The Aurum, as it is called in most scientific circles, is a giant organic fleshy mass that floats, stationary, in the center of the Aquasphere. What it is, exactly, no one knows — although much of the world’s philosophy and religions are based on theories about it. It’s natural expansion and contraction creates a dimming and brightening of the light that it gives off — meaning the whole bubble experiences day and night simultaneously. This means on a clear day, with a telescope, you can look up past the Aurum and see locations on the other side of the world.
There are two giant vortexes of water that funnel up into The Aurum at the poles, like giant water tornados. These are the Estward and Ostward vortexes. When the Aurum purges this water, it creates a misting rain that spreads throughout the Aquasphere. Somedays this voluminous fog obscures the Aurum in a magnificent swirling ball that dominates the sky.
There are no stars, although some cultures certainly believe the lights they sometimes see at night are stars. The Aurum itself is speckled and cracked with patterns from which beams of azure light shine down — and these can be read, similar to a night sky full of stars. The best times of day for reading the patterns for navigation are at dawn and dusk, when the light of the Aurum is waxing or waning.
Utu, the Great Lord of Above
“Once there was a great blue, infinite sky. Beneath this sky was a dark, endless sea and upon this sea floated the world.
The sky was the home of Utu, the great Lord of Above, who had made the world and set it afloat on the endless sea. He was served by the spirits of the sky, and the forests, and the beasts, and the birds, and of all things that lived in the realm of light on the surface of the world afloat upon the great sea.
Beneath the world dwelled the cold, dark spirits of the endless sea, ruled by Wele, the Lord of Below. Wele hated the Lord of Above and coveted the world he had created. Wele claimed that since the world floated upon his sea, it was by right his to possess. The Lord of Above refused his claim, reminding him that he, Utu, had created the world and it resided in the sky realm, which belonged to him.
Wele was furious, and retreated to the dark, brooding depths of the sea to plot his vengeance. He began sowing dissention among the spirits of the sky realm. There were among the spirits of the sky some who did not claim allegiance to Utu. The violent, brooding storm spirits’ cruel, capricious nature made them more akin to the spirits of the sea whom the Lord of Below ruled. The great Serpent King Ymoja had also thrown in his lot with the Lord of Below and made a home in his dim, watery realm. It was with their traitorous aid that Wele was able to set in motion his plan to steal the world from the realm of sky.
Among the spirits loyal to Utu were the kings of the various birds and beasts, the wisest and cleverest of which was Asa, the Monkey King, who was the lord and ancestor of monkeys, apes, and men. The Monkey King knew of Wele’s plot. He had listened to the tree spirits, who had spoken to the spirits of the wind, who had overheard the conspiring of the storm spirits of the sea.
The Monkey King warned Utu of Wele’s wicked scheme, but the Lord of Above was too proud and sure of his powers to heed the warning. He commanded the whole sky and held absolute power upon all that lay within its encompassing gaze. His power was undone however, when the Lord of Below’s plan was set in motion.
Suddenly a vast storm began to gather, growing swiftly larger and fiercer until at last it was as big as the world itself, moving quickly to cover it. Utu’s gaze could not penetrate the great dark clouds and all that lay beneath their canopy was beyond his power. If not for the cleverness and bravery of the Monkey King, all would have been lost. He climbed to the top of the great tree in the center of the world, plucking his heart from his breast and thrusting it into the light above the storm clouds, soaking it in the radiant power of the Lord of Above.
It was then that the Serpent King rose from the darkness of the sea at Wele’s bidding and swallowed the world, engulfing bit by bit all the lands and creatures and spirits and diving back below the surface of the waves, beyond the reach of the Lord of Above. Inside the vast belly, at the top of the tree that once sat at the center of the world, the Monkey King lifted his glowing heart, placed it in the center of the remaining sky, and climbed up after it.
There the Monkey King sits holding back the waters and bathing the world in light, searching for a way to destroy the Serpent King and take the world from the grasp of the Lord of Below and return it to the sky realm, assailed on either side by wrathful storm spirits seeking to complete the work of their master and plunge the world into the cold night of the sea.”
“So claim the priests of my tribe,” Sanga said with a shrug of his massive shoulders. “That is the belief of my ancestors and so I also believed, once.”
Sanga downed a long draught of the sour ale that was all that remained in the ship’s stores, staring grimly at the table of the officers’ mess as the Captain Monterosa and the dwarven shipwright Eigon picked at the last of the gruel the ship’s cook had made from the hard, maggoty biscuits. He gave a rueful smile, the sputtering lamplight glinting briefly on gold.
“On the island of my ancestors is a great tree that the priests claim is the very tree that the Monkey King climbed during the great storm. In my travels I have heard many such claims. It seems that every island was the home of some strange god and every mountain is the heart of the world, and a hundred different explanations for what you call the Aurum, and what my tribe calls the Heart of Asa, and what is known by a hundred other names elsewhere. How is a man to know the truth? And why should he care? What is the difference if it is a dragon’s egg or a great lighthouse? Are the tides different if it is a dwarven clockwork or a serpent’s eye? Does either put food in your belly or gold in your pocket?”
A sneering frown fell across his face. The others were startled out of their ruminations as he slammed his mug down on the table with a crash, a new splash staining its worn, sticky surface. He had gotten quite drunk that night and had now grown surly and impatient. He was tired of philosophy and needed something else to take his mind off his troubles.
“It’s too quiet up there. Lazy dogs better not be sitting around on their rotten backsides. Too hungry to work, they say? I’ll feed them their blasted tongues and they can stop complaining.”
Deep within the islandhomes of Magmo, there is a great library which contains all the histories and knowledge of dwarvenkind. It is a library which contains no books, no folios or scrolls; no paper at all, for all dwarves know that to scratch runes upon the dried pulp of leaves is as mad as writing in the sand at low tide. To truly preserve knowledge there is no better or more appropriate way than to carve it into unchanging rock. The library of the dwarves is the Calxeum, the Place of Stones. It is a vast earthwork, a warren without end (as the histories of course continue to be written and added to and expanded upon), walls of stone covered floor to ceiling – and floor to ceiling covered alike – with engravings. From the finest carving that requires a loupe to appreciate to the cyclopean masonry that depicts the heroes of old, the Calxeum is a place of learning, an artwork, a living museum, the sum heritage of the dwarves all in one.
In a section composed of many miles near where the carvings were begun eons ago by the First Graybeards, the prophecy of Ragnarock is told in bas-relief.
The Twilight of the Gods begins when three Hellmouths erupt, calling the slain back to the final battlefield, where the fate of the Aquasphere will be decided.
A magic ship, crewed by the most valiant, will brave the frontier of the skies to return the lost artifact tools of Boldr the Smith God back to him: within the Forge of the Gods (what menfolk call the Aurum), Boldr can begin forging the weapons that the Heroes of the Aquasphere will take up to defeat the Elder Evils of the world.
A dark fleet of nine ships, made from the teeth and nails and bones of those buried at sea, will ravage the islands of all races, indiscriminate to the petty concerns of mortals. Scraps of burial shrouds are their sails, and their hair is woven into ropes.
Magma rises from within the bowels of the islands: it is the blood of the Giant Jotung, who Boldr slew to create the world, quickening within his bones which are the rock and stone and earth of the world.
The Great Leviathan rouses from its slumber, and it will consume all life in the sea to get enough energy to breach the surface and consume the moons of the Aurum to slake its endless hunger.
These and many more will be the signs of the End of Days. So it is known to all dwarvenkind…