Saturday, December 7, 2013

Morgath'ak-Lugash: The Iron Fist

As I mentioned in a previous post about the elves of planet Ore (the setting for the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign), iron is a very serious danger to the health and well-being of elves (as per the DCC RPG rules, but maybe with bigger, sharper teeth). As is the case with most societies, there are some elves who are "more equal than others." The elven nobility are largely unconcerned about their more pedestrian kinsmen, and are more than happy to let the lot of them (and their sickly, mutated children) go hang. Basically, the thinking of most elven nobles is that, if they can't afford the specialized clothing, filter masks, and treatments needed to avoid the worst effects of iron poisoning, then they shouldn't come to Ore. Ore is for their betters, and they should come, do their menial work, and then get themselves back through the portal to Elfland. Any talk about unequal treatment, or of the callousness of the nobility, is simply whining. After all, if they deserved better, then they should have been born properly.

Unfortunately, many of the lower-born elves left Elfland because they have no prospects there, either. There are no options for them but to toil in their menial trades, to serve the Court, and to go abroad to fight whomever the King sees fit for them to fight. They simply do not matter, and their suffering does not concern the elven nobility ever a little bit. Clearly, this gives rise to some resentment on the part of the lower-born (called lordak-mugh by the nobility, meaning "rust children"--and, yes, that sounds just as bad to a lower-born elf as the most virulently racist epithet one could utter). This resentment, in turn, has sparked a movement among the lower-born elves. This movement is called (in the old language of the Dominionist elves) Morgath'ak-Lugash, or "The Iron Fist."

Morgath'ak-Lugash has been simmering for a long while now. Mainly, it manifested itself in graffiti and acts of vandalism. Younger, lower-class elves have adopted symbols and slogans associated with it to appear consequential to their peers. However, the Iron Fist is no joke. It is led by a secret cabal of leaders, and has a hidden network of members, organized into cells to maintain their anonymity. Some of the leaders are powerful in their own right, but not from the nobility. Some exercise influence through criminal enterprises. Some are high-ranking members of artisans' guilds. Quietly, and so very carefully, the members of this cabal are conspiring against the elven nobility. Soon will come a time when their silence is no more. They will rise, and they will extract a bitter retribution for their suffering. The broad masses of lower-born elves may even support them, if they can provide a solution to the Iron Issue. Here's the thing though. There are rumors of a permanent cure for iron sensitivity. 

Should such a cure become broadly available, it would rock the very foundations of elven society on Ore (and perhaps even in Elfland), and upset the existing power structures. The nobility will not stand for that. They have their own league of troubleshooters to deal with Morgath'ak-Lugash, and they are on the hunt for those who would oppose them. There already have been... incidents. A young elf, known to be a member of criminal syndicate, was found recently, his limbs nailed to a tree in a public park. Iron nails, of course. He was gagged tightly to keep his screams from being heard, and his flesh carved with the slogan, "Thus, for all traitors to the King." From the state of his body, it seems as death must have been a very long time coming, and excruciatingly painful. This other organization has no name, at least not one that anyone knows, but it is known; and it is feared.

For those in the know, it has become quite obvious that there will be a confrontation in due time, and it will be bloody. The tinder is laid upon the hearth, and the kindling well-oiled. All it needs is a proper spark, and the fires of revolution will burn hot and spare none. Among the other races, only a few even have an inkling of what is happening among the elves. Even those who know (the Grand Vizier's spymaster is one such) have very little information, and are dismissive of its importance to the security of the realm. Morgath'ak-Lugash is no more than a collection of petty rabble, elvish trash who will get properly sorted out should they have the temerity to do more than gripe their wine shops and paint a few, pathetic slogans in the public squares. They are no real threat, of course, though they may cause some trouble for the elven nobility. Even so, reason the Grand Vizier's advisors, anything that keeps those high-born pricks busy and out of the affairs of men can only be a good thing. Right? So, they do not worry.

There are unfortunate facts about fire, though, that they should remember. Fire doesn't reason. Fire doesn't respect boundaries. Fire has no conscience. Fire simply burns. Left to its own devices, a well-laid fire that escapes its containment will burn everything in its path.