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The New Notion Club Archives

The Vale of Rûrîk

Rûrîk (Kh."Sheltered Waters") was among the greatest Dwarf-realms in the history of Middle-earth. More than a contained city-state or a fief on the lands of other peoples, it was a true kingdom, a sheltered and heavily-wooded series of mountain-vales tucked between the northeastern arms of the Orosúli (Q. "Mountains of the Wind"). An extraordinary realm it was, founded by the Blacklocks of old as an independent realm, away from their place of awakening in the Orocarni. It was founded by Druin the Great, who capitalized on the discovery of the caverns of Akhuzdah and built above it a high tower, and delved within for ores and settlement. The surrounding vales were apparently empty of all save birds and beasts, and so the Dwarves colonized all the region, founding one of the largest Khuzdul states in the Middle-World. Mountains encircled the realm on three sides, while the Romenëar formed its eastern boundary. All of its mountains were bored and delved with Dwarvish homes and mansions, and its hills bristling with fortresses.

Later still, Stonefoot-folk came from the west, and encouraged by ambassadors of their kin, they settled there in tremendous numbers. The valley was then divided between the Blacklocks north of the river Falindukum, and the Stonefoots south of it. For the majority of the First and Second Ages, the Sheltered Valley remained a bulwark of Khuzdul culture for millennia.


the Quest for the Mirror

In the earliest days of Rûrîk, when the skies were grey and the waters steel-black, there came an emissary. This counsel was a man whose stature and manner pleased all who encountered him, and even the wary lords of Ahule lent him strong ears. His name was Anasa Wem. Anasa Wem was of a people called the Arklu-shen. He brought word that his kind were beginning a long migration from their sacred home among the lakelands of the Far North. He requested aid and understanding from Malin and asked that the Dwarves allow his fold to settle among the vales of the Ubaya Orocarni. This request was put before the Council of the Mirror in the Temple of Aule and was honored by the whole of the North-king's kind. Anasa Wem laid down before the Council his sword, one which shone in hues of silver and blue, and stated that his people would never strike bargains with the foes of Dwarven ways, nor would they war upon the Dwarves or their friends. He then gave Drûin the blade and bid him farewell.

The Arklu-shen settled as they had promised and founded a vibrant (but crude) society high in the vales of their chosen land. They traded with the Dwarves and allowed treaties to be signed with Drûi's successors. As the years passed, both societies prospered. In all of those times neither group treated the other with malice, and many secrets passed among the lords.

When Muar came from the North, many peoples fled southward and sought refuge in the expanded lands of the Arklu-shen. These multitudes were willing to fight for their own safety and caused an eruption of petty struggles later to be called the Old Lake-wars. The Arklu-shen retreated to the highest vales that had been their own from earlier time; the others settled in the void. The latter groups were to pay dearly for their choice. Muar's armies, ever-expanding hordes of terror, swept down upon the newly situated peoples and attempted to slay many. Only women and children escaped the horror, and many fled elsewhere to safety.

The Kingdom of Ruuriik was considerably less fortunate in these years, and soon suffered the same onslaught as mat encountered by the peoples of Ralian and the Lower Ubaya. Muar, with the aid of his horde and the host of Fell Beasts led by Fuingurth the Strange, crushed the defenses at the Jumping Walk, and swept into the Walled Land. Ahule was assaulted, and the many mines of the realm were taken or put under siege in the opening months of fighting.

It was at this rime that Druhar Dawnwarrior and Drus (also called Zigiluk and Azalidum) sought council with the two kings, and stated that the Mirror of Aule should be taken from their land into safety, and that -all knowledge of its ways and existence should be hidden from the minds of the living. The North Hammer had been lost, and their land was nearly doomed.

Zigiluk was the keeper of the Temple of Aule, and was one of fourteen in all the world who had known the true nature of ihe Mithril-Mirror, the "first gift of Aule". It had been said that it could enable the Dwarves to watch over their kind in other lands, and would allow them to enter any realm of stone that they so desired. In addition to this, it held the secrets of the Elder Dwarves of the First Days and was the tool that taught the skills to the first generations of Aula's children. The Hammer was high and holy and had to be protected.

