Adventures of Carsomus Limus, Mint Surety, V. III


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III. The Mess

Carsomus took me through to the PROOFS room, where thousands of coins lay on the floor, floated in mid-air, or were lying up against the ceiling. Carsomus pushed the coins aside as he strode through them. He walked up to part of the wall and picked up two broom-shovel-like implements and handed me one.

“See the slots in the ceiling?” he asked, and I nodded. “Push the floating coins into the slots. They will be reforged to be just a little heavier.”

I helped him push the coins up and through the slots. It didn’t take as long as I expected before much of the room was clear. “What about the coins that are too heavy?” I asked.

“They are next,” he said. “That’s good enough. No point in tracking every stray coin. Next shift will get them, or the next. Push all the coins on the floor through that doorway.”

So we shifted to sweeping the coins on the floor into the door. This took longer as there were far more coins on the floor than floating. As we began to approach the door itself, Carsomus said, “Watch your step. Keep to the edge of the room.”

We entered the next room and kept sweeping. I noticed the coins seemed to sink as I swept them into the pile in the middle of the room. Each pile swept in made the coins undulate, rising up and down like an ocean of gold. Carsomus took the left side of the room and I took the right. We swept all the coins off the edge, and at times it looked like some coins were wet.

“Now watch me very closely,” Carsomus said. He used his broom-shovel to stir the coins in the middle, then scooped up the coins on top and shoveled them into a slot in the wall. There were several slots on each side. I started doing the same. It was tiring work, even though the coins weighed little. They were still hard to stir and to move.

I have no idea how long we spent, but it did seem like the ocean of coins was lessened. Carsomus said, “Good. Very good.” He collected my broom-shovel and left it back in the first room.

“What happens to coins that sink?”

“Not our job,” Carsomus said. “Not tonight. The pool is drained once a month and the heavy coins are collected for re-forging.”

We went through another door and down a long stairway. I found out where the coins we shoveled into the slots in the wall ended up. There were slots high in the wall and piles of coin blanks beneath each one. Dozens of people were gathering the blanks, putting them in slots on large sheets. Once a sheet was full, two men would carry it to one of the presses in the middle of the room, place another sheet of metal on top of it, and then turn the wheels on the press to print the coins.

We had no work to do here, but Carsomus chatted with the workers, gave a few words of encouragement, and we began climbing up the stairs. “Can you believe Antiochus tried to use iron golems for this work?”

“Uh,” I said, “I guess?”

“It tarnished the entire mythological basis of the Empire. The Elder Council took control of the mint after the war.” Carsomus shook his head slowly. “A soulless machine can press the coins, but can it imbue them with truth? With purpose? With purity? Of course not. Potema was inevitable.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that, and we traveled silently until we were back in the locker room. “What’s the shrine?” I asked, looking at the sign over a door we hadn’t entered.

“Peryite, of course. Do you need to go?” Carsomus asked.

“To the shrine? I’m no Daedra worship—”

Carsomus held up a fingerless glove. “Do you need to use the facilities?”

“What facilities?”

“Do you need to use the lavatory?” Carsomus asked with a hint of disgust. “We will be away for several hours. I don’t want to clean the ship again.”

“Oh,” I said. “Yes. That might be a good idea. I hate to mention it, but if we’re going somewhere, I should really get something to eat and drink. I haven’t had—”

“Refreshments shall be provided.”

When I got back from the unusual…facilities, Carsomus was holding a metal tray, somewhat Dwemer in appearance. On the tray was a fluffy looking cake and a wine glass of something pink, perhaps a blend or a rosé. “One reason,” Carsomus said, “that we have Witnesses go through the chores is to ensure they haven’t eaten anything vulgar or the trip shall go poorly for them.”

I took the tray and sat on a bench. The cake was light and fluffy. So much so, that I felt a bit lightheaded. The drink was neither wine nor juice, at least not any I could place. I asked Carsomus what it was, but we were interrupted.

“Evening Carsomus,” said a deep, grumbling voice. I stood up a little and almost spilled my tray. A minotaur, a huge example of his species, came into the room.

“Evening Hrahd,” Carsomus said. “How’s the moon?”

“All is well,” the minotaur said, sitting down right next to me. “No trouble at the mines. I heard The Terminus might cause some trouble.”

“They’re still around?” asked Carsomus.

“Oh, yeah, they just went deeper underground. Well, enjoy your flight.” The minotaur stood, patted me on the back hard enough to almost knock me off the bench, and left.

“M…m….mmino…” I stuttered.

“Never spoke with a minotaur before?”

“N…n…no.”

Carsomus smiled. “Good! That’s exactly the attitude that led to so many of them seeking employment with the Mint. They suit us perfectly. Well, time to go.”

We went past the Vaults, which were enormous. They were far too large to fit in the building, unless we were somehow underground or…well, I wasn’t sure what else. And then we came to another large room full of gold…things. They were squat and had what might be called wings and what might generously be called a tail.

“Are these the Sunbirds of Alinor?” I asked.

“What? Do these look like birds to you? Do they look of elven construction?”

“Well, no, but—”

Carsomus walked up to one, did something to it, and the “head” of it split open sideways, revealing steep steps and some very small chairs beyond.

“Hop in,” he said.

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