Wyrmspire: The Dwarven Quarter

You’re walking along serenely through the Merchant’s Quarter when, all of a sudden, everything changes.  You’ve been stopping and chatting with all the richly-dressed men and women you’ve seen on your way, but those men and women are now significantly shorter.  And they’re wearing chainmail and carrying axes instead of wearing died linen and carrying licenses to sell anything and everything.

This is Wyrmspire’s Dwarven Quarter, undoubtedly the shortest of all quarters.  And also, most likely, the most populous.  Of course, that’s arguable.  The Old Quarter may be the most populous, but they seem to resist census attempts by stealing the census-taker’s shoes and selling them for food.  So it’s really not well known.

The Dwarven Quarter was established shortly after the dwarven city of Irongate made an alliance with the old human empire, around the year 400 or so.  The dwarves moving to Wyrmspire to trade with the humans and blacksmith for them realized that there were enough of them to just set up a little mini-city.  They did just that.  The dwarven minority is without a doubt the most influential in Wyrmspire, as without them the city would be severely lacking in blacksmiths, miners, cheese merchants (dwarves have a thing for cheese), and drunkards.

Which brings us to the next point: the disparity in morals between the dwarves of Wyrmspire and the dwarves of Irongate.  Irongate is a long-standing city which has not been breached or, indeed, changed, in nearly a thousand years.  The Dwarven Quarter is a subsection of a city full of humans.  There’s a difference.  The dwarves of Irongate are very conservative.  Basically, if you break a rule in Irongate, there’s a chance you’ll get banished forever.  Or have your pinky toe cut off (that particular rule stems from a mistranslation of an ancient dwarven equivalent of the Magna Carta, but don’t tell any of the Irongate dwarves that).  In a stark contrast, the Dwarven Quarter is full of what, for a lack of a better word, I will call party dwarves.  They get drunk, they hang out with elves (gasp!) and they go off on adventures with humans.

Note, however, that these are not the scientifically minded Wind Dwarves of Below.  No, these are still Cave Dwarves (as they are called so mockingly by their Wind Dwarf cousins) for the most part.  There is, of course, a small Wind Dwarf minority, but for the most part, the Dwarven Quarter is made up of bearded, helmet-wearing, bear-drinking motherfuckers.  As opposed to the Wind Dwarves, who are often clean shaven, with close-cut hair, leather headguard things (reminiscent of airforce flying caps from WWII) instead of helmets, and who honestly prefer Scrim, an odd drink distilled from a root that hangs down from the underside of the world, whose taste is vaguely reminiscent of beets, and whose alcohol content is enough to drug a rhino.

Of course, the dwarven elders look down on all this froo-fra, this fraternizing with other races (they’re considering declaring the Wind Dwarves another race, just to cheese them off) and all this… adventuring.  Good dwarves sit at home and quietly contemplate the will of Archus before getting married off to a cousin.  But the dwarves of Wyrmspire are having none of this.  While both studious religion and arranged marriages are commonplace in Irongate, the Wyrmspire dwarves are having fun.  Which may or may not include a) gratuitous drinking b) kicking someone’s ass at a local bar or c) marrying whoever they damn well please.  Bam.  Take that, elders.

Said elders make up the entirety of the government of the Dwarven Quarter.  They have a council, and on it are nine incredibly, incredibly old dwarves.  They make all the rules in the Dwarven Quarter, and then get incredibly irate when they realize they have no way to enforce them because the only people that listen to them are old farts.  So they basically just sit in a building and gripe about how these young dwarves don’t show any respect for their elders.  And things like that.

One of the most disturbing events in recent times in the Dwarven Quarter, for both the dwarven elders and all those who enjoy their buildings nice and un-destroyed, is the resurrection of the dwarf mountain clans of old(in old dwarven – duarv dak’tanik kalnt).  According to most histories of dwarven culture (that is, the ones that don’t involve Irongate being created from the corpse of a giant bird named Gâr who fell to earth and then coalesced into a city – there are some weird dwarf cults), before the formation of Irongate and other dwarven cities, dwarf culture consisted of many roaming mountains clans, both in the Dragonmaw Range to the west and the Frostfell Peaks to the north (I named the mountains!  Finally!  Wee!).

