The Kurakim Dwarves (Thergerim
name Kurakergerim or
are the most important Thergerim clan of
the three known to reside in
Northern Sarvonia. Located in the recesses of the craggy, conifer-clad
Prominent Mountains, they are undisputed masters at smithery, as with most
dwarves, but even more notable for their
masonry. Many of the great bridges, fortifications, and cities in the region
were built by Kurakim masons and architects, sometimes in conjunction with
human effort or
They share a very close bond with the Injerín elves and have forged lasting trade links with the Shaded Forest region. Once a belligerent and war-like clan, the Kurakergerim have become more philosophical and patient during their association with the elves of the Folkmore, though both dwarf and elf will gladly take up weapons together against the frequent orcish raids.
|Image description: A typical Kurakim Dwarf with knotted beard standing in full armour in front of the Prominent Mountains. Picture from the game Mystical Empire™, used with friendly permission. Illustration by Faugar.|
Kurakim Dwarves are stocky, bearded humanoids, standing about one to one and a
half peds tall, and about four spans across the shoulders. Chest barrel-shaped,
rounded stomach with slightly bowed, thick legs. Strong arms, calloused hands
with well-defined knuckles and fleshy pads. Almost always brown-haired and
brown-eyed, though deep gold, black, and reddish hairshades are known, and the
hair does whiten in older dwarves.
Ears, nose, and molars appear proportionately larger on the face than
The Thergerim as a race are densely-boned
and muscular, including the females.
Coat of Arms/Sign. No details provided yet.
Territory. Heavily fortified, disguised, and guarded, the entrance to their main cavern city is located somewhere in the central ravines of the Prominent Mountains in Northern Sarvonia, near the headwaters of the Luquador River.
People. The Kurakergerim have a long and war-torn history (see below) but from their long association with the local elven tribes have come to prefer peaceful mining and trade as a way of life. At least, so they say. Certainly they have produced some of the most beautifully crafted sculptures, manuscripts, and interesting scholarly dissertations ever to come from a dwarven hand, but their weaponry and armour-craft does not seem to have suffered in the process, either.
The Kurakim are less agoraphobic than their southern cousins, and frequently come above ground to tend small patches of grain for their dwarven spirits or to hunt and climb among the Prominent Mountains’ wildlife-populated forests and rocks. At one time during the Age of Myths several groups of dwarves even settled above ground; these were the ones who had grown closest to the Injerín elves and Mynian humans. However, during the Year of Burning Nights they drew back into the customary seclusion and safety of their mountain fastnesses.
Housing. The Caverns of Kalern, as the main city is known, is said to have spectacular columns and halls hewn from the living granite, and many a dwarf-friend has been welcomed under the diamante light of the great Kalern Timeclock. Other lesser caverns are strewn about the mountains, each with their own central cave, waterfall, clock, entrance pitfall, communication tunnels, smoke filters, aboveground garden patches, and associated mines. (For more detail on dwarven cavern cities, see "Een Puvtyr".) The dwarves stay clear of the southern foothills, which are rife with the nests of the so-called “Noble Orcs”, or Ashz-Oc. Famous for their military strength and their skills in combat, but also for their strong steel and brightly-dyed clothes, these more-intelligent-than-average orcs often send out raiding parties and have instigated many scuffles with the dwarves.
Clothing. From their long association with the Mynians, the Kurakim dwarves have learned to favour human cloth over the traditional southern Rockwool. Much of their trade is for the beautifully dyed "blockcloth" in deep earthen tones and the classical square patterns and plaids of the Kuglimz weavers. Wrapped and fastened with dwarven-wrought iron pins and brooches, then overlaid with leather workvests or scale/plate/chain armour, the cloths form striking garments worn by male and female dwarves alike.
Female Kurakim wrap their bodice cloths in a tight X-shape across their heavy bosoms for better support, then cover the X with a further loose layer from over the left shoulder to under the right arm, letting it hang in graceful folds across the chest and stomach but freeing their hammer or sword arm. (“X” being the Mark of Coór, this shape is never displayed openly!) Male Kurakim wrap one layer around their torsos, under their arms, for warmth, and then drape left to right in the same style as the females. The wraps are then pinned at the shoulder and waist with wrought-iron brooches, often in the shape of a lesser beast (cave drell, cave rat, a nesting cuuloo, a roosting bat, a slow-wyrm, or other common small animal).
