By-Names for Dwarfs & the Dwarfs of Finvale

It is a new week, and thereby it was time for another release. I proudly present to you By-Names for Dwarfs. And as nobody reads my blog posts for my shameless house-advertising, I will take 20 example by-names and turn them into the Dwarfs of Finvale.

Finvale is village with about 400 inhabitants that is located in a small valley near the Nuckleridge Mountain, at an old stone bridge over the river Fin. Most of the inhabitants of Finvale are human farmers, herders and lumbermen, but some dwarfs from the nearby mining settlement at the foot of the Nuckleridge Mountain (and from the small dwarf city of Karum Vyn, below the mountain) have moved to Finvale as well and life among the humans. Others visit the village regularly .Next to all of them belong to a clan that calls itself Vynurim, which is a name that goes back to an ancient ruler and has nothing to do with the river or the valley. But they got used to being called “Fin Dwarfs” by the human populace. These are dwarfs everybody in Finale will know by name.

Ulrik Stairdeed is an old advisor of the dwarf king of Karum Vyn and owns a residence in Finvale,  an small manor, which functions as an unofficial embassy of the king´s hall. Ulrik is known both among the men and dwarfs of the region as one of the chief negotiators behind the treaty between the father of the current ruler of the humans and the king of the Vynurim, a treaty that assigns the Knucklemountain Ridge and everything atop, below or at its feet to the Vynurim as long as the dwarfs offer a certain amount of iron ore each year to the humans. The treaty states a price for each ton of ore, but if a human merchant that lives in the human rulers domain makes a better offer for some or all of the ore, this offer may be taken instead. Thereby, an annual market occurs in Finvale that Ulrik oversees as official envoy of the dwarf king. He spends most of his time in Karum Vyn, but each month he spends a week in his Findale manor.

When in town, Ulrik is always accompanied by Gwidon Highshield, a dwarf warrior of renown and his personal bodyguard. The blond dwarf with the bushy beard always wears chainmail, a buckler and an ax while around and never leaves Ulrik´s side unless ordered to. He dislikes being above ground and prefers the subterranean halls of Karum Vyn, but would never complaint about his duty. He does not mingle well with the dwarfs of Finvale, with the exception of Fryderyk whom he treats with great respect. And even so he does not admit it, the Tesmir Goodteeth´s daughter caught his eye.

Fryderyk Axscar is the keeper of the manor, and a veteran of the kings troops who retired to the position “of a guard of an empty house”, as he likes to joke. But he takes his duty serious and rarely leaves the manor. When he is not taking care of the house, he spends his evenings at the Smiling Dwarf or visits some of the others “for a chat and a bit of pipe fume”. When drunk, Fryderyk tells everybody the story of how he got wounded in a battle against the orks as he took an ax to chest (and one or the other detail of the story changes every time he tells it). He even lifts up his clothes to show his (quite impressive) scar, unless somebody keeps him from doing. But only woman, small children and clerics may keep the old warhorse from doing anything while drunk.

Tesmir Goodteeth owns and runs one of the two inns in Finvale, the Smiling Dwarf. While most of the inhabitants of Finvale prefer to visit the Lazy Dog (partially because it is run by a human, partially because an evening there is much cheaper than at the Smiling Dwarf) Tesmir is still in business. The Lazy Dog is more of a tavern than an inn an can only accommodate a limited number of travelers and horses, while the Smiling Dwarf has more than enough rooms and a large stable. And from time to time, the lumbermen allow themselves a tankard of the rich dark ale the dwarf has to offer (the beer and booze at the Lazy Dog is much cheaper, but… well…). And of course, all of the dwarfs are regular guests at the inn.

Tesmir runs the place together with his wife Margit (Gemnail) and his daughter Katalin, who goes by the by-name of “Sheepdaugther”. The shy young Katalin is well-liked by all the dwarfs in the village and when she is old enough to marry (an age she is not far from anymore), it is unlikely that there will be a shortage of suitors. Both Margit and Tesmir are “the good soul” of the dwarfs in Finvale, and especially Margit is known to lend an ear to a troubled patron and to whisper some good advise. Tesmir often sends Katalin out with a jug of dark ale to the manor, so that Fryderyk might enjoy a good drink while on duty. If the number of guests isn´t high, either Margit or Tesmir will do it themselves and stay for a while to chat with the old warrior.

