Dwarven Soul – Beyond the Western Sea

This page last updated on 2016-12-24

Coin Name :     Dwarven Soul

Edition Name:     Beyond the Western Sea

Finish:     Antique Nickel

Years Minted

2013 – 90 coins

2016 – 50 coins

The Dwarven Soul coins are 2 inches in diameter and have their own custom icon. This edition features a blue gem on the front and four colors of glass on the back. Glass melted onto metal in a furnace is an ancient artistic technique known as cloisonne. Cloisonne is known not only for its timeless beauty, but for its extreme durability. This coin will be treasured for many generations.

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*** Narrative ***

Underground in the mountain, there was no day or night, but if there were, it would have been mid-morning, because it was several hours after most Dwarves had risen from bed. Math entered the Shet hall and saw that it was empty except for Remkkel, who was smoking a pipe and Yaffah, who was braiding her hair. Now that Math knew that Yaffah was the fourth most powerful person in the city, he figured that she would have servants to braid her hair, but he then thought that he had never seen anyone with her who appeared to be a servant. Maybe she just wasn’t into that sort of thing. Math had always seen Remkkel and Yaffah wearing mostly colorless work clothes or else elaborate outfits full of velvet and gold for ceremonial occasions. Today, however, they were dressed very casually in simple but colorful clothes and they had instructed Math to do the same. Remkkel had said in a booming voice (his voice always boomed), “Aaben is a prophet, but he doesn’t like to wear robes or speak like he reads lots of books and poetry; he prefers to keep things simple.”

“Simple?!”  Yaffah said with a laugh that sounded like a snort. “He makes our lives anything but simple. He wants us to forget that we are Dwarves and become something else.”

“Not true” said Remkkel. What he says we should do is to return not to the old ways, but to the oldest ways. He says that we have forgotten who we are. You know as well as I do that there was a time when we were friends with the Humans and even the Elves. There was a time when Dwarves and Elves made jewelry and swords together.”

Yaffah sat up very straight and used a brush to prepare her hair for the next braid. “Yes, Elves and Dwarves made beautiful things together, but those were different times. Too much has happened that cannot unhappen and the foundations of Midgard have shifted. We did not know then who the Elves really are and the depths of their betrayal. Any fool knows that wisdom comes with age and Dwarves are wiser.”

Remkkel pulled his pipe out of his mouth and tamped it with a bare thumb as he took in long deep draws of smoke to get the pipe better lit. “Are we wiser?” His normally booming voice had suddenly become much softer than was his habit. “Yaffah, we have become shadows waiting for a new dawn to sweep us away like the dreams of the night.”

Yaffah spat on the floor and stabbed her brush in Remkkel’s direction as though scolding a Dwarfling. We are stronger than the Humans or Elves; we resist hardship better; the things that poison them do not bother us; we can easily craft items that the others cannot even dream of; and I along with the other Daughters of Midda have recently begun rediscovering the secrets of old. When compared to the Humans and Elves, we are the most fit for life in Midgard. Can you deny that?”

Remkkel held up his hands in a gesture of surrender and said, “I deny nothing that you say. We are a strong and creative people, but why are there so few of us left?”

Yaffah sat up even straighter, which Math had not thought possible, and a look of intense frustration flashed over her face. All of them were startled as the heavy oak door leading to the outer passage exploded open and a huge Dwarf almost bounded into the room followed by an unusual group of seven Dwarves. This Dwarf was something that Math had never seen before. He wore a huge wide-brimmed felt hat that was obviously of human design and meant to shade the wearer’s head and keep the sun out of his eyes. He also wore a cloak that seemed to be human made. However, it was not his clothes that made him so unusual. It was the way that he moved. He strode fast and expansively as though he owned the room and he was in the middle of a hugely important task. Math was struck with the feeling that if he did as this Dwarf told him, the world would be set in a much better direction.

“KITNA!!” the Dwarf shouted, “You grow more beautiful and wise every year! You don’t look like a little cockroach anymore. You used to scurry around and get into trouble like a baby ug, but you were a very cute and curious bug. You will make your aunt proud.” The Dwarf then proceeded to give Yaffah a big bear hug. Math saw Yaffah’s whole body split in two directions. One side of her was terribly annoyed with the overly familiar Dwarf, but the other half of her obviously loved him dearly.

The strange Dwarf then turned to Remkkel and said, “have you burned down the foundry yet? Your bronze is the best ever, but it will be the death of us”. He turned to Math very briefly and gave him a wink to invite Math into the Joke. Math laughed and the Dwarf laughed with him. He turned back to Remkkel and demanded, “What are you smoking? give me a taste.” Remkkel handed his pipe to the Dwarf who then closed his eyes and seemed to be lost in the flavor.

