Een Puvtyr is a small
(technically a communal cavern) of the Taaj Thrumgolz Clan, (the Low Pickhands)
a simple dwarven tribe in the Lower
Fores, west of the Ancythrian Sea, in Southern Sarvonia,
province of Xaramon. Known mostly for basic ore mining and mushroom
farming, the cavern is located about half a stral deep within the foothills of
the Lower Fores, close to the lower branch of the Dorashi
River, which flows down through the Steppe of Kruswick into the Bay of the Sky.
Information is given here specific to Een Puvtyr (Thergerim Een Puvtyr, which translated to Tharian means literally "Pot-Town", but a better name would be "Cauldron Caves"); however, the general details may serve for many a little dwarven community anywhere in the Sarvonian continent, with more or less luxury and space depending upon their trade routes and environment.
Description. Picture a large cavern, like an ancient volcanic dome, its very apex supported by a huge carved shaft of stone. The shaft splits into graceful buttressed arches near the floor, and from its hollow centre a beam of light falls on the timeclock's engraved face. Tunnels and shafts run off in every direction around the edges of the cavern, and rail-less stairways are worked up its walls until the dome begins to arch inward, leading to still other shafts and tunnels. Between them numerous little cubbies and niches have been pickaxed out; sleeping shelves, coal storage, books, lights, pots of pickled moss, water caches and washing areas... the Thergerim can grow stone into any form they desire, it is said. Down one face of the dome a slim waterfall has been guided to run horizontally for several dwarf-spans and then allows to leap down into a step-edged pool. Long torches are thrust into sockets in the cavern floor around the pool, so that the light dances off the dark water in orange curves and dimples.
Indeed, the entire cave is a lacy network of flickering light and shadow, where
luminous fungi trace the edges of apertures, and towering candles become scented
stalagmites of dripping wax. A veritable bonfire blazes in the giant hearth near
where dwarfmatrons and maids prepare supper for their soon-returning spouses,
brothers, fathers and other kin.
The savoury smoke from the Main Hearth is vented to the surface through an intricate system of lichen-filled chimneys which break up and filter the vapours. The small fireplaces in each homecave for heat and light also vent into the overall chimney system, as do the great dwarven forges. Thus the dwarven concern for security has been meshed neatly with a desire to protect their environment, and neither food smells nor poisonous vapours will give away the location of the underground clan.
|Picture description. A dwarven dwelling is usually a large cavern, like an ancient volcanic dome, its very apex supported by a huge carved shaft of stone. The shaft splits into graceful buttressed arches near the floor, and from its hollow centre a beam of light falls on the Timeclock's engraved face. Image by Quellion.|
Babies crawl happily round a moss-lined cavity, the communal nursery, watched
and teased by grannies. Between two tunnel mouths a series of long, low benches
are still attached to the living rock. Chubby-cheeked children in brown
rock-smocks sit with their slates and chalk chunks, seriously listening to a
Teacher (Wirhthuurim or
Wirhthuurim, Make-Know-Person) expound
on the philosophical origins of
Aleterons, dwarven runes.
The spot of light on the timeclock's face shifts imperceptibly round another degree, and one old granny looks up sharply. “The men’ll soon be home,” she says, wiping her hands against her skirts. Even as she speaks, a stomping and clanking arises from the tunnel depths, and a platoon of sweat-dirtied dwarven men emerge to the cavern’s familiar embrace.
Pickaxes are dropped into their racks just inside the tunnel mouth, leather aprons stacked on a laundry bench beside the waterfall. Off come the rest of the clothes, till every worker is standing in his loinwrap and beard alone, tough pale skin streaked and smeared with coal dust, forge smoke, dirt mold, or the blood of the hunt. The pool becomes a frenzy of splashing and scrubbing, each dwarf trying his best to get clean the fastest, with the tempting smell of their meal in their long keen noses.
The women smile and retreat from the hearth, leaving the food and the ready-stacked bowls, utensils, trays and horn cups. They scurry back to their home tunnels and make sure that the small hearth fires are keeping their individual small dens warm, tucking the hide doorways back so that their husbands can come through unhindered. They plump up the moss carpeting the living stone benches on either side of the tiny table in the dining niche, and sit demurely waiting for their men to enter with their food.
In comes the dwarf male at last, scrubbed and shining, with beard still dripping but a tray of food for the two of them. Her plate is set ceremoniously before her, and the carved wooden utensils that might have been her wedding present to him, and the goathorn cup, before he takes his own portion. “StoneFather guard us, dig us no danger, forge us fortune, cook us unity, serve us peace...” they say in unison, splashing a drop of ale from each cup onto the stone beneath their feet. The benediction done, they take up their wooden spoons and dig in. Food is serious business, so talking is rare during meals; not until the last root has been chewed and the last mushroom swallowed whole does he lean back and tell her about the marvelous necklace he cast today.
