Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Clan of Legend, or How the Dwarf Got His Name (Repost)

...While I'm a touch short on time and inspiration, I hope you all don't mind but I'd like to repost one of my first Olwe Lorearthen historiographies so our new commrades can get to know the stout and often quiet dwarf.

As a boy, Olwe Lorearthen was told his people's name-story exactly three times a year at the major holidays and festivals, and twice in quick succession every other vernal equinox, just for good measure. That makes 120 tellings that Olwe has committed to a memory so deep he can feel it’s telling in his hands. It was a table ritual of his father, begun long before Olwe could remember. During these performances, it was his father’s custom to stand in front of his seated audience, whoever that audience might be, and enchant them with the lore about the Clan Lorearthen - the Clan of Legend, the only clan of Dwarfs ever to produce blade-wielding magic users called Duskblades. For Olwe's father, Thorry, who was himself a direct descendant of Paxon the Younger, the tale of the origins of the Lorearthen clan was close to his heart, for his kin played an important role in the story of how the Lorearthen Dwarfs got their name. And in those quiet moments while still getting accustomed to his new friends, Olwe often turns inside himself and finds comfort recalling his father's every word.

The Time Before History

My friends, I beg you. Let us all listen with the ears of children; for my story is your story. Your name-story. It is the story of your noble ancestors, who live on today in our veins as well as in our song. And it is the story of all stories, for it is the story of the beginning of history. For the glorious family Lorearthen, history begins with the Three Brothers. For before the days of the Second Rebellion, we had no name, and, therefore, we had no history.

So it is with the great date of the Second Rebellion that you might think our story should properly begin. But please let us not be too hasty to make a beginning. And so, I beg you, trust with the ears of children when I tell you that our story begins with the Three Brothers who, in turn, have their beginnings in the whispers.

Yes, there is no history before Paxon the Older, Hexil, and Paxon the Younger, at least where the Lorearthen's are concerned. But there are tales that have come up through the ages and some have even lingered in the present; whispers of our people and of the origins of our most sacred gift. Some of these whispers tell us that the earliest of our kin were captured by the legions in the dark days of the world, nearly 800 years before the Second Rebellion. The world was a dark place then, just as it is today. But the darkness that covered every corner of that ancient world was that of the shadow of a centurion's boot in your face.

Out of mountain crevice and cranny, our Dwarf kin were seized, one by one at times, at others whole families sold to the Romans by marauding orcs or victorious armies, or even by some power-hungry and greedy Dwarf kings. And for years the men, women, and children of our race were forced to work as slaves in the mines of that old world power. With the passing of years and the irresistible force of military necessity, however, the whispers speak of our kin being trained as formidable warriors and given great gifts from the elves in return for their continuing devotion and their willingness to help extend Rome's cruel and merciless grip on all free peoples of the Drowned World.

There are also other, different whispers; tales of our kin captured and enslaved whilst living amongst the the remote elves of Gaul. Living in a perfect harmony with these elves, our foremothers and fathers were initiated into their ancient rites, and bred into the traditions of the "armed mage", becoming over the generations that rare combination of physical strength and stamina with an intuitive connection to the arts of the arcane that in the common speech is called simply the Duskblade. And it was this rare sight - a clan of Dwarf duskblades - that proved too much to resist for the murderous, plundering Roman legions.

The First and Second Rebellions

Imagine our people, my listeners, under such conditions. Can it be called a Dwarfing life? Imagine them in chains or in armor, however you choose. Is this the life of a true dwarf? A captive or a wandering thug in open country, or both at once? To their lives and their sacrifices so that we may live a life of freedom under the mountain in true flourishing, we owe a great debt. Help me repay that debt by listening to the last whisper.

For we know that the glorious revolution lead by our own forefathers was not the first attempt to bring our people out of the bondage of avarice and rage and willful pillagery imposed by the Roman filth. Even our great father, Paxon the Younger, spoke to his family about the deeds of one dwarf, known simply as "X", paying great homage in his speeches and valedictions to the great dwarf without a name.

