Reavers & Ruins
A Fragment from "A History of the Great War for the Son and Daughters of Queen Elbeth"
Written by the Royal tutor, Jimmie Goodfellow, for the edification of his pupils in the year 451 AGW
Times are changing. The painful memories of the past Great War are gradually fading as the victims and the aggressors are finally laid to rest. The scarred and scorched countryside has renewed itself, and even the greater battle-fields are mostly unrecognizable now. The destroyed cities have been rebuilt, and peace has finally resumed her seat. The Great War has passed, but not without leaving a remarkable indelible impression on history. Kingdoms that were, are now no more. Kingdoms that were not, now are.
Perhaps the greatest commentary on how times and society have changed is the recent decision of the Dwarven High Council to officially recognize the Letholian Drow Empire, and to send its first diplomats. My grandfather, the noted historian Brian Goodfellow, may he rest in peace, is probably turning over in his grave as I write. He was one of the last surviving veterans of the brutal war where the Letholian Empire seized power. The action of the DHC is truly remarkable because it shows how quickly time has cooled what once appeared to be an unabatable hatred. The Dwarves had cause, of course for their hatred, for suffered the most during the first lightening attacks of that war, and the Letholian Drow Empire rests entirely in what were once the Imperial Dominion of the United Dwarven Nations. Indeed, the ancient Dwarven capital, Nadum, is now the newly refurbished capital of Letholia.
Even when I was a child, though, the wounds were mostly healed. I was born after the Great War.
It is necessary to make a note on the documents contained here. They are taken from a number of historical and religious sources, some of which are more reliable than others. The Doruk codex, or Book of the Hidden Prophet, is the most ancient source. Although this manuscript purports to be the work of one writer, Ealdik, a dwarfish bard, it was evidently written by a number of scribes. The oldest portions, as the elfin theologian and scholar, Quiandria, has successfully proven were originally, before the invention of writing, passed down orally through the great bards. Due to its antiquity, major portions of the Doruk codex have been lost or destroyed, leaving us with a frequently obscure vision of what the writers were attempting to communicate. It is this very obscurity, however, which has in many ways insured its great impact and continuity. The stories have been adapted and interpreted by millions. Sceptics and believers alike have been influenced by the power of its vision. It has been the source and foundation for most, although certainly not all, of the various religions that have flourished over the centuries. Truly, when one considers how varied, and at times completely contradictory these religions were, as well as the diversity of races that practiced them, one is even more astounded by the wealth that this manuscript has provided.
And who was Ealdik, the mythic bard prophet who created these works? Did he even exist, or was merely a fiction created to explain the Doruk's existence? Nothing is known of the "historical" Ealdik, but there seems to be some evidence that he may indeed have existed. The Codex itself states that he was the son of nobility who became disillusioned with the corruption and violence found in that time. In the words of the Codex:
I was the son of greatness,
The child with the ice-iron heart
That is a stone father's rejoicing.
"This" said my hoary bearded father,
"Is a heart of no mercy.
It beats like the blows of the hammer,
On the anvil, shaping the hardest of lives,
A weapon that lives. Rejoice, oh my friends,
for the warrior cub, who bites his mother's tit…."
Yet I grew weary of sparkling blood lust,
Weary of the axe's grave song and the diamonds
We bought with the tears of the weak.
There is no happiness in the strong man
Who cannot rest…..
It was this "soul weariness", as he refers to it, that, according to legend, led Ealdik to became a follower of Mayu, goddess of peace and nature, and joined a monastery which, according to tradition, was located in the valley of Kilran. Such an action was immense, for Dwarves are not known either for their love of peace or of nature. Mayu, a goddess know longer worshipped, but at one time highly revered, was a demanding goddess who required that her believers take no life whatsoever, that they were to be in perpetual peace with all things; both plant and animal. Her priests partook in the "life covenant", which means that they killed nothing. As a sign of the holiness of the "Life Covenant" and "Life love" she nourished them so that they would not have to take even the life of plants. The results of breaking her "life covenant" she warned, however, would be unspeakable suffering.
Here Ealdik found the peace he was searching for. His songs suggest his immense love for all things living and for the goodness that the Mayuians believed flowed throughout the universe.
