THE TIME MEASUREMENTS

The dwarves are a precise people, mathematically minded and organized on the whole. They prefer accurate measurements of distance, space, and time; as they are primarily below-ground dwellers, they have devised some unique chronological systems to synchronize their schedules with the standard 24-hour night-and-day of Caelereth. The best-known and most common is the Dwarven Sunclock, also known as the Timelight (AveferUrtil, AveferUrtil).

The Timelight
View picture in full size Image description: Scheme of the typical Dwarven Sunclock, also called the "Timelight". Picture drawn by Bard Judith.

The Dwarven Sunclock (Timelight). In the centre of the dome of most dwarf caverns is drilled a long, narrow shaft up to the surface - for adequate ventilation, of course - but also for time telling. The shaft (AveferLok, AveferLok) is lined with platinum polished to a highly refractive shine, and set with carefully cut and beveled diamante lenses which catch, reflect, and focus any available light downwards. Beneath the Timeshaft's opening is a large, raised stone plinth, about waist-height to a dwarf, with  circles, numbers, letters and lines cut intricately into its face. Various arcane symbols, certain times specific to that dwarven cavern's longitude and latitude, and other significant points are carved into the Timeface as well. As the light angle of the sun changes from above, the bright dot of fire reflected on the stone moves in a figure eight or the infinity symbol. By the time they are teenagers, most dwarves have learned to tell, from a quick glance at the Timelight, not only what hour it is above-ground, but also what season it is (accurate to a week either way, and useful if they have been below for a long period of time!) and even to some extent the weather!

Moonclock. There is a separate Moonclock
(Moravfer, Moravfer) in some caverns which not only tells the approximate time of night but the phases of the moon. Of course, when it's completely dark, the clock doesn't register... but there are several alternative devices for short-term time-telling, such as the Water Drum, the Sand Glass, and the Diplight.

Water Drum. Can accurately measure about two or three hours at a time, before it needs refilling. It consists of two brass canisters, one suspended above the other by slim chains.  The top canister has a tiny pipette emerging from its base, which regularly drips water at a steady rate. Between the two canisters is a small, tautly stretched membrane, usually finely tanned weasel or squirrel skin, defurred. It is tilted at an angle so that the water drops strike its face with a soft drum beat before rolling off into the lower canister and splashing into the layer of water there. The sound is soothing, a gentle "plom... plip... plom... plip". In fact, dwarven mothers often prefer this clock in nurseries, more for its sound than its efficiency!

Sand Glass. Not unique to the dwarves, but found wherever the science of glassblowing has been developed. Two bulbs of glass joined by a thin waist are protected by some form of metal or wooden cage. The glasses are filled with fine sand and the flow rate adjusted to a set measurement, usually one hour at a time, but smaller ones are made for the sake of bakers and chemists. The only difficulty is remembering to check the glass frequently because the sand stopping is noiseless.

Diplight. A twisted wick, sometimes made of scent-grass, fabric, or parpalm fiber, is dipped to build up layers of animal tallow, beeswax or candlebush oil.  The resulting candles are made in two contrasting colours, then cut into hour-lengths (about two fingers wide) and restacked to form striped candles. Black and yellow are popular for beeswax diplights, while green and ivory are common for tallows. Candlebush oil has a natural peach shade which goes well with pink or navy. As each stripe burns away, another hour is counted off. They are commonly sold in six and twelve-hour lengths; the extra hour in the night is often measured by sandglass for those who must be awake, such as guards and soldiers.

Information provided by Bard Judith View Profile