The Destruction of Grehen and Construction of the World (Part One)
- In the time before the Dominance War, the three powers of Will (the Djinni, Keepers and Dwarves) occupied the plains around Arboria. The Seelie Court and Dwarvenkind were acquainted, but there was little formal contact.
- We Dwarves at that time were an aggressive people. When the Dominance War began, with our knowledge of Making we soon became so efficient at killing that our conquests began to alarm even the followers of Death.
- Fleeing our aggression, the nine academies of Mind simply removed themselves and walked across the Eastern Sea to contemplate a new continent.
- When we finally completed the Terrible Engine, causing the Great Wasting and creating simultaneously the Badlands and the Misfits, Aan-Kandra, the king of the Keeper race, petitioned the Gargoyles to step in. Justicars arrived, implacable and dire, and made clear the will of the Star Chamber.
- There has never been a satisfying answer as to who made the Terrible Engine, but it is now said by most that it was Fingle. Some ancient texts refer to it as Boorthorn's Machine, however, and considering that Boorthorn is spoken of as the Humble, or in some texts the Penitent, it is hard not to lend these references some credence. Doubtless the silent Gargoyles have the truth graven in the glyphs of their deep Well of Souls.
- In our shame, the Dwarven nation left the flatlands behind. Beobogh the Armorer was made Patriarch and led us into the mountains.
- By ancient tradition, although our kind often lives four times this long, our monarchs rule for only two hundred years. This has been effective in preventing stagnation in Dwarven culture. Beobogh reigned for the first 200 years after the Great Wasting, and the last year of his reign is now counted as year zero. It is from this that we Dwarves date time. The hotheaded and short-lived Humans have no respect for the Armorer's interregnum Reign of Healing. Their calendar counts year zero as the fateful year that created the Badlands, once the proud lands of Arun, that was to become their home.
Remains of the Great Wasting
- Beobogh was a wise Patriarch, and it is with good reason that his rule is called the Reign of Healing. However, it was not long before the depth of our folly was made apparent to us.
- While the world was joined in celebration, culminating in Aan-Kandra's live burial in the Great Necropolis of Bes-Tharal, the last purely Dwarven child was born. Loyal Fingle had carried away the Terrible Engine and buried it with the assistance of the Sappers Guild in a remote and forgotten place, but the damage had been done.
- The same awful power that had rent the lands of Arun apart had also made infertile the entire Dwarven people. Although the child died within a few decades as we carved a new home from the cold stones of the mountains, we still remember his name as the last true Dwarven child. We carry his name in our hearts to remind us of our fall, and have never spoken it before members of the other nations. It is a secret each Dwarf takes with him to the grave until such time as we may again conceive children of our own.
- Sadly, we were not the only ones to suffer for our hubris. The Satyrs as well had been stricken by the Great Wasting, victims of a plague that had killed more than a third of their population in the fifteen years since the War. While most went joyfully to their deaths singing "That is the way of Nature!" others were less accepting. One in particular, a young Satyr named Goldleaf, found it impossible to accept his fate. In a desperate attempt to escape the realms of the Keepers, he sought the assistance of a Sar'uli Djinn name Djibari.
- Perhaps it was a genuine attempt to help the Satyrs, or perhaps some dark experiment he was investigating, we will never know. That is the sort of endless debate best left to the Djinn themselves. As fate insists, the so-called gift Djibari gave to the hopeful Satyrs was more a curse than a blessing.
- Deep within Goldleaf's belly was planted a larval imp, and when it burst forth it changed him into Ostralek, the first of the Imps. That House has been a scourge on the lands ever since, and has perhaps caused more damage in the years since then than we did in our own misguided grasp at dominance.
- Some years later Djibari returned to the Easten continent to share what he had learned with the other Sar'uli, but the journey had left him marked. From his long exposure to the chaotic effects of the Terrible Engine, he had begun to change. Within months of his return he had fully transformed into a Misfit. Appalled by the mutation, Djinn society ousted him from their company. It was during this exile that he changed the very shape of the Easten continent itself and created the Ever-changing Lands, where more than a mile of beach endlessly shifted terrain until the 167th year of Beobogh's reign.
Machinations for Reproduction Proved Futile
- It was around the time that the last pure Dwarven child died that Fingle created his Cultivator. Driven by the child's death, Fingle toiled night and day ceaselessly until the Cultivator was finished. This continued for nearly two years. Nevertheless, Fingle completed his creation just in time for the celebration of Beobogh's First Quarter as Patriarch. It was at this time that I, though but an infant, was promised as envoy to the halls of Auberol and relations between our two Houses were reopened.
