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Bard Judith
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« on: 05 December 2004, 13:23:00 »

Dwarven Beliefs: The RockTales, Un'Sthommerons, Proverbs and Sayings

“When the Rain of Life fell down upon Aéér'aíí'cháán the dwarven race was the second one which was blessed by the Spirit of Aváá, the High Goddess, countering the creation of the elves who sprang from the element of the Wind. And so it happened that the dwarves emerged from the element of Earth and were therefore created as the natural counterpart of the elven race…”  At least this is the story as told in the elven myth of the Carpáá'dosíía.

Of course, the Thergerim have their own version of the creation story!  They say matter-of-factly that at the beginning of times, the dwarves were merely living stone, just as the elves were only mere windy phenomenons. These very first stone beings were formed by the Un'Sthommerons, or ‘Stone Fathers’. The Un'Sthommerons were gigantic half-gods who were themselves carved from various types of rock by Trum-Baroll, the Forge Lord, the Shaper of Earth (the equivalent to Urtengor in Santharian beliefs) himself.  In imitation of their Creator, they too set tools to rock and sculpted the race of the dwarves.

Trum-Baroll, the dwarves say, is the God who created the world and all things within it, from his own substance.    

Trum-Baroll lay sleeping in the Great Dark.
He awoke.
There was nothing but Trum-Baroll.
So he scratched his head and dust fell.
Then there was earth.
He spat, and water came upon the earth.
He pulled a hair from his beard.
Trees and all growing things sprang up
Then Trum-Baroll shouted, and his Hammer became.
He coughed, and the Chisel was born.  
So did Trum-Baroll begin to carve,
And all things were made from that time.

(translated from the RockTales, Tablet One

He then carved the Un’Sthommerons from various rocks, and they in their turn carved the Thergerim from granite.  Of course, they experimented with other substances first, such as wood, copper, iron, and so on, which were found to be insufficiently sturdy and were tossed out of the forge door upon the surface of the earth.  Thus the elves, Brownies, orcs, hobbits, gnomes and other races came to be.  “But the Thergerim found favour in the eyes of Trum-Baroll when the Un’Sthommerons brought them before him, and he graced them with life and the blessing to live beneath the surface of the earth and be its masters…” (translated from the RockTales, Tablet One)

In many dwarven tales it is told that these first carved ancestors, as well as the Un'Sthommerons themselves, are still in existence - in the great underground empire of Toll Disporbaroll ("Realm of the Lost Father"), which refers to Trum-Baroll's domain.  It is common dwarven belief that Trum-Baroll is not a spiritual, incorporeal deity but an actual living being of stone who to this day reigns over the Un'Sthommerons in his domain deep in the rocky bones of Caelereth.   According to dwarven belief Trum-Baroll is the god who created the world out of his own matter; other races are seen as "by-products" of his forging and carving.  Trum-Baroll directly watches over the Thergerim, blesses their doings, and protects them from the harmful happenstances of life.  

These tales and other holy writings are contained in their sacred book, the not-so-lengthy Trumesdrummerons,  or ‘RockTales’.  

There are obvious similarities between the dwarven Trum-Baroll and our own Urtengor, Forge-Lord of the Aviaría.   However, the Thergerim as a race do not admit the existence of any other gods, although the Un’Sthommerons (see below) seem to be at least demi-gods who are the focus of some worship ceremonies and rites as well.  

Aephesvil (Lord of Flint)
Worshipped  by the Ylossians, ancient dwarven ancestors. See the Ylossian entry for further details.

Corunvil (Granite-Lord)
It is currently believed that Corunvil was the one to originate the idea of copying his own maker and creating life from stone in HIS own image. Proposed it to the other Unsthommerons who eagerly if somewhat ham-handedly  took it up.  Corunvil is associated with the chisel and the small stonemaul, and sometimes traditional smiths carve his rune on their tools to make them ‘strike sure’, as they say.  Highly conservative dwarves hold Corunvil to be a sort of arch-power or demi-god, above the other Unsthommerons.  Female dwarves also invoke Corunvil during pregnancy and labour (the ultimate creative activity...)

