The easiest way to introduce you to Dwarven honor is to describe Valdarag, who was first a warrior in the clan that shall not be named, then clanless, then adopted into the Mountain Dwarves, then first of the new Blood Dwarves and finally, he became the Eternal Warrior. He exemplified Dwarven honor at its best.
When the Dark Ones invaded his clan halls (notice how I’ve honored Dar’s edict and avoided mentioning the clan that was by name), Valadarag rounded up the survivors and led them to the Halls of Ruling, where he faced an angry Highfather. The actions of one Dwarf reflected on every Dwarf in a clan and the Traitor’s treachery had brought disgrace to Valdarag’s clan. As punishment, Dar declared them clanless, but then he did an about face and gave them a chance to fight and regain honor lost.
Dar only gave the clanless this second chance because of Valdarag. The warrior didn’t deny that their honor had been stained, he agreed wholeheartedly. Every dwarf in the clan felt the stain of the Traitor’s treachery and was sick about it. More than anything, they wanted to get back into Highfather’s good graces. When Dar agreed to let the clanless fight, Valdarag volunteered them for the vanguard, thinking that those who took the Dark One’s first charge would be remembered with honor whether they lived or died. Highfather was so impressed that he adopted Valdarag as a Mountain Dwarf, if he survived the onslaught.
Valdarag did more than survive, he stepped between Dar and Cthar and became a true hero by taking a blow meant to kill the Dwarven king. Cthar angrily flung him across the Halls taking Valdarag so close to death that his spirit came within sight of the Gates of Heaven before being called back into his body.
In that moment, I think Valdarag truly did die, but the Necessity saved him to oppose the Traitor’s evil. Who better for this than a Dwarf of the Traitor’s own clan, a Dwarf as brave as the Traitor was cowardly, a Dwarf as much as hero as the Traitor was villain?
I already told you (see Dwarven History) how Dar the Wise reestablished the Blood Dwarves a thousand years later and made Valdarag clan chief. Valdarag was the obvious choice, the only choice really, to lead the new Blood Dwarves. After his exploits in the Battle of Unending Night, and ever since, Valdarag was widely hailed as the bravest warrior of the Forge Folk.
When Dar named Valdarag the first new Blood Dwarf, he also named him Eternal Warrior. I think he meant it as a well-deserved thank you for a job well done, not to be taken literally, but his choice of name had implications that he couldn’t have foreseen. I’ll grant you that Dar wasn’t called Dar the Wise for nothing. He saw far and he saw clearly, but he wasn’t a Pangral. Maybe it was instinct, or chance, that came up with it, but I don’t trust coincidence. I think the Necessity nudged him.
When Ilnaya was kidnapped, Valdarag volunteered, no that’s too mild, Valdarag insisted on joining the Aeris and Kandol’s quest to rescue her. They tracked her to the Darkhold and discovered that her abductor was the Traitor’s stooge. When Valdarag and the Traitor came face to face, it was like destiny bitch-slapped Valdarag upside the head. The Traitor was his arch-nemesis [insert evil comic book cackle]. They were destined to battle one another for eternity, until one or the other prevailed.
Their first match was a declared a draw when both fled the destruction of the Darkhold and the world as they knew it rather than keep fighting. It was a more difficult decision than you’d think, but inevitable if you stop to think about it. Had that match had ended it, Dar would have named Valdarag the Fleeting Warrior, or maybe the Short-lived Warrior.
After rejoining the Forge Folk in the newly risen Daladorns and then having the highlights of his trek to the Darkhold inked on his back, Valdarag resigned as clan chief to take up a lonely vigil at Garaspin, a mountain in the Ironteeth where he keeps one eye on the Shadowgrim and the other on the Darkstar. He was willing to wait as long as it took, and it did take a long time, but before the end, he and the Traitor settled their age old score.
And that, in a nutshell, is Dwarven stubbornness honor.