Chapter 895: History Teaches Us…

In Ancient Times, like before the gods had descended upon the Mortal World, the first generation Dwarves were born into the world, crawling out of the 8,500m tall ‘Mother Mountain’. Unlike other races, who had prospered on the surface, the Dwarves had come into existence in a cold and unforgiving environment with few natural resources. Though they had access to the sea, this was a time when aquatic monsters rampaged about freely, capsizing any ship that dared venture out into the murky waters. As a result, the Dwarves had been forced to dig into the earth, both out of necessity and an unrelenting resolve to tame their world.

Though it had taken them hundreds of years, the Dwarves had cleared out the surface of their homeland, completely wiping out all monsters in the surroundings. While other surface dwellers were desperately fighting against the waves of monsters that would emerge from the Dungeon, the Dwarves had already reclaimed the surface while also conquering what lay below. They had built massive underground cities and structures, showing a natural understanding of mechanical engineering, stonemasonry, and construction. This, combined with their powerful physical might, had allowed them to create hundreds of kilometers of underground tunnels while, at the very heart of the Iron Hills, there was a massive cavern that spanned more than 50km in diameter, coiling down into the earth nearly 20km.

True to the nature of this massive cavern, and the large fortress-like City built into it, the Dwarves had named this sacred land as ‘Ironheart’, serving as the exact center of their budding culture. The founding family of the City even took the name upon themselves, becoming the first High Dwarven Noble Family, the Ironhearts. Later, similar cities would be built into the subsurface after large mines were stripped away and converted into similarly sized caverns. Now, fast forwarding to the present, there were eight such cities, each presided over by a powerful Dwarven Noble family of their own. After the Ironheart family, who had become the most influential family amongst the Dwarves, these were the Alderfist, Hammerforge, Stoneborne, Firebeard, Goldbrew, Deepsbane, and, nearly rising up to the same position as the Ironhearts, the Stormwright clan.

During the time when other races were fighting tooth and nail to survive, the Dwarves had already mastered their lands, expanding outwards into their very own Mother Mountain. Out of respect for the site, it was decreed that the mountain was an inviolable place where mining and resource harvesting was strictly regulated. This was the ancestral lands where most Dwarves were laid to rest, the interior filled with several expansive mausoleums and masterful works of art representing accomplished and heroic men and women from the past. Once you got beyond the mountain, however, things changed rather quickly…

On the southern face, the Dwarves once again encountered powerful monsters after a very long period of civil infighting and industrial expansion. They received a harsh reminder that the world outside of the Iron Hills could be cruel and unforgiving, as their probes into these lands had nearly spelled their doom. Using the very same system of tunnels they had developed over centuries, hordes of monsters tried to make the Mother Mountain their home after breaking through the unprepared defensive line. It took decades to once again reclaim the mountain but, once they had, the Dwarves converted the southern face into the largest and most powerful fortress against the monster tides, Blackstone. The Dwarves had pioneered forging technique related to Damascus, making powerful Damascus Steel ramparts that lined the bottom face of the mountain, stretching nearly a thousand kilometers with only massive towers breaking the flow.

The construction of Blackstone had been a monstrous effort that cost thousands of Dwarves their lives over the course of 187 years. Even so, they never ceased in their efforts until their homeland was truly secure from the monster hordes. Then, as if it were a matter of pride, the Dwarves didn’t rest on their accomplishment and instead began reclaiming the forest and surrounding land from the monsters’ control. The valley on the northern side of the Mother Mountain was inhospitable with a large circular air current that brought in heavy volumes of salt from the sea. To the south, however, there were verdant forests and plains, fertile land which the Dwarves had desperately sought out.

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Unfortunately, these lands had been the Ancestral Forests of the High Elves, who acted decisively to prevent the Dwarves from clearing out their forests to create farmland. From this encounter, the Dwarves learned of the wider world, including the various races that inhabited it. Then, instead of trying to compromise and seek peace, the Dwarves became jaded at the idea that these longears had so many resources available to them. Unlike the stout and hardy Dwarves, the Elves were frail and weak, ‘spoiled’ by the availability of food and fresh water, unlike the tenacious Dwarves who had struggled for centuries to master their home environment.

Unable to communicate with each other, the Dwarves began attacking the Elves in earnest, fully believing they had a greater right to the land than the Elves who had occupied it for millennia. In order to drive back the Elves, they set fire to the forests and, using their technological prowess and mechanical might, the Dwarves quickly cleared away a large section of the forest after a few decisive skirmishes. It was under such circumstances, drunk on the taste of victory, even as their lungs filled with the smoldering ashes of the burnt forests, that the Dwarves were introduced to Magic.

