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Earthfast was a shield dwarven city located in the Earthfast Mountains near Impiltur, from a high mountain valley to deep beneath in the Earthroot region of the Underdark.[note 1] Though it was a war-torn city under constant siege from orcs and goblins, Earthfast was a capable ally of Cormyr and an able defender of Faerûn against the Tuigan Horde.
Dwarves from Earthfast founded the underground town of Proeskampalar in the Year of the Starry Shroud, −153 DR. That same year, it was joined by human refugees from fallen Jhaamdath (what was later Chondath) who also settled there. Proeskampalar thrived and became the city later known as Procampur.
Earthfast weapon-smiths were commissioned to forge the Greatsword of Impiltur to mark the coronation of King Sarshel the True of neighboring Impiltur in the Year of the Proud Father, 732 DR. However, it could not be completed until the Year of the Splendid Stag, 734 DR, in time for the coronation of his son Halanter I. Halanter was known as Arausamman, or "Great Friend", to the dwarves of Earthfast for centuries to come.
At that time, Earthfast was ruled by Ironlord Barundar mac Idrin. Barundar had come into possession of Sarghathuld, a legendary sword of the fallen dwarven realm of Roldilar, and presented it as a gift to Halanter on his coronation. Sarghathuld would lie in Impiltur's Royal Vaults, while the Greatsword of Impiltur became Halanter's ceremonial sword of state. King Halanter became the first Impilturan ruler to make a pact with the dwarves of Earthfast.
Earthfast was once a flourishing city of 100,000 dwarves. But for centuries (four dwarf generations before the mid–14th century DR) the dwarves warred against the local orcs, causing their numbers to dwindle and their city to decline.
At some point, King Azoun IV Obarskyr of Cormyr aided the dwarves of Earthfast, becoming one of the few outsiders to earn their trust. The dwarves maintained a long-term treaty of alliance with Cormyr.
However, an alliance of goblins and orcs, including the Bloody Skull tribe, determined to annihilate the dwarves. Earthfast fell under constant siege, with continuous attacks by vast numbers, lasting at least a dwarven generation. Many women and children were slaughtered, with Ironlord Torg mac Cei's queen dying in battle around 1345 DR. The population plummeted to barely 10,000 and much of the city was abandoned and left decaying. Torg and the remaining dwarves stayed to defend, but Earthfast appeared doomed.
They received some surprising aid in mid-autumn of the Year of the Serpent, 1359 DR, when Alusair Obarskyr, the renegade princess of Cormyr and daughter of Azoun IV, came to the Earthfast Mountains seeking a lost artifact but finding Earthfast. Alusair lent her aid to the struggle, fighting with the dwarves against the orcs and goblins. After many battles, with her knowledge of strategy, they routed the orcs and saved Earthfast. She also introduced Torg to the use of polearms, who then began training his soldiers in their use. Alusair stayed with the Earthfast dwarves for some nine months, learning much of their ways. Alusair impressed them with her storytelling, and befriend the dwarven bard Morgalla the Mirthful.
She was sighted by traders, and her identity became the subject of much speculation.
The Horde Wars
In Tarsakh of the Year of the Turret, 1360 DR, Earthfast was the first to respond via letter to King Azoun IV's call for a crusade against the Tuigan Horde, with King Torg committing 2000 dwarven soldiers to the Army of the Alliance. This helped sway other allies to the cause.
Azoun and his Court Wizard Vangerdahast met King Torg and the Earthfast dwarves south of Uthmerg in the Great Dale, and reunited with Alusair. After the dwarven escort sent to meet Azoun and Vangerdahast was found slain by orcs instead, Alusair feared the Bloody Skull orcs had followed them. In fact, they were later discovered to be the orcish army sent by Zhentil Keep to the Alliance. Torg prepared to withdraw from the crusade rather than fight alongside orcs, until Azoun reminded him of his honor and commitment to the crusade. Torg agreed to stay but demanded blood-payment, the deaths of the three orcs responsible for the slain escort. The dwarves then marched to Telflamm rather than travel by ship, or travel with the orcs.
