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Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn - Turn 5

Summary below:

This was the first time the longhouse felt cold. The walls were as thick and tight as always - not even the whistles of the wind ran through the tar-filled cracks between the planks and stone. The coals in the central hearth glowed with heat and light as usual, yet the air was as chilling as the outdoors. Neither debate nor dispute rustled through it; merely frightened whispers dared venture out into the room. The full hall had never felt emptier. The silence remained even as Osman Slag came out from the back room. He scanned the faces of his people - they told different stories - some long, others short; some involving a family, others involving a life's work - but all had the same conclusion: Death. Osman sat down in his chair, ran a hand through his long, black beard, and cleared his throat.

"Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. I, foreman Osman Slag of the Union of Steel, declare this meeting of Unions to be open. All mouths will speak, all ears will hear, all minds will think. Our agenda today is once again long and may very well decide the future of our people. Let us begin." Osman raised his fist in Steel Union salute. Each Union saluted back in their own way.

"I trust we have all heard Logmaster Joron Scroll's report. Against my better judgment, I let him take Kadol, Mehmel Flame and Qorr Coal to the western hills to investigate what many of us thought was but silly younglingspeak. I see now that I was in the wrong - let it be said once more: I was in the wrong. When even the world-eyes return with tales of ghosts, it is clear that we have strayed too far from reality. Our time in the mountain deep has made many of us blind to the world of the spirits - a world our ancestors knew well. While we can debate long and hard about whether we have angered the spirits, none can dispute one fact: We have forgotten them. This must change at this instant. I, foreman Osman Slag, lay the following suggestion before the council: The world-eyes movement is, from now on, banned." A sudden collective roar of fury shot out from the Union of Phosphorous and some members from nearly every other Union.

"Foreman, you are being irrational. Yes, we, too, were in the wrong and taunted our brothers and sisters needlessly even though they spoke nothing by truth - but there is no need to-" Erima Rock said desperately.

"You world-eyes often speak of others' reluctance to accept the alchemical truth. You shun those of your own who believe in all that cannot be seen with one's eyes. If spirits that can be seen exist, we must accept that spirits who cannot be seen, also may exist. Therefore, we can no longer allow the further existence of your movement," Osman replied. In the crowd, Joron Scroll and Daven Glint, representative from the Bronze Union, nodded in approval. Erima lowered her head and gestured for the rowdy world-eyes to calm down.

"Joron Scroll. Step forth. I asked you to take your wisest and discover for us the story of this Godrim Thunderhowler. Have you come to a discovery yet?"

Joron stepped forward. A pair of assistants each came bearing a small stack of copper disks, many of them green with age, and placed them down on the table. Afterwards, another pair each brought a bundle of parchment scrolls, one of them looking ripped and mouldy. Joron cleared his throat and runmaged through the documents and disks until he found the oldest disk and the oldest scroll. He gently removed the band keeping the scroll rolled neatly and calmly rolled it out, clearing his throat once more before reading:

"Mountain yonder, clad in snow; tell me why my city burns; Orr'gavol, the shadow spurns; taste for blood, eyes that glow."

Joron put the scroll down and reached for a moss-green copper disk. He rubbed it gently with a fold of his robe and began reading:

"When the Golumnara looked down and saw the Umnastarr, their hearts grew hot with fury and their minds black with rage. Disgusted with the arrogance of the Gol'ungyr, the Golumnara struck down the mountains in the west and in the north, unleashing a thousand days of ice and death upon the Valley of the Darr. Shards like tusks of beasts rained from the heavens on weary Gol'ungyr bodies, waves of snow and frost flushed through the valley like a tide - a tide fat with ravenous sharks."

Joron put down the disk. At this point, many of the dwarves around had leaned so far in they were figuratively lying on top of the tables. Osman drummed his fingers impatiently. Joron dug through the pile once again and pulled out a slightly newer, yet still rather green, disk from the pile. He brushed some dust off it and began reading:

"Popomel the First was right in his mission to undo the Umnastarr, but even the destruction of the stairway to the heavens could not soothe the fury on the Golumnar's peak. His line was snapped early for his ignorance - merely forbidding the sacrilege of surmounting Golumnar was a meagre attempt to please those ever-holy on high. Meagre, meagre, meagre. We saw, yes, we all felt the punishment of the Golumnara: A winter not only in the form of frost, but in fear. The demons came from the north and west - brought our every home to ruin. Eyes like kindling coals; tusks like spears of steel; mind set on naught but the flesh of us sinners."

Joron put down the second disk. He declared that there was one more document to present before he could share his conclusion. He picked up a final scroll, this one looking surprisingly new. He pulled the black ribbon sealing the scroll off and unrolled it.

"Six were chosen out of us; one of every folk; given axe, given shield; given all that they may wield; placed in hills, placed in caves; placed to guard us 'gainst the waves.
Hark, the horn of death is blown; one for every guard; ancestors, holy gods - give us all that we may wield; fight in hills, fight in caves; here we die against the waves.

Joron put down the scroll. His assistants came over and began to clean the table of the documents and disks. Joron stepped closer to the centre of the room and looked around. Half the crowd looked very confused; the other half looked to have some fear mixed in with the confusion. Joron nodded at Osman, who looked somewhat confused himself. Joron sighed and lifted his hand.

"My fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, we have studied the few texts and logs we managed to salvage after the Calamity. Our research have brought us to the harrowing conclusion that our people's history with the gruesome winters of old here in the valley of the Darr, may not only have been characterised by ice and snow. With the words of Godrim Thunderhowler as an addition to our research and the discovery of the skulls below the mountains to the west, we propose the idea that our people never fell to merely the cold - there was something else out there. This scourge that the logs and scrolls keep mentioning. This wave of death, of sharks, of demons. We cannot say for now exactly what these are, but the gods know, we must prepare ourselves. Thunderhowler's spirit spoke of 'evils of this world', and we cannot go on pretending that these do not exist. Good foreman, history's truth is that the gods are cruel in their nature, and that is the way we must see them - cruel and very, very real. Foreman, I propose we begin sacrificise of food, craftsmanship and animals to the gods, as we did in ages past. Only then-..."

"We will do no such thing, Joron Scroll," Osman retorted curtly. "Our supplies are stretched thin already, even thinner if we add the potential threat of an invasion."

"What will we do then, good foreman?" Joron pleaded. "If we do not attempt to please the gods in hopes of a lighter punishment, then we must prepare for their icy wrath."

Osman nodded. He pointed to the last of the scrolls and disks that the assistants were busy carrying back to the house of the Union of Copper.

"Runesmithing. You will take our finest scholars and you will find some way to unlock the ancient arts of runesmithing. That is sure to give us an edge in a coming conflict." Joron looked dumbfounded, uncharacteristically so. Some dwarves in the crowd began discussing whether the foreman had lost his mind, some even laughed.

"Good foreman, correct me if I heard wrong - you commanded me to uncover the secrets of runesmithing?" Joron repeated.

