Dwarves of Korovia
Dwarves in Korovia are a short and stocky race of folk who usually live in the mountains or hills where they can mine for precious ores. Dwarves love gold and are often greedy, gruff, and can be exceptionally brave and tough. Dwarves abhor arcane magic and want nothing to do with it. They are much more accepting of divine magic and miracles, but are otherwise very superstitious and untrusting of wizards and their ilk. Most dwarves would sooner spit on a wizard than shake their hand (and even if they did shake their hand, they would try to clean their hand after for fear of some kind of curse). The good news is the dwarves are also more resistant to magic (and poison) because of their non-magical nature. (Due to their non-magical nature dwarves cannot be wizards or any other kind of arcane magic user.)
Dwarven metalsmithing techniques are used by the master smiths to make magical weapons and armour by using divine magic and prayers to Olegma the Hard or to the dwarven gods Galiaka and Hanvil. Female and male, Galiaka the Orcslayer and Hanvil the Hammersmith, are the two patron dwarven gods. Any dwarf who has not pledged themselves to a different god is considered to go to the Great Mountain when they die to mine and craft things for eternity.
Dwarves in Korovia live mostly in Roknar and Silekva, but they can often be found anywhere there is work to be had that requires their metalworking or mining skills. The mountain dwarves in Roknar maintain a constant vigilance against the orcs of Loqland and have a series of walls and tunnels which they fiercely guard against the constant threat of an orc invasion. There are almost no orcs in Korovia thanks to the vigilance of the dwarves.
The hill dwarves in Silekva are less worried about any possible invasion, but nevertheless have a deep hatred of orcs (and giants). Silekva dwarves have mastered the art of creating stone golems to protect their city.
Dwarves are fond of strong drink and good food, and this can often go with the singing of traditional dwarven mining songs (see below) which is often sung as a drinking song too.
Diggin' ev'ry day for gold
If the falling rock don't kill you
Killin' ev'ry day for gold
Don't just stand there, the mine is shaking
Dyin' ev'ry day for gold
I gotta get me some gold
By Charles Moffat, March 2018.
Once upon a time there was a traveling dwarf named Boris who made his living by boring holes in the ground to drill wells and mining shafts. Using donkey power, gears, pulleys, drill bits, bores and augers he would bore and drill whatever people needed under the name 'Boris's Boring and Mining Co.'
One time Boris came to an old tower near a river ford east of the mining town of Kazark. An old man, a wizard by the looks of him, waved him down before Boris could start wading into the ford with his donkey. Boris spat on the ground for he despised all wizards, but he nevertheless put on a pleasant face for this potential customer.
"Greetings good dwarf," said the old wizard. "I saw the sign on your wagon and have need of your services. I need a well dug, but the rock here is too hard. All others have failed to drill a hole in the rock to reach water."
"Dere ain't a rock I canna drill through!" growled Boris, sounding both grumpy and prideful.
"Yes, but so said all the others. They all promised me they could reach water and they all failed."
Boris looked over at the nearby river. "An I supposen da nearby river wont be suiting yer needs?"
"Oh gods no!" exclaimed the wizard. "The river has too much iron, salt and other contaminants. I need pure well water for brewing potions, you understand?"
"Aye, I ken yer meaning. Very well, I will need to divine the best place to drill."
The wizard explained there was no need, the hill north of the tower had already been determined to be the best location. Still Boris didn't trust the wizard and took out his divining rod and did determine that was indeed the best place to drill. He spotted a dozen or so holes in the soil, but checking with a long measuring pole he determined the holes only went down about ten feet.
He set up his equipment, got his donkey set up to begin the boring process, and got out one of his boring bits and affixed it. He slapped the donkey on the ass to get it moving and the boring had begun!
"Start counting me gold wizard!" Boris declared.
Moments later there was grinding as the boring bit his rock followed by a snapping sound followed by a strange shrill scratching sound. Boris frowned. It wasn't supposed to sound like that. He had the donkey back up and he then inspected the bit.
The tip was snapped off and the bit had suffered some serious damage. Clearly the wizard was not mistaken, whatever rock was down there was very tough. He didn't want the wizard to know he was right however, so he ignored the smug old man and got out a new boring bit. "Bah, dat bit was old anyway!"
He began the process anew and again there was the strange snapping and scratching sounds. He reversed the donkey and brought the bit up. This one was also snapped and worn.
"What da fuck?" said Boris, swearing under his breath for fear the wizard might hear him.
This time he got out a diamond headed bore bit, certain that it would do the trick. He slapped the jackass and cursed when he heard the now familiar sound of the bit snapping. He reversed the donkey and when he saw the bit it was snapped and the diamond had been worn into dust so only broken fragments of the diamond remained.
