Dwarven Soul – The Dwarf Women’s Laboratory

Limited Edition

This page last updated on 2016-12-26

Coin Name :     Dwarven Soul

Edition Name:     The Dwarf Women’s Laboratory

Finish:     Antique Bronze

Years Minted

2016 – 50 coins

The Dwarven Soul coins are 2 inches in diameter and have their own custom icon. This edition features glow enamel and black sparkle enamel.

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*** Narrative ***

The throne room was even more impressive than Math had thought it would be and not at all what he had expected. It was huge and ornate, but it also had a comfortable intimacy and made reference to objects of beauty and objects of the mind. Math had expected a room that projected power and authority and to a degree, this room did that. However, it also contained little alcoves everywhere with murals and sculptures that celebrated the things that The Maker had placed in the world as well as Dwarven technology and industry. He reminded himself that this was not the throne room of the king of the city, nor his queen. The King’s throne room spoke to all who stood in it of military power, while the queen’s throne room was about alliances. Over the passage of the months, Math had learned that when it came to order of authority in the city, the king stood first, his queen stood second, the great priest stood third, and then came the heads of the ‘families’, or in more human terms, the heads of the various guilds. The greatest of the families was The Daughters of Midda. They were the ones who maintained knowledge and held the secrets for creating the best metals and all of the various recipes for making objects strong and pure.

 

Math was cautiously peering at objects in the room because this was one of the seats of political power in the Dwarven world and he didn’t want to offend anyone by breaking something or touching something forbidden. Yaffah had told him to meet her here but where was she? Math was looking at a lamp shaped like a raven holding a book in its wings when he heard, “have you broken anything yet”? He jumped a little and turned around to see Yaffah grinning at him with a mischievous gleam in her eyes. She lightly punched him on his shoulder and continued “that raven is ancient, if you break it, someone will probably chop off one of your fingers”. Math felt a little stab of fear, but based on Yaffah’s light attitude, she was probably joking, so he relaxed a bit.

 

She strode up to the foot of the throne and motioned for him to follow. It was massive and appeared to be made of a solid piece of copper. It projected a weighty authority, which was further accentuated by its height since it rested on a giant slab of granite with five steps cut into it for the purpose of ascending to the throne. Math cautiously walked up, stood next to Yaffah, and remarked, “It must have taken a hundred Dwarves to get that chair on the pedestal.” “Fewer”, she replied, “but still pretty close. I am afraid that it took too many.” Before Math could ask her why that was a problem she climbed up the five steps and sat on the throne.

 

Math was stunned. That throne was reserved for The Daughter of Midda. All members of the sisterhood were called Daughters of Midda, but their head was called THE Daughter of Midda and was the fourth most powerful individual in the city. Surely Yaffah was going to get into trouble sitting there. She was a little over fifty years old, but Dwarves are long lived so to them she was not much more than a girl. At that moment Math thought she looked very much like a stupid girl who was going to get disciplined for not respecting Dwarven authority. “You can’t sit there” Math scolded. “Why not” she asked, “this is my throne.”

 

Math opened his mouth to say something, but then changed his mind. He started to say something else and then thought better of that too. Finally he knew what to say when she interrupted: “You never met The Daughter of Midda, did you? You just met Yaffah Shadid the Dwarf girl who works in the distillery. I didn’t realize that you didn’t know who I am.” Math felt himself blushing and wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out again. How could he have been so stupid? Yaffah saw his discomfort and tried to make him feel better. “You and I met in places like the distillery, because that was always my favorite place to work and still it is where I want to be most of the time. I have only been The Daughter of Midda for a short time and even now the work that it demands chafes against my skin. My aunt was The Daughter before me and when she died, the position passed onto me. It was only two years ago that everyone in the city called me ‘Kitna’.” Math was pleased to hear that he was not the only one in the city who was called ‘Little One’. As a male, the Dwarves called him Kitten and as a female, they had called Yaffah Kitna. “Kitna”, he said, “I like that name”. She looked uneasy and said, “that’s not my name anymore. You had better not use it, if you want people to like you.”

