The Dwarven Disappearance

Summary: Under the small village of Deepwell, an adventurer discovers the fate of the long-vanished dwarven civilization.

The village of Deepwell was built upon plundering the dwarven ruins under it. Fortunately for the many merchants and artisans that sprung up around it, the ruins replenished themselves. As a scholar of the dwarven people, I can confirm that the reports of self-repairing structures able to manufacture armies of construct defenders and servitors is indeed true. Without it, Deepwell would've been as bankrupt as a boom town with a depleted mine.

The fates of the pre-human races are controversial and uncertain, owing to the vast stretches of time and intense debates in philosophy and theology. The cousins of humanity, however, are relatively close to use in skeletal anatomy and historical chronology. The civilizations of the big three humanoids are the subject of innumerable novels, plays, and stories, but the latest scholarship has long challenged the myths.

The Highborn elves were indeed the genocidal monsters that attempted to cull humanity, even after luring some humans to their side by bribery and deception. After the Atlantean Council decisively crushed the Highborn armies at the Battle of Shattered Skulls in the Year of Steaming Blood, the elves turned upon themselves in an orgy of blood and betrayal. The species went extinct shortly afterwards, although there were unconfirmed reports of hidden holdouts.

The orcs are perhaps the most controversial of the lot, as it turns out they may have been unfairly demonized (perhaps literally) by elven propaganda. The earliest human accounts of orcs came from elven translations, and they were used by elven provocateurs to lure human nations into annihilating a rival on their behalf. Recent scholarship suggests that the orcs were the first society to implement direct democracy on a wide scale, and a people of constant martial innovation. To a stagnant and stratified elven society, such equality and innovation was seen as anathema. It is unknown what ultimately happened to remaining orc tribes, although many martial human cultures trace their roots to orcish forebears. It is unknown if this ancestry is literal, cultural, or simply metaphorical.

The dwarves, however, are the most enigmatic of the three. The limited documentation comes from human traders who reported short, stocky people who traded in high-quality metal crafts. While archeological data supports the stereotype of dwarves as exceptional artisans, relatively little was known of their culture. Due to their relative isolation from the Highborn elves and relatively paltry surface holdings, their interactions with humanity were limited to a handful of trading partners and highly-specific treaties. It is from copies of those documents that we recently rediscovered how to translate and write dwarven.

As it turns out, the dwarves were actually far more advanced than previously hypothesized. Their knowledge of metallurgy is only now beginning to be explored by the Vulkanite League. Interestingly, their knowledge of astronomical bodies indicates their mountaintop hideaways also served as effective observatories. Such holds are widely sought after by the Starseers of Seram. Such innovation makes their sudden disappearance all the more shocking.

I believe I have found out what truly befell the dwarven people. They built their holds to last geological eons, to be capable of even shifting planes in certain cases. They are powered by geothermal springs and bound elementals from planar portals. They are able to manufacture constructs of every sort to defend the compound from interlopers and repair structural damage. However, a sophisticated intelligence is required to coordinate and command these activities. Many of Deepwell's dungeon delvers long suspected something intelligent to be confounding their steps, and sometimes merciful enough to let them leave, even when such constructs would otherwise be cold killing machines.

In short, I believe the dwarves became their complexes. Dwarven records I found suggest they were aware of some arcane event that would render the world inhospitable for them, so they began a campaign of mass adaption. Some of the dwarves organized evacuation through vast planar portals, similar to those used by the second iteration of the Atlantean Council. Those that remained, however, transmuted their souls into machine cant, such that they could provide a living testament to their race's legacy.

The town of Deepwell is where I made first contact with the dwarf the town was literally built upon. I was told to tell you to that plundering is no longer necessary, since a new factory for luxury goods is now ready. If you allow me to translate, we can commence trade at once.