An Index of the Years
THE SECOND AGE. THE AGE OF LEGEND
The Epoch of the Ages
The Year 0 RD (as the dwarves count the years)
By Aril Witherwind
Once upon a when the Kingdom of Durindan stood upon the brink of a great battle. It was a final battle for the very sake of the Kingdom. Durin Silvervein was about to lead his people into battle against the mighty red dragon Fer’hiss and his fearsome sons.
On the eve of this battle Prince Duegan, the second son of the King of the Dwur, discovered an unusual dagger seemingly lost in a darkened nook. The Prince had no idea, for how could he, that the dagger had been thrown backward through time from a moment more than 6’300 years in the distant future. And neither could the Prince possibly know that the dagger was haunted by the undead essence of a vampire. But Prince Duegan knew that the dagger was an item of mighty magic, albeit necromantic and chaotic in nature; he declared the dagger to be a “gift” granted to the dwarven people in their hour of need by their creator, Moradin All-Father.
A detailed account of King Durin Silvervein’s battle against Fer’hiss can be found elsewhere (most notably within the memoirs of Tharduin Truebeard, founder of the Hammers of Moradin) but suffice it to say, that when all seemed lost Prince Duegan secured the final victory. The King was mortally wounded and on his knees when the brave Prince rose from beneath Fer’hiss and was able to sink the dagger-from-the-future into the belly of the great red wyrm in an act of great desperation. Ancient, unknown magics within the dagger awoke and began to leach Fer’ hiss’ very life essence.
But! the life force of such an ancient dragon was too almighty for even this macabre dagger and as it absorbed the last beat of the dragon’s heart the fang of the nosferatu was destroyed and the vampire that had been trapped within was released. Donal Darkbane who had lived and died, thousands and thousands of years in the future was reborn in the furthest reaches of the past.
King Durin Silvervein died from the wounds he’d taken at the claws of the dragon; his incredibly long reign arriving at a tragic end. Upon his death, Silvervein’s Fierce Axe was passed on to his son, the new King. The Fierce Axe would become a symbol of regal authority, divine favor and dwarven pride; despite this, the dwarves seldom speak of the Axe to outsiders and never explain its true history, significance or powers.
In the immediate aftermath of the battle, Prince Duegan was exiled from the Kingdom. It would be the new King’s very first edict; despite having slain the dragon, Prince Duegan’s use of the necromantic dagger and his support of the monster (for that was how they saw him) that had emerged from it broke too many laws and customs to name. These dwarves had never seen a human before, and Donal towered above them and frightened them. The Priests may not have known a human, but they recognized chaos and evil when they saw it and this creature that stood before them was tainted by both.
The Prince was not without his supporters, who saw what he did as a necessary evil. They named themselves The Second Clan and followed the Pariah-Prince Duegan northwards in exile. They would go in search of new lands in which to make their home and Donal Darkbane, known to the dwarves as Ustnar Urdang, would accompany them.
The Year 1 RD (as the dwarves count the years)
Prince Markad I, eldest son of King Durin, claimed his father’s legendary axe and began his reign. The Fierce Axe would become the Royal Regalia, a symbol of dwarven power and legacy.
In accordance with the new Prince’s first proclamation, a gigantic pit was delved out in the very deepest depths of Durindan. It was named Azak-Morad and reached further into the bowels of the Oerth than anyone had ever dug. Azak-Morad was sanctified by the highest priests and First King Durin Silvervein was returned to the core of the world. Azak-Morad afterwards became the center of dwarven culture and history; a place of pilgrimage for millennia to come.
The consecration of Azak-Morad was marked with the beginning of a new calendar, the Runic Count of the Dwur, Year 1.
Meanwhile the exiled dwarves, who had come to be known as Duegan’s Pilgrims continued their dangerous exodus north through the Crystalmist Mountains. Their journey was long and fraught with terrible hardship and danger.
At one point on their journey, the dwarves took three giant badger cubs into their care. They were watched over by Ustnar Urdang and Grabpot Thundergust, Prince Duegan’s best animal-master. As the cubs began to mature, Grabpot was bitten on the wrist by the largest of the litter. The animal-master swore and cursed invoking the dread name of Abbathor a forbidden and evil dwarven deity; just as he did so a dark mist rose arose around the animal pens engulfing Ustnar and Grabpot. Ustnar-Donal felt his dead heart sink as they heard a faint and far-off wheezing laughter…
…and then the Mists retreated. Ustnar-Donal’s fears had not been realized; he was still lost in the Crystalmist Mountains with hundreds of starving dwarves – and he was still stuck more than six thousand years in his past. But the Mists always exact a steep price; Grabpot Thundergust had been cursed to become a werebadger – the very first were-creature to ever walk the Flanaess and the progenitor of the entire lycanthropic family tree.
