History of the Dwarves:
Aeons ago when the world was new, the ancient gods set about creating the elder races to watch over the land. Seeing the works of the other gods in the creation of the elves, humans and other humanoids, Torag, the mighty god of the smith pounded on his great anvil. The sparks generated by his labours mixed with rocks and from this union the dwarves were created. A hearty people with the constitution of stone and bellies of fire the dwarves spent many centuries creating sprawling subterranean kingdoms and mining the rich deposits of minerals and ores. It was there, deep in the heart of the earth, that they first discovered mithril, that most rare and wonderful of metals. The dwarves considered mithril sacred and became obsessed with its acquisition. Through the teachings of their god they also learned the craft of rune making and how to fold mystical runes into weapons and armour bestowing arcane powers into them. Eventually the tribes were united beneath King Taargadth and migrating to the surface during a great migration known as the Quest for the Sun. The migration took approximately 150 years after which the dwarves emerged and erected their mighty Sky Citadels, might testaments of dwarven engineering and skill. According to the ancient texts ten of these beautiful metropolis sized cities were built. Unfortunately, following numerous wars with the goblinoid races and other forces of darkness most of the citadels were lost. However, unbeknownst to many, even most of the dwarves, another Sky Citadel was built. An offshoot of the great dwarven migration emerged from the earth deep in the heart of the Mindspring Mountains.
The Golden Age:
At the time the surrounding area was primarily an elfish land, with a few tiny human kingdoms scattered throughout. The arrival of the dwarves to the land was initially greeted with alarm as the elves feared an invasion by these squat, bearded newcomers. The elfin king of Fangwood sent a small army to send the barbarians back to their holes. Though the dwarves were new to the land, years of fighting underground had made them well versed in combat, particularly in the mountainous lands they now inhabited. After both armies bloodied themselves briefly, it was realized that the dwarves were there to stay and a ceasefire was signed between both kingdoms. Thus began the first Golden Age of the Dwarves. During this time the dwarves spread throughout the land establishing numerous kingdoms in the various mountain ranges that dotted the land. The mountain ranges were typically the home of the giant and goblin races and the arrival of the dwarves sparked many bloody battles. Eventually however the tenacity of the dwarves would win the day and the original inhabitants would be run off or killed. Once established they would carve magnificent cities into the mountainsides and miners would work deep within the earth in their never ending search for mithril. Dwarven caravans began to strike out to the numerous outlying kingdoms bartering fine weapons and armour in exchange for crafted goods, woodwork, spices, fine fabrics and exotic foods. The wealth and power of the dwarves grew and the citadels became even more magnificent. No dwarven city however was greater than Ril Karag, Jewel of the Mountains. It was here that the dwarves first emerged from the earth and the jewelled city was considered the heart of dwarven culture and society. Ruled by the great king Deloril (Iron Judge) Brynkuld (Shining Axe, Golden Axe) he led the dwarves with a firm hand and saw both their numbers and riches expand tenfold. Under his leadership feelers of diplomacy were extended to the other humanoids. Despite these attempts, relations with the elves remained rocky. The haughty elves continued to look down on what they considered a crude race and though a bustling trade was opened between both races, the relationship remained cold and aloof and little culture was shared. More encouraging was the bond forged between the dwarves and the fledgling kingdoms of men. The dwarves felt something of a kinship with their taller, short lived cousins and a genuine friendship developed between both races. The dwarves taught the humans the crafts of stonework, engineering and the forging of fine weapons and armour. However, the secrets rune making and the forging of mithril was kept secret. The humans in turn taught the dwarves of many domestic skills namely farming and fishing but the most revered lesson was the art of brewing. The dwarves instantly fell in love with alcohol and the craft spread through their species like wildfire. The human king Logan of the nearby kingdom of Numeria once presented King Deloril with fifty barrels of the finest ale his kingdom had to offer in honour of the dwarf’s birthday. The dwarven king was so touched by the gesture that he had a beautiful set of mithril plate-mail forged and sent to Logan as a gift, the first time mithril had been bestowed upon a non dwarf.