In the heat of a difficult battle that took place at a time now lost in the mists of the past, the great X is said to have turned his magic power and his noble blade sharp and true on the neck the human general, Posthumous, after enduring endless days and nights of bloody drills and and unspeakable abuses at his hand. For his action, the line of X was exterminated, down the youngest son, daughter, and grandchild. Each of the young murdered as all others were forced to stand at attention. Every possession which bore the name of X was ordered destroyed; every object that signified his very existence obliterated. And, in the last insult, our kin and kith were forbade forever more to commit their speech to writing, as a penalty fitting the collective guilt of their kind. They were to become the forgotten ones, those who exist only in dreams of the past.

And it almost happened as they planned, my dears ones. Never forget that. And never let your children children forget it. But for the noble actions of the three brothers, in the year 1000, our people and our gift would have been lost from the world forever. It must be said that our people flourished during the long years after the First Rebellion, their numbers swelling with each new generation until they had reached that most magnificent of numbers, One Thousand. One thousand strong, our forebears stood advanced positions in the well-choreographed Roman system of war. Battle after battle and siege after siege our people proved themselves courageous, fleet of hand and foot, and indefatigably resolute. As the Roman centurions would advance to secure a hillside or crash entrenched positions, the brave corps of Dwarf Duskblades proved themselves indispensable for their appearance would often draw out hidden targets into open combat, leaving themselves completely vulnerable to the instant cascade of brilliant missiles and rays that descended upon them, engulfing them in a storm of searing pain and certain death.

But the story of X was never completely forgotten. On the occasion of the fall of their mother and father in the battle, the brothers Paxon, Hexil, and Xanven made great speeches to the crowds, stirring incantations which curdled their blood and rallied our dear desperate people in opposition against their legion and the Roman way of the world. The Three Brothers called on the motivating spirit of X, and led our people through great trials of fierce combat, to secure their freedom from tyranny. These are the great battles we still celebrate today as the Feast of the Rocky Cliff, the Feast of the Glorious Retreat, and the Eve of the Night Walkers. The three great brothers led our people through these trials, and out across the great fields where nary a tree stands nor rock casts shadow for miles. As they crossed the endless field and valley, it was only with the supreme wisdom of the Three Brothers that final defeat came to the Romans at last. While the Red Plague slept in their tents under the open sky, our foremothers and forefathers severed their heads and spilled their entrails, and spread their ashes to the winds; destroying all markings that would serve to give their victims names beyond death. But this great defeat of the mighty Romans on the Eve of the Night Walkers came at a great cost. For it was during this last struggle that the brave and noble Paxon was struck down by a lone arrow, leaving our people without a leader.

Xanven, the youngest of the Three Brothers, took up his brother's charge and armor, and led our people - our now free people - into the lands beyond the valley. And it is here our story passes fully into our history, for on the other side of the valley lay the deep and age old mountain fortress of the Mineshadow Clan; our neighbors in life and and work and death still today. And although our numbers at the Great Reunion were a precious few - only 150 beautiful souls were destined to carry our glory into eternity - today we cannot even begin to count our real numbers as our lives and our loves and our blood have become so interwoven with our gracious saviors and hosts. Adopting the family name Paxon, Xanven made the deep mountain home of the Mineshadow Clan our home. And on the first anniversary of the death of his oldest brother, Paxon the Younger declared our name to be 'Lorearthen' - the name our hosts gave to us when we had told them of our story and of the whispers that I have now passed on to you.

And you, members of the Clan of Legend all; and you, my children and children children, equal members of the great house of Paxon the Younger: This is your legacy so take heart and take heed. Keep their names alive in your memory. Keep their glory alive through your deeds. 


Aeschere said...

Thank you very much for the repost. I'm glad that this wasn't lost with the rest of our old blog, because I had not had a chance to reread it before beginning this second part of the campaign. Now that it's back, who knows what shadows of the past will confront our dwarven friend in strange and dangerous city of Kharschum.

Ironbeard said...

Yes! I think that this post has "old classic" status in the history of our group, if old classics are possible in a group that is merely two years old.

I had forgotten how interesting this history of the Lorearthen clan is.

Thanks for the repost.

post festum said...

Thanks very much guys. I really enjoyed going back and reading through some of the old posts. Seems kind of appropriate given there are some new members of the group.