Mraent Cavern is located deep within the dwarven town of Zul Logoth.
Wonders of Elanthia Historical Discussions
This story is told by Harja the Dwarf Scholar.
"I will tell you the origins of the Mraent Caverns. Imagine if you will, five dwarves sitting around a bar in Zul Logoth after just being laid off from their jobs. Three were old friends from back in mining school, and the others were children of a dead classmate. Wallowing in self-pity and ale, they got to talking about what was wrong with the world today, and their number one answer was... Elves. Their main issue with elves was that they just didn't get it. They weren't content with the world as it comes to them... no, it's always all about the elves and what they make of the world. So an elf isn't smart enough to leave well enough alone and enjoy caves and caverns, no... they have to quarry stone and pile it high above ground, where everyone can see what they've done. They're showoffs, but even more so, they're disrespectful and arrogant in the extreme. Especially the two younger dwarves felt particularly keen about an ethical issue -- what they saw as "dwarven values," respect for earth and stone as it's found. It was very important to them. But where some would have seen a problem, they saw an opportunity. Someone kiddingly said that if the elves were so bent on piling rocks up over their heads, why shouldn't dwarves be the ones to supply it, and make a few coins off the situation? They discussed the matter, noting that the Elven nations were not open to the dwarf trade, but they agreed that there was more than one way to shave a beard, and they weren't the dwarves who would give up without a fight. So, they formed a limited partnership under the name "Mraent," a subtle reference to the dwarven phrase, "Mor Asch Dzarent," which translates into something like "laughing at the folly of elves," though this hardly conveys the scorn in the original. The partners sought out the most promising granite fields within easy distance of Zul Logoth and the transport tunnels to Zhindel's Post. They settled on a lightly explored area out the Emerald Tunnel that had shown promise. Several different colors of high-quality granite had been found in a surprisingly small geographical area. They laid claim to the area and, with their clan leader's blessing and support, began their work."
"The operation began slowly, with a broadening of the access tunnels that were dug by the exploration team ages ago. Their first piece of business was to excavate a small lodge for our comfort, so that they would not need to return to Zul Logoth between every shift. The digging was successful from the start. Granite is a beautiful stone in its own right, but its gemstone inclusions vary from quartz and mica, two of the components of granite, to more valuable tourmalines, topaz, beryl, and garnets to the truly magnificent emeralds. In time, they explored the various granite fields, identifying large quantities of the standard hues -- grey, black, white, the more rare red, and the truly rare greens and browns. The younger dwarves insisted that the company not merely mine the caverns, but reveal through the stonecutting the natural beauty of the stone."
"The Birth of Granite" represents the dwarves' best guess about how granite was formed by combining the three minerals into a sum that is greater, stronger, and more beautiful than its parts. The Birth of Granite can still be viewed within the caverns for those interested. As soon as the dwarves began to dig into natural cavern space, they encountered the albino scorpions. These creatures were ubiquitous, and before the coming of the dwarves, they probably had lived off the sightless fish in the nearby pool. They did prove quite dangerous for the unguarded miner whose mind was focused on his work, however. As a result, armed guards were hired from the ranks of the Zul Logoth militia, and these dwarves did an excellent job of keeping the population down to the point where the miners could operate."
Before long, the dwarves encountered the krynch. At first, they noticed only a vague feeling of being observed -- then, some reported noticing ripple effects in the granite, almost as if the stone were liquid and moving. Eventually, the dwarves came upon krynch exploring their tunnels, paying particular attention to the tools that were left about. When they saw the dwarves, they immediately melted into the floor of the tunnel, leaving the dwarves blinking their eyes and wondering just what the odd creatures were. The dwarves didn't know what to make of the krynch, but there seemed to be little ill feeling at first. They noticed that the krynch appeared at their diggings almost daily, taking note of how much progress the dwarves were making. They seemed curious rather than hostile, and the younger dwarves especially were quite curious in return."
"They began to narrate their work, almost like parents do with children, in order to attempt to communicate with the creatures. They gave the creatures the name "Krynch" as an onomatopoetic representation of the sound they made when popping from the walls, but also to describe the way they scrunched themselves into balls for speedy movement down the dwarf-cut tunnels. The dwarves soon determined that the krynch were lesser elementals of stone, and since their intentions seemed not inimical, the miners directed their guards not to harm the krynch under any circumstances. As the dwarves dug further, though, and especially as they dug deeper, the krynch began to show more and more distress. They began to appear in greater numbers, and at times, they seemed to block access to particular fields of granite with their bodies. Unsure of what they were seeing, the younger dwarves, especially, spent much time explaining to the krynch their ideas about what the dwarves were doing, and why, and how it manifested a deep love for the granite -- a feeling that, presumably, the krynch shared. The other dwarves thought they were balmy, and the guards thought they were just plain nuts."
