Keystone Alpha Unit 41 (Codename: Stimulus)
The Slatehammers of Dwarffather
Long ago the Dwarves of Grundbaraz were once one people. But conflicting legends tell of the split. The Slatehammers say Moradin himself told their ancestors to take the Great-Ore, a relic of a bygone ear, separate from their Dwarven brethren, and form a city in the red mountains of the north. The Deephearts say the Slatehammers stole the Great-Ore and ran off. Either way, both clans had problems getting along. How hostile the relationship was depended on how hot the flames of war were fanned by the respective leaders.
Centuries would pass and the two clans warred. Every time they did, the Slatehammers armies, teaming with the holy power of Moradin, the Dwarffather, would win and beat back the Deephearts to their lands. Each defeat only spawned their hatred more.
The Deephearts began to offer up prayers to their own deity in hopes of being filled with his great power and slay the Slatehammers. They found the god they wanted in Pazrael, a god who blessed childbirth and healing. Slowly, around the same time the Outsider’s attacked Chafesek, the Deephearts’ worship of Pazrael extended into the whole of their society, now mimicking the theocracy of Moradin the Slatehammers had. But none of the Slatehammers had ever heard of the deity Pazrael and they both feared and were intrigued by the quick rise in strength the Deephearts had achieved with the help of this unknown god. Most strange were the rumors that this god made himself readily available, fulfilling desires one after another. The Slatehammers felt something strange was afoot, but couldn’t get to the bottom of it without igniting a war.
It was around this same period that large veins of mithral were being discovered in Grundbaraz. This spawned a mining race for the incredibly valuable mithral. Word of the abundance of the magical ore traveled through the planes and reached the ears of the Planar Confederation. Soon traders were pouring in through the Gate of Il-Atrova and both dwarf clans were making money hand over fist. But it wouldn’t last.
One day, the mithral stopped flowing. Pazrael had been fulfilling the desires of the Deephearts for years now and their entire society was dependent upon him. He revealed himself not as a god, but as the avian-like demon prince Pazuzu. The Deephearts were initially mortified but Pazuzu pacified them, pointing out all the great things he had done for them. Now he asked the ultimate repayment… wipe out the Slatehammers. The Deephearts had no love for the worshipers of Moradin so they embraced Pazuzu and started worshiping him openly.
Pazuzu’s demonic influence soon tainted their culture. The veil between the Abyss and Grundbaraz grew weak. The Deephearts began to be transformed, day by day, their dwarf bodies taking on more avian appearances: feathers growing where once was hair, their large Dwarven noses beginning to form into proto-beaks, nails turning into talons.
Bolstered by Pazuzu’s demonic forces, the Deephearts moved on the Slatehammers and looked to be an unstoppable juggernaut. Their priest-king Rikhaz, prayed to Moradin for revelation on how to survive the oncoming onslaught. Moradin answered his prayer, telling him to seek the help of the Planar Confederation.
Rikhaz received the audience he needed and the Confederation responded, with the understanding that the mithral supplies would go first on sale to the Confederation at a reduced price. Rikhaz agreed and the Slatehammers of the Dwarffather formally joined the Planar Confederation as a full member.
With an overwhelming force of Humans, Eladrin, Dragonborn, Gnomes, and Goliaths at their side, the Slatehammers routed Pazuzu’s forces and wiped out the civilization of the Deephearts. To this day there are only a few scattered communities of Dawizdar, or bird-dwarves, and they have to hide deep in the earth to avoid detection from their Slatehammer cousins.
Their experience with Pazuzu has made the dwarves of Slatehammer very mindful of corrupting influences. To any they feel have been tainted by the Abyss or even the Far Realm, they perform ritualistic sacrifice with a fast acting, painless poison, viewing the corruption much worse than death. But outside of their overzealousness on the issue of corruption, the Slatehammer clan very accommodating to the other race’s beliefs. The only tensions that arise due to their religion is their constant state of distrust of the psionically attuned Githzerai of Qu’tI’ith.
As worshipers of Moradin they have a keen eye on the protecting of the weak. As a creation god is the center of their theocracy, they also have a flair for the artistic. Their capital city of Azdurad is magnificent, with their building having been hand carved from the mountain’s caves itself. It could be said that just as Moradin shaped the earth with his hammer, the Slatehammers shaped their home with their own hammers. It was Dwarven artisans that actually designed the floating castle of the silver dragon Ornlex. The more prideful of Dwarven builders bragged, “The Eladrin may make it fly, but we make it stand!”
Of all the Confederation, the poor are best taken care of by Slatehammers. They regularly give to charity and do not tolerate corruption with in their theocracy. Those caught not taking care of the poor or taking advantage of the weak are summarily executed for betraying the trust of their station. Though their religion may sometimes clash with the more practical members of the Confederation, no one questions their loyalty and welcome the Dwarves as allies on any day.