"And by your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, you shall complete this mission," Osman affirmed, looking as serious as he always did, if not a little stern. Joron's brow rose in disbelief.

"Foreman, I am not certain if you understand - runesmithing has not been practiced since the time of Popomel the Second, and even then, most of the techniques of the ancient times were forgotten. Even if we had all the scrolls and logs in Gol'kharumm, we would likely never uncover anything!"

"You have been given your command, Logmaster. You shall take the Union of Phosphorous and the Union of Glass with you. Together, the three Unions will uncover the secret to saving our people. Now go." Joron Scroll of the Copper, Erima Rock of the Phosphorous Union, and Herim Ore of the Glass Union all looked equially unwilling to do as commanded, but a certain hint of curiousity glinted all their eyes. Just maybe, they thought. They said their oath aloud and left the hall with their respective unions. Osman fell back into his chair and scratched his arm. Khyber Tin of the Mithril Union stood up with some difficulty and looked at Osman.

"That was foolish, foreman. Runesmithing has been a myth for centuries, and now you set nearly a third of our people and nearly all of our greatest minds on the task of chasing a legend. I pray to the Heaven Smith and all the Forge-Saints that this produces the results you hope for. Otherwise, you have wasted the valuable time we do not have." He gave an angry grunt before he got up and left the hall, along with the rest of the Mithril Union. Osman felt beads of sweat form on his forehead. Was the stress finally getting to him? He pushed the thought away when Quana Forge stood up.

"Foreman, there is still the issue of the magnatite in the western mountains. The spirit, while bearing ill news, is a friend to our people. We can therefore finally begin mining the iron we need. However, with the snows having settled, travel there will be hard. We must plan proper, efficient routes and get that iron as soon as possible."

Osman pondered this for a second and gave an agreeing nod. "I approve of your proposal, Quana. You shall command the Union of Silver to help you plan an efficient network of paths until spring comes and we can begin constructing roads. Until then, use wooden roads and bridges where the snow gets too deep or too treacherous. Igura Water of the Union of Silver. You have heard your task. You and your union will aid Quana Forge and the Union of Steel in constructing the road to the new western mine, and by your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, you shall complete this mission."

Igura Water, a young, fair-haired dwarf of a thin, slim build, stepped forward and courtesied in the Silver Union style. Her fingers were armoured with gold and silver rings; her neck was heavy with necklaces; her robes were wrapped in pristine pelts. "By my fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, I shall complete this mission," she repeated, flashing a grin of golden teeth, and left with Quana Forge and their Unions. The dwarves that remained looked at Osman in disbelief. Ra'ol Cave stepped forward and looked ready to give Osman a piece of his mind, but Osman was quicker.

"Ah, Ra'ol, just the dwarf I wanted to call up next. You will take your Union, along with the Unions of Earth and Bronze, and begin constructing a mountain fortress in the great cracks to the west. We must strengthen the defenses of the new iron route post-haste." Ra'ol lowered his fist, looking dumbfounded.

"Now? As winter begins? Even if we had the tools to do that, we would still be short on all kinds of supplies!" Ra'ol retorted switfly and loudly. Osman waved a dismissive hand.

"This fortress will act as an outpost for rest and warmth in the winter months to come. It will also provide protection against this new threat that may come from the west."

"But-!" Ra'ol pleaded. Osman, looking unusually vexed, waved his hand dismissively once more.

"You shall have all the resources and help you may need, Ra'ol. Now get to it. This meeting is adjourned." Osman stood up and walked into the backroom in a storm. Outside, he heard outrage and disbelief at the foreman's orders. Osman grunted quietly in pain and looked down at his arm.

He had scratched it bloody.
Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn - Turn 4

Summary below:

Osman let out a long, drawn-out groan and rubbed a finger against his right temple. Elder Calendarmaster Herim gave him an empathetic nod before walking out into the great hall where representatives and spectators from all the other Unions were making a wild ruckus of a debate. Osman glimpsed through the doorway at the raging mob that would certainly ruin his day. He took a swig of the newly tapped acorn ale - the stale, bitter flavour woke him up somewhat. He stood up, spat into a pot by the wall and walked out into the great hall.

The mob slowly quieted down, though the air was still damp with anger. Some coughs and groans sounded from the crowd. The number of spectators was greater than usual - there was no doubt that the recent news had raged through the settlement like fire in dry grass. Osman stepped over to his chair in front of the crowd and remained standing in front of it.

"Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. I, foreman Osman Slag of the Union of Steel, declare this meeting of Unions to be open. All mouths will speak, all ears will hear, all minds will think. Our agenda today is long and dire. It is therefore imperative that we all adhere to the laws of debate. Respect the speaker or leave the hall." Osman forced a glare at certain dwarves in the crowd, but many met his with an equally, or perhaps more, threatening one. Osman pulled back somewhat and continued, "Now that we all have the same understanding, let the first matter of the day be laid forth. Kadol, Qorr Coal and Mehmel Flame, all of the Union of Steel, step foreward."

The three dwarves, each of different generations, stepped forward. All three saluted Osman by raising their fist into the air - Osman returned the salute. Qorr Coal had a broad stature and a well-fed gut, though it had grown skinnier since the days before the Calamity. His hair ran black as coal and his stunted forehead ended in a single, bushy eyebrow on his wide forehead. This dwarf was contrasted well by Mehmel Flame, who looked like a short stick next to Qorr. This thin dwarf looked to be a scholar, or possibly a prospector - no dwarf of the Steel Union could ever work the forges with a stature like that. Nevertheless, his soot-shaded chestnut eyebrows hung low over his eyes in an earnest demeanor. The smallest of the three, Kadol, looked no older than twenty winters, a mere pebble among boulders. His fair beard had yet to reach his chest, and even his lack of a worker name spoke of how little this one had seen of the world. Osman beckoned at them, signalling for them to speak. Qorr patted Kadol on the back, perhaps a little too roughly, and the young dwarf stumbled a step forward. He looked up at Osman and his councillors and took a moment to collect his thoughts, it seemed, before he spoke.

"G-good foreman," he stuttered. "Our mission was, in, uh... A manner of speaking, uh... A success. We f-found a vein of iron. It looked to be long and rich in nature. However, it's, uh... It's-"

"It's what? Speak properly, lad!" Khyber Tin of the Union of Mithril spat. Kadol recoiled a little and took another moment to reconstruct his words. "Mind not the Hammermaster, lad. Go on," Osman muttered and glared at Khyber.

"It's haunted, cursed, by an evil spirit, good foreman!" Kadol cried. A moment of silence passed, followed by a roar of laughter from the Union of Phosphorous and Silver and certain members of the Unions of Glass. It was also met with uneasy whispering from the Unions of Copper, Gold, Earth and certain members with the Unions of Mithril and Steel. "It's true!" Kadol shouted, only to be met with louder laughter from one side of the hall. Erima Rock of the Union of Phosphorous stood up and wiped a tear from her eye as she coughed up one last guffaw.