The Earthfast dwarves arrived at the First Battle of the Golden Way on Flamerule 3 in time to save the Alliance infantry from being wiped out by the Tuigan. The Tuigan sent 5000 horsemen to surround the 2000 dwarves, but their phalanxes remained strong and crushed the attacking force between them. The dwarves then supported the remaining Alliance army. For the Second Battle of the Golden Way on Flamerule 5, Azoun had the dwarves dig hundreds of small holes in a defensive barrier, which would cripple the Tuigan horses and halt their charge. The Alliance was victorious but Ironlord Torg was slain by the Tuigan Khahan, Hoekun Yamun in the final battle.
The dwarves interred their dead and Ironlord Torg in a stone cairn on the battlefield, and left the next day. They returned to Earthfast and their isolation and did not seek increased relations with the neighboring states. However, a few dwarves did take the opportunity get away. The bard Morgalla the Mirthful, who'd accompanied the Tuigan campaign, journeyed to Cormyr to see Alusair's homeland. Sigurd became a noted explorer of Rashemen.
Following the Horde Wars, Clan Hammerhand of Ravens Bluff, who'd fought in the war and had once been a part of Earthfast, decided to resettle in their entirety in Earthfast. This necessitated warring against the local goblinoids, and they also served as mercenaries to gain money and experience.
Resurgent orcs launched wave after wave of attacks on Earthfast, particularly against Alagh Rorncaurak, the cavern and temple of Clangeddin. The Hammerhands were much-needed reinforcements, and their assistance gave the dwarves time to fortify the temple's defenses. There were still frequent clashes between the dwarven defenders and orc patrols circa 1369 DR.
In 1491 DR, an elemental codex was stolen from Earthfast by Furgis Boltsmelter. A band of Hammers of Moradin led by Kalda Purefist were ordered to pursue and retrieve the codex. They caught up with Furgis and some adventurers near Mulmaster, but were nearly destroyed in an attack on both groups by the Cult of the Black Earth. Kalda was slain, but Borri mac Rogni and Sunni mac Grunna negotiated with the adventurers, ultimately gaining the book and returning to Earthfast.
The ironlord was the sole leader of Earthfast, and it was a hereditary position. The ironlord led the army and maintained law and order. In the early 8th century DR, the ironlord was Barundar mac Idrin. In the late 1350s DR, this was Torg mac Cei, but he died in battle against the Tuigan Khahan, Hoekun Yamun, in 1360 DR.
In the 8th century, Earthfast made a pact with Impiltur, thanks to the dwarves' friendship with King Halanter I.
Earthfast had a long-term treaty of alliance with Cormyr under King Azoun IV Obarskyr. They also committed forces to the Army of the Alliance against the Tuigan Horde in 1360 DR. However, although some observers hoped that this would bring closer relations between Earthfast and the Heartlands, the dwarves kept apart and remained aloof.
The dwarves of Earthfast followed Moradin, the Dwarffather and Clangeddin Silverbeard, the Father of Battle. Alagh Rorncaurak, the Battlecavern of Unquenched Valor, was a vast chasm and natural cathedral to Clangeddin.
Under constant siege and seemingly doomed to fall, Earthfast was grim and gloomy city, and quiet apart from the sounds of smithing and warfare. Much of it was abandoned and left to decay.
Alagh Rorncaurak was a vast chasm and temple of Clangeddin lying in the heart of Earthfast, but with much of the city abandoned, it came to sit on the western edge of the dwarf-held territory. In the 1360s DR, orcs made frequent attacks on the chasm, particularly through the ruined western barracks of the temple. The dwarves fortified what was left, and kept the temple's central sanctuary and the entrance to the rest of the city free of orcish incursion.
The Earthfast dwarves most valued order and honor. They would only fight for a good and just cause, and would accept death in battle for it. They would pull out of a cause if they doubted its quality or its allies, as they nearly withdrew from the Alliance after meeting the orcs sent by Zhentil Keep, until Azoun reminded them of their commitment. These dwarves were deeply mistrustful of outsiders from other races, and even of other dwarves, with only a few special exceptions. They especially despised orcs.
They were described as typically quiet, grim, and moody. They also tended to be battle-hardened veterans, durable and stubborn. Each dwarf was expected to fight or work. They had little time for entertainment, yet on some nights they assembled in the great clan hall to hear songs and stories, and even to dance.
