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Author Topic: On Dwarven Legends [Rules and Entries]  (Read 2804 times)
Go Ninja, Go Ninja, GO!
Gelatinous Cube

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« on: March 17, 2011, 04:19:45 AM »

I figured it had been a while since there had been a CBG contest so I took it upon myself to remedy that. Without further delay, I give you a contest in the spirit of On Dwarves...:

On Dwarven Legends
Thrice now, in as many years, I have started a discussion about dwarves on this site. These are usually good for getting people into the dwarfy spirit. From that, as well as a discussion about how it's been a while since the site had a contest, comes this. Those who enter this contest will be writing a dwarven legend.

Things To Consider
These items are in no particular order and no one is more or less important than another. Don't treat this as a checklist to be followed when you write. It is only here to point out things you might want to keep in mind while writing. Disregarding it entirely and just letting things naturally fall into place is also fine.

    A legend isn't really a legend if it isn't remembered and retold. Yours should be a story that would stick around, not just
The Time Barney The Dwarf Stepped On A Frog 5,000 Years Ago.[/list]
    Some true events can become legendary, such as a small group of soldiers turning back an enemy army because any number of favorable circumstances. Other legends are exaggerations of the truth, perhaps people choose to remember that group of soldiers as having had only 25 members, when really there were over 100. Still others are utterly fantastic and can happen only in the realm of myth, such as
When The Great Dwarf Barney, Using Only The Broken Handle Of A Hammer, Killed An Entire Rampaging Orc Horde In A Single Day And Still Made It To The Alehouse Before Closing Time.[/list]
    Is this legend just a story that dwarves retell because they enjoy hearing it or does it teach a lesson? If it teaches a lesson, what is it, exactly, and how obvious is it?

    What impact does this legend have today? Are there celebrations or festivals because of this legend? Is there a certain cultural practice that has come to be because of it? (Or perhaps things happened the other way around and the story was made up to explain why everyone does something they already did?) Maybe a certain group is in power, or looked down upon because of the legend?
This is not required but it can be included. Notes preceding or following the legend itself could also explain this, to put the legend into context for the reader.[/list]
This is the official contest stuff.
    Post only your contest entries in this thread.
Discussion of the contest goes here.[/list]
    The entry should be no more than 2,000 words.

    The entry can be generic, for your setting, or for a different setting (one found here or that of your favorite books / movies / games). The intended setting should be included in your entry post.
Obviously, if you write for a setting that is not your own, it is up to the creator or owner of that setting if it will be considered canon, if they even ever read it.[/list]
    The deadline for this contest is April 30, 2011 at 11:59PM Central Standard Time (CST).

    Run your entry through at least a basic spell check before posting.
I don't see this being a problem here.[/list]
    One entry per person.

    Enjoy yourself.

The Prize
Our overlord, Nomadic of the Wise Dwarf Turtle, has been kind enough to offer a special prize for this contest. The winner gets to choose the next group of titles for forum members. This, of course, comes in addition to dwarfy bragging rights and honor for your clan. (10 titles will be needed, all following a theme.)

EDIT 1: I forgot to include the prize. The thread has been updated with that information.
EDIT 2: I added 'One entry per person.' to the rules.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2011, 10:19:26 PM by Steerpike » Logged

Gelatinous Cube

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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2011, 12:51:43 AM »

The Tale of Blarg McLazybeard

I will now tell you an ancient tale, passed down through the ages in clan McLazybeard, of their great founder, Blarg McLazybeard, and how he acquired a just short of a moderate amount of sort-of fame and glory (at least in certain circles) and became the 18th richest Dwarf in the Village of Beardburg.

Long ago, the many tribes and clans of the Dwarves were united in the great land of Dwarvenheim, waging a great war against the foul Orc nation of Zskvsqe'q. While it was a long and bloody conflict, the great armies of the Dwarves had many things on their side: Dwarven strength and tenacity, the might of Dwarven engineering, and a name that sane people can actually pronounce. As such, the Dwarves were winning great victory after great victory in the war against the foul Orcs. Still, there was a long task ahead. The Dwarves would need to make a final push into the foul heart of the Orcish nation and crush them once and for all, but it was a foul, dark, and frightening land, filled with monsters and horrors. To embark on this arduous adventure, the spirits of the Dwarven warriors would have to be raised high.

To raise morale, the Dwarven King decreed that an epic saga telling of the Dwarves' great victories thus far should be created, and then told and retold in every inn, tavern, bar, and other drinking establishment all across Dwarvenheim. Dwarven warrior and common Dwarf alike could rejoice in the accomplishments of their nation and their people, celebrating their many victories. The King wanted a moving tale that would fill the Dwarven hearts as much with courage as their stomachs with ale. That's really full.

