Notes on Dwarves
Notes: Very little of this is cast in stone (no pun intended). If anybody would like to provide input, let me know.
The world was born a savage place, from icy peaks to lakes of lava, and stalked by horrific beasts that endured only to kill. The crudeness of this world reflected the nascent abilities and control of the young gods. Untold eras passed as the gods learned to harness their power and enhance their creations. Eventually, one god, now known as the goddess Kyrell, created the first race of intelligent beings: the dwarves. Her intent was to see if a race of smaller, more intelligent beings could survive in the harsh environs of the world. An experiment as it were.
The first dwarves were born into the legendary Valley of Adjul. Ancient writings claim the lost valley to be a deep crevasse within an unknown mountain range. High mountain walls offered some protection to the fledgling race, while cold streams delivered clear water to the valley floor. Kyrell, perhaps as part of her experiment, perhaps out of some strange form of pity, brought various docile beasts into the mountains and valleys. The dwarves, savage and brutish at this time, learned to hunt these creatures for their survival, but every foray risked attracting the attention of the dangerous predators. Fortified by the meat of their prey, the dwarves soon learned to farm the land, build tools, and craft necessary items.
Eventually Adjul was no longer able to support the dwarven population. They needed room to expand if they were to continue their growth. The lands outside of the valley were simply too dangerous, so they turned to the only option available to them: the caves of the high mountain walls. It was into this time that Kogak ’ak Ryal, first of the Favored of Kyrell, was born. Possessed of a brilliant mind, the dwarves claim that he was the first Engineer. Kogak discovered many techniques to turn the ancient caves from crude holes into comfortable homes and experimented with different ways to bring light to the dark tunnels, allowing for the growth of various kinds of crops. These discoveries allowed the dwarven race to grow stronger and begin the first steps to mastering the crafts they are still famed for today.
Descent into the Depths
Perhaps the dwarves had grown too strong, too bold, and attracted the attention of the great predators of the mountains. Perhaps Kyrell wanted to change her experiment. Perhaps another god, jealous of her success, stepped in. Regardless of the reason, vicious attacks from the surrounding predators became the norm. The valley echoed with the screams of the dead and dying every day. Kogal ’ak Ryal, now an old man and the elder of the village, ordered his people into the caves, this time not just for the eve, but for good. The remaining dwarves collapsed the outermost tunnel entrances and turned their eyes to the deep caverns to sustain them.
The leadership of ’ak Ryal, and those Engineers who followed him, served the race well as they found, by necessity, better ways of hollowing out tunnels for their homes, utilizing the ore they found within the rich veins of the mountains, and farming foods and animals deep under the surface of the world. Generations passed and the dwarves became a true civilization. They learned to read, write, craft fine goods, conduct trade, legislate, and war. But they always did so with an eye to returning their people to the surface.
The Coming of the Engineers
Fear, famine, and darkness would have been the dwarven birthright had it not been for the followers of Kogal ’ak Ryal. They followed in his footsteps, learned his lessons and expanded upon them in order to aid their people in the dark times that followed their exodus from the valley. Over the ages the respect for these men changed into something akin to worship, the dwarves believing their wisdom came from Kyrell herself. The Engineers themselves began to believe that they held such power. Some acted as advisors, aiding their people when and where they could while others let the adulation control them, driving dwarven society for their own purposes.
Protected from the predators above ground, and able to control and misdirect those below, the dwarven civilization soon grew to the limits of the first cave system. The Engineers of that time, still few in number, began sending expeditions into the other cave systems seeking those that could be built into new homes. Once found, the cave systems needed to be cleared of the dangers that lived within. A new breed of warrior, the Rukalmi, rose to the task. To this day, membership in the Rukalmi is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a dwarven warrior.
Over untold centuries, dwarven civilization spread behind the mighty hammers and axes of the Rukalmi. Led by the Engineers, the dwarven people built ever larger underground fortress-cities. The cities formed as independent entities and grew to be ruled by powerful families, some aided by the Engineers, some controlled by them.
As dwarven society flourished underground, the super predators of the world above slowly died off. The dwarves tentatively returned to the surface, but found that the long centuries underground left them ill-equipped to live anywhere but the harshest mountain climes. Now they look down upon the world from their lofty perches, interacting with the other races from mountainside cities, but always keeping the underground fortresses ready of the gods were to change their minds again.
Much of dwarven history is lost to the so-called musts of time. The earliest compiled records, dated to 12 centuries before the rise of Mogrik ’ak Thrarulin, describe a small civilization divided into five small, but growing, settlements: Dursick, Thrafak, Khubog, Korolir, and Thrarulin. Each town was controlled by, and named for, a powerful family. These original families ultimately formed the basis of the Dwarven Confederation but at this time they were merely independent settlements with only a modicum of contact.
The five progenitor cities grew slowly over the next three centuries, expanding to fill their original caverns and stretching into surrounding spaces. Engineers trained in exploration sought out new caverns for settlement, questing for weeks or months to find suitable spaces. These new regions were ofttimes significant distances from the original settlements, adding decades to the amount of time needed to colonize and form the basic infrastructure of the new territories. The dwarves, however, are a stubborn and patient race. The underground civilization spread slowly through the pitch-black caverns. Some settlements were lost to underground catastrophes, some to predators, and some simply failed.
The Rise of Thrarulin
Mogrik ’ak Thrarulin was born in 186 BC (Before Confederation, 885BE) to the house and city of the same name. A scion of the ruling family, Mogrik seized every opportunity to educate himself in the history of his people. His dream of uniting the dwarven houses took root in his 15th year on an arduous trade journey through the dim caverns of his homeland. Fleeing in terror from the bloody attack of a monstrous predator, Mogrik and what remained of his entourage barely made the safety of Dursick. Mogrik, as others before him, recognized that the dwarves would never truly be free as long as each family buried themselves behind stone walls.
Mogrik took control of house Thrarulin on his 30th birthday, but the gears of his grand machination had begun to turn years before. He had built a large network of connections, bound to him and each other through the ties of trade and favors. Once upon the throne he strove to earn the trust of other families in the city, the craftsmen, the merchants, and, most importantly, the Engineers. That duty met, the city behind him, he reached out to his contacts and friends in the other cities, and late in the year 91 BC the first step of his final dream began: a stone was laid outside the ancient city walls – the first stone in a great road connecting the five major cities of dwarven civilization.
The Dwarven Confederation
The dream of Mogrik ak’ Thrarulin lived on past his death in 66 BC. Under his subtle, and not so subtle, manipulations roads had been built to each of the other major cities. Guard towers and way stations were erected at regular distances. Patrols, heavily armed and armored, controlled both the major routes and many of the minor ones. Finally, the knowledge of rune magic had been wrested from the control of the Engineers and turned to the betterment of the dwarven people.
Sixty-six years after his death, on the anniversary of his Naming Day, the five major cities of his people, as well as many of the smaller towns and settlements, signed the accord that would transform their lands from disparate city-states to a loosely coupled nation – The Confederation. Common laws were developed, pacts of aid and assistance signed, cultural exchanges made, and representation in the government decided. While not all dwarven enclaves were willing to sign the agreement, those that did would soon find themselves entering a new Golden Age.