The Heart of Barsaive
Kaer Ardanyan history pt 2
The mines of Kaer Ardanyan were soon brimming with activity. Once the kaer’s gates had closed, everything of value was stripped from the rocks and processed in anticipation of a new beginning after the Scourge ended. The treasures were enormous—some veins of elemental earth were so rich that generations of miners would be needed to work them. The kaer council decreed that all families would share the treasure in equal parts, as all of them contributed to the common goal of survival—miners or not. A lion’s share would be held back, however, saved to rebuild the town.
But all the riches served no one as long as the kaer was sealed. There was no trade, and gold is impossible to eat. Still, some dwarven miners considered it unfair that their hard-working families would receive the same share as those elves tending the crops and demanded bigger shares for their heirs. The kaer council denied their requests on several occasions, and even the Miner’s Guild did not back their requests.
Frustrated, several miners joined forces and developed a plan. Hiring an Illusionist to hide a secretly constructed tunnel, they fooled the Miner’s Guild, the kaer council, and the architect Ghandoz, at the same time. In a dark cavern at the end of the tunnel, they stored everything that was not reported to the guild and council: chunks of silver and gold, precious gems—even elemental earth.
For decades, their tunnel remained a secret—until the kaer council decided to expand the temple of Rashomon. Samiel, highest questor and spiritual leader of the kaer, had requested more space to house and train his followers. The tragedy happened a few years later, when tons of rock broke from the ceiling and buried the new temple wing underneath. Almost all of the temple’s questors died, and—in shock at what he thought was his own failed planning— Ghandoz almost took his own life.
The architect’s innocence was proved when the hidden riches were found beneath the rubble and the secret tunnel was uncovered. The dwarven miners’ greed had taken the lives of Samiel and his followers. Most of the culprits were caught and imprisoned in the days following the investigations. The kaer council, still consisting of the same elves that founded Ardanyan, decided to penalize the miner’s betrayal with death. The practice of illusionism by dwarves was outlawed and the kaer guard enforced stricter control of the mines.
Samiel’s fate hung like a curse over the temple grounds. Without his guidance, the few remaining followers lost both their hope and their courage. No one was ready to step into Samiel’s shoes, and no one dared to rebuild the temple. The temple grounds were Named the Temple of Greed, and left abandoned.
When the betrayal was discovered and investigated, the Miner’s Guild finally took a firm stance. While they lamented the destruction of the temple and the elven questor’s death, they began to understand the problem that drove the miners to betray the council. The guild’s official request for bigger shares led to a fight in the council house, when a council member slipped a condescending remark about dwarven family business. He and two guild members were banned from Council Hall as a result.
The presence of kaer guards in the mines fuelled unrest among the miners. Being watched so closely, they almost felt like slaves. Dwarven thick-headedness and elven arrogance had turned Kaer Ardanyan into a powder keg threatening to explode at any time.
In the following years, more and more people sought the neighborhood of their own kin rather than living peacefully and side-by-side. No elf wanted to live next door to a dwarven family possibly involved with the Temple of Greed and vice versa. Slowly, Khar Rhûz became the home of all dwarves while the gardens of Shal’Minar eventually housed the complete elven population.
When the architect Ghandoz died of old age, the situation grew desperate. The architect’s reputation and experience had made him a respected negotiator between the elven kaer council and the dwarven Miner’s Guild. His successor, Tahrkusz, was different. He had always sided with the miners, but no one even suspected him of being the architect of the hidden tunnel. Officially backed by the Miner’s Guild, Tahrkusz provoked the council by open rebellion. His expectations were surpassed when the kaer council imprisoned him, closed the mines, and disbanded the Miner’s Guild altogether.
The council’s decision was unacceptable for all dwarves. Mining works went on while the swords of the kaer guard clashed with dwarven warhammers and pick-axes. When Tahrkusz was displayed in Council Hall for his trial, several dwarven warriors took hostages and freed him in a small skirmish, turning Council Hall into a cauldron of openlydisplayed racial hatred.
The fighting stopped when the population of Okoros decided to seal themselves off and exiled all remaining elves and dwarves living there. For the first time in Ardanyan’s history, one of the halls had closed its gigantic gates leading to Council Hall. The lines were drawn, and the kaer community was shattered into pieces when the other halls closed their gates as well.