the gong is struck, we must strongly advise
against it. The results are most unpleasant and dramatically
fatal. Human nature being what it is, we realize that this
warning may not stop you, and may in fact only drive you
to strike it, but since we are unable to destroy the gong,
and the lock was evidentally insufficient to keep you out,
we can only hope that you will take our advice. There are
neither riches nor knowledge here, but only an ugly death.
The Monks of Perdition
Under this plaque was another, much smaller and more discreet one that said simply:
In Memory of Brother Wu
Heinrich and I read this plaque through. I made a careful rubbing of it. Then we left the room and re-locked the door behind us.
Our readers may be disappointed at this lack of adventurous spirit on our part, and perhaps rightly so, but one doesn’t get to be an old adventurer without learning when to leave well enough alone.
<---- DO NOT PULL THE LEVER!
"Can't 'elp it. I'm a born 'leever-pooler'."
-Ringo Starr, Yellow Submarine
2005-10-19 01:23 pm (UTC)
Eland is a wise antelope
No matter how stupidly daring I am some times, I'd still leave that gong alone.
Noticed a small typo: "was chained and had a padlock in surprisingly ____ condition on it." Missing an adjective there. :)
2005-10-19 01:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Eland is a wise antelope
The librarian thanks you and has beaten the acolyte responsible.
Shades of The Magician's Nephew...
Eland has conquered where Digory failed!
"Heinrich, tell Timmy I have a job for him."
design document that was around a few years back tried incredibly hard to overcome the "explore anyway" inclination. Unfortunately that document/site no longer seems to be available; however I managed to locate this fragment:
This place is not a place of honor. No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here. Nothing of value is here. This place is a message and part of a system of messages. Pay attention to it! Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
Is it overly analytical of me to suggest that the monks may have undermined their stated purpose somewhat by providing a handy (if grotesque) hammer alongside their sequestered gong?
It's almost as if they want someone to ignore the warning...
I think we can assume the monks didn't provide the hammer and that - like the gong - it proved to be immpossible to remove, and indestructible.
Classic episode. Thank you.
Musn't... Strike... The Gong... Musn't... Don't...
now you've gone and done it!!!
We will never know, unless someone makes Gearworld into a movie* of course, precisely what manner of death awaits the one who strikes the gong, but I can envision it has something to do with the dog armor coming back to life. Don'cha think?
* Movies never pass up the opportunity for that sort of thing, whether it contradicts the book or not.
Nah. The gong's just not very well made and tends to topple over and squish people who gong it.
Don't...bogart the gong...duuuuude...
I wouldn't ring the gong because, one it obviously says not to ring it. And two, the mallet is just way to icky to touch. :P
Egads. That is such the cute user icon!
Lockpicking is one of those glamorous skills that you think would be really handy for an explorer...
Is that irony, or id Eland just weird?
I know a rather famous RPG scenario that has a gong in a lost city... Hitting it draws the attention of a whole city of Dark Elves. From what I've heard, most parties who went through that did hit the gong.
I've got a general question: Ursula, what do you feel about people drawing Gearworld fanart?
I believe she's said before that it's alright.
PLEASE DO NOT STRIKE GONG
Arrrrrgh.... Must... Strike... Gong... MUST... STRIKE... GONG!!!!!!!
I'd be tempted to throw something at the gong, and then run. :P
I'm glad I'm not the only one who would be tempted to do that...
I wouldn't even be tempted to strike the gong. Maybe I'm weird.
lol at least he got to reading the warning. i have role played with people that would have either, run straight up to the gong and struck a note on it, or would have read and struck anyway not because they thought it was a good idea (which they most likely didnt) but mostly to be a nuisanse.
Um, can we get art of the mallet? Because, dayum, I so want that mallet. :P
Pottery Barn just doesn't cut it for some things...
Maybe the grim power dwelt in the mallet alone, and the gong was just a regular mundane standard Gongs'R'Us model. Of course, it would take experiment to find out, and Brother Wu's passing probably dampened the Monks' curiosity.
Ooh, Gongs'R'Us! I love shopping there!
So, were you supposed to whack the gong with the woman's butt or with her head?
Lockpicking actually can come in very handy for an explorer, but not in the way that seems most obvious.
Let's say you happen to need permission from a particular bureaucracy to finance your voyage... "It's on file already, just check it."
Because you know that Heinrichs den, back home, is the iconic perfection of tasteful rustic charm, mostly in earth tones.
Don't offend the fashion sense of a 700 lb critic.
Personally, I'd have stood in the corridor, one hand on the door handle, and chucked small rocks at the gong, and certainly avoided touching the unpleasant mallet.
Did you ever see that old DuckTales movie, where their guidebook said that in the case of booby traps they should use their marbles? For the rest of the show they stood way clear of the trip switches and used a a bag of marbles and a slingshot to see what they'd do. It was different every time.
Come to think of it, I think one involved a giant Indiana Jones Ball-type GEAR!!
And I have visions of Diggory in Charn flashing through my head--if only the inscribers of that gong had been so kind...
He'd still have done it. He had a girl to be the voice of reason.
2005-10-20 12:09 am (UTC)
The entire warning just made me want to strike the gong more.
Damn you Human Nature!
Why do you think is the reason we were designed like that?