Note on The Hobbit: Several people have written me to ask if I intend to expand this site to include The Hobbit.
Sena Jogn, Norris Chuck, SifaV6, Rockgollem, NoirX Part 1 The common conception of dwarves was brought back to human lands by the merchants who traded with them in their mountain fortresses; they were grim, hardworking individuals who kept to themselves, prided themselves on their workmanship, and insisted on a high price for their goods.
Then again, it was the merchants talking, so that last might just have been an excuse to overcharge the people they sold to. The truth was that dwarves really were quiet and hardworking perfectionists who preferred to keep to themselves and had a pessimistic outlook on things… but there was a reason for this.
The dwarves of the Azellisia Mountains lived in close harmony with the stone, which they built with, lived in, and returned to when they died. They described stone with the same words humans would use for works of art, because all dwarves had a sixth sense which told them about the rock from which they were said to have been born.
Having stone all around them instilled a silent reverence in dwarves for the world, and working with stone meant that they would only use their finest techniques to properly honor the bedrock of their civilization. And of course, as the sons of the stone, it was their destiny to delve into it, to respectfully excavate the bones of the earth and construct their homes and cities in the rock that birthed them.
But there was only so far they could go building sideways, exposed to the air; and the dwarves did not like the outside world much.
There was not enough stone, only dirt beneath their feet and nothing else but the vacuous light and air. There had been clans who tried to expand onto the surface, of course. For a time, they even succeeded; there were deposits of metal and good stone beneath the soil, but far from any large mountains.
These surface clans thrived and prospered. Six hundred years ago in the human reckoning, the Six Gods who would eventually become the Slaine Theocracy appeared in the world. They spread the doctrine of human supremacy; humanity would triumph at all costs over a world which was hostile to them.
The Six Gods themselves did not specifically name the reclusive dwarves in their commandments to their disciples to go forth and be conquer… but any message is bound to be distorted over the years.
Eventually, the followers of the Six Gods began targeting the demihumans around them — including the dwarves — who had done nothing wrong.
They pushed the dwarves away from the lands they claimed for themselves, back north to the mountains.
Four hundred years ago, the cataclysmic entities known as the Eight Greed Kings appeared in the world. With sky-rending sorcery and earth-shaking arcana, they scourged the land of anything which was not human.
Entire cities were wiped off the face of the map, entire races exterminated because they had the misfortune to not be human. After this, there were no more proponents of surface life. Either they had changed their minds, or they had been wiped out.
Two hundred years ago, the Demon Gods rampaged across the land. But by this time, the dwarves did not care. They were safe in their mountain holds, and anyone trying to dislodge them by force found that the legendary dwarven craftsmanship extended to their fortifications and defenses as well.
The lesser magic that humanity mastered could not even come close to harming the timeless architecture of the dwarven race. Perhaps the mind-bogglingly powerful spells of the Eight Greed Kings might have been able to carve passes through mountain ranges and force the earth to spit out the dwarven holds within it, but nobody them practiced the magic which could reave the earth and shatter the sky.
The dwarves had learned their lesson: The deep dwarves, the ones who had never left the safety of the mountains, built their homes within the bowels of the earth.
For centuries, generations lived in their vast subterranean cities, working, living and dying under the ground. There was less of the latter than the former two, because the dwarves were a long-lived race, though they reproduced slowly. Indeed, so long did they live and so slow did they die that the dwarven cities eventually experienced a lack of room.
Unlike the cities on the surface, they could not simply expand outwards. They had to dig; and often, they had to dig down. So they dug down. They always dug down. Down was dark and deep, filled with welcoming darkness which the dwarves could see through with their darkvision, and the comforting presence of stone all around them.
It was their element.
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