The Nine Worlds
There are those who feel something all their lives, some profound and unexplainable compulsion drawing their gaze toward the horizon, toward half seen peeks in the far distance. Set on their path by the need to see, to know, to prove themselves, they find their steps leading them into windswept and barren lands far from their people; into the shadows of cloud peaked mountains and the rich wild depths of ancient forests. There, in those twilight lands on the edge of our world, they find beauty and wonder in kind with horrors unimaginable, the rich detritus of past ages clutched tight in the grasp of things that should not be.
And yet, for all they have seen, for all that they do, many of those called to such places are soon forgotten by the world at large, lost to history. Some few return with their spoils, their memories, haunted figures ruling their fellows as kings and tyrants. Some sacrifice their humanity, becoming a part of the twilight world at the edges of our own, monsters with the minds of men. The truest, those who feel the call most strongly, simply vanish once more, drawn to farther shores and deeper shadows from which they never return.
Only the long lived folk, Dvergar and Alfar, keep their memory, carving great monuments to honor them or recounting their tales in quiet voices, tales of those born in brighter lands and better days but drawn deep into the depths of the earth, to its high peaks, to its dark and shadowed flanks for centuries beyond measure. Those monuments, these tales, are all that remain of their memory, lives and deeds recorded in lichen-draped Dvergr stone and Alfr song.