DWARF LORE II
"Well, aint sayin' he's as guilty as a dwarf, but he aint innocent, neither."
Overheard at the Clutch and Boil, a tap-house in Blyx.
After a long period of peace and prosperity, the dwarfs unknowingly raised a tyrannical necromancer to the throne. after a period of manipulating the prejudices of the population, this king declared war on everyone; most of the dwarfs went along with it, but a sizable minority resisted.
The rebels were forced to flee the dwarf lands.
The dwarfs that stayed loyal to the evil necro-king morphed, over time in to gnolls, which resemble the dwarf god of death, Kur. When the king was killed, at last, 500 years later,the gnolls scattered and the empire collapsed overnight.
So dwarfs are still around but everyone blames them for the Gnolls and the necro empire and everthing else that goes wrong in the world from sour milk to plagues.
Gnolls are still around, but few in the East are aware of it, as they occupy the former homelands of the dwarfs, the remotest areas of the Gloomy Mountsins. It is unknown how, or if they reproduce.
The Second Summer
Fifteen centuries of bloody strife followed the Sundering. The Pact of Four, a compact between dwarfs, elfs, men and halflings, brought about an end to the chaos and ushered in a time of prosperity known as the Second Summer. The Second Summer, or the New Unification, as the people who lived at the time grew to call it, graced the lands for over two millennia, and showed no signs of decadence or decline.
Destruction, however came to the New Unification, nonetheless. As it turns out, blame for this catastrophe, i.e., the end of civilization; the period of rapine and destruction that came in its wake and, following that, the present dark age, can be completely and without question, assigned to the dwarfs. It is said that history oft repeats itself; however, it seems rather unlikely that anyone will ever again be so absolutely, thoroughly, despicably guilty.
The coming of Wound.
The current day clan structure did not exist in the time of the New Unification. Dwarfs instead lived in nuclear families, knit together by a strong sense of community and cultural pride. Peace and harmony represented the norms of existence. This placidity, however, gave rise to a pervasive complacency and conformity, which combined with the dwarf penchant for industry and invention, resulted in the manifestation of a sort of evil previously unknown, or, perhaps, merely unremembered.
At the time the dwarfs were ruled by the Dynasty of Gladdock, fifteenth and final dynasty of the mountain kingdoms. Their name, once so proud, is now extinct and buried in shame. The eighth dwarf from this line to wear the Ore Crown and bear the title Deep King, was born fourth in line to the Throne. His given name is unknown, for he had it struck from history. What is known is that upon his rise to the throne, he took upon himself the name Wound.
Wound became heir after his three brothers died under mysterious circumstances, whilst hunting rock worms. Prior to this, he had lived for many years in exile, dwelling upon the Island of Skulls, studying the Unification ruins there; eking what sorcerous and necromantic secrets he could from them. It is believed that Wound, alone out of the multitude of scholars who have made the attempt, managed to decipher the Unification Script. He shared his secrets with no one.
His parents quickly followed his brothers to the grave and King Wound took up the Hammer and Crown. The latter of these dissatisfied him. During the first year of his reign he bent the resources of his kingdom to making a new crown. Money flowed like water from the palace. Using never before divination techniques, King Wound found deposits of precious metals and stones to finance his researches. What is more he shared his power with the powerful amongst the citizenry. New mines opened. Smith fashioned things of beauty and wonder. The dwarfs prospered and found themselves well content with this new king.
Meanwhile, using the hottest fires, magic infused metal and sinister gems of alien aspect, Wound forged his dire crown, and, if the stories can be given credence, he underwent a second coronation, this one in solitude; in the heart of the mountain, he named himself Emperor and wore for the first time the Crown of Chaos.
Not long after, Wound began his experiments. He despoiled Unification tombs, and brought forth their mummies. Harnessing magic inherent to the ancient cadavers, he managed to perfect the art of animating them. Some unification tombs contain hundreds of such mummies. His Crown gave him control over the mummies, and he utilized hundreds of them in his private mine. Public outcry followed the exposure of these activities. Wound bribed the high priests of Kur, the death god, and declared a year without taxes for the general citizenry, due, he claimed to the extraordinary productivity of royal mining operations. There were those that talked against the mummies, but most were content to count their coins and work their trades.
Not long after, Wound began his campaign to vilify the elfs. He spoke against them; saying they were arrogant tricksters who thought themselves the lords of the world, and worse, plotted on secret agains the dwarfish kingdom. Without warning, one day King Wound had the ambassadors from Camarill seized. based upon wholly fabricated evidence, he accused the entire group of eight representatives of spying. He tried them the night they were seized and found them guilty. He paraded them, crucified, still living throughout the Vale of Urux, and the Gloomy mountains beyond. Repeating his absurd accusations before the masses. It has been theorized that the crucifixions initiated a power ritual which eventually resulted in the Gnolls. However, a sizable segment of the population accepted the word of their king.
Within a few months the dwarf armies, accompanied by legions of the undead, boiled over the mountains and marched east. Wound, terrible in his sourcerous power, rode at the front. One by one, the peoples of the east fell before the dwarfs, until none remained to resist, but for the last alliance of elfs and men at Stargleam's Wall, but even they perished in the end, and one grim morning, his foot on Stargleam's dead chest, King Wound proclaimed his dominion over all the known lands. His claim went unchallenged.
Wound quickly established a tyrannical police state, supervised by his loyal dwarf vassals and local turncoats.
Decades passed. Over time, it became apparent that Wound's dwarfs changed. It is unknown whether the transformation was the intentional end product of a process put in place by Wound, or the result, perhaps of some curse (attributed by most to the elf Prince Stargleam) or perhaps, even, divine retribution for the many atrocities to which these fallen warriors had been party. It matters not. In the end, those that had once been dwarfs, became the creature known today as gnolls. After the change, Wound's troops were even more fanatical in their loyalty and unquestionably more prone to savagery in the execution of their duty.
The cities and settlements of the east became squalid pits of suffering and poverty. All wealth flowed to the king. The lot of his subject, from high to low, was base servitude. As for Wound, he enjoyed few things more than rooting out enemies of the state. Once identified and taken into custody, such people were rarely seen again. Wound's army of mummies only seemed to increase in size, however.
The Deep King's dark empire reigned for 500 years, until he was killed by an anonymous agent of a secret cabal, The Black Orb. Wound's assassin remains a mysterious figure to this day, remembered now in folktales and legends only as Woundkiller.
The gnolls, who had, up until this point been under Wound's complete control, fell to fighting amongst themselves. Local resistance sprung up and, in time, avenged the abuses of the preceding five centuries, eventually driving the gnolls into the Gloomy Mountains. The chronicals fail to intimate the ultimate fate Wound's legions of undead warriors...