My father is a smith, as are his brothers, shapers of metal. In my youth
I worked the stall on market day, selling fathers and my uncles'
wares. I know the value of the work, saw the artistry not only in the
skill of reforming the sinew of the earth in fire and strength, but in
the fine work, the recreation of spirit in the carving and etching and
molding of each item that leaves his forge.
I watched as Men and Elven folk alike would hesitate to touch the work,
wary that their reflection would alter the cast. It is a sacred moment
the first time a new forged piece is held in hands other than those who
wrought it. In truth the life of forged metal changes with each hand that
As a smith, father traveled. He went out into the light, seeking inspiration
for the designs he worked. He occasionally hired himself out for building
in the cities of Men, more often for an Elven project. As his son, I traveled
with him. Briefly.
I have listened to others speak of their discomfort in our cities. They
miss the sunlight, the warmth and free air, the sounds of birds and insects.
They feel trapped under the weight of the rock around them; frequently
fear it... as if being on the top of the land would cause less harm to
a body than being under it, should it ever actually collapse.
They do not see my world as I do - perhaps it is not a lack of imagination
that makes it so. Perhaps they are incapable, as I am incapable of seeing
the beauty of theirs. Learning to adapt my eyesight to sunlight would
bear a price; while I would be able to discern more than the mere silhouette
of objects in daylight and would see more of the colors that have been
described to me, I would never again behold the nuances that I do now.
My stars are the torch reflections in the mica, in the crystals, and never
do I have to wait for night to behold them. My air wends its way down
the chimneys, gathering to it the scents of soil and shale, bedrock and
limestone distilled to a potent, full-bodied blend. My lakes are warm
and mineral rich; bathing in them eases sore muscles and rejuvenates the
body. My home has a stillness that promises infinite patience and the
solace of permanence.
There is a peace in the silence that is lost above; I become completely
exposed and find neither safety nor comfort. This is hard to admit, but
I suffer from motion sickness... everything moves outside, the grass,
the leaves, other living creatures, clouds; I constantly feel ill. And
the smells... Ach, above ground is best left to those who were born for
Elves, tall and lithe as their beloved trees and masts, appear as light
and open as the sky. Their strength comes from their ability to bend with
the changing winds. Their blood is as sap, sweet and constantly rising
toward the sun. Men are forged by their ties to one another; perhaps it
is their gift of an afterlife that binds them more to each other than
to the world around them. I am Dwarf. My blood is magma, my bones and
muscle forged from the very rock that all life draws nourishment from.
I am at home in the mountain because I am of the mountain. I was made
to live here, to recognize the overwhelming beauty of the foundation of
the world. And one day I shall be subsumed within it once again.
So, I returned to the life that best suited me. My family jokes with me,
saying that even for a dwarf I am close-minded. In deed I do appear to
be, but the reality is that I understand there are as many ways of seeing
beauty in the world as there are folk in it, even appreciate and am comforted
by that truth. I simply find my beauty in the rock.
If they were ever disappointed that my skill lay not with the forge but
with the pick, they hid it well. There is as much an art to mining as
there is to smithing and stone cutting, and it requires talent as well
Each ore, each rock, each gemstone has its own taste and scent. But, they
can be subtle and tricky; it takes sensitivity and patience to track them.
This is my talent. I had it long before I gained the skill. Now I work
on improving my knowledge; learning which rock surrounds which ore, which
gemstone. I practice the swing of my pick and the tap of my hammers and
the kiss of my brushes. My fingertips now recognize weights and textures.
I am a miner.
Many of my folk live in the sunlight and are happy to do so. I do not
wish for you to misconstrue. It is simply that I understand the choice
and made mine... made it freely, even wisely.