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The Patrons of Gelthome

By Magnus Stouthammer

Far in the distant past, a small group of settlers and miners made their way to a faraway mountain, where silver ran aplenty and the caves stretched lower and lower. The untamed darkness became known as the Dark Below, where all things foul and fatal come from. It was and continues to be the duty of every dwarf to claw back the Dark Below and shape it into civilization.


As the settlement grew into what we call Gelthome today, legends of these heroes began to emerge, and thus the Seven Settlers canon was born. Outsiders to the mountain are oft confused by these tales, as there are clearly eight of them. But any true Gelthomer could tell them that though we know one was added later, the truth of their lessons are what we keep in our hearts, actual historicity notwithstanding. And so, here they are.


The Patrons

The Deepfather- leader of the Seven Settlers, his name is lost to history. He was wise and stout-hearted, free with counsel and fair of judgment. He is the most balanced of the bunch, and would often use the other Settlers as examples (whether good or ill).


Langobardn the Cautious- the sage of the seven, he is said to have been the oldest dwarf who ever lived. His beard ran white and to his ankles, but there was ice in his glowering eyes. He urged reason and prudence, but also stood overly for tradition and inaction. A wise dwarf heeds his teachings but succumbs not to the stagnation he represents.


The Goatkeeper- keeper of oaths and secrets (and goats).


Haldr the Hairy- patron of beauty, cleanliness, fastidiousness but also vanity. A mighty beard can be said to reflect his character, but beware distraction and idleness.


Vintja the Swift- scout of the settlers, patron of quick action and industry, but often overlooked details. While speed is important, so is care. She favours individual prowess while sometimes failing to account for the strengths (and weaknesses) of others.


The Twins- Kára the Accuser and Synja the Accused represent justice. Always bickering, it requires keen judgment to determine which of the sisters speaks true and which false in any matter of law.


Brokki the Battle Smith

An armour-clad figure with a hammer in one hand and an axe in the other, this mute dwarf was both the best fighter and the quartermaster of the seven. Bound by duty, they kept the supplies in order and defended the miners at work. Unbending and uncompromising, they also represent the danger a lack of restraint or personal judgment can bring.


The Enemies


Ombrestoke- the beast in the dark that preys on carelessness in the Dark Below.

That which snuffs the watchman's flame, The Great Silencer.


The Echo Eaters- ravenous hordes, foreshadowed by a deathly silence in the mines. Everything becomes muted. The heralds of Ombrestoke.


Here is a tale to give some understanding of the types of stories of the Seven Settlers, as presented by many a skald around many a fire or hall.


Vintja and the Wall


A long time ago, when the veins were fresh and the Hold small, the Settlers sat at council as they often did, hearing the petitions of the miners and tradesfolk. Suddenly, a dwarf rushed in, covered in grime and soiled clothes from the mines.


"Ah! Svennig! One of my finest scouts! How fares the new vein this day?" Vintja asked, pride beaming from her slender face.


"Poorly, my lady. I wish that I had better tidings to report to this esteemed assemblage, but alas, there are rumblings of trolls in the Dark Below. They head for the new camp. I ran here as fast as my legs would take me."


This news brought murmurs and then bickering as those assembled all proffered their ideas at once.


"QUIET!" Bellowed the Deepfather, "Firstly- to Svennig, you have our thanks for bringing this to us as swiftly as you did. We are proud to have such diligent scouts as yourself. Go and wash the road from your beard and be at ease. We will handle it from here." At this, Svennig bowed deeply, and after a nod from Vintja, hurried out of the hall.


As soon as the doors closed behind him, Langobardn the Cautious began with a stroke of his long beard.


"My lord Deepfather, I advise caution. Trolls are a nasty business, perhaps it would be best to close the camp until they have moved on. Though we may lose time, think of the cost of the camp and the lives of those working there. Once the scouts give the all clear, then they will be safe to continue their toils."


"Nonsense!" Came the reply from Vintja,

"Think of all the time that will waste! And all for some dumb, smelly trolls? Fah! I could run circles around them and none could touch me!"


At this, the Deepfather looked to his eager master scout. "And is this your plan? To run circles around them? How will that help the workers?" Vintja's cheeks flushed with embarrassment.


Next came Haldr the Hairy's suggestion. With a flick of his beautiful beard that dazzled the onlookers, he began. "My liege, lords and ladies," his voice was smooth as mead and chocolate, "allow me to handle the trolls. Surely we can reach some accord? Though they are simple brutes, all life appreciates beauty. I am sure that I can convince them to lay off and move on." As he resumed his staring match with his mirrored goblet, the others shook off their reverie and returned to the debate.


"A fine suggestion Haldr, though I fear that the trolls may be too hungry to appreciate your charms. Goatkeeper? What advice from the keeper of secrets?"


They all turned to regard him, staring into his strange unblinking ram eyes. He put a finger up to his lips and let out a deep chuckle as a grin bared his yellowed teeth.


"Helpful as always." Grumbled Langobardn.


It was at this point that Brokki began to pull out their masonry tools and began a rather convincing fortification out of cups and dinnerware.