The First Grudge War and the Great Isolation:
As the splendour of the dwarves continued to rise the jealously of the elves was sparked. King Ael, the Dragon King, the elvish king of the forest domain of Fangwood and Nirmathas envied the success and the growing power of the dwarves, a race who had humiliated his army years decades ago. Though he despised them as crude and uncouth, his love of gold and precious stones, items that could only be easily obtained from the dwarves, meant that he allowed trade to develop between the two kingdoms. Relations would have remained cordial, albeit frosty, had events unfolded differently at conference held by King Logan. Logan had been attempting to forge an Alliance between the three races and by inviting the Ael and Deloril to his palace he hoped to smooth the enmity that existed between the two elder kings. In an innocent error Logan greeted his guests bestowed in his mithril armour. The Dragon King had heard of the mystical metal but had dismissed stories of its existence as myth. His lust was sparked and in loud voice he demanded to know where Logan had obtained the armour. Hearing it had been a gift from Deloril he angrily turned to the dwarf. Outraged that the ‘lesser’ human king had been given such a fine gift Ael demanded a similar set of armour for himself. When King Deloril angrily declined the Dragon King threw his drink into the dwarf’s face. Things would have quickly resulted in bloodshed had Logan not stepped in and begged for peace. Deloril, out of respect for his host, backed down. Though Logan prevented a fight, any hopes of negotiation were finished and both kings returned to their respective kingdoms. Back in his kingdom the Dragon King seethed in fury when news reached him through his spies that a caravan containing a mithril crown was being sent from the Mindspring Mountains to Numeria as a gift to Logan. Blinded by greed he ordered members of his personal guard to raid the caravan and seize the crown for himself. The caravan was raided, the goods stolen and those guarding it were slaughtered. Unbeknownst to the raiders a however, a lone dwarf survived and returned to his king telling of how the caravan had been attacked by elves. King Deloril was furious and sent a message to Ael demanding to know the reason of the attack and that he was to be compensated. The response was immediate and unwavering, if Deloril wanted recompense he was to come to the palace of the Dragon King and beg for it. In a rare display of self-control the dwarven king held his temper and sent an emissary to the palace to demand an apology and compensation. Ael remained unrepentant and instead of greeting the ambassador he instead had him humiliated by shaving his beard and casting him out of the kingdom, gravely insulting the envoy, the King and the whole dwarf race by extension. This was the last straw for Deloril and at his command dwarven armies marched on the elvish kingdom. The war was terrible and bloody but despite the arcane power of the elves, the dwarves lay siege to their capital and tore it to the ground. King Deloril met the Dragon King in his fortified palace and slew him in single combat. Their vengeance satisfied the dwarves returned to Ril Karag, burning the forest to the ground behind them.
The Second Grudge War and the Coming of the Greenskin Horde:
Goblinoids had long been a thorn in the side of the dwarves. Hailing from underground as well, they had been encountered and driven off countless times before. While annoying, they were more a nuisance than a serious threat. However, with the construction of the great tunnel network things changed. At that time, goblins primarily lived and breeded in great underground warrens, great honeycombed labyrinths that housed thousands of goblins. As the dwarven engineers excavated the earth they would periodical breach the walls of one of these warrens unleashing a torrent of the green spawn into the tunnels. Goblin attacks and raids became a serious problem in the lower reaches of the kingdom and culminated when King Deloril’s eldest son was slain in ambush. This incident resulted in the second grudge war known as The Goblin War, a genocidal campaign in which the furious dwarves scoured the tunnels inch by inch slaughtering every goblinoid they found. The conflict lasted nearly 10 years and by its conclusion it was thought the backbone of the goblin race was forever broken. For a time following another period of prosperity followed, known as the Silver Age, but this peace and prosperity would be short lived.
Twilight of the Dwarves
After Ril Karag was evacuated during the Portal War King Deloril united the dwarves with the humans and elves creating the Great Alliance. The war was terrible for all involved and while it resulted in a great sharing of culture between the allies, it also saw the power of the elves and the great kingdoms dwarves crumble and fade. Despite their initial success, the orcs soon found that they were matched by the combined powers of the Alliance. Hoping to demoralize and break the Alliance, the orcish leader Zagor Bladefist sent an emissary to King Logan asking for him to come and parlay in hopes of ending the war. Despite the reservations of Deloril, Logan went to meet Zagor at Ril Karag escorted by his personal paladin guard. The parlay was a ruse and the orcs ambushed Logan and his escort. The paladins fought desperately to get their king away but it was not to be. During the course of the battle Logan lost his mithril helmet and a stray orc arrow pierced his neck. Mortally wounded he ordered his remaining paladins to retreat. Zagor revelled in his victory and had Logan’s head cut off and his body displayed on the castle walls. Upon hearing of the death of his closes friend Deloril flew into a might rage. The loss of his kingdom and now his brother was too much for the old king. Solemnly he swore vengeance on the orcs. Removing his crown he shaved his braids and his hair till only a crest remained from the front of his head to the nape of his neck. Using pig grease he stiffened his remaining hair into the distinctive Mohawk of a berserker and taking up his axe set off for his lost kingdom. Many other dwarves joined their king in his last battle and together they cut a bloody swathe through the orcs. Calling upon the arcane knowledge they had learned form the elves and combining it with their own powerful rune magic, the dwarves were able to collapse the city of Ril Karag upon itself though Zagor and his clan managed to escape its destruction. By now almost all the dwarves who had marched with him were dead but Deloril charged forward. Cleaving through the orcish ranks, his great axe hewing about, Deloril fought his way to Zagor and split his skull down the middle. The orcs, temporarily demoralized fled from the demon they were convinced had appeared in their midst. Mortally wounded Deloril ordered his remaining kinsmen to cut Logan’s body down from the parapet and return it to his people. Eyes fixed on the ruins city he once loved Deloril Brynkuld High King of the dwarves breathed his last. Though the war was not yet over, the loss of their leader delayed the horde’s advancement as Zagor’s generals fought one another for leadership. Because of Deloril’s sacrifice, the Alliance was given enough time to regroup and with a final push was able to drive the horde back to the portal and destroy it ending the war at last.
While the horde had been defeated the cost had been high. The dwarves would never recover their former splendour and without the leadership of Deloril the remaining citadels became separate kingdoms. Eventually, once the threat of a common enemy was removed the elves and dwarves returned to their frosty relations though nothing close to the level it had been prior to the war. Relations with the humans remind strong however, the dwarves never forgot Logan’s friendship and though their power was sapped, they upheld Deloril’s oath.