 

There was an awkward silence and Yaffah broke it by saying, “Come here, I promise that The Daughter of Midda won’t get mad if you join her on the throne. In truth, The Daughter might be offended if her friend stayed so distant”. She was full of surprises, Math thought to himself. She had always been rather formal with him and this was the very first time that she had called him her friend. Yaffah had said several times that she did not like Humans, but it seemed that she no longer thought of Math as entirely Human, or perhaps she had just stopped thinking about it and had let him break through her armor. Math was feeling bold as he walked up the five steps to the throne. He had not known Dwarf ways when he had first met Yaffah a lifetime ago, so he had never given her the greeting of first meeting. He decided to correct that now and he punched her as hard as he could on her shoulder and said “I will defeat you”. She did not give the usual response, instead she smiled at him and as she punched him back she said, “you already have”.

 

Yaffah took on the tone of voice she had when she was instructing. “This throne is made of a single ingot of copper and was shaped thousands of years ago during Midda’s life. Copper was chosen because it is the fire metal and signifies the mind and transformation. It is fire that transforms ore into metal. It is fire that brings light to dark places. This throne holds important meaning to our people.”

 

Math was amazed as he looked more closely at the throne. Dwarves had a certain way of making art so that nearly all of their paintings, drawings, and sculptures looked alike. They tended to be heavy and with lots of straight edges so that Math felt that he would be able to easily know if any given drawing was made by Dwarf hands or human hands, but the decorations and figures on the throne were different. There were scenes of Dwarves tending fires, making metal, reading scrolls, teaching children. There were also scenes that showed how the maker had created Midgard. How the lights had been placed in the sky, how mountains and animals were constructed, and how different kinds of rocks had been given different proclivities. The scenes were complex and hinted at all sorts of wonderful things. What struck Math most of all was the love and warmth that he saw in the different images. The Dwarf or Dwarves who had designed this throne demonstrated a deep affection for what The Maker had wrought. There was only one other place that he had seen similar art and that had been the door that lead to the cavern which held Shreesh, The Great Anvil.

 

Math reverently touched the throne and began to speak, but he was surprised when his voice came out in an awkward whisper that gave away too much of what he felt and he was afraid that it made him seem silly. “It’s beautiful”, he said softly. He cleared his throat and said in a stronger and surer voice, “whoever made this, knew the world well.”

Yaffah’s face grew bitter and her voice expressed some anger as she said “yes, the other Daughters of Midda  value this throne greatly but I don’t.”

Math was confused, “Why not? This is a precious treasure.”

 

“We lost too much to save it. There was a war long ago with the Orcs and they overran our city. The Dwarves then had to leave quickly and were able to save only a few things. The fools chose this throne.” Yaffah sneered and continued. “We lost countless ancient books and scrolls that told us about the secrets in the world, but this is what they thought was most important. It took nearly a hundred Dwarves to take this to a place of safety, while the libraries were burned and desecrated by the Orcs. If it had not been for this stupid chair, how much knowledge could a hundred Dwarves have saved? We used to be so much more than we are now.” Long ago we were a great people, but now The Maker has turned his face away from us.”

 

Yaffah had been growing progressively upset as she spoke. She paused for a moment, closed her eyes, and Math could see that she was attempting to relax her shoulders and calm down. She opened her eyes again and clapped her hands together as a way change the topic.

 

Yaffah gave a little laugh and continued speaking in a lighter tone of voice that was only a bit forced. “You and I are not here to talk about past mistakes; we are here to talk about this.” She stabbed out a finger and pointed to a circular design on the throne’s back. “This”, she said “is the Star of Midda”. Engraved or cast deeply into the back of the throne (Math was not sure which), was a design that included an anvil, fire, mountains, concentric stars, concentric circles, and a multitude of runes. “Midda created this design to be her banner; she said that it represented the three types of knowledge that Dwarves should seek: Knowledge of Midgard, Knowledge of The Maker, and knowledge of our own hearts and souls.”

