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November 24, 2012, 10:27 pm

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The Glenbeard Tunnels


Troth Glenbeard was a dwarf with a mission. And that was destruction.

From there, things happened. And the Irondeeps got a Subterranean-Transport-System-That-Moves-Things-Around-Faster-Than-Equine-Means (aka, in modern-speak, a subway).

"Father, father, can you tell me of the Tunnels again?" asked the dwarven child.

"I, I am to tired to do so," said the father, but with a twinkle in his eye that said that he would be more than happy to.


"Oh, all right," the father said, "caving in" to his son's demands. "As you know, it begins something like this..."

The human country of Erathnia, which is a dam-, a mean, dumb name for a country, was in the midst of a civil war. This civil war was caused, mainly, by problems in the royal succession. The old king had two sons, one a bastard called Edward, and other the "true" son, called William. The king didn't like his first queen, the one that had produced William. He didn't like her so much that he both made false charges that resulted in a lifetime imprisonment, and exiled her son. The Edward was then named heir. When the king died, the William naturally launched a war to take back his throne. And as such, the country was launched into civil war, seemingly without end. And as such, the Royals (as the side led by William was called) required metal. And who better to take it from than us?

We Irondeeps lived here in peace, led by Troth Glenbeard. Glenbeard was somewhat lacking as a chief. He never wanted control, but rather wanted to perfect his craftsmanship and mining talents. And he was a great craftsman and miner. And so, he would try and shirk his responsibilities as chief by holing up in the deep mines our clan is famous for, and oversee those mining operations. And whenever he could, he would craft tools and jewelry and so on. But eventually the Royals came to our clan, and demanded iron. William met with Glenbeard, and they talked long into the night. Glenbeard did not want to be chief, he did not want this responsibility, and so it came down, for him, whether or not he wanted to shut up and get rid of William by giving him the iron William was asking for, or risking war with the Royals. All Glenbeard wanted was to stay out of this mess, but events had forced him into it. And so Glenbeard gave in to William's demands.

Once Edward found out that we were supplying the Royals with iron, he felt betrayed. And so Edward sent a diplomat to us. And Glenbeard was brought back into this mess. They talked again, and in the end, Glenbeard agreed to stop providing iron to William in exchange for some protection. Glenbeard also started giving iron to Edward. William was, too, enraged by this supposed betrayal. He had felt that he had secured Irondeep backing, and, given time, could get some dwarven troops. And so William launched and attack on Edward's forces. William won that battle. But William was clever, and instead of acknowledging the fact that Glenbeard had chosen to aid Edward, claimed that William had liberated the Irondeeps. William claimed that Edward had taken us over, and were forcing us to provide iron for him. As such, Glenbeard was honor-bound to aid William. But he was honor-bound not only to provide iron to William, but to go to war with the Royals, too.

Glenbeard did not want to commit to open warfare. He cared to deeply about his people for that. But instead, he devised a plan with William. The Irondeeps, all ready skilled miners, would make a tunnel running underneath Erathnia, all the way to the capitol city of Eurbsia. From there, we would collapse it, destroying the entire city.

And so he did. We Irondeeps dug and dug and dug. William had no major advantage over Edward's forces, and so the civil war dragged on for years. No human could have tunneled as far and as fast as we did. Of course, we are dwarves, not those pitiful humans. But even so, we made mistakes. Tunneling in the wrong direction was the big one. With the slight inaccuracies presented in the maps provided by William, and the fact that you can't see where you're going when you're tunneling, we first missed Eurbsia by 56 miles our first try. And when we made a side-tunnel from our original tunnel, we missed Eurbsia by 21 miles. The main block of time spent on the digging was done missing Eurbsia. After years of this, we had miles of tunnels under Erathnia, most of them concentrated by Eurbsia. But before we could complete the project, Edward managed to defeat William. We returned to our mining and crafting and living, and mostly forgot about the tunnels we had made underneath Erathnia, which we named the Glenbeard Tunnels.

Eventually, we gained a new chief, who went by the name Cagen Blackblade. Blackbladewas a warrior more than he was a craftsmen. He had ambitions to conquer the human lands. They had good farming, unlike we Irondeeps. We were dependent on trading the metals we mined for food. So Blackblade decided to take the human lands in the foothills of our mountain. At that time, Erathnia had dissolved into five smaller kingdoms. Blackblade was set on conquering each of those kingdoms.

But Blackblade knew that he lacked sufficient forces to take the Erathnian Kingdoms, as the five kingdoms that were set in the foothills were called collectively. So he sought an advantage. And that advantage is the Glenbeard tunnels. Blackblade knew that if he expanded them, and tunneled under all the Erathnian Kingdoms, he could move and army wherever he wanted without detection. No one would know where he was. And he could easily expand the tunnels if he needed to to collapse a section of wall.

So he started tunneling. He expanded the tunnels, and connected each capitol of the Erathnian Kingdoms to the tunnel system. And after years of hard work, we Irondeeps launched our attack. The first kingdom barely knew what hit them. Our forces tunneled up into the sewars, and from their opened the gates. The capitol and the kingdom became one of our provinces in one night. The other four kingdoms were shocked at the randomness of what had happened. It would have taken more than a day for us to reach the kingdom's capitol, so they should have received word of a dwarven force moving before the capitol fell. Had we discovered some new magic?