Lycanthropes were not the only new race that would be accidentally born during the dwarven exodus and that would go on to one day spread across the whole world…
The exiled dwarves had been following their Prince for months now. Ustnar Urdang had become an invaluable ally to them as they faced the dangers of the mountains – trolls, wyverns and the like. Throughout all of those long months and all of those many encounters Ustnar kept his faithful wolf companion, Fang, by his side. It was his loyal wolf that had endeared Ustnar to the usually foul-tempered Grabpot and the two often worked together to tend the other wolves kept by the animal master.
So it was, that when Fang was killed Ustnar drained the wolf’s blood and replaced it with his own caustic dead blood. Fang was reborn as a vampiric wolf, and would, in time spawn a line of vampiric wolves that still plague travelers today.
The Year 77 RD
Seventy-seven years after the passing of the First King, King Markad I summoned all of the Dwarven Princes to Azak-Morad. It was the first time Prince Duegan had returned to his home since the Second Clan had been exiled and Ustnar Urdang returned to Azak-Morad at his side, acting as his adviser and counsel.
The heartland had become overpopulated. At this meeting, the First Grand Council of the Dwarfs, the lands of Moradin’s Children were officially delineated and recognized; each new kingdom would be governed by a Prince and each would hold supreme power within their own holdings. The Princes’ would swear fraternity to one another and fealty to King Markad.
And so (guided, nudged and directed by Ustnar’s whisperings) the dwarven empire of Mor-Borad was born. Markad, First Son of Durin, First Overking of Mor-Borad retained the birthlands once governed by his father at the junction of the Sulhaut, Hellfurnace and the Crystalmist Mountains. This kingdom is named Markaddin, the Kingdom of Markad and it’s capital city is named Durindan.
Duegan, the Second Son of Durin had already founded the Kingdom of Damgarath, the Land of Stone within the Yatil Mountains. This pariah nation was finally recognized with Gartelem, the Iron City as it’s capital in the heart of the highest mountain.
The other Princes, one after another, founded their own kingdoms.
Maddain, Third Son of Durin, colonized the central and northern regions of the Crystalmists beyond the Jotens. There he established Trimdair, the Emerald City of the Kingdom of Trimdair.
The Kingdom of Melairkyn was founded by the Fourth Son of Durin, Melair, far to the east beneath the hills that would one day become known as the Cairn Hills. Melair named his capital Stardelem, City of a Thousand Forges. It was famed for it’s mithril and adamantine mines… and destined to be a very important forgotten ruin beneath the streets of a certain city… but not just yet, not for a few thousand years…
Yamad, Fifth Son of Durin, lead his people into the Barrier Peaks and established the city of Guran, the pride of the Kingdom of Yrden, the Peakcrest.
Hamaida, Unique Daughter of Durin, guided her clan west into the Sulhauts where they founded the Kingdom of Berem, the Peaceful, whose capital city Ginkehir, the Flowered Mountain, became famous for her gardens and fountains.
Lorduin, Seventh Son of Durin and his people settled in the Hellfurnace Mountains just south of Markaddin. There he founded Tergorom, the Fire City, and named his new kingdom Holgereth.
The Year 5390 RD
Thousands of years passed and much came to pass. For millennia, the dwarves were the uncontested Masters of the Mountains. The Empire of Mor-Borad reached far and wide and stood proud.
But, all must things must pass; the Empire of the Dwur peaked around 2’300 RD and then began a period of steady decline over the next couple of thousand years. By the time of the Seventieth Grand Council of the Dwur – the 70th, and the final – only two Princes were able to attend. Prince Tremek of Markaddin and Prince Gurden of Dumderin met with representatives from around the ailing Empire and after long prayers and endless, agonizing consultations the decision was taken to dissolve the Empire.
It was decided that not until all seven Princes were present, and their Overking once again held the Fierce Axe (which had long since been lost to legend and myth) would the Empire rise again. The memory of the First-King became increasingly dear in the hearts of the dwarves and the legend arose that only Durin, King of Kings, would be able to return them to their former glory.
The dwarves called this forlorn time, the beginning of the Age of Humanity.