Built in the same series of caves that gave birth to the Burial Grounds, the Kobold Undercity remained a secret from the surface for hundreds of years.
The Norse people were not the first to find or use the caverns that became their burial chambers. Nor were they the first to set foot on that particular part of land. Unbeknownst to the Norse, a race of small, blue people originally settled in the land where the Norse built their first village, as well as the great city of Jordheim. These small, blue people were called Kobolds, and this is the story that the lore-keepers tell to those that seek out the history of the Kobolds in Midgard.
The origin of the Kobolds is shrouded in mystery. Those who ask the Gothi of Ymir would hear the fantastical tale in which Odin plucked maggots from the decaying body of Ymir and transformed them into Kobolds, Dwarves, and Trolls. Those who speak to the eldest of the Valkyn will hear another tale of long before even their ancestors' ancestors lived, when the Kobolds and Trolls looked more like the primitive Morvalt. Though their past remains a mystery, one thing is known for certain. The Kobolds first appeared on the island of Aegir, around the same time as the Trolls and Dwarves.
Upon their arrival, the Kobolds, Dwarves and Trolls struggled to survive in the wild lands of Aegir. The Kobolds built homes and villages only to have them destroyed by bands of raiding Morvaltar. They moved to the safety of nearby caves and dug into the earth to make their homes as the Trolls and Dwarves did, but still the Kobolds were assailed by Morvalt attacks. Fearing the destruction of his people, the leader of the Kobolds, Hallvaror, chose to leave the land of Aegir. They bought passage to a new land called Midgard upon Troll ships in hopes of a safer existence.
After a long journey, they found themselves ashore in the new lands. These lands, now known as the Vale of Mularn, promised to offer the Kobolds just the shelter they'd been hoping to find. In their first few days in this new wild territory, the Kobolds made up crude shelters and began to gather edible plants. They hunted the creatures of the land for food and started to make plans to build a new village where they hoped to live in safety and prosperity. Alas, just as they began the construction of the village, the weather turned. A freezing wind blew out of the north, alternatively driving icy rain and snow into the cracks in their makeshift shelters. Desperate to keep safe, the Kobolds set out to search for a drier, warmer place to sit out the winter.
It was to a young Kobold named Skolmir whom the others owed their gratitude, and their lives. While returning from a fruitless search for new shelter, Skolmir became lost in a blinding snowstorm. Fearful of the fierce wind and driving snow, Skolmir clung to some rocks to seek shelter. As he crouched down deep into the snow, he noticed a dark gap between two large rocks. With half-frozen fingers, he pushed and pulled at one of the rocks until it gave way, revealing an opening in the ground.
Carefully, Skolmir lowered himself into the opening and fell a few feet to a small ledge. Sheltered from the elements, he managed to light the small torch he carried with him. As the torch glowed and his eyes adjusted to the light, Skolmir knew he'd found the solution that he'd been searching for. A small cave opened up below the ledge. With great care he climbed down to explore the cave. After a quick look around, he discovered a tunnel leading deeper beneath the earth. Cautiously, he followed the tunnel as it wound through a series of small caves. He reached what he thought to be the last cave, and was just about to turn back when he discovered yet another small opening.
Skolmir squeezed through the tiny crevice and emerge into a vast cavern. Carefully, he set out to explore the vast space, and determined that it would be large enough to hold all the Kobolds waiting frozen in the makeshift shelters on the surface. In fact, this cavern offered ample room for thousands more than the number that had traveled from Aegir. Excited by his find, he explored further, circling the stalagmites that thrust up from the floor to touch the stalactites until he came to a large placid lake. As he drank the fresh icy-cold water, he knew he had found the place where his people could shelter for the winter. With a newfound hope for the survival of his people, Skolmir hurried back to entrance near the surface and waited out the storm.