Out in the cavern the grannies are eating and the granthers feeding the children. The babes have gone with their mothers to be nursed and played with, to spend the evening with both parents before returning to the creche for the night. The Denirim (Dwarven priest) is conducting an honoured human guest to a high apartment cave, leading him along the vertiginous stairway near the waterfall. All night he will hear the soothing drip and trickle of the water - or so humans find it. Dwarves cannot understand this peculiarity, as they prefer absolute quiet when they sleep. In a culture where loud sounds around them may mean disaster - a cave-in, a bellows misfire, a faultline settling, an invasion from the surface, a castmold cracking - their psyche demands a low noise level.
The glowglobes are extinguished in the low caves of the sulcho mushroom farms, and the fire of the Great Hearth is banked for the night. The little tawny bats swarm in through a hidden airvent, high above, and find their sleeping places, hanging inverted like so many drying fruits. The blind cavernfish swim dully in their keep-ponds and all is at peace in Een Puvtyr.
Location. The cavern of Een Puvtyr is located about half a stral deep within the foothills of the Lower Fores, near the Rusik Headwaters. The Rusik is the lower branch of the Dorashi river, which flows down through the Steppe of Kruswik. Presumably the name derives from the lovely rusik horse which may be found almost exclusively on the steppes here. The upper branch is known as the Milaripaw, although no confirmed sightings of the feared feline have been recorded this far to the east. (We may also note that the Dorashi seemingly took its name from the old title of the human town of Caelum, “El’Dorash”, which is near the river’s exit into the Bay of the Sky.)
|Map description. Location of Een Puvtyr, lying half a stral deep within the foothills of the Lower Fores, near the Rudik Headwater at the Dorashi river. Maps drawn by Artimidor.|
Coat of Arms/Symbol. The Thergerim have no use for the human concept of a coat of arms, but they do have clan symbols and individual cave orestamps to mark their goods. The dwarves of Een Puvtyr, not without a basic sense of humour, use a stylized mushroom shape as their orestamp. Stenciled on the heavy canvas sacks of ore or woodburned into their rocksledges is the simple halfcircle head and splayed triangle stem that represents the sulcho mushroom, their other main product.
People. The Fores, both Lower and Higher,
are inhabited almost exclusively by
Thergerim, specifically the Thrumgolz
(Pickhands) Clan. The Highs have good access to timber from the Goltherlon
Woods, and the various trade items on the shores of the Ancythrian Sea. The Lows
are not as fortunately situated, and have a simpler lifestyle and less varied
diet as a result.
The Een Puvtyr dwarves trade mostly with their Taaj brothers or the Kiin Thrumgolz (High Pickhands) across Bone Valley in the Higher Fores. They also have trade links up and down the Dorashi River, all the way to the sea, and Horth, Caelum, and Naios are a few of the major human towns which benefit from their ore mining directly or indirectly. It is believed that the tasty sulcho mushroom finds its way down to the steppes in return for horse dung upon which to grow it, but this is an unconfirmed rumour.
The Helcrani, once the Kyranians, is one group of humans who reside in the area, to the northeast of Een Puvtyr, in the Helcrah Fore Highlands. For more information on the Helcrani, see their entry here.
Climate. The climate is generally moist, and the coast is close enough to exert a moderating influence. However, weather in the area is changeable; the Lower Fores are low, as their name implies, so there is little rainshadow, but their rugged and erratic shapes create frost pockets, wind tunnels, cloud formations, and fog havens throughout. This affects the Thergerim of the region very little in their snug underground habitations; only their hunters(male) and their foodtenders (female) regularly go above ground, and they prefer overcast days in any case. The area has a high water table (as the headwaters of the Dorashi demonstrate) and many small crystalline springs and little rock pools can be found throughout the Fores, also contributing to the moisture of the air.
Flora. The Lower Fores are not spectacularly dramatic mountains, but rather nondescript and rocky hills, covered with heavy scrub, thick pines, wolf willow, and remarkable amounts of mosses and lichens. The miyuestiac bush which produces the topically-anesthetic miyu beans grows well here in parts, and some human healers have permission to harvest miyu in the area around Een Puvtyr.
The sulcho mushroom, which thrives in low-light conditions and a lot of moisture, grows wild in the crevices and damp crannies of the Lower Fore hills, and of course is domestically cultivated underground by the Taaj Thrumgolz. The vast sporebeds are reputed to be fertilized with bat droppings and horse dung, and lit with the fabled dwarven ‘glowglobes’ (either a naturally luminescent moss, or some quasi-magickal device), but they are never shown to outsiders.
Fauna. The rusik horse roams the Steppes, and wild Rusik mustangs can sometimes be found high in the Headwaters of the Dorashi. The latter are as fair game for the short Thergerim hunting bow as the wild deer and goats that also roam the Lower Fores. The climate is too damp for most lizards, but a few amphibians, including various frogs and toads, and the ubiquitous cave drell, can be found around the high rock pools and the small springs. A thin type of shining minnow which grows to between a finger and twohandspans long may be easily caught in the pools, which the dwarves call Mithanjor, Silver-fish. Hares and rabbits are more common at the base of the hills where the drier sandy terrain of the steppes gives way to the rising rubble of the Lower Fores. A number of attractive moths can be found in the region, of interest to collectors.
Information provided by Bard Judith