away from the AkotUozil, son!" One of the elders grabbed the young dwarf
and pulled him back immediately. "This void in the earth is malicious and
not the mountain's true face. It is an opening of evil, of which our
ancestors have warned us in many of their writings. Unformed and vague it
is, struggling with itself, striving to turn solid, a dangerous apparition
that can do no good. The AkotUozil is a wound of the world, chaos and
randomness are bleeding out of it - don't go closer, it might be your
"But is it not a creation of Trum-Baroll as well?" the young dwarf wanted
to know. "Just as he created the mountains with all their treasures - the
gold, the silver, all those shiny adamants and so many other beautiful
gemstones? He must also have created the AkotUozil! Or hasn't he? After
all it is a part of the mountain like everything else, imperfect compared
to the earth, the ore, the gems and all those other treasures that lie
buried therein, but still..."
"You are right of course," the elder said. "They must have sprung from the
Forgelord's will in a way, no doubt about that. It might not have been
Trum-Baroll's volition to create such chaotic gaping holes in the earth,
but with beauty comes the ugly, and then again, by looking at the flaws
comes what we recognize as perfection. However, regardless how the
AkotUozil came into existence, its purpose clearly is different from all
the other things He created, and this we have to accept. See the AkotUozil
as a sign of warning not to venture any further into this part of the
earth, even though the Forgelord's reasons may be unclear to you at this
moment. Maybe they will reveal themselves to you one day."
"Look!" the young dwarf suddenly exclaimed and pointed at the tunnel
behind the unwaveringly flashing phenomenon. Through the greenish-red of
the magical sphere a vein of glittering minerals became visible. Indeed,
now that everyone tried to ignore the AkotUozil's demeanor and focused on
seeing what was on the other side, it was right there in front of
everyone's eyes, impossible to miss. The vein seemed to just wait to be
The young dwarf desperately threw his pickaxe to the ground. "How could
Trum-Baroll put a gift like this behind an abomination like the
AkotUozil, preventing His children from collecting these gems?"
The elder dwarf saw the temptingly sparkling minerals and stroked his
beard, working on a thought. "The ways of the Rock-Father may appear
rather strange at times," he finally answered. "Remember that sometimes He
also puts us to the test to prove our convictions and unfaltering belief
in Him and makes us aware that they are more important than anything else.
Maybe that's what you should take away from here. But let's go now."
"And leave these inviting gems in the custody of the AkotUozil?" the
younger one wailed.
"This we should do," the elder advised. "It has been tradition among our
ancestors to honour the implications of Trum-Baroll's will and seal off
tunnels that are infested by AkotUozilErons. In fact this might be the
reason why we've come here for in the first place: to serve as the
Forgelord's tool in his greater plan and make unaccessible what was never
supposed to be uncovered by anyone. He chose us for this task - to
contribute in completing his creation. Be thankful, my son."
Thus the issue was settled and preparations for sealing off the tunnel
began that very evening. But soon afterwards something else happened that
would change everything.
dwarven workers were sitting together at the mine entrance eating their
meal. The large tunnel they sat in was of course all abuzz with the topic
of the day's extraordinary discovery, the AkotUozil, and how to deal with
it. The consensus was that the sooner they could eliminate the
phenomenon's presence from the eyes and minds, the better. Which was why
some elders suggested to go right ahead with it, put in a night shift and
finish the job of sealing the tunnel at the same day it had been
discovered and thus please the Forgelord. Everybody nodded in agreement.
It was then when a piercing shriek echoed through the shafts, emerging
from down below.
The vivid discussions ceased instantly, some dwarves froze on the spot,
others jumped up, grabbed their pickaxes and headed for the origin of the
sound. A sense of foreboding accompanied the miners as they hurried down
the series of shafts, straight towards the tunnel where they had uncovered
the AkotUozil earlier that day. Somehow everybody knew that the shriek
must have come from there. Indeed it had.
The young dwarf who had discovered the evil presence of the AkotUozil was
standing in the tunnel. He pointed at the glowing orb which pulsated with
magical energy, spreading out to the tunnel walls, then retracting,
changing colours and spewing rays in the process.
But there was more to it this time: The longer one looked into the eye of
the phenomenon the clearer distinct shapes stood out against the
background. They were humanoid shadow forms, two, three, maybe four people
appeared to be standing right at the center of the AkotUozil's swirling
"There's someone in there!" the young dwarf exclaimed. "The AkotUozil...
it must have... devoured them!"
"But no-one was in here, except you!" another dwarf exclaimed.
"I... I didn't do anything!" the young dwarf complained, fearing that he'd
be made responsible.