Dumir Firstanvil is the local black smith, and the only one in the area. He mostly forges tools for the villagers and shoes horses, but Dumir often boasts that “there is nothing that a Firstanvil cannot forge!” He belongs to a family of blacksmiths that traces its lineage back to the first dwarfs that ever settled this region. Sadly, he was not able to start a workshop in Karum Vyn: he was the fifth son of his father, and three of his brothers were already running their own smithies there. So, he decided to move to Finvale and try his luck among the humans. And he has not come to regret this step by now: while he was only one among many smiths in Karum Vyn, around here he is THE smith.

He runs his smithy with the help of his wife Bara, his one and only son Jannes and the dwarf Marek Bloodheart, who lives in his house. Jannes got himself the by-name Songtable, and his father is less than happy about how often he spends his evenings (and coin) in the Smiling Dwarf. His mother Bara is a bit more understanding, as she sees clearly that Jannes has an eye on the innkeepers daughter. But he is not the only one, and among the other is Marek Bloodheart.

The ill-tempered and fierce fellow left Karum Vyn after he managed to raise the ire of too many families there. While not official an outcast, he feels this way about himself: driven out and forced to life among humans. He is quiet, but on the inside he is at boiling point most of the time, a fact that his often high-red face gives away easily. When he cannot stomach it anymore, he starts to shout and spews forth insults, and the next thing that happens is that he either storms away or starts to kick at something. At more than on occasion he started a brawl at the Smiling Dwarf (and was banned for a month already by Tesmir) and in the Lazy Dog he is known as “that tight-fisted dwarf”. The owner is not throwing him out, so. Such would only lead to a fight anyway (as Marek shows no restraint when it comes to non-dwarfs), and some of the younger lumberjacks take it as a test of courage to provoke Marek (and drink heavily before they try, which means more coin for the innkeeper). None of them has won the fistfight that followed so far, and none of them ever wanted to try again.

The third business in Finvale that is run by a dwarf is the apothecary of Urza Vigorkeep, a female healer. The red-cheeked dwarf with the five braided hair-tails is not really running a shop but sees her clients in her log cabin at the edge of the village. Urza is a skilled herbalist and a good wound-healer on top, and the lumbermen as well as the villagers are happy to have her around. As remedies alone will not help her to earn a living, she also bakes flavored bread as well as journey bread. The latter keeps edible for a very long time, but is so hard to chew that no traveler would take it for anything but an “iron ration”. Urza moved to Finvale because she wanted to be an apothecary as her father is. But there have been not enough brides for every young dwarf in Karum Vyn during her time, and her father wanted her to marry “into another good family, for the weal of generations to come”. Urza herself shunned those plans, as it meant a traditional relationship where the husband takes pride in his wife having nothing to worry about but the household. After a year she got tired about all the insistent suitors she had turned down again and again, and decided to leave. Her father was not happy about it, and to the day he has never spoken a word with her or about her since.

One of the patients of Urza is Nicodem Hollowcalm. Nicodem appears to be much older than he is, and moved to Finvale because he suffered a fate no dwarf wishes to another: he is afraid to stay under the earth. A long time ago, Nicodem was a miner but encountered some unspeakable horror below the mountain, something terrible and horrifying that killed all the other miners and left him scared senseless. As he stumbled back to Karum Vyn, he screamed till he fell into a comatose sleep. After that, he could not remember anything but fled the mountain. The dwarfs first assumed that he might have killed the other miners in a fit of madness, but soon after the king had mine shaft sealed and barred, nobody thought so anymore. None of this matters to Nicodem: he is a broken soul and afraid to remember what he is afraid of. His hands shake at times, his gaze is unsteady and more often than not, he can be found murmuring to himself. Pitied by all the dwarfs of Finvale, they help him to earn a living by paying him for minor tasks and errands. Tesmir always has one mug of Ale for him or “the left-overs from the other day” (even if there are no such). Nicodem is not asking for such things often, as his current state is a shame to himself. He regularly spends time at the logger camps outside of the village and earns himself some coin by sharping their axes for them, or by other minor tasks. Most of his time, he spends in a very simple cottage he built himself, accompanied by a squirrel he feeds with little breadcrumbs and calls “Nagger”. From time to time, adventures show up in Finvale in search of him, as they want to learn about the mine where “the monster was seen”. Their attempts to gain any information from Nicodem always leaves him a nervous wreck, and if Marek is around there is a fair chance that nosy types will be in for a beating.




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