Evad

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Establishment

Time of Terrors

The nation of Evad was established not long after the Time of Terror. Emperor Garus of Pileus rounded up the entire dwarven population for relocation beyond the borders of the Empire. The Dwarves were force marched from their homes in Pileus to the mountainous region that would become Evad. The marches began in 3801 PN and continued for over ten years, with each year dozens of dwarven tribes being uprooted and transplanted into the mountains by brutal frost giants. Over that decade, nearly a million dwarves were relocated, and over half a million of them died along the way, either to exhaustion, exposure, starvation or were simply killed by the frost giants.

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In 3798, dwarven resistance began in the mountains of Evad. The dwarves refused to be pushed any further - stubbornly remaining in the mountains and meeting Frost Giant attempts to shift them with violence. Using guerrilla tactics and causing rock slides and avalanches, small bands of dwarves began attacking the frost giants as they brought in new clans of dwarves. Resistance was small and often did more harm than good for the Evadin; as soon as the giants would crush one resistance cell, they would turn and take out their frustration on the tribes they were escorting.

By 3787, however, dwarven resistance had become a force to be reckoned with. Several hundred thousand dwarves had survived the journey to Evad and all of them were angry for the atrocities that they had suffered at the hands of the giants. The tribes unified and, while maintaining guerrilla fighting tactics, they could better coordinate their strikes against the frost giants. Though the Empire was gone, the high mountains were the native country of the frost giants - and they were not happy with bands of renegade dwarves in their icy abode. The guerilla war raged for centuries - a war of annihilation. The frost giants would give no quarter and the dwarves would ask none. Thousands of giants and tens of thousands of dwarves died in the cold mountain valleys - until at last the frost giant hold on the mountains was broken, and the ancient enemy dispersed to other lands.

Dwelling with the Miln

The heads of each of the 462 tribes who survived the Time of Terrors signed the Charter in the autumn of 2779 that founded Evad. Each of these patriarchs or matriarchs was given a place in the Council. The first act of the Council was to sign a peace treaty with the indigenous people known as the Miln. Pileus had owned much land that it had explored little, and many peoples lived within its borders without ever knowing it. The Miln were one of these peoples. When the Evadin first arrived, the Miln hid themselves away, and a few Milnian tribes had some skirmishes with the dwarves. During the Time of Terrors, the Miln realized that the dwarves were being forced against their will, and decided to aid the dwarves in adapting to the bare nature of the Halfalas, the wintry peaks created by the frost giants in the primordial times.

The Evadin returned the kindness of the Miln by allowing them to keep free reign of their territory and offering protection for them against invading forces. Since the dwarves quickly dug themselves cities under the mountains, this left the Miln with nearly everything they had before plus a new ally at arms. In return, the Miln taught the Evadin tricks for harvesting and preparing the local lichen and how best to raise the mountain goats that scaled the cliffs. They warned them of the crack to the underworld (a sulfurous steam vent near the Diamont) and how to predict when the drake migrations would occur.

Contact between the two peoples was regular in the first few decades of Evad, when the dwarven cities still rested mostly on the surface. As the dwarves dug deeper into the mountains, contact lessened and somewhere near the end of the end of the Third Millennium PN, contact between the two peoples completely ceased. The last recorded contact with the Miln was on the vernal equinox of 2053 PN at the seasonal trademeet in Grinelle.

Digging Deep

The Second Millenium was an incredibly insular time for the Evadin. The Miln had left, their enemies had fallen, Gaer had yet to rise to power, and Charomedes was still on the side of good. Much of western Avantarra was quiet. Some trade had been established with Vangir, mostly for delicacies that could not be had in the Halfalas, but there was little outside contact otherwise. Occasionally, bands of frost giants would try to reestablish themselves in the mountains and need to be driven out.

The dwarves, however, were not sedentary during this time. They were very busy, in fact. During the first age of their time in the Halfalas, the Evadin built typical semi-subterranean cities. There would be large (but low) walled cities on the surface with several stories worth of residences below ground. Some built half of their city on a mountain shelf or in a valley and the other half burrowed into the mountainside. By the time the Miln left, the dwarves had nearly abandoned the surface and were digging deeper and deeper.