Hothesvil (Lord of Lime/Sandstone)
Hothesvil’s particular responsibility was to create and shape the intricate forms of stalactites and stalagmites, according to Dwarven beliefs.  Whenever a particularly attractive or aesthetic formation is found below ground, it is usually left in place where possible, rather as humans would spare a large old tree.   Sometimes parts of the formation are ‘painted’ to bring out their shapes,  with a luminescent ink derived from fungal growths, as a kind of homage or offering to Hothesvil.  

Kannvil (Marble-Lord).  Said to be the handsomest Unsthomm.  There is a legend that he was unsatisfied with the short, rough  bodies of the Thergerim he carved and sought out a massive deposit of alabaster in the high mountains, where he hid himself from the other Stone Fathers and began creating a lovely female form to match his own size.  Alas, when the last chisel-stroke separated her from the living rock, and the pale marble woman arose, she fled from Kannvil in terror and flung herself into Nubil’s Gorge.  Kannvil in despair would have followed her save that his brothers leapt from the ground and restrained him.  Yet he grieved all his days thereafter.  Hot springs are still often discovered underground and used by the Dwarves in their caverns, and they are always said to be the Tears of Kannvil.                                

Actually spelt ‘Kwontvil’  in Dwarven..  Believed to be the creator specifically of the Morgerim, whom he carved from obsidian after seeing how inflexibly similar the granite-formed Thergerim were.  The only Unsthomm said to possess anything resembling a sense of humour.  ‘Trickster’ stories are sometimes accredited to Quontvil, as in when a tool goes missing after just having been to hand; “Quontvil took it!”  This has also been adapted to a curse; “Quontvil take it/you/him!” His symbols are an obsidian ax-head and the small rocklizard commonly used as a roasting beast among the Thergerim.  Note: The Morgerim will neither use obsidian (“Stoneflesh will cut flesh of our stone,” they say, obscurely) nor eat that particular species of lizard...

Trumvil (Stone-Lord)
Not much is known or written of this reclusive Father with the unimaginative name.  However, it is said that he was given the responsibility to count and name every pebble that Trum-Baroll shaped in making the Earth, so it was extrapolated that he be Master of Gems as well.  It has, in the last few decades, become fashionable for dwarven couples to exchange various precious stones and jewelry pieces as betrothal gifts, rather than the traditional utensils and tools, and quite frequently Trumvil’s Rune has appeared as a  common decorative motif on these betrothal pieces.  Some more liberal Dwarven priests currently name Trumvil as the Wedding Presider, who aids in the joining of man and wife, but this is a fairly recent belief.

Unphvil (Basalt-Lord)
Particularly appealing to the Dwarven females, Unphvil is the master (subcontracted by Trum-Barol, of course) of basalt and other mephitic rocks.  He is said to have power over lava, volcanic eruptions, and other netherworld heat sources.  He was Trum-Baroll’s assistant when the Dwarf God invented cooking and food preparation, so he is often invoked when dealing with hearth-matters.  Dwarf couples will ask for Unphvil’s blessing over their food after they eat it, and if herbs or medicines are to be imported/exported, they are often rune-protected in Unphvil’s name.  

The Trumesdrummerons        

This compilation of dwarf religious writings, tales of Trum-Barol, and Unsthommerons’ stories is known as the Barollegendia to human scholars, but as Trumesdrummerons, “RockTales” to the Thergerim.  It is their only ‘holy’ book and physical copies of the book are revered in an almost talismanic sense among the older dwarves.

