Dwarven Burial Customs

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Dwarven Burial Customs

By Kraggur Kveldcharn


Throughout the Kingdoms of the Dwarves, burial customs differ slightly based on the region. However, two themes remain con- stant. Dwarves are either buried under stone or are consigned to the fire.

Stone burial is considered more traditional, and is practiced most often in Kwarlog, amongst the oldest families in Hibarn- hvidar, and in the early periods of the Iron Kingdom and the Adamantian Kingdom. The practice initially was popular in the latter two Kingdoms, but over time was changed to consignment by fire.

Stone Burial

Burial in stone is a custom almost as old as Dabrush, the first Dwarf. When a Dwarf dies, the body is interred in a tomb along with his ancestors. The quality of the tomb's rock will vary by wealth and region, but the defining feature amongst them is the attention paid to crafting the stone. Even the meanest Dwarf

will have his kin lavish detail upon the tomb over the ages until it is covered with symbols. Often it will detail his descendants' accomplishments so the ancestor will know of his family prospers. This practice of interment in stone is most often practiced amongst the Dwarves of Kwarlog, who are con- sidered the most traditional.

Furthermore, accompanying every tomb is the Dwarf's boulder. In contrast to a tomb, a boulder is almost plain, despite its great size. The boulder emphasizes the nature of the Dwarf and its meanings are conveyed in other books. However, over time, the placement of boulders and tombs will create "totem groves," literally stone forests containing the history of families.

Fire Consignment

Consigning a Dwarf to fire at death arose out of necessity. At first it was rare and conducted only when the body could not be given a proper burial in stone. However, with the fall of the Iron Kingdom and the corruption of necromancy, fire consignment became more widespread. Its currency is considered a "new" practice by more traditional Dwarves, having been only used for approximately the last three thousand years.

Fire consignment was approved by a Synod of Kertigen after the Iron Kingdom's fall. The debate went on for a decade before it was reasoned that while Dwarves were created from the "finest of gems" and the "sweetest of metals," all good things coming from the stones, they were also imbued with "molten stones" from the earth as well. Since the Dwarves had fire in them, their bodies could be returned by fire.

This practice was adopted in part in response to necromantic conversion of Dwarves into other foul things, and was reinforced during the Dragon Priest campaigns against the Greystar Commune and High Hold. In the first campaign, there was no time or promise of safe interment for additional tombs, but there was time for proper fire rituals and transportation of the ashes to safety. For High Hold, necromantic corruption was again taking place, and indeed, many tombs were opened and the bodies con- signed to fire to keep them safe from corruption before Adaman- tia was abandoned.

The ashes are placed in a vessel formed from a single piece of stone, which is then carved similar to the tomb in a stone burial. The vessel is then placed with the boulder.

The Rituals of Consignment

In both cases the rituals involving consignment are nearly identical. First the body is prepared for consignment. This involves bathing the body either in preserving oils for stone burial or in flammable oils for fire consignment. Once the body has been prepared, a special offering is made to the Dwarf's spirit animal. Thr sacrifice honors the animal for protecting and guiding the Dwarf in life. Sacrifices may be anything from a handful of seeds to the family buying a plot of land as a preserve for the animal.

After the sacrifice, which is an event reserved for family alone, the body is then made publicly available so that other Dwarves and close friends may pay their respects. During this time, the Dwarf's family members stand near the deceased's boulder without sleep until the hours have passed. They then bring the boulder to the consignment site, while the other Dwarves and friends bring the body to the site.

Once the boulder and body are in place, prayer is given to Kertigen. At this time, the Dwarf's name will be carved above the tomb or, in the case of fire consignment, the vessel will be brought to the pyre. Next, prayers will be made to any other god the Dwarf worshiped in life, and a second sacrifice to the spirit animal. Once this is done, the body is interred or burned.

Before the tomb is sealed and after the ashes are placed in the vessel, the Dwarf's primary tool is then placed with the body. For stone burial, the Dwarf's hands are wrapped around the tool. In fire consignments, a small amount of the ashes are placed in a hole carved in the tool, and the tool is placed with the boulder. This is to ensure the Dwarf will be prepared upon rejoining Kertigen.

Lastly, the priest of Kertigen seals the tomb or vessel from incursion. The final symbols carved on the tomb door or top of the vessel are always the raven and the spirit animal of the Dwarf.