He took his time to examine it, carefully considering its aspect. It was most certainly a dwarf, but even as
he approached it from the rear, he could see something in the proportions that made it look a little
different from most of the dwarves he had seen. As he slowly circled around the figure, the reason became
clear: this dwarf had no beard and clearly had feminine features. It appeared to be a female.
The thing that stood out more than such an unusual gender for a dwarven statue was the intense level of
detail in the carving. To say it was finely crafted was somewhat of an understatement. The detail was
exquisite and, furthermore, the condition appeared pristine. Whilst it is was tarnished and stained from the
clutches of the black vines and was pitted with moss here and there, there were no chips or cracks anywhere,
even on some of the more intricately carved details.
The figure struck a dramatic line, one of mid-action as opposed to a sculptor’s studio pose. Its left
arm was outstretched, with the palm of the hand forward and the fingers spread. Its whole upper body was
rotated to bring the left hand forward. Its right hand was also open, with the arm bent and away from its
side, the left heel lifted from the ground. As Zero stepped back at the whole pose it was clear it has been
carved to look like the statue was reaching for something or pushing at something and the sense of movement
was expertly captured.
As he moved closer in to inspect the face he was continued to be surprised. The mouth was open as if shouting
and again Zero was staggered by the fine craftsmanship in and around the teeth, and even see the tongue.
The eyes were wide with a convincing expression of surprise or possibly concern. The details did not stop at
the face and movement, however, as they continued into the hair, woven into plaits and braids and tied back,
with delicate strands on close inspection that were like the lines of individual hairs.
Zero stood back for a moment and puffed out his cheeks, his hands on his hips. In Deepingwald he had been to
many fine galleries, with their artists trying to impress his father with their works of beautiful maidens
in stone, and the rogue had a good eye for exquisite art. This statue must have taken an age to carve in
such precision. It was a masterwork of skill.
However, the subject itself seemed somehow to let it down in his own estimation. It was clothed in a rag-tag
set of armour, rather than flowing silks, or better yet the nakedness of youth, and the proportions of
the dwarven body made it look squat and although not ugly by any means, it looked as though it would just
wrestle him to painful submission, rather than wrestling him to the bedchamber with loving affection.
The armour looked like it was of leather or hide and continued the intricate style with sculpted furs around
the belt and left shoulder and across the upper back. The right shoulder was adorned with a pauldron, fashioned
into a stylised boar’s head and other parts of the hide were covered with hangings of mail and the
attachment of a few plates of steel. Even the boots continued the detail, featuring simple, yet likely stylish
to a dwarf, geometric adornments and had been shaped to appear as though they were capped in iron, even
including the rivets and cuts and scuffs to make them look worn. On reflection, across the whole statue, the
only parts that looked worn were those that had been chiseled in as part of the sculpture.
Strapped to its back the statue bore a large weapon, what looked to be some sort of hammer to Zero. He was sure
that Khalin would likely know exactly what it was, and would probably go on about it for days. It had an
unusual head, with a triangular cross-section resulting in three equal faces, each adorned with a single
linear geometric symbol, probably dwarvish he guessed.
He stood back once more, gazing at the figure, rain cascading down its sides and dripping from its
outstretched hand, then let out a long breath. Despite the subject matter, this was hands down the most
astonishingly realistic statue he had ever seen. It was almost as if he touched it, it would spring to life.