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Seen In The Halls Of Dwarrowdelf: 1. Seen In The Halls Of Dwarrowdelf
Then the halls sang with glory and gold- now they whisper with darkness and death.
Then the mines were places of mirth and merriment - now they are places of destruction and decay.
Read my words, traveller, and despair.
The shaft was deeper than any that had been dug before- of that we were certain.
The maps we had only stretched to it- no further.
Mighty fine we thought ourselves- delvers of secrets, burrowers into the very heart of the World, traffickers in dreams.
We dug for Dwarvenkind, and our hearts sang with every blow of pick on rock, sang songs of the joy of mining and mithril.
We dug and we sweated and we broke our backs upon the anvils of our pride, and every blow was glorious.
Eventually, we reached a solid black wall and could go no further.
It was as nothing we had ever seen before- as nothing any of us could recall, as nothing any of our lore could recall.
Beautiful it was- starless midnight, obsidian perfection-
And yet we lusted to destroy it.
It stood in our way- we were sure of it.
All the signs pointed to the largest deposit of mithril ever found.
All the signs pointed to us being the heroes of our kind.
We toiled upon the black wall, toiled upon it with all our strength, toiled upon it until our blood boiled in our brains and drove us quite mad.
It is the only thing I can think of that drove us on- madness.
Madness and greed and lust for glory.
We toiled on for days, weeks- and for nothing.
That black wall took our strongest blows and blunted our sharpest picks, and still it stood before us.
Desperate, we asked the sages for help- begged them for their darkest secrets.
We begged them, and we pleaded with them, and we fell to our knees and wept like children at them-
And yet they could not help.
All their knowledge, all their greatness- all the knowledge of our race, all the greatness of our race-
It was fruitless.
The wall stood solid and black and dead.
We were on the verge of quitting the task- on the verge of shaming our families, our ancestors, we told ourselves.
One last day of toil, we told ourselves.
One last day of fruitless drudgery, we told ourselves.
One last day of worthless endeavour-
And then it cracked.
Imperceptible, it may have been, but a crack nonetheless.
We stared at it dumbstruck- the blow had been struck by the youngest of us, after all, by the very slightest of us- and a shudder ran through our souls.
Mighty was our joy, and we redoubled our efforts upon the rock, redoubled our efforts upon that damnable, intractable black wall, our mighty enemy suddenly nothing more to our eyes than an annoyance.
It got warmer, the longer we worked- we took no notice.
We sang louder and louder, and paid less and less attention.
What fools we were.
What simpletons to not have stopped to listen to the whispering.
By the time we heard the whispering it was a roar, and by the time we heard the roar...
...It was too late.
Much too late.
Did we wake It, that... that thing that even now slaughters us like cattle?
Did we disturb its slumbers with our digging?
I do not think so.
I think It lay there awake within its midnight tomb, lay there for milennia, unsleeping, unfeeling, undying.
Lay there waiting for the day it would be released once more.
Unleashed once more.
Mighty fine, we thought ourselves.
Now we skulk through our own halls, fugitives from an implacable and unstoppable monster from out of untold ages.
Victims of a doom of our own bringing.
Look about you, traveller- these empty halls, these blood-stained rocks, these bone-choked vaults... once they were the greatest achievement of our age, of our race, of our world.
Now it is our tomb.
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