Remkkel took a step closer to Math and said, “Kitten, this is Aaben, the prophet”. Math walked up to the new Dwarf and punched him on the shoulder while saying “I will defeat you”. Aaben replied, “yes you will and the rest of us too”. Remkkel tells me that you smelt like a Dwarf and Yaffah says that you have good hands. She also says that you must be the last Human from the time when Humans and Dwarves built cities together. For her, it is a terribly kind thing to say. She doesn’t like humans, but she likes you. Have you cast some sort of spell on her?” Math felt himself blushing and grinning like a toddler with a piece of candy. By the maker, he liked this Dwarf!

Yaffah scowled a bit, cleared her throat, and loudly said, “Math, now that you have met Aaben, I would like you to meet his children.” She gestured to the seven Dwarves who stood around him. Math was struck that they looked unusual for Dwarves because they were all so young and they were dressed in bright colors. When he was with most groups of Dwarves, Math had a sense of great age and ancient traditions that had remained unchanged for millennia, but this group felt so new and vital. Yaffah began to gesture, “This is the oldest, his name is Ulf, which means Ox. He is known for his strength and ability to work without tiring.” Ulf smiled sheepishly and nodded to Math. Yaffah, looking formal, gestured to the next. “Second is Bineen the builder, he has plans to restore some of the old halls that have fallen into disrepair. Third we have Gishrenet, who is known for her ability to get different groups to work together. Fourth is Dilit, he is a priest in the Maker’s temple. Fifth is Heta the sculptor, sixth is Vev who is a foreman on one of our building crews, and finally we have Zennah who you know from the distillery.” Math had not recognized her since she was dressed differently than when he usually saw her working her wonders of distillation. She gave him a warm smile and a tiny wave, which he returned. For a few minutes, everyone talked about the different work that they did in the city and Math learned a bit about tasks that did not involve the making or shaping of metal, which is what he did most of the time these days. Finally, Aaben spoke to his seven children and said, “OK, you’ve all made your father happy and have all performed like a bunch of trained birds for Math here, you can all go off to work now.” As the seven of them were leaving, Zenna leaned close to Math and said, “Don’t take him seriously, my brothers and sisters all wanted to meet you. Everyone is talking about what your next name will be.” Math was puzzled by this comment, but before he could ask her, she had shut the heavy door to the Shet hall behind her leaving Math alone with Remkkel, Yaffah, and Aaben.

Yaffah gestured for everyone to sit at one of the long table normally used for downing strong drinks and singing. She breathed in deeply and exhaled as though the conversation that they were about to have was in some way difficult for her. “Math”, she began, “you were invited here to our city by a council made up of representatives appointed by the King, the priests, and the various Families. As we have already told you, we saw in you the ability to smelt metal and we thought that you would be able to learn our ways. This you have done exceptionally well. Everything we have said to you is true, but we have not told you everything.” At that moment, Math felt a tiny bit of fear and he thought back to the day he had spoken with the mayor in the human town who had implied that Math might not return from the mountain with his head still on his shoulders. Everyone knew that the Dwarves kept many secrets and he was afraid of what was about to be revealed. Yaffah paused and looked at Math without saying anything and he wondered if she knew that he was suddenly afraid. If she did see his fear, she said nothing to comfort him. Instead she began to reveal a bit of one of the Dwarves’ many secrets.

“When we come here to drink in this hall we sing songs about our past and the things that we love. You have heard our songs about metal, and wars, and the moon, but have you ever heard this one?” She began to sing a sweet song in a minor key that immediately grabbed Math and pulled him in

In the mine there is a jewel that no one else has seen

I will give it to my daughter and she will be a queen.

I will dig beneath the mountain, I will find the hidden path

In that space there is a treasure and I will hold it fast.

If I give care to who my friends are and if I do not say a word,

I will live a life of wealth and my place will be assured

Yaffah stopped singing, but Math could feel that the song had many more verses and he wanted very much to hear what they were. Why was she withholding them? Why would she not give them up? Yaffah looked at Math thoughtfully and she said, “I think that maybe you are learning to become like us”. Remkkel quickly cut in and added, “maybe not all of our lessons are good.”

Remkkel looked at Yaffah as though he was challenging her and took the floor. “Math, you have seen the place where our children play. Right now we have a few over twenty young ones there, but once there were hundreds of children and our ancients texts say that there used to be thousands or even tens of thousands and that was just in this mountain. We used to fill many mountains.”

Yaffah appeared to be agitated and abruptly cut in, “We are a strong people! We can withstand heat that would kill any human or elf. We are resistant to poison, we can lift five times as much as a human, we make better metals than any other race in Midgard! None of this makes any sense!” Yaffah appeared to regret her outburst and looked to Remkkel to finish. The Dwarf stood and continued his explanation. “None of us understands why our mountain is empty of Dwarves. Long ago we filled Midgard, but now we are becoming nothing. Why is it that each century we have fewer and fewer children?” Remkkel stood a while pinching his nose with one hand and Math wondered what he was doing. Was he trying to keep himself from crying?  Math sat very quietly and dared not say a word. Presently Remkkel continued.

