Legacy of Zanzer Tem
The bulk of the dwarves in the Thunder Rift live in the cliffside town of Hearth Home. The dwarves of Hearth Home are governed by a council of elders (made up quite literally of the oldest), and protected by a citizens militia (which among dwarves is pretty substantial concept). The second largest dwarven population is the small village of Givishund, which lies at the edge of the Farolas hills on the caravan route to Kliene.
A noteworthy percentage of the population actually lives and works seasonally in more distant mine sites. The dwarves keep some basic agriculture at the base of Hearth Home and at Givishund, but regular food supplies from Kleine and sometimes Melnir are essential to the survival of the community. As such there is a small but substantial dwarf population in both Kleine and Melnir, the former operating as primarily as merchants and diplomats, and the latter as craftspeople.
The dwarves universally worship Kagyar the Craftsman.
Kagyar: Kagyar directs his followers to never destroy art, and to create to the highest of their abilities, and to maintain dwarven culture. He is the god of art, craftsmanship, and dwarves. His followers dress in plain grey robes. His symbol is a hammer and chisel. Appropriate domains would be war and knowledge, though Kagyar does not grant spells to his followers.
Tavla – Ambyrmont 3 – The day of crafts, craftsmen and artists show off their work in a grand festival. Apprentices are promoted to journeymen, journeymen to masters etc. At a series of evening celebrations.
Flendanos – Eirmont 15 – Travelling dwarves attempt to return home on this date, those who cannot attempt to gather with other dwarves for a traditional dinner.
Raekea – Kaldmont 1 – On the winter solstice the dwarves celebrate the day of redemption from dawn till dusk. Debts are called due, grievances are aired, slights remembered, and crimes of lawbreakers read in public in the morning. Then debts are paid, slights forgiven, and punishments end in the evening. It is common for song and dramatizations to be performed throughout the day, showing the defeat of Farolas III at the hand of Aristicles in the morning, followed by his recovery, and preparation for his quest to defeat the Witch-Lord in the evening.
Lifespan – Dwarves reach age of majority at 50, are considered middle aged at 140, old at 210, ancient as they approach 300, and typically live into their early 400’s.
When dwarves first came to the valley they came via the great under road, that connects the ancient dwarven homeland to Hearth Home, the first local dwarven settlement, but not the last. Within a generation they had spread to many areas of the valley, and the great mineral wealth found led to the creation of a mighty dwarven state.
The jewel of this state was the mighty city of Stanacum. The plunging cataract that falls into Lake Ostrel actually flows like an aqueduct through the under city of Stanacum. The great city endured for only a few generations, with the names of but 7 dwarven kings carved on the walls (including several who had very short reigns). By the end of the first rift war between the elves and dwarves, the great city was already a virtual ghost town, and all other dwarf holdings in the valley outside of the Farolas hills had been abandoned (or worse).
The last king Farolas III, ordered the lower chambers be sealed, never to be reopened (exactly what these lower chambers contain, or even where they are is unknown), then set upon a quest to hunt down the Witch-Lord Aristicles, a quest from which he never returned. Why this quest necessitated the king to take his greatest warriors and abandon his people is lost to the mists of time. The city was soon abandoned, and the dwarves retreated west back towards Hearth Home.
Sometimes young dwarves will go to Stanacum as a right of passage to return with an etching from a family tomb or the like. Given how conservative the dwarves of Thunder Rift are, it is a rare (and foolhardy) young dwarf who speaks of reclaiming this ‘homeland’. The city is vast beyond most peoples imagining, and, if the entire dwarven population of the valley was 10 times as large as it is, it would still not be sufficient to populate the ruins to the level that would be needed to keep monsters from the deep mountains from roaming freely through it’s great halls.
Other dwarven ruins can be found around most of the valley, though they are so old that between age and the rift war only a few outside of the northwest would be recognizable as such. (Though caverns inhabited by humanoids all around may show evidence of dwarven construction).
The most intact such ruin is that of Stonehold. Long after Stanacum was abandoned Stonehold became the home of the Dwarven Lord. A ceremonial position with considerable political influence, descended supposedly from the steward of Stanacum, and typically held by the wealthiest or most militant dwarf elder. It fell in the third goblin wars, centuries ago, and no one alive today can likely claim to have seen it. It is said that the dwarves in evacuating and sealing the hold against goblin incursion, left behind many treasures (and just as many traps). Any dwarves who know the precise location do not talk about it, and historical records regarding it are not open to the public.
After the council of the island, and the defeat of Ash the Red at the hands of the original Quadrial Thelassia Starshine and Thargat Orcblood, the elven and dwarven members, declared their love. From here the story has as many endings as tellers. They had a child (improbable but given Thelassia’s master of wizardry perhaps not impossible), they were murdered while she was pregnant, they retired from public life and lived quietly for human generations. Regardless of the outcome it is certainly the one of the most talked about moments in dwarven history.