Today, if you visit the Kilran valley, you will find a bustling Dwarven mining community. The mines here account for thirty seven percent of all of the mithril created. The Mayuian priests, along with their neighbors and friends, a human community, have completely vanished, leaving not so much as an abandoned building or ruin. This is a result, so the Codex tells us, of the brother of Ealdik, who came to visit Ealdik and encourage his return home. Ealdik's brother was unsuccessful at his mission, but a chance discovery at a stream suggested to him that mithril could be found here in plenty…..
(Adapted from The Sentients: A History of Race and Nationhood by Jimmie Goodfellow, Royal Tutor)
Calatian (singl. Calati)
The first created race, apparently extinct after the Second Star Rising. Little is known about the Calation, except that they had powerful magic and were great builders. The power of their magic is attested to by the fact that in some places, millennium later, the magic still works. The magic of the Calatian is not understood. Thousands of manuscripts dating far back have been found in the Calatian tongue, but no one has been able to decipher the language yet. What little information that is possessed has been either garnered from archaeology, or from faint tribal memories of the Elves, who apparently encountered them before their disappearance. Nothing is known about how or why they disappeared though three hypothesis have been presented. Some believe that they destroyed themselves unintentionally, possibly through a war or new, powerful weapon. Others believe that they possibly decided to remove themselves (mass suicide?) from the world. Still others believe that they were removed, but only temporarily and will one day return to bring a new world order. Equally mysterious is the god apparently associated with them, Renawk, who is feared by men as the Grim Reaper, and honored by the Elves as the Sorrower. The Elves teach that the baleful red gaze of Renawk, the Sorrower, is caused because of his constant weeping for his lost children.
Dwarves (singl. Dwarf)
Nationhood and Racial Characteristics
The Dwarag, are the fierce white dwarves the Imperial Dominion of the United Dwarven Nations. The Dwarag are short, stocky with rudy skins and black, brown, or red hair. The men always grow beards. Dwarags (like the Attakarumaie) are oddly resistant to fire, and cannot be burnt, unless they are dead, which explains why they ritually use cremation for their death rites. (Obviously, if a Dwarag was still alive, his body would not burn). Their beards and hair, however, can be set on fire, causing great pain, but no damage either to the hair or any other part of their bodies. Dwarag warriors may use of this strange characteristic, by lighting themselves on fire before battle. The pain caused by the fire makes them go into battle fury, and the sight of Dwarag warriors in flame is usually enough to terrify the hearts of the most stalwart armies. Additionally, the finest Dwarag metal workers dip their bare hands into molten gold, silver, iron and mythril and work the malleable metal with their fingers to create works of unsurpassable craftsmanship and beauty. Such rare treasures are safeguarded and passed down generation to generation by the families of the smiths because the families know how much pain making these heirlooms caused.
The Dwarag are divided into seven distinct clans, which are ruled by the Stricken Emperor. They live predominately in the eight New Cities, and the two Old Cities. The designation between Old and New Cities is fairly simple – the Old Cities were created by the Dwarag when they first moved to the mountains for security, and were in fact built with an understanding that the mountains are alive and sentient. Five cities were established with the mountains. The mountains formed the cities so that the shape of the cities constantly changed, and could be mapped by no one. The way the Dwarag navigated these cities was by communicating to the mountains where they wished to go, and then letting the mountains guide them. Because the paths of the Old Cities were uncharitable, even by the dwarves, no enemy could successfully breach the cities. These cities were entirely constructed by the Attakarumaie, who were the slaves of the Dwarag. Once the Attakarumaie successfully fled from their masters, the art of creating these cities was lost.
The History of the Dwarag Stricken Emperors
Before the Stricken Imperial lineage was established, the Dwarag were ruled by ordinary Emperors. The last of the ordinary Emperors, from Clan Woster, was Dinharth II. Dinharth’s tyranny was so great and his enslavement of the Attakarumaie, or black dwarves, was so cruel that the Attakarumaie eventually fled the Twin Empires and after much struggling and fighting, journeyed to the Great Desert where they still live divided from their white brothers by prejudicial hatred and an evil history of repression. Dinharth II and Clan Woster were eventually overthrown by the other clans, who established the Stricken Emperors. The Stricken Emperors are selected by the clans for their wisdom, courage and compassion. Although the position of Stricken Emperor has great prestige, the stricken Emperor serves more as a servant than an Emperor. Certainly no one ever attempts to become the Stricken Emperor, because it requires great pain and sacrifice, but, having been selected for the position a dwarf does not reject unless he or she feels that there are serious reasons why he or she could not fulfill the job. On coronation day, each Stricken Emperor is castrated (or in the rare event of an Empress, surgically sewn shut), so that he or she may have no heirs to the throne (children born prior to the coronation are considered to not be children of the Emperor) and so that his or her judgment may not be influenced by lust. The emperor is blinded so that his eyes may not deceive him, and so that he may not be swayed by great beauty or great ugliness. He is also crippled, so that he may not move without being born by his men. Finally, he is given anyok, a drug that causes the drinker to go deaf and dumb, but gives the drinker the ability to read minds and communicate telepathically.