“Amazingly two miracles occurred and we are still trying to understand them. This story begins with a tragedy, but it ends well. Around one hundred fifty years ago, Aaben (Remkkel gestured to the prophet sitting next to them) met a Dwarf named Givshah and married her. Not all among us who marry have children, but they had a beautiful son. However, the maker had other plans for the boy and he was killed in a mining accident when still very young. A weight came to rest on Aaben’s chest and his heart sank into a black pit. We grew concerned that grief would destroy him until one day he left our mountain. He told Givshah that he could no longer bear to look at her or any of us. He was gone for over twenty years.”

Aaben looked at the horrified expression on Math’s face, patted the young human on the hand and said “don’t worry, twenty years is not very long for us Dwarves.” Remkkel continued, “When at last Aaben came back to us he was changed. He was unlike any Dwarf that anyone knew, but Givshah was happy with what he had become and they had a son named Ulf, that you met earlier, after a few short years, they had another son and then a daughter. Understand that for us this was a miracle. We knew that long ago Dwarves sometimes had three children, but it had not happened for a very long time. The king was so pleased that he had coins minted to commemorate the three Dwarf children.”

Math was suddenly reminded of the coin that Yaffah had given him yesterday with Midda’s star on one side and a Dwarf family on the other. He pulled the coin from his pocket and saw a Dwarf father with a pick for mining, the mother holding a gem, and three children. Math asked, is this it? Yaffah laughed and answered, “I gave that to you to show you Midda’s Star, I didn’t even think about what was on the other side. Yes, that is Aaben, Emma, Ulf, Bineen, and Gishrenet”. “Who is Emma?”, Math asked. “I thought that Aaben’s wife was named Givshah”.

Aaben spoke, “Givshah is an old word that we don’t use much any more that means ‘crystal’, a kind of pretty stone. When she had three children, everyone decided to change her name to Emma, which as you know means ‘Mother’.“ Remkkel added, it is a good name for her because she then went on to have four more children. Imagine if one human woman had two hundred children, that is what seven children is like for us.”

Math looked at Aaben and asked, “is that why you are a prophet?”. “No”, Aaben answered, “a prophet is someone who speaks with the Maker’s words. Some say that I did that once.” “Some say that he still speaks for the Maker and I am one of them!” Remkkel interjected. “Some have doubts that Aaben really is a prophet”, Yaffah added.

She then continued, “I told you yesterday in my throne room that there are three ways for The Maker to speak to us. The least is through rune casting like can be done with the coin you are holding, the truer way is through dreams, but the truest way is through the words or songs of a prophet and Aaben sang a song that many believe came directly from The Maker. Several years ago there was a shet and the song was being sung that I sang earlier.” She began to sing it again.

In the mine there is a jewel that no one else has seen

I will give it to my daughter and she will be a queen.

I will dig beneath the mountain; I will find the hidden path

In that space there is a treasure and I will hold it fast.

If I give care to who my friends are and if I do not say a word,

I will live a life of wealth and my place will be assured

 

Yaffah looked up and Math was completely captivated by the beauty of the melody and words. She looked at him with a faint smile on her lips and said in a low soft voice. “This song is about the value and beauty of secrets. It goes on for many verses talking about hidden things and how they can bring fortune.”

Remkkel looked at her with disapproval that Math did not understand and spoke, “Aaben was there the night of that Shet when the song was being played. He stood up and sang a new line which until then had never been heard. But everyone in the room was stuck that it was not Aaben singing, but the Maker himself, these were his words”.

Aaben, Remkkel, and Yaffah all stood and sang the new line in a way that made Math think that it had been sung many times since in the temple.

I weep with all my children for their hearts are worn and ill,

They embrace the secrets that weaken and they love the secrets that kill.

Math shuddered as though he were in danger and he could not stop himself from looking over his shoulder to see if some enemy were standing behind him. He also had to swallow slowly and deliberately so as not to vomit. The verse that Yaffah had sung was so pretty and hinted at promises of something secret and good. This new line, however, made him recoil.

Remkkel said in a voice that almost sounded like a recitation from a book. “The is the Shar Vaveev, this is the song with hooks that grab onto your flesh. It will pull you to a new place.”

Aaben walked up to Math, who was still sitting, and placed a hand on his shoulder. Math was not sure if he liked this gesture very much or if it made him feel uncomfortable. Was this intimacy welcome or unwelcome? Aaben smiled in a way that defeated Math and he again thought to himself, ‘I like this Dwarf dearly.’

