It is known among the Dwarves, whether bound by Iron, raised under Stone or wrought among the Free Tribes, that they were the first of the mortal Races to walk Midworld. There were many Gods that dwelt in Overworld but He who Forged them from Fire, who Wrought them from Rock and who Shaped them with Souls did so before any other Race was created. He dubbed them the “Dugh aurun reften”, the first and the favored of his children.
Thus did the Race of Dwarves come to be, mighty as the Maker who made them and with the fires of creation burning in their blood. So gladdened was He who Shaped them that he tried his hand at other works, leaving his favored children to their own devices that they may discover the gifts they had been given.
The First-born spread across Midworld, building towering spires and deep holdfasts. Many were the talents given them, gifts and boons now forgotten by the Dwarven peoples of the current age. They crafted Rune-speak, that they make converse through chisel and slate as well as voice and tongue. They subjugated the land, suborning spirit and beast with the Maker’s blessing, and forged the First Kingdom . Centuries passed and Midworld was a paradise.
But the First Kingdom would pass into antiquity.
It is believed by the Stone Clans that the Sundering Sin was that of Avarice, that the Dwarves had dug too greedily and reached too highly for the Maker’s favor. They had let down their guard and let their faith go astray in worshipping spirits and gold itself.
The lesser Races watched jealously from their meager holdings and plotted the demise of the First-born who was the masterpiece of the Maker, never again duplicated in their perfection. The second-born, the Race known as the Daemon, looked from the skies and their hearts were heavy with envy. Even the other Gods, who had tried their hands at creation and failed – they looked to the First-born and felt a seething hatred. They whispered lies to the Maker, telling him that his Favored Children planned sedition, treason and blasphemy against He who Forged them from Fire.
And He who Shaped them with Souls was greatly wroth.
He took his True Name from the minds of all Dwarves, that their happiness would diminish. He armed the Daemon with iron and fire, frost and blades and bid them to slay his favored children and destroy their greatest works. They descended from Overworld as Death upon the World, slaying first those who lived above ground before slaughtering the Dwarves beneath the stones. The other lesser Races raided the ruins of the Dwarves and claimed the First-born crafts to be their own.
But the worst of all Fates given them was that the Maker stripped from the First-born many of their gifts. Seven boons did He grant all Dwarves in their creation, but most dwarves in this fallen age are born with only One: the Boon of Wrath.
The Maker relented at the end, however. The remaining First-born in their under-cities had prayed to him and had desired only his forgiveness for their transgression. The wrath of the Maker paused and he saw the truth: the Dwarves were greedy and factioned, but in their hearts they had wont for no treachery.
Thus did the Maker turn his wrath to those who had deceived him. He cast the Daemon and their hateful brethren into the very depths of the Underworld and shackled their accursed souls in massive Vaults beneath Midworld. Before He who Shaped their Souls withdrew to the heights of the Overworld, he told them that he would one day return when they were worthy, united and faithful in his eyes. And in his return, he would grant them the gifts that he had taken from them and the paradise that this favored children deserve.
Each Stone Clan believes that they are the Clan to unite the Dwarves to this prophesied destiny. Thus do the Stone Clans feud and grudge and war with one another, so that their Race will one day find the favor of the Maker in their hands.
The Six Wars
When the Dwarves climbed out of the ruins of their fallen holdfasts and their broken fortresses, they set to work, rebuilding their societies. Despite their desperate straits however, they retained the fiery nature of their blood and were easily given to in-fighting and fury. They factioned and formed Clans that made endless war upon each other with iron and flame and hate.
Numberless are the enemies and the foemen that have attempted to strike at the First-born but these have all been slapped aside. Yet, within recorded Dwarven history, there have been six times where the Dwarf Clans laid aside their grudges to smite down a common foe. When the seventh great war has come and gone, it is said by the Maker’s Priests that the end of Midworld will certainly arrive.
Kazaq Nyxus – The Twilight War
The oldest of the Wars that hold the Stone Dwarves’ memories is against the nefarious Twilight Empire of legend and tale. This war took place millennia ago, before the Kingdoms and Empires of Men even took hold in their lesser minds.