"A wall! Brokki can build battlements that could keep out Ombrestoke himself! Begin as soon as you are ready. We will close the mine and camp until you have finished." At the Deepfather's proclamation, the Battle Smith began to rise.


"Deepfather! Forgive me, but have you forgotten? None can deny that Vintja is the fastest dwarf there is, perhaps has ever been. I can build up a wall this very night! Save Brokki for slower endeavours, I can protect the camp without any interruptions!" At this, there were chuckles and smirks as council members looked between the slight Vintja and the stout Brokki.


The Deepfather raised his hand to quell the commotion. All fell silent.


"Eager Vintja, your zeal and enthusiasm are appreciated. And none can deny that you are indeed the fastest of our fellowship. But there are times when speed alone can not overcome, and we must look to others to make up for own lack. Keep your eyes on the trolls, and leave the defences to Brokki."


Vintja grit her teeth in a thin semblance of a smile. "As you wish, lord Deepfather. I will depart immediately and find these trolls for myself." With a nod, she hurried from the room.


But it was not to the trolls that Vintja went. She fumed and she paced, and she raced to the camp. "I'll show them a wall," she thought to herself, "and we'll see how they laugh when Vintja the Swift saves the camp!" And with that, she began to build. Faster and faster she piled the stones, one after another after another. Soon a small crowd began to watch from the mine, and surely, never has a dwarf toiled so heavily so quickly. As sweat and grime began to cover her clothes and matte down her hair, she pressed on, thinking only of how impressed they would all be when the others saw what she had done. She continued, never stopping, never slowing, until finally as the shift changed to morning, she placed the last stone and the deed was done. A hearty cheer came up from the assembled miners. "Brave Vintja! You've saved us! No troll could best such a mighty wall as this! Let us drink to your success!" But Vintja was tired after her great labour, and went to find somewhere to sleep it off. Scout that she was, she found a secluded spot away from the camp and the mine and went to sleep.


Sure enough, not much time passed before the trolls arrived at the camp. Confused and enraged to find hard stone between them and their meal, they struck heavy blows with their fists and clubs, but the hasty wall held. Soon, the miners began to taunt the trolls, safe behind their overnight miracle. "Better luck next time! Maybe your tears will fill your bellies!" And they laughed and made merry. Eventually, it became clear even to the slow trolls that there would be no meat for them here, and they began to leave. The miners danced and hollered in satisfaction at their good fortune.


Then the rats came.


Had Vintja scouted the trolls as she had been asked, she would have seen that following the fearsome band were many scavengers, eager to fight over the scraps left behind by the trolls. Giant rats and biting insects followed behind them like a plague, and though the large stones were enough to keep out the big brutes, the gaps were soon filling with vermin. Biting and eating all they could see, the drunken revellers were helpless to stop them from devouring their supplies and not a small number of dwarves themselves. The wall that had saved them from the trolls now penned them in with the rats and other vermin. Through it all, after her laudible labours, poor Vintja slept.


Finally, on the third day, Vintja awoke, and met the approach of Brokki and Deepfather, laden with supplies to secure the new camp.


"Set down your heavy burden, my fellows! The camp is already safe! Come and see what I have done!" Vintja gleamed with pride as they approached the camp.


"See? My wall has protected the camp and saved lives and time besides! Look how it took the battering of the trolls!" And sure enough, the stones had held. But as they got closer, they saw with dread the gaps between the stones, and the blood that ran down them.


"I am sure that is merely the blood of trolls foolish enough to pound the walls with their bare fists! Or try to grab at the dwarves within!" But still, her pace slowed.


"The quiet must be from the fearsome hangovers after surviving the attack. Surely lord Deepfather, they have earned their rest." Vintja pleaded with eyes wide.


It was Brokki who reached the wall first and peered through one of the gaps.


With a nod from their liege, Brokki smashed down the wall with three well placed blows of their hammer. Though enthusiastic, Vintja was not the mason that Brokki was.


The dwarves inside were silent and still, but not from drunken sleep. The carnage and destruction brought Vintja to her knees. "But... My wall held! I built it in one night! To save them!" She looked up at the Deepfather, tears running down her face. "I see now that the fruits of my labour are bitter and filled with pits... O, what punishment could fit this horrible misdeed?"


With a sigh, he put his hand on her shoulder.


"Punishment will come later, for you have disobeyed and now look at the cost. But you are young and tried to help your fellows. For now, let this lesson sink deep, and do not shy away from its cruel teacher. Speed is commendable, progress is dependant on it. Idleness can ruin any great work. But look upon these corpses and learn: Speed can not come at the cost of quality, a job done right will always best a job done quick. Your stones bested the trolls, but not their dark retinue. Your wall was strong, but kept the miners in as well as the trolls out. Brokki may do a job slower than you, but had you warned these folk of the danger and left the defences to your peer, the mine would be running and these dwarves would have lived."


With that, they cleaned up what they could and went home, and Vintja learned that sometimes it is better to be Steadfast than Swift.


And so, whenever a dwarf puts hastiness ahead of thoroughness, or sacrifices quality to save themselves some honest work, Gelthomers will remind each other of the tale of Vintja and the Wall.

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