Dwarves were known for having a great sense of direction and Dar Highfather called upon his immediately following the Congress. It led him straight to Mount Tarnillar and the would-be Halls of Ruling inside the mountain. The first thing he did was make a hammer and suit of armor for himself, so he wouldn’t feel quite so naked and when I said he made them, I meant he made them, as in created from thin air with Earthmagery. With his trusty hammer Earthbiter in hand, he hewed the Halls from the rough chamber under the mountain. You’d have thought it would take a legion of Dwarves a century or more to delve such a massive undertaking, but Dar managed it without any help in only a couple of years – that’s how powerful his gift was.
One of the first things he did was raise the Circling Path and the Seat of Stone. Highfather had his priorities in order, yes sir, he did. What king wouldn’t want a nice throne to sit in? The Circling Path was a huge column of stone, a thousand feet high and a hundred feet across, with stairs spiraling around the perimeter to the top where Dar set his throne. When I said Dar raised up the Circling Path, I meant it, literally. He held out his hands like Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea and the ground trembled. The Path turned in the earth and rose at Dar’s command like a giant screw.
Once the Halls were complete, Dar discovered the thin stone walls hiding the birthing chambers. There were nine of them, one for each clan, and smashed the walls to bits with Earthbiter. The clan numbers were low at first, two score for each clan, few of which were women. If the gods hadn’t adjusted things in the Pool of Life and given the Forge Folk a commensurately low sex drive compatible with a ten to one gender ratio, the Forge Folk might have come to a bloody end right then and there, but the truth is, Dwarves were more likely to fight over rubies than women.
After the Secondborn woke and had properly marveled at the Circling Path, Dar did an about face and lowered it back into the earth. Then he told them to delve and delve until Carardar sprawled beneath the entire mountain range. Only then, he explained, would they come into contact with other Elder Races. Until that day came, the Circling Path would remain ensconced in the earth.
With so few women, the population grew slowly, but few females weren’t the only reason for the small numbers, Malthusian economics had a hand in this too. Cultivating edible plants in a subterranean environment wasn’t easy and food was always in short supply. The Dwarves were careful not to grow the population faster than the food supply could support. Dwarven women weren’t too fertile – each had two, maybe three kids, and then that was it. This meant that it took several generations to build up the numbers, long enough to find more caverns suitable for subterranean farming. Had it not been for their long life span (until the Reckoning, the Forge Folk had eternal life, so I may have slightly understated this), they might not have made it. Still, over thousands of years, the Forge Folk did become a populous people. Ultimately, Caradar might have had an overcrowding problem, but before this became an issue, Kandol pulled down the world and Caradar was lost in the remaking.
Nearly twelve hundred years after the Secondborn Dwarves awoke, Elras (it had to be him, didn’t it? He was at the center of everything) discovered the Forge Folk. By then, Caradar stretched from from one end of the mountains to the other. As promised, Dar raised the Path again, a symbol for the Forge Folk’s open armed reception of their surface dwelling neighbors, but unknown to him, Erlik was ready and waiting. The first time Dar raised the Path, the Dark Lord had sensed weakness in the wards too late to take action and then, when Dar lowered the Path, it had been like someone was drilling a spike into his head, giving him a migraine that had never gone away. This time, Erlik knew what was happening right away and, when the veil between the worlds was at its thinnest, he sent an evil through. It wasn’t until much later that Dar would learn the price, but it was high and suffice it to say that when the time came to pay the piper, Elras involved too.
Personally, I think Dar got a little carried away with the whole up, down, up thing. It would have been a lot simpler to just wait for Elras to find his people and then raise the Circling Path as a symbol of friendship, but no, Dar had to make a strong first impression with his Secondborn. A little showy, don’t you think?
Until the Darkening, when all hell broke loose (in every sense of the word), life in Caradar continued on without mishap, which is a nice way of saying that things were fairly boring in Caradar. I don’t want to mislead you, boring could have been used to describe many Elder Races back in those days of tranquility, it came from a lack of conflict. Sure, a few Dark Ones broke free every now and then, but for the most part, very little ever shattered the serenity of the Full Radiance. There is wisdom in the Necessity.
The Forge Folk, delved, slept, ate, drank and that was about it, other than a little stone artistry. Every waking moment was spent delving and expanding the clan halls and any free time that they squeezed in, well, they spent that delving too. If you wanted an active social life, you were better off with the Fair Folk. The Elves knew how to party and their method of prayer was infinitely more interesting.