With their armies of Sorcerers, Demons, Shadows and their thralls, the Shaedlings of the Twilight Empire had broken every foe they had ever faced. Not even the Elves of the Sun Empire could contend against their darksome might and the back of the Wild Elves were shattered forever by the Twilight Empire’s power. But while the Races of Midworld trembled against this mighty foe, the First-born were not so easily moved.
When the Twilight Empire sent their strength against the Stone Dwarves, they called all Clans to meet with them and to discuss their surrender. All wars amongst the Clans halted in the face of this multitudinous army, led by Rezzarin, son of Shaedis, and they held council before their common foe.
Whatever hope of dignity Rezzarin had was lost when Dhalin of Clan Thundershield spat upon the Elf in response to the demand for the First-born’s surrender. The first Dwarfmeet was called together and the Clans decided to unite against this shadowy threat. The battles that followed were bitter and ruthless as neither side gave no quarter and spared no expense.
Deep did the Twilight Empire delve into the Stoneclaw Mountains, striking at dwarfhold and clan hall. They used monstrous magics and horrific demons against the Dwarves to deadly effect. Brutish fiends would crash into the ranks of the First-born or shadowed monstrosities would lead from the darkness to strike at their rearmost lines. The thralls of the Elves, indentured and enslaved Trolls, Beasts and Spirits were sent into the fray in great numbers and in overwhelming strength to smash against the Stone Clans. The Elves themselves were there in full force, their warriors, their assassins and their sorcerers ending legacy after legacy until the caverns beneath the Stonecla
w mountains were bathed in fiery Dwarf blood.
But the numbers and the persistence of the Stone Dwarves was beyond the measure of the Shaedling army. No matter the strength of the spell, the quantity of the thralls or the power of the demon, each Dwarf paid their debts and died with their backs to the Stone.
When the army finally overextended itself, stretching its supplies outside the realm of security, it had little choice to retreat. But as each step forward was paved with the blood of Dwarf, thrall, Elf and Demon, the steps backward was bathed with the blood of the Twilight Empire. Only a tenth of the 50,000 Elves, thralls and Demons, made their way back to Empress Shaedis and Rezzarin was not amongst them.
The Dwarves pursued not the Twilight Empire out of their territories, content in the measure of their vengeance and in the fall of so lofty a foe. Even when the Sun Empire attempted an alliance with them, the few Stone Clans that remained only desired to rebuild and recover their losses.
From these wars, it is said among the Stone Clans: “Everything has an end, even the Darkness can be spent”
Kazaq Drakas – The Dragon War
It is written by the Maker’s Priests that He who Shaped their Souls slew the Mother of all Dragons, Wyrm, and used her body to create Midworld.
Ancient Dwarven eddas across the Stone Clans tell of Drakas, who was the greatest of Wyrm’s brood. When this Dragon awakened from an age-long slumber, she looked upon the Maker’s favored children and knew only hatred and hunger. Nothing more did she desire than the destruction of the First-born.
Into dwarfhold after dwarfhold, Drakas and her brood did creep to gorge about their denizens and stole their crafts. The Stone Clans would have all fallen but for a lone scout named Shaggrath the Silent.
He survived his Clan’s demise and gathered a band of stalwart Dwarves beneath his banner. They went to each and every Clan upon and below the Stoneclaw Mountains and warned them about this terrible foe. In the Dwarfmeet that followed, the Dwarves decided that as the Maker’s First-born, their duty was to Drakas as the Maker’s was to Wyrm.
Drakas and her brood proved a worthy foe for the First-born. What they lacked in number, they more than made up in cunning, in magic and in pure, brutish might. The least of her spawn could fell an entire warband and Drakas herself rivaled an entire army in her strength. In their guile, the Dragons never fought in the First-born’s terms, drawing the First-born into ambushes, traps and deadfalls – despite their power, fear and surprise were their foremost weapons.