"Fuckity fuck fuck!" swore the dwarf, a little more loudly this time.
"Perhaps if I enchanted a drill bit with magic?" suggested the wizard, trying to be helpful. He was yawning and it was getting late.
"It be called a boring bit and never ye mind dat. You might as well go to bed Master Wizard, I have some serious work to do here and ye will only be distracting me."
The wizard raised his hands in surrender. "Fine, fine. Was only trying to help. Let me know if you need anything." And with that the wizard went back into his tower and to his bed.
Boris toiled through the night, breaking bit after bit. His ass was tired but he cajoled, teased, threatened and bribed it with carrots to keep it moving.
When the first rays of morning light came up from the east Boris finally gave up and slumped down, defeated. He had broken most of his drill bits and had yet to drill an inch beyond what others had done before him.
Still he wasn't going to let the wizard see him defeated. What fantastically hard rock was below this hill? He had to see it for himself. So he fed his donkey, got out a shovel and pickaxe and began to dig.
He kept digging without a break until the old wizard came outside to see what he was doing. Boris feigned a smile and waved his shovel at the wizard in a semi-threatening manner. The wizard once more feigned surrender, but he seemed pleased that the dwarf was stubborn and refused to give up.
All through the day Boris worked hard digging in the soil, using his pickaxe to pry rocks free from the earth, and had his donkey haul them away with a chain. At long last he had dug down ten feet and uncovered what had broken his boring bits.
Blue, purple and black crystals as large as his head the colour of sapphires, amethysts and black diamonds - but these were not sapphires, amethysts or diamonds. They were opaque instead of translucent.
"Adamantite crystals," whispered the dwarf greedily, rubbing his hands together. He dared not shout out what he had found for unbreakable adamantium is as valuable as unicorn horns or dragon hearts. A single one of these crystals was a fortune within itself...
But what if the old wizard found out what was here? He would claim it as his own because it was on his property. Nay, Boris needed to keep this a secret and figure out a way to mine out all the crystals without the dastardly wizard finding out what was here. He erected a tent over the excavation to keep away the wizard's prying eyes. He then tossed a few shovels full of dirt on top of the crystals should the wizard be curious enough to investigate what was under the tent.
His next problem was removing the adamantite crystals and storing them. Being unbreakable he couldn't cut or break them free, but he could perhaps melt them with heat. He would need lots of firewood and would need to construct a bellows to pump air into the fire.
When the old wizard saw the dwarf was chopping down trees with an axe, he came outside to investigate.
"Donna mind me Master Wizard," Boris called out to him when he saw he was approaching. "I will get da well built as promised, da rocks are just harder than usual and I will be needing to melt and soften them." An idea occurred to him. "If ye be heading into Kazark sometime, could ye purchase a bellows? Ye can take it out of me payment and it will aid in the melting process."
The wizard agreed to this and left, pausing briefly to peek under the tent to see the progress Boris had thus far made. The dwarf forced a smile and waved at him in an assuring way. The wizard went back to his tower and gathered everything he needed for a trip into town.
"Bloody fucking wizards always sticking their noses where they are not needed," grumbled Boris before he went back to chopping firewood.
He piled up the firewood next to the tent, making a veritable wooden wall to keep out the prying eyes of the wizard whenever he returned. He then set to work digging around adamantite crystals and under them, trying to both determine how many crystals there were and trying to determine if he could still bore out a hole to make a well - perhaps by doing it diagonally. After several feet of digging he found the bottom of the cluster of crystals and determined that, yes, he could drill on an angle. But the going would be much easier if he could remove the crystals first.
The next day the old wizard returned with the bellows on the back of a cart being towed by a mule. "The biggest one I could find good dwarf," said he. "I don't suppose you have any use for the mule?"
The dwarf scowled and resisted the urge to spit. Great, another mouth to feed. Instead he stroked his beard as if he was thinking about it. "Aye, I suppose he will be handy. Two asses is probably better than one I suppose."
Satisfied, the wizard returned to his tower and the dwarf eyed the mule, cart and bellows with a mix of annoyance and excitement that he could finally begin melting the adamantite crystals.
He set to work and by noon the next day he had melted several crystals and poured them into clay moulds for making ingots. Whenever the wizard came to inspect the dwarf would shoo him away saying "Back, back! This is dangerous work. You don't want to get burnt Master Wizard!" and similar lies to avoid suspicion.
