XX I’m really enjoying writing this story. I hope you’re enjoying reading it. I would greatly love feedback on the style and feel of the piece if you have the time XX
During my tenure in the Hammers, I worked hard to get a grip on my rage. It’s amazing how much hate, hurt, depression, anxiety, and outright fury can build up when you know nothing but war for three centuries. There were things I needed to do though, and I did them. The first was learning the value of fasting (Not that you would notice this now. I’m afraid my paunch has grown a bit in the centuries between then and now.). Many who have never adopted the practice think it a nonsensical notion. I must admit, I was one of them. What I found is that the primary purpose of it is to learn self control in a manner that cannot harm any but yourself. There is a median point in fasting which takes practice to identify, just as there is a balance learned as one develops skill with a given weapon. If you fast too little, then you learn nothing from the experience, but if you fast too much, then you damage your health and cannot serve your god or family as you’d like. Similarly, if you swing your weapon too cautiously, you fail to parry or your opponent dodges your blow, and if you swing too quickly you may lose your weapon or leave yourself open for attack. Thus, there is a subtle art (as in most things that require skill and dedication) to fasting. I recommend that anyone reading this try it, but only after seeking the advice of an expert in the methodologies and theology of your choice.
The next thing I really needed to learn how to do was think. It’s an odd thing when you work with your hands, how little your mind has to do. Your heart does the work when you shape metal. Or at least, it does when you’re doing it right. Master Steelshine had taught me that, and it is still something I turn to regularly to relieve the stresses of my office. However; beyond analytical thought regarding how much carbon to use, or how many garnets to place where, there wasn’t a lot in the way of thinking in my apprenticeship. This is normal, I would suppose, as that is the very nature of an apprenticeship. You learn what someone else knows before you decide to take the concepts and apply your own original twists. Unfortunately, I was distracted by vengeance before I could tap into my own mind. I eventually came to value the peace of a quiet room filled with dusty tomes and scratching quills, and started paying attention to what I was scribing. I learned histories, philosophy of various religions and races, geography, astrology (though why dwarves who live underground look to the stars I still don’t really comprehend), military strategy for above and below the face of Aurill, and even some planar theorem (not for the feint of heart). I formed my political opinions then. I won’t go off on a discourse here, but that was the time that I learned the full history of the war we are currently engaged in, including the coming of the Drow, the betrayal of the Duergar clan, the Summoning of Sorrows, and the development of the current stalemate which has held for nearly a millennium. I truly hope that, in the peace I know in my heart is to come; I have an opportunity to review the other side of that equation.
There was one last important step that I faced as a Hammer. The test of faith. I had been a member of the Order for 78 years before I knew what it meant to wield true faith. It’s a strange feeling to wake up and truly accept a reliance on another power, and to use that reliance to form a partnership of service. At that time, I had taken into my tutelage a young dwarf of my clan. He was born of my second cousin, Thernal Mudbeard, whose first name has always been a mystery to me. I’ll never know why a dwarf would be given a gnomish name, but there is a rumor (how true it is I cannot say) that his great grandmother was a gnome of particular beauty who had entranced his great grandfather. Regardless, Durnin Beard (who had not yet come of age at the time) became my foster son after his father moved away for business reasons. He was a good young man, always quick to help around the temple, and I think he eventually would have had a lifelong calling to the temple. Alas, he became enamored of a young lady in the Brewer’s Guildhall and began following her about like a lovesick puppy. Ordinarily, this would be just another step in the growth of a young boy, but this girl was something else. Quite literally I’m afraid. She was a spy for the deep elves, having been bought off nearly a century before. She was making a “delivery” one night, and young Durnin had followed her, hoping I think, to find some way to surprise her and win her heart (Ah, the naiveté of youth.). Unfortunately, his quiet demeanor, earned no doubt from his time in the library with me, earned him a closer spot to the transaction than was healthy for him. To his credit, he managed to injure one of the devil-eared bastards and raise an alarm. Unfortunately, by the time it was all done, he had been fatally injured and his left arm had been severed just above the elbow. I found him, having been looking for his aid at mixing a new batch of the deep blue ink he was particularly fond of. A group of seven Anvils had eliminated the young lady, whose name will never be uttered by dwarf again I might add, and all of her friends. The only problem was that they had assumed that he was dead, and had taken to mopping up the scene when I arrived. He was still alive, if just barely. Now, I wasn’t Durnin’s blood father, but I loved, and still love, him just as I do my own four daughters and six sons. To see the look of suffering on his face was terrible, and it drove me to tears, even in the pride of my youth it was more than I could cope with. I wore my priestly garb, but never had I asked for anything from Moradin himself except the comfort of his hearth and the solace of serving my people. I asked for something that night though. I asked great Moradin to reforge my son’s arm and make him whole. Now, ordinarily, I shouldn’t have been able to cast that spell on my own, but I think the Forger knew how much I needed it to work, and how much of myself I had committed to the action. I swore to Him that I would serve him all my days, if only he would spare my son the pain I saw in his form and allow me to heal that broken body. Now, while I am right handed, most dwarves favor their left, and this was true of Durnin. To have been without the means to properly swing hammer to adze, fire a crossbow, or draw the clean lines of a script would have been a death to him regardless of any other thing. So Moradin healed him, through me. To feel that rush of power for the first time is more glorious than the first time you finish a piece of armor and get a compliment from your master. It is a joy like none you will ever know, except perhaps in those first few moments when you view the great Sea of Subtern for the first time, with His Glowing Anvil calling to you, while you gift Charon’s cousin the fare to get to the Hall of the Forge. Durnin was healed. A true healing that made his body complete, and left him with no physical scars, though he now sometimes complains of arthritis at the elbow, and him only around 1100 years of age too. Sadly, he has never, to my knowledge, gotten over the tart’s betrayal. He has led an effectively cloistered life, though he has excelled as both a historian and herbalist, making simple medicines and poultices for the old or infirm. He disappeared about three years ago though, leaving a note saying that he had discovered a means of contacting family, and that he felt the need to go to them. Hopefully he’s not off looking for Svirfneblin. Those little buggers are hard to track down, and I don’t believe he ever went further than the soft mantle below ground.
I stayed with the Hammers for a total of 322 years, 5 months, 4 days (according to the Order’s official log), and eventually met my first wife, Denova ListBlade. That was a love affair to talk about, and since it has had a deep affect upon my life and career path, I shall explore it in the next section here. But first, I’m afraid I must gain rest and offer a libation or three to Great Moradin. My cup is empty, and I’m afraid all of the apprentices have fallen asleep at their tables. I shouldn’t like to wake them. They’re a good group of youngsters, and I believe they provide the hope that I need to see as I face what may become a long campaign if my suspicions regarding the stalemate escalating again come to pass.