The Lord of the Rings: Shadow of the East
In S.A. 3394, while delving deep beneath the Hathur-na-bundurok for some of its less than plentiful gold deposits, a find of miraculous proportions was unearthed by Thralin’s folk of Nurunkhizdín.
In two very small veins a precious green gem was found. Almost imperceptibly, it glowed with its own light and had a very bizarre luster. Excited by their discovery, the Dwarves set about polishing and fashioning the glassy green gems until jewels of unparalleled caliber were created. Correctly worked and cut, these small treasures gave off enough light to give many a cavern and hall a soft and dull green glow. They called it “bilak-khald.”
In T.A. 57, the last of the bilak-khald from the two original small veins had long since been refined and crafted for a little longer than one hundred years. Ever hoping to find more of these precious and pleasant light sources, the Dwarves delved deeper and deeper into the dark depths beneath their home. Then, tragedy struck. Near the end of the year, several of theminers who had been far below in the mines suddenly took ill. Strange and hideous splotches covered their skins and open sores broke out that could not be healed, despite the best of attempts. In horror, their families watched helplessly as they passed into unconsciousness and finally into the arms of their maker as death took them. Concerned with his people’s well being Thelor XIV ordered the mines deep below the Hathur-na-bundurok sealed, fearing some dark legacy of Morgoth.
For many centuries the mines containing this hideous scourge were left alone until Thralin’s Folk tired of merely contenting themselves with the crafting of metals and gems. Gnawingly,their minds turned to the bilak-khald. If they had been found once, could they not be present somewhere else beneath the deep roots of the Hathur-na-bundurok? Yet no one dared tolook, as the “Green” mines had been closed because of the strange curse that had taken the lives of its miners so long ago. But, was it really some strange Morgothic manifestation, or merely a freak Phenomenon? It begged to be answered, the prospect of finding more of the magnificent gems tugged so heavily on the hearts of the Dwarves and their energetic King Thralin IV, that they had to reopen the condemned mines.
Cautiously, small expeditions entered the mines where their predecessors had encountered the Blight. Time after time, they returned without incident. Gradually fears were abated, and some mining began to actually transpire in the ancient mines. Then, a year later, gold was discovered. Thralin’s Folk were genuinely excited. Gold was not as common in Nurunkhizdín as they would have desired. Slowly the vein was worked and the precious metal was gradually extracted.
In T.A. 1423, two years after reopening the mines, excited and frantic calls came from deep below; more of the bilak-khald had been found! While attempting to clear a small passage around the Gold vein, an unexpected collapse occurred. Though none of the nearby miners were hurt, all were shocked. Before their eyes, in a variety of sizes and hues, lay a small number of the raw green gems their forefathers had sought. Quick exploration revealed another small vein of the strange green crystals.
Strangely though, these new sources of excitement seemed somewhat different that those already refined and in use by the Dwarves. While the originals gave off a constant amountof light, these seemed to fluctuate in the amount of illumination they were willing to give, and seemed to be of aslightly different hue. Undaunted, master craftsmen quicklybegan the arduous tasks of shaping and refining the preciousgems that would serve as lamps in many of their corridors.
Then, almost instantly, many of those who had been working with the gems became ill. Symptoms were identical to those experienced when Thelor’s Folk were contaminated. With time, it was obvious that only those who had had any contact or exposure to the light of these fearful stones were effected with the same blotches, open sores, and murderous fevers as described by Thelor’s Folk in the Annals. Unfortunately though, nearly two thirds of Thralin’s Folk had anxiously seen the strange gems before any sickness was noted. Consequently, nearly two-thirds of the Folk of Nurunkizdin were taken with the merciless illness.
Quickly, just before the death of the King, plans were made to remove and return all of the poisonous stones back in themines far below and out of reach of the Dwarves. Five able bodied and heroic warriors volunteered to return the ghastly materials to their ancient abode and seal the deep minesbehind them. Laboriously and unaided, they rapidly gatheredall of the gems in a small cart and pushed it into the deepest reaches of the mines, from whence they had originated. Then they proceeded to seal the entrances to the mines. One of their number had already succumbed to the blight and had collapsed en route, and two of them sealed themselves far below with their foul cargo near the original vein while their companions in death closed and destroyed the access to the entire complex just before expiring.
Meanwhile, all efforts were being made to try and overcome the foul power of the light of the stones had on all whobeheld them. But for the most part, it was to no avail. A few of those who were afflicted did survive, but with gruesome scars and marks to serve as a testament to their horrible ordeal. When all was said and done, and the majority of the sickness gone, over half of Thralin’s folk had died, including the King and two of his three sons. Though briefly left leaderless,the effects of this blight were much greater than the momentary lack of a King, as no Dwarf or Dwarven family had gone untouched by the devastating effects of this gruesome blight.