He hid the finished adamantium ingots on his wagon under a box of tools. Whenever he wasn't melting the crystals he kept them covered under some firewood and a layer of charcoal and soot, worried the damnable wizard could pop in looking to view the progress.
Finally he was able to drill the well and had water flowing down the hillside when it turned out to be a geyser. It got the firewood wet and threatened to expose his whole operation. The old wizard came outside, excited to finally see results, and no doubt to congratulate the dwarf on his success.
"It aint finished yet!" screamed Boris. "Go back! This here water isn't ready for ye to be consuming yet. Too much dirt in the mix, I need to flush it out. I promised ye good clean well water, and that is what ye will be getting. Go back in to yer tower and let me work!"
Boris installed some lead pipe in the well to keep it free of contaminants and capped it with a spigot that could be turned on and off easily. With that done he sorted through the firewood to determine which was soaked and which was not. Then he used the dry wood to melt several more crystals and pour the results into the ingot moulds.
There was more crystals to be had in the hillside, but the wizard would doubtlessly become suspicious if he delayed too long. He would need to come back later and device a way to mine out the last of the crystals. For now he had amassed a fortune of adamantium ingots. He split the wet firewood into halves with his axe and added some decorative touches around the well. He covered up the dig site with his excavated dirt and set any rocks in a circular pattern. Lastly he transplated some wildflowers to the earth within the rocks in hopes the wizard would never try digging up the area. Humans were touched in the head when it came to flowers, he reasoned.
He packed everything on his wagon, hitched the mule and donkey side by side in front of the wagon, and added a tow rope behind for the cart and bellows. He was determined to leave nothing behind. He would need them when he returned someday to claim the fortune in adamantite crystals.
The old wizard provided payment, minus the cost of the bellows, cart and mule, which ended up with the dwarf behind paid less than a gold sovereign for all his efforts.
"A promise is a promise," grumbled the dwarf, stroking his beard and trying his damndest to hide a smirk. So far his plan was working.
"Indeed good dwarf," said the old wizard. "Perhaps you will pay me a visit in the future. It is rare for me to have company."
"Aye, aye," said Boris. "Tis beautiful land ye have here. I have a mind to build a cottage in the woods nearby. Maybe retire here."
The wizard eyed him suspiciously. "Sure, sure. Well then, I shall be expecting your return someday."
"Sooner than you think!" smiled Boris, climbing up on his wagon and snapping his whip at the donkey and mule.
Two days on the dusty road brought him to the port city of Weyvin, where he sold the adamantium ingots to some elven merchants who offered him the best price. Then he loaded up on supplies and tools and returned as fast as he could, his wagon so heavy with hidden gold he was pleased to now have the mule to help pull it.
He arrived at the wizard's tower, found a decent spot north of the hill and closer to the forest and began building his cottage. The wizard would greet him with a wave once in awhile and come to talk about the weather and whatever things humans found an interest in. Boris feigned interest each time and pretended to be pleasant, all the while he was thinking about how damn talkative humans were and how much easier his life would be if this wizard would just kick the bucket already.
To avoid suspicion Boris kept his means frugal, although he had gold aplenty. He didn't want the wizard to know where his sudden wealth had come from. He made his cottage small with a short door so that the wizard wasn't like to enter. By the hearth he placed a secret trapdoor which led into a basement and concealed a mining operation. Each night by dim light he would mine towards the hill and the bountiful crystals which would make him the richest dwarf he knew. By day he set up a hammock between two trees and pretended to be napping during his retirement, which kept the nosy neighbour away and allowed him to catch up on sleep.
After months of digging he began to suffer from abdominal pain. This was followed by vomiting, a loss of appetite and weight loss. He also found himself feeling ever more bitter towards that dastardly wizard, but being irritable was normal for dwarves so he thought nothing of it. He felt ever more fatigued until he was near death.
The wizard came to check on him when he saw him sleeping in his hammock in the rain, too weak to even roll out of the hammock. He fetched a healer who assessed the dwarf's condition.
"Hmm! He doesn't have much time left," said the healer. "Lead poisoning by the looks of it. Let's have a look at that new well."
They dug up the flowers around the well, and exposed the lead pipe that went deeper into the well. "This is what is killing him," declared the healer. "You will need to dig up this part of the hill and replace this lead pipe."
Boris never got to enjoy any of his newfound wealth. He died a few days later, succumbing to the lead poisoning. The wizard found a horde of gold inside his cottage, which seemed odd since the dwarf had behaved like he was impoverished. He hired a boring company from Kazark to come inspect the well and replace the lead pipe. What they found was a fortune of adamantite crystals and a plausible explanation for why the boring dwarf had been behaving so suspiciously.