Yesterday, I spent about a half hour reading over stories and poems I wrote last year and the year before. Among them was a legend that one of my characters told to a character who is never named, but hinted at in Dwyn’s backstory during Ironsfork. The entire story is a fun one, but I don’t want to give away too much of the “other character” because I have a feeling I may meet her soon in preparation for drafting the third book of that series as a first draft later this year.
But the legend is interesting, and very seasonal at the darkest point of the year for my dwarves. Enjoy!
The First Dh’Morda: Legends of Ironsfork
Once, the dwarfs were a folk of great magic, complete in ourselves, and there were no children.
We came from the mountain: born of the stone, of the fire in the earth, the wind that caressed the mountaintop, the earth that made the fertile soil, the water that gave life to the valleys below. Men and women both came from the stone. We were never the same as the goblins say they were in the beginning, and never coupled the way the humans say they did in the beginning. No. To our men, the mountain gave the magic of finding and making beautiful things, we took delight in creating. To our women, the mountain gave the magic of strength and cunning, and they delighted in conquest and battle. And so we were sundered—because men will fight for their treasure, and women for their land, and the mountains flowed red with blood.
Mother Mountain, from whom all magic begins and ends, feared for the lives of her warlike children, and so she tried to speak, to reason with them. But the men were too occupied with making things of her flesh and blood, and the women too occupied with warring over her body and bones, and of all the folk, only two dwarfs heard and made the quest to the holy caverns of Rigah Tarn where her voice was strongest.
The woman arrived first. She laid aside her weapons, and in obedience to the mother, she let down her hair and unbraided her beard, and removed all of the armor she wore to be in union with Mother Mountain. And Mother Mountain showed her the mysteries of magic, and so we say that the getting of magic comes from our mothers.
Then the man came, and when he found himself in the presence of Mother Mountain, he spread the treasures he had brought as a gift at her doorway, and he danced for the joy that was in him. He did not see the woman was already there, and had won the mysteries for her sex. But Mother Mountain loved him, and she blessed him, because he was no mighty fighter like the woman, nor a great crafter of his folk, but a man who could lay down all his wealth and occupations to answer her call. And so we say that the understanding of magic comes from our fathers.
The woman raised her hand to strike down the man, but she had laid her weapons down in return for the magic. Mother Mountain touched the hand of her daughter, and said, “If you would know why I have blessed him, dance with him and share his joy.” And so she danced, and he danced. For four weeks, they stayed together in the lap of the Mother, dancing in the ways she taught them. When the time was over, they gathered their clothes, armor, and the magic they had learned, and left for their homes. They soon forgot the wisdom of the Mother in their pursuit of war and craft.
Then came the season of war; and the mountain of women came upon the mountain of men, and the slaughter was great, until the woman who had danced for the Mother found the man who had danced with her. She raised her sword to kill him. As she drove her weapon down upon him, he took up a shield to defend himself and in doing so, he looked and saw her belly was swollen under her armor, and he remembered her, and threw his shield aside. But she, a warrior in her blood, cut him, deep into his shoulder, and when his blood flowed there, she knew him also. We say this is why all dwarfs must bleed to overcome the struggle against our mates. We must throw away the shields in our bodies and allow our blood to run.
Then Mother Mountain raised her voice, and earthquakes shook the minds of the men and the women, and they ceased all fighting, and they looked into the faces of their enemies, and saw their mates.
The child born of the first man and the first woman to know Dh’Morda was Heldasa the Hero. And ever after, when the sun hides, and the winter drives our folk deep to mate, the dance of Dh’Morda begins again. It is both a dance and a battle, for it was forged in the belly of war.