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Tales of the Sindri Udur

Introduction

In the time after the World’s creation but before the Great Races walked amongst each other, the Dwarfs, or Kazami as they had named themselves, flourished in a vast civilisation beneath the Earth. Hidden from the light of the Sun, they turned immense caverns into great cities, the largest of which could house tens of thousands of Kazami. Life in these cities was illuminated by the mystical Yagami stones, strange glowing rocks that provided both light and heat the even the deepest of places. These huge gems sat at the centre of each city and their rhythmical cycle of waxing and waning formed the Kazami’s day and night. Around these stones grow a whole ecosystem of plants and fungi which in turn gave rise to the many species of creature that lived amongst the Kazami, including those that formed the basis of the Kazami diet. It is the Kazami’s belief that they came into being millennia earlier when the Yagami stones first started to glow.

When it came to wealth the Kazami were unsurpassed, as oceans of jewels lay at their feet and seams of metals and ores that never ran dry striped the walls of every cavern. This bounty they claimed as a birth right and with it they refined their skills of crafting to near perfection. The Kazami did not use fire to smelt their metal, favouring instead the use of Rune Magic to create an artificial, and therefore much more controllable, heat source. Their weapons and armour were impeccable, but jewel crafting was by far their most impressive skill, with designs so intricate and delicate they would make a spider’s web seem clumsy and crude. These skills extended to simple clockwork devices that harnessed the power of mystical gemstones to produce simple household items such as lanterns, cooking stoves and clocks. The Kazami were a prosperous people and the enemies that had plagued the early years of their history were all but a memory. Patrols of the Great Maw were more of a religious pilgrimage now instead of the life-saving necessity they once were. For many it was a grand time to be alive, but for many more it was anything but.

With no threats from the outside, it was not long before the world of the Kazami started to rot from within. Greed and decadence spread like mould, slowly tainting all who were exposed to it. Tradition and honour were replaced with hedonism and ambition. The Jogun and his Jarls’ rule held little meaning any more, with all the real power being divided amongst the Guilds and their masters. This new elite had more control over the lives of their Guilds’ members than any court could hope to have. The divide between rich and poor had grown wide and despite near limitless wealth, a great many Kazami lived and died in poverty and in this world, without coin, you were nobody. The poor lived in slums on the edge of the cities, a breeding ground for crime and far enough from the Guildmasters’ eyes for it to be left unchecked. Life meant little, power meant everything.

But this time was not without law; justice and peace were still things to be sort after and amongst the chaos there was still order to be found. And it was found in the Sindri Udur. The Sindri Udur were a religious order of Kazami who had sacrificed all earthly belongings, save their Long-Axe, and swore to uphold the laws of the Kazami and protect the innocent. They were a social class unto themselves were each member had the authority to overrule any Jarl or Guildmaster should the need arise. Only the best and brightest Kazami would leave their families at a young age to join the order, and their strict program of mental, physical and philosophical training meant it would be years before they would meet them again.

Their traditions were created over time by some of the most revered figures in Kazami history and they lived by strict laws that must be observed at all time under punishment of death. They owned no possessions save their Long-Axe, or Sin Baruk, a weapon that held an important place in Kazami society and history. It is common for Sindri Udur to be given additional items to aid them in their duties, items known as Ajan Datsu or “Helpful Gifts” are considered to be on-loan to the Sindri Udur indefinitely but not actual possessions. Often these will be other weapons, outfits for formal occasions, espionage equipment, crafting tools and books of knowledge but many other items have been included in a member’s Ajan Datsu. A member once claimed 20 gallons of rice wine a week as part of his Ajan Datsu to help him gain the favour of the local miners in order for him to gather evidence against their corrupt Guildmaster. Members were forbidden for owning a house and would instead receive “payment” from those they helped in the form of board and lodgings for a night or more. They could, of course, simply knock on the door of the local Guildmaster and demand to sleep in his bed, and although this order will have no doubt been obeyed, it will have earned that particular Sindri Udur a powerful enemy.

The duties of the Sindri Udur were many and varied, most involved settling disputes on one scale or another; anything from breaking up a bar-room brawl that has got out of hand to preventing rival Jarls from going to war with one another. Their duties brought the Sindri Udur in contact with people at all levels of society, from the wealthiest noble to lowliest vagrant. For example, the Smithing Guild may think the Miners Guild is ignoring lucrative seams, concentrating instead on finding gems to line the Jewellers Guilds coin purse. It would have been down to the local Sindri Udur to investigate and ensure there was no favouritism, and if there was they would reprimand the guilty parties and set affairs in order. Maybe the workers of a particular guild feel they are being treated unfairly or paid too poorly, a Sindri Udur may speak on their behalf to the Jarl or even confront the Guildmaster themselves. Disagreements were often settled in formal duels and the people may need a champion! Assassinations and kidnapping were not uncommon amongst the power elite in Kazami society, as so a Sindri Udur’s skills in both investigation and as a bodyguard were always in high demand. It was not totally unheard of for a Sindri Udur to be the one carrying out the assassination, as many an ill deed has been done for the greater good.

Judge, jury, executioner and peacemaker. The Sindri Udur were the Kazami’s brightest light in a time when darkness seemed to fill every corner. The fabric of this society depended on these honourable few and their actions would shape the history of their race and be retold down through the ages.