The Dwarves of the Mountains

What can I say of the Dwarves? They are as hard as the Stone they revere. Their civilization has outlasted every one of ours, and yet it has remained steadfast in the face of progress. The biggest change in their culture was when they were kicked out of Underhome by the Dark Elves – and does that count if they were forced? But you cannot deny that they have a fantastic standard of quality, something that only an entity that can live as long as the stones could attain. Even the weakest of their Holds could outlast the strongest of our fortresses…several times over.

– Grand Mason Marcus of Veisshaupt, when asked to frankly describe his opinion of Dwarven masonry. He was promptly fired and Valkahar Kal-Urditz was hired. The Keep of Veisshaupt still stands. Six hundred years later.

dwarf-borderYou know the look. Just as tall as they are wide. A cold face, with a wide nose and an even wider mouth. Tiny beady eyes, usually gray or a dark blue. And a beard that just flows over them, practically covering their entire body. Unless they are a woman…which in that case you don’t mention the beard. You are better off for it.

They are the Dwarves, the Rulers of the Mountains, and at one point no one thought that they could be moved. They were like the mountains, unmovable, implacable, stubborn and utterly determined to go their way. And then there was the War of the Gate, and Underhome was lost to the Dark Elves. For the first time in all of their histories – a history that is regimentally, thoroughly catalogued, documented and indexed – the Dwarves moved. The Earthsunken people moved.

It was unthinkable. It should have been impossible. It should have been easier to dismantle the heavens strand by strand. And yet it happened. Now the Dwarves live in the aftermath of this event.

If you want to understand the Dwarves, you need to start with how damn perfect they are. No, they are not perfect. But you might as well think that, because then at least you can understand why they have such astronomical standards. There have been five Humans that have been praised by a Dwarf. And three of them were postmortem hundreds of years after the fact. “It’s good enough…for a human.” Get used to that phrase.

The only thing good enough for a Dwarf is something a Dwarf has made himself.

The work of a Dward is his immortality. He will be known by his accomplishments. So what he makes must be, under no circumstances, be anything less than excellent. Even just a slither short will mock his name as he sleeps in stone. An unacceptable outcome.

It is unacceptable not just because it mires your name in shame, but also because it will shame your family. They supported you just so that you could produce unremarkable filth? How low they must be! How undeserving of renown they have to be.

The family name of a Dwarf is important – so much that you almost never refer to a Dwarf by their family name. You keep on saying a name it becomes worn out, common place, unremarkable. You hold onto that name, you savor it, for moments that are truly precious. But being in a family means you have responsibilities. You need to bring glory to your family. You have to prove to the other Dwarves that your family has value and respect worth showing. That is why every sibling has another name added to them depending on the order they were born in. It is shows how much weight they have to carry. That much more they need to prove to all the other Dwarves that they deserve respect.

A Dwarf could work himself to death earning respect. And it would be a good death too. Few deaths could be better.

Despite how important their history and ancestry is to the Earthsunken People, they do not have a clear concept of their origins. There is a certain point in their history that just…begins. Not with creation, but with the muttering of a frustrated Dwarven aristocrat, moaning about how nothing seemed to go his way.

There is a certain irony to that.

The Elves insist that there was a time when there were no Dwarves. If the Elves were to be believed – and to be frank, there are certainly reasons why they should not – the Dwarves emerged from the East, just like the Humans. The difference was they arrived by tunnels and not by ship.

If there is any truth to that…then why did they leave? That is if there is any truth to that.