He came upon it then, the aged king Zamron. A great, vast cavern, like the ones he left behind. A river flowed through its chambers, too new to carve its mark through the stone, and fertile earth flanked across either bank. Good things grew there; mushrooms, leafless plants, and beds of ruby-colored moss, promising good crop and good harvest. There were animals there of a sort he had not seen before, and of a sort truly familiar; pogs rustling through the muck, great bats feeding on pale, wide flowers, and blind lizards and newts that swam in the river’s many pools. And in those pools swam a great many blind fish, who swam and fed upon the lizards’ flaking scales. And he stood upon his stone in the center of the grotto, and said to himself thus:
“I have come upon sanctuary at last, as promised by my father, and as promised to my son and his sons after. Let a city be built in his memory, and let our exodus at last end.”
And so passed Zamron the Finder, son of Zamron the Walker who was the last High King of the Duarr, and father to Zamron the Last, who found his father’s bones upon that stone and built upon them his city…
The great citadel of Zamron-Zardûl was one of the first, if not the first, fortress-cities built by the Boroznduar (Bronze Dwarves) during their great exodus from the Deep Realms. The city was built in honor of the last king of the dwarves, Zamron the Last, who led his people from their ancient home. Though his line ruled Zamron-Zardûl as kings, they would not take up the title of High King of the Dwarves (though not for lack of trying). In Tyrenese, the common tongue of Humans and Altherys, the legendary city was often referred to as the Throne of Bronze.
Its legend grew in status by the latter period of the Second Era when its citizens scattered throughout the world in vast numbers, claiming the citadel had fallen. Attempts to reclaim Zamron-Zardûl failed, and its location was eventually forgotten. Dwarves everywhere still lament for its loss and include it among the list of prayers to the fallen and downtrodden, usually side-by-side with mantras revering the memory of Zamron the Walker and his grandson, Zamron the Last, who brought the dwarves out of the Deep Realms and gave them a sanctuary respectively.
Zamron-Zardûl was considered to be a near-mythical city, largely due to the secrecy regarding its exact location. Though most, including the scant records left by its desperate heirs, agree that it lies within one of the dead-end mountain passes running south along the Icespine from greater Fryslon, its exact location is largely unknown. This was due in no small part to the events occurring to countless Bronze Dwarves over the course of the First and Second Eras, caused by wars with Gray Elves and the recent incursions of their more war-like, Iron Dwarf kin – referred to as the Time of Tears. Fearing a potential armed incursion and hostile takeover of their own beloved citadel, the kings of Zamron-Zardûl decreed that the citadel’s true location remain a secret, and that all maps regarding the kingdom should be carved in the stones of the mountain rather than written on paper or tablets to ensure they could not be stolen. It served the city well until its demise, and now only serves as an ill reminder of what was lost for good to the Bronze Dwarves and their kin.
As the longest lasting Bronze Dwarf citadel, Zamron-Zardûl had earned for itself a reputation as a sanctuary for ostracized and downtrodden dwarves everywhere, and soon became a site of pilgrimage for many Bronze Dwarves. It soon became a near permanent sanctuary for their people during the chaos of the First Breaking, as countless Iron Dwarves and Gray Elves began attacking Bronze Dwarf settlements in earnest, driving them from their homes in the mountains throughout Fryslon and Aredian. These would eventually make their way to the Throne of Bronze in order to seek sanctuary. Zamron-Zardûl would have become overcrowded, but the vast cave networks beneath the mountains allowed for various settlements to be formed, thus expanding the kingdom greatly. Despite this, by the time the denizens of Dagrun’s Deep made their exodus to the citadel they found it barred, for Zamron-Zardûl did not have enough income or supplies to support the entirety of the Boroznduar race.
The Fall of Zamron-Zardûl is considered to be one of the greatest tragedies of the Second Era, and perhaps the first on the long road of misfortune that led to the Second Breaking. Its destruction was highly unprecedented; considering that under the reign of its last king, Zadrazin XIII, Zamron-Zardûl had entered into a time of recovery and some semblance of prosperity that it had not seen since the First Breaking. Its destruction sent shockwaves throughout the known realms, causing economies to collapse and entire nations to become bogged down with refugees flooding south. This was likely one of the many factors that led to the Goblin Wars – a series of skirmishes, raids, and battles between the various nations of Altherys and the newly surfaced goblin races alongside their beastfolk allies.