But all good things must come to pass, and when the Darkening came, it almost ended everything, not just the good things. To Dar’s everlasting shame, which as it turned out wasn’t very long at all, one of his people caused it all. An evil from the Darkhold disguised as a creature of beauty seduced a dwarf into breaking Lillandra’s Ban and, just as the goddess of the Hearth had predicted, from love gone wrong, Sorrow entered the world. I could tell you the story of the Traitor’s seduction and make you feel sorry for him, but that wouldn’t be fair to those that died. He might have felt some guilt for what he’d done but at the end, he had a chance to make amends and didn’t. He sided with the Dark Lord so don’t shed any tears for him. If you must cry, shed them instead for the innocents who died and for those who survived to live without the Full Radiance of the Three Suns.
The Dark Ones returned the Traitor’s favor by invading his clan halls first and many died, but not as many as could have. Part of the Dark Ones’ cruelty was allowing the Traitor’s clanmates to live and see the destruction one of their number had caused. Valdarag led those fleeing the assault to the Halls of Ruling, but when Dar learned of the Traitor’s treachery, he blew a gasket. With full approval from the other clan chiefs, he disowned the Traitor’s entire clan and named them the clanless,which for a Dwarf was the equivalent of a dishonorable military discharge. I don’t think that was very fair of Highfather. The other clansmen had no clue what the Traitor intended, but in staining his own honor, the Traitor had stained the entire clan’s.
After Valdarag made a passionate (for a Dwarf) plea, Dar allowed the clanless to fight side by side with clans and, in a stroke of genius, made Valdarag a probationary Mountain Dwarf, subject to surviving the upcoming battle. With that one brilliant move, Dar re-enfranchised the clanless while upholding his recent sentence. The other clan chiefs followed suit and when the clanless took the vanguard against the Dark Ones’ charge, each fought to bring honor to self and adopted clan.
They didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of the end of the clan bloodlines. By the end of the Battle of Unending Night (BUN), the dead outnumbered the living in Caradar. Dar Highfather himself was one of the casualties after losing a showdown with Cthar. Valdarag tried to save him, earning his stripes in the process, but the Stealer of Souls was too much for Dar. Blood Dwarves, Deep Dwarves and Hammer Dwarves were nearly wiped out. Askari, Redhaven, Irondeep and Stonedan were no more and the five remaining clan halls had suffered heavy damage. For the first time ever, the Forge Folk encouraged marrying into other clans.
Dar the Wise, Highfather’s eldest son, took over the Seat of Stone after the BUN and for the first time ever, encouraged marriage across clan bloodlines. It was a matter of survival, too many had died in the war. On the millennial anniversary of the BUN, many gathered at Jahar to remember those who had fallen and Dar surprised everyone by announcing a new clan of Blood Dwarves, a clan bound not by bloodlines, but by blood of battle. Dar reserved for himself the right to admit warriors into the new club and made Valdarag the first member. It was easy to spot a Blood Dwarf by his tattoos. They memorialized their victories by inking them, I think it helped them earn their badass reputation.
It didn’t take long for Valdarag to prove the honor of the new clan. While Dar the Wise was anointing him with new designations, Daeryss snatched Ilnaya from her tent. When Aeris and Kandol started after him, Valdarag saw his opportunity. The adventure of those three heroes is part of The Tale and told in detail in The Warrior Revealed. Whether you’ve read that volume or not, you know how it ended – with the Reckoning and a whole lotta change.
Dar the Wise took the Path of the Reborn at the end of the age, along with many other Forge Folk. He left his people in the hands of his capable grandson, Dar III. Abdicating his throne showed just how smart a Dwarf was Dar the Wise! Dan knew the challenges his grandson would face. Caradar had been swallowed up when the world was remade and the Forge Folk needed new clan halls, but, after building up their numbers for a thousand years, suddenly there weren’t that many of them.
Those who stayed on Sangrar spent centuries delving new clan halls in the Daladorn Mountains, named for Dar III’s uncle. Daladorn was a clan priest back when being a channeler meant something and he followed his father and grandfather to the Heavens at the end of the Elder Days, but not before saving his clan’s Ring Forge from destruction. Without Spirit’s magik, the forge no longer held the power it once had, but it was still one a treasured possessions.
Thousands of years later, Galdan, brother of Dar, first king of that name in four generations and the fourth overall, took the forge and many followers south to Tyrnavalle to delve new clan halls in the Highpeak Mountains. Tarik knew Galdan, they were practically neighbors, and said that Galdan used to boast of stealing away with the forge in the middle of the night. Tarik never quite believed him. He thought someone one would have come looking for the forge if it had really been stolen. It had to have been taken with consent, he’d say and then wink, unless the forge is a forgery!
By the time Hali arrived on Tyrnavalle, Galdan’s grandson, Dalin ruled the Forge Folk in the Highpeaks and the House of Dar still sat upon the throne in the Daladorns. When Dalin died abruptly, in the year 353 RT, his sons Dalarus and Dan squabbled. Dan, the younger of the two, struck out for the Achmad Mountains, along with hundreds of other Forge Folk who had tired of the Highpeak clan halls.