Most of the women and children were slaughtered in the war with the orcs and goblins, so few Earthfast dwarves had families. But they'd fought so long and hard that each dwarf believed their parents to be heroes, so each carried the name of their father, with names like Torg mac Cei and Pryderi mac Immath, where "mac" meant "son of". The few children might be taught to fight with staves almost as soon as they could stand. Those dwarves who survived to the age of 50 were expected to choose a mate and establish a family, or "hearth".
War was a central part of Earthfast culture, with even their silver cups engraved with scenes of bloody battle against goblins and orcs, and of the dwarves' own gruesome practices. The Earthfast dwarves were head-hunters, severing the heads of their slain enemies and taking their skulls as trophies. They took them to a great cavern where they stacked them in tidy pyramids. The greater the enemy, the better the skull.
The dwarves were used to subterranean combat, in dark caves and tunnels where noise could echo, hiding enemy movements, and where any light could reveal a position. Therefore, they kept their city and their camps dark and quiet as possible, and the Earthfast dwarves were silent in battle and at work. Alusair said that silence was a virtue in Earthfast. The most noise they made was when victorious in battle, and even that was a low roar that rumbled and rolled as if emanating from deep inside the earth.
Like many northern dwarven miners, the Earthfast miners used canaries that died in bad air, rather than the glowing fungi in the south that changed color but died in the cold. Ironlord Torg developed a liking for them, and often carried a cage about with him.
The Earthfast military was commanded by the ironlord. It was orderly, organized, and highly disciplined, and the soldiers trained in armor in harsh conditions to be ready to fight in them. Standards with clan symbols were used to mark and rally troops, while trumpeters and drummers sounded orders and kept beats.
Military camps were laid out along straight lines and neatly arranged, unlike in camps of many other nations. Equipment was stored tidily and garbage dumps were kept in separate enclosures. The tents were brown and made of thick felt laced with metal to block sound escaping to the outside; these were designed specifically for the Tuigan campaign.
In battle, they wore full plate armor of the famously strong Earthfast plate. Some wore scale mail. They traditionally fought with axes (such as battleaxes), swords, and crossbows (such as light crossbows). However, Ironlord Torg began training his soldiers with polearms in 1357 DR, having been introduced to them by Alusair and reading a treatise on polearms by King Azoun IV. Their heavy pikemen fought in square and massed formations, and focused on fighting cavalry, which made them devastatingly effective against the Tuigan.
The hearth guard were one of the forces defending Earthfast.
The main industries in Earthfast were mining, smithing, and warfare. The dwarves were talented weaponsmiths, and their axes were sought after. The most prized of all was the famous Earthfast plate armor, but this was quite rare, as the dwarves could not spare the time to make new sets for outsiders, only to repair their own.
Though once busy with trade, the siege cut business to a trickle. Some brave peddlers snuck past goblin patrols and through the frontlines to reach Earthfast. They sold simple food supplies, such as fruit, cheese, and seeds, and textiles, in exchange for the valuable weapons and armor of Earthfast.
- There is a contradiction regarding the location of Earthfast. Dwarves Deep states that it lies in a "high mountain valley", while the Player's Guide to Faerûn states that it is deep beneath the mountains in the Underdark. As a dwarven settlement, it is possible that the city extends vertically between the two points or may be entered from the valley, or it may have shifted downwards over time.
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Dwarven Valley • Eartheart • Earthfast • Far Hills
Gracklstugh • Iltkazar • Ironmaster • Mithral Hall • Underwatch
Alatorin • Ascore • Citadel Sundbarr • Citadel Yaunoroth • Gauntlgrym • Halls of the Hammer
Hrakhamar • Rrinnoroth • Sarbreen • Splendarrmornn • Tyar-Besil • Tzindylspar • Underhome
Ammarindar • Besilmer • Bhaerynden • Dareth • Deep Kingdom • Delzoun
Gharraghaur • Haunghdannar • Hollowbold • Ironstar • Oghrann • Roldilar • Sarphil
Shanatar (Barakuir • Drakkalor • Holorarar • Korolnor • Torglor • Ultoksamrin • Xothaerin) • Thunderholme