Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dwerden Creation Myth and Early History


I wrote the following creation myth several years ago. While I wouldn't necessarily call it canon, it certainly represents my early conception of Dwerden, or Dwarves, as a race of great pathos. Though they may seem cold and hard to an outsider, on the rare occasion that one gets to see the real Dwerden underneath the rocky exterior, one cannot help but be stricken by the tragedy of their existence.

* * *

When the Great Lord created the race of Dwerden, He delved deep into the greatest mountain of Aerde, burrowing into the very roots of the world which He had fashioned. And when He found a suitable place, a hidden cavern, there He stopped and pondered for a long while. He looked around the place, and when He found a suitable piece of stone, He again paused to consider it. Finally, He began to carve away the stone, piece by piece, cutting and breaking off pieces with His bare hands.

As He drew nearer to the core of the stone, to that which He sought within, then He began to chisel smaller parts and pieces away, brushing off the dust as He chiseled, until He had almost completely exposed the creation within. And when chiseling would no longer suffice, then He summoned a stream of living water to that hidden cavern. He called the stream over to where He worked the stone, and using the grit from His earlier cutting and breaking and chiseling, He used water and sand to wear away the last of that stone which did not belong to what He sought within.

And at last He finished His work, and sat back, looking at what His hands had both fashioned and uncovered. The Great Lord drew a deep breath then, and blew fire upon the stone form, heating it to glowing, so that it illuminated all of that great hidden cavern and there was no shadow to be found. Again He drew breath, and again He blew white-hot flame over the stone, heating it more and more.

Seven times the Great Lord drew breath, and seven times He blew upon the stone. And after the seventh breath, He said, “Awake! Awake, my son, and live!”

Thus was born the first of the Dwerden, whom Men call Dwarves. The Great Lord called him Duerde, and after him was his race named. Duerde watched as the Great Lord began again, going through the same process over a great many days, cutting and carving and chiseling and sanding. At the end of that time, He again breathed seven times, and thus was born Duerde's wife, Dualia. From these were born the entire race.

Now Duerde had watched the Great Lord, observing all that He had done. And within his heart was born a great curiosity, and a burning passion to create as his Creator had done. The Great Lord smiled upon Duerde, and began to teach them both the craft of stone-working, and gem-working, and metallurgy. Duerde and his wife Dualia both learned these skills from the Great Lord, and took joy in them. Now Duerde loved the working of metals above the others, and Dualia the cutting and faceting of gems; and they both loved to work stone. So it is among the Dwerden to this day, that most men love metallurgy, and most women gem-cutting, but all work in stone.

* * *

And it came to pass in later days, when the race of Dwerden had multiplied and prospered in their great cavern city of Duerde, that those who worked in the mines brought forth a rumor: they had broken out of the hidden places of Aerde, and come into a great open place of yellow light and strange colors. And so it was that the sons of Duerde first encountered the sons of Men, and they greeted each other as brothers at the base of the Lost Mountain, under the open heavens.

* * *

After many years, when the sons of Duerde had prospered greatly in their commerce with Men, it came about that their mines began to reach their end: the veins of precious metals, and pockets of gems, were fewer and farther between, and many of their tunnels had broken through to the open sky. So, the Dwerden began to dig deeper into the roots of Aerde, and again found silver and gold, diamond, ruby, and sapphire, and the most precious of ores: adamant. Once again commerce was strengthened, and the Dwerden prospered in their trade with Men.

But there were Seers in those days, and they spoke against digging much further into the roots of Aerde. “Let us go forth upon the face of Aerde, and find a new mountain. For we have heard the tales from Men that there are whole ranges of mountains in various places, and surely the Great Lord never intended for us to remain in this one place. But let us go and see these mountains of which Men speak, and surely the Great Lord will guide us to a new home, a new place for a city, and new places to discover beneath the earth.” But the people did not listen.