As soon as the violent weather let up, Skolmir excitedly shared his discovery with the other Kobolds, whose shelter had actually only been a few paces from the cave's entrance. The Kobolds quickly moved themselves inside of the cavern, narrowly missing the next merciless storm that blew through the land. All winter long, Hallvaror, Skolmir and the others set about making plans for the great city they would build on the land above the caves. They found food in the strange mushrooms that grew there beneath the surface, and drank of the cave's cool, plentiful water.
When spring finally arrived, Hallvaror sent Skolmir to the surface to open the way for the others. The plans to build their city were complete, and all were anxious to get started. Skolmir rushed to push away the stone that hid the entrance, but stopped himself as he heard voices coming from outside. He waited to emerge from his hiding place until the voices faded. Then, crouching low amongst the rocks, Skolmir studied the strangers. Disheartened by these new arrivals, he returned to Hallvaror and the others waiting in the safety of the cave.
All the Kobolds listened intently as Skolmir told of the strangers above. He described them to be much taller than they, with pale skin rather than the blue. Their hair came in shades of yellow, white, brown, or black, and they spoke in a strange language. He explained that these new men showed him no aggression toward him as he watched them, but Hallvaror was still worried. After the experiences with the Morvaltar, he was not about to place his people in danger again.
Hallvaror quickly organized two groups. One was sent to the surface to watch for the tall, pale strangers. The other was sent tunnels adjoining the vast cavern in order to dig new tunnels to the surface. As soon as these new tunnels were complete and disguised from prying eyes, Hallvaror had the main entrance to the cavern blocked. He ordered his people to only venture to the surface when necessary, for their own safety.
For many years, the Kobolds lived underground in peace. The stalactites and stalagmites throughout the great cavern offered a unique foundation for their homes, shops, and meeting-places. The Undercity thrived, but not all the Kobolds were content to stay underground. Hallvaror reluctantly agreed to let them leave the Undercity, but he made them swear an oath that they would keep the city's location secret. When they came to the surface, Kobolds discovered that while they had been underground, the Dwarves built their settlements on the surface, and the Trolls had expanded their villages. Already friends of the Kobolds, these two groups helped them to extend their friendship to the tall people, who called themselves the Norse.
After a short while exploring the surface, the small group of kobolds returned to the Undercity to describe this new friendship to the others. When they heard of the lands above, they too wanted to leave. They appealed to Hallvaror, who knew he could not force them to stay. Instead, he warned that he would be sealing all but a few of the entrances to the Undercity. His utmost concern was for his people, and so he would do his best to guard the location from possible invasion by the other races. All seemed pleased with this decision except for a small group of Kobolds.
Led by a female kobold named Astrior, they pleaded with Hallvaror not to let the others go to the surface. Many of them had lost loved ones to the devastating attacks of the Morvaltar, and had little trust for outsiders. They feared that sealing the tunnels would not be enough. Worried that the Kobolds who left for the surface would reveal the location of the Undercity, they took their belongings and left. They journeyed deeper into the earth, down a rarely used tunnel, and began to build their new home, which they called Nyttheim.
Over the years, as Hallvaror and Skolmir grew old and died and line of their descendents ruled over the Undercity. Statues honoring Hallvaror and Skolmir were erected. Skolmir's statue was built at the entrance of the Undercity, a tribute to his discovery of their home in the great cavern. In the main part of the city, a statue to Hallvaror was erected in honor of his skilled leadership and brave decisions to keep them safe. The two main groups of Kobolds, those in the Undercity and those on the surface, maintained contact with each other for a long time after. Over time, though, the Undercity Kobolds became increasingly busier dealing with matters in their own city, and the contact between the two groups faded. Every now and then a group from the Undercity would travel to the surface to join the others, or those on the surface would return to the city.
The residents of Nyttheim also continued to maintain contact with the Undercity Kobolds. An outpost was built just outside of Nyttheim, for ease of traveling between there and the Undercity. Rarely, though, did they hear from each other. Eventually, those who fled into the depths of the earth faded from the memory of all other Kobolds.