When the Clans went to war against Drakas, Shaggrath and his warband sought the Dragon’s weaknesses and secrets. He and his scouts brought knowledge to the First-Born and saved many of his Race from Drakas’ traps and her magics.
The combined armies of the Stone Clans eventually forced Drakas back into her true lair. The final battle of Kazaq Drakas was so deadly that entire Clans were lost in the final melee. Even Shaggrath himself did not survive the war that had claimed his Clan. Strengthened by her sanctum and her desperation, Drakas almost overwhelmed the Stone Dwarves by herself. The Clans found their defenses and their powers weakened by the wardings of the lair.
It is writ upon the Runes that Shaggrath that saved the day by dousing himself with massive amounts of alchemy and venom and letting the Dragon devour him. There are those that claim that Shaggrath the Silent was simply inebriated beyond the capacity of any Dwarf and walked into Drakas’ jaws (thus inebriating the Dragon himself). Nevertheless, the weakened Drakas proved an easier opponent to best and she soon fell beneath a rain of Dwarven steel and magic. The followers of Shaggrath were given a Clan’s share of the Dragon’s hoard and they used this to form a Clan after their leader’s heart.
It is from this war that the Stone Clans coin the ancient adage: “Even the hunger and thunder of Dragons may fall to Silence”
Kazaq Travak – The Iron War
One of the many Clans that survived Kazaq Drakas was the Iron-Rune Clan. A Clan better known for its artisans and its scholars rather than its warriors, the Iron-Rune prospered where other Clans had faltered from the casualties of Kazaq Drakas.
The Iron-Rune was slow as the mountain in its movements but its plots spanned decades in their machinations. It laid claim to a Clan’s share of Drakas’ golden hoard but greedily looked upon the shares of other Clans. Not content with a single share, the Iron-Rune built up its forces, hiring mercenaries, training soldiers and filling their armories in secret.
After long years of planning the Iron-Rune Dwarves were ready and their influence and power to take what they could from other Clans. Weakened, most Clans capitulated to their threats or fell against their warriors, crusaders and mercenaries armed with Rune-Forged weaponry, a type of weapon whose creation secret was solely in the keeping of the Iron-Rune.
The Iron-Rune’s tyranny allowed them to fashion a city out of their dwarfhold; called Malak Travak (Iron-Haven in Wyrd-Spiel), the city was to be as impregnable as it was majestic. Its black iron walls were lit by rivers of magma and its towers were built to climb and delve like Dragon’s teeth.
The Rumbletum Clan and the Blackstone Clan were the first to ally with one another against the Iron-Rune’s tyranny. Together, the two Clans crushed an army of Wodenbrud mercenaries. As the years passed, news of their victory flew from Clan to Clan, from dwarfhold to dwarfhold; thus did the uprising eventually turn into full-scale war as the Stone Clans found unity and coalition against the Iron-Rune Clan and their city of Malak Travak.
The Iron War was a bitter one as the Iron-Rune picked their battles with the same frugality and the same patience that they showed in their crafts and in their trades. Fighting with their minds as well as their arms, the Iron-Rune warred by disrupting supplies, reinforcements and alliances. Many times did the Iron-Rune’s schemes shatter the Dwarfmeet through raids and deceptions that played upon the grudges and the suspicions of each individual Clan. Again and again the leadership of the Blackstone and the Rumbletum Clans united the Dwarfmeet to their common task of breaking the Iron-Rune.
Despite their machinations, their magic and their Rune-forged weaponry, Malak Travak came under siege a century after the Rumbletum-Blackstone Dwarfmeet. The siege wore on for years, going back and forth. When the Iron-Rune finally capitulated, they did so with the following conditions:
-The secret of Rune-forging will be shared with the Clan leaders of the Dwarfmeet.
-Drakas’ hoard along with a massive weregild from the Iron-Rune coffers is split among the Clans o
f the Dwarfmeet
-The Iron-Rune Clan is no longer considered one of the Stone Clans.
-The Iron-Rune Clan may never raise a hand against a Stone Clan except in defense or in retribution.
