Garnedhren and the Iron Kingdom (book)
Garnedhren and the Iron Kingdom
As told by the Dwarven Bard Hrakisi Viikelen
The Iron Kingdom was one of the first Dwarven nations -- it was established, along with Kwarlog, Adamantia, and Rendstone, when the Dwarven lands were split from one unified whole. To Kwarlog went the Arncharn Shel and the Himineldar Shel; to Rendstone, the Journelai Shel and Siergelde Shel; to Adamantia, the Hiimarhand Shel; and to the Iron Kingdom, the imposing DragonSpine Mountains, with their rich and plentiful mines of precious ores.
As the center of their kingdom, the Dwarves of the DragonSpine began building a magnificent city which they called Garnedhren. Now, at this point you might be saying to yourself, "Garnedhren? I have never heard of this city, this Garnedhren." Understandable. Garnedhren has not been called by its real name in a long, long time.
But that part of the tale comes later.
Now, you might find this surprising, for it is somewhat unusual with Dwarven architecture, but Garnedhren was a beautiful city. Mind you, it was still built with practicality and efficiency in mind. But it also had a certain beauty to it. It had the most well-crafted stone spires that touched the clouds themselves.
The Iron Kingdom was peaceful, and well off. The kingdom developed good trade relationships with the other Dwarven lands, with the Humans and the Elotheans and the S'Kra, and even, to some extent, the Elves. Their mines provided them materials that were much needed the continent over, which they could either trade raw, or use to masterfully forge into weapons, tools, and other objects that brought a good price in other lands.
Things were prosperous. But problems came -- you knew that, right? This wouldn't be much of a story, otherwise.
Garnedhren began hearing tales of the kingdom's outposts being attacked by a mysterious and ruthless group. When these outposts were attack, nothing was left standing. Refugees from the entire Iron Kingdom began pouring into Garnedhren, seeking safety from this terrifying menace.
They called themselves the Blackfire Cabal.
The Dwarf King, Thorsach, was vexed by these murderers and destroyers. Gathering his forces, he marched out to meet the cabal and halt their razing invasion. A great battle was waged a day's march from Garnedhren, as the Dwarves attempted to throw back the wizards and their consuming magics. But they faired. The Blackfire Cabal was determined to occupy the DragonSpine Mountains, and Thorsach could not stop them. His forces were demolished, with a magical fire, black as the deepest night, which obliterated everything it came into contact with. They were no match for the cabal's power.
King Thorsach died in that attack. The remnants of his forces fled back to Garnedhren, and informed Thorsach's son of what had transpired. The youth, wise beyond his years, saw that no alternative was available to them -- he gathered the city's populace and fled Garnedhren. Fled the DragonSpine Mountains entirely, for that matter. The mountains were lost to the Blackfire Cabal.
Prince Hvalig, now King -- though without a kingdom -- led his people out of the DragonSpine Mountains, to the Deriel Plains. His hope was to regroup there, contact other Dwarves, and gather a force strong enough to retake the mountains from the cabal. They did get that help, but it came from an unlikely source.
The young Dwarven king and his exiled people were soon come upon by a group of Elves -- Wind Elves, to be specific, and young ones at that. They had left their clan, seeking freedom and a new way of life, finding the ritual and tradition of their people stiffling and wrongheaded. Their leader was a young woman named Tivhiri; she had been leading the Elves across the plains when they could not help but notice the most out-of-place sight of a large camp of Dwarves. They did not attack, however, as most any other Elven group would have done. Instead they approached in peace.
Tivhiri and Hvalig met with each other, and spoke at length. He learned of the situation she and her siblings found themselves in, seeking a new way of life free from the rules of their ancestors; she learned of the plight of his people. Two young leaders, one a Dwarf and one an Elf, not tied to the way of the past or the struggle of their parents, formed a pact of friendship. Such a pact would have been a thing most shocking to King Thorsach, or other elder Dwarven leaders, just as it would be to Tivhiri's parents. But these two agreed that there was no need for the war of their fathers to be their war as well.
The first task of this new alliance was ridding the Dwarves' mountain city of the infestation of the Blackfire Cabal. The leaders were certain that the magics and archery skill of the Elves, when combined with the power of the Dwarven warriors, would be enough to defeat the cabal. For their assistance, the Dwarves would give their Elven friends a new home, away from the plains of the Wind Elf Clan. The Elves would train the Dwarves in their knowledge and skills, and the Dwarves would do likewise with the Elves. They were to form a new land.
The allied groups remained on the Deriel Plains for a number of years, though. The weary and wounded among the kingdom's populace needed rest, needed time to heal the injuries they had incurred. And there were other matters to attend to -- new weapons had to be forged, and armor, as well, for the Dwarves had left most of these things behind in the hasty flight from Garnedhren. Further, they now to forge gear for their new friends.
And so King Hvalig began a return march to Garnedhren, stronger than he was when he departed. The force of Wind Elf exiles and Iron Kingdom warriors trekked through the DragonSpine Mountains, at last approaching the great city. To look upon it would cause despair to well up in any Dwarf's heart. The grand buildings, the mighty stone spires of Garnedhren -- all ruined. It filled the Dwarves present with a terrible fury.
But the Blackfire Cabal was gone. Not a trace of them could be found. Warrior Mages claim they were defeated by four mages who developed an immensely powerful spell. I know not whether this was true, only that the Iron Kingdom was abandoned when Hvalig's forces arrived.
