~ Chapter 95: The Dwarf Emperor (Part 2) ~
“How big is a tribe?” I asked.
“To be considered a tribe, you must own one house and employ under you at least ten unnamed ones. If the big tribe under which you are found accepts you as a tribe, then you are allowed to give yourself a tribe name. At the moment of your acceptance, you and all the ten other unnamed ones take up the tribe's name. So the smallest possible can have up to eleven members with the patriarch included. The big tribes, however, have anywhere between 10000 and 100000 members with many many small tribes underneath them that swore loyalty to them.”
“This means that during the rebellion...” the Princess said and the dwarf continued.
“More than one million dwarfs lost their lives while fighting to take down or defend a foolish dwarf we once called our ruler.” he replied.
So many lives... I thought.
“Were the humans who instigated the rebellion?” the Princess asked.
“The rebellion was something on our mind for generations now, but the humans were the power we never had. Their skills and strength was crucial for us to gain our freedom from the old tyrant. Unfortunately, there were a lot of humans on his side as well.”
“Why would they fight for him? Wasn't he someone who detested them?” I asked.
“Gold is the universal language for most humans. A few of them were enslaved, and several of them were promised great power after the rebellion ended. Sigh... It was a close battle for us.” he shook his head.
It appeared as though wherever these Human Heroes landed, those countries would end up going through a great deal of change. Albeyater was no different. Alkelios and even that monster, Kronius, were instrumental to the shift of political power and overall rise of awareness in Albeyater. Even our Queen was on the recovery path. Yet, when thinking about the losses the dwarfs suffered, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe we were in fact extremely lucky on this part.
If Draejan's army was 500000 strong, then the amount of dragon blood spilled would have been dreadful... I thought.
As our journey took us across the area the dwarfs called the Rigid Plains, we ended up passing through many villagers. They were far more than I had expected, while Osza Town was far bigger than Andromeda City in Albeyater. The dwarfs were many in number and spread out throughout the entire plains.
The inn we stayed at in Osza Town was big and welcoming, but we couldn't avoid the gazes of the many curious dwarfs. After all, centuries had passed since a dragon stepped foot so deep within their lands. On the other hand, I happened to notice one or two humans here and there. Kita'Milla'Nei told me that they were all Human Heroes, but their skills and abilities were far to weak to be considered a military asset. For the most part, they partook in various jobs related to crafting or other random things.
Another thing I noticed were the marks of war left from the time when the rebellion and the former ruler's armies had clashed together. When I asked what was that dwarf's name, Kita'Milla'Nei told me that both his name and his entire tribe had been erased from history and turned into a taboo word.
In other words, the dwarfs were determined to bury their tragic history of living under the oppressive rule of that dwarf's entire family.
Then, while staying in Osza, I noticed something strange, which quite honestly had been bothering me for a while now. At first, I thought it might have been because of Kita'Milla'Nei's upbringing, but now I was certain that wasn't the case.
Thus, after we departed from Osza, right as we passed through a small village, I looked up at him and said “Kita'Milla'Nei, I have a question for you.”
“Yes, Madame?” he showed me a smile.
“Why can I speak with you and you can understand me?”
It was a fairly odd question, but I was quite certain I was talking in Eastern Draconian and not Trindania's official language. Not only that, but wherever we stopped or talked with, I only heard Easter Draconian.
“Oh that? It's the blessing of our beloved goddess Amber. It is told that a long time ago, she cast a spell on our continent to help us puny dwarfs understand each other better. Of course, this applied to foreigners as well, and history books mention of a time when our continent was used as a neutral ground for many treaties between enemy countries.” he replied with a joyful smile.
“Amber?” I blinked surprised.
“Yes. Our gods and goddesses take on the form of metals and jewels in their most purest form.” he nodded.
“But Amber isn't a stone per say. It's the byproduct of a tree, isn't it?” Kataryna asked raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, but in its hardened form it's indistinguishable from a stone! That's why Goddess Amber is also our deity who rules over nature, animals, and plants. It was through this connection of hers that she was able to cast this spell on our continent.” he nodded.
“Can such a thing be possible?” I asked as I looked back at Kataryna, who was the oldest among us.
“If we're talking about a deity, maybe... but otherwise, it would have taken some serious effort and knowledge to cast a spell or an enchant that would last for such a long time.” she replied as she looked at the smiling dwarf.
“I assure you that it's no product of mortal hands, it's the work of the gods!” he said.
For me, it was rather strange to think of a rock as a deity, but these dwarfs were strange fellows. They were organized in tribes, yet they had an Emperor as a ruler. They carried around the marks of their prey in the form of teeth necklaces and fur coats. Our carriage wasn't pulled by Khosinni but by strange goat monsters who were slower than them. Even their houses and settlements had weird wooden sculptures they called totems. But above all, they were a species known for their abilities to work with metals and craft the best swords on all known continents.
Every time we made a stop, Kataryna and Tanarotte moved away from our group and went to interact with the dwarfs in the nearby area. They asked them simple questions from which we could better understand the state of affairs within the Trindania Empire.
One of the many things they learned was how the dwarfs came to be united under one ruler. It was a story from their history and drenched in the blood of generations.
