THE ANCIENT DWARVEN YLOSSIAN CLAN

The Ylossians (ee-LOSS-ian) were an ancient, mythical dwarven tribe that is said to have lived in the tunnels under the Tandala Mountains many thousands of years before Santhros united the southern kingdoms of Sarvonia under his reign. They are said to have worshipped Aephesvil, a dwarven half-god created by Trum'Baroll (the dwarven equivalent to the Santharian God of the Smiths, Urtengor), which brought them wealth as well as destruction.

Appearance. Though the Ylossians are extinct since millenia, there still exist several stories in dwarven myth where they play important roles. In fact nearly all myths of remarkable impact on dwarven society feature Ylossians, which makes it possible to construct a very detailed description of the typical dwarf of this clan:

The Ylossian dwarf is said to have been stubby at just under approx. 1.1 peds, but weighed a lot for its height, as all grown males were immense and very clumsy. The female of this clan was shorter, averaging only about 0.9 peds, but was also a lot lighter. Their hair of the Ylossians was always black, and there was never any scarcity of it on the males, but the females sometimes suffered from premature hair loss, making for quite a comical couple - at least this is what some Ylossian stories have in common. The males in fact wore very proud beards, so that one problem of the Ylossian dwarf was stepping on his own one. In battle however or when working it was tied up around the head.

Mode of Living/Habits. As many other clans Ylossian dwarfs had nocturnal vision, for most never saw the sun or any other light source. Their vision in pure daylight therefore was something they weren't accustomed to, which often resulted in injury or even death, which is what kept the population down. The caves they lived in were pitch black, except for Aephesvil's, their half-god's, glowing eyes, which let Him see in the caves.

The average dwarf lived for no more than 125 years, well below the norm for the species. Some historians believe that this is because of the lack of clean air in the Tandala tunnels, as these short people went outside only when their lives depended on it, at no other time would you have found a Ylossian dwarf above ground.

Ylossian Customs. In some of the traded stories about the Ylossians a ceremony is mentioned called Uerbar Rinne ("Female Trade"), which was held every 25 years. In this ceremony all unmarried females of age from Dawi'Amkort were exchanged for all the unmarried females of Daln'Grang. This was done to ensure the gene pool was always fresh, and therefore maintain health and wellbeing for generations to come.

Another story may sound a little funny to human ears, but reflects the dwarven ways maybe much better than anything else: A big part of Ylossian customs is said to have been to NOT dust their feet off when they entered their cave, or especially when they visited another cave. This was done because on the bottom of the dwarves' boots small pieces of embedded dirt, debris, and hopefully, ore could be found. After the guests left, the host would sweep up the cave, and shuffle through the dirt, picking out the valuable minerals. This was a small sign of repayment for inviting them over.

Ylossian Language
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A language obviously used only by this now extinct clan. Ylossian has the same sound as the more common dwarven speech of the other clans, Thergerim, but contains very different words and even more strange combinations. Etymologists, especially dwarven ones, believe that Ylossian somehow must be related to Thergerim, but they cannot find a direct link, which would make it possible to derive one language from the other. This suggests a mythical solution, to which dwarven scholars still cling to:

"...that the separation of the languages was prior to any development of any languages. It seems likely that the stone, which was used to form the dwarves in the Beginning of Time, contains the pattern of communication, the form, but that the different kinds of stone the Fathers used to carve resulted in different content of these languages. Thus they are all the same, but very different as well."

-- Gundrum Stormflow: "A Myth uncovered or Where Penmark was right", p. 211

Ylossian speech - currently being re-constructed at the newly erected dwarven Dome of Wisdom at Horth - is one that is extremely hard to follow if you do not know any dwarven language well; it is even difficult for dwarves of other tribes to comprehend. A few of the more common words are "Anmaz", which means "iron working", "Om", meaning "I" or "me", and an "Amkort" is your "domain", your "home".

This language being extinct for centuries is the reason that so little is known from direct sources of the rather small cave dwellers, with only a few historians being able to translate the tablets and carvings found in their vast underground maze of tunnels. One of the most famous Ylossian historians was a dwarf named Noggi Penmark (to whom Gundrum refers to in his book title, see above), who lived during the Age of the Blood. He had a fair understanding of the Ylossians and their language, and wrote a book, shedding light on the "Forgotten Dwarf", as he called them, bearing the same title.

Ylossian Settlements. The Ylossian had only two known settlements, both of which are deep in the Tandala Mountains.

The collection of caves held, at one time up to 5000 dwarves among the two cities. The two cities constantly squabbled over mining territory, with a few scuffles here and there, but very seldom did this squabbling turn to open combat.

Ylossian Myth. The myth of creation and fall of the Ylossians is a famous one, known at all clans, and there exist various different interpretations on its meaning. As a matter of fact the interpretations of the dwarves themselves and those of other races differ enormously concerning this myth.

Creation. According to the myth the first Ylossians were forged during the Age of Silence when Trum'Baroll (Urtengor) created the Un'Sthommerons ("the dwarven fathers"), the giants, who carved the first dwarves out of stone. Aephesvil, one of the seven Un'Sthommerons, carved the Ylossians from stone using the rock from the Tandala Mountains to form them, and there they lived. The dwarves made their homes and livelihood in the Tandala tunnels which were vast underground caverns naturally formed in the limestone mountain, although the dwarves did cut out their own paths in the mountain for secret passages (of which they were so fond of) and to expand the overall structure for mining purposes. Most historians that have studied the dwarves with any luck believe that their whole existence was no longer than a few thousand years.