When above ground, or in the coldest winter seasons when the caverns cannot be heated sufficiently, the clan often wears vests stuffed with ulgaroth pelt, sheep fleece, or rockwool. Wrapping their legs in strips of blockcloth and then pulling their huge climbing boots on over the strips, the Kurakim often are able to plow through snows that would fatigue a human in short order.
Diet. The Kurakim's diet is richer in meat than the south as the hunting is rich and they go above ground more regularly. The Kurakim clan also enjoy eggs (usually wild-birds’) more often and frequently get to sample Folkmore elvish cuisine. Fish is brought from the western coastal city of Darooth for the elves’ sake, but unappreciated by the thallassa-phobic dwarves. A strong dwarven spirit known as “Scutch” or “Rot-tin” is made from the Scutch plant and frequently consumed and traded by the Kurakergerim.
Weapons. The classic picture which humans have of a heavily armoured dwarf, his eyes shadowed under a huge helmet, and an axe over his shoulder, most accurately describes the Kurakim Clan. Famous for their beautifully crafted Fang-Axes, with gracefully-arced blades balanced by an armour-piercing spike, the Kurakim are masters of axework. Let me note here that the famous “Riton’s Birth-Blade” is not, as some Southerners seem to think, a magical sword, but rather a marvelous human-scale axe made for King Minar II’s first son (see the Histories of the Mynian Kingdom).
And it is well for the Kurakim that their axes are sharp, for Ashz-Oc (Noble Orcs), from the southern foothills of the Prominent Mountains, send out frequent raiding parties, while the Losh-Oc from the Mountains of Oro and the Wilshirer Heath often bumble down out of the north-east looking for food and plunder.
Like all dwarves, the Kurakergerim carry eating knives and small smithy/jeweller’s hammers on their belts; however, they also usually have a set of rock spikes and a few wire nooses handy as well. If caught out overnight they can snare birds or rabbits, and one never knows, in the crags and crevasses of the Prominent Mountains, when climbing might be preferable to delving.
Occupations. As with all Thergerim, occupations are gender-segregated and one’s role in life is defined early within the community. Everyone has a place, and a task to perform, which ensures the individual dwarf food, shelter, medicine, and clothing within the clan circle. Some common occupations are Miner, Smith, Teacher, Mage, Healer, Drumsender, Singspeaker, Foodmaker, Brewmistress, Woodsmith, Weavewender, Farmtender, Leader, Hunter, Dowser, Guide. There is always one Denirim (Denirim, "Holy One"). who performs rituals, teaches the Trumesdrummerons (Trumesdrummerons), or “RockTales”, and officiates at ceremonies of birth, wedding, and death. For further detail, see the entry on Dwarven Society.
Government. Each clan of Thergerim has a single leader or clan chieftain (the dwarven term is unpronouncable) , who may be of either gender, but must be past his or her Age of Choosing, sexual maturity, usually at around 90 human years; known as “Huregozar" (Huregozar) for females or "Baregozar" (Baregozar) for males. The leader is elected by common consensus, although he or she is often from a popular family within the clan. The chieftain then makes decisions aided by his/her council members and if the council sees fit to bring any particular decision before the clan, it must then be supported by consensus voting of all adult dwarves. Leaders also have a sub-leader, or “travel-chief”, as it can be literally translated; this dwarf (male or female) will often be responsible to travel to annual clan meetings and stand for the leader in a Thergerim Great Council. The Denirimerons (Denirimerons) also travel outside the clan and meet, but their religious gatherings are shrouded in mystery and fanatic secrecy.
Production/Trade. Quite a bit of traffic goes back and forth in the region, although caution must always be exercised because of constant orcish raids and the strong orc presence in the southern foothills. The dwarves trade obsidian and granite for gold and mithril with their southern cousins. Kuglimz trade dyed and woven "blockcloth", fresh vegetables, mutton and the occasional wagon of smoked horsehaunch for dwarven masonry and armoury skills, cut ashlars of stone, and also coinage. Elves trade timber rights and herbal medicines for dwarven spirits, goldwork and smelted arrowheads.