"Who would those people be? How could this have happened? Is it possible?"
more voices of arriving mine workers began to fill the tunnel. Speculation
spread like a wildfire.
One of the dwarves, an earth guide, stepped closer, curiously gazing at
the shapes. As the magical energies flowed within the translucent orb one
could get the impression that the humanoids were actually dancing. But
they could as well be just standing there, their shapes at the mercy of
the orb's whim, following its twists and turns. Or were the shapes just a
Suddenly the earth guide shrunk back. There! Clearly one of the shapes
inside the ball of light had become aware of him and approached... Yet it
stopped at a certain point, unable to continue. The shape fell to its
knees, even stretched a hand in the dwarf’s direction - as if the figure
was hoping that the dwarf would grab it and pull him out...
A curse came over the dwarf's lips as he tumbled backwards in shock. "By
the UnSthommerons' holy beards! Wherever they have come from, only
Trum-Baroll knows. But there are people in there," the dwarf
gasped. "Either they found their way intentionally through one of these
abominations and try to lure us now into opening a path for them, so that
they can - who knows…? - assault us, infiltrate? Or they've gotten
themselves trapped in there, whatever the reason!"
Helplessness and perplexity spread over the faces of the gathered miners,
even the elders looked puzzled or lost in thought, at any rate unsure how
Finally one of the elders raised his voice and declared: "Stay back for
now, my friends, as this is not a matter where to act precipitately. We
respect the will of the Forgelord, yet He needs to give us time to
contemplate this difficult task he is imposing on us. We'll withdraw for
now to seek guidance on this test of faith. And this only the Denirim can
next day the dwarven clan priest arrived. However, the Denirim was not the
only one, who had come to inspect the notorious AkotUozil. With him were
representatives of the Aellenrhim elves, a scholar and his scribe to be
precise, who had followed the invitation of the priest. The markgraven had
also heard of the standstill in his mine in the meantime and thus a wind
mage working in his service was also among the guests, along with a couple
of adventurous mercenaries - this just in case the situation might get out
The Denirim and the company he had brought first listened to what his
tribal brothers could tell him about the incident. But before he gave his
own opinion he approached the elven scholar and asked him about his point
The scholar said: "That, which you named he AkotUozil we know as the
Vál'syéy, or simply the Syéy, 'that which breaks the Dream'. I am aware,
though, that the humans don't have a proper word for the Syéy, at least
not the way we interpret it.
But maybe it's best described as a 'wrinkle' if you want to put it in a
single word. The Syéy is like a mark you can observe at people who grow
older and change, become something else, until they die and are reborn.
The Syéy is one such a mark. Or better perhaps you might call it a 'scar'
if that seems more familiar to your way of thinking: A scar changes a
person, but only for a while and the person forgets the scar as it lives
on - and yet that particular scar has helped to make that person what she
Others might say it's more like a 'pocket' - if we look at the universal
side of things - a pocket, a bend in the fabric of the Dream that is
dreamt by Avá the One, Avá the Beautiful. A bend to another place or time,
a gateway some say to the unknown, even to future or past, but always a
bend that folds back onto itself - it is there as it has its reason to be
there, but it comes from the Dream and returns to the Dream."
"I hear you, my elven friend, and appreciate your broad scholarly view
despite our differences in belief," the Denirim answered. He didn't seem
quite satisfied with the approach nevertheless. "But what would you
suggest that should be done now regarding the matter at hand?"
The elf looked at him surprised. "Why, nothing of course," he replied
flatly to make things clearer.
"Nothing? What about those shadowy figures, these phantoms we can see
moving within the magical orb? What about them? What does your belief tell
you about them?"
"They are part of the Dream, like you and I," the elven scholar replied,
and his scribe nodded affirmatively. "The Syéy is one way of how the Dream
becomes aware of what it is, renews itself. It has its reasons to be
there, only it is temporary, just like aging and death are mere ephemeral
states of existence of a single being. The emergences of the Syeyín are
signs of change for all of us. We don't fear them, we don't welcome them,
but we accept them, and thus we..."
"A fine way that is, not to get involved," a booming voice cut off the
elf. The cause for the interruption was a muscular human, apparently one
of the a mercenaries in the markgraven's service. He leaned on his sword
while he spat out. "That won't get you anywhere in this day and age."
"I concur," the mage that stood next to him said. "Don't take this the
wrong way, but we humans rarely share the same views with elves,
especially not when philosophical questions are concerned, and what we've
got here I consider a matter of principle."
"No offense taken," the elf said calmly. "We've come to hear everyone's
opinion, aren't we? So give us your take on it if you so please!"