Massive manufactured caverns were dug, with buildings carved up from the floor or directly into the walls. Evadi cities ceased to be "built" and started to be "sculpted". Painstaking effort was put into carving each detail. The Council chambers in Grinelle alone took over 150 years to carve by thousands of dwarven artisans. Homes, shops, storehouses, public lavatories, everything was given incredible detail.

Cities began to reach hundreds of feet down into the hearts of the mountains, where the earth was still warm. The tunnelers were met with frightening aberrations as they dug, hideous beings that would kill both the body and the mind. Tunneling slowed as garrisons had to be attached to each digging crew. Evadi smiths began to develop tools that would double as very effective weapons: axes, hammers and picks. While traditional work tools would pass as serviceable weapons, and traditional weapons might function as subpar work tools, the Evadin would be satisfied with nothing that wasn't effective at both. Tunnelers, and soon all citizens, were taught how to fully use these weapon-tools.

The last major expansion of an Evadi city was completed in 873 PN. The great forge of Halbre, powered by the "blood of Vultan", was established at the base of the city and it was agreed upon by all members of the Council that cities should go no deeper than this. They stated that this was so that they would not offend Vultan, but most dwarves know that it is because the "blood of Vultan" is lava that oozes up from cracks near the forge and digging deeper would cause serious damage to the city.

The Final Straw

The three patriarchs of Jaim d'Fitte agreed amongst themselves, with the blessing from the Council, to send out diplomats to the rest of Avantarra. In 677 PN, 77 diplomatic envoys, each comprised on 6 diplomats, were sent out into the world carrying Evad's finest wares: mithril and stone carvings, weapons of dwarven masters, the finest Akvavit and molasses, and expertly woven fleece garments. These 77 envoys were to establish trade relations with the outside world to bring new life into Evad, which had grown stagnant in its old age. Each delegate was given authority to sign temporary treaties, each lasting 100 years. The ambassadors dispersed in every direction, though the majority headed east.

After ten years, the patriarchs ceased waiting on diplomats to return. In that decade, only 59 of the envoys had returned and the others were presumed dead or captured. Of the 59 diplomatic parties that returned, only three returned successful. One of the envoys to Vangir had secured another hundred years of trade with the Ancient, who at this time was a dwarven lord. Another, sent to Gaer, was able to set up a full, permanent alliance with the orcs and men there. The two nations had agreed to ensure mutual aid when called upon and to trade goods at the border every year. The third returned from the west and brought with them a herd of boars; in trade for yearly shipments of Akvavit, a tribe of firbolg nomads would trade yearly herds of boar.

The other 56 returning envoys carried with them their unsigned treaties and many returned with most of the goods they had left with. The Council agreed that if the world did not need the Evadin, the Evadin did not need the world and they sealed themselves inside their mountain fortresses. With the exception of the three existent treaties, no dwarves left Evad and no foreigners entered it for another 500 years.

Reopening the Gates

The Prophet, at this point living in the city of DeBargette, declared a prophecy in 195 PN that the gates of Evad must once again be reopened or the dwarves would surely die. The Prophet's words always held great weight with the Council and with the people, though they were reluctant to open the doors again. It was the previous Prophet who had confirmed the Council's agreement to shut their gates previously. Many murmured about how the world could not have changed so much in three generations that it would do any good to reopen the doors, but doors were opened again anyway.

The world had changed much in those three generations, however, and the dwarves had stagnated. Their weapons, magics and technologies were outdated. Their maps were ancient. The few who had retained speaking the foreign languages of the world were sent out to bring the dwarves into the modern age. Some returned with news, maps, scrolls and tomes of history of the world around them. Others returned with new weapons and armor, tactics and siegecraft, and many wonderful materials. Finally others returned with art, music, fine food and clothing, all the refined things that the dwarves often wished they had in their exquisite cities.

There were many unsettling things that were brought back to the dwarves as well. News of Charomedes and the war he waged on Avantarra disturbed them all. The rise and fall of the Vraien Empire, especially their dragon riders, concerned the Council. Some of the envoys returned with threats of war from Kataf and Schwarn, among others.

