Thurgod's face betrayed feeling less readily than most, primarily because it's expressions were nearly void of movement in the upper face. His eyebrows might still move about, and the far regions of his face twitch as though trying to move his eyes emotively, but the expressions did not resolve. Oorgo was shocked at the expression, of extended jaw and knit brows, that was revealed despite the unholy band.
"Stallid, this part that I have repaired by my skill, it belongs to an augury golem, does it not?"
"You know it does. The augury golems were of your design."
Thurgod winced, "I fashioned them, indeed. And they dig very deep, searching for the rarest metal ores. That is why the Sixth Mine is here?"
Where a man might have approached uncomfortably close to the golem, Thurgod did not, but kept his distance of a few paces. "Then why, in the Queen's name, are there men down there? It was so that no men should risk those hot and hateful depths, tunnels and seams that despise mankind and light, that I constructed the augury golems."
"It was ordered that the mining not cease. With the augury golem out of commission I was forced to send worthless men..."
"What? Is it Stallid that is speaking?" Thurgod stepped closer to the silver golem, his nose turned upward, the movement he would make instead of cocking his head when other men squinted to see.
"You know it is."
"Then why do you call them worthless men? I built you to know that... that... that there was not such a thing," said Thurgod, drawing a corner of his nose tense.
"That is what they are called. It is how I know them."
With a sudden motion Thurgod lurched forward, catching the back of the golem's head with his left hand and drawing it down into his shorter forcefully, though with gentleness. Then in an instant he had pulled out the little metal strips again and was carefully investigating their grooves in his hands, and then under his nose. He replaced them carefully and stood Stallid up again.
"Do you remember the day you were fashioned, Stallid?"
"Tell me of it, servant."
"Of course I do not know from where in the ground came my substance. Yet I do remember the heat, as my metal was made hot and fluid, flushed around to take on a shape, though the shape was not mine. And then I arose, still red hot, but solid, and had mind as metal has. I stood before my lady, the great Queen, and there was told my duty. Why do you ask me to tell you this, Master?"
Thurgod's jaw quivered. He asked as though in a dry throat, "Stallid. Has another, besides myself, come and done the work of the smith-god, to change metal by mind? Has another taken out the slats of thought I gave you and changed them?"
"The Queen herself. She has changed me. Why do you ask?"
"Have any died?"
"Any of the," Thurgod mouth moved to spit but his throat to swallow, "worthless men?"
"One has died, as stone gave way above him. Because I knew this would make the Queen angry I sent you the Flying Word requesting a hastier repair."
Thurgod said nothing until he had breathed three times, while the golem stood still with infinite patience. "He was one of the Queen's worthless men, who owe to her a great debt?"
Thurgod breathed once more, then said, "When it rains, Stallid, you must get under a solid cover," and he turned away, Oorgo forgot to walk until the tug on the line that connected him to Thurgod reminded him, and then he bounded ahead.
"Did the golem say that a man died?"
"Yes, he said that." They walked past the squared golem, but it did not move, as Thurgod inhibited it. The two humans passed through the gate.
"One that owed her a great debt?"
"What, child?" Thurgod was recalled from another thought.
"A man who owed her a great debt died?"
"I owed her a great debt."
"In her words, child."
Oorgo said nothing, until, "Would I have died?"
"Whether the Queen would have sent a child to the Sixth Mine I cannot know, nor even if she would have known it."
An off-beat breath escaped from Oorgo's nearly heaving chest, and at last Thurgod thought of the mortal beside him.
"It would be better if you made your mind quiet. This is not a thing for you to think."
Oorgo fell sideways, his head flopping into Thurgod's leg. The child did not struggle with his tears.
"There is no need for you to fear today, Oorgo. You have a master who is a god."
"But you can't keep me safe from her, you said it, you said it..." he clutched his arms around Thurgod's knee, and the deity ceased attempts to walk.
"She hates me and my sister and I've said bad things about her and..."
"And she will do nothing about them. Cyllgod is a foolish..." and the Thurgod too collapsed, narrowly missing Oorgo, and they were left there, Thurgod on his knees gasping as he leaned into the child, and the child with his face plunged into the smith god's chest just under his neck.
The two of them knelt there for nearly a minute, the block shaped golem observing without evaluating. At last Thurgod stood up suddenly, and Oorgo leaned again into the god's hip. Thurgod reached down and grasped the side of Oorgo's head. "Now child, it is not good for us to think so. I may not think the true words, and you do not know them. It is best for you to trust me that this is not your fate, and that if it were, it would be well."
"How can it be well?"
"Your question is large. It must be answered while walking."
"I can't walk," said Oorgo, beginning to breathe faster.
"Yes, you can," said the god, "I have seen you, and there is nothing but yourself stopping you."
Oorgo tottered forward, shaking in trepidation.
"Before I answer your question, I will tell you a story."