Dwarf Lore

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The Forging of the World

The beauty of the world is undeniable. If one is to travel across the land, to see the great wonders that fill nature, it can easily fill that person with awe. It is no wonder that, when asked about such things, most of the races of men, elves, and monsters will tell you that this great world we inhabit was shaped by the will of the gods. For how could anyone besides a great, all powerful being create such a wonder? It is easy to see how this argument, by those who don't know better, could arise. But we, the Khazad, know better. We know, we remember, that the world was not shaped by the gods, but by us.

In the beginning, the world was naught but a ball of rock, mud, and sand. It had been formed by the gods and the gods intended to shape it into a place they could fill with life. But a world is a big place, even for a god. It takes time to raise mountains, dredge seas, and flatten the great expanse of the plains. And, if we are honest, it is boring work, work that did not fill the gods’ hearts with glee. They wanted to begin the real work, the work of creating the animals, plants, and mortal races that would fill this world once done. Before long they grew tired of working the world into shape. It was too much work, and too boring to really hold their interest for long. But the world needed finishing. If it wasn’t finished, then where would the gods put their other creations? Where would the animals, plants, and mortal races live once formed? The world had to be finished, but if not by the gods, then who?

It was decided that another race would be made, a simple race, formed from the stone of this early world, to do the job. The gods carved figures from stone, small figures, with rocky skin, metallic hair, and gems for eyes. They called these figures ‘Khazad’, and taught them how to shape stone, work metal, and do all the other crafts that were needed to shape the world. The gods tasked them with making the world beautiful, then left them to begin the work on creating the creatures that would fill the world once done. It was thus that we, the Khazad, were first formed.

The Khazad took the gods' task to heart. We set about immediately cutting valleys, digging seas, building up mountains, and carving canyons. We worked tirelessly. In those days our stone bodies did not need food or rest. We did not have to worry about dying of exposure or a fall. If we were injured we could just scoop up some dirt and fix whatever damage had been done, for the same skills that we used to shape the world could easily be used to repair our bodies of stone. Before long, under the care and cunning of our ancestors, the world came into shape, and when the gods returned, they marveled at the beauty that had been created. Before them was a world ready for life, a world ready to be filled with animals, plants, and mortal races, but one problem remained. What was to be done with the Khazad?

Originally, it had been planned that, once done, the Khazad would be melted down, and returned to the earth. But the work we had done was so good, so much better than the gods had expected, that they felt it would be a grievous disservice to just destroy us as they had planned. Besides, what would they do in the future if something happened and the world needed repairs? The gods would not want to do the work themselves, and no race they had made to fill the world would have the skills needed. Perhaps it would be better, perhaps it would be wiser, to keep the Khazad. But an immortal race of stone and metal would not fit with the world the gods had planned. Besides, we knew the secrets to shaping the world, of carving stone and shaping steel. We could not be allowed to mingle with the other races and spread this knowledge, for that was not knowledge the gods wished the mortal races to have. If we could not be destroyed, and could not live in the world, something else had to be done. So the gods decided the best course was to put us to sleep, and bury us deep within the world. A great cavern was dug, and each sleeping Khazad placed within, to sleep until the gods needed them once again.

The Falling of Stones

With the world complete, the gods set about placing the life they had created upon it. They sewed the forests and plains, and populated them with the various beasts and birds that inhabit them today. However, when it came time to place the gods’ greatest creations, the sentient races of men, elves, and monsters, upon the surface, the gods began to bicker. It was decided that in order to ensure fairness, each god would cast a stone at the new planet, and where the stone landed their favored race would make their home. But what to a god is a small stone, is a great mountain of rock to the world that was their target. As the rocks rained down, the ground shook and heaved. So great was the disturbance that it could be felt even in the deep halls where the Khazad had been placed in their slumber. As the world above them shook with the gods contest, the sleeping Khazad began to awaken below.