Zigiluk was given guardianship of the Legacy. He left with six other lords and went north through the mountains. Slopping at Shen-Ubatya, he stayed with the descendants of the "trusted one" Anasa Wem. When he left, he was accompanied by ten of the Arklu-shen (latercalled Ubain). Together they took the most prized possessions of their kind on a journey northward to a place that could be called "home of an enduring time." What occurred later is unknown. One clue was left. The Men were led by Anasa Fef, grandson of Anasa Wem, and it was his quest to find the holy focus of his kind and to refound the Kingdom.

The tribes of Malln and Drûin the Proud had little trouble in prospering, despite the occasional forays from the Fale tribes to the west and the servants of the Kanks of Ruartar. The two Dwarven lines coexisted, trading and flourishing behind the mountain barriers that shielded them from the affairs of Men, It was during this time that Malin established a great temple at the mouth of Druin's Cleft. Reputedly built with the blessing of Mahal himself, this monument could be seen from the Great Vale and served as a watch and guidepost for the Dwarves of Ruuriik. Malln named the structure Khalarazum and designed the interior to resemble the legendary Birth-hall of the Seven Fathers. Centuries later, when the "Banished" fled westward and Muar threatened the kingdom, the Keys to Ahule were stored within Khalarazum, for the temple's stones were fused to each other and to the underlying basalt, and the structure seemed imperishable.

The coming of Múar

Four hundred and forty-three years after the founding of Ruuriik, Muar — Morgoth´s former Warlord in Uab and Uax — appeared in Ralian. Rumors immediately reached the court of Bam, the High-king of Ruuriik, that a Giant had seized control of the forested lakelands northwest of the Orosuli. He had no idea that the Umli of Urd had accidentally stirred a Rauko from his slumber. Muar was in fact a Demon.

By the end of S.A. 1143 Muar had subjugated the Fale tribes of Ralian, and in the the following year the Demon-king made war on the Horl and the Dwarves of Ruuriik, Khorthûl IV of Womawas Drûs paid the Demon-king a price to insure the peace of the Wômaw. Muar's horde conquered Horl and Fenfenen, but they were unable to force their way through the mountains into Ruuriik. The war became a siege, with the Dwarves taking comfort in their safe isolation.

the conquest of Rûrîk

In S.A. 1157, however, Muar succeeded in fooling the Dwarves by using a strange and treacherous illusion. He seized the caverns of Akhuzdah and forced his way into Ahule, slaying King Fulla at the Battle of the Knee. King Malin died fighting before the gates of his home at Radimbragaz. All of Ruuriik was put to the torch; only the refuge of Malin's Folk at Khazad-madur escaped destruction.

Scattered and leaderless, Drûin's Line was virtually wiped out. Remnants of the tribe wandered westward, led by Fulla's old uncle, Roin. Malin's People fared better, although King Drarin the Fool perished in a vain assault on Muar's Troll-guard near the Bral Faliodukum. Drunin Orc-slayer restored order in Khazad-madur and invited the survivors from Radimbragaz to safely settle in the crowded halls of the holy mine. Drunin's last actions on the ridge guarding the entry to Khazad-madur enabled the Dwarven refugees to escape Muar's northern army. The tale of Drunin's valiant stand was recorded by an Avar chronicler who witnessed the debacle.

"Drunin was not to he seen. As the smoke cleared, Grun II stood in a stupefied trance; his eldest son had been cremated in the awful creature's bodily flames. Only the panic-stricken cries of abused Dwarves could shake him into a sober state. But it was too late. The battered line gave way to the onslaught; they had defied countless attacks that night, but were beaten in spirit. Attrition and horror devastated the harried Naugrim. The army that had numbered in the thousands that morning was now composed of a hundred broken warriors.

Gurn sounded a retreat on his horn, and the remaining Dwarves fled into the mine. There was little thought for the wounded, for there was so little time. Fleeing for their lives they still lost thirty. Yet they held the door of the mine for ten hours, and at daybreak the Orcs receded into the adjacent hills, confident that their success had spelled the end of the Dwarves in Ruuriik.