The King proclaimed a grand contest to see who could tell the best tale. All Dwarves with some talent for storytelling, and even those who weren't, were eligible. Realism was to be strictly optional, as weaving a great legend to inspire the people was far more important than telling what really happened. The prize was to be honor, glory, riches, and the honor of naming the ranks of the Dwarves' new elite military unit, the Green Helmets-with-horns-on-them. All Dwarves who wished to enter were to meet in the village square at a day some time in advance and tell their tales.

The imaginations of all the Dwarves were captured by this contest. There were many Dwarves who would seem to have a strong chance. Tankard McDrunkard, the prestigious bard whose lyric poetry became more and more skilled the more inebriated he got, was the early favorite. The blacksmith, Axeforge Forgeaxe, was also known for his ability to tell a tale, particularly to the beat of the banging of his hammers. That was also not to rule out the stylings of Urist McUrist, Beardy McBeard, and many other skilled (or just really drunk) Dwarven storytellers.

One Dwarf that no one would expect to win was Blarg McLazybeard. As one would expect, he was rather lazy. That is to say, he was extremely lazy. Even his beard was lazy, mostly in that he didn't even have one. He mostly wandered here and there in his hometown of Beardburg, doing odd jobs for even odder people. He also spent far too much time drinking, even by Dwarven standards, to be a productive citizen. Yet, he was even too lazy to drink enough to be considered a proper drunkard, which was a perfectly respectable occupation among Dwarves. Blarg McLazybeard heard about the contest too, and put it in his mind to enter, but he was pretty sure he wouldn't win. Not with the likes of the other great Dwarven storytellers sure to create tales to put anything he could dream up to shame.

Unlike Blarg McLazybeard, however, these other Dwarves were quite busy. Tankard McDrunkard did indeed spin a fine tale, but he was soon busy telling so many other grand tales that he forgot all about the King's contest. Axeforge Forgeaxe was very busy in his smithy, and forgot as well. Other Dwarves went about their own jobs, hobbies, and lives, or just plain got too drunk to remember. There was a sign posted in the public square announcing the contest, but as every Dwarf passed by it on a nearly daily basis, they all soon grew so accustomed to seeing it that they stopped paying it any attention at all.

So, as it happened, at the appointed time, it was only Blarg McLazybeard standing in the village square. When the Dwarven King arrived to see who had turned out, he shook his head in surprise and disappointment when he saw it was only Blarg McLazybeard. Still, as there was one entrant, and the contest had been a public matter for quite some time, the King heard Blarg McLazybeard's tale. Naturally, given that it was Blarg McLazybeard, the tale was horrible. It was not particularly exciting or moving. It contained little in the way of captivating imagery or narrative coherence. It even went off on ridiculous, pointless tangents, like a detailed account of the time Barney the Dwarf, who supposedly lived over 5000 years ago, stepped on a frog.

After Blarg McLazybeard finished his tale, the king looked at him in disbelief. Still, he had followed the rules, and was the only entrant. Thus, he won by default, and was entitled to all of the honor, fame, and glory that came from his victory. As a result of this, Clan McLazybeard was elevated in prestige from lower than dirt to somewhat equivalent to dirt, and Blarg McLazybeard became a storyteller capable of causing mild amusement and occasional chuckles in crowds of three or four people who generally liked him anyway.

Of course, he went on to tell other great tales, too... like this one, you have now heard, passed down through the generations.

Go Ninja, Go Ninja, GO!
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2011, 07:23:55 PM »

I had missed that there was a last-minute entry. That shows me for giving up. Congrats to sparkletwist, our winner. Send your choices for the new forum titles to Nomadic.

Spawn of Ungoliant

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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2011, 01:18:40 AM »

Congratulations sparkletwist!

I was going to do my own entry but got busy with a lot of other things all of a sudden.  Here's the beginning of my own fable... I didn't know how I was going to end it.  What should have been at the bottom of the Maw?


'Ye want a real dwarven legend, eh laddie?'  The gnarled dwarf at the bar knocked back the last of his mead and wiped his beard with the back of one many-ringed hand.  'A story from the Callow Days, when the world was still slick with the caul o' creation?'

Nelkor, a dwarven youth of only eleven winters, nodded soberly.  His friends had dared him to ask the battle-scarred Elder Stonemarrow for such a tale.  The Elder's many fables were all said to curdle the blood with their grotesquery: tales of giants with two hundred heads who devoured whole settlements at one sitting; tales of the sly, infinitely cunning goblins of old and their monstrous machines; tales of malicious fey who stole the souls of dwarf woodcutters and bound them in the bark of trees.  The young dwarf shivered despite the fire roaring in the hearth.  He took a hearty swallow of his small ale.

