My Grandfather Is Made of Gold

We are not like you, human. We are born of the earth. You live in a world of wind and sun, but the still and quiet dark is ours. Our kingdom extends beneath oceans and mountains and pleasant meadows. This dark is bright as day, yet you still stumble. You rely on torch and lantern to guide you, but we knew these passages before we had sight. You hunt for veins of gold and silver, and you seek out deposits of gems. You excavate our flesh and blood and forge it into trinkets to amuse lords and ladies and the rabble who look upon them.

You harvest our ancestors and fashion them into baubles for amusement. You trade them for food and drink. Look at this ring and tell me what you see. A shiny thing that belongs on a queen’s finger? This ring is my lineage. My forebears called to me, they have delivered themselves to me because I am worthy. From the stone they announced themselves, they demanded that I refine them into a pleasing form. When I heard their voice, I was compelled. Months I spent in restless toil, and now I hold a fragment of the dwarven people. When I die, my body will return to the earth. What form it will take, I do not know. A common man will become iron or quartz or shale, but I hope for something nobler. Silver and emeralds strike my fancy.

Nonetheless, I will sleep within the earth until my spirit senses someone worthy. You humans think we are greedy for our possessions, but that is because you project your frailties upon us. You fancy our stonework and our jewelry and our metallurgy because it appeals to your vanity. We bring forth the earth’s splendor because it is sacred. The birthright of every dwarf is the vast bounty laden beneath the feet of men and elves. Amassing riches does not occur by happenstance; the wealthy dwarf is chosen as worthy by his forebears. A poor dwarf is contemptible; he is cursed to dig and return empty. His pickaxe finds only stone, and his shovel upends only soil. To lend him even a single gold piece is to blaspheme against the dwarf-spirits who have denied him.

We are born of the earth, human. We have iron bones and iron will. Here you are, coveting my bounty. What will you trade it for? A sixpence and a brothel visit? As a fish swims in water, so a dwarf tunnels deep. A human belongs with the sun and sky. Your torch is sputtering. Quickly now, human. Try and take my grandfather.