Don Galir at a Glance
by Guest Designer
October 15, 2019
Last known hold of the dwarves in Ashlar, shadow-cloaked Don Galir lies hard against Lake Thraren dark, cold waters in a massive cavern buried directly beneath the human village of Wellswood. Dozens of wells, illuminating the lake’s dark, unknowable deep waters with faint shafts of light and link the lake below with the village above. Strange fungi and mushrooms grow around the lake’s shore and stranger fish dwell in its lightless watery depths. Humans and dwarves fish the lake and harvest these unique plants in an increasingly uneasy peace. Now the jealous attentions of the greedy lord of the village above fall on Don Galir and taxes slowly increase. The reclusive, secretive dwarves of the Erdikr clan work hard to fortify their hold and to attract more of their brethren to Don Galir while some secretly plot to regain their fallen dragon-infested holds lying far to the south.
Ruler: Thane Azthur Erdukr
Population: 37 dwarves, 1 human
Alignments: LG, LN, NG
Languages: Common, Dwarven
Resources & Industry: Armoursmithing, metalwork, weaponsmithing, woodwork
Don Galir, ancient home of the Erdikr dwarves, lies under the human village of Wellswood in the Duchy of Ashlar. "Don Galir” literally translates as “Lakeside Fortress”, and is an apt name. The hold stands hard against the cold, deep subterranean waters of Lake Thraren. Established centuries before humans settled the lands above, Don Galir is the final redoubt of the Erdikr clan who fled here after a terrible battle against a rampaging orc horde. Although the dwarves were victorious, the battle was won at great cost. The dwarves’ thegn—Delthur Werlan—along with many of the clan’s greatest warriors and heroes fell in that battle. The remnant, led by the hero Thraren, settled in the caves around Lake Thraren, which they named in her honour.
Other dwarven exiles have since settled in Don Galir, drawn to the hold by its security and seclusion. Chief among these exiles is Borin Firehammer (location 4) one of the few survivors of fallen Vongyth. Ostensibly a smith of almost unparalleled skill, behind the scenes the ancient dwarf carries on his secret work—leading a secret society—the Wardens of Vongyth—toward their goal of wresting back control of their home from whatever foul evil still lurks in its halls. Recruiting trusted dwarves he gathers information on Vongyth, recovers objects and artefacts brought forth from the ruin and builds up a store of treasure which one day he will use to recruit mercenaries to clear his beloved home.
To observers, Don Galir’s dwarves are industriously—albeit secretively—working towards a single, unknown goal. Allied with the Issakainen family (Wellswood’s noble rulers) the dwarves maintain Castle Issakainen’s fortifications and the many wells dotting the village that reach downwards to Lake Thraren. Some of these wells are small affairs, while others are large enough for stairs cut within to circle down to the floating pontoons on which the human villagers moor their small fishing boats.
Although the dwarves are peaceful, discontent and trouble is brewing with the humans dwelling above. Wellswood’s dour lord—Ilamri Issakainen—grows increasingly avaricious and obsessed with the accumulation of wealth. Taxes have slowly increased in recent years and discontent is growing among the human villagers. Such taxes have also begun to affect the dwarves’ trade with visiting merchants, and some of the stout folk, grumbling of Ilamri’s lust for wealth. The dwarves, not wishing to lose the mutually beneficial agreement they have abided by for so long have gone along with Lord Issakainen’s demands so far but the time is drawing nearer when the Erdikr clan may withdraw from their alliance with family Issakainen.
Most of Don Galir’s upper level comprises the dwarves’ work- and public spaces. A few locations are of interest to adventurers:
- The High Grottoes: Stone walkways and small walled gardens filled with edible moss and fungi line the edges of the path leading to Lake Thraren. Docks and jetties jut out into the lake; here moor the dwarves’ boats. Dwarves comes here to fish, swap stories about the lake and its fish and to remember their clan’s proud history.
- The Dark Tavern: Once a lofty guard tower, this impressive building now serves as a tavern and guest house for the dwarves’ infrequent non-dwarven guests. Its owner—Gadran Araral—is a keen fisherman and also sells bait, tackle and other fishing accoutrements to his guests.
- Mauno's Folly: This rough stone tower of human design is where the strange human wizard Mauno lives and conducts his research on the lake and its denizens. A staircase, Mauno’s Stair, ascends from the large pool behind the tower to Wellswood above.
- Borik’s Forge: Borin, oldest of the Don Galir dwarves, lives and works in this large forge slightly removed from Don Galir proper. Borin keeps many secrets in the hidden chambers behind his home and works tirelessly to advance the agenda of the Wardens of Vongyth.
- The Gates & Guardians: Two huge statues yet under construction flank the gateway to Don Galir proper. The statues depict Duregal and Valra, the father of the dwarven race and his wife. Lake Thraren’s dark waters glimmer below their ever-watchful gaze. A pair of Shieldwardens—heavily armed warriors specialised in fighting with heavy dwarven axes, thunderaxes and tower shields—are always on guard here.
- Hall of the Family: Don Galir’s industrious heart, the Halls of the Family is the busiest part of the hold. Here, work benches, furnaces and forges are busy with dwarves working for the betterment of the hold. The stair here leads down to Don Galir’s deeper living level.
- Halls of the Gods: The Hall of the Gods is Don Galir’s religious heart. Here, prays High priest Vanatar Jarbek. The hall is typically dwarven in design; beautiful murals on the walls tell the story of clan Erdikr and their gods.
- Hall of the Great Store: Here, the dwarves store their accumulated finished trade goods ready for trade.