At the time of its fall, Zamron-Zardûl was ruled by Zadrazin XIII, who had ruled the kingdom for over a hundred years. His line was a secure line, as he had several children and his eldest son had provided him with three grandsons, one of whom was nearing manhood. Zadrazin had inherited a kingdom on the road back to prosperity thanks to the efforts of his father, Zarazon V, who founded many new mines to aid in the city’s income. Zadrazin intended to follow in his father’s footsteps, and so gave many charters to various dwarven prospectors seeking new riches in deeper parts of the mountains. It was rumored that one of these sites was near the location of the Plinth of the Walker, the rumored tomb of King Zamron.
Some say that Zadrazin’s desire for wealth was fueled less by honest means and more for the sake of greed. Others claim that the wealth served a twofold purpose; to both raise the kingdom to greatness and to use as tribute to gain allies against the Iron Dwarves. Others claim that it was not gold or mythril that Zadrazin sought, but iron and adamantine for use in weapons and armor to make war against the Iron Dwarves and reclaim Bronze Dwarf lands. Regardless of the truth of the matter, most of the legends point to the same thing; the dwarves dug greedily into the earth, and perhaps they dug too far.
It began not with a roar, but a deafening quiet. Mines once active and full of activity became cut off from the rest of the kingdom. Settlements began to vanish, its people disappearing without a trace. And there was a steadily growing stupor of terror slowly creeping into every tunnel beneath the mountains.
When the settlement of Mythrilmere had fallen, King Zadrazin ordered his people to evacuate and called up a state of emergency. The remaining settlements were emptied and its populous instructed to wait in the vales just outside of the city’s gates. The court of King Zadrazin soon joined them, along with his sons and daughters, though his heir and his family remained behind. The army of Zamron-Zardûl stood strong against the threat, and prepared the citadel for a siege.
No one truly knows what happened in those last, darkest days of the Throne of Bronze. The few survivors who escaped were treated as madmen, for they described a hellish monster as long as the wall and the color of ruined flesh had laid the city low. Others claim that it was an army; that the goblins had finally found Zamron-Zardûl and sought to claim it for themselves as the first in many prizes during the newly revived Goblin Wars. Whatever happened in those dark halls one thing is known for certain; the death toll for the army of dwarves was near total, and king Zadrazin XIII was among them. He forever after earned the moniker, Zadrazin the Broken.
The years following the Fall of Zamron-Zardûl were among the worst in dwarven history, the echoes being felt throughout western Altherys. Many nations in the north crumbled, relying too strongly on the promise of gold and other wealth from the mountains to support themselves. Trade in Remes became erratic as craftsmanship that came from the mountain soon increased dramatically in value. Worst of all, the Bronze Dwarves now had no sanctuary left to call their own, and so were forced to wander the world in roaming caravans as permanent refugees. It was the crescendo that marked the highest point of tragedy in the Time of Tears, and a moment that all dwarves, regardless of race or creed, look back upon in anguish.
Of the line of Zadrazin XIII, nearly all of his children who fled the mountains survived its destruction, but their fates would not fare much better. From the day Zamron-Zardûl’s gates closed for the last time to the present day the last of the bloodline of Zamron continue to seek a way to return to their mountains and reclaim their birthright. They have yet to succeed. Thanks to the misfortunes seeming to follow their every step many have concluded that the line of Zamron has become cursed. The fates of Zadrazin the Broken’s offspring are as follows:
Zadron – Firstborn of Zadrazin XIII to his first wife, Bishyah. Heir to the Throne of Bronze, would have been crowned Zadron IV. Deceased, presumed slain alongside his father in the Fall.
Zakir – Issue of Zadron. Deceased, presumed slain in Zamron-Zardûl during the Fall
Agaram – Issue of Zadron. Deceased, presumed slain in Zamron-Zardûl during the Fall.
