On the shores of Crystal lake, a massive underground lake fed by hot mineral springs below and snow melt above. Two major rivers flow from this underground lake making for a unique underground tradeway for those on the Dwarves’ good side.
Tenebris the great dwarf city of the deep:
A Grand city were only a few chosen outside races are allowed to visit and fewer still are allowed to pass through. This grand ancient city gained its name from the old dwarf tongue that is no longer spoken. The full name of the city is "Lux in Tenebris" which meant "The Light in the Darkness" but over the years the name was shortened down to just "Tenebris" which meant "Darkness". Some of the older dwarven families who are privy to this fact have thought about changing it back, but ironically their staunch traditional nature has prevented them from changing it back to the older name.
The Grand city was built deep within the mountains base just above the crystal lake which always shined as if it were a diamond and its beauty bewitched any who laid their eyes upon it. The city was built by Ancient dwarfs and many of the structures now go unused in the city. There are many spirals towers & houses built from strange rock that is many times more durable than your common mountain rock. Strange crystals glow with a pale light that make the city glow in a pleasant yet gloomy way. Many of the strange towers and underground bases that were built many a centenary ago are still unknown to the dwarves as they seem to be unable to work the technology left behind by their ancestors. Of course the grandest and strangest structure is the great gates that were carved from the mountains themselves and open up the way to the dark tunnels. These tunnels are often travelled to gather mining resources, the most common resource found being precious jewels, but in these tunnels lie an ancient darkness that must be fought off. The gate itself is a sight to behold; big enough to fit a great wyrm dragon; its design mystifies the dwarves who live there to this day. It is said to be strong enough to withstand the assault of a titan and magically resistant in the extreme, yet one pull of the lever in the great guardhouse can open it.
The city of Tenebris is located in the Central mountain range. It is built directly into the mountain side and spans many miles. Such is the design of the city that in parts one can see up through the mountains into the open sky, while in other parts it is fully underground. At the center of the city lies Crystal Lake, so named because of the great number of crystals and gems in the lake and on its shores. Shafts of light shine down onto the lake at times casting colorful light about the cavern and this area is often considered to be one of the great wonders of the world. Coming off of the lake are two rivers: The Arteinen passing south and the Feirn flowing north. These two rivers are extremely important trade routes for the dwarves and others and are well guarded by many towers and checkpoints. The caves within and surrounding the city are home to thousands of waterfalls both great and small. Rainfall and snowmelt ensure that an almost constant flow of water is present. The air is filled with the sound of water wherever one goes.
Tenebrium is located atop many prosperous mines. Gold, silver, mithral, and other precious minerals are less rare here than in other parts of the world. Mining can be dangerous however as there are many tunnels here that if followed lead down into the Underdark. Many foolish miners have met their fate by burrowing down into those dangerous tunnels.
The primary governmental body of the central dwarven realm is known as The Conclave of the Most Wise and Venerable Elders or simply The Conclave for short. There are eleven members who all bear equal power in voting. Each member is the patriarch of one of the eleven royal families of Tenebris. Meetings are frequent, but it is quite rare that any decision is made in them. It is rare that the families should align on any issue and thus the system is rampant with inefficiency. The eleven families all claim to have a direct line to the last King of Tenebris. Families that have proven a greater connection to the royal family of old have historically had greater clout with their fellows.
Minor affairs are generally handled by the houses themselves who rule over different districts of the city. Laws in each district differ, so to many outsiders the legal system is needlessly confusing. The dwarves, for their part seem to navigate the legal miasma just fine.
Because of the great importance that each family places on their lineage, the Guild of Heraldry and Geneology has risen to great prominence in the city. This ancient and noble order is tasked with the finding and maintaining of historical records related to the great families of the city. Because of their power to determine the legitimacy of a found piece they are courted by all the families and these historians live in luxury.
The dwarves of the Central range are often described as arrogant. They are very concerned with parentage and care little for wealth, at least in-so-far as status is concerned, like their western cousins. They are, however, generally fairly polite if a little stand offish. They have a preference for spoken word over written, and trust a man’s word more than a contract. In-fact, the signing of contracts is oft times seen as an insult to a dwarfs honor, though this depends on the actual dwarf.
Magic is quite rare in these lands and as such the dwarves seldom trust those who use it. As far as they are concerned it is best to accomplish any task by mundane means if possible. They do however, have a great respect for those who can bind magic into more “stable” forms for use by those without the means to cast. Wizards are tolerated, while sorcerers and other spontaneous casters are generally looked on with scorn. There are many folk tales that tell of rogue sorcerers stealing children and the like.
They do not have the best of relations with the other races, however, they get along best with their human neighbors, though they would prefer if they were longer lived. In their words, “Just as you start to trust them, they die.” They have few relations with the elves, though they do appreciate the elves distaste of the orcs. Orcs and goblins are seen as dangerous and perverted creatures, and half-orcs are seen as little better.
The city of Tenebris is much older than the dwarves who settle there. Many, less-knowledgeable, dwarves staunchly deny this claim, but those with knowledge of such things can tell that many of the older buildings are worked in a way that is wholly unlike current dwarven craft. Not much is known about the history of the city prior to the coming of the current inhabitants, but It is presumed a great race, perhaps an ancient line of dwarves, built this wondrous city and that when they left, they left behind many wondrous treasures & devices. The current dwarves that reside here have learned how to use some of the technology that resides within the city, but much of it still baffles them. Strange items that are found are often left where they are found so that they may be studied. Some have latent magical energy still and moving them could be dangerous. Many of them also have magical and mechanical means of preventing theft which are also quite deadly.
