"Doom lies beneath our feet".
Assakar, the Mad Prophet of Asylum
There was, for many years, a deranged prophet by the name of Assakar that lived in the sewers of Asylum. He wandered the back alleys of the city aimlessly, living on scraps of food and rummaging through garbage. There wasn't a nook or cranny of the city he hadn't explored. Assakar was quite mad. He talked to rats and babbled incoherently. Every week he would foretell outrageous prophecies and often would write them down as if having ink on parchment somehow lent credibility to the claim.
One day, Assakar began to babble about the dwarves of Hammerfall to any who would listen. He was quite insistent. When he sat down with quill and ink, he penned "The Secret of Hammerfall". The next day, he vanished. Several other beggars also vanished. Perhaps because they read the document. In any case, the parchment has disappeared as well. The claim is now dismissed as rumor.
The full text of Assakar's parchment is below... whether or not it is true is a matter of some speculation.
Hammerfall hides beneath it a vast and terrible secret. Known only to the dwarves and those precious few whom the dwarves trust, the secret will one day change Asylum. It is widely known that the dwarves of Hammerfall have walled off an entire section of the city, that they are secretive, and that rumors claim that the dwarves have many tunnels beneath the city. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, as it were.
The truth is as startling as it is simple: the dwarves are building another city-state… a new dwarven nation and they are building it beneath Asylum.
For more than 200 years, the dwarves have been slowly and patiently excavating tunnels, shafts and chambers. They have labored in secret, careful to shield their work from the ears and eyes of those on the surface, careful to avoid the mines and quarries of the humans and the orcs, careful to shield their work from scrying and other magical means of discovery.
Hammerfall, that section of the city ruled by the dwarves, and recently walled off from the rest of the city, is but one small piece of the puzzle… a part of a vast scheme to make a bold claim on the southern lands of Ithria. Their work has been progressing, quietly and uninterrupted, for two centuries. The number of dwarves living and working on the tunnels below has swelled into the thousands. And now, at last, they are nearing the final phase. It is likely the dwarves will complete their work within the next 20 years, possibly even the next 10.
And what a master plan it is to behold! The scope of this labor is unlike anything seen by the surface races. The enormity of their designs are difficult to grasp.
When their labor is complete, they will set in motion a dreadful sequence of events. Key sections of Asylum have been sabotaged. Great empty gaps have been tunneled out from underneath with only carefully placed stone pillars to support the surface. When the dwarves act, these supporting braces and pillars will be smashed and whole sections of the city will collapse, crumbling and falling into pits of rubble and debris.
At the same time, huge walls, buildings, towers and even roads, all of dwarven design, will erupt from the ground, being pushed up from beneath by dwarven machines. With the turning of gears and wheels and by the ingenuity of dwarven engineering, the city will reform itself.
But the crowning gem of this monumental architectural plan is the Colossus… a single great fortress of stone and steel. The Colossus is being built within a tremendous shaft and it too shall rise from the ground like the other dwarven buildings but its sheer size demands another method. The shaft of the Colossus will be flooded with water diverted from the river. The Colossus, like a great ship, will be pushed up by the rising waters to breach the surface and join the new dwarven landscape.
In a single day, the dwarves will reforge the city of Asylum and remake it in their vision. The Colossus and the other dwarven buildings and towers will be only a small fragment of the whole. An entire subterranean city-state will have cast off its veil and joined the world, a third dwarven nation! The repercussions of this new birth will ripple through the south lands.
The dwarves alone are the architects of this bold plan. They hold the Key to the future of Asylum. Indeed, do they have similar plans for Aridorn? Do they hope to one day lay claim to all four corners of the map? Perhaps their greed and ambition will push them to claim the entire continent of Ithria? Who knows?
There are those who consider the lawless city of Asylum to be a blight upon the southlands and would not mourn its loss. I, for one, do not wish to be here when the dwarves unveil their madness.
Asylum is itself a partner in this tragedy. There is no king to petition... no banner to which we may rally.... no magistrate to hear our grievances... no city guard to take up arms... Those who live with power and privilege in Asylum are too busy grappling with each other to notice.... and all the while, the dwarves continue to dig their tunnels and make their plans.
It is too late for this city, I fear. Doom lies beneath our feet.
This website was last updated March 31, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.