The Stones Awakening

At first, there was great confusion among the Khazad. We had been placed in the caves to sleep until the gods needed us. But as we awoke there was no sign, no message, no instructions. As the tremors ended, the confusion grew. What had happened above? What great catastrophe had occurred that could cause such a disturbance? The Khazad were split. Some thought it would be best to just return to our slumber, while others, more curious, wanted to go see what had happened above, and get guidance from the gods. The two factions argued for many days, weeks even. Finally, it was decided that a vote would be cast, and whichever side won, that is what we would do. When the vote came back, it was a close call, but in the end, the side favoring going up to the surface won by only a few votes. Though there was still some who thought this a poor choice, all agreed that it had been a fair vote, and thus must be followed. Perhaps it was for the best. After all, a calamity so great that it could shake the deep caverns in which the Khazad had been stored, must surely have caused damage that the gods would need us to repair.

So began the long journey up to the surface. Even with our knowledge of working stone, it took many years to complete. The gods had buried us deep in the stone, and many were still worn from the work we had done making the world, and groggy from the magical sleep that had been placed upon us. But with time and patience, both of which these immortal Khazad had, we reached the surface. As the last of the stone was removed, linking the tunnel to the surface, we were forced to shield our eyes. A great ball of fire burned in the sky, lighting a world far different from the one we had left before our slumber. In amazement and awe, we stepped out and began to explore.

The Khazad wandered across the land, taking in the rich beauty it now held. When we had last seen the world, it had been bare stone and dirt, ready for life but still devoid of it. Now it teamed with life, to a degree we had never imagined it could. It was so beautiful, and so vibrant. The hearts of our ancestors filled with joy to see what the gods had done with the work they had completed. But before long, questions began to arise. If this world was so ripe, so vibrant, so perfect for life, why had the gods not let us live in it? Why, when we had done so much to make this world a place for life, could we not live among it? There were no good answers we could see, and as we explored more and more, our confusion and resentment grew.

The Meeting of Stone and Stem

As the Khazad wandered across the land, we soon came to a deep, rich forest. The forest contained many animals, more fascinating and beautiful than any we had yet seen. It was an amazing place, a place we thought we would love to live. It was decided, after a time, that this is where we would stop and make camp. We would stay in this beautiful place until the gods gave us direction. So the Khazad began to set up camp, felling trees and shaping them into homes and places to work. But unknown to us, we were being watched, and as the first trees fell, the woods erupted with a shower of arrows and screams.

The arrows broke harmlessly against the stone hide of the Khazad, but the brutality of the attack, and its unexpected nature, startled them enough to stop them anyway. We formed up, ready to defend ourselves if needed. Out of the woods rushed strange, tall, thin creatures armed with bows and dressed in leaves. They surrounded the Khazad and demanded to know why we had felled those great trees, which had been promised to the Elves by the gods when they had been given these lands for their homes. The Khazad, amazed by these strange elves, apologized. We had not meant to anger anyone, merely make homes for ourselves to live in until we could contact the gods for further instructions. The elves, equally as fascinated by the Khazad as we were fascinated by them, lowered their weapons. This had not been an act of aggression, just ignorance. It could be forgiven.

The Khazad and elves began to talk at this point. Both wanted to know more about the other, for both found the other very strange. The Khazad had yet to meet a creature of flesh with the power of speech, and the elves had never seen creatures made of stone. They found our skin, made of stone and lined with metal, to be fascinating, and wished to know how we had come to have such an appearance. The Khazad told them how the gods had made us to craft the world, and then placed us in slumber beneath it. The elves laughed at that. They did not believe the stories of the Khazad any more then than their ancestors do today.

As the day was ending, the elves decided to invite the Khazad back to their village for the night. The Khazad, having no better place to stay, accepted. As the two races walked, the elves couldn’t help but admire the metal tools we carried with us. Their own tools were made of bone, stone, or wood. Simple materials that were easy to make, but also broke with use. The metal tools of the Khazad looked much stronger. They had felled the great trees of these woods swiftly, not an easy task. The elves decided they needed such tools for themselves.

Once in the village, the elves invited our leaders to the home of their elders. It was there that the elves made their offer. They wanted the metal tools we had, and the knowledge of how to make them. They would trade whatever they needed to in order to get it. At first the Khazad were reluctant. We had been given these gifts by the gods. Surely if the gods had wished the elves to have similar gifts, they would have given them the knowledge too. But the elves were insistent, and eventually we agreed that if the elves had anything that would interest us, a trade could be made.

