Throngaar yawned and reached back as he stretched out until he was up on his toes. The sunshine was streaming through the narrow window to the outside world, and the dwarf smiled. It promised to be a good day. The thick, wavy glass pane in the window prevented him from hearing the birds chirping outside, but he knew they were there.
Next, he meticulously brushed the tangles from his long, reddish brown beard, put on his brown breeches and his favorite red shirt. He ran his fingers over the bright chainmail jerkin that hung in the corner of the room but didn't put it on.
"I won't be needing that today," he mumbled.
He didn't think he would need the chainmail, but he didn't think twice about putting his iron, conical helmet on his head! Before he opened the door to leave, he lifted his double edged war axe off the wall and lovingly stroked the polished steel and hefted the weight of it in his hands before hooking it through his wide leather belt. The last thing he did before going through the door was grab his round, wooden shield and crossbow that were leaning against the wall.
It wasn't too awfully long ago when he wouldn't have needed any of those things.
'But life is so much better now, ' he thought, stepping out into the sunshine.
He paused to breathe in the cool, fresh morning air. It was clean and it felt good in his lungs. He thought about how his chainmail and other items of war had been carefully maintained and handed down through the generations. So many of those generations had only hoped that one day they would become useful again.
'And now they are mine!' he thought. "And it is my fortune to be the one to put them to use once more!"
The dwarf reflected on the great change that had come over the world, and the more he thought about it, the bigger his grin became.
It had been nearly eight years since it happened, and already, many of the previous inhabitants of the earth have become more common place. Of course, dwarves have always been around, but there were others, also. The trolls are a good example. They were always around. The bigfolks just called them, Sasquatch, big foot or the yeti, but they were simply trolls. They've actually become quite common which was the reason Throngaar never went anywhere without his war axe and shield.
Sometimes fairies can be seen flitting in and out around the big beech trees, too, and, of course, it was quite common to encounter gnomes whenever one was walking through the meadows or woods. There were even a few reports of dragons about!
It was Gallard who had the stroke of genius that brought it all about. Between the pollution, urban sprawl, and overpopulation of the bigfolks, it was only a matter of time before all remnants of the old world was lost forever.
'Gallard, the great wizard, ' mused Throngaar. 'The bigfolks sure would have been surprised if they knew there was still a great wizard among them! There was more than one, too!'
The dwarf slowly shook his head back and forth as if he was lecturing an ignorant fool.
He thought of the secret conference of wizards that Gallard had called for. Not all of them came, but enough of them did. In all, there were three from Europe, two from Africa, two from North America, two from South America, one from Asia and one from Australia. Gallard was pleased. All of the major continents were represented. The great wizard, Chandra, from India was the only one of the powerful wizards to disagree, and though he disagreed and refused to attend, he wouldn't try to stand in the others' way either.
For Three weeks, the great ones discussed what was to be done. There were several ideas, and at first, the only thing they could agree on was that something had to be done. There was a lot of arguing, threats of abandoning the conference were heard, and even some threats against one another were shouted. The biggest argument against any plan that had a hope of working was over the loss of innocent life.
In the end, Gallard finally convinced the others that in order to save the whole, a portion must be lost.
"Besides," he argued, "it's only a matter of time before they annihilate themselves and destroy all of us and our way of life with them! It's better this way. At least, with our plan, everyone has a chance to survive the calamity that is sure to come."
Of the eleven gathered wizards, only Sherdain of North America remained unconvinced and departed the council. One against ten, it was not enough to stop the other ten from going through with the plan. Even if he could get Chandra to join him, it still wouldn't have been enough.
Two months later, the outbreak began. The disease began in South America and Asia at the same time, and it spread so fast and was so deadly that bigfolks had no way of controlling it. Six months later, their greatest cities were nearly empty. Their farms lay dormant, their factories were quiet and the nights were finally once again dark.
Those who managed to survive the disease banded together in tiny, scattered villages. At first, the stench from the unburied bodies kept the bigfolks from returning to the abandoned cities. Later, they were afraid to go to into them out of fear of catching the dreadful disease. Rumors began to spread that they were haunted and that dreadful creatures had moved into them and fed on the bodies and anyone who happened to venture into the dead cities.
The trickiest part of the plan was keeping the nuclear plants from going critical. The wizards worked hard and it took nearly all of their strength to direct the energy from the radioactive rods into space. The work exhausted them and it took many months for the wizards to regain their strength.
The bigfolks were quickly told of the wizards and what they had done. Laws prohibiting the use of any of the machines previously made by them were quickly declared. Laws prohibiting the making of any powered machines were made. Guns were outlawed as was electricity, and the only use that could be made of oil was as fuel for oil lamps. There would be no more gasoline.