Dwarven Expressions (book)

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Dwarven Expressions

By Rirl Threwsvadh

Many scholars and writers tell tales of the beauty of Elven and Elothean, the languages of other soft, skinny races living in the pretty meadows and clutching their shiny baubles. They write praise of these flowery words, and compose epic poems of grandeur in their verse.

I say these people aren't very bright. But is this surprising? For my fellow Dwarves, I'm sure you would all reply with a hearty "No!" and a good stomp. Many of the taller races overlook the simplistic beauty of our own dear, beloved Haakish, and they scorn our own Dwarven verse. Elven expressions are befuddling muddle-headed, cryptic mishmashes of nonsensical word arrangements that cause all the other Elves to titter in delight at their cleverness.

But what of the strength of the Dwarven expressions? They are born of a foundation as solid as the pillars of the rock of Elanthia, bounded in our tradition and culture. It is an altogether different beauty, like the words spoken by the first Dwarf that saw the Himineldar Shel, the Skyfire Mountains -- "It is crowned by blue spires and carbuncles rare."

So I say Pah! to those Elves and those Elotheans, and I take it upon myself to write of some of our expressions, and what they mean to us, the Dwarves. Note, though, that I do not offer here a complete collection of expressions, merely a few which I find most useful and to my liking.

Prices are delicate lichens in an ice garden that must be tended, encouraged, and pruned as needed. Winter's White will never agree to treat all plants alike.

These words were spoken by the Dwarves of Hibarnhvidar when they first began to trade with the newly arrived Humans. The Humans sought to acquire a status of mutual duty-exclusions between themselves and the Dwarves of Hibarnhvidar. These Dwarven forefathers, having the good common sense (as Dwarves are wont to have) they did, refused, setting in stone words of wisdom for all future generations to use.

Heed well those words, young Dwarves. Know the value that such words can offer us today. Take pride in your craft, take pride in yourself as a Dwarf, and do honor to Kertigan with all you make and do.

As straightforward as a Faskin mile.

Ages ago, when the Dwarven settlements of Faskin and Gardul still stood, there was made a great fuss over a contest. You see, at some point in the past, the Dwarves of Gardul devised a method that allowed them to transmit written messages over great distances, using iron tubes pressurized by steam. These tubes were sent through pipes crafted by the Gardulfolk, pipes of silver-flecked black alabaster, and it was said that they alone were a work of art.

Once the Gardulfolk showed the work to the Faskinfolk, they agreed to lay a series of pipes to implement that system. And what better way to do that then through a race! Each city wanted to show all Dwarves that THEY were the best engineers and could lay the fastest, sturdiest pipe over the greatest distance. So the race began.

Finally, when the last pipes were all set, the Dwarves of Faskin made the claim that they had placed more pipe, and they therefore won the race! However, the workmen of Gardul discovered that their pipes were laid in multiple circuits around many hillocks, leading to counterclaims that Faskin deliberately increased the number of its pipes in easily engineered terrain. The contest was declared a draw, but not without a residue of illwill on both sides. The Gardulfolk coined the above expression to describe anyone that twists the truth, and it's stuck throughout the ages to be used by all Dwarves.

Human promises are shorter than Human lifespans.

Though not an overwhelmingly popular expression today due to the relative good naturedness between most of the races, these words are still important to know. They are a part of our past, a part of our ancestors.

When the Elven-Human War was beginning, the Humans approached the various Dwarven tribes. "Come," they said, "join us against the Elves." The Humans and the Dwarves had had fairly amicable relationships, and the Dwarves and the Elves, as all knew, were at that time still bitter enemies. But the Dwarves were still not eager to jump into the fray, but the Humans then made a promise -- help us, and we will help you reclaim the DragonSpine Mountains from the Elves.

Eager to aid their displaced, home-stolen brothers, the Dwarves of Kwarlog joined into the war. As all know, it went badly, but eventually the side of the Humans and Dwarves "won." I use that word hesitantly here. But after the supposed victory, the Humans reneged. They claimed that their losses had been too great, they had suffered too much, and they could spare no one to help the Dwarves root the Elves out of the Dwarven Mountains. It was that act that prompted King Garrock to coin those words.

As gracious as Baraliban.

When it came time for the Seven-Pointed Star to be formed by Verek and his council, they wanted... needed, I should say, for the Dwarves to join up. But the Dwarves at that time were hesitant. They had suffered greatly by getting involved in the affairs of others during the Elven-Human War, some of them had even been warred upon by the chieftain Akroeg -- they were not eager to involve themselves further. But, the Dwarves formed a delegation, and sent it to meet with Verek's council and members of the other races. This delegation was led by the famous Taratochs the Wide-Armed, a heroine of the Elven- Human War.

Initially, the Dwarves found the idea of the Empire to be foolishness, and they resisted quite thoroughly, with all the force that Taratochs had used to cleave Elven skulls during the battles. The other racial delegations were furious, as were most of Verek's council... except for one man. Baraliban, a member of that council, Baraliban the Halfling. While others screamed bitter words and shook fists, Baraliban got up and stood upon the oak table. All fell silent as he spoke, addressing the Dwarves, pleading with them to join the Empire and work towards the unity and peace. When he was finished, he bowed low to the Dwarves, got down, and sat upon his seat again.

This is accounted a matter of disarming politeness by the attending Dwarves, who communicate the anecdote back home. In subsequent years it becomes a common Dwarven catchphrase to describe other people and things.


The Tov'Meod Woods, a great forest beyond the city of Kwarlog, was the site of a major battle near the end of the Elven-Human War. In that battle, a small group of Dwarven citizens and rearguards successfully ambushed and confronted a larger, better prepared, and better armed group of Elves and S'Kra Mur, who had thought to use decoys to distract the main Dwarven, Gor'Tog, and Human armies while their force snuck through the woods to capture the city of Kwarlog itself.

But those Dwarves left behind to defend it did honor to their ancestors and their kildren both! Their skill, bravery, and courage allowed them to batter back the invaders, and their enemies were kept offguard for so long that the main Dwarven force was able to swoop back and wipe them out. The woods of Tov'Meod were covered in blood that day, but it was a great victory for the Dwarves.

When the united armies of both sides met on the field of the final battle, as they prepared to end the great war once and for all, the Dwarves all cried a singular battle shout -- "Tov'Meod!" Since then, it has been a phrase used by Dwarves to symbolize resistance and coming victory.