 

Yaffah touched a finger to the large nine pointed star. On each point was a small picture and the name of a different metal. “Dwarves in Midgard follow one of nine paths and each is characterized by a different metal. Each point on the star represent a different type of Dwarf.

 

At the top is the first picture, which is a shining star and underneath is written ‘mithril’. The Dwarves who follow mithril seek perfection. They desire that everything be in the correct place.

 

The second point shows a cup and the metal of this path is tin. As you well know, tin is the metal used to make forks, spoons, cups, plates, and bowls. This is the metal of food and feasts. The Dwarves who follow tin greatly desire to make others happy with their gifts. Their homes are always open to guests and their pleasure is to keep every guest’s plate and cup full.

 

The third point shows a crown and the metal of this path is gold. Dwarves who follow gold are well versed in the ways of wealth. They understand profit and debt. They know the value of things and they are able to turn small resources into great resources.

 

The fourth point shows a moon partially lit and the metal of this path is silver. The Dwarves who follow silver are artists. They see things differently than others and they like to find beauty in both good things and bad. They cherish both their joy and their sorrow because these things make them different than all other souls in Midgard.

 

The fifth point shows a flame and the metal of this path is copper. Dwarves who follow copper cherish knowledge. To them, fire brings light and transformation. Midda strongly followed the copper path as do most Daughters of Midda.

 

The sixth point shows a hammer and the metal of this path is lead. Those who walk on the lead path like to be a part of a group. They are loyal and sure. They are slow to change their ways because they believe that once they have found the right way to do something, then they should try their best to see a task through until it is done.

 

The seventh point shows a retort and the metal of this path is mercury, also known as living silver. Dwarves who follow the mercury path are often said to be full of life. They laugh often and enjoy a good joke. A feast or a shet has not begun until a mercury Dwarf is in the room.

 

The eighth point shows an axe and the metal of this path is iron. All Dwarves enjoy battle, but Dwarves who follow the iron path feel a strong cause in their heart that will lead them to take up arms. It is they who seek to change the world and will rally others around them to join in the fight.

 

The ninth point shows a balance and the metal of this path is ithildin. These Dwarves desire to bring an end to conflict. They try to always see both sides in every matter. Like ithildin itself, these Dwarve are quite rare.”

 

Math suddenly interrupted because something confused him. “This star claims that mithril and ithildin are different metals, but I have always been told that ithildin is made from mithril.” Yaffah smiled a private smile and looked down at her boots. “Math, only Dwarves knew how to make mithril and only we knew where to find ithildin. We didn’t want others to know our secrets, so when these rumors started long ago, we never corrected them. It may be that our secrets were too good because none of us now know where the ithildin mines are. Even worse, the secret to making mithril is lost to us, since we kept that secret too well. Mithril is not rare and in truth there are whole mountains of it, but no one alive knows how to turn mithril ore into mithril metal. It is a common white rock that will not give up its secrets. We have tried and tried to smelt it, but it resists us. The Dwarves long ago thought it wise to keep knowledge of the smelting mithril limited to a small group, but one of our new prophets tells us that this secret hurt us all. I have yet to decide whether I like what this prophet says, but tomorrow you will meet him and you can decide for yourself.”

 

Yaffah turned back to the star on the throne and continued her explanation. “In the center of the star of Midda is an anvil. Many say that it represents The Maker and they are correct enough, but it is much more than that. To the Daughters of Midda, the anvil represents the creative force that stands still and is constant. To make anything you need something that moves and something that remains still. These mysteries run deeper than just knowing that you need a moving hammer and an anvil that stays put. For instance, the amount of stuff never changes and is constant like an anvil. We do our best work when we pay attention to how much stuff goes into a furnace or a retort. We know that everything that goes in must also come out again and this has shown us many hidden things. There is stuff that is invisible and does not like to be seen, stuff that rides the wind. Remembering the anvil and remembering that the amount of stuff does not change has shown us most wonderful secrets. Another truth from the anvil is that whenever a Dwarf pushes something, Midgard always pushes back with the exact same strength. Whenever the hammer hits the anvil, the anvil always hits the hammer back, always.”

