What follows is the last entry in the journal of Urist McBroker before his disappearance. I reproduce it here in the hopes that it may be of some comfort to his family and friends. For while we will almost certainly never see him again, there is reason to hope that he may not be dead. Indeed, he may even -- who can know for sure? -- have succeeded in his quest. May Armok be with him, wherever he is.
Signed, Urist McMayor, leader of Planetouched the Fires of IndustryThe Journal of Urist McBroker
, bookkeeper and broker of Planetouched the Fires of Industry20th of Malachite, 1074
By Armok, I know what I must do now. The burden lies heavy on my heart, but it may be our only hope of survival. Yet before I go, I must leave a record of my discovery. If I should fail, others must follow me. The very survival of dwarfkind depends upon it.
It all started this morning, when I had a most disturbing conversation. Yesterday I finished negotiating with the human merchants, and today as they were packing up the trade goods we had not chosen to purchase, one of them chatted idly with me. After talking about the weather (which seems a constant obsession with surface-dwellers, for reasons I find difficult to fathom) he told me about something he called "Star Control." It seemed clear to me that his mind was addled from spending too much time on the surface -- it's obvious that you can't control the stars, which is why sleeping under a nice stone ceiling is far superior -- but he seemed to think it was an actual place, inhabited by races that nobody has ever heard of. Arilou, Ur-Quan, Spathi, Orz... he called them by the strangest names. (Now "Sigun Kolkib," "Mebzuth Bāsensazir," those are some good, solid, normal names.) He spent a lot of time talking about the Orz for some reason. He said that they have a strange way of speaking, that even the best "automatic" translators (whatever that means... I think he must have meant "legendary") couldn't translate certain words from the Orz language and had to make a "best guess" effort. Then he gave me some examples of Orz speech:
Here is *bright* and *smooth*. The other place is *hurt* Orz too much tired for keeping together.
Other place is **Frumple**. Orz are here now, but almost not yet.
Soon Orz are really here! You are help Orz with *parties*.
Orz looking for you, and find you. So much joy!!
This is my *house*. Do you want to know a *secret*? Do not *think* it too *not campers*.
You are so many *lonely* *juicy* *bubbles*. It is so sad.
Now that you are *campers* you will have more *parties*
and no more *sad* *lonely* *bubbles*.
This is the *secret*.
I am *expanding!* It is so much *squishy* to *smell* you!
*Campers* are the best! I have *anticipation* and then what?
Better parties in *the middle* for sure.
When he said that part about "the middle", I started to feel strangely nervous. I couldn't have told you why -- these Orz, even if they were just the ravings of a lunatic, sounded like friendly creatures, always talking about "parties" -- but something about them made me nervous. And then he mentioned two more things the Orz had once said, and everything started to make sense to me:
Perhaps after the biggest *party* you will understanding the Orz
and I can showing you other *levels*.
There are so many, but you only *play* on this one.
One is not enough.
We are *friends* now. Never be afraid to *open* enough and *spread the wax*.
We are from *outside*. Also the Arilou *quick babies* are from *outside*.
It is the same, but not.
Orz are from *below*, Arilou are from *above*.
"Below"? "Above"? Suddenly the lever was pulled in my mind, and his mad ravings became crystal-clear sanity. Just last Sandstone, I spoke with a dwarf who brought fantastic tidings of an adamantine spire, apparently fallen to the ground from the heavens. Some called it a "space elevator," though how you can elevate space is beyond me. (A space is what's left when you've carved out the rock. It's empty, there's nothing to grab onto or lift!) This spire stretched up and up, far out of the sight of even the clearest-eyed dwarf, and seemed to have no end. Nobody knew its purpose, but it clearly had one. And now, this news of "Orz" and "Arilou" from a human.
I had first thought him to be a madman, of course, but now I am beginning to reconsider. What if the tales he told were true? These Orz claim to come from "below," and hold "parties" in "the middle" once you "open" enough. As a broker, I talk with many caravans and hear the news of the world -- and recently, there have been more and more fortresses destroyed under mysterious circumstances. Caravans that go there almost never return, and the few dwarfs who make it out, badly burned and mortally wounded, can never explain exactly what happened. All they can do is babble about "digging too deep"... but this phenomenon has struck fortresses both in the valleys and on top of mountain peaks, so it's clear that "too deep" is only part of it. And always, always, the last shipment before the fortress goes silent contains a rich vein of adamantine, which was found deep under the fort.
All is clear to me now. The Orz which the humans spoke of are the ones living "below" the earth. They taunt us with adamantine in the hopes that we will dig too deep, and somehow "open" ... something or other ... which allows them access to "the middle". Us. The brave and noble race of dwarves, who live in the middle of the earth. And from the condition in which they leave their victims, the Orz's idea of "parties" is nothing I want anything to do with.
Clearly, our entire race is in mortal peril, from enemies we know nothing about. Yet there may be a slender thread of hope. The Orz gave it away when they said that they are like the Arilou, yet unlike them: "it is the same, but not." Here, too, a strange race has used adamantine to get our attention. But they may be -- we can only hope that they are -- friendly towards us. And perhaps the term "space elevator" has another meaning. Perhaps that adamantine spire has a hollow space inside, wherein may be a staircase that will, perhaps, elevate me to the place where the Arilou control the stars. And perhaps I will be able to negotiate with them, to ask them to help us in our battle.
I do not like how often I have written the word "perhaps" just now. It is a very slender thread on which to hang all our hopes. Yet there is no choice. I must go, find these Arilou, and obtain their aid in order to save all dwarven civilization.
And you, you who have found this journal, and are reading these words: I lay a charge upon you. That you announce my findings far and wide, that all may know of the true purpose of this spire, this "space elevator", and how it is our only hope for survival against the enemies that lurk below us, hidden in the depths of the earth. And if I do not return within a year, another must be sent to follow me. And another, and another, until one of us succeeds. The thing must be accomplished, at any cost.
Enough. My gear is packed, and I am merely lingering over this journal in the hopes of delaying my departure another few minutes. For even if I should succeed, I will most likely never return. Farewell, Planetouched, o fairest of mountain homes.
Time to go.