The second kingdom fell just like the first one did. A team of dwarven soldiers tunneled their way into the sewers, and from their opened the gate. It fell easily, too. But a soldier escaped from the second kingdom, and from him the other Erathnian kingdoms discovered how we were traveling. Somehow, the soldier had watched our forces emerge from the sewers.

The Erathnian Kingdoms from then on started defending their sewers. They sent groups of soldiers patrolling in the human waste. And we reacted by emerging directly in front of their gate. From their, it was a simple matter to burn it down and take the city. And in that manner, we took the third kingdom. The other two fell, though they fought hard and bravely.

From there, the Irondeeps had to defend their territory from outside invasion. And what to do but expand the Glenbeard Tunnels? As time went on, the Glenbeard tunnels were used by civilians to travel from city to city. They had several advantages over travel above ground, the two big ones being no rain and no bandits. About a decade or so after civilians started using the Glenbeard Tunnels for traveling, Thronar Goldaxe, a somewhat-mad dwarven inventor, decided to mix magic and machine. Goldaxe invented, what he named, the Subterranean-Transport-System-That-Moves-Things-Around-Faster-Than-Equine-Means. Goldaxe's genius, which was very smart when it came to inventing things, fell short in the whole naming department. Eventually, it was renamed the Subsystem. It could go 30 miles every hour. And unlike a horse, which could only sustain that speed for short distances, the Subsystem could, theoretically, sustain it forever. It works quite simply. Have you heard of the phenomenon known as magnetism? The Subsystem uses this magnetism by having tracks of a magnetic compound, and a magnetically-repellent block on the base of the driver's carriage. A magical shield covers the block when a lever is pulled, which stops the magnetic effect. When the shield is not over the block, the block, with another magical shield directing the magnetic force, pushes against the tracks, and forces the whole thing to go forward.

Attached the the back end of the driver's carriage is two carts. The first cart is for passengers. 10 dwarves can fit into this cart. The rear one is for the passenger's luggage.

Father reached the end of his tale. After finishing up with a promise to take a ride on the Subsystem sometime soon, he carried his son to his bed.

Technical Aspects:

The Subsystem is basically a subway powered by magnetism and magic. Feel free to call it a subway, and to change any technical aspects of it, like speed, passenger amounts, etc., as is the norm for the Citadel.

The Subsystem is the name of the device that carries people around. The tunnels themselves are called the Glenbeard tunnels. Their are generally two tracks in every tunnel- one for each direction. There is also a road off to the side for pedestrians to use. The Subsystem is moderately price, and is only and option for the middle-class and the rich.

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Comments ( 6 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Shadoweagle
November 25, 2012, 1:28
a Dwarven subway; how fun :p I enjoyed the background of the tunnels more than the subsystem itself - and though the Glenbeard Tunnels were used to the Dwarves advantage, it could now very easily be part of their demise, as an invading army can breach the walls at any point in the tunnels and set an invading army, and the dwarves would be equally surprised as the human cities were when they invaded! Perhaps a rival dwarf clan set on taking the spoils which Cagen Blackblade originally earned for himself.

Anywho - plenty of practical use; so much can happen within tunnels and cave systems, and it can be used in minor or major applications in a game; whether just a convenient way of travelling from town to town, or as the catalyst of an all-out subterrainean war between rival clans.
I was gonna give you a 3.5, but in writing this comment out, I talked myself up to 4.5 :p
Voted Strolen
November 25, 2012, 2:30
Story was great on why their are tunnel systems all over! The actually subway was more of an after thought for me. Magnets? Could have had more fun with that. You tend to weave these complicated political tales and I must say that they add a lot to what could have been a simple idea.

Voted Murometz
November 28, 2012, 14:46
I agree with Shadoweagle and Strolen, the tale is interesting and full of dwarven psychology and a "can-do" bearded spirit and is the meat of the sub. However, I do find the idea of a dwarven subway and magnetism, stimulating to ponder as well!

The fact that this is not "slanted" toward an automatic steampunk-ish vibe, instead sticking to "fantasy", is also quite interesting!

There was an ooold Dungeon Magazine(tm) adventure involving something similar (dwarven train system) with a load of dwarven politics thrown in. This reminds me of that in a good way!!
Voted Cheka Man
December 1, 2012, 20:24
A great story explaining it.
Voted axlerowes
December 11, 2012, 7:49
I like the story alot, but it feels like you ran out of steam towards the end. You give us the broadstrokes of the political military history of the region and how that lead to the formation of the tunnels. You gives us a few specific details about some battle and the personalities that shaped that world. We don't get a clear picture of the "modern tunnels" or the the tunnels that this sleepy little dwarf is asking about. What are the Irondeeps like today? What is it like to ride the subsystem? Could you have some Chinatown like plot where some evil dwarven developer wants to recklessly expand the dwarven tunnels? You have a great prologue.
Voted Tusserk
October 18, 2014, 3:17
Loved it... Never trust a dwarf, sneaky little bastard midgets



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