"With all due respect, young Kadol, there are no such things as spirits - no such things as haunted veins. These are all just tales we tell our young to keep them from disturbing the miners at work - perhaps nobody has told you that yet? If so, I feel terribly sorry for you, my dear." She gave Kadol a smile that somewhat warped into a smirk the longer she held it. Logmaster Joron Scroll of the Union of Copper rose to his feet, face pink with anger and beard fuzzy with rage. His brow hung so low over his eyes that his old forehead lost its usual wrinkles.

"What manner of abhorring speech is this, foreman? Listen to this one spit lines of mockery at our son - and you do nothing to quiet her poisonous words. What you world-eyes never seem to grasp is that the spirits indeed exist, and that they indeed hold a very poor opinion of our current understanding of them. The ancestor spirits see their children's minds rot away to leave nothing but cold, mechanical shadows of thoughts. The gods, good foreman, the gods are furious with us for our lack of tribute and for this one's blasphemous-"

"Hah! More empty threats from a madman," Erima said smugly.

"The only madmen here are those who blindly trust in their so-called 'alchemical truth'! We will all be slaughtered by the spirits should we attempt to mine that vein!"

A violent cacophony of a debate exploded in the great hall, with each side sticking fingers in each others faces - sometimes even exchanging blows. As much as Osman and his closest tried to shout for peace and quiet, their pleas could not pierce the thick wall of sound that formed around the crowd. A deafening gong soon brought the entire room to a gravelike silence. Khyber had slammed a nearby copper disk so hard he'd dented it in an effort to get the crowd's attention.

"What part of the Reunification did my dear sons and daughters forget, pray tell?!" he scolded. "Sit down and be good for once, by the Heaven Smith." The old dwarf shook his head and waddled back to his own seat. The rest of the room quickly followed suit. Osman put his face in his right hand for a moment.

"Are you certain this is what you saw, Kadol?" he muttered as he raised it back up. The young dwarf nodded, looking several shades paler, no doubt out of fear that someone would have called for his head during the argument. "Did you two see it, too?" Mehmel Flame and Qorr Coal both nodded. "Take my eyes if I lie, good foreman," Qorr Coal added. Osman groaned and waved Elder Calendarmaster Herim Ore over for counsel. While they discussed, the atmosphere grew ever heavier. Finally, Osman looked back at the crowd and stood up.

"These are indeed dire news. We need that iron dearly, or else our industry may not reawaken for a whole winter. That cannot be allowed to happen. Quana Forge, you will take these three and some more and go to the mountain to begin-..."

"Did you hear nothing of what the lad said, foreman?" Joron Scroll snapped. "The mountain is evil. We cannot send our people blind into what can potentially be their graves!" His words were complemented by uneasy nods from Quana Forge and other members of the Steel Union.

"Joron Scroll, I've said this before - your gods and not mine, and mine are not-..."

"That is not the issue here, good foreman. This is no debate about whether we believe the world was created by the Golumnar pantheon or by simply popping into existence, or whatever the world-eyes believe. Spirits exist and they are powerful - had the runesmiths of old been here, they could have demonstrated their power. Our logs speak of magic and power beyond what the eyes can see, good foreman. If these three truly have seen that power made manifest - in an observable form, no less, it is imperative that we send in a delegation of our greatest scholars to study and communicate with this spirit - learn from it."

"I, uh... I cannot simply-..." Osman tried to shape a sentence to counter Joron's words, but it was clear that something had to be done.

"You allow this old maniac to sway you, good foreman?" Erima Rock said, seeming a little surprised. "Fine. The Phosphorous Union agrees. Let them go and see for themselves. All they will find is a mountain with snow and a vein of iron that we will proceed to excavate - and no spirits. In fact, we will even send our own delegation with them bearing consolation gifts for when their surveying yield nothing." Her words received surprisingly little support, even from her own Union, which left the air even heavier than before.

"Foreman," Joron said, ignoring Erima, "I request permission to formally organise a delegation of our finest to go to the mountain and study this spirit. Will you sanction it?"

"I... I will allow it," Osman said. "Quana, you and the rest of your miners will remain here and await further instructions. Who will go with Joron Scroll to study the spirit of the mountain?"

It took a moment, but soon, dwarves from the the Unions of Gold, Copper, Mithril and Bronze rose up. They gathered by the door and looked to be waiting for Joron.

"You will not regret this, good foreman. We shall bring back logs upon logs of ancient secrets. Thank you, truly." The old dwarf bowed as low as his back would allow him. Osman felt a little unease, considering him and Joron never had been particularly good to each other before.

"I pray that I won't. Go now." Joron saluted Osman by placing his palm over his heart and then left swiftly. The three dwarves who had spoken of the spirit followed after him. Osman rubbed his temples once more.

"Alright... Second matter on the agenda: The communal housing. With the barrels of ale taking up so much space, we ought to have more sheds. Ra'ol Cave of the Stone Union, step forward." The red-bearded dwarf stepped forward and beat his chest in salute.

"It can be done, good foreman," he said. "However, storage space is not the only problem. Already now, some houses begin to grow too crowded to live in. We ought to construct additional huts for out people, perhaps even begin to dig mountain homes. However, with our tools still being rather limited in number, we cannot begin constructing anything that digs too deep into stone. Our best bet will be to construct a great wooden hall for now - when winter has passed, we will redouble our efforts and begin digging our homes into the mountain once more."

"I reckon you suggest we store the ale outside until the great hall is finished, then?" Ra'ol nodded.

"It'll halt the fermentation and possibly ruin the flavour of most of the brews, but it is mandatory that we have enough space to live in until we can construct a great hall. I'm certain we can find some way to make the flavour bearable." Ra'ol looked to Makkar Stone of the Earth Union, whose facial expression radiated opposition against the idea.

"I will not let our people drink frozen sewer water for the entirety of winter. Set a unit of builders on the task of expanding the most crowded homes. Until then, we will just have to even out the number of dwarves per house. Conflict between Unions will not be tolerated." Osman's orders were met with groans from some within the crowd.

"That is your task, and by your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, you shall complete it."

"So be it. By my fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, I shall complete it," Ra'ol Cave echoed and pounded his chest in salute. He and his Union then left the hall.

Osman leaned back in his chair. He raised his hand and proclaimed that the meeting was over, before standing up and going to the back room. On the outside, he heard the rumbling mumbles of the crowd discussing the poor quality of the meeting.

"The first snows have settled, foreman," Herim said. "We are underprepared for the winter - we should send out explorers to see if we have neighbours. Trade is the only way we can survive this winter."

"Perhaps another time, Herim," Osman groaned.
Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn - Turn 3

Summary below:

The smoke once again rose thick from the furnaces in the Hammersworn settlement, but it was a putrid smoke - one that reeked of unrefined materials and desperation. The brown, muddy coal they burned now had not called a Hammersworn furnace home in many centuries, for it had quickly fallen out of fashion after its darker cousin had been discovered. It felt shameful to some to resort to this feeble, empty stone for warmth. However, many of the dwarves, especially those of the Union of Copper, the Union of Bronze and the Union of Gold, paid little to no mind to the poor quality of their fuel. They once again had tools in hand and could work their craft like in the days that now almost seemed like distant legends. The dwarves began reforging broken tools and weaponry to the degree that the circumstances allowed for. Some tools were too resistant for the cold lignite to break down in the furnace, while others could be restored. Ecstatic to once again work metal, many dwarves of the Union of Gold smelted their jewerly just so they could reforge it out of sheer joy. The thunderous roars of fires and cheers filled the valley around.

In the spirit of the seeming reincarnation of their way of life, the Worker Council, spearheaded by foreman Osman Slag, ordered the Union of Mithril, the oldest and greatest crafters among the Hammersworn, to oversee the construction of a new mine to extract more lignite coal. The demand was growing at unprecedented rates and needed to be satisfied post-haste. Khyber Tin, leader of the Mithril Union and possibly the oldest dwarf among the survivors, accepted the mission with reluctance, as he did not agree with the usage of lignite as a substitute for true black coal. Many of the metals worked by the Mithril Union were too heat resistant to submit to the cool flames of brown coal; some were too delicate to be mixed with the crude chemicals within lignite, as well. However, in keeping with their union oath to "always forward industry", the Mithril unionists, supported by the Unions of Bronze and Stone, began work on a great and intricate mining network into the lignite vein.

During the construction, however, discontent rose among the dwarves to whom lignite remained useless. The Union of Steel, back up by the Union of Mithril, were the most vocal in the Worker Council meetings. Quana Forge slammed her rough, burn-scarred fist into the longtable inside the communal house of the Union of Steel, where this week's meeting was held.

"This is unacceptable, sisters and brothers!" she shouted, her red braids shivering from the shockwave from her fist. "We cannot divert this many resources to a temporary solution. Brown coal will be of no use to us once we uncover the black. This mine will be at least twice the size it needs to be. To sink such a portion of our already draining stockpiles into this project is a waste of time, sweat, wood and stone. We urge you to reconsider, foreman!" Her plea inspired nodding and grunts of agreement around the table. Khyber Tin of the Union of Mithril planted his colossal hands on the table and, with a little help from two dwarves on each side of him, pushed himself to his feet. Quana Forge and all other who stood sat down. The old dwarf looked at every representative around the table before turning to Osman Slag.

"With... With mandate from the council, good foreman, you gave... Us, me and my kin of the Union of Mithril, a mission most dire - to supply our people with fuel for our crafts and hearths. Upon... Reviewing this project's future relevance for our kin as a whole, my sisters, brothers, sons and daughters and I have come to the conclusion... That the proportions of this project are folly. By the Heaven Smith, the mud clumps our sister Quana refers to as 'brown coal' benefit none but the crafters of weak, soft metals. While you know... Me and my kin will complete any task for our people, it is no secret that I wish, from the bottom of this old heart, to use the resources somewhere else." The old dwarf sat down, again with some help from his assistants. There came angry mumbling from the Unions of Copper, Bronze and Gold, but none rose to meet Khyber's words. Osman pondered for a while.

"Where would you rather have us divert these resources, Hammermaster Khyber?" Osman asked. Khyber looked to be struggling to his feet again, and while Osman gestured for him to remain seated, the old dwarf ignored the command and stood up after a moment.

"Quana Forge and the Steel Union bring news of great joy, good foreman. The waters and clay of the north run red with rust. Our noses... Fail us not, blessed by the Heaven Smith, they are. A great vein of iron must be nearby. Iron is the lifeblood... Of our people - a key to open the doors of every Union. We must build a smaller mine... So that we can supply the Steel Union's expedition to find this vein." The Steel unionists present banged the table in agreement. Visible discontent brewed between some of the unions, but none dared speak against Khyber.

"Your words ring true, Hammermaster. Only a subset of our people can utilise brown coal effectively in their art. I, for one, see no reason for the mine to be so big as to supply even those that see no need for it. We will divert food and water rationed for the builders to the Steel Union so they may go out to prospect once more." Logmaster Joron Scroll of the Union of Copper stood up. He had recently been released from his imprisonment and the winter cold had taken a considerable toll on him, with pale spots having formed on his face and hands.

"Foreman, if I may... While it is certainly important that the Steel Union be gifted such a generous load of supplies, it is equally important to consider resource safety for out settlement. It is true that the lakes and rivers will freeze soon, and where then will our people drink from? The earth will soon freeze and make a well too hard to dig. Only our furnaces will lead us from the purgatory of the gods. We shall use them to melt snow and ice - quench our people's thirst before it forms. Those furnaces will need several tons of coal over the winter - and where will we get that if not from the mine? Gods be good, foreman, they say that gold in the hand is better than a vein in the deep - the time for gambling and prospecting will have to wait until after the winter passes." Hums of consensus drifted between the dwarves. Khyber leaned his torso to the side and spat on the floor. Quana glared through Joron, who ignored them both and merely stared at Osman, who was being counseled by Elder Calendarmaster Herim Ore of the Union of Glass. After a few minutes of whispering and grumbling had passed, Osman stood up.

"Joron Scroll's words ring true. Water will be an issue come winter. The Darr runs shallow along here - its streams will shift into empty ice, unusable unless melted down. We will direct much of our coal flow to this very purpose should the need arise." He nodded at Joron, who looked dissatisfied with the answer, but Osman had expected little more. "However, we should not let the fear of disaster steal away the soul of our people. My decision remains firm and true - the Union of Steel will take the rations meant for the mine workers and set out to find iron post-haste. Quana Forge of the Steel Union! I, Osman Slag, foreman of the Worker Council, charge you and your union with this mission, and by your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, you shall complete it."

"By our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, we shall complete it," Quana echoed and saluted Osman with a fistbump into the air in traditional Steel Union fashion. She and the other Steel Unionists left the hall.

"Hammermaster Khyber Tin of the Union of Mithril. Your mission will remain much the same, but make due with the resources you have left. The mine must support our current industry, with possibilities for growth. However, you are no longer expected to exploit the whole vein. I trust you understand this correction?"

The old dwarf nodded. "By my sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, I shall see it through, foreman." He struggled to his feet and waddled out the hall, followed by his kin. Osman looked around the hall and set his eyes on Makkar Stone of the Earth Union.

"Makkar Stone, stand." The racoon-eyed dwarf stood up and gave Osman a tired, yet firm nod. Osman nodded back and voiced a simple "report".

"The earth was good to us, foreman. The forage brough a good hoard for now - while not all is palatable, it is nutritious and rich in energy. Our bigger problem, as master Joron Scroll already mentioned, will be water come winter. I agree with the Logmaster that the best course of action is to build several furnaces dedicated to melting ice and snow, and expanding the mine to supply these. However, there are ways we can bolster our beverage stores." Makkar paused briefly to untie his field flask from his belt. He uncorked it and passed it along the side of the table until it reached Osman, who took a wiff and grunted.