The strangest thing to the dwarves were not these things, though. It was the immigrants. Never before had anyone desired to move into Evad, but two tribes, one of men and one of firbolg, returned with the diplomats and sought to join the Evadin in their stone cities. The Council deliberated for some time over this and reached consensus that the foreigners would not be allowed to dwell among the dwarves, as there was no room for them on the Council. The three patriarchs of Jaim d'Fitte and the four of Umisse disagreed with the ruling and accepted the tribes into their city, declaring them to be "dwarves by right" and adopting them as their own sons and daughters. 300 firbolg were added to the registry of House Gagnor of Jaim d'Fitte. 1000 men were added to the registry of House Ui, 1200 to House Farisse and 300 to House Torlemain in Umisse.

Terrain and Weather

Evad is divided into two distinct regions: The Halfalas and the Bitron. The Halfalas contains the mountainsides, including the peaks, valleys and the Diamont. The Bitron includes the underground tunnels and caverns, natural or manufactured, that the majority of Evadin actually live in.

The weather in the Halfalas is harsh and brutal. There is little difference between summer and winter, with summer only having marginally more sunlight. It can snow any day of the year in Evad and only the lowest mountain peaks are not capped in snow and ice year round. Spring and autumn bring high winds that scream between the cliffs.

The Halfalas

The Halfalas is an unforgiving region of Avantarra. It's peaks are high and rocky, with nearly no soil to speak of. Cliffs are sheer and sharp. Unlike much of the rest of Avantarra, the mountains of the Halfalas do not seem to run in chains, with valleys and passes between them, but rather seem to be a collection of individual peaks all competing in a race to reach the sky. Nearly every peak in the Halfalas is capped with snow year round, with only the lowest exterior peaks baring their rocks in the height of summer. Slow moving glaciers have been carving their way down the mountains for thousands of years, with many terminating in crystal blue lakes known as tarns. The biggest of these tarns is known as the Diamont, which freezes completely over in the winter months.

Winds rip between the peaks, scouring anything that tries to scratch out a living on the rocks, leaving only the hardiest plants and animals. With the exception of lichen and some very tough grasses and shrubs, nothing grows on the mountainsides. Flocks of mountain goats and big horned sheep sometimes scale the cliffs to eat the plants and are often herded by dwarven shepherds. There are few large predators in the mountains, but occasionally a shepherd will spot a bear or tiger hunting in the lower portions of the mountains. The most common predators are birds of prey, with eagles and rocs building their aeries in the mountain crags. Several of the larger tarns are known to house schools of fish and are a crucial food supply for many Evadin.

The Bitron

The Bitron is where most of the Evadin would say they live. From the mid-2500s PN and onward, Evad has taken to living underground in massive carved cities. Some of these cities were established in existing caves, dwellings and stores carved into the sides of these natural formations, while others were completely and totally manufactured. Most, however, are a combination of both. There is rarely more than one major city established on the same mountain, but that major city often acts as a hub for smaller, subterranean cities and villages, which branch off along tunnels bored through the rock.

As the dwarves bore into the ground, the ecology of the Bitron emerged. Mosses and fungi are routinely cultivated and farmed in tunnels (often abandoned mines) to be harvested as food and fibers for clothes and other materials. Massive underground lakes are fished for food, mainly cave fish and crustaceans. Predators, however, are more common below the surface, as various oozes, aberrations like gibbering mouthers and gricks, and dangerous vermin hunters like cave fishers and cave scorpions all lurk in the darkness.

Further down still, the dwarves become increasingly cautious with any new tunnel, as magma floes are not uncommon sights in the heart of the mountains. Magma floes, especially around Halbre, are known to occasionally spawn fire and magma elementals, and the great forge there is believed to be powered by the Plane of Fire itself.

Culture

The people of Evad are gruff and taciturn. They prize honesty and loyalty as much as they honor hard work and perseverance. Their lives are hard and the Halfalas gives them little in the way of comforts. They work hard to scratch out their existence, but they enjoy what small bounties they receive.

The mountain goats that most Evadin herd provide some of the finest fleece in Avantarra. It is difficult to shear and spin, but it is very soft and incredibly warm. The majority of Evadi clothing is made of this fleece or from tanned goat hides. Fleece lined caps, wool scarves and heavy coats are worn by the Evadin year round, with only those living deep in the Bitron shedding them in favor of wool breeches and tunics. Much of this fabric is left undyed, remaining a dull grey or off-white. The most common dyes in Evad are dark yellow, deep red or dark purple.

The finest luxury the Evadin enjoy is Arkavit. Arkavit is a liquor distilled from a specific type of lichen and resembles a very strong brandy. This, and Evadi wool, are the chief exports to the rest of Avantarra. The rest of Evadi food is simple, mostly mushrooms, lichen and goat meat, often served as a stew. There are few spices in Evad, with most food being seasoned with little more than salt (which the Evadin have in abundance).

Evadi art and music are like the dwarves and like the stone - solid, unchanging and deep. The dwarves do little painting, but charcoal drawings adorn most buildings. Strong bold lines and high contrast are the markings of a true Evadi drawing. Evadi masters favor stoic portraits and geometric designs. Sculptures are very angular, giving sculpted figures a very stylized look. The chief sculptural artistry are reliefs carved directly into walls or natural stalactites or stalagmites that are sculpted into the heroes of Evad.

Evadi music relies heavily on the resonance of the stone. Whole chambers are designed specifically to carry the acoustics of the dwarven voice. Dwarven songs rarely feature more than one voice, but in properly designed chambers, that one voice resonates and sounds like a full choir. Dwarven song are used to retell the histories of Evad and to sing of the glorious future to come. Instruments are uncommon, but large drums and rams horns are used for special processionals.

The Evadi celebrate few festivals, with the spring trademeet being the only annual feastday. Once a decade, the dwarves celebrate a festival to Vultan where craftsmen display their finest metalwork. The feast lasts for a full week during the height of winter. Every century, during the spring snowmelts, a month is set aside to remember the Time of Terrors and to celebrate Evadi independence. For the first week of the celebration, all of the dwarves move to the surface and live in temporary shelters, often leather tents. The final three weeks of the festival are set aside to music, dancing, food and drink. No work is performed during this month, unless deemed absolutely vital by the patriarchs.

Evadin often venerate the dead to some extent, with the ashes of former patriarchs and Ancients kept in sacred urns and displayed in ornate catacombs. The dead are all burned, to be returned to Vultan for his work.

Heroes

Each of the 462 founding patriarchs and matriarchs are venerated as heroes for all the people. Each city contains at least one carving or statue of their founding clan leader, with most having dozens or hundreds.

Personal bravado is not well recognized, or even encouraged, among the Evadin, so individuals are rarely hailed as heroes. Instead whole clans or parties are venerated together. The exception to this are the Ancients, the prophets of old. These prophets speak the will of Vultan to the Council and are seen as divine emissaries. Their words are infallible and they are the only individuals held in higher esteem than the founding patriarchs. The current prophet is known as a "living Ancient".

Language

Dwarven is the only language the citizens of Evad choose to speak. Priests and arcanists often learn to speak Ignan, to communicate with Vultan or with his elemental creatures. Scholars might choose to learn and read various other Avantarran dialects, but few speak them. The dwarves refuse on principle to use the language of the giants.

Dwarven songs are often in the ancient dialect of their native tongue, which bears little resemblance to the modern dialect. The modern dialect, while still entirely intelligible by other Dwarven speakers throughout Avantarra, still contains some unusual idioms or phrasing that are difficult for foreigners to grasp at first.

The two non-dwarven populations in Evad have been allowed to retain their native languages - Gaersh and Giant - out of respect for their traditions, but they are expected to use Dwarven when communicating with others.

Religion

Religion in Evad is simple. Religious ceremonies are administered once a month by the priests of Vultan. These priests also administer rites on the opening and closing days of the festival times. When not administering rites, the priests hold regular jobs, usually as smiths and artisans.

Besides a single shared temple to Halgar and Skylae, Vultan is the only deity publicly worshiped in Evad. The other gods are not unknown, but they are considered of little importance to the dwarves. Vultan's gift of forgeworks saved them from the giants, and his forge and fire keep them alive in the Halfalas and the Bitron.

