Realms of Mythrais
The Dwur of Aerk
The Dwur (and Surdheimir) are an ancient race from Aerk’s ancient and nearly lost past. Never truly considered one of the old “Great Races” they are the race with the oldest continuous nation known in the world, known as Brom. Ancient tales of the Thurse state that the Dwur were once maggots that feasted upon the flesh of dead giants and gained their form and knowledge; although a stunted form and limited intellect. Telling a Dwur this is likely to cause at least a splitting headache; most likely caused by a Dwur axe splitting the head of the speaker. Whatever their ancient origin, if the Dwur know they are not talking. In modern Aerk the Dwur are known as the most honest merchants in the world (even if they don’t venture far from home) and they are some of the doughtiest warriors ever known upon the field of battle.
What can be pieced together about the Dwur is that they had established a powerful nation by the time of the war between the Fhey and Aerkay; after centuries earlier throwing out the last Aerkay “advisors” to their kings. The Dwur banded together and elected a High King to lead them against the ravaging hordes of a race known as the Kur (now known as orcs); a race sent against the Dwur by the Aerkay. The Kur were supposedly one of the fastest breeding races of warriors the Aerkay had ever brought to Aerk; and the Dwur were, for many centuries, hard pressed to keep the beasts out of their lands. The Dwur were ever industrious though, having long toiled as the primary working class of the Aerkay, and soon discovered the one thing that made their warriors nearly invincible: the making of powerful Adamantine weapons and armor. Their legions shattered the iron wielding hosts of the Kur time and again; and later did the same to the Daerkur (Half-Orc) warlords of the Aerkay who were sent later against them.
The Dwur are today a clannish people, living for the most part away from other races in their own kingdom; or else in their own neighborhoods in human lands. All Dwur are doughty warriors who often train at war when not entertaining themselves by working. To a Dwur, work is enjoyment; because everything a Dwur undertakes is a pursuit of perfecting their favored art form. Some Dwur choose metalworking as their art, while others choose stone. Whatever their choice it will nearly always be something that will last for many centuries. Even Dwur farmers take great care in plotting their fields and carefully building intricate irrigation systems, beautiful separating walls, and even using detailed breeding of the finest animal stock to ensure strong and long lasting lines of herd animals; going so far as to name each animal and keep track of family lines to ensure “proper” breeding.
Dwur are known the world over as a strong, independent and trustworthy race who keep mostly to their own kind. They are readily accepted in most lands and they accept many others into their trade cities; but their actual clan lands are defended with such fury that bandit raiders once noted: “All know the Dwur to be wealthy beyond all other peoples; but the riches of the Dwur Halls are unknown to us because we can’t get beyond their borders to reach them!” Dwur are mostly a jovial lot known the world over as genuine people; but they are also known as hot tempered and bloody handed at times. An Aerkay Sage was quoted as saying: “If a Dwur merchant isn’t smiling and shaking your hand in genuine gladness; you had best leave quickly before he splits your skull!”
Personality: As has already been stated, Dwur are reliable, trustworthy, and jovial folk; but with a keen edge that can cause them to war against a race that insults their honor or pride. Dwur would rather work than sit idle and be lazy; a habit perhaps bred into them during their millennia as a worker class within the ancient Aerkay Empires. They are eternal friends who seek to keep their word as best they can; but they are also an enemy that no person wants because they refuse to quit once a feud is started.
Physical Description: Dwur men average just at 4’8" in height, with the tallest usually no more than 5’ and the shortest perhaps 4’2" being unusual; with Dwur women averaging only a couple of inches less. Dwur are extremely stocky, with men weighing an average of 180 pounds and women a mere ten pounds less. Dwur men are extremely hairy, with hair covering nearly their entire body very thickly; only thinning and rarely balding on top. Dwur beards are legendary and extremely significant as they carry the golden runes of the Dwur’s ancestors; however Dwur women can not grow beards and instead wear the runes as golden hair decorations in their long hair. Dwur hair is universally dark, with blacks and browns most common. Dwur eyes are also dark in color with a very rare Dwur having deep blue or grey eyes. Dwur clothing is functional and decorative at the same time; however when traveling a wise Dwur keeps his attire simple so as to not draw attention to his wealth. A Dwur soldier will always be found having the best armor he can afford, or that the Kingdom can afford for him. This typically means a mail hauberk with steel cap and large shield. His weapons will almost always be a war axe, urgroshe, hooked hammer and crossbow; although Dwur pike formations are much more common today than before the coming of human knights that dominate today’s typical battle grounds. Because Dwur make the toughest weapons and armor in the world, their soldiers usually deal more damage and withstand blows more readily then their enemies too. Weapons and armor are also much cheaper in Brom than any other nation.
Relations: Dwur maintain at least a neutral stance regarding nearly all races. Because Half-Orcs and Orcs are old enemies and are so chaotic, the Dwur are extremely standoffish with them; if not outright hostile at times with orcs. Dwur are extremely cool regarding the Aerkay, although no true war was ever fought between the two races; but the Dwur don’t trust Aerkay magic and remember that they were once the masters of the Orcs and Half-Orcs sent against them. Dwur relate best to humans who they interact with the most; though they mostly take humans on an individual basis. The Minotaurs are surprisingly highly regarded by the Dwur because of Minotaur honor; with the Fhraen being the least trusted by the Dwur because of the races shady habits and seemingly total lack of honor. Dwur are fast friends of the Fhey who they trade freely with; but Goblins are considered vermin by the Dwur and given as much respect.