"That, foreman, is from the first batch of blackberry wine. Got a bit strong for some of the children, but we can make it weaker to substitute water in days scarce of snow." There were collective grunts of approval, even some words of praise and laughter. Osman took a small sip and rolled it around in his mouth. He let out an approving grunt, as well, and passed the flask back along the tableside.

"Makkar, my brother, you are a gift to our people. Have your union commence mass production of blackberry wine, applejack, mulberry brandy and rootbeer. Make sure to water it out come serving time - we wouldn't want any accidents. You will command one of your own to decide the rations, and these will apply to every dwarf of the Hammersworn." Herim leaned over to Osman and whispered something to him. Some dwarves leaned in to listen, but it seemed not to yield results. Osman nodded at Herim and looked back at Makkar.

"To specify, Makkar, you will use only the ripest, least palatable of ingredients. We much preserve our edible rations as best we can. Worry not about the flavour, you will not be blamed should batches sour. Your mission stands. I, your foreman, charge you as such, and by your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, you shall complete it."

Makkar put his flat palm to his chest and bowed. "By my fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, I shall complete it," he echoed and walked out the building, followed by his companions.

Osman sat back down. "This meeting is ajourned. Back to work." The dwarves around the longtable stood up in an orderly fashion and walked out the building. Osman remained a little longer to debate today's decisions with his advisors.
Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn - Turn 2

Summary below:

The familiar scent of smoke and the logs spitting sparks seemed calming to the dwarves. To feel true warmth again, without the sour wind cutting at the skin, brought with it an emotional warmth that none of them had known for a time. The borders between the Unions grew faint around the hearth, where the dwarves spoke, debated and rested between the shifts. All that remained now were the finishing touches on the great, partially-buried long houses. While the discontent had spiked momentarily at the suggestion that all the Unions should sleep in as few houses as possible to shorten the construction time and conserve resources, no one could deny the convenience of communal housing. Ten had been built, one for each Union, but even then, most of the dwarves feared not to mix. Working closer together than they ever had in hundreds of years, they began to interact with one another - albeit it sometimes involved insults and fists. Regardless, there was a collective feeling among the dwarves that to survive, old bridges would have to be rebuilt.

Osman called a meeting of the Worker Council. The issue of shelter was solved for now - none would freeze come winter.

"... At least, that is if we haven't all starved before then," said Makkar Stone, speaker of the Earth Union, with a sobriety that recently had become all too characteristic of him. The councilmen regarded him thoroughly, and whispers demanding solutions arose within the crowd. The light from the dancing flames in the centre hearth licked at the grim faces of the dwarves present. The wooden walls near the entrace whistled as the wind blew by, but the earth walls in the very end of the building made no sound at all - a familliar silence that Osman found he had missed terribly since the Calamity. Ra'ol Cave stepped forward, his long, fiery red beard and queue full of splinters and bark from the woodcrafting and construction work. He beat his chest with his fist twice in traditional Stone Union greeting.

"Makkar Stone raises an important issue. The construction of our homes went well, even with the tool shortage. However, it is a fact that every dwarf who worked on them went to sleep with an empty belly. Our larders are nearly empty - we have storage buildings that have yet not tasted food. We cannot continue without sustainance."

Osman ran a hand through his braided black beard and looked to Makkar, who nodded in agreement. Herim Ore of the Union of Glass, Tottu River of the Union of Phosphours and Quana Forge of the Union of Steel all nodded to each other and stepped forward. Osman raised his eyebrow at the trio and gestured for Makkar and Ra'ol to step back and let the others speak. Herim was the first to do so.

"Foreman, while our brethren of Earth and Stone are both right to raise this concern, we believe there is a more urgent matter at hand. We are the Hammersworn - we live to craft. We believe the most urgent task at hand is to put hammers, axes and tongs in our people's hands again. We have spoked to many of our own - they miss their craft, some more than they miss their supper." There were some grunts of approval among the dwarves present. Tottu spoke second.

"The Darr has been good to our people, foreman, as has the Golumnar. It is imperative that we revive our industry post-haste. We must survey the minerals of the earth and the mountain. We need to know if our tools with be sufficient to dig new mines and pits. If we start now, it is certain we will make it before the winter claims what food may be around. The larders will certainly hold - our noses smell coal; our tongues taste silver; our ears hear rusting; our eyes see gold. Nature cannot claim those whose spirit is does not starve." The grunts turned to words of agreement and nodding in the crowd. Makkar stood back up and opened his mouth, but Quana Forge of the Union of Steel was faster.

"The Union of Steel can get twenty furnaces working within a week if we find coal. We haven't wandered too far from Gol'kharumm. The Mothervein should still be close. If we find it, our people's lives can return to normal. We must send every man, woman and child out to find materials once mo-...!"

"Impossible! The rationing is already taking its toll on the people, and now you will reduce it further? Our people's lives are at stake, Quana!" Makkar spat at her. Quana's eyes stabbed at Makkar, followed by Tottu raising her voice and starting a counterargument, back up by ever-loudening rumbling from the crowd. Osman yelled for silence and stood up. The speakers all sat down and the crowd went quiet.

"We have had peace for many days now. It shall not be broken again over a petty dispute. Makkar of the Earth Union, Ra'ol of the Stone Union, step forward." The two dwarves rose up and stepped towards the hearth. "You two are to gather your unions and walk out into the wilderness. Gather whatever the earth and trees have that we can eat. Search the stream for fish, and go beyond in pursuit of game. Bring more with you should you need it. This is the foreman's order, and by your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, you shall complete it."

"By our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, we shall complete it," the two echoed and left the building. Osman turned to the other three speakers.

"Herim of the Glass Union, Tottu of the Phosphorous Union, Quana of the Steel Union, step forward. You are to gather your unions and survey the land. Every rock, every stock, every grain of sand and soil, all the cracks in the mountain wall - all shall be recorded and evaluated. We shall revive our people's purpose once more. This is the foreman's order, and by your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, you shall complete it."

"By our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, we shall complete it," the three speakers echoed, and brought their unions with them as they left. Those who remained awaited Osman's orders.

"Double the nightshifts. If we are attacked while they are away, we cannot afford to be taken by surprise. The foreman adjourns this meeting. Back to work." The crowd dispersed out the doorway. Osman remained by the fire for a little longer before he too returned to work.
Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn - Turn 1

Summary below:

Osman stood with one foot on a rock, leaning on his elevated leg as he scanned the vast plains of grass to the south. It was strange. The acres that had once been full of trees around Gol'kharumm looked very similar to these plains, only not as green - and with far fewer shrubs and far more soot. Behind him stretched the Ancestor Woods for miles and miles, down to the bank of the Darr, and continuing on the other side.