Idon – Issue of Zadron. Deceased, presumed slain in Zamron-Zardûl during the Fall. At least one pretender of that name
Zadrazin Tallform/Zadrazin The Beggar – Secondborn of Zadrazin XIII to his first wife, Bishyah. First monkier in reference to his size, as he was half a head taller than his father and elder brother. Took a portion of his people and his youngest brother and attempted to acquire aid from the other dwarves to save his homeland. He was unable to acquire aid from the Iron Dwarves, who did not well like his father for his sentiments against them, and was forced to give up his brother as a hostage during a conflict. He then attempted to acquire aid from others in Fryslon, ranging from the Fryss, the Reddmen, beastfolk, Gray Elves, even Drow according to one rumor. He lost many of his followers along the way, who went to seek their kin south when their cause appeared lost. He died penniless in a holdfast north of the Icespire Mountains during a duel with a sellsword for reasons not yet known, though presumably because the mercenary would not speak for the dwarf to his commanding officer. For his failures he earned the moniker Zadrazin the Beggar. He had no issue.
Zarina – Thirdborn of Zadrazin XIII to his first wife, Bishyah. Wife to Arram of Clan Gorzun. Went to the Wood Elves of Aryaavaden to seek aid. Established herself in the court of the Sparrow Kings in Lothomir as royalty in exile while her husband sought to establish/seek records regarding Zamron-Zardûl and its location in the Icespire Mountains for future generations. When the last Sparrow King died and the kingship was passed on to the dynasty of Jay Kings, Zarina was not invited back into court. Her husband died in the Great Fire of Lothomir later that same year, likely while trying to save his records. She was last seen making the climb into the mountains north of the Winterwood to seek aid from the Gray Elf enclaves. Her cause of death is still uncertain, though most agree it was likely exposure. By now it was believed that the bloodline of Zamron was cursed. She had no issue.
Dorin & Jorina – Fourthborn and Fifthborn of Zadrazin XIII to his second wife, Jorrah. They were twins. After their elder brother went into Fryslon, they took a section of their own host and sought to reclaim a new home for themselves and their people and reclaim the lost citadels of the Bronze Dwarves as their father had intended. They took their army east across the Ebon Marches of Aredain, where they sought to reclaim the citadel of Dagrun’s Deep from Iron Dwarves who were rumored to have taken it during the end of the First Breaking. When they arrived they found that the citadel had been taken not by Feroznduar but by an army of goblins and beastfolk of the Pinehorn Satyrs, who had stormed the citadel and butchered its meager garrison. The twins and their host met their fate at the Battle of Darunzavor where their army of some 2,000 dwarves and hired Aredani companies met a host of 10,000 goblin warriors and some 5,000 Pinehoof brayers. Jorina was slain when a satyr attempted to have its way with her in the battle. Angered at her attempts to spurn him, the beast cut off her head instead. Dorin, who had seen the foul occurrence, went mad with grief and fled the battle. The dwarves died to the last man. It was considered to be the first true battle of the Goblin Wars.
Zarad – Sixthborn of Zadrazin XIII to his second wife, Jorrah. He took the remaining host of his siblings into Aredain where they sought work and sanctuary. He is sometimes referred to as Zarad the Lucky, for out of his siblings he had the least misfortune come to him or his clan. Zarad and his kin would be removed from their kingly lives forever and were reduced to wandering nomads like the rest of their people, though his bloodline never forgot their true heritage. Most of his lineage exists in the present among the many clans of Aredain’s Bronze Dwarf populations, though only one clan, Clan Zammor, are referred to as the true sons of Zarad.
Durrana – Seventhborn of Zadrazin XIII to his second wife, Jorrah. Went south to Remes with a small host to seek her fortunes in the early Remesian Empire. Upon arrival she received a cold welcome at court, and was soon thrown out as a pretender despite her heritage. Her host abandoned her and she and her kin fell into poverty and became second-class citizens. Her grandson brought them fortune when he became a merchant and founded a trader clan of Bronze Dwarves. She died when her hovel in the slums of an unknown city in Remes collapsed over her, though by then she was already elderly with many children. Her line is still present in Remes today, though their heritage is kept to themselves.
Jorun – Eightborn and last child of Zadrazin XIII to his second wife, Jorrah. Was not yet of age. Went to foster under his elder brother, Zadrazin Tallform, during the elder’s attempt to seek aid to reclaim Zamron-Zardûl. Was captured in a skirmish outside of Helmhold and taken hostage by the Iron Dwarves who dwelt there. Though some claim he was killed when his brother could not ransom him, it is believed that Jorun’s bloodline still exists in Helmhold today as a lesser house. His fate is still uncertain.