The road not taken
Horingoth Hornbreaker was born a middle-class dwarf with a crooked nose and a powerful work ethic. He was a skilled warrior with both an axe and, oddly enough for a dwarf, a bow. He also was a master-worker of iron and steel; by the tender age of 55, his work was unrivaled by even masters thrice his age.
His rise to prominence came abruptly during the Wars of Succession, when Horingoth delivered a momentous speech at the Grand Council. While always aloof, the dwarves were not isolationists; they were simply not expansionists, at least not above ground, as their human trading partners were. Horingoth, fearing the encroaching wars and appealing to his brethren to halt any shedding of dwarven blood, appealed to his kin with a plan. At its worst, it was ethnocentric zealotry; at its best, it was patriotic. The plan, simply, was to bid the outer world farewell. The humans, elves and the rest had never understood the dwarves, Hornbreaker bellowed, so leave them to their lot!
Fearing bloodshed, war or, gods forbid, inter-racial breeding, the dwarves rallied to Horingoth’s ideas and sealed the Southern Gates and collapsed the tunnels to the west. For trade, all goods were to be exchanged at the dwarves’ good graces, the rest of the world be damned; for all else, the world ceased to exist.
Horingoth’s choices marked a turning point in the history of the world and its dwarven peoples. Some dwarves believed the Great One’s ideas to be too extreme; they were graciously allowed to leave with their clothes, their weapons and their lives before the gates were sealed. Ironically, those same refugees, spread across the Empire and even, some say, across the sea to farthest Svorinn to find their ancestral cousins, evoke the name “Horingoth Hornbreaker” as well, but unlike their Craggian brethren, they use the name as a curse rather than as an honorific. The remaining followed the Hornbreaker’s lead, followed his plans, nodded at his words and came to see him as exalted and even deified.
Over the centuries, Hornbreaker became a de facto god to the peoples of The Crags, despite them all knowing he was just like them once, a dwarf who chose life and consistency over mystery and possibility. His name is now evoked before every meal, taught in every school, and drunkenly bellowed before every bar-room brawl. He is the Spirit of The Crags.