'Well then,' Elder Stonemarrow began, grinning horribly.  'I can think of such a legend.  This one takes place before we dwarf-folk first ventured into the lands above, when we still dwelt in the entrails of the word, and the elves called us lhûgg-morut '“ the '˜earth's tapeworms.'  Back in those days men-folk were little more than dumb animals killing one another with stone clubs (not that they've progressed all that far, ye ask me), an' half the elven tribes still ran naked through the Wild, singing 'bout the stars or the moonlight-on-the-water or whatever poncy nonsense the pointy-ears like to ramble on about.  The dragons were just starting to wake up, an' every mountain had a giant or two lurking behind it, waiting to slice ye' open and feast on yer steaming guts.'  The Elder paused to light his pipe and to study his audience.  Nelkor sipped his drink nervously, squirming under the old lore-keeper's bloodshot gaze.

'As I was saying, we dwarves hadn't yet crept up to see the sun, fer back in that time 'twas thought the touch o' sunlight would turn ye to stone in an instant; and so we had little contact with folk from up above.  But we had plenty with those down below: the goblins back then weren't the runty little pests we deal with nowadays but clever things, nearly as crafty with hammer and tongs as dwarves; and they had many murderous devices, cruel weapons that spewed flame or poison fumes.  We fought many wars with them, and the tunnels twixt the halls of the dwarf-realm and the goblins' warrens were slippery with the blood of the slain; but this tale doesn't concern goblins '“ oh no.

'Our story begins deep in the bowels o' the earth, with a stripling dwarf not much older than yerself.'  Elder Stonemarrow waggled his bushy eyebrows at Nelkor while drawing on his pipe.  'His name was Felgroth.  Now, Felgroth's mother was sick with gloomfever, which as ye can imagine was more common in those days.  Her eyes were turning black an' her skin had grown grey an' shadowy, an' her breath smelt of ashes and death.  Felgroth's father had died, ye see, in battle with the goblins; so Felgroth had to bring the völva to his mother's bed himself.  The wise woman bent over the boy's mother an' felt her flesh, an' peered into her eyes, and saw the darkness within.  '˜Yer mother's very sick,' she told the boy.  '˜The dark's got into her deep.  If it keeps growing inside her, she'll surely die.'

'Now, o' course Felgroth loved his mother dearly so he was sorely afraid fer her, but being a brave lad an' not some gutless namby-pamby craven he shed no tears.  '˜There is one thing ye might do fer her,' the völva told Felgroth.  '˜I can draw the darkness out o' yer mother, but to do it I'll need the right medicine.  I have most o' the ingredients I need, but to make the medicine work it has to have the ground cap of a certain black mushroom that only grows at the bottom of the Maw.'

'The Maw, ye see, was a great pit that lay on the edge o' the village: a huge wound in the earth that went down fer what seemed like forever.  The bottom of the Maw was thought to be the deepest place in the world; an' it was said that if ye put yer ear to the ground at the bottom ye could hear the wails o' the dishonourable dead, the cowards an' the traitors an' the oath-breakers, bein' tortured in the mansions o' the underworld.  There was a narrow stair that wound down the edges o' the Maw, but who'd carved it none knew; it was there before the village was built.  It took three days to make the trip down, but few dwarves dared to.  Sometimes an ill-favoured wind blew up from the Maw, an' this was sometimes said to be the breath of some wyrm that dwelt down in the black, or else perhaps the breath o' the earth herself.

'Dwarf-children in those days weren't as mollycoddled an' cosseted as you lot are today, but were taught to use weapons an' survive on their own from an early age,' Elder Stonemarrow grumbled, blowing smoke indignantly while Nelkor flushed.  'So Felgroth swore to make the journey down to the bottom of the Maw, to the very gullet o' the world.  He took his father's axe down from the wall, where it'd hung since they'd brought his body back from battle; the stout blade had tasted the blood of a thousand goblin warriors.  His father's shield had been cloven in two, but Felgroth's mother had, in earlier days, been a shieldmaiden, an' fought alongside her husband-to-be against many foes; an' so Felgroth took up his mother's shield, an' packed himself food and drink fer his journey, and swore he would not return without the black mushroom the völva required.

'He set out from the village and came to the precipice, the very lip o' the Maw.  Looking down he could see only blackness, and the stair winding down into it.  But Felgroth wasn't some timorous, lily-livered craven, but a strong young dwarf with three goblin kills already to his name (these he slew during a raid on the dwarf village, with a knife from his mother's kitchen!).  He settled his pack an' started to climb down the treacherous stair, looking always ahead an' never down at the yawning pit itself.  He carried a torch in one hand and bore his shield in the other; his trusty axe he slung across his back...'

'Wait!' Nelkor interrupted.  'If these dwarves never went up above, where'd they get wood for torches?  Or for the hafts of their axes?'

Elder Stonemarrow growled and cuffed the young dwarf sharply. 'Don't interrupt yer elders!  Perhaps back then they got their wood from tree-roots; or perhaps they traded for it with top-landers who came down into the dark.  Now no more clever questions out of ye, or ye'll hear no more o' my tale.

'Anyway, back to the story.  So, Felgroth made his descent into the Maw.  The first day he met nothing and no one, and slept with his back against the cliff-wall, his legs dangling over the stair into the air beyond.  The second day

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