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A History of Dwarves
The Second Age (50,000 to 20,000 Years Ago)

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As the Arkati's rebuilding and influence upon the scorched earth faded, it would be the Elves who would rule much of the Lands, establishing influences over hill, valley, forest, glen, and even the ocean. And from this new beginning, the dwarves established a much smaller realm of influence, deep in the heart of what is now known as the DragonSpine Mountains, where they were free of the politics of the Elven Houses and the rulers they did not regard.

Deep within the UnderGrounds, the dwarves made their home in channels of hewn rock that had lain dormant for centuries - geological shifts, former underground rivers, melting glaciers and the like. The dwarves were blessed with a stout build that made travel in underground caverns simple compared to taller races, and a heartiness that soon came to match that of the solid rock that was now their home. The need to survive became the teacher, and soon the dwarves knew all the mysteries of the rocks that gave them shelter.

Dwarves will recount the tale of Gerthak Roramnoak, an old and tired lumberjack, who had wandered a bit too far to the east in his search for a new forest, and stumbled across a crew of Elven woodsmen hard at work felling trees and preparing lumber. Expecting to be attacked on sight, Gerthak wearily grabbed his well crafted mithril pickax and his hand-carved mithril shield and grunted his annoyance at having to battle when he'd much rather relax with an ale. Recognizing that Gerthak was no Elf, the woodcrafters spoke quietly in Common to this would-be intruder. Gerthak had been around enough to speak some of the Common tongue, and he realized they weren't going to kill him, just yet.

The Elves were immediately taken by the craftsmanship of the dwarf's gear: he was bedecked mostly in leather and mithril, with faceted gems adorning the joints of his armor, and the hilt of his axe. Gerthak had never put much thought to such matters - there were younger dwarves who had spent months crafting quite fancy garments. In fact, those who claimed to know Gerthak would say this was his least favorite outfit: after all, he was just going to cut trees, not meet his favorite lass for ale and laughter. It did not take the wise old dwarf very long to realize that the pointy-eared lumberjacks had never seen such things as the common stuff he bore.

Scanning the area, he saw wheelbarrows full of fel, modwir, and thanot lumber, already split and readied for use. The ancient tale ends with a very scantily clad Gerthak returning back to the mines with several carts of lumber and a wide grin upon his face. The twinkle in his eyes as he celebrated that eve suggested that this was just the beginning of a hearty trade venture between the dwarves and those of the lands above.

As the Elves above spread their domination westward, the DragonSpine would become a natural refuge for the dark beasts driven away from the civilized lands. These beasts, whether trolls, orcs, goblins, kobolds, or even more powerful creatures, soon came to find the vast tunnels and caverns that were occupied by the dwarves. It is believed that the dwarves were almost extinguished during their first 10,000 years underground. The orcs were a mighty foe: they had primitive instinct and well-adapted night-vision. They were the most intelligent of the dark beasts, and they grew lusty for the vast lands beneath the Elven cities (presumably to reclaim the lands that they had been driven from). They did not, however, anticipate the hearty spirit of the dwarves, or their ferocity. The dwarves' stature made them nimble in the narrow caverns, and their natural strength proved to be much more than an orc could manage alone. This did not stop the orcs from attempting to claim the tunnels, but it did limit their successes considerably.

This conflict would become the never-ending battle beneath the mountains. The orcs would gain minimal successes, on occasion, and drive the dwarves from an area of caverns. They would then create rough alcoves within the rock, no more than 10 feet high, with webs of tunnels from one alcove to the next. Orc caverns could be identified by their lack of shape, by the multiple passages in and out, but mostly by the foul stench and lack of any degree of civility. Carcass remains, feces, half-decayed corpses that have been stripped of anything of value: these were the things found deep within an orc's underground lair.

On the other hand, the dwarves grew quite skilled in their rock carving after years of practice. Towering pillars, intricate stairways hewn of stone, ornately curved niches and alcoves within the rock, and carefully planned tunnels from one series of caves to another - these were the markings of dwarven architecture. The best miners and artisans would proudly carve great statues to Eonak within the caverns of their family and kin. Among the varied styles, there was one aspect common amongst dwarven cavern sculpting - secret exits. The constant threat from orcs and other beasts seeking to take the great tunnels from the dwarves, created the necessity for hidden passageways that would lead to certain areas of safety - some deeper within the earth, and others to the lands above.

