Ornrik's Dream

At first, you aren’t sure where you are. You are standing on a flat stone surface. Either it is nighttime or you are inside a huge cavern, you are not yet sure. You can see okay; there is a fire burning somewhere. You are surrounded by life-sized stone statues of dwarves – many of them, nearly as far as the eye can see. Your first thought is to be concerned – thinking back to your encounter several months back with a basilisk. However, the majority of these statues do not appear to reacting in fear or caught unawares by a gaze attack. These statues appear to be in every manor of pose – walking, running, sitting, lying down – and in compositions you’d have never considered for a works of art – some are in groups appearing to laugh and drink together, others are reading, there is one of a woman cooking. This is incredible work, but very strange.

You have to turn around in order to see where the light is coming from. When you do, you are filled with a sudden sense of vertigo as you realize you are standing on the edge of plateau. However, when you try to take a step back, you cannot, looking down you become horrified to realize that your feet are stone. In fact, your whole body is stone. So, how were able to look back and look down in the first place?

Where it all begins… That light source. It isn’t just a fire. It is the flame of a forge; I huge forge. You are standing on a table of some sort in the lair of a giant blacksmith. Suddenly you realize where you are! This is the Celestial Forge! So this must be the Crucible of the Gods, where the creations of Moradin are put in play – the portal by which the gods interact with their people. You realize that to be seeing this, you must be either dead or having a wondrous vision.

Somewhere in the shadows, out of your view, you can hear a hammer striking and anvil. One of the gods must be laboring. You are also aware of someone else approaching.

A giant dwarf walks into your view and you are shaken. You know he must be a god. He appears young, by every visual cue one would apply to a dwarf – his hair is short and his beard is not fully formed; more like stubble. He has a walking-stick and a mace hangs from his belt. This must be Marthammor Duin the Wanderer, the Finder-of-Trails and the Watcher over Wanderers. He stops in front of you, but he is not facing you.

Another great dwarf figure enters your view from the opposite direction. This one is much short than the other. He is smiling and there is a twinkle in his eye. His golden hair is pulled neatly back and bound, and his beard is well groomed. He looks quizzically at the younger, taller of the two and asks, in an aristocratic Dwarven dialect, “Are you aware …” he reaches up to the others ear and seems to draw a coin from it, “… that you have a coin behind your ear?”

The younger grins wryly, as though he’s seen this many times before, “Why is it that every time you find a coin behind my ear, you keep it?”

“Finders keepers, Young One. I’m just lucky that way, I guess,” he replies and you realize this must be Vergadain the Short Father, the God of Wealth and Luck, the Trickster King. He laughs at his own joke. In fact they both chuckle. Then they turn towards you and both reach for you. You become very concerned, but when they both realize that the other is reaching for you, too, they stop and look at each-other.

“Hey, now,” Marhammor says, “that ‘finders keepers’ thing does not apply to game pieces. This is my pawn.”

Vergadain chuckles, “You are joking with me, Young One. This one is mine.”

“No, he has prayed to me for guidance in his travels, to find his way to his destination. I provided him Freedom of Movement to escape ensnarement just the other day – week? century? I keep forgetting.”

“Well, that was very nice of you, young one, but I have aided him in all of his bits of subterfuge to hide his abilities from his companions, to hide and sneak around so he could procure a journal that someone was keeping. Why that was just weeks ago.” Clearly this last was added to help out the younger god with the concept of mortal time. You notice that the hammering has stopped and the one who had been working out of sight is now chuckling as well. You can hear his foot falls as he approaches. When he enters your field of vision, you cannot believe that this is Moradin. This god is bald and dark-haired. Suddenly, you realize something far more telling – this god is blind! It must be Thautam, the god of magic. His hands are out in front of him to keep from walking into something. Nonetheless, he is laughing heartily.

“What is so funny, Blind One?” the trickster god asks.

“The two of you,” Thautam replies. “Has your little pawn there every prayed to either of you by name?”

There was silence.

“Your ‘priest’ doesn’t even exalt you in worship? Some priest. Have you no expectation any longer of your clergy? Are you so eager to claim followers that you grant blessings to every dwarf who dabbles in your domain?” He is not looking directly at them, but off into the distance, as the blind are apt to do.

“You are one to talk,” the otherwise jovial trickster god seems to be loosing his temper, “You have fewer followers than anyone else in the pantheon.”

Thautam smiles, “That’s because I don’t actively recruit. Besides, I have no expectations for my followers, and they have none of me. I do not grant spells, as you do. I am merely a patron of those of the Stoneforged Folk – those rare few – who choose to study the arcane. In a way, I have as much claim to this one – this Ornrik of the Durthas clan – as either of you. Maybe more.” The other two begin to sputter and protest, but Thautam holds up his hand, “Tut, tut, now. I’m not staking any such claim.” This seems to calm the other two, but Thautam does step closer. He reaches out for you and you were struck frozen with fear (at least that is to what you attribute it – the fear and the inability to move might be coincidence). He examines you much like a potter might examine a clay figurine, albeit a blind potter.

He hold you up to the others, “There are some advantages to being blind. When you cannot see, you notice things with your other senses that you would otherwise overlook. For example, this one is aware us and what is transpiring here.”

Your mind begins to reel. You had suspected that this was not just a dream – you have, after all, had a good deal of experience in that realm recently. However, you never imagined that this might be real. It still might not be, but just the possibility …

“How do you know this,” the trickster god asks, suspiciously. No one, mortal or god, was going to pull one over on Vergadain.

“Here, feel,” Thautam says, pressing you into his hand. “I do not mean the texture, or the weight, or even the fine details. I mean the Moradin-forged soul.”

Vergadain, furrows his brow and then widens his eyes in surprise, “You are right.” He hands you off to Marthammor so he can make the same conclusion.

Marthammor is as surprised as Vegadain, but he recovers more quickly, “So he is.” Then he looks down at you, “Hello, Little one. This must be terribly frightening for you.”

“Relax,” says the trickster, “You’re in good hands!” Then you experience why he is called the Laughing God as he burst into guffaws at his own joke.

The blind god takes you back and heads towards the forge, “Clearly this one has much potential, but there are serious flaws. If you two will aid me, perhaps we can help this one achieve his potential.” Then, to you he says, “I’m afraid you are not going to enjoy this, Little One, but just remember that everything we do is with your best interests in mind. The, perhaps, one day, you will acknowledge us by name.” With that, he transfers you to a pair of tongs and places you into the Great Forge…

You awaken in a sweat. You kick off the covers and unbutton your nightshirt, but you feel little relief.

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