South of the Transoxanian steppes, tucked away among the staggeringly high, craggy peaks lies the dwarven nation of Akkad, their eldritch nation granting its name to this ancient range. As far as [[Ilostrian Empire | Ilostrian] records are concerned, the dwarves have lived in the vast chambers beneath the mountains since the dawn of time, the age of their civilization rivaled only by the Elves to the south.
Though some free-thinkers in the empire describe dwarven culture as stagnant, tidally locked with its most ancient traditions, and fearful of change, the dwarves themselves, long-lived and straightforward, would argue that filial piety and respect for tradition aside, their way of life is practical and has served them well for the past uncounted millennia.
Dwarven records are highly detailed and date back thousands upon thousands of years. Regrettably, the vast majority of these historical records are locked away in the great vaults above and below their cities, guarded with the lives of the most steadfast dwarven defenders. Still, there is some record of the history of this ancient people available in Ilium.
No clues exist as to the origin of the dwarves, and tradition holds that they simply rose up from the caves and stones of the Akkadian Mountains themselves. True or not, they have lived there since then and any expansionism on their part has been limited to occupying the full extent of the mountain range. Evidence of dwarven seafaring and coastal settlements exists in records from Jedmet and Nebka predating the Nebkan conquest of the humans in Outremer.
The oral traditoin of the Halflings from the foothills of Transoxania, surprisingly, provides some of the greatest insight into the seldom-seen homelands of the dwarves. Universal among halfling tribes are stories of taking refuge among the dwarven holds during times of great trouble, such as monstrous incursions into their territories, famine, dangerous weather events, and so on. Furthermore, it seems a strong trade relationship developed between the nomadic halflings and the sedentary dwarves, with halfling tribes acting as a sort of regular trade network bringing dwarves meat, furs and hides, and other trade goods in exchange for the luxuries and curiosities the dwarves produced within their mountain holds.
While most of the dwarven empire is secreted away within the safety of the mountains, evidence of their exquisite stone- and metalcraft exist along the borders and coasts of Akkad, as well. The Bronze Colossus of Rho-Lagash can be seen for miles from the coast, ever standing watch over one of Akkad’s most precious port cities. Another monument, the Pantheon of Karak-dur-Kurzigald, is one of the most ancient depictions of some of the principal deities of Phasis, and also still the largest in the world. The six massive statues are carved into the sides of the craggy mountains themselves, and magic and stoneworking expertise known only to the dwarves have kept them as pristine as the day they were sculpted.
Since the birth of the Ilostrian Empire, humans and dwarves clashed militarily only once. Driven from the fertile coasts of Western Akkad, the Dwarves, though reputed to be notorious grudge-holders, felt they had encountered a worthy adversary and for millenia engaged in extensive trade with Ilium. As part of the tribute agreed to after the war, Akkad has continuously kept an Akkadian Weaponmaster as a personal bodyguard of the Emperor – a tradition that continues into today.
Against the Golden Horde the dwarves were as steadfast an ally as Ilium could have asked for, their Phalanxes famed for their incredible morale and sturdiness on the battlefield, able to withstand wave after wave of monstrous assault that would’ve shattered the average Imperial legion. Thousands of Dwarves gave their lives in the defense of Outremer. During the battles for Transoxania, however, they were curiously absent, having withdrawn to the depths of their own homes with little explanation.
Today the relationship between Ilium and Akkad is still active, though much diminished. A Dwarven Weaponmaster, Shamash-Nasir, still serves as one of the Emperor’s greatest bodyguards. Trade still flows between the two nations, but their armies have not fought alongside one another in centuries and their political relations are stale, at best.