Although it is not possible to get a full census of their numbers, it is believed that the Mountain Folk, more commonly called “Dwarves,” represent the third-most populous of the Five Peoples in Elanterra, behind the Humans and Hillfolk. Dwarves are thick-set, hairy humanoids standing roughly four to five feet tall. Underneath their extremely thick hair and beards, which can be just about any color, they are extremely pale, with large eyes and ears, and surprisingly dextrous hands and feet. These features are found on both males and females and it is considered impossible (and also, rude) for outsiders to determine a Dwarf’s gender by sight.
The two main Dwarven settlements are in the Ferros in the North East, and Paladine in the South. Dwarven sub-communities are also common in most surface communities. In Human kingdoms in particular, they are welcomed as merchants, craftsmen, and bankers. Outsiders have difficulty living in Dwarven holds because of the extremes of the environment. While some settlement areas are quite comfortable, and cater to outsiders, the true dimensions of Dwarven holdings cannot be explored by outsiders, and the subject is for some reason taboo.
Dwarves are well suited for their environments, which include the surfaces and interiors of most of the mountains in Elanterra. They are capable of surviving extreme cold and heat, and their senses are extremely sharp.
Dwarves are extremely community minded, often forming large stable households of adults when living on the surface. Dwarven children are not reared in foreign lands, and any pregnant Dwarves are sent with great speed to the nearest homeland. At the same time, they are surprisingly private creatures. They have a strict religious culture which is politely but firmly closed to outsiders. Their patron deity is known by many titles, including “Earth Father,” “Divine Craftsman,” and “Protector.” Some speculate that these are separate gods rather than aspects of the same divine being.
Ferros is the center of Dwarven industry, and the seat of The Mountain King, the terrestrial ruler of all Dwarves. Although Dwarves living on the surface are bound to the laws of whatever settlement they dwell in, they remain subjects of the Mountain King, and are bound by his laws. A strong sense of honor and fair play ensures that both masters are satisfied.
Paladine, a much more temperate settlement built into a volcanic island and stretching an unknown depth underneath the Bay of Storms, is a smaller, settlement, and the center of Dwarven religion. Dwarves will make pilgrimages to Paladine as often as they are able, to give offerings, get advice, or make penances. Paladine is overseen by the Papal seat.
Up until very recently, Dwarves also maintained a stronghold in the Icy Mountains. It is now abandoned, and the reasons for this migration are unknown. Legends of gold-filled ruins draw treasure hunters, and rumors of monsters pouring from the earth draw monster hunters.
In truth, Dwarves live remarkably austere and simple lives. Their value of the community above all makes them dedicated tradesmen, soldiers and laborers. While slander often paints them as usurious, and great lovers of gold and gems, the truth is usually opposite. Dwarves value practical items, particularly wooden objects and fruits and vegetables, which are difficult to obtain in their native lands. Inexperienced Dwarven traders will often pay in pure gold at incredible sums, which may be the source of these legends.
Compiler’s Note: Much is still not fully understood about Dwarven culture. In modern history, Ferros has often come into conflict with neighboring kingdoms over resources, and the result has been a general migration of Dwarves back to the two main Holds. Dwarves are frighteningly efficient militarists, and even claim that they have waged secret wars below the surface for generations. When pressed, they become evasive on the subject, however. Dwarves are honorable but fierce in combat, and their military seems to be exclusively male, although how this can be managed without any visible difference between the sexes is unknown. Due to their extreme modesty, the actual form of a female Dwarf is unknown. Some experts theorize that Dwarves are in fact hermaphroditic. Other experts (and their heirs) have learned that Dwarves respond with extreme violence when this theory is suggested to them. As to the truth of Dwarven anatomy, the outside world may never know.–G.B.
“Elanterra Journal” is a look into the People, Places, and history of the Island of Elanterra, the setting of the Freelance Hunters stories. “Glory’s Gauntlet,” an ebook collection of four Freelance Hunters stories is available from Amazon and Smashwords.