Some time later the Seers came again, and spoke this warning: “If we continue on this path, the Great Lord has shown us that we will soon dig into forbidden places, the deeps of Aerde where even such as we were never meant to delve. Now, let us go from our city – we can leave a remnant, for there is still room for a tithe of our people to live here a long time – but the rest of us, we should go, and find a new mountain that the Great Lord will show us, and there we shall prosper again under His blessing. But if we do not, if we ignore the warning of the Great Lord, then surely our people will come to great ruin.” And again, the people did not listen.

One last time the Seers came and made their case before the people: “The Great Lord has shown us that in a very short while, if we do not repent of our way, our city will be destroyed, and a mere remnant of our people will remain, only to be scattered across the face of Aerde. Come! Let us close our deepest mines and forget that we ever dug so deep into the earth. Let us find new veins of ore and pockets of gems – and if not, then let us leave our city while we are yet under the blessing of the Great Lord. If we do, then He will take us to another mountain, where we will again prosper as before, and have mines aplenty from which to draw such wealth as has not been seen in our age. He will grant us favor with Men as well, that our commerce with them should continue wherever we may go, and our race shall live on and grow in glory under His hand.

“But if we continue, then before this generation passes, He will remove His protective hand from over us, and we shall bring our own destruction upon our heads. Our people shall be reduced to a tenth of our greatness, and those who remain will no longer dwell in this great city, but will be cast out from this mountain where we were born. Our name will be forgotten by Men, and our wealth will rot beneath this mountain.” So spoke the Seers. And, calling all who would join them, they left the Lost Mountain, never to return. But the greater part of the Dwerden remained, and continued on their path, digging to hidden and forbidden levels of the earth, where such as they were not meant to go.

* * *

Within the generation of the Seers' departure, the Dwerden discovered a new vein of adamant deep in the bowels of the earth. The people rejoiced greatly, for even their other deep mines had begun to run out, and the gem pockets were again fewer and further between. They put all of their efforts into that vein, and soon had gained greater wealth than any in the city could ever remember having seen. And it was said among them, that the Great Lord had repented of His anger, and blessed them as a sign that He would allow them to remain as long as they wished.

But it was not long before another rumor came out of that tunnel: death walked among them, and none could stand against it. The Dwerden rallied to stop the intruder, but the best of their warriors, in the brightest adamant mail, could not fight it. Their loremasters could not bind the creature that had come from the depths of Aerde, nor could they ward its passage. It came with black smoke and red flame, devouring all who stood before it, and the doughtiest of them trembled in fear at its approach. The Dwerden named it Sharrapu, for it came out of the hidden depths, devouring by fire.

The people of the city fled, each to his home, to take what he could and leave the Lost Mountain by any path. But Sharrapu came among them, into their city, the ancestral home of Duerde, and wrought destruction on all it touched. Less than half of those who dwelt in the city at that time, reached the sunlight. The rest were buried beneath the mountain when it collapsed upon itself. For the destruction brought by Sharrapu was so great, that the mountain trembled to its roots, and the walls shook, then shattered. The great pillars of living stone that had upheld the roof were broken, too, and the top of the mountain crushed all beneath it. Those watching from a distance saw the fires of Sharrapu blast up from the crater where once a peak had towered over the land, and it rained fire upon the people for a day and a night.

The Men who lived nearby were forced to flee, so great was the destruction of the mountain, and the rain of fire that came after. Of the Dwerden who escaped the city, only a remnant survived the night, for the fire overtook many in their flight, and those who rested perished.

The mountain where they dwelt is now lost, passed away from the knowledge of Man and Dwarf, for none now lives to remember where it once stood, and any record of its existence has crumbled to dust.

Thus were the Dwerden scattered across the face of Aerde, as the Seers had spoken. Thus was the Great Lord's protection lifted from upon them, and they wander the earth to this day. Though they delve into mountains now as they always have, they find little joy in their explorations, or in their working of stone and metal and jewels. The Dwerden Seers have long since passed away, and their loremasters know not a tenth of what was understood in the elder days, though it would seem they still work wonders to modern eyes. Yet always they remember what was lost, and their works bear witness to the pain in their souls. The Dwerden now look for one who will restore to them their former glory; who might even return them to their home of old, though it is lost; who will restore them to grace with the Great Lord, and bring them back under His blessing and protection.