Ten days later, when Gurn and his battered followers again felt confident and ventured out from the mine, it was the saddest moment of their lives. The once-proud land of Ruuriik fay in utter desolation, a virtual desert where no signs of life could be perceived. Indeed the awful creature had made real his curse. The Dwarves wept. But work was to be done and the land replenished. Gurn then renamed the small shelf of land on which they had lived and mined; he called it Khazad-madur, the 'Dwarf-womb.' They had killed his family, his people, his king, and the evil forces would be repaid. Gurn knew he would never see the vengeance fulfilled, hut the descendants of these few would. The name would serve to remind them of days gone by."

The tragic tale of Ruuriik's fall ended centuries later, for Gurn's line kept the Stonefoots safely protected within the bowels of the Ered Gwaen. By maintaining their self-imposed imprisonment, the entombed tribe survived the ravages of the Demon-king. As the years passed Muar's siege ended and the Dwarves began to carefully venture out. Eventually, the Naugrim sought aid.

In S.A. 2741, Fulla, the heir of Drûin's Line, led an embassy of Dwarves and Men on a journey to Khazad-madur in hopes of ascertaining how Muar could be defeated. Fulla sought to free the Tribe of Malin. Unwittingly, however, his arrival accidentally provided a means for Muar himself to enter the Dwarf-hold. Muar slew the Lord Dain (Stonefoot) and his son Bain (Stonefoot), but the Dwarven Animist Balli Stonehand killed the Balrog before the day was lost. The awful reign of the Demon-king in Ruuriik ended. A year later, Fulla and his friend Balli led an expedition which recaptured Akhuzdah (Ahule) and drove the last servants of the Demon-king out of Ruuriik. The victorious Dwarf-lord was crowned Fulla VII, King of Ruuriik, on Yule of S.A. 2742.

The Age of the Hammer

The Age of the Hammer was Ruuriik's most glorious day. It began with the rise of Naug Zigildum I in T.A. 100 and lasted nearly 1,000 years. During this era the Dwarves of the realm were able to expand their control of the mountains surrounding the fertile valley of old, and the great mines of their forefathers were reopened. The city of Ahule, retaken in S.A. 3201 from Morclax of Angclax, flourished, and enjoyed a population gifted in the arts of stone and metalcraft. The lowland "open city" and port Fullagrod was rebuilt under the design of Nuis and became a never-to-be-forgotten model of Khazad culture. Dwarven armies under Airr and Balli (the second and third sons of Naug and Nuis) crushed the forces of Dwar of Waw in the Seven Campaigns of the Mortal Mirror and freed the region of Ralian from the Jendiar and Horlinvaders. Throughout Naug´s reign, a fine library of lore and craft was founded and secreted deep in the halls of Mahal's City. It was a time to grow and be merry; it was a time to hoard riches.

Nuis, Naug's exalted wife, was responsible for much of the legacy attributed to her husband. Her grace was legendary and was passed to her seven offspring. She became a symbol of cultural strength and ordered the rebuilding of seven cities, each dedicated to the temples of stone. Nuis' concern with ritual and rites caused a blossoming of piety among both the Sixth and Seventh Tribes (Drûin's and Malln's Folk) and lent strength to the warriors of Naug throughout the wars that sparked the realm. Nuis also uncovered and translated the seven texts of Balli Stonehand and resumed the search for the semi-mythical "Firststone," a monolith that was said to have provided Aule with the blood of the Khazad. Under her guidance, seven great warrior-rangers were given the stone hammers "spawned by the mirror" and were told to go forth seeking the "Pits of Utumno."

Naug began the training of an army that was skilled in a wide variety of weapons, tongues, and maneuvers, and cleared the vales of the Orocami of Morclax's vermin. His interest in education provided the realm with an open-minded record of diplomacy and trade and made Ruuriik the strongest Dwarven hold outside of Khazad-dum.

The Quest for the Hammer

Naug was born of the union between Ori Blacklock and the Dwarf Lord Ghâlin (known as Ghâlin Druinakh) — the old bastard who was called "Druhr" by his wife's people. Since the marriage crossed the lines of the two houses of Ruuriik, young Naug had a special place in the hearts (if Dwarves really have any) and minds of his kind.