Neither he nor most of his people had ever been this far south of Lake Darr. The air felt more open here - emptier. Osman grunted in disapproval. He turned around to his councilmen of the Union of Glass and the Union of Earth to discuss further action. The recently appointed Elder Calendarmaster, Herim Ore of the Glass Union, was the first to speak:

"Foreman, I fear the stars and clouds tell of grim tidings ahead. I fear we cannot make accurate predictions without our longseers and our charts, but the feathers of heaven all fly south at ever greater speeds. The waters of the Darr grow colder by the day. The snow creeps ever further down the Golumnar. All the signs point to a coming storm - one of horrific and destructive magnitude. It will surely obliterate us all should be meet it unprepared."

Osman bit his lip. He nodded somberly and voiced a cold, simple "I see" before turning to Makkar Stone, speaker for the Earth Union. He looked back at Osman with an equally somber expression, almost a guilty one, as if he felt regret for having to share their findings.

"Foreman, the Elder Calendarmaster speaks true. The nature around us senses it - prepares for it. The berries grow sour and overripe; the last leaves are falling off their branches; the fish are swimming ever deeper. The soil is, luckily, still soft enough to dig through for roots and nuts, but we cannot predict how long it will remain like that. The autumn will turn to winter, and that very soon. We must fill our rucksacks and pockets with all the food we can find before the frost takes it all."

Osman's hope dwindled. While he had gathered himself somewhat after the Calamity, his mind could not help but occasionally stab at his confidence as the foreman. In the meantime, Herim of the Glass Union raised his voice at Makkar, constructing the argument that the roots and nuts could remain fresh and edible under the ground for weeks, whereas the storms would bury all who did not hide behind walls in layers of snow, to which Makkar argued that no creature, not even dwarves, could build homes on empty bellies. The argument grew into a debate, then into a dispute. The voices grew more and more aggressive for every spoked word. Osman's thoughts were soon buried under the layers of insults and threats his councilmen hurled at each other. "SILENCE!" Osman roared, and his councilmen quieted down swiftly.

... But the cacophony of conflict could still be heard, albeit quieter. It came from deeper into the forest. Osman's eyes flared open. His councilmen also turned to look into the forest, unrest fomenting between them. Osman ran towards the woods, beckoning the others to follow him as he sprinted back towards the camp.

Upon arriving back at the clearing they had set up camp in, he and his councilmen stopped and stared in horror at the scene in front of them. In one of the many trees that formed a natural barrier against wind on the northern part of the clearing, hung a rope - tied in a noose - and below the noose knelt three dwarves of different unions, all tied up and wriggling in terror. One of them displayed wounds and bruises on her face, recent in appearance. Before them, a furious mob stood chanting curses and accusations of sacrilege. Osman and his followers stormed over to the crowd and began shoving their way through the mob, whose cries grew louder and angrier at the arrival of the foreman. Once through, Osman walked over and inspected the three accused - their eyes glinting with tears of joy at the arrival of their leader. Osman's black-haired brow hung low with rage and he turned to the crowd, his voice like a hammer striking steel.

"Who is responsible for this? Why would you do this, Unions?! What have these dwarves done?" he bellowed. The mob fell silent. One of them stepped forward. Osman knew him well - it was Joron Scroll, Elder Logmaster of the Union of Copper, and a member of the Worker Council. Osman had never liked Joron - he was more stubborn than most dwarves; he had little to no respect for dwarves of other Unions; and he held to the ancient beliefs of king Popomel. Joron ran a shaking hand through his ashen beard and glared deep into Osman's soul. Osman felt beads of sweat forming on his forehead, but he made an attempt to rise and meet the burning eyes of the elder dwarf.

"Joron Scroll, I see you have stepped forward. Speak before your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters - what are the crimes of these three?" Osman tried to say calmly, but ended up partially stuttering. Joron flashed a grin of yellow fangs and grey gums.

"The orders from heaven remain vital - perhaps even more now than ever before, foreman. The gods spoke through the mountain - their words brought death, destruction and the loss of the greatest civilisation this world has ever seen. We are all that is left. It is evident we displeased the gods on high, and shamed our ancestors deeply, in our arrogant quest to measure up to them. The heavens decree that such arrogance must be quelled with blood."

Osman turned back to the three, one of whom was now keeling over in tears, whispering desperate apologies to whoever was listening. Sure enough, the three dwarves consisted of one from the Gold Union, known for their ambition to craft godly artifacts; one was of the Phosphorous Union - this one in particular was councilman Erima Rock, an outspoken "world-eye" and well known for her hatred of all religious thought; and one from the Union of Stone. She was the most bruised of the three. Osman did not recognise her at all, and could not think of a link to why she would be accused. Osman's brow fell low once more and he turned back to Joron, who met his eyes with a stern glare.

"Your gods are not mine, Joron, nor are they the gods of those you have accused. The laws of the Reunification are clearer than any order heaven could cast our way! One union's laws are not another's. Your gods are mute to me, just as mine are mute to you. The only crimes you have the right to punish these for are theft, rape, murder and mutiny. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, you stand before your foreman and all of whom you call family and all who call you family - speak truth, or be forever cast out. Have these three broken any of the Hammersworn collective laws?"

The crowd was silent. Even Joron Scroll kept his words to himself. Osman scanned the crowd, and was met by eyes that glanced away from him as his and theirs met. An oozing aura of shame and discontent flowed through the Hammersworn like oil through a rag, and left a greasy, bitter taste in everyone's mouth. The foreman knelt down and untied the prisoners. Once the prisoners where free, their families, who had either been cowering away from the crowd or fought them until bloody, ran up to comfort them and help them down. Osman followed them with his gaze for a while before turning back to the crowd, specifically to Joron Scroll.

"As for you, Joron Scroll... You may have the favour of your false gods," he said, words which were immediately met by disapproving cries from the Union of Copper, and a furious expression from Joron himself. "But the laws of your people, you have broken. Seize him!" Dwarves from either side of Joron grabbed hold on him and forced him to the ground, much to the protest of Copper unionists, who who pulled at the clothes of those holding Joron and demanded his release.

"For your attempt at sacrificing your fellow sisters, brothers, sons and daughters at the pleasure of the heavens, you shall spend a month in a cage. For your sake, I pray the winter nights are far off." Joron, face white with terror and eyes red with rage, merely lowered his head. The other Unions had begun to push the protestors away, making it easier to bind Joron and escord him to his temporary cell.

Osman let out a groan of exhaustion. With Joron gone, the mob quickly grew less agigated. The bloodthirst, while not quenched, was at least suppressed for the time being. Osman's people looked to their leader for guidance. Osman felt his throat tighten up, but he swallowed and beckoned Makkar and Herim over to stand at his left and right side, respectively.

"The heavens and the earth both have spoken - the winter will soon be upon us. We will need shelter as soon as possible. All of you will work, from oldest greybeard to youngest skinchin. Go out into the woods, find sticks, stock, stone - whatever can be used to build huts and tents. Take whatever pelts you have and fashion them into covers. Build storages for food, tools and materials. Go now, let us show the gods that the Hammersworn never will fade into the dark!"

