It just wouldn’t do, the tension was good, the firing mechanism worked perfectly, why was the aim so far off.
“Krit damn you, you piece of chit’o scrap.” Fiora threw the hand bow across her workshop, admittedly, not that far. It clattered loudly against the wall, just below a rough drawn target, many bolts imbedded around the outside of it.
As a member of the Dwear family, everything she invented was to be for the benefit of the grand gnomish family, sadly, she hadn’t felt like she had contributed much in the past two years.
Fiora, standing three and a half feet tall, oil stained leather apron, laden with tools, copper and blue hair tied in plaits down her back, surveyed the cramped workshop she had first rented two years ago. Shelves and work benches littered with failed devices, broken gadgets and indecipherable scribbling from late night brainstorms.
She had no order, no space to breath, no room to grow as an inventor, as she walked over to pick up her latest, failed, creation, her fathers words came back to haunt her.
“Balance in all things, balance brings many parts together, as a whole.” Miran Ald-Dwear had said these words like a prayer, every morning, before heading out to his workshop, he would kiss the heads of his children and mutter the prayer. Every night before the evening meal, surrounded by his wife and children, he would proudly speak the prayer again, as they held hands and thanked the family for their blessings.
Only Fiora had followed their fathers calling as a tinkerer, his disgrace, when they discovered that some of his inventions had been used by the fell gnome, Junasa, had left the family fractured and bereft.
Nobody stood for their fathers defence, at the time, Fiora was still considered a child, and she did not understand what was happening when he was put to trial over the use of his inventions by the fell gnome.
He had claimed ignorance, merely solving theoretical problems for Junasa, his devices were never intended to actually be used, but the shame had been too much for him, although he was found innocent of the foul deeds, the damage had been done.
He lost his tinkerers writ and workshop, unable to take commissions, he had spent his last years fixing mining equipment, struggling to find happiness in his penance, then their had been an accident at the mines, and he never came home again.
Her brothers and sisters had chosen the paths of builders, carpenters and scholars, her eldest brother had long ago showed a talent for magic, rare in gnomes, and had long since gone to train at the Lithing Well.
They all adopted the grand family name of Dwear, instead of the immediate family name of Ald-Dwear, in an attempt to leave the shame behind.
Not a one carried on the craft of tinkerer, that was, until Fiora came of age and picked up her fathers tools.
“Balance in all things.” She said, looking at the bow in her hand, she was pleased with all the separate mechanisms, proud even, but together they didn’t function as intended. The weight of the thing made it impossible for a gnome to aim, maybe if she used a different alloy for the springs? Made it lighter somehow? Altered the bolt cartridge to hold four instead of six bolts?
Absentmindedly she picked up some chalk and started doing calculations on a work top, casually pushing miscellaneous contraptions and past projects out of the way, as she buried herself in her work.
She would reclaim her family’s honour, she would build glorious inventions that made the family proud, maybe even earn herself a bigger workshop.
As she took the bolt cartridge out of the hand bow she considered the options for making it smaller.
“Huh, it would be much easier to make it bigger” she said to herself, a stray thought about the towns defence ballista, popping into her head, she wrote a note on the metal surface of the table top, circling it twice with the thick white chalk.
The evening whistle called out shrilly in the distance, without realising it, the whole afternoon had been spent drawing designs and dismantling the hand bow. There was a lot of work still to be done, tomorrow she could have a new, lighter grip made, and, maybe, even make a start on the new cartridge?
Glancing over the equations a thought occurred to her, what if this wasn’t meant to be used by a gnome? A human might be able to use it with a degree of accuracy, but who could she get to test it? Most of the humans in Lowesteppe were merchants, or labourers, gnomes saw the benefit of having the bigger, stronger humans around to help where it was more practical, the only place that didn’t have at least one human on staff was Junasa’s old estate, now home to Fiora’s adopted brother.
And then she found her balance, like a perfectly forged gear slotting in to place, a way to honour her father, and regain some respect in the gnomish community. A perfect way to test her weapons out with someone stronger, it was all about balance.
If only her father was still here to see it.
That night, over dinner, Fiora said the prayer, the first time she had since her father passed. After the meal she thanked her mother, kissed her on the cheek and went to bed, the next day was going to be busy, so much work to do, and she had to pay a visit to a certain goblin.