These clans were savage and fierce, dressing in animal skins and fighting each other tooth and nail for land, hunting rights, mines, and women.  Most of the uncovered remains of ancient dwarves have been found with gaping holes in their skulls, or missing limbs, or still clutching their axes, or spread over an area of several dozen square feet.  Occasionally the tomb of a clan chieftain has been found, and while they’re usually better treated, buried with jewels, well-crafted battle axes, and yeti skins, they still have been found dead with battle wounds.  According to certain magic dating techniques, the oldest ancient dwarf found was just over eighty years old, an incredibly young age compared to the 200 a dwarf can live to if he eats healthy.  From certain drawings, it has been deduced that the ancient dwarves often wore blue face paint into battle.

Eventually, several thousand years ago, these dwarf clans coalesced into several city-states, including Irongate, in the Dragonmaws, and the Moon Dwarf Empire in the Frostfells.  The Moon Dwarves’ face tattoos are natural progressions from the ancient face paint of the dwarf clans.

All this was for the most part forgotten by all but historians.  Until recently.  A dwarf mage discovered a way to trace one’s ancestry back to the dwarf mountain clans.  Shortly after this, it was discovered that most of the dwarves in the civilized lands, whether Irongate, Wyrmspire, or Below, are descended from one of two clans: Clan Axebreaker and Clan Lakedeath.  This is most likely evidence that the two clans made a pact and essentially killed everyone else at some point in dwarven history.  Whatever the historical reason, this has led to a huge surge of clan patriotism among the young dwarves or Wyrmspire, who really needed something to believe in.  Thus, Clan Axebreaker and Clan Lakedeath have reemerged, though as little more than street gangs.  This has caused no end of trouble for everyone in the Dwarven Quarter, as random fights break out between the clans.

Of course, troops have been sent in to the Dwarven Quarter to attempt to put down the fighting.  This has been ineffective, as fights always seem to break out on the exact opposite side of the quarter than whatever soldiers are wandering around at the moment, and by the time said soldiers have arrived the dwarves are in such a frenzy that they can’t really be stopped.  After the fight is over, the soldiers usually mop up the exhausted dwarves (there aren’t often actual deaths) and throw them in jail.  Of course, this has led to the jails full of short, hairy men.  You just can’t win.

Clan Axebreaker is the larger of the two clans.  Its name in old dwarven is Kaln Ak’narruk (as you can see, both the common word “clan” and the common word “axe” are derived from dwarvish).  Clan Axebreaker was the first of the old dwarven clans to officially reform, though there’s evidence that Clan Lakedeath was an underground organization for months before the official formation of Clan Axebreaker.  Dwarves of Clan Axebreaker paint their faces in much the same way their ancestors did.  They wear their hair and beards in long, thick plaits.  While they do this to adhere to the look of their ancestors, they usually don’t wear animal skins, opting instead for dwarven chainmail.  As a result of their distinctive style, plaited hair gone essentially completely out of fashion among Wyrmspire dwarves other than those of Clan Axebreaker, as it is regarded as a clan mark.  Clan Axebreaker fight most often with handaxes.  While the most skilled fighters dual-wield them, most simply use one in whichever hand is their dominant one.

Clan Lakedeath is slightly smaller than Clan Axebreaker, but perhaps more dangerous.  Everyone agrees that “Lakedeath” sounds kind of silly, but the literal translation of their old dwarven name, Kaln Uth’fâthen, is “Clan of Those Who Bring Death and Live On The Lake”, and everyone agrees it’s just better to call it Lakedeath.  Most also avoid mentioning Lakedeath’s perceived silliness near any Lakedeath dwarf, because they will kill you.  Lakedeath dwarves wear blue facepaint like their Axebreaker counterparts, but that’s wear the similarity ends.  In stark contrast to the plaited hair of Axebreaker dwarves, Lakedeath dwarves wear their hair unbound, unwashed, and unkempt.  This, along with the fact that they more often wear animal skins than the Axebreaker dwarves, gives them an incredibly scraggly look.  Lakedeath dwarves traditionally use massive poleaxes in battle.  They are very, very deadly with these, often spinning around like tops before stabbing any enemies that remain in reach with the point of the weapon.

Important Residents of the Dwarven Quarter:

Elder Kharat Karandul is the highest elder of the elder’s council.  By which we mean that he’s the oldest, and thus the others defer to him in all manners of judgment and stuff.  He’s incredibly, incredibly old.  His hair is pure white, and his skin is pale and incredibly wrinkled.  This, combined with the fact that he most often wears pure white robes, make him look like a shining beacon of light.  Then you notice the squint in his eye, the scowl on his face, and the fact that he’s using his cane to beat aside the cat that was sleeping in front of him.

