short story (7 min read)
The Battle of Low Heim
by Thor Magnusson
Few things are certain within the Shrouded Realm, yet one unmovable fact is that there lies vehement hatred between the tribes of Dwarf and Dark Elves that inhabit this place - all ignited from tiny sparks, that quick quickly gave way to smoke, then scorching flames that lay waste to many.
The vast and brittle landscape of the Barren Rocks is a deceptive terrain of the Realm - it’s surface a ominous graveyard of jagged and protruding stones aiming for the sky - like the hungry mouth of Fenrir, the wolf God, attempting to rip down the clouds from up above.
Across it’s vast surface lies a slanted and lopsided landscape - no greenery, no game, nothing but dead rock and a surface teaming with Cretin Ants that claim their territory in fierce and immensely irritating bites.
Few will bother transversing it, and why would they?
Underneath the Barren Rocks is the true purpose of its existence - a myriad network of tunnels and paths crisscrossing deep into Jordenheim’s low earth. In it’s North-West corner lies the Dwarf territory of Svartal Swel, the iron slicked and vast hollow that holds the large cityscape of their society. The air is filled with smoke and sparks, and occupied by workshops, trade stores, and steelworks. The stout and hunched creatures are one of astute skill in their professions, and the hardest working species on this side of the oceans. Yet sadly their type is let down by a unanimous self-centred nature that holds profit higher than any other - most are cautious to take a Dwarf on his word, as they should be.
Cast over the entire Southern part of the region, lays the Dark Elf territory - Dokkalfort, as it’s referred to. A smaller and complex structure of pathways with small gaps of housing or ritual spots scattered along it, the place carries a different feel and atmosphere then the North with it’s primitive workmanship but also an air of calm elegance and spirituality.
This comes from the opposite nature of the Elf’s genders. The men are an unimaginative picture of hunter-gather-protectors types - tall, brave and muscular, yet as thoughtful as a bag of rocks. The women on the other hand are the brains behind the brawn - soft-spoken, slender and elegant, the true sap that grips the society together and gives it direction. The female honour of high priestess are the leaders of the species that impose a set of morals, faith and purpose to these beastly men.
For a lengthy time both these places were able to co-exist despite their vastly opposites natures, perhaps due to interaction being scarce, only necessary via trade - Dwarf’s Klakslit was a treasured commodity for sewing clothing, Skiklam crystals that were grown and mined by the Elf’s and were used by Dwarf’s to build expensive jewellery they could peddle across the Realm (and outside it too). This working relationship was fine, and the less each knew about each other, the better, since they’re views on certain subjects differed vastly, as was soon to be found out…
A young elf named Alkvexen, would on occasion drink some turnip juice with a young Dwarf, Blum-Tum. They did this in the neutral areas of the Low Heim, a cavernous spot in the winding tunnels that neither species had claimed yet both used as a dumping ground for unused and unwanted materials, leaving it a messy landscape of massacred furniture remains.
These two were both outcasts of their kind and found solace hanging out with each other, usually venting about their irritation towards peers or sharing lust for unobtainable females. It was basically all an excuse to get drunk in company, since they lacked friends amongst their own.
Yet one evening Alkvexen let it slip the Aftnoon celebration was coming up - Elf’s worshipped the goddess Freya, she represented fertilely and feminine beauty, and helped guide the growing of vegetation and children for the tribe. Their was an annual ritual that celebrated her existence that lasted three moons long. In short, she was vitally important to their kind.
Blum-Tum began to show a curious interest in their worshipping of Freya and let it slide that the Dwarves celebrate the goddess in a much different manner - the clans great great ancestor of King Svartel, claimed to have coerced the goddess into fornicating with him and his three brothers, in return for the ‘Necklace of Brisingamen’ (her most promised possession). It was a common story amongst the Dwarf society, and one that even had it’s own annual celebration amongst the men.
Alkvexen swelled up with emotion, he never was one to champion his people’s cause, yet somehow the concept of this treasured figure distorted into a filthy whore, the butt of a grimy joke, to a species of hunchbacked wart-faced dung-ends - well, it made his blood boil. Suddenly a vast gap was felt between him and Blum-Tum, a distance from which he for the first time could stand proudly on the opposite end, and to accent this new feeling, he cracked Blum-Tum a good one in his jaw before huffing away home.
The young tend to scuffle over matters of the pride, and most cases are soon forgotten. This occurrence wasn’tsince unknown to Alkvexen, his victim was the son of the King Svartel - the ruler of the Svartel Swel. So when the little boil faced boy had to answer to his father about his sore jaw, the information concerning that the assailant was an Elf took on hefty and unnecessary weight - this act of aggression was seen as a political statement, and one in need of a swift retort.
When night fell, a gang of King Svartel’s guards made way into Dokkalfort and mercilessly dispatched the young Alkvexen in his bed and in front of his family.
Understandably the family weren’t happy about this, as neither were concerned neighbours in the near-by vicinity. The Guards barely took a few paces outside before the fuming anger of the Elf community over-numbered these trained warriors - regardless of their skill, they were no match for the sudden and raw emotion that tore them into fleshy pieces. News of it returned to King Svartel and a petty game of violence soon became a regular occurrence - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a young one’s life for another.
As usual per the Norse ways, it eventually headed towards a violent battle to resolve things - both sides met at Low Heim. Both rulers had the agreement that it wouldn’t be a confrontation featuring all walks involved, but ten chosen and championed warriors from each tribe tasked against each other.
The mutual stakes included that if Elf’s won, an unlimited supply of Klakslit would be provided as well as the Dwarves abolishing that vile festival of theirs. If the Dwarves won, a similar agreement would be in effect (except with Skiklam), and instead of absolving a festival, a new one would be held by the Elves to celebrate the greatness of King Svartel.
The battle occurred in deepest depths of the Low, crowds on both sides watched as the incredible match commenced - the Dwarf’s determined close-combat skill and low-stance gave it an them a contrasting advantage over the tall and long range power of the Elf warriors. It was a heated match of skilful display with specific strengths at complete odds with the other.
Unsurprisingly it all ended in bloodshed as the tense duel winded down and the frantic cheering died down - yet no one could predict the end result - all the warriors lay dead, none had survived.
The Low Heim was filled with neither cheerful celebration or sour loss, only silence.
Both sides lumbered back to their homes, their head’s hung low in exhaustion and disillusion. A truce was concocted once again, yet there was no peace between the places, only an agreed barrier each would respect - the location of the Low Heim could not be crossed over by either side. The dead warriors carcasses remained deteriorating there, a hefty reminder for each to keep to their own.