The highest priest in Evad is known as the Prophet, who is believed to have direct, unfiltered communication with Vultan himself. The Prophet is considered by the Evadin to be an Archon of Vultan and is believed to be infallible. His words are the closest thing to law in Evad, and his prophecies are held in high regard by the Council and the common people.

Government

There is no unified government in Evad. Each city is more akin to an independent city-state, with each having its own patriarch or matriarch in charge. In cities with multiple clans, the clan leaders often make proclamations in concert. Clan leadership is often hereditary, but ascension by merit, public acclamation or divine proclamation are known to happen.

Once a year, in the city of Grinelle, all of the patriarchs and matriarchs meet for the Council. They discuss as equals the issues facing Evad and their independent city-states. They request and offer aid and alter established agreements. Intrer-clan disputes are often discussed at Council, with resolutions decided by consensus.

The Council often issues proclamations to the entire nation and people of Evad. These proclamations, much like the proclamations of individual patriarchs or matriarchs, are not laws and carry no codified penalty for disobeying them. However, the words of the Council carry much weight with the people and shame is often cast on any who choose to contravene these proclamations.

Justice is dispensed within the clan by fellow clan members, often through shame, blacklisting, or exclusion. Particularly heinous acts might result in corporal punishment - typically lashings or forced amputations - and even death. The highest penalty among the Evadi is execution by exposure. The offending party is stripped naked and placed outside the city gates, ankles bound. Punishments are quickly dispensed, though both the offended and offender are presented in trial before the clan leader if any clan member requests an inquiry.

Foreign Relations

Aside from a few trade agreements with neighboring nations and tribes, Evad has little in the way of foreign entanglements. They trade many goods with Gaer at Cerrig and at Metille, and trade stone and metals in Dagnar in Vangir. On the western border, at the city of Jamblet, the dwarves trade with the nomadic firbolg tribes for herds of boar.

Gaer is the only military ally that Evad has, but neither nation has ever called upon the terms of their treaty to request aid from the other. Most modern Evadin are unaware of the 800 year old treaty.

Enemies of Evad are about as common as its allies. Frost giants periodically rise up and attack the dwarves attempting to reclaim the mountains they created. The nation of Kataf declared official war against Evad when the Evadi diplomats approached them with terms of an alliance. Only two of the diplomats returned from that envoy, carrying the bodies of their slain comrades. The dwarves were greatly offended by this proclamation but there is much ground between the Halfalas and Kataf.

The tiny nation of Schwarn also declared war against Evad. The incident was sparked when one of the diplomats visiting Schwarn commented on the "barbaric" nature of religion, specifically the polytheistic nature of it, in Schwarn. The diplomats were invited to a burial ceremony, where a body was buried and glory was given to Chatalize. The dwarves had already been unsettled greatly by many of the strange customs of the former Valeans and one of the diplomats could take no more. His insults were mild, but his refusal to apologize for his actions garnered the enmity the emperor, whose close relative was the one for whom the ceremony was performed. The envoy was driven from the city with two words, to never return to Schwarn again and, should the dwarves of Evad attempt to return without invitation, it would be considered an act of war.

Military

Evad has no formal military, but that does not mean that they are poorly defended. Since the days of their independence, the dwarves of Evad have trained heavily for fighting both within their cities and on the mountainsides. They favor heavy, brutal weapons like axes and hammers, with particular favor towards one-handed weapons. They are usually very heavily armored as well, with chain and banded mails being the most popular.

Each clan is in charge of its own defense, with little support from other clans. The civil defense regiments of each city are done by volunteer, but heavy pressure is placed on young men to enlist. In richer and more populous cities, the civil defense provides weapons and armor for its members, but the poorer cities often encourage enlistees to provide their own. Civil defenders are trained to fight with weapon and shield, to stage ambushes, to defend passes and gates, and to operate various siege engines. Each dwarf is expected to be able to fulfill any role in the military at any moment they are called upon.