The History of the Guardians
Among the most prestigious of the warriors of the Dwarag are the Guardians. The Guardians are an elite fighting band made of Dwarags and their Wolf mounts. Although the Dwarag ride the Wolves, the relationship that exists between the two species is one of mutual agreement and choice. This is evidenced by the term Partners used to denote Wolf/Dwarag pairings. The Wolves are not domesticated, nor are they harnessed in the way that horses are, and indeed, the Wolves select their riders. The relationship between a Dwarag rider and his Wolf partner is in fact familial; the Wolf is accepted as a member of the Dwarag’s clan, and the Dwarag is accepted as a member of the Wolf’s pack. Because of this close relationship, if one of the partners dies, the second partner usually does not replace the partner, and ceases to be one of the Guardians. The rare exception to the rule is when a son, daughter or spouse of a deceased Partner agrees to enter partnership with the surviving Partner. Such a choice is always made by the Wolf, regardless of whether the Wolf is the surviving Partner, or the son, daughter, or spouse of the dead Partner.
The Partners run in packs of 7 to 20 Wolves. Each pack has one dominate Wolf. It is understood that the dominate Wolf, and not his or her Partner, is the leader of the pack. Leadership within the pack is based on a hierarchy with the dominate Wolf in charge, and his or her rider as second in command. Packs also generally have one Dwarag skilled in healing, and several Dwarag Wolf Partners who are skilled scouts. The strategic importance of the packs is the fact that along with being a formidable fighting force, they are also highly mobile, and they are known as remarkable trackers and scouts. Partners communicate telepathically. Because the Dwarags have no need for reigns, they are much freer in combat. Weapons frequently used by the Dwarag are crossbows and battle axes. Due to the large size of the Wolves, Dwarags and their Partners are able to combat with some level of equity against mounted men.
The relationship between the Dwarag and the Wolves began in the ancient past. Legend has it that a Dwarag infant was saved by a Wolf pack after she was found in a burned and gutted Dwarag outpost. The Wolves raised the Dwarag as one of their own, but when the Dwarag came to womanhood, they returned the Dwarag to her own people. Because of the kindness of the Wolves, the Dwarag warrior organized her people to defend the Wolves against the annual hunts led by men. Eventually the Wolves and Dwarag community developed a relationship that was based on a mutual need for protection.
Nationhood and Racial Characteristics
The Attakarumaie, or black dwarves, originally lived in the Twin Empire, but racial prejudice, and then slavery under the reign of Dinharth II caused them to rebel and flee to the Wasteland, where they still live. Most Attakarumaie are nomads who live by herding the great lizards and by milking the venom of the great lizards to produce anyok, a drug that is valued because, in small doses it makes it possible for properly trained individuals to perform magic. Without anyok magic would not exist, so anyok is extremely valuable. It is also very rare, and collecting it is quite dangerous. The willingness of the Attakarumaie to collect anyok has ensured their economic independence. Anyok is addictive, and if ingested in its pure form, anyok can cause blindness and deafness. Because of these attributes the Dwarag use anyok in the coronation ceremony for the stricken emperor. Attakarumaie are forbidden by their religion from using anyok. Consequently, there are no Attakaruma magic users.
The Attakarumaie escape from the Dwarag empire was made possible by two notable leaders, Issa, a female Dwarag general who felt sympathy for the Attakarumaie and organized a slave revolt, and Musaka, a male Attakaruma (singular noun), who claimed to be the prophet of a previously unknown god, who Musaka called the nameless god. Musaka introduced monotheism to the Attakarumaie. To this day, the Attakarumaie believe that there is only one god. They explain that miracles performed by clergy of other gods are in fact acts of their nameless god, who has chosen to use false gods and religions to perform his miracles.
Although most Attakarumaie are nomads, there are two Attakarumaie cities – Ballayara and Surgo Kwara.