Obrexia and the Vunkul Dwarves, 5 SC to 8 SC
In the Winter of the 5th year after the comet returned, we encountered a people that had never been seen. They called themselves dwarves, and while we had heard rumors of their kind, the first sighting was near the Sléibhte Liath, the Grey Mountains, that are the northern border. The plains were a difficult place to live, choked of all life by fell beasts that roamed down from the mountains, and as such it took a great deal of time between the sighting and the meeting of our peoples.
A party was dispatched by Spring of the 6th year, on the order of Bryson Hawkson, Ruler of Obrexia. They were to make contact and learn the language, further negotiations would occur after that point in time. The party included a Deer Druid, Lamella Jerna, an experienced Druid in her 60th year; Striker Keeran, in his 45th year, master of the longsword, and experienced negotiator; 15 experienced soldiers as escort, led by Knight-Captain Hesvard, newly raised to his position, but a capable leader of men, in his 32nd year. I, Historian Lansitar of the High Library, in my 80th year, accompanied them, to observe and document.
After they set out from the town of Riverwatch, having bunked in the Amberwood Garrison, they rode for multiple weeks, taking a slow journey, for the plains abounded with danger. They arrived to see a mountain being carved, and fields being plowed. When they were first spotted, the farmers ran for a large opening in the base of the mountain, that had been decorated lightly, deep into the depths. After having waited for some time to see the response of their arrival, they continued further forward, coming to a stop before stepping foot into the hall. Lamella and Keeran both dismounted, and waited ahead of the soldiers, against the warnings of the Knight-Captain.
It didn’t take too much longer before the sound of marching boots were heard. They all fell in lockstep, with gleaming steel on the average soldier, with their leader bearing a polished breastplate and gold tinted helm. They stopped at the other side of the threshold, waiting. Even with their elevation advantage, the Striker and the Druid stood at eye level, with the average dwarf being around four and a half feet tall. They outnumbered the Obrexians at least four to one, but they seemed content with waiting. Maybe fifteen minutes after the standoff started, another group arrived. Lead by three striking specimens, each holding a unique quality, even among the other dwarves.
The lead dwarf had eyes and hair of gold, said to be extremely captivating, but holding an edge of predatory intent. He was seemingly in charge, as others cleared the way for him first, with the other two just behind him to either side. In fact, they all seemed to be male, at first. All the dwarves were bearded, with the soldiers having orderly braids, with tokens intertwined within. The golden dwarf had a single braid, with a single token, that of a hammer and pickaxe embossed on a golden coin. The dwarf behind and to the left was of the a dwarf that had fiery red hair, similar to that of a full blooded daoine clansmen, again, he had but a single token in his beard, that of a red coin edged with gold with two smith’s hammers crossed upon it, over a war pick, again embossed upon the coin. The dwarf to the right and behind of the golden one was in stark contrast to the others, with deeply hued blue skin, with not a hair on their head besides their beard. Again, they had but a single coin emblem in their braid, though this one had a torch and quill crossed over a tome, embossed on a blue metallic material.
Behind the three leaders was a whole host of people, many of which looked to hold higher power and were granted deference by those around them, but none so much as the three. They had many advisors, and the trend seemed to be that those that had the fewest emblems were of higher authority, those that stepped forward to speak with the leaders all had two emblems, with the rare dwarf that had three to step forward. They all seemed to be waiting for something, and Druid Lamella seemed keen to break the silence.
She stepped forward slowly and brought forth a bound scroll, prepared by the High Historians to help further our understanding. The magic was expensive and hard to create, and thus we only had two of them to use. There was funding from the Ruler to make as many as we needed, but the scarcity of the materials used to create the spell were more prohibitive than the amount of money available. Manaborn blood was a precious commodity, and the High Historians advised that it would be best to use the scrolls as sparingly as possible. The scrolls that facilitated the exchange only granted a single individual the knowledge of Obrexian needed to facilitate a basic conversation, and even then, the scroll was pushing three yards in length. She offered it towards the dwarves, and the Captain of the guards looked back to the golden dwarf, who nodded for them to take it. Once the exchange had happened, it was passed back to members of the blue group, who poked and prodded at it before seeming to come to the way to use it. They seemed to pose a question in their language towards Lamella, but none of us knew what the question was.
Eventually, the scroll was passed back to the blue clan’s leader, who after a slight glance towards the golden one, read the scroll and used the magic within it.
“… Hello? This language is, rough, on my mouth. We would do dealings with you, but we require your, soldiers, to stay out here. Is this acceptable?” The pronunciation is stilted, as expected, but the message is received. I stepped forward to be with Lamella and Keeran, as we three head inside. The dwarven contingent split around us, allowing our passage, while they close ranks as soon as we step past. The leaders of the dwarves all stare at us, and Keeran is the one to fill the gap.
“Greetings, esteemed leaders, we have come hoping to learn your language, so that our peoples may come to have greater dealings. I am Striker Keeran, this is Druid Lamella, and this is Historian Lansitar. We simply hope to learn your language for now, but if you require payment for this, we can retrieve some before we continue further?” His words should have been mostly translated, and from the look on the blue dwarf’s face, it mostly was.
“We need no payment for now, we would be happy to teach you of Vund.” After conferring with the others, the blue dwarf replies. The last word doesn’t translate to any Obrexian word but seems to be the name of their own language.
“Excellent. We look forward to working with you further. May we enquire as to your names?” Keeran says.
“I am Gimbalar the Learned. He,” he said pointing towards the golden one, “is Lethewin the Goud Aangeraakt, the Gold Touched. She,” he said pointing towards the final leader, “is Thera the Vurig, I don’t know how to best translate that word.” His words come as a surprise to all of us, in that it seems all dwarves have beards.
Over the next few weeks, we engaged in a mutual exchange of information and learning, trying our best to understand their language. We offered what knowledge we had of farming, at least of the surface world, as some of our soldiers grew up on farms, and the dwarves seemed to be new at the whole concept. We parted after two months there, with a promise to be back in as many months to continue the exchange.
This repeated for two years, before we had a mutual grasp of each other’s languages to engage in negotiations. Keeran led the negotiations, though by this point, Ruler Hawkson was involved, though he did not reveal himself to the dwarves for who he truly was. They knew he was of great importance, as all members of the group deferred to him, but they did not know how much higher up the social ladder he was, just that he was above.
Eventually, and after over a month of back and forth negotiations, the Vunkul dwarves as they were called, were guaranteed sovereignty of Vunkuldir, and many other mountains in the Gray Mountains in exchange for mutual defense if either party was to be attacked by outside forces. Contingents of the Vunkul forces were even hired as mercenary stripers to help safeguard some of the Obrexian towns in exchange for coin and experience. The walled town of Sunfield was established a half day’s ride west of Vunkuldir, alongside a river. The wall was built by the dwarves, for they warned of dangerous beasts in the mountains, and having saw them firsthand, and having heard tales of the beasts of the plains, we found them to be one and the same. The people of Sunfield were all hardened, for they knew their new town was to be one of danger, and thus many that made the journey were new couples, ready to work for their place in the world, and older couples whose children had already left the nest.
The village of Colkirk would be established in later years. The alliance between Obrexia and the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains growing stronger by the year.
Excerpt from 'A History of Obrexia, Volume 12' written by Historian Lansitar of the High Library
Interested to hear more about what appears to be a caste system among the Vunkul dwarves.