Warriors are taught group, squad and individual fighting styles. Group tactics are usually reserved for holding the few wide spaces available in Evad, the large passes and enormous city squares. Commands are delivered by a combination of drumbeats and horn signals. Squad tactics are the most common, as the cramped spaces of Evad rarely allow for more than a dozen or so dwarves to gather together and still have room to swing their weapons. Squads are taught to rely on each other and to act independently of other squads. Individual warriors are taught to fight defensively, stalling their opponents until help can arrive. The dwarves rely on their natural vigor to outlast their opponents.

In times of crisis, the civilian population will be armed and told to defend their homes. Only three times since the signing of the Charter have the citizens been so armed. Twice it was for invasions by frost giants and once when a rift into the Abyss was opened near Grinelle. All citizens are still expected to know how to handle a weapon and most carry one with themselves at all times. Picks, axes and the crossbows are the most common civilian weaponry.

Magic

Magic users are uncommon in Evad. The majority of magic use is from arcane casters who focus on practical magic - shaping stone or metal and conjuring fire - with elemental wizards being the most common. Arcane magic is not viewed on suspiciously in Evad so much as it is viewed as weak and temporal. Divine casters exist only in devotion to Vultan, though a few human priests of Halgar or Skylae are known. Nature magic is entirely unused in Evad.

Magic users are uncommon in Evad, but magic itself is not. Dwarven smiths and artisans have the ability to fold magic into their own materials. Weapons and arms are typically enhanced, but work tools are often as well. Magic is used to enhance the work of the dwarves, not replace it. Magic is a tool, just as a shovel or hammer, not a crutch.

Cities

Unless otherwise mentioned, each city in Evad is home to one clan of dwarves, lead by either a patriarch or matriarch. The cities are more or less autonomous, but intercity trade is very common and relations between cities are often very amiable.

Major Cities

Grinelle is the closest that Evad has to a capital city, as it houses the chambers for the Council. Grinelle was one of the first cities to begin the descent into the mountains and is the second deepest city in Evad. Its gates are carved into a cliff face near the edge of the Diamont. It is home to four separate clans.

Halbre, the deepest city in Evad, houses a great forge said to be powered by the blood of Vultan himself. This is the only forge in Evad hot enough to smelt adamantium. Halbre is home to three clans.

Umisse is the most culturally diverse of the major cities of Evad. On the southeastern slope of Mount Faronne, Umisse is the closest metropolis to Gaer and takes much cultural influence from the orcs and humans there. Umisse is home to three clans of dwarves and a sizable population of humans.

Jaim d'Fitte is nestled in the mountains on the western half of the nation and produces the nation's largest volume of Arkavit (though the honor of finest Arkavit arguably goes to Varselle). Jaim d'Fitte has a small firbolg population, most of whom act as merchants and translators with the nomadic tribes of the west. Jaim d'Fitte is home to three clans.

DeBargette, while incredibly small, is considered a major city in Evad solely because it is home to the current Prophet. The entrance to the city is high on the Neiges, one of the tallest mountains in the Halfalas.

Minor Cities

Gagnior is home to the best of the blacksmiths in Evad. Though they cannot forge admantium, their steel and bronze are unrivaled.

Halmunne subsists mostly on fishing from Diamant, and provides fish for much of the nation.

Metille and Jamblet are the major surface trading cities on either side of the nation. Metille trades with the Gaersh in the east and Jamblet with the nomads in the west.

Varselle is the major subterranean trading city, conveniently located near the center of Evad, at the nexus of dozens of underground highways.

Demographics

There are only a few thousand citizens of Evad who are not dwarven. There are approximately five thousand firbolg on the registry in Jaim d'Fitte and about twenty thousand humans dwelling in Umisse. On very rare occasions, members of other races and nations might be present in Evad, but they do so only on special invitation by the Evadi clans. Of the dwarves in Evad, approximately five million live in the Bitron. A further half million live, work and patrol the Halfalas.

Classes

Adventuring is uncommon in Evad, but those who do often leave as fighters. Rangers who favor giants or aberrations might leave their homes for better quarry. Clerics, oracles, inquisitors and paladins of Vultan might leave the cities on divine quests. Pyromancers, be they sorcerers, wizards or alchemists, often find that their skills are not appreciated well in Evad and choose to seek other places to practice their magicks. Other classes are rare, with druids and witches being almost entirely unknown.