Emberholm

Ages ago, when Dwarven clans were few and far between and their people were carving out a name for themselves in the world, the Gravelfoot Clan undertook a massive mining project to expand their wealth and influence. They dug crisscrossing shafts and tunnels for miles under the earth, searching out treasures held in the dark. Their lowest class of diggers always ran the forefront of new mines. When a vein of metal or gemstones was found the clan elders would send in “more experienced” miners to extract and carry the riches – and glory – out of the mines. These miners were lauded as heros of Gravelfoot, and always seemed to be related to or close friends of the clan’s elder council. The diggers toiled on and cut into rock as they were ordered, believing they were working for a “greater good” of the clan. Bit by bit the clan’s stockpile of wealth grew and the money they could spend on supplies for the mine was finally greater than the stock they could buy or procure themselves. While the people of the clan celebrated their fortune and the diggers toiled under the earth, the elders debated hotly behind closed doors. Many of them wanted to continue the mining expeditions, simply “stretching” the supplies and materials they were already using. Others argued this went against their basic tenants of being prepared. They were countered with arguments of wastefulness, using up too many resources on safety for accidents that never came, that it was success they were not prepared for. While arguments continued to flare and deadlock any real decisions, the expeditions continued as ordered.

When disaster struck it struck hard. The earthquake ended the people’s joy. The arguments of the elder council turned to shame and lamenting. The miners did all they could to rescue their brothers and sisters from the earth. The diggers, furthest away in the deepest, newest tunnels were trapped behind miles of debris. The people demanded the elder council to organize a rescue of their countrymen. The miners told the elders that clearing and rebuilding the tunnels just to get near the pockets of diggers that may or may not be alive would be a huge undertaking, and likely to deplete most of the wealth they had gained. In their shame, the elders claimed the diggers were lost to the clan’s hubris. The mine collapse became a reminder to them all that they should be ever after vigilant, and hold their creed to the highest standard and always, always be prepared.

Many diggers of the Gravelfoot clan sat in the dark, injured and cold and hungry while the elder council directed memorials for the lesson they supposedly paid with their lives. They rationed their food and water, bandaged their wounded as best they could in the darkness and waited for a rescue that wasn’t to come. They banged out messages on the rocks and howled in the lightless pockets for days before hope began to fail them. When mining picks and shovels began to be more plentiful than food and water, one group of survivors decided to take destiny into their own hands, and rescue themselves. Other nearby groups heard the diggers working, and took up picks themselves, hollowing out solid rock to try and reach their brethren. The survivors did come together, with more hands and tools to dig but more wounded and weary to take with them along the way. They cut through the earth that threatened to suffocate them in desperation – stabbing at their foe as their wounded died and tools broke or wore down. They came to cure their clan for leaving them in the dark to die, and prayed to Dranngvit, the goddess of vengeance to grant them their due.

Dranngvit heard the hateful cries from deep in the mountains and knew the Gravelfoot had simply abandoned their lowest class of citizen rather than face their shame. She decided if the diggers were to not simply survive, but flourish on their own underground they would be able to exact their revenge themselves. To see this end she sent her twin children, Ivar and Ildri, to watch over and guide the ragged diggers to success or elimination. While Dranngvit considered the matter closed to herself, the fledgling gods took to their task with care and forethought. They vowed to work together to help the trapped dwarves and, if successful, go on to help any of dwarvenkind that sought to live in the dark that lies just below the surface.

With their water and food supplies exhausted, and weary workers trading off the last useable picks to move through the rock, providence finally shone on the survivors. The earth let out an ear splitting crack as the diggers breached ahead and rocks tumbled, echoing through the massive natural cavern they had discovered. Fresh air filled the tunnel, and with renewing hope, they carried their starving and injured into the cave. On the shore of an underground lake, where the breeze from a natural chimney blew a calming breeze over them, they piled up all the wood and kindling they could muster – stout roots dug up, broken handles from their tools, broken up wheelbarrows and scraps of clothing. The men and women even cut their hair and beards off for kindling to start a fire. With Ildri smiling on them, they raised a fire large enough to warm them all. With proper light to see by, they were better able to tend the wounds of the dying and keep them comfortable and warm to recover. Ivar filled the healthy with courage and wit to forage in the cave and surrounding tunnels, finding food to ward off starvation. The survivors knew they could never return to the clan that abandoned them, rather they would make their own here with the underground bounty that saved them. That night they vowed that the fires of their new home would burn forever, and any that sought to snuff them out would find themselves burned clean to ash, be they Drow, Drugar or any other Dwarf clan that sought to claim what was rightfully theirs.

The founders of the Emberholm clan learned to take all they needed from the earth without ever seeing the surface again. It would be several generations before explorers found a path that led above the earth and even more time before they rediscovered the lands of their distant forefathers, the Gravelfoot. Ildri and Ivar’s kindness and dedication to their people had taught them to temper what could have been a violent feud with wisdom, the people of Emberholm never completely trusted the Gravelfoot clan. They valued their underground city and proud traditions too much to risk starting a war that didn’t need to be fought. To this day, they continue to cycle from tentative trade when times are plentiful to skirmishing over resources when times are lean. The people of the two clans as diverse and divergent as if they had no common ancestry.

Emberholm

Restoration of the Mithril Throne NovemberEve Griff_