This tale will not be found on any parchment or inscription in the West. Any there who would speak of it, rare as they are, would do so under pain of death, for although it exists only as a near forgotten legend… many yet live who would kill to conceal it’s telling.
It began with the nature of the Dwarves, created as they were from the stone and the soil of the earth. Having been born of these elements it was clear to any Dwarf that upon their mortal passing, their spirit would return to dwell amidst the rock and the stone of the earth from whence they came.
Into precious stones and gems and all the treasures of the earth, the hymns of the ancestors of the Dwarves forever echoed.
Jewels became more than simple fineries for the dwarves: they were a mystical connection to their ancestors. Gems and crystalline diamonds acted as mirrors to the unseen and allowed the Dwarves, in their dreams, to hear the call of their long deceased forebears and the faint songs of past glories. Accumulation of wealth became a sacred and noble cause for the Dwarves, for to sleep amidst a trove of precious stones was to open their subconscious to the spirits of the divine.
The wealthiest in jewels became the mightiest in renown, for they had a link to their ancestor spirits. In time all the great houses of the Dwarves realised that by combining their great treasuries into one titanic horde, they would create a channel to interact with not only their ancestors, but perhaps also their creator.
On the brink, at the pinnacle of their greatness... cruel Dwarven tempers erupted.
Greedy houses, perhaps corrupted by enchanted artefacts and riches, betrayed their kin for the glory of holding the single vast treasure trove. A terrible and furious civil war was ignited that desolated the land, and resulted in a begrudged stalemate between the warring houses... a stalemate that would only be broken with secret bribes to vile Orc tribes, and a massive surprise assault amidst the mountain kingdoms.
Collusion with Orcs was seen as a means to an end, and the bribes known to a chosen few of highest rank. But when the betrayer Lords saw with their own eyes the gruesome slaughter made by the Orcs upon their kin, their hearts sank in bitter shame.
The defeated houses of the Dwarves were cast from the West, and renamed the Fallen by the Lords who remained in the ancient halls and fortresses of the mountains.
History became legend and the fate of the Fallen passed out of all knowledge, erased by the Dwarves of the West in their shame and their arrogance.
But this was not the end of the Fallen, for even in exhausted defeat they were still Dwarves, and Dwarves are the most hardy of all races on the earth...
The final battle of the Dwarven civil war began as a colossal siege, lead by King Karzanos.
In an attempt to reclaim the treasuries their greedy allies had suddenly lain claim to, Karzanos commanded a mile long battery of siege artillery, backed by fifty thousand warriors from various houses and clans, betrayed as Karzanos was and now rallied to his cause.
With all their intent and focus, their fiery rage and their lust for revenge directed incessantly at the ramparts of the fortresses containing the combined Dwarven treasuries... the besieging Dwarves were to be taken unaware by countless Orc hordes that descended silently from the mountains to the rear of their battle lines.
In an instant the besiegers became the besieged, and the final battle was not Dwarf against Dwarf as all had anticipated.
Sunset marked the beginning of the Orc assault and throughout the entire night a vicious battle raged in the vale below the ramparts of the previously besieged fortress. From their view ports high upon the fortress walls, the Dwarven Lords paled as they witnessed the merciless slaughter their own treachery had brought to their former allies... friends... and relations. A deep and silent shame overpowered them.
Sunrise came blood red and signalled the end of the battle. A tiny few surviving Orcs scattered in defeat, yet most of the horde lay as corpses in a great ring encircling the defending Dwarves, who themselves had suffered dreadfully in the fight: battling ultimately as a last stand.
What remained of King Karzanos and his followers stood as a ragged and weary host, surrounded by a great lake of Dwarf and Orc corpses, mangled and wretched. That no aid had come from the fortress stoked their hate and many wept in rage as they growled, but battle weariness and injury sapped their final strength and most simply chose to sit amidst the mass of destruction and death, awaiting their final doom.
When the gates of the Fortress finally opened they unleashed legions of heavily armoured Dwarves mustered for battle in deadly formation.
Karzanos and his followers rose to their feet, grimly, fiercely prepared for their final slaughter.
The Traitor Lords emerged onto the fortress ramparts, their eyes sunken with shame and their faces sullen pale. There would be no final slaughter, instead Karzanos and his forces were declared the Fallen, declared the traitors; and their attack from the Orc horde was proclaimed a fitting if not unexpected turn of fateful retribution.
An endless exile was imposed on Karzanos and the Fallen Dwarves, and the lies spread against them by the Traitor Lords down the years would ensure their absolute compliance.
The Fallen, accounting not only King Karzanos and his warriors but also their families and households were driven into foreign lands, far beyond the ken of any in the West. Their numbers were great, however they marched ever onwards to an uncertain destiny. Before long they were harried and assailed by all manner of beast and foul monster, until they came upon the broken lands and the marauding tribes of Orcs who roamed there. Long decades of warfare ensued, hardening male and female alike into a ferocious warrior kindred as they battled for survival amidst the harsh landscape.
Green lands faded to brown, and eventually barren desert.
Pressing ever onwards through the long years, those that did not die of thirst or fatigue became prey to the perils of the deserts: terrible sand wraiths that emerged from dust storms, sand walker packs of chitin and claw, long dead warriors of bone roused by the full moon and the hidden dangers of Djinn trapped by sorcery in bottles and trinkets found half buried under the sand dunes.
Throughout the long exodus the Fallen remained unified and loyal. Never settling for any length of time, they held a restless longing for a purpose that always seemed just beyond their grasp.
They merely survived.
One day, many decades after their initial exile the Fallen found rest amidst the ruins of an ancient city half swallowed by the desert on the edge of an oasis. Exploring the shallow catacombs, the leaders of the Fallen discovered ancient tablets and glyphs... and maps.
Deciding to sleep that night in the catacombs, Lord Karzakai, son of King Karzanos, beheld a vision in a dream – a vision of a great power that would grant them their revenge, a great power that lay buried deep under the earth, far to the east. The path to that power would be revealed to them as a pillar of cloud by day, and by night; a raging inferno. Upon awaking Lord Karzakai instinctively knew where his destiny would take him, where he would lead his people... a volcano.
King Karzanos, deeply embittered and forever grim, now held only his son Lord Karzakai in any esteem amongst the Fallen. Karzakai had fought bravely and savagely during the final battle of Fortress Dale, and continued to do so throughout the entirety of their Exile, and so it was he had maintained his fathers respect and was quickly able to convince him of his conviction to the dream vision. The maps they had discovered in the catacombs were eventually interpreted and only one volcano seemed apparent: in an eastern region of the land, a place the strange glyphs named: KOR.
Ever eastward the Fallen now marched as Lord Karzakai received further visions: the land they would take to settle and build upon would not come easy, it would be inhabited, and the power glimpsed in the dreams demanded that the Dwarves prove their worth....