One reason for this is that every copy is made by hand, by the book’s future owner - the paper cut with a stone blade, stacked and pierced, and sewn with natural fibers.   The dwarf then binds it, often with bat skin or Drall leather, and grinds her own ink from lizardgall and Urav-lichen.  Then, under the stern eye of the Denirim, she painstakingly copies the runes from the Denirim’s own Trumesdrummerons.    A single mistake means the book is burned; fortunately the text is not a long one, and Thergerim not long-winded.  Generally the successful completion of a ‘RockTales’ text is celebrated as the young dwarf’s coming-of-age in religious and social affairs, and is a good excuse for a feastday.  Dwarves will often make several copies in their two to three-century lifetimes, at various significant occasions which they wish to commemorate, or simply because the first copy is wearing out and becoming illegible.  Different clans may have different requirements or ceremonies surrounding the scribing of new texts; see the various clan entries for details.    

This fanatical attention to detail means that dwarven historians can be highly certain of their sacred texts’ veracity, or at least legitimacy - since the original  (the ‘Uravdenitrum’ in dwarven) was literally carved in stone, contemporary copies can still be checked against it!   What we might think of as ‘chapter’ divisions which exist in the written texts come directly from that original as well, and since they retain their titles as ‘Tablet One’, ‘Slab Two’, etc. up to five sections,  we can conjecture that the Uravdenitrum was inscribed on at least five distinct pieces of rock.  What we have here translated as ‘tablet’ is possibly better indicated by the word ‘monolith’ or ‘stele’, however; one should not imagine a small piece of loose slate but rather a gigantic monument of living rock rearing up under the stars…

The UravdenitrumHund

The actual appearance of the original RockTales monument, and the site of this holy place, however, is only known to the Denirimerons of the dwarves, and their pilgrimage there (where it is believed that they make their copy directly from the sacred stone itself) is shrouded in secrecy, lore, and misdirection.  In fact, a Denirim will occasionally travel without any purpose, various distances from his home cavern simply to mislead any observers (dwarven or otherwise) who might wish to spy out this sacred location.  The dwarves say, with a cold look in their eyes, that no other race has ever seen or learned of the location of the UravdenitrumHund, the True Holystone’s Home.  

Aging, Death, Funerals

Dwarves remain active and vigorous well into their late age, but eventually a certain physical change overtakes them, relatively suddenly.  In about the course of a month or so, the elderly dwarf will find it much more difficult to move about than she used to.  Her bones feel heavy and massive, her joints solidifying and grating together. Her skin becomes even more rougher,  almost scaly and calloused, and sensation dims.   Her eyes will film and begin to bulge slightly, so that only far-off objects become clear and focused.  In an underground low-light environment where fine work is prized, this is a severe handicap.  The dwarves say that this change in vision is preparing them to ‘see Trum-Baroll beneath the earth’, and they call this time of change ‘Pragorsthomm’, the Stone-Turning.   When the Pragorsthomm begins, a dwarf must put his affairs in order, dispose of his personal possessions, and prepare for his funeral, as he will have one to three months before ‘Aveferpesthomm’, the Time of Stone -  death -  overtakes him.  

“S/he has become stone” is the way dwarves refer to a dead dwarf - a euphemism for ‘Khorimyeh’, to die, or ‘Khorim’, death.  The dwarf is mourned with physical expressions of grief that are restrained and low-key, but deeply felt.  It is believed that this form of mourning and the attendant rituals were evolved out of the Thergerim sensitivity to excess noise, as well as a security precaution - loud wails could carry well through rock, attract unwanted attention, or even cause cave-ins.  The body, now completely rigid and extremely heavy, is taken to the lowest levels of the excavations for disposal.   In volcanic regions it is preferred to utilize a magma pit, but in other areas a bottomless crevasse or non-connected cave pool is used.  

Once the body has petrified and the life-force departed, most Thergerim believe that the ‘forgespark’ (soul, spirit, essence, or whatever name you care to call the mind and heart that animates a sentient being…) returns to meet its Creator – the great Trum-Baroll – and will dwell in his realm, the underground utopian empire known as Toll Disporbaroll.  We say most, as this is the common belief; some of the older members of the more traditional clans will inform you fiercely that the body itself returns to be animated by the forgespark again, so that the deceased dwarf may have a corporeal existence in Toll Disporbaroll.  Arcane dwarvish writings (not an accepted part of the RockTales, but rather apocryphal) claim that there are in Toll Disporbaroll itself layers within layers, depths within depths, and the purified essence, with or without its body, will move ever deeper, to ever more fulfillment and joy.  

