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[edit] A History of Val Grey Dwarves

Also known as Dark Dwarves. Secretive and bound by ceremony and ritual, the Val-Grey Dwarves are the most xenophobic of the Dwarvish Kingdoms. Whereas Mal-Grey and Cal-Ray Kingdoms are fairly open communities and control is primarily secular based, Val-Grey is governed by ritual and religion. Val-Grey Dwarves are not found readily in open, public places—rather look for them in the shadows—watching, evaluating and calculating who may a threat and the best manner to kill each threat. It is rumored that amongst the Val-Grey there is a secret religious order that is made up of skilled and deadly assassins.

The Val-Grey Kingdom was established from members from both the Mal-Grey and Ral-Grey Kingdoms during a period of prosperity and peace. Fierce battles had been won, but at a high cost and the Dwarves were weary of loss and death. There had been extensive soul-searching for the meaning and value of peace and the bloody coin that it cost. Originally the settlers of the Val-Grey were primarily devout and religious Dwarves seeking a safe place for contemplation and understanding. Val-Grey was to become the religious and academic cornerstone of the Dwarvish Kingdoms—dedicated to reflection and learning. Unfortunately peace did not last very long and all three kingdoms found themselves at war once again.

Because of the considerable distances involved and severity of the threat, Mal-Grey and Ral-Grey were unable to send reinforcements to Val-Grey; the religious retreat was forced to defend itself. With more scholars and priests than warriors, and more young than seasoned Dwarves as the majority of the Val-Grey population, the new kingdom was at grave risk of extinction. Lacking the martial might to openly engage the enemy, Val-Grey Dwarves resorted to “different” tactics and methods to defend themselves—methods that the more traditional and honor-bound warriors of Mal-Grey and Ral-Grey would have found questionable or even disapproved of. Kill-Squads (ShmekiGraup) were one effective tactic. Five Dwarves of complementary skills were teamed up and sent out—very focused on the mission, which was usually to kill specific targets or cleanse a targeted area. Any means needed to accomplish the mission were permitted… any.

Lacking skilled military teachers and martial arts trainers, ritual and rote methods were adopted as the only proven method to develop the fighting skills of the next generations. Over time, the rituals have become ceremony and in some cases even taken on religious significance.

When the forces of Mal-Grey and Ral-Grey were finally able to win their own wars and combine to drive the enemy from the territory surrounding Val-Grey, the victors found that only a few hundred years has significantly changed their Val-Grey brethren. The “rescue” forces were struck by several things.

The Dwarves of Val-Grey were exceedingly formal—stiff and almost distrusting of their Mal-Grey and Ral-Grey relations. Very intolerant.

The lack of ritual and ceremony performed by the Mal-Grey and Ral-Grey Dwarves was looked down upon by the Val-Grey Dwarves.

The appearance of the Mal-Grey and Ral-Grey Dwarves was almost considered to be an interruption of the Val-Grey’s mission to deal with the enemy. (Reviewing the battle information later, King Stonefist IV (Dorni KarazFisst Al Fott) was shocked to learn that the enemy forces surrounding Val-Grey were almost thankful for their arrival and the opportunity to escape from the traps and ambushes of the Val-Grey.)

Although there is distrust, the Val-Grey Dwarves did recognize the need for trade with the other kingdoms. Although very skilled in some areas, there were critical talents lacking in the smithies and craftsmen of Val-Grey.

From a religious aspect, the Dwarves of Mal-Grey and Ral-Grey were almost considered as heretics by the Val-Grey Dwarves, especially due to lack of ceremony demonstrated by the average Dwarf. Likewise, the hierarchy of Dwarvish priests in Mal-Grey and Ral-Grey were sorely troubled by some of the rituals and dogma of the priesthood of Val-Grey when informed of what the rescuers has seen and heard. They were especially troubled by the obvious political power of the priesthood that dominated Val-Grey.

After the “Reconciliation”, teams of Dark Dwarves began to travel out and about in the lands beyond the closely guarded territory of Val-Grey. Although publicly pronounced as explorers and merchants, these squads have the look and feel of military scouting parties.

When the Rebellion (De UgunKaump) began, the Dwarves of Val-Grey openly welcomed the opportunity to kill Katarious. They supplied both arms and training to the Rebel forces. There were also contingents of Dark Dwarves that would occasionally rally to a battlefield, but usually the only sign that Dark Dwarves were operating in an area was the high body count of ambushed and assassinated Katarious or Katarious servants—especially amongst the leaders and nobility.

The Battle of the Rings (Khaz Ald Hraungr, 'battle of the circles') in 2894 was one of the few times that a contingent of Dark Dwarves openly took the battlefield with other Dwarves to fight together. After the battle the Low Orc Commander took issue with some of the Dark Dwarves tactics and techniques. This was a mistake all around as the second nature and stubborn adherence to ritual and tradition of the Dark Dwarves led to an impromptu Kill-Squad decimating the Low Orc Command structure and setting off an escalating battle that eventually had five races all engaged against the Low Orcs; Humans, Dwarves, High Orcs, Light Elves, and Oaken.

Occasionally Dark Dwarves can be seen in teams or pairs wandering through the Shield Lands (De RondLaunnd), but they never stop more than the time it takes for a meal or to purchase something. Conversation is never forthcoming and anyone known to have crossed them is usually found dead a few days later... if they are ever found at all.