The Doom of Baungrvuor
There was a time, long long ago, when Baungrvuor was the heart of dwarven civilization. A close trading partner of the old Empire, Baungrvuor was rich beyond imagining. Gold, silver, gemstones. Iron, steel, mithril. Anything you can mine and smith, Baungrvuor could provide. A time of decadence and intrigue, many famous tales of cutthroat politics get their roots from the old power struggles for this isolated valley. But the most famous tale of all is the one about its fall.
One of the more prolific stories about the Doom of Baungrvuor is the Ballad of the Warrior-Miners. It tells the tale of a small group of miners who, when the Doom began, were mining deep within the great mines of Ak’ Baungr. After realizing that there was no hope for the city, they ran. Through goblin-infested caves, crumbling tunnels, hordes of demons and possessed dwarves, the group managed to escape through an obscure back door. They warned the small village there and took them as far away as they could get. Many dwarven holds of today cite this story as their origin, hailing the heroes of the tale as their founders.
Like most tales that take place in the chaotic times of the death of the old empire, the story of the Doom of Baungrvuor has many variations. Some things are similar through all of them, such as the way the Doom spread. They say it started from the old capital Ak’ Baungr, which was overwhelmed and fell within days. From there it spread throughout the valley like wildfire, consuming all that lived. And then it simply stopped. The more isolated mountain communities didn’t even know that something terrible was happening. The Doom was quick and decisive. How the Doom started, however, is not as agreed upon.
While the Doom always begins in Ak’ Baungr, why and where in the city is a point where the tales often split. Some say that a mad wizard summoned the Doom, thinking it’ll give him immortality or some other great prize, and it ended up consuming him instead. Others tell of a terrible dragon that came from the northern mountains. The dragon brought with him a host of demons and was capable of dark magics that enslaved the dwarves to his will. A somewhat common interpretation is one where an ill-managed mining expedition broke through an ancient wall deep within the earth, and within was a great evil, a curse. The curse then took over the city and the valley before its magics were spent. But what exactly was the Doom?
Most stories speak of a great host of demons. Whether commanded by a dragon, summoned by a wizard or freed from an eternal jail, an impossibly large amount of demons swept through the valley in a few short days, leaving nothing but ash behind. The appearance of those demons, however, is often disputed. Sometimes they are described as one’s worst nightmare, coming in all shapes and sizes. Horns, rows of jagged teeth, fiery eyes and huge claws. They came chaotically from every direction, with seemingly no reason as to what they would go after first, gaining vigor from death. Other times they are described as beings of shadow, with bodies of smoke and eyes white like death. They wielded weapons of ash and armor of darkness, and they advanced as units. They were relentless in their advance, but also very systematical, destroying things in a perfect line of death throughout the valley. Then there are the tales of possession, wherein dwarves that just a day before were loyal clan-members were turned against their kin, showing no remorse and hearing no plea for mercy. There are also stories of dwarf-like demons, with skin and eyes like coal, who appeared from the shadows to kill fleeing people with dark magic.
The most bizarre thing about the whole tragedy, however, is how it simply ended once the demons got to the edge of the valley. The neighboring human kingdoms and tribes were not affected in the slightest, and neither were the more distant communities living deep in the mountains. Since the death of the old empire was happening at the same time, the news about Baungrvuor started out as sporadic rumors and second-hand stories. It took very long for anyone to come verify the situation and see that there truly was nothing left in the valley. No-one dared to come resettle the valley for fear of the curse still being active, and for decades afterwards there were sightings of dragons in the mountains surrounding the valley. Dwarven civilization has never been quite the same after the Doom.