The elves offered many things to trade. The offered wood and bone, but as both were weaker than our metal, neither was of interest. They offered food in the form of berries and flesh, but as the Khazad were stone we did not need to eat. The elves offered music, but to our ears it sounded horrible. Finally they offered to teach the us the secrets of their magic. This interested the Khazad, who had no magic of our own, but when we tried to duplicate what the elves did, the magic did not seem to work. As we could not use the magic of the elves, that was not a good trade either. It seemed that no deal could be struck; the elves had nothing the Khazad wanted. As the elves were about to give up in despair, one of them had a final idea. They offered the Khazad a drink, something made of crushed berries that had sat out for many moons. The drink was strong and tasty, and while we did not experience thirst as the elves did, the Khazad enjoyed it greatly. So the deal was decided. The Khazad would teach the elves to make steel, and the elves would teach us how to brew alcohol.

The Curse of Flesh

It was then, as the deal was being struck, that the gods finally realized what had happened. They looked down upon the world, and saw the Khazad mingling with the elves. Worse, they saw that they were teaching the elves secrets that the elves were not meant to have. The gods grew furious. Why were the Khazad awake? Why were they on the surface? The gods knew something must be done, but what?

Some of the gods, those with hotter tempers, wished to destroy us where we stood. But if they did that, it would also destroy the elves. No, it was decided that instead the Khazad must be returned to their sleep, and the elves made to forget. That was the best way, the only way, this could be done. So the gods sent down a messenger to the Khazad and elves, with these commands. The gods expected that to be enough. After all, the Khazad had gone to sleep willingly before, what could have changed?

When the messenger arrived, they were welcomed into the village. As soon as they gave the command to stop the teaching, the elves put down their tools, and agreed. They did not wish to anger the gods who had given them such lush forests and such great magic. But the Khazad, who had already been questioning why the gods had not let us live in this world, did not take kindly to the idea of going back to sleep. We liked this world, with its beauty and its wonders. We wanted to stay in it. What’s more, as we had taught the elves to craft steel, we had also consumed liberal amounts of the elves’ berry wine. And while beings of stone do not need to drink, strong wine is still enough to fill our heads with bad ideas. So, drunk as we were and already unhappy, our ancestors refused to go with the messenger back underground. We would stay where we were. The messenger insisted we go, demanded we come with them. But the Khazad refused. The messenger insisted, and refused to leave until the Khazad agreed to come. Finally, one Khazad, known today as Paragon Durgarth, though he had yet to achieve his many glories, stepped forward. He had greatly enjoyed the elven wine, and as such, was further gone than the others. Tired of the messenger’s nagging, the future paragon and first king, chucked an axe at the messenger, striking them in the chest. The fine steel of Durgarth’s weapon cut deep, and the messenger fell to the ground, dead.

This greatly angered the gods. Not only were the Khazad not where they were supposed to be, but now we were refusing to listen when orders were given. Furthermore, this Durgarth had attacked the gods’ messenger, an act of open rebellion. Once again, the gods thought of destroying us, of raining fire down from the sky until there were no Khazad left. But once again, cooler heads prevailed. Instead, it was decided that we could live in this world, but if we wanted to be in the world, we must become part of it. So the gods placed a curse on the elven wine, a curse that would turn any who drank from strong stone to soft flesh. So, as the Khazad toasted their victory against the gods and congratulated Durgarth on his courage, the sturdy stone of our bodies transformed into soft flesh. At first, we did not realize what had happened. Then we began to hurt. In our drunken state we were clumsy, bumping into tables, trees, and rocks. And while those bumps would be nothing before when we were made of stone, now, cursed to become flesh, they hurt greatly. As we realized what had been done, we fell to our knees and begged to regain our former form. We implored the gods to once again let us be stone skinned, with metallic hair and eyes of gems. But the gods, still angered, would not relent. They told us that this was the price we must pay. We could live in this world, but to do so we must become of it. We mourned our former strong, beautiful form, and we still mourn that loss to this day. It is why we carve metal into our skin, as a reminder of what we once were. But while we have lost our beauty and strength, we retained our great skill with our crafts. In the end, it was the Khazad who won. We may not be made of stone, with metallic hair and eyes of gems, but we are still the greatest craftspeople of the world. We are still, each of us, gifted with skill and knowledge no other race can match. We may not be the gods’ greatest creation, or even their favorites, but we are creators ourselves, and at our best, when we put all our heart and soul into it, our crafts can rival those of the gods.

-As written by Loremaster Argun Barkûn

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