The deeper the dwarves explored the great UnderGrounds beneath the DragonSpine, the more they discovered. At first, they discovered the common metals, such as iron, silver, and gold. With the passage of time, the dwarves developed an uncanny vision for the subtlest variances in qualities of ore. They learned that some metals deep within the mountain had their own unique properties. The dwarves would experiment with these newly found metals, in jewelry, carvings, weaponry, armor, tools and more. Some of the wiser amongst the dwarves identified that some of these metals contained magic. Mithril was the first magic metal discovered beneath the mountain, given that name from the scholar's words for gray and brilliant, as the metal could be polished to a much greater shine than any other they found. And because of the magic within the metal, only certain of the most talented dwarves could work with it - they would come to be known as the Mithrenek Clan. For thousands of years, the secrets of mithril stayed within the Mithrenek Clan. Eventually, however, other clans and other races learned to handle the power of the magical metal. To this day, though, the finest mithril creations still come from the hands of a Mithrenek dwarf.

Despite the versatility of mithril, a need for other materials existed. Many other metals were found beneath the mountains, such as iron, gold and silver.

After thousands of years, the number of orcs grew to be quite troublesome underneath the vast DragonSpine Mountains. This was a time when the extinction of the dwarves was a real possibility - already several families in remote mines had been lost to the invading beasts. There grew a need for the dwarves to communicate with each other across miles of rock deep within the earth, as many battles were lost because those in the deepest mines could not be warned or called in time.

It was Khazi Khazar, shortly after the loss of his mother and father to orcs, who crafted two things that would change the life underground forever. He forged an iron bell and a steel horn, both twice the size of the average dwarf. Each day, before the dwarves arose from their slumber to set about their daily tasks, he would ring this huge bell and all those within all the caverns would be awakened by its tone. As to signal those who traveled above (trading, chopping lumber, and hunting for food) to return from their day's journey, he would climb up the granite stair and sound the steel horn. This signified the time to gather and rest. In gathering together in great numbers in the halls of Kalaza, the dwarves were safe from loss to invasion.

For this seemingly simple idea, the dwarves named Khazi their first Dwarven Overking, rewarding his good sense and concern. Soon, horns and bells were used throughout the UnderGrounds to signify safety, arrival, and departure. Three blasts from the horn meant danger, and three strikes of the bells would answer the call to arms. Always, a single blast from the horn or a single strike from the bell meant that all was safe to return home. And although the dwarven clans were spread throughout much of the DragonSpine range, it was the simple brilliance of Khazi Khazar that kept the dwarves ultimately unified as a race.

There was need for lumber to fortify the mines as they were carved deeper. Many a fine pickaxe would be made from a hilt of the finest wood available. Some dwarves did not mind too much traveling above to the forests and procuring assorted lumbers. Others would take their newly forged weapons and hunt the wild beasts in the forest. It was the way of things, an evolution, as the dwarves developed into an advanced culture. However, it was these traveling dwarves that would create a market for trade, and open the door for great wealth amongst this race.

Over time, the dwarves learned which metals had more value to the other races, and they learned to craft beautiful pieces using the diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other gems that were found deep within the mines. The best finds, of course, they kept for themselves, crafting absolutely stunning family heirloom pieces, in the form of armor, weapons, trinkets and of course, drinking steins. And, by the nature of trade, two things came to pass: One, is that the dwarves found a way to survive by performing the craft they preferred and at which they excelled; and two, other races came to know of previously unknown magic metals and precious gems from the depths of the DragonSpine. Using this knowledge, the dwarves mapped the material resources within the DragonSpine, and the clans began to specialize in working with the ores and gems that were found in their location. The clans already existed, as families, back to the founding of the race. But over time, the location of the familial caverns began to influence their work. Each clan increased its skill in mining and crafting the local ores, and their knowledge grew beyond compare. They taught their art to their children over the generations in the UnderGrounds, and while all dwarves had certain basic skills, these "family specialties" evolved into the defining characteristics of each bloodline.

Under the constant threat of attack from the orcs under the Earth, some clans of dwarves focused on the secrets of the forge, creating weapons and armor of far greater strength and durability than that which had been previously known. Their skills in the forge, and with weapon and armor mastery, made them the most skilled of all the races in Elanthia in such matters.

Thus, Kalaza grew. It started as the simple central location to the vast tunnels of mines throughout the Mountain. A few clans were actually quite skilled with the crafting of lumber and ore together, and they began to create simple buildings under the guidance of their Dwarven Overking, Khazi Khazar, to facilitate the trading of silvers, gems, ores, weapons and armor from one clan to the next. (The dwarves who possessed this skill of construction would later fall under the leadership of the Ragnak Clan.)

Another cavern was created within the earth, where the dwarves would gather to both share stories of the day's events (and strange things found), as well as to offer protection in the case of an orc invasion. The great hall of Kalaza was said to be 15 dwarves in height, with pillars so wide, it took six dwarves to reach around the circumference. And, so it was for centuries ... the dwarves amassing great wealth and riches and developing their brotherhood deep within the earth, while the Elves fought and bickered amongst themselves upon the topside.




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