Osman's words were met with cheer and roars. The crowd quickly dispersed and soon after, every Union's members had begun rebuilding Hammersworn society anew.
Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn - Turn 0

Nothing. There really was nothing left. Osman Slag, foreman of the Worker Council and leader of the Hammersworn Dwarves, could not seem to stand up. Around him were men, women and children, some howling in agony, others in despair, some not howling at all - merely staring. The dust had not yet settled; the air was still ripe with the stink of industry - now complemented by the stench of death. Some dwarves grabbed whatever tools they had managed to evacuate and began beating and hacking at the boulders that now covered what had been their home about an hour ago. Others used their rocks, sticks or their fists, screaming at the cruel gods and hateful ancestors who had allowed this to happen. Some dwarves of the Bronze union sat down at began to debate whether this loss would upset the balance of the world, to which a gang of Steel unionists reacted with outrage and violence, quickly followed by Mithril unionists looking to vent some emotions. Gold Union dwarves and Silver union dwarves lamented their colossal monetary losses, and what few remained of the Unions of Phosphorus and Glass stood there like statues of stone. All the knowledge that they had gathered - every scroll, every carving, every log - all lost in the matter of minutes. A few of them collapsed to the ground in horror.

The foreman did not mind the chaos breaking out between the survivors. Currently, he thought of little more beyond his people, trapped within what yesterday had been their home. It was autumn now, he thought. Come winter, we will all be like those within. The thought sent a shards of ice through him. The Hammersworn civilisation, a people with almost a millennia of history - wiped out in less than a single year? He tried to dismiss the thought, but its roots dug deep into his mind, whispering wicked words of doom for his people.

"Foreman!" Osman snapped back into reality. He looked at the source of the voice. He recognised the elder woman, her hair like rusty strands of iron, her face overripe with wrinkles and now flaming red with tears. She looked to be mustering all her will to not keep shedding them. Her left eye was surrounded by a tattoo shaped like a golden plate with hints of green - a mark of the Copper Union. She gestured to fighting that had broken out between the hapless survivors - many of whom were now on the ground in pools of their own blood or clutching their wounds. Osman, having not completely broken out of the shock, merely glanced over, just in time to see a Bronze unionist be blinded by a rabid Steel unionist. The blind dwarf clutched his bloody, empty socked and his screams momentarily deafened all others'. He fell to the ground, and then his groans were all the sound that was heard through the valley - the wind was gone; the water, silent; not even the stone rubble in front of the dwarves groaned anymore. Osman held his breath. The hacking breath of the brawlers grew quieter as they looked at each other, then the results of their recklessness. Many of them once again felled tears, and the blind dwarf's kinsmen stormed over to help him.

"We are all dead," an Earth unionist said. "All our crops-... All our crops were inside. There is nothing left out here!" His words blew through the crowd like a disease. Families began to flock together, then into their respective unions, forming phalanxes with whatever tools they had, pointed at the others.

"That cannot be true! You soilers certainly have a hidden storage somewhere! You will dig it out while the rest of us starve to death!" a Steel unionist spat back. Her kinsmen backed her up with a barrage of shouts and threats, to which the Earth Union responsed with their own defensive cacophony. The Glass Union and the Phosperous Union both backed the Earth unionists with arguments about the quality of the local soil in terms of food storage and how it would be impossible for them to store so much food in the hard ground without anyone else knowing about it. A Silver unionist, in a fit of stress, caved in and joined the debate by saying that his union had several thousand coffers of gold hidden away in caches around the valley. His kinsmen, appalled that one of their own would spill their secrets, immediately subjected the lad to severe beatings, until he was within an inch of his life.

Osman could not seem to muster the courage to break through the ever-thickening wall of words between him and his people. The councilmen who hadn't joined their own stood around him, begging him to say something and end the chaos. However, he had not prepared for this - not a single day in his fifty year long lifespan had he thought he might have been forced to lead his people through a crisis. Herim Ore, his closest companion and apprentice to the now late Elder Calendarmaster of the Glass Union, fell to his knees before Osman and grabbed him by the leg, shaking it in a futile attempt to break through to the stunned foreman.

"... We... We cannot remain," Osman finally managed to say. His councilmen heard him, and in mere seconds they all spread out to the various Unions, breaking up the chaos through any means necessary. Upon hearing orders, the people quickly quieted down and turned to the foreman. Osman swallowed.

"We cannot stay," he said again. "Our cities are no more. Our way of life is-... Is at the mercy of the gods once more." His words were met with a defeaning silence and empty glances.

"Winter is on our heels, Unions. We have no choice but to move south to the very edge of the Ancestor Woods. Perhaps there, we can gather what the season can offer and wait out the winter, so we may one day return to dig our home out." Osman's breath was ragged. Many of the dwarves looked at each other in uncertainity.

"Leave the valley? No one has ever done that before save the soilers!" claimed a Stone unionist who was clutching his head after a previous brawl. His words were met by disapproving hollering from the Earth Union. Osman bit his lip and looked down the river Darr, and into the horizon far beyond, where nothing but vast plains stretched for miles.

"As I said, it is only temporary. We will one day return to Gol'kharumm and rebuild. However, for now, we have no choice. By the power of my mandate as foreman of the Worker Council and leader of the Hammersworn, I declare that we are to migrate further south and wait out the winter before we come home. Does the council agree with my decision?" The counsilmen, with the exception of a few, nodded and grunted in agreement.

"Then may the gods be good," Osman said.
Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn

"The souls of the Hammersworn are like the fires of industry - everburning, never fading."

Nation/Clan/Kingdom/Tribe Name: Orr’gavol: The Hammersworn.
Represented Color: Orange
Race: Dwarves
Breed: Ironbeard
Capital: Gol’kharumm
Ruler: Foreman Osman Slag

Type of Government:
Worker Council. The nation is divided among ten crafters’ guilds, which each specialises within a single region of metalcraft, called the Unions. Each union has one representatives on the Worker Council, which is overseen by an elected foreman, the current one being Osman Slag of the Union of Steel. The foreman themself rules for a period of ten years, and holds executive power on the council - while the Union representatives have the ability to check the foreman should they disagree. However, this form of checking power is rarely exercises due the dwarves' natural value of respect for authority.

While the nation as a whole does not hold a standardised religious belief, several of the unions hold on to ancient traditions, many of which feature gods and spirits. The faith of the Union of Bronze, for example, constructs a world image based on balance between two elements, whether it be copper and tin, wealth or poverty, or life and death - leading many of the other unions to critique them for being indifferent to the world at large. The Union of Gold worships all that glitters, so to speak, channelling their faith into adorning the armours and weapons created by the other unions with decorations that rival even the work of the gods - all to one day win the favour of the very gods they challenge.

The many religions within the Hammersworn have on numerous occasions spawned conflict among the Unions; however, due to a fear of rebellion, the council is reluctant to forbid the practices. This has created a generation-long divide on the council between the traditionalists and the “world-eyes”, so called for their denial of anything they cannot empirically observe and their stark hatred for anything abstract.