Though there were only a few a High Elven lineage that could use the Magic of the Spirits, those that possessed such capabilities held awesome power. Initially, the Elves hadn’t shied away from trying to seek dialogue with the Dwarves but every attempt to do so was met with bolts and blades. After that, their primary concern had simply been protected the forest, as the Dwarves were using machines that spoiled the land while indiscriminately cutting down trees that had stood the test of time for centuries. Now that the Dwarves had thrown all decency aside, burning the very forest and resources they sought to claim, the High Elves were forced to take action, even though they had been a very peaceful people that provided aid to the other races.

Shortly after the Dwarves had once again started to clear sections of the forest, three High Elves had rallied together, including the then Queen of the Elves, a heavenly beauty named Ariella. The three used powerful nature magic to completely devastate the Dwarven machinery and, to ensure they would not arbitrarily decide to attack again, Ariella made the rare exception to attack the fortress of Blackstone directly. The proud and majestic physical barriers that the Dwarves had spent nearly two hundred years constructing were powerless against the mighty magic spells which, with the help of the Spirits, was far stronger than most modern magic.

Being that they were not a violent race, at least at the time, the High Elves pulled back after doing a substantial amount of damage. Then, as the Dwarves began repairing the mighty fortress, the Elves had erected tall wooden towers along the northern border of their forest, both to serve as a reminder to the Dwarves while also acting as a lookout. The Dwarves, however, were undaunted by the presence of the Elves and, just as they had conquered their homeland in the ancient past, they were determined to claim the resources that ought to be theirs. However, they weren’t fools who would attack without planning a proper strategy and, just as they had dedicated nearly two hundred years just to build a fortress, the Dwarves began researching countermeasures to magic.

Only allowed on

As the decades passed, tensions between the Dwarves and the Elves steadily increased until, rather unexpectedly, Ariella had come with several envoys to broker peace and trade with the Dwarven people. This didn’t end well, however, as the pride and arrogance of the Dwarves had been cultivated over centuries of internal strife and isolation from other races. Using their newly researched composite alloy, Magisteel, the Dwarves attacked the peaceful envoys, managing to kill Ariella and the majority of her escorts. The few survivors were then captured by the Dwarves, both as a means to study magic and as a ‘punishment’ for the Elves’ audacity to oppose them.

Using their ill-gotten victory as a catalyst, the Dwarves began a large invasion into the Elven forests, killing and capturing as many Elves as possible. They didn’t believe that the Elves had many people capable of using the powerful magic used by Ariella and her two companions. At the same time, with their powerful equipment to protect them, the Dwarves rapidly cleared out a large section of the forest which would later become one of the layered defensive lines of the Iron Hills. With their invasion successful, and no major response from the Elves, the Dwarves thought themselves victorious and began reclaiming the land on the inside of their perimeter, turning it into thousands of acres of farmland.

What the Dwarves did no take into consideration was the longevity and patience of the Elves who, after the death of their Queen, entered a long period of observation as they groomed Ariella’s successor. Now that things had reached this point, the Elves believed the Dwarves to be an errant and warmongering species who, unlike the other races struggling to reclaim the surface, turned their weapons against what should be their allies. The fact the Dwarves had attacked a peaceful delegation had wounded the hearts of the High Elves who, at the time, served as the guardians and protectors of the forests while providing aid to almost every other race. Even the Goliaths, who scorned the Elves for their magic, had never slighted them in such a grievous and dishonorable manner…

By the time the new Elven Queen had been elected, the Dwarves had spent nearly twenty years cultivating the land they had stolen from the Elves. Now, after discovering other races seeking asylum in the forests, the Dwarves had started capturing groups of refugees en masse. Instead of toiling hard in the mines, they had realized it was much easier to make the ‘lesser’ species of the surface work in their stead. This was the catalyst for the propagation of slavery within the Iron Hills and the start of the ‘wastrel’ like lifestyle of the Dwarves.

With actual farmland providing for their rather small population, many Dwarves had become rather complacent over a short period of time. Now that they didn’t have to toil away in the mines, many Dwarves had a lot of free time on their hands to master the art of forging and craftsmanship, all while other recreational hobbies began emerging. The Goldbrew clan had already become a powerful family after learning how to ferment wheat and hops to produce various types of ales. Now that there was so much agricultural land to work with, the production of alcohol had greatly increased while the variety of alcoholic beverages practically exploded, especially with the various fruit orchards and herbal gardens that now existed. Instead of being a grain supplement that could be enjoyed rarely, drinking became one of the favorite pastimes of the Dwarves in a very short period of time…

Overall, things were going exceptionally well for the Dwarves and, confident they could claim even more land, a second invasion into the Elven forests was planned. Before this plan could be implemented, however, the new Elven Queen had made her appearance, this time with a total of ten powerful High Elves at her side. With hundreds of other Elves as support, the new Elven Queen, Valrhona, completely devastated the defensive line of the Dwarves. They used powerful magic to reclaim the ill-gotten land before staging a counteroffensive against Blackstone. After a battle that lasted more than two months, during which time the land stolen by the Dwarves had been completely reclaimed, the Elves finally retreated back into their forests.