"Indeed," the Denirim agreed. "Go on!"
The mage approached the flashing phenomenon and pointed at what now seemed
like a wobbling bubble, in which the shadowy figures reflected clearly. It
looked almost as if they were listening to the discussions going on in
front of them, as if they were curious about the outcome, even more so -
it was as if they were waiting upon someone to decide upon their fate.
"In fact we humans do have a word for what we experience here," the
mage went on. "This, my friends, as every archmage of the Ximaxian Academy
will confirm to you, is a rift. It is cár'áll, or magical aura, which has
formed into something that allows the most unlikely things to happen in
Caelereth. You have described it quite well already, elf, but you don't
seem to recognize that these cracks in the fabric of existence offer the
unique opportunity to pass through them to end up at another place or in
another time - if you dare to make such an unbelievable experience. This
here appears to be a dormant rift, as we can see through to the other
side, yet our access to that unknown place is still closed. But this must
be the challenge here the Gods offer us: They invite us deeper into their
creation by walking those rifts if we find ways to open them in full."
"Some might have tried exactly what you suggest," the Denirim interjected.
"And perhaps got trapped while doing so." He pointed at the shadowy
"Well, do you know for sure?" the mercenary threw back at him. "If we're
not trying to save them, we'll never know. Has anyone ever touched that
thing? You're all standing there like the kyrattin bull in front of the
gate, which someone dared to paint green the other day. You stand and
stare and can't decide what move to make, not even if you're ever going to
make a move at all." He shook his head.
"Mountains where Thergerim are commissioned for work are dwarven mountains
for the time of commission. That's how the contracts are written, this is
how it works," the Denirim explained, frowning at the mercenary’s
impatience. "The AkotUozil was found in our tunnels, so it is dwarven
choosing how to handle it, and we've chosen to hear your suggestions."
The mercenary growled. "And yet when I hear you talking to the elves it's
like the deaf asking the blind for advice."
But the rest of the words of the Denirim drowned in a sudden crescendo of
noise. There was a shaking and trembling, a whirring and droning, a
buzzing and fizzling. It was accompanied by a flash of light, culminating
in a final boom, sparks flying everywhere.
Pretty much everyone in the cave shrunk back and all eyes were focused now
on the magical phenomenon from where wafts of smoke were rising. When the
fog cleared, the AkotUozil was still there, as was the mage, who stood in
front of it. While the AkotUozil appeared unchanged, with the shadowy
figures still clearly visible, the mage's robe was singed and the staff in
his hand was split in multiple separate parts dangling from his hand as if
hit by lightning.
The mage signified with a gesture that he was fine, but the Denirim
demanded an instant explanation.
"Well, someone needed to do something," the mage justified himself.
"You can talk all day, but we have to try to open the gateway for a number
of reasons. Ideally before that pocket closes itself and the opportunity
is gone forever! For one these people might need help, maybe they indeed
got trapped in there involuntarily. Or they could have tried to flee from
somewhere. They might have even tried to reach us coming from another
place, or time. They..."
"And if they'd intend to do us harm?" the Denirim intejected.
"What do we know? If we don't act now, we will never find out... We need
to break that magic seal!" The magical orb stubbornly hummed next to him,
as if defying his attempt.
"So you took it into your own hands and tried to penetrate the barrier
without consulting any of us? The attempt might have killed you, or sucked
you into the magical prison yourself! And us as well!" The dwarf called
out. "Guards! Seize him and make sure he doesn't get another chance to put
us in further danger!"
Immediately a couple of dwarves emerged from the rows of bystanders and
took care of executing the order.
"Don't worry, dwarf-priest," the mage said and let the guards grab him
without resisting. "I have some expertise on rifts and know it when I see
one. Already I regret that I've missed opening a dormant rift on one
occasion quite a while ago down in Thalambath. The rift retracted into
nothingness before we could open it in full. We cannot let that
opportunity elude us now. Such things happen only once every century -
it's a miracle that I can witness it twice in one lifetime! But be it as
it is: We need to act!"
"So why then has your attempt to open it failed now?" the Denirim wanted
to know. "As you claim to be quite the expert?"
"It is heavily sealed, a time gate perhaps," the mage explained. "It needs
powerful magic to counter it, even some combination with physical force I
assume - and I don't have the necessary reagents at hand. But I could see
to get what I need in town and with the right magical means and some
strong people's help..." - he nodded towards the mercenaries - "I could
try to pry..."
The Denirim interrupted him. "You humans really believe that dabbling with
powerful spells that try to forcefully pry open time rifts and pass
through them won't lead to even more disaster?"