Whatever the case, dwarves found the place abandoned when they first came upon it. The location was considered quite auspicious and so the dwarves took up residence in the mountain and began to create a city around the great lake at the center.
At the time the city was ruled by a King. His name has since been lost to history, the issue mostly stems from false records that were created around that time which have obfuscated the issue, but each of the royal families claim that he bore their name. These families are in turn: Bagnir, Bagni, Bugnor, Brunar, Bassni, Borgnei, Birgnir, Boggur, Basski, Aggni, and Banor. Even in those ancient days the dwarves of Tenebris warred with the northern orcs. They fought many skirmishes with a great warleader of the day, but they were unable to fully rout the orcs. Determined to bring glory to his name and people the King himself entered the fray. During the battle he found himself in combat with the orc warchief Gozzog. Though he fought valiantly, he was no match for the orcs strength and cunning and was slain. His body was lost. The dwarves fled the field, their honor slighted.
If the loss of the King’s body weren’t bad enough he also bore a magic scepter. This would not be a problem were it not for the fact that this particular scepter was magic. The ancient texts claim that it had always been a relic of their people, and that when held by he who deserved to rule the dwarves it would grant great and magical power. Without it they had no means of determining who should sit the throne. A meeting was called to determine who should sit the throne. Many stepped forward to claim it, each with equal voice. Nothing could be decided. Eventually each of the dwarves left quite bitter.
The city in those days was a dangerous place. It was roughly divided along family lines by the ones who had claimed the throne. Tensions were high and fighting in the streets was common. It might have ended in tragedy had scouts not reported that the orcs were on the move once again, and had been sighted moving towards the city. Another meeting was called. This time the leaders decided that until a ruler could be found they would rule the city by vote. Each family would have an equal voice. On that day the Conclave was founded.
The dwarves rallied their household guard and prepared to defend the city, but the orcs never came. It seems their scouts had been mistaken. Returning to their homes the families vowed that they would find proof that they were deserving of the throne and claim their place as king. Even after all these years the scepter has not been found and dwarves are without a King.
Tenebris trades primarily in rich metals and gems. Iron is plentiful, but their main exports are gold and silver. Mithral and even Adamantine are easier to find here than almost anywhere else. Gems both cut and uncut fill the markets, some are even cut by the elusive Svirfneblin. The wood and food of the city is provided by farms outside the city in part, but the bulk comes from trade with nearby allies. If this were cut off the stockpiles of the city would last for some time however.
When trading with outsiders it is almost a certainty that the goods will be shipped along the river, and if it must go farther by caravan after that. Traders are welcome in certain parts of the city, but usually not for long at the present, unless they have long established relationships with the dwarves; the current times dictate that the dwarves be more cautious in who they trust. Several orcish spies have been caught within the city, and this has the dwarves acting more cautiously.
With the mountain city of the orcs the dwarves have almost no non-hostile interaction. Rarely is there outright war between the two, but skirmishes are not uncommon. The dwarves are too defensive in warcraft to push out and attempt to destroy the orcs and the orcs realize the dwarves are too fortified. It is said that some radical dwarf factions may trade with Craghome, but it would be considered treason at best.
The dwarves have very good relations with the lancers of Dwoinan. This stems from an ancient ancestor of the Dwoinan coming to the aid of the dwarves in battle against the orcs. Trade is common between the two, but usually this trade takes place in the lands of the Dwoinan. Much of the food for the dwarven city comes from this place. The dwarves trade gold and gems for such having them in abundance.
Their relations are mostly neutral. The dwarves do not bother much with them so long as they pay their tax to use the river. The men of Thond for their part pay so as not to lose access to the river.
Though they are distant from one another the dwarves of the Tenebris are on relatively good terms with the elves. Their common hatred of the orcs is common ground enough for them to see eye to eye unlike their western cousins.
Places of interest:
This great mysterious tower is the largest building in the city. it overlooks everything and most of its technology is a mystery. No one except the dwarves of Tenebris have been allowed to enter and even then they must have a promissory grant from three of the dwarven noble families. The tower is the main research facility for all the technology that is found.
The underground gardens is a site to behold as you would almost think you were above ground with the animals and plants that grow & live here. The gardens stretch for over 2000 acres into the mountains depths and no one has gone deeper as there are many dangers inside the gardens. The gardens are filled with many strange glowing plants and animals that you would never find on the surface. There are strange crystals just outside the gardens which glow with a black light which seems to stop the forest and creatures from crossing over into the city.
Bagnir, Bagni, Bugnor, Brunar, Bassni, Borgnei, Birgnir, Boggur, Basski, Aggni, and Banor Districts
The unusual districting of the city is off putting to outsiders. Though most dwarves maintain the section of the city they live in is best, this is far from true. Each one is almost identical to the others. Residential districts, trade districts, taverns, and the like are found in each. It is almost as if the city is split into 11 miniature cities. The Bagnir, Borgnei, and Aggni districts are the most affluent while the Bagni and Bugnor districts are the poorest. Each district is known for a specialty in trade which is about the only thing differentiating them besides name. These are listed below:
Borgnei: Ale and Beer
Birgnir: Woodwork and Shipwrighting
Aggni: Mining (they control many of the known mithral and adamantine mines)
The Empty Throne:
The ancient castle of the king of Tenebris. It has been known as the Empty Throne since the ancient line was lost. In the hall of the king is set a large table with 11 seats. Here are the Conclave meetings of Tenebris held. When no meeting is being held it is open to visitation. The rest of the keep is strictly off limits and is uninhabited save for a few historians, record keepers, and guards.