The Iron-Rune Dwarves (or Iron Dwarves as they came to be called) swallowed the bitter draught in exchange for their lives and the Stone Clans learned lessons about greed, tyranny and unity:
“A helm can stop a stone but even iron will yield to an avalanche”
Kazaq Wyrd – The Wyrdic War
When the Wyrdic Empire was stretching forth its sword of conquest and placing its banners across the length of Midworld, it found no purchase among the steadfast Stone Clans.
When the men of the Wyrdic Empire sent emissaries and envoys to the Stone Clans, it was with peace and union in their thoughts. “Join the Empire of Wyrd!” said they, “drink deep of the glory that our Empire will bring to all of Midworld!”
But the Stone Clans saw beyond the honeyed words of the Wyrdic men and no Clan made alliance with them. To the Dwarves, the men were as prideful and as vainglorious as the Shaedlings of the Twilight Empire and no less doomed to evil.
The wisdom of the Stone soon proved true. When the Wyrdic Empire did not gain alliance from the First-born, honeyed words were soon replaced by the banners of conquest. Indeed, the Wyrdic Legions, led by a Man known only to the First-born as the Sword of the Emperor, marched to the Stoneclaw Mountains and charged the dwarfholds of the Dwarves with steel and spell.
The Sword of the Emperor proved more methodical than the Twilight Empire in his stratagems. The Legions’ ranks were ordered and sleek, even as iron and magic washed over their lines. Their shield walls and spear hedges broke the frenzied charges of the First-born. Rivaling the warcries of the Stone Dwarves were the holy scripture and divine writ of the Legion’s Priests that bolstered the hearts and flesh of their Chosen. Where the Twilight Elves used chaos and darkness to their advantage, the Wyrdic Men used tactical brilliance and teamwork to turn the tide of battle. Furthermore, the First-born found that the scions of Wyrd built fortifications every night at dusk, thus establishing a long chain of forts that protected their supply trains as well as provided them with a measure of protection at nightfall.
Instead of rushing into the domain of the First-born, the Wyrdic Empire’s advance was slow and disciplined – which earned the Dwarves’ respect and staved off their initial attempts at resistance. Against the full strength of the Stone Clans, however, even the Legion of Wyrd found it hard pressed to continue their descent. After conquering a few fringe dwarfholds, the Legions’ primary incursion force was halted at the ruined holdings of Clan Bladebreaker where they met the combined forces of the Dwarfmeet.
In these ruins, the Legions of Wyrd crafted a mighty hold that repelled the assaults of the Stone Dwarves for decades. While the First-born were unable to break the Legion’s fortress, they were also able to halt the Humans’ offensive into Stone Dwarf territory. A grudging respect developed between the two sides, as Dwarf and Human battled one another for what seemed as an eternity.
Clans Stormgrimm, Bladebreaker and Shaggrath spearheaded the retaking of Bladebreaker Hold by isolating the fortress from the Wyrdic Empire. When the Sword of the Emperor faced the First-born, it was an all out battle from every side. The First-born were mighty but the Wards of the Wyrdic Humans were potent and the caverns rang thick with the prayers and the magic of the Wyrdic Priests.
The battle was all but decided, however – for the Clans had all but united in the face of the Human incursion. Their continued presence in Dwarven lands could no longer be borne. Even the Iron-rune, dishonored as it was, lent their expertise to the battle front. Vasha Bladebreaker, Stone-Queen of Clan Bladebreaker sought out the Sword of the Emperor and slew him in single combat, reclaiming her ancestral home and her Clan’s honor. To their credit, the Humans of the Wyrdic Empire continued to fight though their limbs were leaden with despair and the fury was sodden with dismay.
Queen Vasha called a halt before all the defenders had fallen. The Sword of the Emperor was broken but the Humans had proven themselves worthy of life through valor and strength. Resources had been drained in great quantity from both the Clans and the Empire and even Vasha saw this truth. She sent the Humans back to their Emperor with their lives and an offer of goodwill so long as the Humans stayed out of Dwarf lands. With the Iron-rune Clan’s assistance, this relationship between Clan and Empire blossomed into trade and alliance. When the Empire fell centuries later, it would not be without the deaths of many Stone Dwarves sent to grant their Human allies succor and aid.