"You have no understanding whatsoever of rifts," the mage shouted at the
dwarf. "You only see your..."
"Enough!" the Denirim cut him off once again with a loud shout and within
instances the tunnel was filled with silence.
"I don't need to hear any further. This is leading nowhere. It is clear
that there needs to be some middle ground between those who don't want to
act at all and those who cannot wait to do questionable experiments with
the AkotUozil, which may put all our lives in danger. We've heard you
both, elves and humans, and thank you for your opinions, but ultimately it
is us, the dwarves, who have to decide.
Thus I recommend to the council that - based on the things we've heard and
our own convictions as dwarves - we take on the challenge of the Forgelord
to examine the AkotUozil and try to break through its shell, but not
without considerable precautions. It is our best guess that people got
trapped in it, and as long as there is a chance to free them, we'll try to
accomplish just that."
Murmurs filled the tunnel.
"The human mage has proven that the AkotUozil resists when targeted, but
that he himself remained unharmed - a sign that gives us hope. Therefore
physical and dwarven magical means must be used cautiously in order not to
further unbalance the AkotUozil, but just to try to save the ones trapped
in there and then close the gate again, seal the tunnel. This will require
further research and might prove to be an arduous task, and its outcome is
entirely unclear. But rash and impetuous attempts we've just witnessed in
order to breach the barrier are uncalled for. Until then we need to exert
patience and pray that our efforts will be rewarded. We will start to
contemplate our next steps within the hour."
The words of the Denirim were greeted with approval from the dwarves, only
the elven sage smiled a bit, but bowed politely when his eyes met the
Denirim's. The mage on the other hand cursed as he was ushered out, and
one of the mercenaries murmured something about stubborn dwarves, who just
put up a show, but wouldn't ever listen to good advice.
"We'll find out who is right," the Denirim said to the elven scholar as he
The scholar bowed again as he bid his farewell and answered: "This we
will. The Dream already knows the answer, but in time we'll learn as
exactly the dwarves progressed to achieve their goals remained vastly
unclear to the outside world, only that they tried in all seriousness over
the next weeks, this was for sure.
There were rumours in town about ViijanErons, dwarven earth mages,
arriving from various different clans to investigate the magical
phenomenon and cast spells on it. Occasional reports of a drunken dwarf
who couldn't hold his mouth shut in the local tavern, seemed to confirm
that the dwarves tried physical as well as magical force, but it was to no
avail. The Denirim and the elders apparently prayed all day to support
those engaged with the phenomenon - no success. The AkotUozil seemed to
resist all kinds of attempts like uruyant refused to be treated by a
pickaxe. But the general consensus among the clan elders appeared to be
based on the saying that constant dripping wears away the stone: If a
method didn't work right now, it might have an impact if it was tried
again and again and again and also in combination with other things that
might weaken the magical shell. Some say that the procedures turned into
whole rituals after a while, when all the things that the elders had
thought about were exhausted and there was no other option anymore than to
repeat them. But the AkotUozil wouldn't yield, and the shadowy figures
remained in their magical prison.
Until that day, more than three weeks later. The dwarf who was in charge
of guarding the tunnel was found lying in the shaft leading into it,
unconscious. But when the miners looked into the tunnel they were in for a
real surprise: The magical orb had gone altogether without leaving any
trace. And at the end of the tunnel all those precious gems glittered,
inaccessible until then, now just waiting to be mined.
couple of days later the elven scholar was sitting in the Aellenrhim
arboreum, reading in an ancient tome, when his scribe entered.
"Daín artanhé," the scribe greeted the older elf and bowed.
"Daín artanhé," the scholar replied, looking up. "Have you been in the
human town, checking what I asked for?"
"Indeed, my sage, I have done so, and am here to report."
"I assume the affair in the dwarven mine has come to its conclusion?"
"Yes, it is over by now. The dwarf who guarded the tunnel and was found
unconscious has recovered already, though to the displeasure of his fellow
miners he cannot remember a thing. Well, and after the Syéy disappeared
into nothingness, the dwarves continued to work in that tunnel. They
finally got access to the vein which the Syéy had blocked. And now they
are celebrating the breakthrough to these treasures like a victory."
The sage put his book away and poured a glass of fresh water from a jug.
"So, as the guard cannot give an account... - what do the dwarves believe
happened that night?"
"They say that the AkotUozil has finally yielded to their unwavering
efforts of trying to free the trapped ones," the scribe explained. "They
are adamant that they passed the test the Forgelord put before them and
that the chimera they saw - as that's what the shadowy figures must have
been according to them - were part of the test to prove their persistence.