 

Yaffah next pointed to what looked like a picture of the sun behind the anvil. “This fire is largely unknown to Humans and Elves, but we Dwarves revere it and Midda said that it was a great force of change in Midgard. Have you ever heard of the central fire?” Math had never heard of anything like that, but maybe he knew it by a different name so he shook his head no. Yaffah looked enthusiastic as she started to explain. “When we dig very deeply, the rock becomes hotter and hotter. The farther down we go, the hotter the rock is. Our most ancient texts tell us that in the very center of Midgard is a huge fire that is like the sun, but it is completely covered with rock. We just call it the central fire. It is this fire that turns hard rock into lava that comes from thunder mountains. It is this fire that rises up new mountains and makes the earth shake. We have never seen the central fire, but we know that it is there because we can feel it in our deep mines. It is said that once, very long ago, the Maker and a group of Dwarves dug a shaft to the central fire and saw it for themselves, but that was very long ago and the shaft was plugged shortly after they finished.” Math thought about the shaft that was dug to make The Great Anvil, Shreesh and wondered if it was the same as what Yaffah was telling him. He remembered how nervous Remkkel seemed about anyone knowing that he had seen Shreesh so he didn’t mention it to Yaffah.

 

Next Yaffah pointed to a seven pointed star and simply said, “This star is for the seven fathers of the Dwarves. They made us who we are. Their blood pulses in our bodies and their wisdom beats in our hearts.”

 

Yaffah paused and before she could say anything more, Math pointed to the mountains and quickly added, “These are the Dwarves’ homes, right?” “Indeed”, Yaffah responded then added, “as you can see all of the mountains of Midgard encircle The Central Fire. In a way, it is like the heart of all of our people. Each of the mountains in The Star of Middah has a name and once was a Dwarven home, but over the years the mountains were abandoned and now just a few still hold Dwarves.” Math noticed that when she said this, her voice and her expression changed very subtly. She still spoke as though she were talking about any other lesson. However, Math did see a single large tear rolled down her cheek and when it reached her chin she wiped it on to her hand and then on to the skirt of her dress. Math could not be sure, but he suspected that locked away tightly in her heart were unspoken lamentations.

 

“I would like to tell you what the runes between the nine-pointed star and the outer ring mean, but it is one more thing that we have lost. Midda felt it was important enough to put on her banner, so it is likely something of value. Some of our greatest minds have tried to find the meaning, but in spite of their considerable efforts, they all failed.

 

“Lastly”, she said, “we come to the runes in the outer ring. Did you know that each rune embodies certain ideas?” Math had been told this briefly by one of the Dwarves that regularly taught him how to speak Dwarvish. He couldn’t remember many of the details, but he knew that one rune represented money, another represented the sea, and a third represented growth and females. The growth rune was called the ‘breast rune’ by most Dwarves, but that was not its real name. “Math, if you look at the point the star that says ‘mithril’ there are eight runes in the outer ring for that point. These eight runes represent the traits that you would find in a Dwarf who follows mithril: stamina, The Maker, light, stability, defense, shelter, hope, and courage. We use 24 different runes to write our language and each rune is written exactly three times in the ring, so there are 72 runes total and these are the 72 characteristics of those who follow the nine paths in Midgard.  However, this is not the real purpose of the outer ring. There are three way to learn directly about the plans of the maker. The first is the words and songs of the prophets. There are only a few born each generation and sometimes there are none at all. Currently we have two prophets and you will be meeting one tomorrow; his name is Aaben. The second way to learn The Maker’s plans is through dreams, but dreams cannot be predicted and only a few dreams are actual messages from the Maker. The third way is open to anyone at any time, but the message is even less clear than dreams.