The dwarves trade for fresh vegetables with the Kuglimz, and some spices, dried fruits and vegetables come up from their southern clan cousins.
Natural Resources. The Prominent Mountains are coniferous, craggy highlands, populated by great wolverines, red deer, elk, wolves, wild hare, cuuloo pheasants, and hawks. Some spiny bears can be found, and the dwarves are restricting their hunting so that the population will grow. A few wargs roam the southern slopes, and it is said that some iron dragons live in the higher fastnesses of the mountains. Very rocky granite outcroppings are thickly forested with scrub pine, eu’r-oak, cinnabarks, sahnrix pines, and the slim but tough golden strands of wolf willow. Here and there the bright sour fruits of medlarapples show among the deep green of the conifers.
Heather, scutch plant, moonmoss, and lythien are all found on and harvested from the foothills. Bearbane grows at the northern edges of their territory, and Krragghi, the orcish equivalent of chili peppers, to the south (see Herbarium Overview for detailed descriptions of these plants). The mountains contain obsidian, coal, and iron deposits, which are all excavated and claimed by the Kurakim clan.
Holidays, Festivals and Obervances. In this category we have to mention the following:
Every week on the second day of the week, YehBarden is practiced. Adult females, no matter their age or occupation, take time out of their work during the day to prepare an item of food or special drink for a male who is not in their direct family. It is taken for granted that no one will be overlooked, and that all gifts will be made as discreetly as possible; no one looks too closely at the bowl designs or tries to spot the figure that brushes by their forge door on Barden day. An archaic human scholar comments somewhat enviously:
“Upon Mannes’s Day, or Male Day as ytt shouldde more propyrely be called, the shee-dwarves do bringge much food and drink to alle males ynn the caverne....and thysse doth engendre much goodwylle and fellowspirryte among the dwarven folke, that eache one knoweth nott his benefactresse, yet alle do recyyve from anothres’ hand...”
However, since this happens weekly, one might be forgiven for suspecting that in fact all parties are well-aware of the habitual relationships, and the only excitement might be when young dwarf maidens are trying to forge new acquaintances by leaving food on young bachelors’ anvils and ‘accidentally on purpose’ get caught at it.
YehHutden is also practiced every week, on the fifth day of the week. Male dwarves must perform some service for a female who is not part of their family. Again, every effort is made to ensure that no one is overlooked, and the assistance is given as discreetly as possible. Mending clothing, repairing household items, repointing chimneys, creating jewelry, gathering firewood, or even taking on a work responsibility are all typical ways in which the males are encouraged to serve the females of the clan on Hutden day. Barden and Hutden are yet another manifestation of the communal, family-centred life of the Thergerim race, and indeed demonstrate an equality and consideration which humans might do well to emulate.
(Holy Writing Week)
Held every five years, this serious religious event is a sort of rite of passage for adolescent Thergerim. Like a confession of faith, or a first communion, young Kurakim dwarves look forward to DenimettDeniden as their chance to show that they are adults who can participate in all the rites and observances of the community. The week before is a scurry of activity in the cavern to prepare enough food, finish up smithy tasks, thoroughly water the mushroom beds, and overall get everything ready so that no work needs to be done by anyone except the children’s caretakers (generally the granfers and grannies of the cavern, who have seen a lot of DenimettDenidenerons go by in their time...)
When the Timeclock shows that it is firstlight above ground on the first day of the week, the Denirim (Dwarven Priest) blows a brass Knertmor to summon every Kurakimgerim in the cavern to a communal meal. The meal is eaten in silence, as far as possible, and then the horn is sounded again to dismiss every dwarf to his or her own chamber for the day.
The next six days are a time of rest and reflection for the adults, in which they are free to roam outside, spend time with each other and their children, meet with the Denirim for counselling or discussion, work on small handcrafts, play games, and read. However, no fires must be lit save the Denirim’s, which burns steadily year-round, and no hammers wielded during the week (thus no cooking or crafting).
