Last week we covered the gnomes, who much like the night elves have a history that spans centuries, but unlike the night elves, much of this history is unknown. Also unlike the night elves, the gnomes don't appear to have much going for them in the way of future conflicts. Today we're going to talk about the close friends of the gnomes -- the dwarves -- who are decidedly far more important than any have given them credit for to date.
To summarize their origins: Way back in Azeroth's history, the Titans created a race of guardians called "earthen" to help protect and watch over the planet. There were a few different "types" of earthen originally created. The first type was prone to a "matrix destabilization" when in high-stress situations, and a nasty thing called the Curse of Flesh. This destabilization in conjunction with the curse led to the creation of the troggs. Yes, the same troggs that are currently plaguing the gnomes and Gnomeregan. These first earthen were sealed away in vaults all over the world including locations such as Bael Modan. Apparently the Titans seem to have this thing for locking bad things under the earth. The second round of earthen creations were just fine, and left as they were.
Except that they weren't "just fine." These earthen were also susceptible to the Curse of Flesh, much like the gnomes were, and it worked on them oh-so-subtly. Over a gigantic chunk of time, they degraded into what we know today as the dwarves of the lower continents. As for Northrend, according to the Tribunal of the Ages, the Titans created the Forge of Wills to make yet another series of earthen, these designed to avoid the Curse of Flesh altogether. This is why you see earthen up in Northrend today.
The earthen were very, very attached to the earth, and as a result when the Sundering occurred, they could feel the pain of that earth being shattered. Because of this, they retreated to their places of origin -- Uldum, Uldaman, Ulduar -- and simply went into hibernation for almost eight thousand years. When they awoke, many of them in the southern part of the world discovered that their rocky skin had softened to smooth, and the powers over stone and earth they possessed had degraded to almost nothing. This transformation created several different kinds of dwarves including the Frostborn of the Storm Peaks, and the Ironforge dwarves of the Eastern Kingdoms -- it's the Ironforge dwarves we're going to focus on, and their particular path.
It was the humans that taught the dwarves how to read and write common -- the dwarven "language" was simply a spoken one, and written "dwarven" is a language primarily composed of runes. Along with writing, the humans introduced the dwarves to the idea of the Holy Light, teaching them how to become both priests and paladins and use the Light in much the same way as humans do. The other race the dwarves encountered through the humans was the high elves of the north. The high elves and the dwarves held very little trust for each other and they were mainly in communication due to their common ally: the humans.
Though High King Anvilmar ruled over all dwarves with justice and wisdom, the dwarves found themselves splitting into three major, powerful factions. The first of these was the Bronzebeard clan, led by Thane Madoran Bronzebeard. The Bronzebeards were close friends with High King Anvilmar and were the staunch defenders of the city of Ironforge. The second clan was the Wildhammer, led by Thane Khardros Wildhammer. The Wildhammer clan mainly inhabited the foothills, crags and peaks around the mountain, and sought to gain more control within the city proper -- and, oddly, to open up trade negotiations with the high elves, which was largely frowned upon by the rest of the dwarves. The third faction was the Dark Iron Clan, ruled by Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan. The Dark Irons lived in the deepest parts of the mountain and spent most of their time plotting against the Bronzebeard and the Wildhammer clans.
There was a tentative peace between the three clans until the day that High King Anvilmar passed away from old age, at which point, chaos erupted. All three clans went to war -- the cause? Control of Ironforge and the dwarven kingdom. The Dark Iron seized the moment they'd been waiting for and attacked both the Bronzebeard and the Wildhammer, who were just as busy fighting each other as they were fighting off the Dark Iron clan. This war raged for years, until the Bronzebeards finally managed to win -- Thane Bronzebeard took over ruling Ironforge, and banished both the Wildhammer and the Dark Iron from under the mountain for good.
While the Dark Iron's sorcerous armies were particularly vicious, they could not hold out against Bronzebeard's forces, and Thaurissan was forced to pull back and return to the Redridge Mountains. Meanwhile, Modgud was busy with the Wildhammer, and used all of her sorcery to strike fear into their hearts. It is said that the shadows moved at her command, that dark things crawled up from the depths of the earth to stalk the Wildhammer, leading to the assumption that Modgud was either a shadow priest, or perhaps a warlock, both of which have been seen with the Dark Iron dwarves. Eventually Modgud broke through the gates of Grim Batol and laid siege to the fortress itself, which turned out to be a really, really bad idea. Thane Wildhammer fought through the Dark Iron forces to slay Modgud with his own hands, and with their leader lost, the Dark Iron forces crumbled and fled south.
South was the wrong direction to go, as they were abruptly met by the armies of Ironforge. Caught between the two armies, the remaining Dark Iron forces were completely destroyed, and the victorious Wildhammer and Ironforge forces turned south, intent on eradicating both Thaurissan and any remaining Dark Irons he happened to have with him. This turned out to be a terrible idea.
Horrified at the sheer destruction, the Wildhammer and Bronzebeard forces immediately turned and retreated, ending the War of the Three Hammers and leaving the Dark Iron clan to their fate -- slaves of Ragnaros. The city of Thaurissan lay in ruins, the remaining Dark Iron were left to serve the Elemental Lord.
Thane Bronzebeard had three sons; Magni, Muradin, and Brann. After the Thane's death, Magni took the throne, as he was the eldest of the three. Years later, when the Second War began, the orcish forces conquered Khaz Modan and sought to lay siege to Ironforge itself, but were unable to penetrate its defenses. The dwarves of Ironforge joined forces with the Alliance of Lordaeron as a result, and sought to fight back the orcs and reclaim their land. King Magni was not alone in this -- the Wildhammer dwarves, now led by Chief Thane Kurdran Wildhammer, also joined the Alliance forces after an orcish assault upon Aerie Peak. During and after the Second War, the Wildhammer and Bronzebeard clans mostly went their separate ways, though they still keep in contact with each other.