|Five Kings Mountains|
|Government||Loosely affiliated collection of monarchs|
The Five Kings Mountains are tall and imposing peaks, rich with ore and ironbloom mushrooms. Heavily populated by dwarves, they are the largest center of dwarven culture on or beneath Golarion. Highhelm, the largest dwarven city on Golarion is located under one of its peaks: the lofty Emperor's Peak.
The Five Kings Mountains were not always populated by the dwarves. They believe that Torag himself forged the first of them deep in the Darklands during the Age of Creation, where they continued to live and work quite happily throughout their early history. Even though they were content in their sunless home, Torag prophesied that one day the ground would shake and mark the beginning of a great migration to the surface of Golarion.
The Quest for Sky
In -5293 AR, the massive earthquakes caused by Earthfall not only devastated the surface, but shook the dwarves' Darklands tunnels as well. Their priests declared that this was the fulfillment of Torag's prophecy, and initiated a mass migration of all dwarves to the surface known as the Quest for Sky. Some dwarves refused their call and chose to remain in their ancient cities. Over the millennia, those left behind were transformed by their environment into an entirely new species: the duergar.
This massive movement of people was not without its problems. As they moved closer to the surface, they displaced their ancient enemies, the orcs, causing countless battles, and driving the orcs upward as well. The dwarves also squabbled amongst themselves, even erupting into open warfare that stalled the Quest for Sky. It was not until the great king Taargick united the dwarves through diplomacy, wisdom, and quite a bit of coercion that the migration was resumed. Taargick crowned himself the king of all dwarves in -5133 AR, and founded the kingdom of Tar Taargadth, and the dwarves finally emerged on the surface in -4987 AR.
Retaking the Surface World
Upon their arrival, the dwarves discovered that their migration had unleashed a deluge of orcs upon the surface, and that their enemies had easily overpowered the few peoples who had survived Earthfall and the subsequent Age of Darkness. In order to better defend themselves, and to commemorate the successful completion of the Quest for Sky, they built 10 massive city-fortresses known as Sky Citadels. The first and greatest of these Sky Citadels was Highhelm in the Five Kings Mountains and it was from here that the rulers of Tar Taargadth started to bring civilization back to the decimated surface world. Even though the two races continued fighting, the Sky Citadels, combined with the return of the sun and the end of the Age of Darkness, gave the dwarves significant tactical advantages over the next 1,000 years. Once the orcs had been driven back into the hills and mountains, the dwarves began a rapid expansion of their domain, coupled with rapid population growth that led to their golden age.
Decline of Tar Taargadth
Sadly nothing lasts forever, and the golden age of Tar Taargadth was no exception. The orcs, once confined to the edges of the civilized world, gained in strength and began attacking the Sky Citadels. Under the command of Belkzen, the greatest orc hero of all time, they conquered the Sky Citadel of Koldukar (now known as Urgir in the Hold of Belkzen) in -3708 AR. This defeat, and the loss of other Sky Citadels in the subsequent centuries, led to a decline in dwarven power and prestige. Even though Tar Taargadth continued into the Age of Enthronement, it never recaptured its lost greatness.
Era of the Five Kings
The government of Tar Taargadth finally collapsed in 1551 AR, leaving each of the four remaining occupied Sky Citadels to fend for itself: Dongun Hold in what today is the Mana Wastes, Janderhoff in Varisia, Kravenkus in the World's Edge Mountains of Taldor, and Highhelm. As the first and greatest of the Sky Citadels, Highhelm held as special place in the imaginations of the dwarves, and it was around this great fortress-city that a new dwarven kingdom rose after the disbanding of Tar Taargadth.
Five separate dwarven nations were founded around Highhelm in the Five Kings Mountains in the decade following Tar Taardath's collapse, each ruled by one of five brothers. Gardrick I founded Gardadth in 1557 AR, Saggorn the Holy established the Pious Kingdom of Saggorak in 1559 AR, Doggon followed suit with the Impenetrable Kingdom of Doggadth in 1560 AR, Grak the Younger founded the Laborious Kingdom of Grakodan in 1561 AR, while Taggrick I established the Everlasting Kingdom of Taggoret in 1562 AR.
A mere nine years after the founding of the last of the five kingdoms, the first of no less than nineteen civil wars broke out in 1571 AR. Known as the Five Kings War, it lasted 700 years before the kings of the five nations finally negotiated the Kerse Accord in 2332 AR with the help of a delegation from Druma. This treaty ended the civil wars and began a long-lasting peace. It is these five great kings that give the region its name, and in celebration of the event, they carved the likenesses of these forward-thinking monarchs into the the sides of mountains overlooking the important passes in the region.
The peace last only 160 years, before their ancient enemy, the orcs, invaded the dwarven kingdoms in 2492 AR. One by one the five kingdoms collapsed and their great cities fell to their enemy; the only city to resist was Highhelm. With the demise of the other five kingdoms, the Era of the Five Kings was over.
The Wild Era and Tar Khadurrm
During the Wild Era, which followed it and lasted almost 700 years, the orcs controlled the Five Kings Mountains with only Highhelm remaining to defend the dwarven and human civilizations in the area.
Khadon the Mighty arrived in the Five Kings Mountains in 3197 AR aiming to destroy the orcs and end their 700-year occupation of the region. After 82 years of war, Khadon defeated the orcs in 3279 AR at the Battle of Splitmist Pass, and founded the empire of Tar Khadurrm. The city of Jernashall was founded under the mountains in 3312 AR and became the pre-eminent city of the new empire and later its capital. Jernashall's sister city of Raseri Kanton was founded on the surface in 3451 AR, and became a vital trade center in the region. For 500 years, Tar Khadurrm and its cities flourished. until the Rending of Droskar's Crag in 3980 AR.
In 3980 AR, Droskar's Crag erupted, destroying Jernashall and its sister city of Raseri Kanton, and forcing many dwarves to flee their ancestral homeland. This event, which became known as the Rending, broke the spirit of the dwarves and marked the beginning of the decline of Tar Khadurrm, as the dwarves fell into apathy and indifference.
King Talhrik the Industrious tried to inject spirit and ethics back into his people, but after his death in 4277 AR the dwarves once again fractured. Ordrik Talhrik murdered his cousin, Garbold Talhrik, and seized the throne in 4369 AR attempting to create a theocracy. The Forge War raged for 13 years, from 4369 AR to 4382 AR. Generals loyal to the true crown fought to keep their kingdom united, but failed. Ordrik declared himself theocrat and commanded all dwarves to work in Droskar's name.
For nearly 100 years the dwarves of the Five Kings Mountains lost every sense of art and beauty, and their craftsmanship became merely adequate. Many dwarves fled to the other nearby dwarven settlements, as well as settlements in Druma and the Mindspin Mountains. In the end, priests could not maintain their hold on the other dwarves and Ordrik's theocracy crumbled in 4466 AR, with entire settlements abandoned. Some, especially treasure-hungry Pathfinders, believe that many of these dwarves left in such a hurry that they abandoned great wealth that still lies entombed within these abandoned locations
In the 250 years since Droskar's Kingdom faltered (a period known as the Collapsed Era) no single dwarf has been able to unite his people in the Five Kings Mountains. The remaining four Sky Citadels are great metropolises, but none can claim to be more than a city-state. No one has emerged with the will, ability, and charisma to reunite the dwarves of Avistan into a single, unified people.
- See also: Five Kings Range
The Five Kings Mountains are a harsh and dangerous area. The mountains are mostly rocky with occasional plateaus. They are home to savage giants and bloodthirsty wildlife, with few natural resources worth exploiting. The nations that surround the mountains (Druma, Kyonin, Galt, Andoran, and Isger) haven't establish settlements any closer than the foothills and don't approach the dwarven territory. They also do not interfere with the industry carried out by the stout folk in the higher reaches, although they usually conduct a profitable trade with the dwarves. At the forested foothills, dwarven lumber-mills work to procure timber and firewood to support tunneling operations, and to provide light and heat below the surface.
Massive iron gates decorated with a huge dwarf faces carved above the entrance, guard all primary ways into to cities of the Five Kings Mountains. Smaller entrances located on high, otherwise inaccessible plateaus allow the stout folk to cultivate crops and provide grazing land for their herds. Additionally, a large number of iron-grated tunnels ensure that fresh air reaches even the deepest tunnels, and smoke and toxic gases can be safely vented away. Reservoirs have been built that catch the seasonal snow-melt and fill the subterranean cisterns with clear water.
Underground, the dwarves have done miracles of engineering. Deep inside the mountains lie sprawling megalopolises that stretch the length of the Five Kings Range. Nearly all dwarven settlements of the Five Kings Mountains are linked by long tunnels, though there are occasional tunnel collapses, or tunnels that are sealed on purpose, in places like Droskar's Crag or the sealed-off ancient city of Saggorak. Dwarves are forced to travel above ground in these cases. The stout folk have constructed sturdy, iron gates throughout these tunnels, having learned their lesson during the orc invasions. The gates are usually open to help the travel between the cities. For safety reasons. the dwarven cities are arranged in dozens of discrete semi-autonomous caverns. Tunnels and caverns are supported by enduring vaulted arches. The dwarven tunnels are well planned, smoothed, and rune-curved, and the halls and passages of the dwarven cavern-cities are hung with rich tapestries and banners to honor of their history, heroes, leaders, and gods. Despite the ability of their race to see in the dark, most of the inhabited areas in the dwarven settlements are lit by oil lamps, tallow candles, torches, or magic spells, because the dwarves appreciate color and the play of light. Their mines are never lit with true fire due to the existence of explosive gases.
The region has no central authority, as each of the various city-states has its own government and traditions. Because it is the only remaining Sky Citadel in the range, the city of Highhelm is considered the de jure capital. High King Borogrim the Hale convenes a meeting of the Gathering Council, composed of the rulers of Larrad, Highhelm, Kovlar, Taggoret, Rolgrimmdur, and Tar-Kazmukh once every 200 years. The meetings of the Gathering Council are known to go on for months.
The dwarves will always hold a fondness for the people of Druma who helped them negotiate the Kerse Accord and put an end to their internal wars. Primary trade destinations of the stout folk are the Druman cities of Kerse and Macridi. Flat-bottom boats filled with metal goods and weapons move downstream from Highhelm to both cities on a regular basis.
Relations with Taldor are very good as both nations have cultural similarities, such as an ordered social hierarchy. Taldor has long encouraged dwarven immigration from the Five Kings Mountains as the dwarven skills of mining and metalworking are greatly appreciated.
Because more dwarves live on and beneath the Five Kings Mountains than anywhere else on Golarion, and because Highhelm was the first and greatest of the mighty Sky Citadels to be built upon the completion of the Quest for Sky during the Age of Darkness, the mountain range and its city-states hold a special place in the hearts and minds of many dwarves.
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