What does it mean to be a dwarf in the World of Ilandrior?

Published by Lindsay Wardell on 11/07/2017

To be a dwarf is to understand domination. From the earliest days of recorded history, the dwarves were little more than slaves to another master. First, they were ruled by the gods, used as pawns in their games of conquest across the World. Later, with the downfall of the gods, the dwarves were freed from this bondage by their kin, the giants. But the giants saw them as inferior in every way, and set them to work. The dragons also saw the dwarves as a workforce, offering them freedom from the giants in return for their ‘services.’ Everywhere that the dwarves went, they were either avoided, or enslaved.

To be a dwarf is to be industrious. Under the yoke of the giants, the dwarves built intricate tunnel systems for their mines, extensive engineering feats impossible to any of the other races. Similarly, their work with metals became greater than any other race, creating exotic weapons and armor for their masters. Of course, they were never rewarded for this service, but in many ways, the work was its own reward. When true freedom was a forbidden thing, the freedom to build and create provided an outlet for the dwarves.

To be a dwarf is to seek independence. The plight of the dwarves changed during the height of the Elemental Wars. This conflict was fought between the giants, the minotaur, the orcs, and the centaur. It began as the giants sought to control and enslave the elemental powers of the World, binding themselves to the elementals themselves in the attempt. This led to an imbalance in the World, and the elementals sought aid from the mortal races. They found it among the orcs and the centaurs, who would then become the first shaman of the World. The Elemental Wars were the series of conflicts that led to the eventual downfall of the giant nation of Galior’den, and the minotaur nation of Kavae.

At the height of this conflict, the dwarves, still chained to menial labor, began an open revolt against their giant masters. This revolt was successful at first, as the giants were occupied with other matters. When the giant army was able to turn on the upstart slaves, the dwarves were trapped within their own cave systems. Using their elemental magic, the giants then collapsed the caves, killing all within.

This was, for obvious reasons, seen as a defeat for the dwarves. But the giants realized in that moment that the dwarves could be useful in other tasks. A dwarven army was raised, with its leader given the title of Kal (at the time meaning no more than lesser captain). Not willing to train the dwarves in magic, the giants instead tasked them with building new siege weapons to attack the orcs along their border. These new weapons, after being enchanted by the giants, proved to be immensely successful, and gave the giants an edge for a time in the conflict.

The first dwarven Kal then turned on the giants, and asked for payment for his services. When the giants refused, the dwarves attacked them, killing the general and a substantial number of giants. The general that followed recognized the Kal’s demands, and gave him and his men payment. The Kal then told the giants that his band would operate as a mercenary unit, one that could be hired by the giants as needed. Again, the new general agreed. In his view, that meant that these dwarves were still slaves, but that they didn’t need to be fed any more.

As word spread of this, more dwarven mercenary units grouped together, willing to fight for pay rather than live for food. A new level of freedom had been granted to the dwarven people. Some mercenary units even came to serve the orcish armies, rather than the giants or the dragons.

To be a dwarf is to dominate. Dwarves managed to capture and enslave young dragonkin, breaking them as a race until they could serve as mounts for dwarven riders. Elementalism spread among the dwarven elite, allowing them to dominate the World around them as never before. This power allowed them to develop as a people in a way not possible by any other race. While still under the rule of the giants, the dragons, and the orcs, the dwarves became a force in their own right.

During this time, many attempts were made to unite the dwarves into a single force. One such dwarf was named Khael, who claimed to be a prophet sent by the World Itself. In his visions, the World was in agony, imprisoned by the various races and gods that covered the World. He claimed that her cries were unbearable, and that the dwarves must unite to destroy all who would do her harm. This movement did not last long, as Khael was captured by the giants and sentenced to death for heresy. The system of beliefs that he established continued to be propagated, becoming the de facto religion of the dwarves.

At last, however, one dwarf came to power that sought to change everything. His name was Kural, a Kal mercenary leader of Galior’den and follower of Khael’s teachings. He had two sons, Haral and Denal. The dwarven captain envisioned a world where the dwarves could at last stand free of any other race, their native lands purged of emperors. Kural united the dwarvish clans, and over the course of a decade managed to push the giants and the dragons from what he considered dwarvish land. In the final battle, the armies of the giants stormed into the mountains through Galior’s Pass from their strongholds in the east. Kural met them in the valley, and by the battle’s end, not a single giant had survived the battle.

Kural was then declared High Sovereign of the Dwarves, with his two sons elevated to the ranks of High Princes for their efforts on behalf of the dwarven people. The land was then named Kal’Kural, in memory of the title given by the giants to dwarven leaders. Now, the dwarvish people would command themselves.

To be a dwarf is to fight. Upon Kural’s death, however, lines of dissention quickly fractured the empire he had built. Both Haral and Denal thought it their right to rule in their father’s wake, and neither brother would relent in that claim. This led to the bloody Dwarf Wars, and the collapse of most of the dwarvish power that had been amassed.

In the final days, as generals and advisors turned on the brothers, Haral fled with what people were loyal to him, making peace with the orcs and elves of the Heliel Forest in return for refuge in the mountains along their borders. These mountains came to be known as Tha’Haral.

Denal, also caught in a web of intrigue, was assassinated as he sat upon his father’s throne. The capital city of Kural was razed and left in ruin, the dwarvish clans continuing to fight across the lands of Kal’Kural. That city, now known as Castlehead, would not rise again until it came to be inhabited by humans fleeing the budding Argantin Empire.

Today, the greatest of all dwarven nations is Tha’Haral. Upon its shoulders rests the legacy of the dwarven people, and in its hands, their future.

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