Caradar was the name of the sprawling network of subterranean chambers and tunnels comprising the Dwarven nation in the Elder Days. Each of the nine clans had a clan hall where they would gather, to meet, eat and drink. The Halls of Ruling, which were the clan halls for Dar Highfather’s clan, the Mountain Dwarves, were also open to every clan. In times of need, or in times of great celebration, which were mostly excuses to imbibe spirits, the clans and their chiefs would gather in in the Halls of Ruling. With women in short supply, drinking was the Forge Folk’s primary recreational activity other than, of course, delving.
Dar discovered the vast chamber that would become the Halls of Ruling only a few years after the Congress. Using only his Earthmagery at first (Dar had the gift of making, a stronger version of the shaping possessed by all Forge Folk), and later with his hammer, Earthbiter, he delved the Halls all by his lonesome. Only after he’d carved out the Halls did he discover the thin rock walls hiding the Secondborn. With nine mighty swings of Earthbiter, he smashed the nine walls and revealed the Secondborn of the nine clans.
Once the Secondborn awakened, they had arm wrestling contests to determine which of them deserved the designation of clan chief. I’m only partly kidding. Strength did factor into the decision of who would be chief, but wisdom and leadership counted too. Once the clan chief question was settled, they Forge Folk settled into the task for which they existed and started delving. They delved downward, digging out more and more of Caradar and over time, the Dwarven nation beneath the mountains grew vast, spiraling deeper and outward as fast as the food supply permitted. Each delve provided the raw materials needed for the next delve. At each new frontier, using ores just mined, they built new forges and foundries necessary to expand into the next frontier. As new generations were born, the clan elders retired to the older, more lavish quarters closer to the Halls of Ruling, making way for younger Dwarves to keep on delving.
The phrase “clan halls” had two meanings. First, it referred to the clan’s seat of power, the chamber closest to the frontier large enough to host a clan gathering. With the exception of the Earth Dwarves and the Mountain Dwarves, the locations of the clan halls changed with time, moving farther from the Halls of Ruling as the clans delved. Secondly, the entire territory occupied by the clan was also referred to as the clan halls. Thus, Stonedan was the designation for the chamber where King Virdan held clan meetings and also for the entire area between the Hammer Dwarves’ birthing chamber and their most recently excavated frontier.