The adolescents spend the entire week secluded in their chambers, writing meticulously out by hand the entire contents of the Rock Tales, rune for rune, from their parents’ copy. While this is a common religious activity among all Thergerim, only the Kurakergerim have formalized it into a specific holy week. Generally a dwarf chooses to undertake the scribing of the Trumesdrummerons as a way to gain merit with Trum-Barol or to refresh himself spiritually, and the timing of this is between him and his Denirim. Fortunately the text is not a long one, and Thergerim Taal a curt language by nature. The ready-cooked but cold food is left outside their chamber doors and the dirty plates taken away the same way later.
At the end of the week, on the beginning of the seventh day, the Denirim comes to each cell to collect the copies. Clad only in a rockwool loincloth and bearing his staff, he exchanges no word with the youngsters, but takes their efforts in grim silence and vanishes to his own chamber, there to spend the day checking the text word for word against his own copy. A single mistake means the book is burnt, tossed into the Denirim’s perpetual flame.
The Knertmor sounds again at the end of the day, and everyone, including the young hopefuls, gathers in the cavern. The main hearth is ritually lit with flint and steel, and the finished texts laid out on the flagstones around it. The youth are called forward by name (the first words they have heard for a week) and take up their copy of the Rock Tales. If their book is not there, it will be another five years before they have another chance to move out of adolescence. As dwarves are long-lived, this is not as harsh as it might seem to humans...
The new adult Kurakim take a brand from the main hearth and go round the cavern, entrance by entrance, lighting all the torches, sub-hearths, forges, and chamber fireplaces in the city. When they return, with every place in the cavern blazing, a great shout goes up and the feasting starts.
Adult dwarves who feel their copies are getting too tattered, or who simply want to refresh themselves with the text of the Rock Tales, can also petition the Denirim in advance to participate in the scribing with the youngsters. They are then relieved of their hearth-and-forge duties for the week as well, and spend the time in solitude.
(Day of the Granite-Lord)
One of the Stone Fathers (Thergerim Unsthommerons or Unsthommerons) whom the Kurakim dwarves hold most dear, Corunvil is associated with the chisel and the small stonemaul. He is considered the most creative of the Stone Fathers, and the personage called upon to provide inspiration to dwarven artisans and designers. He is also the spirit invoked during pregnancy and labour.
CorunvilDen holiday is celebrated by the whole clan approximately once a month, on the night of the full moon. It is generally an evening of laying down tools, and playing various enjoyable family and group games: Charades, dart-tossing, Axes High (Daggers Down, but using miniature axes) riddles, and Cross-stones (played with real gems) are all popular.
(Day of the Obsidian-Lord)
Another Unsthomm particularly dear to the Kurakergerim. He is said to be the creator of the Delvers, and is characterized as having a sense of humour. Seen as the Trickster figure in Thergerim myth and legend, when things go wrong or go missing, he is often blamed. His symbols are an obsidian ax-head and the Cave Drell.
This holiday is also celebrated once a month, on the cup of the dark moon (about 15 days away from the full moon). Work stops early and everyone meets in the main cavern for an evening of entertainment. Dwarves are asked to sing, the Krumhorn and Mezuzil are played with varying degrees of skill, the Kaorpuveen and its louder brother, the Kaorpuvkor, provide percussion, and performances are staged around the main hearth. Kurakim appreciate physical comedy, imitations, short tales, and wordplay (puns) as much as the next dwarf, so the cavern comics and story-tellers all get their chance to shine too.
Important Achievements. The Great Mithril Bridge, constructed in the Age of Myths, was Kurakim
handiwork; so was Vermoth the Many-Towered, the capital city of the
Mynia. The Vermoth Tri-Bridge project was completely masterminded by Kurakim
masons, and indeed, though Vermoth itself has fallen under the claws of war and
time, the noble granite arches still stand high over the branches of the Liben
River. Dwarven builders in unison with
elven mages built one of the largest
fortified cities of the region, O'krói'pardá'aél ("Everlasting War in the
History. Please note that the following time table was set up by the Kurakim dwarves themselves and thus represents a dwarven perspective, not a human one.
"Theme of the Kurakim Dwarves", composed and performed by
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