In the interim, Bladebreaker Hold became a place of sanctity and holiness – sacred to Human and Dwarf, to Mortal and God – for the sacrifices made and for the valor displayed. The Stone Clans learned many lessons from their War with the Wyrdic and the foremost of them is this: “When the enemy’s armor seems all but unbreakable, victory can be forged by shattering his blade”.
Kazak Jotun – The Titan War
In the dark ages after the fall of the Wyrdic Empire, many Kingdoms fell deep into shadow and doom. The Stone Clans were not exempt from this, though they had withstood many a danger and peril.
Whispers from the west foretold of a menace that had quickly and absolutely subjugated their western neighbors, the war-like Humans of the Wodenbrud tribes. But the wars of the Stone Clans kept their eyes upon each other until the thundering footsteps of doom shivered their beards with its nearness.
The Jotun, the Elemental Giants of the ancient runes, arrived in Dwarven lands with hordes of Jotunbrud warriors at their side. Each Giant, each son of Ymir the Frozen King, had the strength of an entire army by himself in thew, sinew and sorcery. Entire warbands fell against a Giant’s gaze and their breath felled as many First-born as did their fists. The only grace given by the Maker against such a foe was that the sons of Ymir were few in number and only five (Gymnir, Verrod, Suttrung, Gyllung, Tharum) were sent to subjugate the Stone Clans. But when a Jotun was coupled with the power of a barbarian horde, even the stoutest of Dwarfholds could not last everlong against such might.
So absolute was the initial assault that three Dwarfholds had already fallen before the any other Clan could be warned. By the time that the Stormgrimm Clan had called a Dwarfmeet together, no Dwarfhold remained un-ruined among peak or base of the Stoneclaw Mountains. Only the subterranean Clans had yet to be attacked.
The Titan War was an uphill battle for the Dwarves; the sons of Ymir and their warrior thralls prevailed against every tactic and every magic employed by the First-born. Whereas the
Humans of the Jotunbrud were unruly and chaotic, the Jotun gave them order and disciple akin to iron. No defense was left neglected due to the fell intellect that lay within each of Ymir’s scions.
The Retaking of Stormgrimm Hold marked the turn of the tide against the Jotun. The Stormgrimm Clan, at great cost, had commissioned the creation of 10 Runic Weapons, called the Grimm-teeth, that were banes to Giant-kind. Their creation was a collaboration of secret lores from many different Clans, most of all from the Stormgrimm Clan, who had always mixed weaponcraft with piety and witchery, and the Shaggrath Clan, who had dwelt long in the shadowed depths of sorcery.
It was with these weapons that the First-born eventually prevailed against the Jotun; the Grimm-teeth pierced their rime-covered hides as easily as an arrow through cloth. The Retaking of Stromgrimm Hold saw the fall of the Jotun brothers Gyllung the Gale-breath and Suttrung the Sun-stealer from the peaks of that blood covered mountain.
Once warned of the peril that awaited them however, the Jotun used their cunning to great effect. The next attempt against the Sons of Ymir was a disaster. In the battle known as the Sorrow of Snowering Peak, Verrod the Vile-flame was slain but three of the Grim-teeth were lost as the ragged Stone Clan armies retreated from the field amid an elemental hell-storm caused by Jotun magics.
By the time the Dwarf armies rallied and collected themselves, they found themselves hounded by vengeful Giants and howling Jotunbrud. At great cost, the Stone Clans repelled the waves of Jotunbrud even as they endured the elemental prowess of Tharud Thunderfoot and Gymnir Ground-shaker.
When all hope was lost, the Dwarven armies trusted to despair and drew the Giants and the Jotunbrud into their final trap. Fortifying the rumbling slopes of Mount Vlasteruk, the First-born fought a retreating battle to the highest of the mountain’s peaks before employing forbidden, cataclysmic magics to bring the earth’s molten rage to the fore. Vlasteruk exploded and neither Dwarf, nor Human nor Jotun escaped her wrath. Only five of the Grimm-teeth remain in Midworld today; among them are Father Grimm the Great-sword and the Blackstone Hammer of the Blackstone Clan – the rest of the Grimm-teeth are lost to antiquity.
