Where the dead may eternal lie.
You're born, you live, and then you die. Too often, those who pass away are forgotten - lost in life's maelstrom. But here, the dead eternally shine across the pathway to the heavens.The Gildón capital city of Fyrneistur can be found nestled into the mountain ranges of Iskaldhal, far enough to the north that snow claims the surrounding land in a near-eternal blanket. Whilst the majority of the city is underground, some buildings are tall enough to breach the mountain's surface and have thus been termed the Candles. Of these, only one stretches even higher - well past the mountain's peak. It is Torag's Beacon, notable for being constructed from the strongest and most durable of stone that the Gildón people can find. Its architecture might not be fantastical or worthy of note were it not for the glimmering spiral of metals and gemstones that surround it, arching up into the heavens. This spiral is known as Memory's Pathway, and stands as a Gildón monument to the dead. It is said to lead souls directly to the halls of Pharasma in imitation of her own Spire, so that they might be judged, and to then ferry them to Torag for their eternal rest. In practice, it more stands as a solemn method of memorialising every dead citizen, and as a representation of the lasting strength of dwarven engineering.
Purpose / Function
The dwarven creation mythology suggests that all dwarves, be they common labourers or mighty kings, hail originally from the dirt as precious gemstones and metals. It is a facet of their creation held close to their hearts, particularly in the nation of Gildómar, and one they celebrate throughout life. But life is only ephemeral. When a dwarf of Gildómar passes away, it is said that they leave behind two corpses: one of flesh, and one of their ancestors' stone. This second corpse, often a gemstone or ingot, is not literally conjured from magic, but is forged or bought using their material possessions, and reflects the literal value they held in life (as well as their social caste under Gildón law). A blacksmith, for example, might have lived by the iron and lava flowing through his mighty forge, whilst a warrior would hold close the steel he used for battle. If they showed no particular attachment to any given stone or metal in life, it is derived from the social caste into which they were born. Non-dwarven citizens of Gildómar may choose a stone from their caste whilst they still live, though it is understood that their second corpse is purely symbolic. These stones, ingots, and other precious materials are not held by the family, nor are they left in boxes to burn with the corpse of flesh. Instead, a ceremony known as the Forging of Eternity is held in place of a standard funeral, during which the 'Corpse of Stone' is affixed into the pathway - either as part of the myriad metals binding it together, or as a glimmering stone shining as a star does in the sky.
The history of Gildómar hearkens back to the Era of the Divine, and Memory's Pathway has existed just as long. The oldest surviving areas of the Pathway are littered with glittering gemstones and fine ores, causing scholars to originally suggest that in those days, it was only the greatest of heroes and warriors that were commemorated for eternity along the pathway to Heaven.
It is not known what this 'Age of Champions' indicates, though some scholars posit that it could be related to the Unseeing and their vague prophecies of a future shrouded in darkness and war.
It was the recent discovery of the Durzhest Codex that changed this presumption. The book was found during an expedition into a series of abandoned tunnels leading off the Iceflow that predated both the Worldrend and the War of the Arcane, in a small chapel presumably used for the worship of Torag in that time. It explains that whilst the earliest sections were indeed paved with the 'heartstones' of the most heroic, this was not because the others were excluded. It was instead done to provide the common folk with protection and guidance on their way to Heaven, so that Torag's most powerful could shield them from daemonic influence. This new information has already caused King Mórekr Kolrûnduir to order the examination of the current Forging of Eternity ceremony to be certain that they are correctly consecrating their departed. Should it be found wanting, a ritual of apology to Torag will be performed and the ceremony permanently altered to better protect the dead.
"And so He reached down and separated Flesh from Stone to usher His flock to the Heavenly Forge in which He dwells, bestowing upon the righteous the Duty of protecting their Kin along the way. So it was that His guardians and champions lived forever in Memory, as did all of Dwarvenkind. So it shall always be, unto the Age of Champions decrees that the Pathway be used in Reverse..."