The magic all came apart in a loud explosion, they say. Of this there are
at least ear witnesses, and it must have knocked the guard out."
"I see..." the sage commented with a smile, enjoying a sip of water.
"Thus, in conclusion, the dwarves see themselves confirmed in the way they
approached the matter. Isn't that right?"
"Yes, indeed," the scribe went on. "The Denirim told me himself that he
considers everything that happened as proof, because clearly their efforts
were rewarded, just as he had hoped they would be. They certainly claim to
be the ones who were right."
The elven sage nodded. "Then again we elves didn't do anything, as we
advised them, and the Syéy folded itself back into the Dream. All without
our interfering, as mysteriously as it had appeared. It seems we were
right as well."
"I told that to the Denirim, sage," the scribe said. "He wanted to hear
none of it."
"It would have surprised me if it were otherwise..." the scholar chuckled.
But then his tone become serious again. "Say, have you asked around in the
local inns as I instructed?"
Picture description. The elven scholar contemplating the Dream and
its consequences for the races who live it. Image drawn by
"Yes, and it turned out precisely the way you suspected. The mercenaries
and the mage have stayed in town until recently, there's no doubt about
that. I even know for sure that the mage has tried to acquire some
powerful potions and rare reagents in a Ximaxian subsidiary, but left with
empty hands as the owner couldn't provide the material. He asked
specifically for kaechymanthrium and echelryn. These are substances Daran
gnomes are capable of making, used in risky time and space distorting
experiments. The Academy by the way is considering at the moment to
prohibit the selling of any of these reagents. Well, the mage might have
found another source, though.
A few days back then I've lost their trace. But they left the inn they had
stayed in at midday on the same day the phenomenon in the mine
"I guess we know the rest," the sage concluded and let the thought hang in
the air for a while.
The scribe looked at the elder elf and said nothing.
Eventually the scholar broke the silence and added: "The humans were right
as well, wouldn't you say? They got rid of the problem and have achieved
what they've come for - entering the Syéy to make history."
The scribe nodded. "Yes, I guess you could say they were as right as
dwarves and elves in what they did, in what they thought they had to do.
Each one of us followed their beliefs and convictions."
"And that’s what it is. All the races have to play their different roles
in the Dream," the sage concluded. "Though we can trust that they are
reconciled in the grander scheme of things. Oftentimes however we only see
the differences, those things that separate us in our everyday business
when we are dealing with the other races.”
The sage took a deep breath, then opened his book again, intent on
continuing his read which he had suspended for the talk.
"Yes?" The elf looked up again, surprised that his scribe still hadn't
The younger elf pulled a parchment out of his pocket. "Please forgive my
asking, but there’s still one question that bothers me. I... I found this
document on the subject of the Syeyín in the library. It has much more
information on the phenomenon than you told the Denirim, and there is even
debate that it perhaps might have been a part of the great Ó'dosía, the
‘Everlasting Book’, therefore what is written on that scroll must have
some credence to it. I assume you are aware of this document."
"Yes, I am," the sage replied. "What did you learn from it?"
"Well, I found one passage especially interesting which refers to 'unusual
occurences' within such a naturally formed magical orb, in particular when
they appear all of a sudden, out of nowhere as if they were a reaction to
The sage listened intently to the words of his scribe. "Go on..."
"These shadowy figures that suddenly appeared a while after the dwarves
had discovered the Syéy - I think this is such a circumstance the
parchment is talking about."
"And what else does the parchment say about these occurences?"
"It is somewhat cryptic, I have to admit: That their cause and end are one
and the same. That their cause and end are known to terminate the Syéy
itself. It also says that cause and end of these occurences lie close
together, in time and in space, because through them the Syéy bends and
folds back onto itself, as it was destined to do. Almost as if the Syéy
has accomplished what it was there for in the first place.
Sage, I thought long and hard about it and can't say that I have a full
grasp on what the text tries to convey, but somehow when I read it, your
reaction back then when you talked to the Denirim came to mind. It seems
to me that you already knew the outcome beforehand. You recognized the
figures inside the orb - not their faces, but who they must be."
The scribe was silent for while, then eventually answered. "There are
those that have to chase their own shadows, I fear, it lies in their very
nature, they are their reason and doom. It is what they are, they do what
they deem to be right. You cannot alter their destiny, but you can learn
to understand. What you must learn is that there's truth in every race's
approach, and you shouldn’t question it. Contradictory as this all may
seem, it has to be that way - it is the way the Dream becomes aware of
itself. Call it fate, the Gods' will, Avá facing Coór. But it is there,
buried deeply in the fabric of the Dream, and it needs your trust - that,
which lies beyond all rifts."