Whenever someone feels hopeless on Tomarev, they often blame it on the machinations of Vul’Gummond, The Bottomless Pit, the deity of despair, traps, and hopelessness. Some particularly vengeful individuals may also pray to Vul’Gummond to drive their rivals into despair, and render them rivals no longer, but ever defeated adversaries. Some pray to him to relieve them of their depression. The pit of hopelessness and despair is easy enough to fall into, harder to get out of, and at some point in the eternal fall, impossible to escape. Vul’Gummond was one such soul who consumed so much of the energy around him, that through his misery he eventually freed the dwarves, and stands today as an icon reminding us where we come from, and how despair is cause to look inwards. He is also viewed as a symbol for those who needed someone or something to blame, often finding their way into the pit, before finding their way out. He is one such soul, who never found his way out. This is his story.
Volgamon was one of the earliest dwarves to be loosed to the realm known as The Lightless Hollow. You see, is it thought that the dwarves were created, woven from the tough muscled flesh of all manner of horrid vile creatures, and given half a mind, as to only serve their creator and master. They were born of a design conceived of by Markaneer the Manipulator, and wrought into existence by Baelthaz the Fleshcarver. It is said that they were forced into a mindless slavery for thousands upon thousands of years, ordered to construct Dakkarithoriax, the greatest of Markaneer’s plans.
After their great task was finished, Dakkarithoriax began feasting upon them. Some combination of this imbalanced repayment, along with the thousands of years they spent learning to speak to one another, and to think, gave some of the dwarves hope, and they longed to escape the depths of Nefaria, where they were created and lived in total darkness.
Baelthaz, terrified of rebuke, but too simple to know more than that he did not want his creations destroyed, gave those that could think some simple tools, hammers, and picks. The Dwarves knew of a mine that lead upwards into blackened mountains, where they gathered much of the material to construct the great evil. Through the mine, they dug upwards, believing that somewhere above this endless darkness, must shine some light.
Volgamon was no leader, but he was one of the oldest dwarves, and believed himself to want to escape more than anyone else. He was the most confident, the most brave, the most skilled, but he was also the most afraid of losing hope. Fear and hope you see, are like the fox and the hen. The hen yields the promise of eggs, feathers, and a meal in the most dire moments, but it is that fox that keeps the hen moving. The fox that inspires the hen to want to live, and the fox that inspires us to want to protect the hen. Fear drives hope more than anything else, but if fear grows too strong or too quick, hope is lost.
They managed to break through, but it was not as they had dreamed. There was no shining sun, not that they had any word for it at the time. They simply called it eternity. For down in the depths of Nefaria, the only future they had was a short, painful obliteration. Somewhere else, there was eternity for them, and they longed for it desperately.
When they broke through, they found themselves in an equally blackened gorge, chasm walls rising up around them, jagged cliffs on either side and a seemingly endless canyon floor leading forward and back. Volgamon cursed and swore, but rallied everyone to keep moving. Others whispered and a few broke off to travel the opposite direction down the gorge, but they were never seen nor heard from again.
The dwarves sought light, freedom from the darkness, and a chance at life, their own ‘eternity’ as they called it. They traveled for as long as they could, but they grew weary. They had not food nor water, perhaps ever in their lives. In Nefaria, they had subsisted on the shreds of energy provided by Baelthaz, only such that they could keep working forever.
They now found themselves in a place they did not know, now called The Lightless Hollow. An equally evil realm that lies just above Nefaria, that consists of immensely deep and steep gorges, caverns, various series of twisting and winding, near labyrinthine tunnels. They did not yet know that hope was not to be found here, and so they pressed onward.
They began to discover small insects, worms, snakes, spiders, and all manner of small critters that thrive in such dark and abandoned places. They found mushrooms and other fungi, small tough gray carrot-like vegetables, and other forage-able edibles to sustain themselves. Still, they could not persist. Each day they grew more and more hopeless, wondering if perhaps they had made the wrong choice. Volgamon assured them that there could be no fate worse than the complete destruction of who they were, and if they could get out, the other realms of the universe would know of their story, would know of Markaneer and Dakkarithoriax’s evil, and would know how the proud dwarves came to be. And so they pressed on.
After a time, no one knows how long, of wandering through the dark, seeking tunnels that lead upwards only to have them lead to dead ends, form loops, or seem to never rise but run level to the great flat floor of the chasms far below, even Volgamon began to doubt himself.
Legends say that he rarely slept, and often slunk forward alone into the dark to scout ahead to see if the path they took led to a dead end. People respected him, and they took from him hope, perhaps the fear that he warded off of them led them to draw hope not from themselves but from him, and it began to take its toll.
He began to feel the tendrils of doubt and despair inch their way into his mind. Would they ever find a way out? Had he led them all this way for nothing? Would all these people die? Was this uncertainty, this despair, truly better than death? Yes. He reassured himself. Yes, to suffer and never know what lies ahead, to feel hopeless is better than to feel nothing he tried to convince himself. Though he watched day after day as more dwarven people began to walk a little slower, to talk a little less, and finally the day came when one lone dwarf, simply sat down as everyone else carried on.