Aaben said, “I do not know if the words that I sung that evening were mine or belonged to The Maker, but I feel that they are good and true. Wiser people than me can decide if I should be called a prophet, but I burn with a purpose. We need to let go of our secrets before they completely destroy us.”

Yaffah stood stiffly with her arms at her sides and her hands clenched into fists. Her voice also expressed her rage. “Our secrets kept us safe during the dark times and when there were enemies who wanted to destroy us. The Maker himself has hidden away treasures under the ground and there is secret knowledge that he keeps from us. If secrets are so bad, why does The Maker keep so many?”

When Aaben answered, it seemed to Math that he was trying to comfort Yaffah and perhaps even give an apology for what he was asking his people to do. “Kitna, I don’t know why the Maker keeps his secrets, but there is also so much that has given freely. I lived with the humans and I helped one raise his son to be a man. They do not keep secrets the way that we do and The Maker has smiled on them. They grow like little cockroaches and they fill every corner of Midgard with their houses and their children. When I gave them my secrets, when they stopped being secrets, I felt new life come into me.”

Aaben’s attempt to soothe Yaffah had no effect and her face grew even darker. Her voice grew louder and she began to pound her fist into the table to make her points, “Our secrets kept us safe and our secrets make us Dwarves, if we give them up, we will no longer be children of the first Dwarves, we will just be short humans. You can dress like a human if you want, but I will not stop being a Dwarf!”

 

Aaben put his hand together almost as if he were praying and said, “Kitna . . . “ but she cut him off. “Do not call me Kitna!!” Aaben put his hands down to his sides and said very calmly and deliberately, “Daughter of Midda, Yaffah Shadeed, I am asking you to number your secrets. I am asking you to count every single one. Then, for every seven secrets, I want you to give away six. Keep the ones that you need to be safe. Keep the ones that will tear you apart if you lose them and give away the rest. If you do this, we will all become stronger.”

Remkkel tried to be reasonable. He gave a little laugh that sounded pathetic to Math and said “Yaffah, you can keep one of every seven. You do not need to give up everything.” Yaffah’s heart grew hard and she turn on Remkkel with a sneer. “Why must you always be kissing Aaben’s pick? I know some of your secrets. I know the ones that will destroy you. Should we start by giving those ones away?”

All color left Remkkel’s face and it was replaced with a mask of terror. He started to say some words about needing to be somewhere else and he almost ran from the room. Yaffah turned on Aaben and hissed, “Is this what you want to do to us? Will you strip all of us naked and then watch what makes us special die? She strode from the room as though she had won a battle.

Math was left alone with Aaben and he felt as though it was all his fault. Apparently, he had been invited to the mountain so that the Dwarves could confess to him. Was he being taught the Dwarves secrets of making and shaping metal so that this would somehow relax the Dwarves enough that they could have more babies? Aaben looked at him and held up his finger in the very human gesture that means ‘wait one moment’. He briefly stepped into the next room and returned with a small cask of cider and two tankards. Apparently someone had told him that cider was his favorite drink.

Abben tapped the keg and filled a tankard for each of them. As he was doing this, Math asked “will I be going back to my people tomorrow?” Aaben raised an eyebrow in a way that showed he was a bit surprised, but was also somehow so friendly that it made Math laugh. “Do you want to go back to your people?” “If everybody hates me, then yes”. Aaben deliberately drank deeply from the tankard and motioned for Math to do the same. “Nobody hates you. This drama that you just saw has been played out many times.” If Yaffah hates anybody, it is me, and I am pretty sure that she doesn’t hate me. Besides, haven’t you been listening to anything you have been told? Dwarves believe that love is closely related to hate. Don’t get worried if Yaffah hates you, be worried if she stops caring. She gave you that coin didn’t she?”

Math again took it out of his pocket and marveled at the weight of the gold alloy and the real jewel.

“Yaffah is a Dwarf and she is not going to give something that valuable to just anybody.”

“She said that it wasn’t worth that much and that I was thinking like a poor person.”

Aaben belched loudly, so Math did the same.

“She was telling the truth that compared to the vast wealth controlled by The Daughter of Midda, it is worth nothing. She told the truth that you do not think like a wealthy person. If she implied that it means nothing to her, then she lied”.

Aaben changed the topic to life under the mountain and Math told him all of the thing that he had seen and learned. They also talked about Math’s childhood and the twenty years that Aaben had lived with humans. When they had drunk until they could drink no more. Aaben made his final statement before going to his other duties.

Kitten, you are here because we need to learn how to rejoin the world. You are here so we can teach you our ways and so we can practice being friendly. We need some friends in the outside world. We are like turtle pulled so far into our shells that we can no longer walk forward. Yaffah knows this and if she did not agree to at least try, you would not be here. It took some prodding to get her to leave our mountain but she did and she chose you to come here. When you see her tomorrow, I think she will have a new lesson for you and I think that it will be as though today never happened.

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