An intimate look at a dwarven funeral may be had here, in the story of Mututaph Foodmaker.

--------------------A Story ---------------------------------------------        

The females of the cavern stood in a quiet circle around the motionless form on the stone.
Mututaph Foodmaker, skilled cook and tastesinger, had ended her Pragorsthomm in the same dignity with which she had always moved through her life; she had felt the final stiffening coming upon her and laid herself down on one of the great hearthstones where she had served the clan of AverimTyr for so long.  She had set her favorite pareknife and ladle beside her, a small bag of spices, and a tiny book - her much-thumbed copy of the RockTales, the sacred writings of the dwarves.   "Mututaph has become stone," her friend and co-cook Tareignzen finally broke the silence, "she has gone to Trum-Barol as she hoped..."

The silence broken, the dwarven females began to move in the patterns of the death ritual - unplaiting their hair to hang loosely, rolling down their sleeves, untucking and untying parts of their rockwool garb.  Their feet moved on the cavern floor, back and forth in a slow shuffle that became a sibilant hissing of sound, the drag and roll of leather against stone like deep tides in unlit pools.  Breathing became faster, audible, blending with the hiss and echoing eerily from the stalactites high above.  One dwarfmatron lifted her arms high and began rubbing her palms together in imploration, quickly copied by the others.  

In the shadows around them the males watched, heads bowed in respect.  As the dwarven females began a soft wailing, the Denirim emerged from among them and came towards Mututaph's body.  The females moved to let him through, still shuffling their erratic dance, the wail mounting.  Behind them, the hearthfire leaped, painting orange light on the Denirim's wrinkled face.  He touched Mututaph=s open, filmed eyes, a symbolic confirmation of her death, and then picked up the little book with respect.  "She held Trum-Barol high," he intoned, "She will be truestone of his choosing."

The wail rose louder at this, and the dwarf males began a sympathetic patting of their legs and knees, rocking back and forth on their feet.  "Hush, hush, hush..." Tareignzen's husband was the first to speak for the men's group.  "Hush, hush, she is stone, she feels no more."  The males moved forward, splitting up to choose a female partner and join seamlessly in the griefdance with her.  Palm to palm they joined, their feet moving unlifted across the stone, a waft and shift of sound made lyrical by the muted cries of the dwarfmaids and matrons.  

Above them, the Morjualerons - the batkeepers - released their charges into the confined 'sky' of the cavern, and the hardly audible sound of bat piping joined with the emotive song.

"Hush, hush, hush," the males crooned, "she is stone, she is stone..."

"Truestone," sang the Denirim, tossing Mututaph's flavourbag into the flames.  

A aroma of spice and savory filled the air, a scent so poignantly associated with the dead dwarf that many gasped aloud in reflex, male and female alike.  The dance blended, softened, became a bare swaying of motion, a comforting hug, shoulders touching; a reassurance that the community was still bound together, still whole.

"Carry her to the Lower Ground," came the Denirim's voice again, as the hum of music faded and the cavern became still again.  "Carry her down, and lay her with care, for she is stone, truestone."

Mututaph's friends and family moved around the body,  setting her rigid form on a litter made of crossed shovels and picks, hefting it to their shoulders, and standing ready.  The Denirim glided to a tunnel mouth and took a covered lantern from the ledge beside it, gesturing them onward and down the tunnel.  

'Truestone, true stone....true…stone…' their voices faded against the moss-hung walls, and the bat echoes sang their answer.

Proverbs and Sayings

Edited by: Bard Judith at: 12/20/04 21:42

"Give me a land of boughs in leaf /  a land of trees that stand; / where trees are fallen there is grief; /  I love no leafless land."   --A.E. Housman

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