Quick Note: The Dwarves of Eira
Dwarves, as I’ve just shown have been a thorn in my side since I started work on the Eira setting. The simplest answer would be to just excise them from the material, throw-up my middle finger at the dwarven fanboys and laugh like Nelson in “The Simpsons.” Only problem is I am one of those dwarven fanboys and because of that I feel an itch to include my favorite fantastic race to the Eira setting. I cannot dismiss dwarves or reskin them (for reasons above) like I have elves (see Au-Sidhe), because that would be betraying that 5’3” bearded Wookie (yes, I just compared dwarves with wookies) within me scream for the blood of Orcs! To accomplish adding dwarves into the Eira setting without causing mythological ripples or giant gaping holes in the time-space of two competing mythological settings I looked back on the father of the high-fantasy genre as we know it: Tolkien!
Without a doubt, Tolkien’s world is that of the Anglos, the Sexons, the Jutts and the countless other tribes and nations that predominated Northern Europe in the early part of the Common Era (C.E.). There are references and mild transplants from other mythologies of Europe but the Northern European folklores are the main force behind the stories Tolkien writes. With that said however, I must point out a 1971 radio interview that Tolkien took part in (the last according to a quick wiki look), he brings up the idea that the Dwarves are like the Jews of the Middle Ages. A people without a land or home that must adapt (while keeping their heritage) to the norms of whatever society they find themselves.
This is completely true when looking at “The Hobbit” (a section of the story Jackson did beautifully I must add!). The question then was, how to take Tolkien’s idea of who and what the dwarves were and adapt it to Eira? This called for some historical research. Traditionally and mythological speaking, the Isles are a place that is often invaded. One group of invaders come in, conquers and take over and this is followed by another and another. The history of Ireland, Scotland and Wales are full of this cycle of invasion and colonization. However, if you look at the history of some of the invaders (or the proposed history as some invaders like the Milesians are more myth than reality) it is hinted that many were invading because they were fleeing something else back in their own lands. So now we have two possibilities for dwarves with an overlap, question now is who are the dwarves?
Dwarves in modern fantasy are often portrayed as gruff and ill-tempered, but honorable and loyal to nearly a fault. The best friend a person could ever make in nearly any modern fantasy work is a dwarf. Yes, I know that in recent years video games, novels and even Dungeons & Dragons have attempted to deconstruct and rebuild the dwarf into something contrary to its previous nature. Thanks, however, in part to the mass-media juggernaut that Tolkien’s work has turned into the idea of dwarves as described above persists; and in my opinion gladly so! This then brings us to the dwarves that exist in Eira, in what part they play in the shaping of that land.
Dwarves arrived on the island of Eira five-hundred years ago. When they arrived in their long ships, they were a bruised and battered people, barely able to muster the energy and willpower to construct a single fortress along the eastern coasts. However, dwarves are a hearty people and not easily defeated. As the days passed into months and the months into years, their coastal fortress grew and expanded. They battered with Chiefs and kings, surrounding their knowledge of metal craft and plate mail in exchange for land and allies. It was to these chiefs and kings that the stories of the dwarves were past.
The dwarves were refugees, the only survivors of their kind to flee the lands across the Eastern Seas during a time of rage and darkness. They left everything behind, their great works, their mountain halls, and sadly twelve of the original twenty-five clans. They sailed not knowing to where they went, believing they would die at sea from thirst and starvation. Eira, to them was a miracle broken from the sea by their singular God.
They wanted to build fortresses along the coasts, places to watch the sea and wait for the darkness form their own lands. They feared that darkness would eventually spread to Eira, and they promised their new allies that they would not run again. The land they bartered for was granted and soon seven great fortresses lined the eastern coasts of Eira. There the dwarves trained and waited and sold their works of metal and jewels to the native peoples of Eira. Always they were friends; always they granted aid and bartered in good faith. However, not all on Eira were welcoming to them.
Where ever the dwarves travelled in Eira they were met with hatred from some and greed from others. Some where beaten, some were robbed some where murdered. Still, the dwarves were friends and soon most of the Eira excepted the; at least to their face. To this day, dwarves are considered to be greedy and dishonest in business.
With the wealth and security of the coastal fortresses, the dwarves moved inland, and with the permission of the Kings and Chiefs of Eira settled the Barrier Range of mountains that ranged the north of Eira. To these mountains six of the thirteen remaining clans went and there founded the great mountain halls of the Dwarves of Eira. They built roadways (dwarves are often blamed with the creation of Padfoots) and canals, to move the ore mined from the mountains to the Coastal Fortresses and made friends and allies of the hard semi-barbaric humans that occupied the northern wastes and highlands of Eira.