Geographical Location:
The Hammersworn have long lived at the foot of the Golumnar, “the Ancestor Mountains”. As the centuries passed and many conflicts, but internal and external, took their toll on the earlier civilisations, the Hammersworn were forced further down towards the lake of Darr and the Darr river. The event known as the Calamity, which ended the period of great prosperity after the Reunification, lead to a colossal population collapse and the loss of almost all infrastructure. The capital of Gol’kharumm, now a mere shadow of its former self, carves a fading black scar of soot and ruins from the foot of the southern Golumnar, through the Ancestor Woods, and into the Darr river. The dwarves moved further south, to the edge of the Ancestor Woods. They founded the Hovel, a temporary holdout until spring comes once more.

To think that such a system of compromise would arise from a people so stubborn is truly a truth we all accept too lightly - a day did not pass that our forebears did not plot each others’ deaths. Now, we are united.
Calendarmaster Yosof Rust, Union of Glass.

In the beginning, there was the Golumnar, the Ancestor Mountains. Taller than any other, they stretched into the clouds and seemed almost like great stone beams that grounded the heavens to the earth. While the calendarmasters and several of the unions disagree today on how the Hammersworn first came to be, they agree that one day, a tribe of dwarves settled by the foot of the Golumnar, claiming a small patch of land in the river valley of Darr beneath the mountain. These dwarves created a culture of mountain worship, believing that the very gods of this world lived among the peaks of the mountains. This faith soon led to an event that would shape the dwarves’ culture for centuries to come.

At the time, they were known as the Gol’ungyr, the children of the mountain, and the philosophy of the time was that their very purpose in life was to reunite with their forebears at the highest peak of the Golumnar, and their daily routine revolved around mining and carving in the mountain to build the Umnastarr, the ancestor stair, a pathway up into the world of the gods. Under the guidance of the then-ruling monarch, who has later been referred to as King Holek the Mislead, the children of the mountain dug and built an elaborate system of roads, stairs, ramps and tunnels up and through the treacherous mountains, all to reach the pinnacle.

The project was, however, never completed. Fifty years after the king had ordered the project to start, a winter unmatched in cold and storms ravaged the river valley of Darr. The crops were devastated, and the animals that didn’t freeze to death were soon slaughtered and eaten by the starving dwarves. In the chaos, an insurrection against king Holek resulted in a thousand of deaths, roughly half the population at the time, as well as the execution of the king. The following monarch, Popomel, declared the Umnastarr project an unholy sacrilege against Golumnar, and that the winter was a warning to all who dared climb too close to heaven. Any attempt to surmount Golumnar was declared heretical and punishable by death, and the children of the mountain remained in the river valley of Darr, attempting with great difficulty to repair their decimated civilisation.

Popomel’s line did not rule for long, either. The dwarves were stagnating, for without a greater purpose in life other than to survive, they grew agitated and restless. Fights and large brawls grew more and more common, and merely a decade after Popomel’s grandson, Popomel the Second, has been crowned king, a rebellion once again raged through the nation. The king and his family were slaughtered and replaced by an unstable dictatorship ruled by ever-changing strongmen. The kingdom soon split into two, then four, then finally ten. Each faction migrated throughout the river valley of Darr, settling in the many ridges and caves at the foot of Golumnar and the forests around the Darr river. From here, some factions found great mineral wealth in the mountains - they began working the metals and minerals into tools, armour and weaponry. These factions soon became prosperous crafters’ enclaves, forming great industrial towns. Other factions discovered the minerals and gems of the earth and in the waters of the Darr river, and began to shape these into intricate jewelry and tools of research and science, forming hubs of alchemy and craftsmanship. To make room for the growing towns, the dwarves levelled many acres of forest, which left them with heaps of wood. This was soon used to dabble in ship crafting, and soon growing settlements of trade formed along the Darr. The relationship between the river dwarves and the mountain dwarves remained sour for hundreds of years, sometimes escalating into skirmishes in the forests and acts of sabotage against infrastucture. However, this also applied to the river and mountain dwarves among themselves.

This age of division, yet prosperity, ended when yet another gruesome winter surged through the river valley. The dwarves who held up inside the warm forge-towns, half of which were often built partly inside the mountains, survived the winter without sustaining any losses to their populations. The river dwellers, however, were nearly annihilated by the storms. The Darr froze and made trading for food impossible; the woods were nearly chopped to the last tree to feed the dying embers in the dwarven hearths. It was at this point that the river dwarves, in their desperation, returned to the mountains to seek refuge with their long antagonised brethren. Among the five mountain cities, none would accept river dwarves into their homes.

Desperate, the river dwarves banded together and laid a suicidal siege to the smallest of the forge-cities, Gol’kharumm. The mountain dwarves, drunk with hubris and arrogance, decided not to fight back against the attack, nor to post sentries at night, stating that to waste arrows on their brethren would be like stabbing a butchered boar. The river dwarves used this to their advantage and used their knowledge of alchemy to craft explosives that blew the gates of the city open. Once inside, they overthrew the local strongman and quickly assumed leadership of the city. The other forge-cities quickly heard the news and mobilised against the river dwarves.

When the entirety of what had once been the Children of the Mountain were locked in a battle against itself, the winter, as if by the gods’ command, turned to the warmest, lushest spring ever seen in the valley of Darr in but a few days. The dwarves, awestruck by this seemingly divine gift, laid down their arms and came together in the centre of Gol’kharumm to discuss what the future of their nation should be - should they split up and live as they now had for centuries? Should they band together and take over the whole valley? Should they migrate further south in search of new lands to settle?

A council with representatives from every city of the old nation formed to oversee the restoration of what the winter and the war had taken away. This council quickly became more organised and efficient as time passed, taking more and more power away from each individual city. After merely five years, the council had gathered so much power than it effectively become a new centralised government. In order to make itself even more effective, once every ten years, a member of the council would be elected to rule as a leader and make the executive decisions in the name of every major city. As the cities grew ever closer, the borders faded, and the citizens of these former cities started to refer to their kind as a Union, as they were only united in culture and specialisation. As there had once been ten cities, so spawned ten Unions. These were named according to a major mineral component of their crafts. As the leader then became the head of many workers, and was supposed to be a leader among equals, and not a king, their title was changed to foreman.

Everything seemed to indicate that the now dubbed Hammersworn were developing into a nation to rival the continent's greatest. Tools, weapons and armour flowed from the forges and anvils like water through a lake, and the calendarmasters and alchemists mapped the stars and the properties of the earth. However, as quickly as it had grown, the Hammersworn civilisation suddenly faced great losses. The calendarmasters speculate that an alchemical catastrophe occurred in one of the underground universities, which led to a colossal cave-in that demolished all the dwarves had built over the last centuries. The outside cities relied on the materials from the inside, and the few who survived knew they would be beyond saving when the winter would strike again. What remained of the Worker Council gathered the survivors and put them to work, for whatever it was worth.

They are at the mercy of the mountain now.

Below is a list of the ten current Unions.


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