When the founders of the city arrived, dwarves drawn by the mineral wealth that exceeded anything they ever could have imagined in the Old Mines, their first delvings uncovered a massive beast. An elder wyrm of the kind no longer found in our world, it had set itself atop the vast veins of gold, silver, and still other unknown ores as one of his lesser kin might set themselves upon a stolen hoard of coin. But the dwarves, ever canny, sought to negotiate with this dragon, whose power they could not hope to defeat. Through flattery and guile, they reached an accord which would stand for millennia.

They acknowledged the great wyrm as their lord, and pledged to tie the city to his life force. If he ever perished, the subtle magicks and intricate engineering of that place would fail. There was thus no reason for them to kill him and every reason to protect him, though he never deigned to appear above the surface and simply appointed a Lord Regent to act in his stead. In return, the dwarves were allowed to mint their coins and sell their wares.

Over time, irritated by the continued growth of the city, the dragon retreated underground in tunnels of his own excavation. But by the time the new city, built by humans and the other quicker species, began to rise on the surface above the now-subterranean abode of the dwarves, the dragon was all but forgotten. The heads of the great dwarven houses regarded him as mere myth, the King Underground, and the Lord Regent had become a king in everything but name, a bauble that the nobles squabbled for amongst themselves.

However, as it always does, the corruption of the earth arose once more, bearing with it evil and chaos on wings of sulfur. As the Below ever sought to subvert and overthrow the Above, one of its reaching tendrils found the sleeping dragon deep beneath the city and invaded his dreams. Perhaps the Below does this with full knowledge of what the dragon’s corruption and death will bring on the surface. Perhaps it merely enjoys the sport.

But the time will soon come when the minor rumblings beneath the city, whispers of evil that are denied by the noble houses, will bear dangerous fruit for all that remain in what has become the greatest city the Above has ever known.

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