Generations ago, our founder lived in a quiet town on the edge of a river. As a young boy he starting his training as a blacksmith under the kind hand of his father. He toiled happily under his father’s vigilance and learned how to bend and mold metal into useful objects or suits of armor. A few weeks shy of his sixteenth birthday a storm appeared on the horizon and everyone in the village scrambled to safety. The young man was helping another family with two small children get into their house when a tree landed on him, crushing his arm but not pinning his body. He managed to get into cover before passing out.
For weeks the village healer watched over the feverish young man and it was decided that in order for him to live his wounded arm would need amputated. The healer sent for another healer from a larger city nearby, and together they performed the operation. A week after the young man was finally awake and able to take in food. Soon he was well enough again but realized how much his life had been altered forever.
Before his accident, he was nimble and able to help his father at his smithy, but after he felt clumsy and stupid. Tasks that took minutes now stretched into hours. His father finally had to tell him, “Son, I’m sorry but I must take another apprentice.” The young man nodded and went to sit at home, staring at the wall.
A few days after his father released him from his apprenticeship, the young man stole away in the night. He knew he could not stay in his parent’s village under the pity gazes from the others. What he would do, or where he would go, he had no idea. But anywhere was better than there.
He spent the first week traveling and hunting small game or fishing for food. He slept on the large branches of the trees and the sky was his only friend. He foraged for berries and hid whenever he heard footsteps or horses. While not believing all other travelers were always dangerous, he was but a one armed man and no way to defend himself.
Another fateful storm washed over the land. The young man found himself scrambling to find a cave or somewhere safe to hide. He heard a voice cry out and against his better judgment, rushed to where he heard the voice. A young Khajiit male was on his back in the mud, rain splashing over him.
“Please help! Do’Raska has broke his leg!”
The young man had heard of the Khajiit but had never met one. He made his way to the Khajiit and with his good arm slowly pulled him under the boughs of a large tree.
“Do’Raska thanks you.”
“How did you break your leg?” the young man asked.
“This one slipped on the mud.” The Khajiit chuckled. “Many battles has this one fought, but against the mud, none can stand!”
Both young men laughed at that.
“I am Gunnry,” the young man said. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Likewise, Gunnry. Do’Raska is pleased to meet you.”
The storm raged around them and both finally found sleep. The next day proved difficult. Do’Raska had developed a fever and was muttering in his sleep. Hungry and cold, Gunnry gathered up the fallen branches around him and built a smokey fire. Once he was satisfied the fire would not take up the entire tree he left its cover and made his way along the hillside. The clouds still drizzled but Gunnry ignored it. He was following a fox who was chasing a rabbit when both of them suddenly disappeared and then reappeared. He blinked twice and cautiously moved forward.
Along the rocky hillside was a tree the storm had knocked over in the storm. While the base of the tree was mostly intact, the rest of it was on the ground; hollow. Gunnry reached out watched his hand disappear. He pulled it back. He walked back and forth in front of the stump.
“Magic is as magic does,” He muttered.
He stepped forward and heard a soft wave of wind wash over his ears. He stood at the top of the stairs overlooking a large and dank hall. He opened his side pack and pulled out a stub candle and used his flint to light it. It did not allow for much sight, but further down the wall was a torch. He made his way and held the candle to the torch which flickered to life. With his field of vision better he turned around and started down a set of stairs.
And stared right into the face of a Dwemer Automaton.
“Are you friend or foe?” The metallic, but distinctly male voice asked.
“I… I … would like to be a friend?” Gunnry stammered.
“That is sufficient. State your purpose.”
“To…know where I am?”
“Acceptable question. You are inside a former hideout of less than reputable humans.”
“What happened to them?”
“Acceptable question. They dug into our city and declared themselves as foes. We had to dispatch of them.”
“Oh I see. So you live here?”
“Acceptable question. I dwell here, yes.”
“Do you have a name?”
“Acceptable question. I am Lorekeeper.”
“Nice to meet you Lorekeeper. My name is Gunnry.”
“Name accepted. Gunnry, Nord, male, approximately 17 standard human years.”
“Yes, Lorekeeper.” Gunnry looked around. “Can you take me to your city?”
“Acceptable question. I can guide you there.”
The automaton guided the young man through the ruins, down a spiral staircase and down a broken hallway. Past the hallway, the sight took the young man’s breath away.
“Lorekeeper, hold please.” The young man whispered.
The Dwemer city was worn with time, but sturdy. Dwarven oil still glowed in various lamps, automatons quietly rolled to and fro. The upper balcony where they stood had a tree in the middle with a few chirping birds and fluttering butterflies.
“Lorekeeper, how is this tree here?” Gunnry asked.
“Acceptable question. This tree has been here for as long as the Lorekeeper remembers. It was placed here before Lorekeeper started to life.”
“I see, thank you, Lorekeeper. I would like to continue.”
The Lorekeeper led the way down a ramp and into the city proper. In each of the homes were chairs and pottery, beds, paintings and books. It felt as though the people were away on holiday, rather than dead.