“When your blade is broken and your shield is sundered, trust not to Hope” say the Dwarves who
speak of Kazaq Jotun. “Trust to Despair, to Determination and to the Maker’s Wrath within us all”
Kazaq Daemon – The Demon War
Kazaq Daemon marked the last and greatest event of Stone Clan unity. But such a collaboration between all the Clans was prefaced by a dark era.
Demonic hordes came swarming out of the depths of their subterranean caverns and from the cooling corpse of the fallen Wyrdic Empire. Many of these Demons were lesser breeds, of demonic bloodlines mingled with common and uncommon beasts. But their ferocity and their numbers were unmatched.
There was little hope for defense much less a Dwarfmeet as every Dwarfhold and Clan Hall found itself under siege. The Dwarves call this era the Ten Thousand Nights of Terror as the Stone Clans fell beneath the tyranny of Demonic infestation.
But the Daemon had covered the First-born in shadow before and the Race of Dwarves girded themselves against this familiar threat. Though weakened by the Jotun and separated from their fellow Clans, the Stone Dwarves weathered this assault as they had any other – with iron will and determination. By day, Dwarven warbands would prowl field, slope and tunnel in search of food and scavenge before fortifying the Dwarfhold defenses at night.
The Ten Thousand Nights of Terror stretched beyond reckoned and recorded time. It was an era of savagery and barbarism because these were virtues in that desperate age. Many lores were forgotten and crafts were lost as some Dwarfholds were overwhelmed by Demonic hordes.
One such Dwarfhold begat a hero that all Dwarves know and love: Karg Runehammer. As a youth, Karg went into Midworld to bring back lores and allies that would help his Race against the Demons. He returned as a Grey Witch and Weaponsmith of legendary prowess. One by one, as Shaggrath did before him, he went to each Clan and broke the Demonic siege. Even Clan Iron-rune in Malas Travak was not exempt from his heroism and the Runed-King of the Iron Dwarves continues to pay his visage respect to this day.
With the First-born united behind him, Karg attempted the feat that would ensure his entrance into the legends of the Stone Clans for all of eternity: to close the Demon Gate beneath the Stoneclaw Mountains. It was from this Demon Gate that the Underworld spewed forth the horrific beasts that had terrorized the Dwarven Race for so many centuries.
Karg spearheaded the offensive against the Demons massing in front of the Gate but even he was not immune to the destructive energies that this Gate had radiated. Fortunately, he had kept relics from Clan Runehammer who had aided the Silver Elves ages ago against their own troubles with the Daemon. The greatest of these relics was a suit of armor whose creation melded Elven art with Dwarven artifice and made its wearer invincible against the Demonic horde and invulnerable to the energies of the Gate.
Thus, the Dwarven armies remained behind while he delved through horde and swarm to close at last the Gate which had so long tyrannized his people. The Sorrow of Runehammer tells of Karg’s duel with the Keeper of this Demon Gate, of his hundred wounds, of his mangled left arm and his deadly, fateful hammerblow into the Keeper’s mandibles.
The Gate closed thereafter by the maimed Dwarf and the remainder of the Demon horde swiftly dispatched by the Dwarven armies. Before the Stone Clans could reach him and raise him as the Stone Emperor, a group of Dwarves arrived at the scene first and slew him whilst he was wounded and surprised by the treachery. These First-born disappeared shortly afterward, leaving Runehammer’s corpse behind them.
All attempts at reviving Karg failed as did all attempts at peace between the Stone Clans. Each Clan blamed another for this sudden betrayal. Even now, the Stone Clans stand against one another in grudge and in feud, fighting their endless battles amid tunnel and slope.
Thus is the lesson learned from Kazaq Demon: “No Spell, Steel or Daemon is so lethal as the First-born, the Favored Children of the Maker”