Alignment: Nearly all Dwur are a law abiding sort; few ever stray from the structured life that their race strives for. Dwur are somewhat divided on either staying out of other races business or else striving to make sure other races adhere to strong morals so that law and order can flourish for the better of all. Because of this, the Dwur race tends toward a Lawful Neutral alignment with extremely strong good tendencies regarding each other and their friends.
Dwur Lands: The Dwur have only one known nation belonging only to them: Brom. This mighty realm is perhaps the most inviolate nation in the world. It occupies a range of broken mountains centered upon the continent of Courel. The only access to this land is by permit to its trade cities, and these cities are fortified like no other; not to mention the massive self propelled ironside wagons, called Iron Dragons because of their fiery weapons, that guard the cities. In other lands the Dwur establish trading enclaves where they congregate and trade; especially in the nations of Corash, Veshek and the Kingdom of Mahn; though open trade exists with the Fhey also.
Languages: All Dwur know their own language of Kaelkandak (named after the Dwur priest that invented it thousands of years ago) as well as the Common trade language that originated in the Karnite Empire. The Dwur tongue is the oldest language still in common use; although the Aerkay language is older, it is rarely used by any but their own kind.
Names: Dwur names have a strong Germanic ring to them, though many Dwur Clans who have long been in other lands will sometimes have names similar to the lands they live within. Dwur Clan Names never change however; and these names are directly descended names of Clans that toiled for the Aerkay so many thousands of years ago. Names such as Axegrinder, Blackrock, Helmbender, and Ironforge are older names; but names that came after Dwur warfare began such as Bloodaxe, Conquercrown, and Swordbreaker are just as common.
Religion: To the Dwur, arts and craft are their predominant religions in a sense. In practice, however, they commonly revere mighty ancestors for their deeds (a practice very similar to the Vannulvir); though they don’t actually expect the ancestors to intercede in this life. Dwur priests do receive answer to their prayers however; and their race is famous for their war hardened priests who slay the enemy and heal their kin. The rapid spread of Druidism among many of the races has barely dented the ranks of the Dwur race; save the rare individual who lives within the rugged surface mountain lands of Brom or in the heavily druid influenced Kingdom of Mahn; though even here they are rarely known and hard won converts.
The Dwur within the Kingdom of Mahn
(As told by the Lore-Master of the White King)
Perhaps as many as one hundred thousand Dwur live as subjects of the White King; and they are perhaps the most productive and loyal people that call my Lord their King. Long ago before the humans of Karn established their race as the rulers of this land, the Dwur had established strong halls for their Clan Lords and they ruled the lands where now sits the Duchy of Dwurholme in the Old Iron Mountains. They had been lost to their kin in far away Brom due to wandering tribes of orcs and human Kaeltan barbarians which constantly attacked them. There may have even been a Dwur Kingdom south of Brom that was beset by Goblins and half-orc warlords and fell prior to the dawn of human dominated history.
There was no war that brought the Dwur into the Kingdom; they actually allied with the humans of the White Marches early in the current age even before the founding of the Kingdom of Mahn and later re-invasion of the Black Legions; and after that war the Dwur minor lords all swore fealty to one Dwur Duke who then swore fealty to the White King. The Dwur have been such excellent subjects since this time that the current Dwur Duke, Kaldor, actually sat on the steps of the White Throne as Regent for nearly sixteen years combined (on two separate occasions) and few did not trust him enough to follow his every order. It didn’t hurt that Duke Kaldor used vast amounts of his own silver and gold to fund the building of a sizeable Royal Army to guard the Kingdom against orcs and Vannulvir raiders alike; as well as supposedly funding many Fhraen families to spy on the land to ensure security and stability.
About seventy thousand or so Dwur live within their ancestral homes, with the others living primarily in the major human cities within the kingdom. The Dwur are nearly all Freemen within the Kingdom; few are not responsible enough that they become so poor that they are sold into thralldom due to debt. The Dwur of the Kingdom are the dominant merchant power on land as well. Their caravans continuously travel the kingdom on the King’s Roads trading with all lands. Duke Kaldor himself owns the merchant houses in the cities of Hassel and Aeod that have a monopoly on trade from the nation of Brom; and this has made him a rich man indeed. He gives more than is asked by the King in taxes however. He is actually the Godfather of King Alisander and sees it as his own responsibility to aid the King at any and all opportunities. The Dwur Duke mourned for ten years when Queen Ashley was slain and vowed “King Luhkord, and any Wolf Raiders who stand with him, will die upon Dwur axes or under the weight of all the amassed Dwur wealth that can be spent hunting them to the ends of the world!” when the Vannulver Exile-King Luhkord killed the Queen in his foiled attempt to seize the White Throne.
Dwur warriors are found in nearly every land, and will even fight against each other if their allegiance requires it. The White King has a small army of Dwur engineers, miners, sappers, and architects in his permanent employ, as does the Duke Kaldor of course. Dwur nobles are not at all uncommon even outside their own ancestral lands, and many Dwur are knights as well; though their abilities with the lance are at best only average due to their difficulty in sitting upon truly large and powerful warhorses. More often you will find a Dwur knight within the ranks of the footmen as an inspirational battle leader.
A special mention should be made concerning the large number of Dwur Pardoners within the Church of Vhal. These men are priests who travel the kingdom accepting “donations” from those in need of holy power. They are true representatives of the church, but some are said to go outside the bounds of their authority and try to implement “holy law” in unlawful reaches of the kingdom and outside its borders.
Little else needs to be said concerning this people that isn’t contained in other works.
Racial abilities of the Dwur are: