Dwarves

Of all those who are part of the Barbarous Hinterlands, this people are the most civilized. Many of their towns and cities have Thon temples and most dwarves speak Aerine with a tolerable accent.

The dwarves with whom I am concerned live in the GloomRim Mountains, bordering the Crescent Lands. They are a short, stocky race prone to drinking, gambling and fighting. They make doughty fighters, good traveling companions, and tolerable gamblers. I have always looked on them in an avuncular fashion as errant, if essentially good natured, children. They can be hardworking, industrious, and even efficient (which is a sign of Thon's blessings). People of this race are the preeminent miners and stonemasons. They are also clever in the workings of metals, making the finest iron and steel, fine-edged weapons, sturdy armor, and vigorous ornamentation.

The largest city of the dwarves is Monarch of the Mines. It is placed in a fortified valley at the intersection of the Eastern and Western passes. Both passes have dwarven watchtowers built along their lengths at one day intervals. The towers are usually garrisoned by a patrol of a dozen soldiers. Travelers may camp at the base of the watchtowers, and many inns are built under the protective shadows of these structures.

Two great sixty foot high curtain walls close off each end of the steep-walled Qxur'Mar1 valley, in which Monarch of the Mines is situated. Built with great cunning, these walls are as smooth as an Emer priest's tongue. A pair of great steel doors cast with imaginative, if untutored, bas reliefs allow entrance.

Monarch of the Mines is a city of around 5,000, and, while this population is greatly decreased from the height of dwarven power, the populace still continues to expand the city's underground levels for the shear joy of mining. There are two areas for living and trading in Monarch of the Mines: an above ground gathering of buildings, temples, guilds, shops etc. which are primarily for the benefit of claustrophobic foreigners (and has the effect of segregating aliens from the majority of the population), and underground level which stretch deep below the surface and hold whole cities of exquisite stone work, examples of delving, fungal gardens, statuary etc.

In the great sub-surface cities of Monarch of the Mines, the flame tongued smithies, armor shops, weapons and jewelry artisans of the dwarves reside. While the humans of the Crescent Lands have in recent years become quite adept at working in metals, including iron and steel, their craftsmanship and skill is but a pale shadow of the dwarves. For with this people of small stature, working in metal and stone seems to be a feeling which is born to them; a religion deep buried in the soul. It is amazing to see a brooch of silver, amethyst and gold born from the fire of a dwarven forge and take brilliant life, spun from the heavy fingers of a dwarf. I find it amazing that hands which seem more suited for holding a war hammer or gripping an ale mug can create with a magic (more special that it is a magic of skill and not the Arts) jewelry, filigree, wondrous mechanicals which surpass even the works of elves. Needless to say, there is no race who can craft items of metal (copper, bronze, silver, gold, iron, steel, mithril etc) with greater quality, grace and skill than dwarves hands.

Dwarves have the magical aptitude of turnips and would rather shovel a stable than befriend an elf. They are the oldest allies of man in the Crescent Lands.

The race is a long-lived people; tending to gain maturity in their 30's and live to the age of 150 years.

A peculiarity of the race is its imbalance of the sexual ratios. Female dwarves are born but rarely and then quite frail, so that by the age of maturity only one dwarven female survives for every three males. Because of this, dwarven females (who are supposed to be of exquisite beauty, unlike the males) are sequestered and more valued and guarded than even the finest tiaras of platinum, mithril, gems and rubies. There is no documented sighting of a dwarvish woman by non-dwarves. It is thought that the exquisite skill dwarves demonstrate in metal and stone working is a sublimation of sexual frustration experienced by a majority of male dwarves. It is rare that any dwarf other than one of nobility, power and wealth has such a prized possession, and dwarven females are often bought, bartered and traded as valuable chattel.

Finally, dwarves are expert at making all sorts of mechanical contrivances which do marvels with no magic but skill. Their Fire Chariots are huge mechanicals: longer than a score of stage coaches and as high as the Counting Hall, in Ma Cab. The motive force of these things is unknown, but, though they move faster than a swift horse can run, they seem to be sustained by naught but water, and exhale smoke and steam. Great stone gullies have been built as runs for Fire Chariots and traverse both the Western and Eastern passes and a good portion of the country of Aereolus. Dwarvish engineers jealously guard the nature of these iron beasts.


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