A Game of Hands
A Foundation of Stone
This is the tale of the founding of Stonewall as told by an anonymous nomad.
There was once a time, before Steel and before even Iron, that we, the nomads of the Black Wastes, came to the plains. The food and shelter we lacked were plentiful in the shadow of the Living Mountains. It was a joyful coming after our sorrows. Of course, that which drove us here is another story.
We settled with food in our stomachs, water to quench our thirst, and mountains to give us shelter. It took time, but the mountain provided for us. As we mined for our stone houses, wanderers no more, we found something more precious.
We found iron.
Our tools were crude before that, and so we learned the art of forging from those who traversed the river. With iron came trade and prosperity, and we grew quickly then. The stone was rife with metals of all types, and we lacked for nothing. The once nomads now ruled a city of greed.
We, whose first laws were writ upon the stone that had gifted us this greatness, knew change was coming. It was felt in the land and in the stone. Thus began the Earthen War over the iron between the first nomads and those who sought it.
Those who came were unprepared for the weapons we wielded. However, we had mastered the secrets of iron and laid down the Iron Laws. Afterwards, the Iron wall was created to protect its residents, and artificers drew the laws on iron tablets for all to see.
The knowledge of the secret of iron spread like wildfire, and while many sought it, fewer learned it. For the secret was not of iron, but of knowing and understanding the metal. Through the understanding, much could be done that others did not understand. However, I am not an artificer to speak of how the knowing of things can bring it to life, but it is said that is what happened. The weapons they wielded ‘lived.’
Over the years, the secret of the living weapons founded an… order. The Machine Orthodoxy believes in coaxing the true potential out of the metal. In fact, it was they who discovered steel.
There were so many factions back in those days with nothing to keep them in check. It was one of the original chieftain’s great granddaughters that had the light to lead. The poor thing couldn’t see, but it never stopped her. With two of her best companions, pledged to her service at birth, Belarra rode the countryside.
It was by her hand, that the nation was born. That is, indeed, why we named it after her. Finally, she rode into town carrying steel tablets created by an artificer. She said these were to be our living laws, and all would be held to the steel by which they were written. Thus began the era of the Steel Laws, also known as the Living Law. The Lady was overseer of it all.
From chaos we were structured, and then we prospered once again. There was no one without purpose under the Steel Law, and Belarra herself strode out with her charges as the irrevocable Lady of Justice. To assist her, the artificers created a great set of guardians called the Judges.
Today, things are different. No disrespect to the Lady meant, but we haven’t seen her in years. Many believe that she’s dead and the noble houses now rule. It’s their Judges we see now, and the laws have become convoluted. Look on the Steel Tower and you’ll see the additions. None of the new laws have the look of the Living Steel.
It’s the noble’s laws that rule this city, and you have every right to be afraid. Tread lightly and speak softly for without an impartial overseer, the Judges have lost the true Way of Steel.