Kharat Karandul is, without a doubt, the most conservative and miserly dwarf in the entirety of Wyrmspire.  He is the last scion of an ancient dwarf family, one that will be dead after his death.  So he spends his time attempting to control every other dwarf’s life, and enacting absurd rules like a sunset curfew and a limit on the amount of alcohol an establishment can serve on any given night.  None of these are paid attention to in the least.  It’s assumed that Karandul will just keel over and die any day now, so nobody really bothers with giving him any notice.  Of course, the next-oldest dwarf on the council is prepared to take over the moment that that happens.  However, the tradition is for the nine oldest dwarves in Wyrmspire to be on the council.  As it turns out, the current tenth oldest dwarf is a Wind Dwarf.  So the entire council would really appreciate it if Karandul would at least stick around until they can pass that legislation declaring Wind Dwarves not dwarves.

Jaris Underbreak is, arguably, the most influential Wind Dwarf in the city of Wyrmspire.  He heads up a research facility in the middle of the Dwarven Quarter – it’s actually a kind of funny sight.  In the middle of a bunch of squat, dirty buildings is a large, almost tower-like structure with a domed roof and all sorts of gadgetry emerging from various windows.  The facility is, in fact, the tallest building in the Dwarven Quarter.   It is devoted to discovering a way to utilize the Wind Dwarve’s wind-powered inventions in non-windy areas.  So far, they aren’t getting very far.

The dwarven elders hate this facility with a passion, as it employs Wind Dwarves, several underfoot, and a few humans.  Which is just unacceptable.  Also, the chief researcher at the facility is Karag Narath, the tenth-oldest dwarf in Wyrmspire, and heavily resented by the soon-to-be-eight-member council.

Ran Axebreaker is the head of the Axebreaker clan.  It’s unknown what his name was before he took his clan’s name as his surname.  During official functions, he is often referred to by his old dwarven name, Rân Ak’narruk.  Ran is a fierce warrior, but at heart a politician.  He has headed up many appeals to the elder’s council in his time, most of which deal with the immediate and permanent banning of Clan Lakedeath.

Ran wears a suit of half-mithril armor combined with leather that has been died black.  This contrast, along with his plaited hair and blue face, makes him look really kind of scary.  His hair is died in streaks of black and white, with his natural brown showing through in places.  His eyes are black.  In battle he uses two adamantine handaxes.

Hardin Lakedeath is the leader of the Lakedeath clan.  His old dwarven name, most often shouted at enemies during battle, is Khard Uth’fâthen.  Hardin is fucking crazy.  He fights with an absolutely gigantic weapon that appear to be a battleaxe mounted on a longspear.  No, we’re not sure how the logistics of that work.  In battle, he is fond of decapitating people from a range of ten feet.  Occasionally, he even throws his weapon, with deadly accuracy.  We’ve no idea how that works either.  There’s a chance there’s some kind of magic at the root of his seemingly godlike strength.

Hardin wears nothing but a tunic made purely of dragon hide, a tapestry of blue, green, black, red and white that easily sets him apart from the rest of his clan.  His hair is more unkempt than even most of his followers, with what appears to be small dead things wrapped in it.  His eyes are a soul-piercing blue, and oftentimes are the last thing an Axebreaker dwarf sees before death via gut-spewing.

Writer’s Note:  I wrote a lot of this during class today.  In this paper, written randomly, were two things: “I’m on another planet with you” (lyric of a song I was listening to at the time) and “yooglepoop”.  No, I don’t know either.

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4 Comments

  1. pieboy said,

    February 6, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Hey, actual dwarven history. That’s great. You don’t see that often enough.

    Also: “…the Dwarven Quarter is made up of bearded, helmet-wearing, BEAR-DRNKING motherfuckers.”

    That is absolutely the best typo I’ve ever seen in my life. Don’t you dare change it.

    also i posted

  2. tuskedchimp said,

    February 7, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Rofl. I didn’t even notice that. Yeah, totally not changing that.

    On the history, I’m actually gonna go a lot more into the history of all the races after I’m done with Wyrmspire.

  3. Pieboy from school said,

    February 7, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Great.

    BEAR-DRINKING

    SIMILAR TO HUMP-CATTING

  4. August 24, 2008 at 2:10 am

    […] dies, and before he manages to push through legislation declaring wind dwarves not dwarves. (Click here for the whole story.) Karag Narath, a wind dwarf, becomes the new member. The Council of Elders […]


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