Several centuries ago, a lone dwarf was blessed by the gods they worshiped, the spirits of metals and jewels. He was mightier and wiser than all those around him, but he had the uncanny ability to pull everyone to him be them friend or foe. As time passed, he grew tired of the warring nations around him and set forth to unite them all. Many refused his offer to join under his flag, others tried to take what he had amassed, but in the end all those who opposed him were met with his blade, while others were slowly persuaded to join his side. When the tribes scattered across the entire Dwarf Continent swore allegiance to him, the new formed country took his name and he became the first King of the dwarfs under the name of Mush'Trindania.
The dwarfs they asked didn't know what exactly made the first King so powerful, but many thought that he was given some sort of special skill, while others believed that he carried the very power of the spirits within his body. Whatever the case, since then, the dwarfs of Trindania focused solely on worshiping the spirits of metals and jewels. Their entire religion focused around them, but by no means did they forsake the other gods.
In this world, we all knew that the gods were real. They sometimes walked among us or spoke to us in our dreams or moments of power awakening. They blessed our marriage and granted us miracles with their divine power. Yet, these beings still allowed us mortals to choose whom we wished to pray to.
Unlike me, Alkelios had yet to swear allegiance to any god out there. Thus, it made me wonder at times what would happen if he decided to follow one. As a human, he was quite powerful and would have attracted their favors. All the gods would have wanted him under their care, but it mattered less what they wanted and more what he would come to choose.
Another thing they learned when they heard about the legend of the first King was that the reason why Trindania had now an Emperor instead of a King was because Mush'Nomv'Azer decreed so as a sign of change from the old ways. Thus, changing the Trindania Kingdom into the Trindania Empire.
Upon entering Tesva City, we encountered a dwarf wedding. It was quite interesting to see how different it was from my own. The groom and the bride were stripped down to only their undergarments made out of furs and bones. They then danced around a fire while looking into each others eyes. The music was tribal, where two dwarfs played big loud drums and another was blowing a long pipe. I was stunned by the fact that they didn't seemed to mind the cold, and it turned out this was part of their ritual. If they began to shiver at any point during their dance, it meant that their relationship would be met with all sorts of troubles. If the bride caught a cold, her firstborn would go through a difficult birth. If the groom caught a cold, he would become a weak husband unable to care for his wife.
There were a lot more of these silly superstitions that filled the entire ritual of their wedding ceremony. Instead of having a priest ask the groom and the bride if they wished to marry each other, the simple fact that they stepped forward to dance was proof of this. Stopping at any time for anything would mean that the marriage was ill-fated and should be stopped or put on hold for at least another year.
I had the pleasure of witnessing this event from the window of my inn's room as the whole thing took place in the main street. Despite the cold snow and the biting wind, the couple continued to perform their ritual dance without a problem until the very end. The dwarfs cheered for their success and then they all ate together, sharing their food with all those who were nearby. The visitors at the inn also got a plate of cooked meat.
Apparently, it was a tradition to organize ceremonies in front of places where wary travelers came to rest.
After we left Tesva City, we headed straight for Exaver, passing by only a couple of villages along the way. We stopped once to let the goats rest and a second time to make camp for the night. By the time we reached the capital, the small snowstorm had come to pass, and we were greeted by a smiling sun.
“I'll take this as a good omen.” said Princess Elleyzabelle as she looked up at the sky.
“Indeed.” I nodded.
“Once we pass through the front gates, we'll most likely be led by a Royal Soldier all the way to the Mush Palace. If his Majesty, the Emperor wishes to accept your audience, you will be informed right there, if not, we'll have to wait for a while and appeal again.” Kita'Milla'Nei said.
“Let us hope he doesn't make us wait.” Kataryna said after she let out a big yawn.
“Either way, I'm surprised this road tired those four like this.” I said as I looked out the window at Tanarotte and the other three, who were sprawled on the ground gasping for air.
“I'm surprised their alive.” Princess Elleyzabelle remarked with a wry smile.
“You shouldn't be surprised, your Highness! This little bit of effort should be normal for them!” I declared with a nod.
“A dead-tired Tanarotte means I can get some peace and quite, so it's all good for me.” Kataryna said as she smiled.
“Then I will count on your protection, Kataryna.” said Elleyzabelle with a smile.
“Yes, your Highness?” I replied.
“If your knights ever seem like they don't wouldn't want to obey to a more difficult order, just tell them that it's alright if they don't it, you'll just help them with some extra training when you return.”
“I don't understand how this could get them motivated, but if they are unwilling to listen to me, then I am the one who should learn more about what it means to be a leader.” I said as I tilted my head to the left.
“I seriously pity those three fools.” Kataryna said with a wry smile.
Although I didn't understand why she said this, I couldn't help but wonder about something.
Could it be possible that they don't enjoy the training? Should I change it to something more diverse? We could always go the Seculiar Forest and hunt down some monsters there, or we could explore a dungeon. Maybe simple and easy training like this is too little for brave strong knights like them? Should I ask Alkelios to be their opponent in spar matches when he returns? I thought while looking back at the four as they moved towards their own carriage.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
This is the first chapter after my break! 😀
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