“Believe me, if there was a better way to approach without being seen, we would take it,” Dax responded. “I hate those tunnels—they’re so dank and dreary. The moisture and cold air will almost certainly make my rheumatism act up. But Castle Greystone is surrounded by trackless foothills and thick forests. The southern pass is our best hope of getting to the Great City. The caverns are dark and deep, but they’ll bring us right beneath the city, although I’m sure we’ll all perish before we’re through.”
“So, what will we be facing down there?” Sarah’s mom asked. “Dragons? Trolls?”
“Worse,” Dax said. “Dwarves.”
“Dwarves?” Sarah asked. “Like short people?”
“Short, hairless people that live in the deepest caverns and . . . ugh . . . sing sometimes.”
“They don’t sound that bad.”
Dax scanned the horizon and took the lead as they got going. “Sometimes,” he moaned, “it seems like everybody else is speaking in a foreign language.”
Not quite fey but not quite humans, the dwarves of Greystone Valley inhabit the darkest depths of the mountains. They are fierce protectors of the treasures that lie beneath the earth, and often fight dragons and trolls, whose greed drives the dwarves into a frenzy.
Dwarves are short and stocky, usually between three and four and a half feet tall. They look very much like the earth that they live in, with dark brown or slate gray skin. Some even have cracks and crags in their faces like the surface of the rocks that they work with.
While they seem to be relatives of the fey, dwarves chose to remain beneath the rocks rather than enter into the wide world like their cousins did. Dwarves don’t know the paths into and out of the valley – or maybe they do, but are too comfortable in their tunnels to want to leave.
Contact with the sun tends to make dwarves very uncomfortable. Dwarves who spend a lot of time in sunlight start to experience a bleaching of their skin, which changes from the dark hues of rock to a pale white. This condition feels about as painful to a dwarf as a severe sunburn.
Both dwarven men and women are naturally bald. However, they grow hair very quickly if exposed to sunlight, almost as if they were developing a natural defense against the painful light. Rare dwarves that walk the surface world can usually disguise themselves as short stout humans with thick heads of hair and long beards.
Dwarves see have a strong connection to stone, metal, and jewels, with some legends even suggesting that they can talk to the mountains themselves. They hate dragons and trolls, seeing them as thieves looking to loot the riches of the mountains.
Sarah didn’t get the opportunity to meet any dwarves in her original journey through Greystone Valley, but encounters two upon her return. These individuals are different from normal dwarves, but still have many of these traits. Are they friend or foe? Read Conquest of Greystone Valley to find out!
Image: Old Dwarf, by Rotox