The house of Rommel
"Well back in my home town I was trying to get in good with the expert gnomish engineers. There were a number of other young gnomes and even an older human also there as apprentices. I was easily the oldest besides the experts. I was having trouble getting my contraptions to do any useful function. They were really fun to watch and everyone showed up to watch when I had finished something new – but the elders kept telling me that the inventions actually had to have a purpose." From his tone it is clear Rommel still disagrees with this viewpoint on engineering.
"They assigned me to work with the human apprentice to see if we would not balance each other. The man, Ben, had worked his entire life building things as large as castles and bridges and stuff like that (civil engineer) but he wanted to start working on smaller things. He was having trouble getting his things to be elaborate enough for the council to approve since he just unconsciously streamlined everything into only necessary parts. I taught him a thing or two about how to make them really great! The first thing we made was a tea-maker that would dance around on the table while the attached symbols played music. It was a big hit even with the chief engineers. So we decided to work together on our final project. My mother was sick enough to be bedridden and unable to get around and she wanted to see the world. Making a moving bed would have been too prone to killing my mother accidentally so we decided making the entire house move would be much safer." This is up for debate as most notably Trex raises an eyebrow to show that this is not in keeping with the definition of safe most others hold.
"So Ben built a normal house large enough for my entire family and crafted it entirely on pontoons. When we stuck it in a nearby lake it floated fine. So I installed a split axle oscillating propeller rigged to a wind catching device made out of metal soup bowls attached to spokes around a central axle that turns the propeller while banging against little rods to make sounds. Next Ben suggested we add sails so we installed octagonal sails with a rather innovative trimming system (mine of course) for turning purposes. One of Ben's friend had asked us about a rudder, but we have sails for turning so that was not necessary." (And what if the wind is not blowing and there is a dangerous obstacle dead ahead should have been the friends reply, but for whatever reason he just decided that might be a kinder fate than the other possibilities.)
" We added a few anchors and Ben almost went crazy on me since I did not make sure the ropes were firmly attached to both the boat and the weight."(Yes this is an important detail when dealing with Rommel). "So next we implemented simple wheels for short treks over easily passable ground from one water source to another. We were easily the best engineers in the entire village even if you include the senior gnomish engineers so we took off to travel in the boat while adding as many more functions as we could think of. We got quite a bit done before the accident with Ben… The exterior alone ultimately functioned as a working house, boat, burrowing drill, underwater submersible, rotary lifted contraption, giant balloon air floater , carriage, mine-cart, hyper-speed mine-cart, and of course my biggest contribution with the hydrofoil." (Helicopter… Jet… Rollercoaster… Submarine… SERIOUSLY!? How is he still alive? Oh wait that's right, the house ran away…)
"Then there was the accident right before the house ran away. Apparently the head was not completely secured on my automated tree cutter and it was a little cranky about it. It decided that it wanted to make those around it also have a not completely secured head and the horizontal swinging pendulum-style axe went flying off while Ben was using it. All I heard was a loud shout of pain, a splash in the fast moving stream he was cutting by and then all I could find was his hat with some bloody clumps of hair and skin." (Ben is fine – it only grazed the top of his head. He knew this was yet another sign in a long series of such mishaps that the house was not a safe place to stay with all of the major stuff having been finished and so he took the convenient excuse to shout, toss a large rock in the stream for a splash, and run off to pursue his own engineering projects with the vast knowledge he had obtained from Rommel (how to be overcomplicated and elaborate to the point of lunacy).)