Though they were incensed, the Dwarves now realized that their efforts needed to be more meticulous and, regardless of how powerful they were, there were some forces that simply couldn’t be resisted through normal means. This time, they didn’t have the luxury of the Elven Queen coming to them to seek peace and, after a long period of rebuilding their damaged fortress, it was the Elder Council, comprised of the various patriarchs of the High Dwarven Noble Houses who stepped forward. They sent envoys who had studied the Elven language from the slaves that had been captured in the past, entering into a long period of negotiations with the Elves.

Using the bartering and trade techniques they had honed against each other over centuries, the Dwarves eventually managed to reclaim their once-seized land by creating various pieces of equipment for the Elves to use. At the same time, a large-scale ‘breeding’ effort had been underway, both for the Dwarves and their ever-increasing population of slaves. After their failures to break into the outside world, which they knew very little of, the Dwarven policy became more of an isolationist doctrine that focused on defense. The fortifications of their territory gradually increased over the centuries as their population slowly reached a bottleneck. In order to deal with this issue, the Elder Council began sending groups of Dwarves out into the world at large, both as explorers and merchants.

Slowly but surely, the Dwarves grew beyond their homeland of the Iron Hills, primarily through their exchanges with other races. It was extremely profitable to sell equipment and defensive weaponry in the world that was still fighting against the monster hordes on a daily basis. They were also able to use their technological prowess and natural talent for construction to earn the ‘respect’ and admiration of various races. The Dwarves helped to design and construct powerful fortress cities that became the bastions of the surface world, all while increasing the wealth of their own country. As a result, the arrogance of the Dwarves actually continued to rise and, over the course of several millennia, they had slowly become the wealthiest people in the land…

With this explosion of wealth, the complacency and wastrel-like behavior of the Dwarves only grew in intensity, to the point that any respect they had earned from other races had morphed into scorn. Dwarven merchants became known for their greed and, with their physical prowess, for lack of a better term, ‘dwarfing’ almost every other race, their pride went unchecked by all but the Goliath people and the High Elves. Now, in modern times, the Dwarves had become a people known for their propensity to exploit everyone, including each other. Infighting between brothers and sisters was extremely common, especially when it came to business transactions, while many Dwarves spent their days simply forging, crafting, and putting on airs. Because of their mastery in these pursuits, the technology of the Dwarves had reached an extreme, making their lives easy while the slaves that made up the very foundation of their society toiled tirelessly to their deaths…

The once proud Dwarves that fought tooth and nail to survive in their inhospitable homeland were now nowhere to be seen. They had been replaced by a group of people who profiteered off the misery of others, sold weapons without any care for how they would be used, and sought every possible advantage they could get out of a situation. Their arrogance and overconfidence had grown to an extreme and, before the Alliance had disrupted their businesses, they had ruled over the markets of almost every country.

Now that the Alliance had dominated the market of Orario, the most prosperous City on the continent, in their place, the Dwarves were extremely dissatisfied. However, to most, this was just a mild inconvenience and, fully confident there would be no major repercussions, the Elder Council didn’t mind antagonizing the Alliance. Though they did fear the power of Fafnir, to an extent, there were several weapons they had kept concealed for a long period of time. Even with war being declared, they simply had to stay on the defensive and, when Vahn and his dragons appeared near their fortress, they would shoot the tyrannical creatures out of the sky.

It was believed that, without his Dragons, Vahn wasn’t considered to be terribly dangerous and, even if they were unable to trade within Orario for a few years, it wasn’t too difficult to turn a profit in other countries. Eventually, just as it had always been, they would one day be able to develop countermeasures that allowed them to deal with the Alliance, even if it took hundreds of years. This was the general belief of even the common Dwarven citizenry, even when the Alliance sent a message claiming their Mother Mountain would be shattered within three days. They believed this to be simple nonsense and considered it an example of Vahn’s hubris, all the way up until the morning of the third day when, long before the sun had risen, a green ‘sun’ had emerged against the backdrop of the Mother Mountain. When it had vanished, to the horror of every Dwarf that drew in the cold morning air of the Iron Hills, the upper half of their Ancestral Mountain had now vanished in its entirety…then, as they stared on with horror, several hundred million tons of stones and debris began raining down on the surroundings like a meteor shower…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘An inhospitable people from an inhospitable terrain…’,’Those That Fail to Learn from History are Doomed to Repeat it…’,’Some lessons are learned harder than others…’) <-(p.atreon link)

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