When the Grendian Dwarves Repelled the Dragons
Once upon a time, before the times of fertile lands, and long before your great grandparents were babies, the stars fell day and night without ceasing. As the stars fell, they shone brightly in the sky—red during harvest time, white when the snows fell, and green during the growing time, just like the star showers today. Most of those falling stars never struck the ground, leaving only emblazoned trails across the day or night sky. Sometimes, though, as the stars burned in the sky, they left behind their metallic hearts. And sometimes their metallic hearts set fire to the trees—the heart of a star is very hot.
In those days, most of the world’s creatures were stonier than the creatures today. In those days there were no hares or deer, and the creatures of the rivers were strange beasts as there were no fish. In those days, birds did not inhabit the daytime skies and bats did not patrol the night. Instead, in those days, dragons cursed the skies, daring the falling stars to strike them. In the harvest time, the dragons radiated a redness to challenge both the harvest time leaves and the falling stars. In the hibernal periods, when the hottest stars fell and glowed white, the dragons radiated a whiteness to match the stars. And in the growing seasons, the dragons sported a green coat. In each of the seasons, the dragons’ scales matched the sheens and glimmers in the sky.
But the dragons were callous and evil and they wished for greater power than the falling stars. The dragons’ own hearts blazed hot to match their greed and malice. Perhaps it was not the stars that kept the hares and deer and fish from thriving in those days. The dragons traveled, sometimes days without resting, and flew into the eastern barrens, into the northern fields, and into the western world where there is no land. In those places, they would find the hearts of the stars that had fallen from the skies and gather those hearts into their mountain lairs. The caves where the dragons brought these star hearts smoldered and baked. The heat was extraordinary and smoke rose from the mountains. Sometimes, the greatest of these dragons collected so many of these fallen stars that the heat melted the metal and the stone in the mountains and the molten metal ran through the stone creating veins of ore that last to these days.
In their vanity and greed, the dragons fought one another and took pride in the sizes of their hoards. There were yearly contests and the strongest dragons won the contests and claimed the star hearts that had been collected by their challengers. As the ages passed, the greatest of the dragons established domains that no other dragons could challenge. In the forest, the deepest green-scaled dragons reigned supreme; in the barrens, blue-hued dragons, whose scales matched the summer sky, kept the red and white and green dragons away and secured their own mysterious lairs. The red and the white dragons remained in the mountains and established their own territories; each seeming to gain the greatest power when the star showers’ colors matched their own.
In those days, none could challenge the supremacy of the dragons, and the dragons and the falling stars together rendered most of the rest of the world barren.
Eons passed and the creatures dwelling below the surface grew stronger. Of all those creatures, the most powerful, most cunning, and most brave were the bearded, spear-wielding dwarves. (Everyone agrees, the spears of man are but pale imitations of the spears of the Grendian Dwarves.) In those days, in the darkness below ground, safe from the falling stars and safe from the ravaging dragons, the dwarves grew in power and numbers. They learned of the veins of ore made by the heat of the star heart lairs and they learned to mine those veins, to extract the finest ore, and to build weapons and armor the likes of which no longer exist upon this world.
The dragons did not know, but their greed and their zeal, which produced those veins of ore, also brought about their own ruin, for the star hearts’ heat, which melted the stone and which produced the metallic veins, also produced metals capable of withstanding the dragons’ claws, fangs and wicked breath. Generations of dwarves worked at forges lit only by the fires themselves. They were born at these forges, learned nothing but metalwork, and died at these forges, scores of years later. Legions of dwarves produced countless shields and spears. And when the time was right, the dwarves abandoned their forges and made war upon the red and white dragons in the mountains. Thousands of dwarves perished in these great battles but the dwarves were victorious. News of their victories spread. The green dragons in the forests were prideful and boasted that the red and white dragons were weak and took no care believing the mountains would protect them. The green dragons were themselves prideful in part because their forests were mazes to the dwarves, and thousands more dwarves were lost, but the spears and shields were powerful and the dwarves were brave and many. In the end, the last of the green dragons also fell. And finally, despite the perils and hazards, the remaining Grendian Dwarves scaled the outer surfaces of the mountains and marched across the Starshower Barrens to challenge the mightiest of the blue dragons—the very dragons whose scales rivaled the daytime skies. And though every last Grendian Dwarf died in those battles (which we know because no one, not even the barrens traders, have claimed to see a dwarf in a dozen generations), those same final dwarves removed the scourge of dragons from this world.
And we know this because the veins of ore are no more and because the times of fertile lands, our own times, could not have begun had the dragons remained.