Volgamon asked the lone dwarf, “What are you doing? Surely whatever lies ahead is better than sitting here to die alone. Have hope brother.”
The dwarf simply replied, “I cannot hope for anything but death any longer. There is nothing to hope for. There is nothing here. We are nothing.”
Volgamon pounded his fists against a nearby cave wall, he felt the tears rush to his eyes, though he could not make them fall. Had he lost even the ability to be sad? What numbness was this? An absence of hope, a depression, grew rapidly within him. He could not sit here for days to convince this dwarf to come along, nor could he allow the others to sit and wait for despair to claim their hearts. It had claimed his own, and there was no other way but to press on without hope. He would not drag others into his mire, and bid for everyone to gather with the lone dwarf, and to keep hope in their hearts.
He said that he was going forward, going up, alone. Everyone would need to find a new source of hope, for he was no longer it. As he marched off towards a large gorge, people followed him to the edge, and along the gorge to the first tall wall they hit. The lone dwarf who had begun to despair, struck with his own fear now, found hope in the others he spoke to. They all began to doubt Volgamon’s errand, and feared to be leaderless and aimless within the dark and winding hollow.
Volgamon took for himself a pair of picks and whatever else he could carry, and begun his ascent, attempting the most direct route upwards and out, so he thought. The dwarvish people sat and waited, and it was not long before he was out of view, and all they could hear was the clanging and crunching of his tools in the rock, until after a time, they heard not even that.
They sat and waited, and despair began to strike them all. Some tried their best to keep spirits up, but in time, the contagion of hopelessness found its way to each of them. Spreading like a pestilence, the dwarves grew silent, somber, and sunken. They were near to starving, and the lone dwarf who days earlier sat alone finally broke the silence by speaking, “I now fear for another, more than I do for myself.”
The dwarves were stirred into conversation, shifting their focus from themselves to that of Volgamon, the dwarf who went off in search of salvation for all of them. Fear for another, is what fostered their hope that day. The fox that was gnawing on their own bodies, began to hunt a different, more lively hen.
Volgamon climbed the tremendous wall for longer than anyone knows. It is unknown how he managed to rest, if he did at all. Some say that he found purchase on small outward jutting shelves of rock, some say with one pick he held onto the wall, while with another he dug himself a small outcropping upon which to sit for a moment and gaze down into the blackness. He had no hope remaining. He had nothing left to fear. He would either succeed or fail. There was nothing to wish for, he knew no gods to offer prayers to though he wondered for a moment on the subject. He was no longer a hen, but a skeleton, and the fox was not concerned with him. He could find the way, if for no other reason that there was no other possible outcome.
He climbed until he came to a great stalactite, perhaps a hundred feet in diameter at the top where it joined the cave ceiling, and several hundred long from top to bottom, though at the time he could not see where it joined the ceiling. With a tremendous leap, legs and heart so numb he could not know if it was painful or not, he crossed the distance from the wall to the great down-facing spire, and began to climb it. After what felt like only minutes to him now, he arrived where the great rock met the ceiling, swung with pick, only to hear a crack, not of stone, but of metal, and he watched, all light leaving his eyes, as the tip of his pick fell silently into the darkness below.
The dwarves who waited now in quiet idle chatter, conserving energy as much as they could, looked down into the gorge below upon hearing a small clattering sound. They began to speak again, wondering if some creature had found its way to them, or if perhaps Volgamon had fallen from such a height.
Then they heard a great rupturing, a cracking as if the very caverns around them would collapse, and from on high, they saw the first cracks of a dim orange light. This light was barely a light at all, nothing more than that of a single candle, seen in a far off field from a tall tower, but it was more than they had ever seen in their entire centuries long lives. It grew from a fraction of a sliver, to that of a dot seen from their perspective, and the sound of great rushing winds erupted past them as an immense stalactite ruptured from the ceiling, fell into the chasm beside them and broke through even the ground below, falling endlessly farther down into eternal darkness. None would see the last shreds of Volgamon grasping to the great stone spearpoint as it fell, piercing the very realms with the weight of his experience, and embodying his spirit as the very pit created between the realms, and in the hearts of those would would despair everywhere.
The dwarves climbed with renewed vigor up the path that Volgamon had blazed, hoping so much to see him at the top, outside the great hole now opened like a portal to another world, and a new life. When they arrived however, Volgamon was nowhere to be seen, and they accurately suspected that he fell with the stalactite.
That is the legend that is passed down. Hopelessness is what freed them in the end. The tremendous rupturing they heard overhead was said to be the sound of Volgamon’s heart and spirit finally breaking in completion. An endless pit, is where he had found himself in life, and with no one and nothing around him at the end to supply him with hope, a bottomless pit is where he has found himself in death. His final ruin acting as a portal between the realms of The Shade, The Lightless Hollow, and Nefaria, where the dwarves pray that his Spire of Hopelessness at least laid a conquering waste to the deities of death that lay below.
Through the ages, language and history have told their own version of his story, though in present day Ados, upon the continent of Tomarev, he is known as Vul’Gummond, the Bottomless Pit, God of The Lightless Hollow, and of Traps, Caves, and Hopelessness.