"In time, the dwarves discovered the underground river and the spiral waterway that leads to the pool below. They began carving the waterfall quarry, but the krynch seemed unwilling to allow them there, and for the first time, krynch moved physically against the dwarves. They attacked their tools when the dwarves were on break, leaving hundreds of picks, shovels, pails, and tracks in slivers. Sometime later, the krynch ripped the rails of the cartway from the stone floor and pierced a statue of the clan leader, crafted by order from one of his relatives, with the rails, signifying a growing hostility and sense of threat. The dwarves began to avoid the krynch, and all attempts to communicate with them ceased as the stress levels grew. In addition to granite, the Mraent Lode contained two other materials. Please note that both of which are different geological formations of granite's component minerals: gneiss, which is granite under high pressure, and schist which is a loose and powdery form. When the dwarves penetrated from the Garnet Mine into the layer of schist below, the krynch attacked and killed two miners before their guards had a chance to defend them. They were buried with great ceremony beneath a blood red marble slab in the Stonecutters' lodge. The three remaining stonecutters and their apprentices met in the lodge to discuss their options. There was a heated debate between the two brothers about how best to proceed: one felt that they needed to honor the will of the krynch, who were the rightful owners of the stone; the other felt the need to honor their dead colleagues and continue progress in the mine. The one remaining elder dwarf could not choose, torn as he was between fear of the krynch and prideful refusal to back down from a chosen path. They agreed to remain in the cutter lodge until a clearer answer presented itself."
"The brother who advocated continuing to mine snuck down into the schist, and stealthily pushed the tunnel farther until he reached the shore of the underground lake, fed on the other side by the waterfall quarry's river. Embedded in the schist near the wall was a gem unlike any the dwarf had seen before. In awe, he returned to the lodge to discuss his discovery with his mates. A huge argument ensued, with the other brother focused on the question of whether the krynch had discovered his return to the schist tunnel. There had been no sign of the krynch, but a tremendous screech of breaking metal and shattering stone suddenly suggested that the krynch were now aware of the dwarves' discovery of the stone."
"The guards, curious about the gem and its possible value, determined to head out to the schist tunnel and see it for themselves. Armed to the teeth, they made their way through the tunnels, slaughtering the krynch who were now moving against them with open hostility. A few of the guards were injured, but all made it to the gem alive. They were overwhelmed with the beauty of the gem, which seemed to pulse with an unnatural light as hues of red, yellow, and orange swirl within the stone. When one of the dwarves dared to reach out and touch the stone, the krynch emerged in endless waves, rolling into balls and knocking the dwarves down. Many of the guards were killed, but two -- including the one holding the enormous gem - made it alive back through the trapdoor. They sprinted through the tunnels, out of the mine, and made it safely back to Zul Logoth, but they disappeared and were never heard from again. The gem was never seen again. Seeing the two guards flee past the lodge, the three remaining dwarves acted each according to his nature: the elder pulled out the lodge's logbook and began writing a final entry, discussing his determination to leave the mine when he finished. The brother who was more interested in the krynch and their rights wanted to see the niche where the gem was, in the hopes that he could figure out why the krynch were so disturbed by its removal, after the dwarves had removed so many gems from other places. He armed himself in armor, purely for defense, as his brother called him a rank fool."
Harja angrily exclaims, "You'll die, for sure, you idiot!"
Harja deeply exclaims, "I'm the idiot? This is all your fault, and I'm determined to do what I can to fix it!"
Harja angrily exclaims, "Fix it? Fix the krynch? The only thing that will fix them is a good bolt of lightning! If you go out there, you're sure to die!"
Harja deeply says, "I'd rather die than live in shame, and I'm heartily ashamed of what we've done here."
Harja angrily exclaims, "If you die, I'll leave you rot where you lie!"
Harja deeply says, "If I die, I'll proudly remain, so the krynch know where my loyalties lay."
"Unable to answer what each saw in the other as rank madness, the brothers parted in anger. The one headed down into the schist, where he had enough time to see the krynch gathered in mourning around the missing gem, and then to pull the roof of the schist tunnel down, preventing any further exploration of the site, before he was killed by the krynch. His brother found him, heard his story, and managed to escape back to the stonecutter lodge to find the older dwarf dead in the ruins of the lodge along with all of the apprentice diggers. The brother escaped to Zul Logoth, and led a party of armored dwarved to remove the dead -- with the exception of his brother, who lay at his own request forevermore in the tunnel. He spent a great deal of time around Zul Logoth trying to track down the guards who escaped with the gemstone, but eventually left with no hope of ever tracking them down. The End."
"I encourage all of you to explore the caverns. Much of those dwarves' works are still there. One intriguing fact about that site is that it seems that the krynch are constantly putting smaller gemstones into the niche that one held the larger one. If you stay long enough, you may see a krynch do so."