Ghâlin was the seventh in the Second Line of the Lords of Ahule, and acted as council to the King of the Two Houses of Ruuriik — Fulla XIV. His was the position that others envied, but few actually aspired to; only the Lord of Fullagrod stood above him on the Council of the House of Drûin the Proud. He was strong and very old. Even in the days of the New-king (Fulla XIII), he was grey and weathered, leading many to call him Ghâlin the Wizened. He may well have passed Death's Call, and the ending of his third century, by the time he sired the youngest of his sons in S.A. 3400. He named this last son Naug. The young Dwarf would later be known as Naug of the Mirror-hall.

King Fulla XIV took the throne of Ruurrik in T.A. 1, and replaced the murdered son of Fulla New-king—the unfortunate Balin Blacklock. He took a throne of power and might, but lacked the trappings of authority necessary to sit among the other houses at Thisule. His dominion was oft-times questioned, and he had difficulty in retiring the Lords of his cities when the proper time came. Bralin of Ruurumakh challenged his position, for he was not of direct line to Fulla VII and could not prove that the North Hammer would truly sing in his hands. (In fact, since the North Hammer was lost, no Lord could fully lay claim to the throne.)

When Fulla XIV selected Ghâlin as Lord of Tumunamahal, there was discontent. The lordship of Ahule meant a place in the royal crypts of the Old Deeps and a seat in the exalted Khalarazum and enabled a Lord to secure the key to the "Lower Roads," those underground trails that connected the entirety of Ruuriik. Ghâlin was old and wise, to be sure, but lacked the experience of outright power and vast authority. He was but a novice in the world of politics. Nonetheless, he was chosen, and moved to Ahule in the year T.A, 7. Thus began the friendship between the two old lords of Drûin's house.

While in Ahule, Ghâlin was secure and had no trouble reinforcing the strength of its hegemony over the nearby mountain vales. He strove to tighten the security of his greatcity and placed a special watch over the Rear Gate. By the year T.A. 10, he felt safe enough to begin the service of the King and to attempt to secure the seven tools needed by his House. Each was to involve careful consideration and was to be a guarded secret until such a time as it could be completely safe and in the hands of the Dwarves. Each defined authority, and all meant power.

Ghâlin had seven sons. The first six: Zigum, Balin,Furin, Ghûrin son of Ghâlin, Orin, and Druhar, were all of his marriage to Bori. Since she was killed, however, he wed again, and gave the world Naug. Naug's mother was Ori, a Dwarf of the House of Sarin, and was said to be the wisest of her kind, the great-granddaughter of Dris, daughter of Balli Wildtongue. She was of a rare breed whose spirits often looked to Aule. Naug proved to be no exception and quickly embarked on certain studies into the arts of detection and stonelore. His friends said that he shied away from combat because of his small size (only 4 feet in height), but others knew better. (A cruel writer would now say he was really a coward.) In reality, Naug secluded himself in order to learn how to rise above the constrictions of his Dwarven mind. He mastered the various dialects of Khuzdul and became adept at perceiving things in the manner of the Ann.

Each of Ghâlin's sons was given a quest by their father and none of the youths knew of his brothers* goals. They were only told of the great importance of their missions, and the fact that the King himself had wished that they find success in time. All were sent out and told that they should not return empty-handed. "Fate rests upon the seven sides of the stone," said Ghâlin, "and you should all be proud to serve the cause of your race" Unwavering, each followed his bidding.

Naug's seeking was to be great. Since he was the youngest, his quest came last and may well have been the most dangerous in its potential difficulty and possible consequences. He was to find the North Hammer. The Hammer's return would bring power to the realm and would enable the King to gather secrets that had long been gone from Ruuriik. It would give Fulla XIV the authority necessary to complete the wishes of his dying grandfather. Nothing would please the old Dwarf more than the stability of a King who he felt would make Ruuriik strong once again. So he sent his seventh son out into the world to seek the greatest weapon of his people.




Places of note

People of renown


Original form on the name in MERP: Ruuriik

Baraztûm described by in THE ANNALS OF THE DWARVES should be recognized as one of the Rûrîk's dwarven mansions


  • Lords of Middle-Earth III
  • the Wild Lands south and East, Gazetteer by Pete Fenlon