- As you can imagine, quite a crowd gathered in the new-made Palace to view the efforts of our greatest Inventor. Fingle explained that the machine would, in essence, draw out the chaos left over from the Great Wasting and somehow turn it upon itself so that, much like a serpent that eats its own tail, the taint would consume itself and fertility would be returned to our people. The machine was a marvel to behold. Such lines! Such delicate workings and clean movement! Such perfect mechanics! The Inventor had truly outdone himself!
- Our joy was short-lived. Afterward Fingle claimed that the machine had been properly tested. It's possible I suppose that some sabotage may have occurred. Times were still in flux then, and the political character of our nation was still being formed. However it is the widely held belief of most Dwarves that Fingle, in his exhaustion and grief, simply ignored the fact that the machine did not work and activated it anyway.
- The result was darkly terrifying. Where before there had been the freshly mortared tile of the Palace floor was now inky, star-blotted emptiness. Less than emptiness, it was as if creation itself had ceased to exist and left in its wake a void. After considerable pressure was exerted from the Stonesetters Guild and the Polishers Guild, the Patriarch regretfully banished Fingle forever from the company of Dwarves. Few doubt that it was this flint that sparked the fire of madness in his keen mind.
- Over the years Beobogh often wished he could have taken back that decision, but time is a hammer blow on soft metal; once struck, it cannot be unstruck.
- Fingle's wanderings are a mystery, but it is known that it was during these wanderings he first conceived of his Folly. Eventually he found himself in Arboria, cutting timber to feed the fires that powered the fell contraption. Pardon my language, but it was a contraption, an ill-made thing at best and a sure sign that madness had fully claimed the Inventor. My father had great respect for that dwarf, and upon hearing the thing described could only shake his head in disbelief.
- It clanked and clattered noisily, and so inefficient was it that, whatever its intended purpose might have been, the result was that it tore the Inventor's arms from his body and scattered them to the winds.
- Perhaps the shock returned him to his senses, prompting him to seek the Seelie court to tend to his injuries, but before he could seek refuge, Misfits took him in as he wandered in his delirium. They brought him to the Claw Lakes and fitted him with the arms he now bears. Misfit humor is an ill-cast thing as you well know.
Queen Adriel Builds a New Nation
- And perhaps the world's humor is not much better. Forgive me, I have grown old and my eyes sometimes see only the darker side of things.
- But it was the world at that time, in that place, that brought together two of the greatest banes to our many creations. At a party to celebrate the Rising Tuesday of the Papaya Boot-fling, Fingle and Djibari met. It is not clear how Djibari came to be there, but before the night was over Fingle had let slip the location of the Terrible Engine buried those 50 years ago. Perhaps feeling that he was among allies, Djibari shared his plans for the Terrible Engine. He would use it, he announced, to bring the world to its final, irreversible conclusion. He would scour Grehen's surface of all life, and blast the very planet itself apart.
- Some argue it was another of his mad whims, but it is my belief there was still some unbroken core of true Dwarven honesty in Fingle that caused him to shun Djibari's plot to end the world. It was doubtless whim, however, that prompted the assembled Misfits to follow his example and reject Djibari. He was immediately cast from their midst, and they have never invited him to a party since. But like all things with the Misfits, this will likely change in time.
- Djibari proceeded directly to the Badlands and moved the Terrible Engine. Given his plans, one might expect that the world would have ended shortly thereafter, but perhaps the workings of the engine were beyond Djibari's capabilities.
- Instead of more woe, this was instead to be a time of hope. Taking pity upon the plight of our Nation, your own Queen Adriel sent the first delegation of the Fainne Ealith of Wyr to our mountain retreats. True to her vow, she brought renewed Life to our people. Where once we wed stout and hardy Dwarven brides, now sylph-like Elven maidens stood their place by our sides at the Fasting Stones.
- After seven decades of resigning ourselves to the imminent extinction of our race, we were given the chance once again to belong to these lands. Construction of the memorial city we had begun as an epitaph to our people, where we had expected to inhume the remains of the last of the Dwarves, was halted in spite of the protestations of the Keeper advisors to Beobogh. The long and effective co-mingling of our peoples had begun.
~ Borethu, Dwarven historian, envoy to the court of Auberol
Continue on to Part 2