They knew not where the cabal had gone, only that, with their lands freed, it was time to start rebuilding. While Tivhiri and her Elves raided the Deriel Plains, hunting for food for the combined groups, Hvalig oversaw the Dwarves in the reconstruction of Garnedhren -- complete with a brand new section of the city, set aside specifically for the Elves, in a style of architecture Hvalig devised personally. It was a bit more graceful than the traditional style of building, and even more elegant than the rest of Garnedhren, but Hvalig felt that it would appeal to the Elves. He wanted their new home to be perfect, as an expression of his gratitude. Dwarves always repay their debts.
The alliance between the Elves and the Dwarves continued long after the completion of Garnedhren. For many, many years, the two races lived side by side in the expansive city, working together as one. As I said, the Dwarves and Elves each trained the other in their skills -- while the Dwarves learned many of the Elven arts, including their music and even their raw elemental magic, the Elves learned how to mine the earth and shape rock and forge metals. Things were quite harmonious. King Hvalig grew old, his beard growing long and white. And Tivhiri grew old as well, ruling the Elves with wisdom and grace. Their friendship deepened, and they led their races as one.
Tivhiri's twin children, though, held bitter and dark hearts within themselves. One was a woman, cold as the most chilling ice, the most fearsome warrior in Garnedhren. The second was a man, frail of body, but ruthless and cruel of mind, with the skills of an Alchemist. They were Morganae and Lenizhir.
These two were envious of the wealth they felt the Dwarves had acumulated, which to their minds, should by right have belonged to the Elves. They felt it was unfair that the Dwarves had a larger portion of Garnedhren than they did. They were disdainful of their mother for turning her back on the traditions of their people -- these two would rather live among their own kind than the Dwarves.
They began to spread the seeds of dissent among their kin. It is ironic that those most susceptible to the twins' dark words were the younger Elves -- the second generation. Their parents had fought and toiled alongside the Dwarves, but many of the children, who had grown up away from Elven civilization and thus never experienced the need to be free of it, did wonder what it would be like to return to their own people. They were open to the suggestions that it should be the Elves ruling the city, not the Dwarves.
Morganae and Lenizhir twisted reality, making lies seem as truth, and they instilled their own bitterness and greed in the hearts of the other Elves with black words. Their actions would lead the Iron Kingdom down the path of destruction.
Lenizhir possessed a great knowledge of herbs, but his was not the healer's art -- it, like him, was twisted, and he learned to do cruel things with his knowledge. A rare herb grew in the Deriel Plains, and he recalled his mother once commenting upon how it made the Dwarves ill during their stay on the plains. He waited until the next raiding party was ready to depart for the plains, and then he requested that his friends on the party find that herb, and bring back to him as much of it as they could.
Once he had acquired a supply of it, he began cultivating the herb and preparing it in a special way that would enhance its natural effects. While he did this, his sister worked at convincing more and more of the Elves to join their cause. The majority of the Elves were reluctant to go along -- many liked their Dwarven friends, liked the way-of-life they had all established together in Garnedhren. But no matter. Morganae and her brother intended to force a confrontation that would leave the Elves no choice but to join their cause.
When Lenizhir was certain that his herb was potent enough, he created a liquid from his stock, which he then turned into a gaseous form. Then, he and his sister had only to wait until the time was right.
Without warning, the two released the gas into the Dwarven section of Garnedhren. Many of the Dwarves were made ill, but their bodies were strong and sturdy, and they were able to resist the most severe effects. The adults, at least. The bodies of the children were not so hale. Few survived.
Following this heinous act, outright war broke out in Garnedhren. The Dwarves, though weakened by the illness, were filled with a divine strength due to the slaughter of their kin, their children. They rounded up the Elves and imprisoned them. Many of the Elves, not fully cognizant of what was going on, did not resist. But Morganae, Lenizhir, and their followers all fought. They killed many more Dwarves in that battle, in addition to the Dwarven children they had already killed.
Once all the Elves were imprisoned, Morganae began anew her persuasive pleas for the Elves to fight against the Dwarves. She was certain they now had no choice, jailed as they were, but to rise up. Tivhiri, old and frail now, opposed the violent path of her children. As long as their leader was opposed, most of the Elves resisted heeding Morganae's words. But when Tivhiri died suddenly in her sleep one night, they found their resistance melting, and soon Morganae was chosen the new leader of the Elves.
Morganae and Lenizhir led the Elves in an uprising. They broke free from the dungeons confining them, and began battling the Dwarves. The Dwarves, still weakened from Lenizhir's disease, were not able to fully resist, and most of their number were killed in the fighting. Morganae herself severed the head of old King Hvalig, and took his crown and placed it upon her own head.
And that is the tale of Garnedhren and the Iron Kingdom. Following Morganae's treachery, the kingdom was no more. She renamed Garnedhren, calling it Elamiri, and she called herself Queen of the DragonSpine Mountains.
What became of the survivors of the massacre? They lived a pitiable existence, hiding away in the, hunted beasts in their own mountains, mountains given to them by Kertigen the Father. They lived in wait of the day when they could have revenge for the betrayal they had suffered, a day which finally came when a man named Sidhlot led a group away from Queen Morganae and Elamiri. This evil man taught his necromantic magics to the Dwarves, in the hopes of using them as a tool to gain vengeance on Morganae. The Dwarves happily accepted the gift, well aware Sidhlot sought only to use them -- they want revenge of their own. The necromancy gradually corrupted the souls of the Dwarves, who were not prepared for such power. They became twisted shadows of what they once were, and people began calling them Elba Darvagers, or "Dark Dwarves" -- nothing more than creatures of the unholy magic that created them.