Ylossian Ruin. Aephesvil, who had completed his task of forging his dwarves, remained with his children, intent on guarding them. Soon it turned out that all the other races and the beasts which roamed at the Tandalas feared Aephesvil and so they stayed away from the tunnels. Decades, yes, even centuries pased, and there was no need anymore for Aephesvil to protect his children. He stood there and received worship and praise, and of course a wealth of gold. But from generation to generation much was lost from the belief in Aephesvil's powers, and some didn't even believe anymore that Aephesvil was alive and would be able to save the dwarves from harm. They just worshipped the statue and everybody in fact had another God in mind when people were bringing gold in order to honor the Great Aephesvil.

There are different versions on how Aephesvil started to move again. Some say that he finally became aware that the dwarves started to lose confidence in him and wanted to prove his might by leaving the tunnels in order to chase passers-by away. Other claim that he, after a such a long time, started to feel numb, and he soon realized that his body had started to lose its vitality and that after all these years of misuse, he was turning back into cold stone. Aephesvil thought he could cure himself, because Trum'Baroll was away in his underground empire of Toll Dispor'Baroll ("Realm of the Lost Father") and couldn't help him. - Be it as it is, movement turned out to be quite impossible. Most of the giant's body had already turned to stiff rock, all that was still alive was his mind, and that couldn’t help him with his desire. He couldn’t even call for help or address his people, as his rocky lips remained closed. Aephesvil found though, that by concentrating all his mental energy, he could rock slightly back and forth, which made a creaking sound. He hoped to get attention and maybe some help with this technique.

One day a young dwarf named Dokh Ironblood from Dawi’Amkort sought out the statue of his God (the names mentioned in this myth vary at other stories). The young dwarf prayed for a longer beard in order to earn more respect from his clan mates, when Aephesvil loudly creaked and groaned, trying to rock his body enough that the young dwarf would notice him. The mighty half-god overdid it and his enormous body fell, shattering to fragments on the dark cave floor.

Utt Karaz ("Our War"). The dwarven tribe of Dawi’Amkort, led by Uhm Piff, quickly accused the young dwarf of assassination, and held a trial, even though the Daln’Grang dwarves asked, pleaded, begged and even threatened the other clan. As feared, it turned out to be a witch-hunt and days days later he was found guilty of treason and murder, and at noon he was executed in the Town Square in front of a cheering crowd.

As was to be expected this
enraged the citizens of Daln’Grang, who demanded retribution. They told the other city to send all unmarried women, and half of their ore, or they would see no option except violence. Dawi’Amkort laughed at the demands, so the dwarves from Daln’Grang drew their weapons and attacked the other dwarven city. Utt Karaz lasted for 90 years. In that time the cities had been desecrated, burned, and pillaged dozens of times. The Ylossian population had plummeted to less than 150, but still they fought. Both sides remained stubborn and vowed not to give up until the other city was annihilated completely. When offered help from other dwarven clans, both sides answered simply with "Deis esta Utt Karaz!" ("This is Our War!").

Ransack of Tandala Tunnels. It is finally told that outside the tunnels, a dark elven clan from the Hovel Frond Forest, who sensed the absence of the divine force within the mountain, caught wind of this war and of Aephesvil’s legendary horde. And so more then thousand elves entered the Tandala tunnels and swept the entire structure. They killed every dwarf they found, male, female, and child without hesitation. They also searched the caves for the fabled treasure of Aephesvil, but to no avail. Not even with elven magic and keen eyes could they find the clandestine coffers. After months of scouring and poking, they couldn’t discover as single tomb full of precious stones and metals, and left the tunnels forever. As they left, they put a spell on the tunnels to hide the structure from others, evil or good, from ever finding them again.

Re-discovering of the Ylossian Mines. Milennia passed until in 298 b.S. an entrance to the long forgotten mines below the Tandala was discovered by orcish warriors from the Sarvonian north. These tunnels were used by the dark minions of Coór in order to invade the southern realms in SW III. Whether these tunnels really were those of the Ylossians and how a possible magical seal was broken, nobody really knows. [1]

Religion. As already stated the Ylossians worshipped Aephesvil, one of the seven Stone Fathers, much more than Trum'Baroll Himself. He was a huge, living, mobile hulk carved out of the Tandala Mountains, which he also used to create the Ylossians. After his creation was finished he remained with his children and protected them. And although there are some indications that the dwarves also accepted the existence of the other Stone Fathers, they only truly worshipped this one, who never left or moved, but always stood unshakeably, guarding the mines.

Aephesvil was showered in praise, and riches for his guardianship. On the second last day of every year the stout miners would bring a small percentage of their ore from the entire year and place it at his feet, then on the last day of the year, it was moved to a hidden vault. The ore just piled up as an offering, and soon the dwarves had to build more storerooms to keep the horde, as the mines under the Tandala were very rich. But they didn’t mind, because the offering kept Aephesvil content and that meant good luck for the miners and the other mountain dwellers.

But indeed it was Aephesvil's reputation alone that kept the dwarves safe. No orc, troll, or goblin would dare go close to the Tandala tunnels without fear of losing his life, or worse. It was this reputation which also started the downfall of the Ylossian dwarves (see above).

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Footnotes

[1] Note Artimidor: The recounted Ylossian myth indeed is a very interesting one. I would especially like to remark that there exists a certain parallelism between dwarven and elven myth concerning this figure of Aephesvil and the Tree of Life. In both cases the symbol of creation of life is destroyed. And in both cases this happens instantly, without any further warning. In both cases the bliss and the unity of people is thwarted by a sudden shadow. Is such an occurence of the "other side" indeed a main theme, if not the main theme of all religions throughout Caelereth we are encountering here? Is the one side only legitimated by the other (as well as the other way round, of course)? - I guess we have to leave a detailed interpretation of this striking mythological co-incidence to the theologists, but I assume from my humble point of view that this would be a good place to dig for deeper meaning in order to find a common basis for all religious beliefs. [return]

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