“Lorekeeper, what happened?”
“Acceptable question. The Lorekeeper’s memory core was damaged and cannot speak much. One day they were here, then they were not. That is all this unit can remember.”
“Thank you Lorekeeper.”
“Inquiry. Gunnry, this unit has noticed you are damaged.”
The young man stopped walking and turned to the automaton.
“Yes, Lorekeeper, I lost my arm almost a year ago.”
“You can be repaired. Please follow me.”
Gunnry followed the Lorekeeper deeper into the city. He rolled into the largest building towards the center and Gunnry followed. The building was well lit with Dwarven oil sconces, which cast dark shadows on the walls. Down a few more hallways, and into another room, the Lorekeeper finally rolled to a stop. It was a workshop with various tomes and mechanical body parts.
“This is an arm.” Lorekeeper held up an arm. “It is the left arm to fit the socket where yours is lost.”
“How would you attach it?”
“I have the arm. You must have the magic.”
“Magic?” Gunnry frowned. “I do not know magic.”
“Lorekeeper will teach you.”
“Thank you, but I need to get my friend. He is sick and wounded. May I bring him here?”
“Acceptable question. Yes. But this unit cannot leave the underground.”
“May I take a few items so I can make a little to carry him here?”
“Acceptable question. The city is now yours, Gunnry of the Nord.”
“Thank you. Also, Lorekeeper? You can stop saying ‘acceptable question.’ Just answer me as you see fit.”
“Very well, Gunnry.”
The Lorekeeper helped Gunnry fashion a litter and helped him take to the top of the stairs leading outside. Gunnry quickly made his way to his Khajiit friend and managed to get him onto the litter and back to the tree stump that led to the hidden city.
There were other automaton who were waiting for them near the stairs. They helped tend to Do’Raska and placed him in a room. Then the Lorekeeper showed Gunnry the magical tomes and helped him unlock a hidden potential.
It only took a few weeks for Do’Raska to heal, but many months for Gunnry to master the magical arts. Do’Raska sparred with the other automatons and helped clean up the various homes and the front hall to pass the time. Do’Raska was a happy Khajiit; never complained and provided many stories for Gunnry in the evening.
It came to Gunnry’s attention that after months of being in the underground city, the automatons were starting to wear down.
“Lorekeeper, why are you slowing down?”
“Our memory cores are degrading. Our higher thought processes are breaking down.”
“Can I help you?”
“No, Gunnry. It is the order of things. Our creators are long gone. Perhaps… perhaps we had been waiting for you.”
One by one the automatons completely broke down. The night before the Lorekeeper was gone, he helped Gunnry perform his last ritual. With Dwemer imagination and magic, Gunnry had an arm again.
Gunnry and Do’Raska gathered up the automatons and set them into the houses, like figurines. They fashioned wooden name tags to hang around their necks. When they were finished, Gunnry looked around and then put his hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“Do’Raska… I have an idea.”
“We should make this place into something more.”
“What do you mean by this?”
“We have a large city. You know how to fight, I know how to make armor and weapons. You said you had friends on the outside, misfits. Men and women who never felt at home anywhere.”
“This is true, my friend! Do’Raska has said this.”
“Let us bring them here, where we can live and work in harmony.”
And so Gunnry and Do’Raska spent their time gathering friends and outsiders; men and women who never fit into society but were honest and kind. They refurbished the city with bedding and art, new weapons and armor; bakers created new confections, clotheirs created new dresses and trousers, artists sculpted magnificent manifestations of their imaginations. Within years they had enough wares to offer the world and realized that only the truly gifted traveler or adventurer would be allowed access in order to protect their small society.
From within the ruins, Gunnry had found many magical tomes, many spells which were too complex for him, but one particular one came in handy: The Avatar spell. By mixing together a few ingredients and whispering choice words, he could make the broken automatons take on the shape of any human. These Avatars would serve as their merchants, protecting the real city denizens from harm should they ever feel threatened.
The spent months reforming the upstairs balcony and blocking off the ramp from anyone’s wanderings. They created market stalls and everything their patrons might need.
Do’Raska set it upon his shoulders to find the truly unique people in the outside world to accept an invitation to their underground store as he knew how to track down rumours. He taught his sons and his daughters, who taught their sons and daughters. The family of Do’Raska were all great trackers and fine warriors.
Gunnry also married and taught his son, Ghosu, how to fold metal and sew leather. Together they created unique designs for weapons, sturdy in form, precise in function and magnificent to look at. They taught each other how to form armour to be flattering, comfortable and provide the best protection.
Their friends learned how to cultivate new food plants underground, and use magic to keep them watered. The clothiers created new dye colours and made new types of fabric. Bakers used the new produce to create new foods imbued with magical properties. Everyone worked together and fights rearely happened. It was, and is, an idylic life.
And so The Floating Market was born. Settling above the underground city, the Market offers a unique experience born from the curious wanderings of a young man and his Khajiit friend. Together they worked with all races, all types of professions to hone their craft.