 

Nearly all of her life, Midda said that she was just a Dwarf who asked why, but her followers thought that she asked why very well. Then in her last year, she was touched by The Maker and became a prophet. Poems and songs came to her and one poem in particular told us about the runes. It was revealed that the runes were a third was to learn The Maker’s plans and will. There are many ways to learn from the runes using Midda’s Star but here is the most popular one.”

 

On the first day that he had met Yaffah, she had given him seven gold coins in a leather pouch. As on that day, she produced a leather pouch from her dress and took out a single large gold coin. She handed it to Math and said, “this is a gift for you to keep”.  After spending so many months with the Dwarves, Math knew metal extremely well. The coin had a large gold content with a bit of silver and copper alloyed in to make it strong and durable. The coin would be able to take a lot of rough handling without being scratched or bent. It would also be able to buy many nice things in the Human world. The front of the coin showed a Dwarf family, which included a father, a mother, and three children. The father and eldest son each had pick axes while the mother held a gem. By the mountain! The gem that the mother held was an actual gem embedded in the coin. This coin was worth even more than Math had first thought.

“It is too much”, he said.

“It is payment for some of the work you have given us”, she shot back.

“Payment!?” he asked incredulously. “You have been teaching me how to smelt and work metal. I am now better in a foundry than almost any other human. When I leave this mountain, I will be rich for the rest of my life. I should be paying all of you for my lessons.”

 

“You are wrong.” she corrected. Your smithing is still pretty bad, but by my judgement you are not just better than ALMOST any other human, you know more about smelting and mixing metal than any other human alive. You will be wealthy indeed. When you do become rich, you will stop thinking like a poor person and you will see that this coin is just a trinket.”

 

“I will always treasure this coin”, Math insisted

Yaffah gave Math a wide grin and said, “Listen to yourself, you sound life a little whelp who has just been given a piece of sugar candy. Shut up and let me finish this lesson. Turn the coin over.”

Math looked at the other side for the first time and said to Yaffah with a Sheepish  grin, “you can hit me over my head with your axe.” The other side was a miniature copy of Midda’s Star. The coin was a lesson as much as it was a gift.

 

Yaffah walked over to a nearby table and from it took largish wooden board about a foot and a half on each side with lines, pictures, and words painted on it. She gestured to Math to hand her the coin and said, “here is the third way to learn about what is on the Maker’s mind. This is just a demonstration and since it is not being done properly, will not have any meaning.” She asked out loud and with a different tone of voice as though she were speaking to the air, “What will come to Math after he leaves us?” She spun the coin very quickly and when it finally came to rest, one of the runes in the outer ring was directly over one of the lines on the board. “ooh she said, the rune for wealth! See, our lessons in metal will be good for you.” She spun the coin a second time and a second rune from the outer ring rested above one of the lines. “The rune for harvest and success! Yes, we have been good to you!” She spun the coin one last time and the rune for light fell on the line.

 

She handed the coin to Math and said, “now you try. Just remember that this is only for practice”. Math asked out loud, “What is in Yaffah’s future?” He spun the coin and after it came to rest asked “what does that rune mean?” Yaffah peered at it and said, “that rune means either disruption, adversity, or transformation”. Math laughed nervously and said, “I’m sure it means transformation”. Yaffah looked at him seriously and said “spin it again”. When the second rune came to rest, again, Math did not know what the rune meant so Yaffah read it. “This is the rune for home and family”. She looked a little more grim and said “spin it again”. Math did not like the look on her face at all and said, “let’s stop here, I’m getting tired and as you said, this means nothing”. Yaffah almost glared at him and commanded, “spin it”.

 

Math held the coin in his hand and in the moment before he released it to spin, he saw the Father, Mother and three children on the one side. The coin became a golden blur as it spun and wandered lazily and randomly on the board. Math hated what was going on and wished that the coin would fall off the board. Would that invalidate this entire rune reading? The coin slowed and came to rest with one of the runes on a line. As before, math did not know what the rune meant so he looked to Yaffah. She slowly and in an unnaturally calm voice answered his unspoken question. “This rune can mean several things. It can refer to defense, or weapons, or even regeneration. However, most Dwarves call it the death rune.”

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