The race of Dwarves came forth in a time lost to memory. The Elves, eldest, fairest, and wisest of all, did not hear of it. The Half-Elves did not concern themselves with it. The race of Men did not then exist. This is the tale of their making as they tell it.
High above the plains of the world rise the Mountains of Making, so called because they are the place where the Craftsmen were made. Deep beneath them, where none save ourselves go willingly, there may be found a statue. On a pedestal stands the stone figure of a Dwarven female. It was clothed long ago with fitting dress and improved by inset gems. Down from this pedestal in ages past stepped the wives of our fathers.
Before the coming of the wives, the brothers, who called themselves Builders or Craftsmen, laboured together on the earth and beneath it. Their minds turned naturally to the nature of stones and ores. They saw quickly to what uses such things could be put and then endeavoured to bring them to fullness.
They ranged out of the caves beneath the mountains and wandered in the hills, though never far from their houses of stone. There was no beauty in the trees for them, for they were neither hard enough nor malleable enough. The trees, to the brothers, were only useful as fodder for their furnaces and handles for their tools. Thus the trees and lovers of trees have been divided from the lovers and workers of stone.
In the first years, they joined their thought and labours together so that they could make the tools they would need when they began to delve deeper beneath the mountains. When at last they had devised axe, pick, and shovel, lamp, forge, and furnace and had begun the task of cutting trees to feed the fires, they began to dig in earnest. They dug deeply, following veins of ore. They took it out of the earth, smelted it and crafted it into useful things.
They delighted on the one hand in the sturdy and useful and on the other in soft metals cunningly worked. As their stocks and knowledge of ores grew, they devised particular crafts in gold, in silver, in iron, and in the making of new metals. They sought ever lighter and stronger metals for the making of their tools.
After those days, as the things they made and found came to increasing good use, they found a strange thing in the secret places of the earth, which afterward they called the Womb of Craft because our race began in earnest there. The brothers, working together to cut a shaft around a lode of silver, found a cavern which they had not fashioned. They explored it without delay and found at its center a stone form like themselves, but not quite like themselves. It had a softer face and a rounder form. It stood steadily on two feet and looked neither down, up, left, nor right, but straight ahead. Its two hands were outstretched, but the brothers never agreed on whether the hands meant to give or receive. They knew at once that it was not a living thing and wondered why at all it was here. It seemed to serve no purpose that they could see.
One of the brothers spoke. "This thing, whatever indeed it is, is not fitting. It should be changed."
Another answered, "To what purpose? It is here but serves no purpose. Let us break it down and use the stone, and this place, to better ends."
"No, that would be wasteful. Whose it is, we do not know. Why it is here we also do not know, but it would waste time and energy to destroy it," answered a third to the second.
"Look at it," another exclaimed. "It stands there as no sane person would stand in so deep a place. It has eyes which do not see and hands which do not hold a tool. If it were flesh and there were a cave-in, it would certainly have not protection for its skin. Let us clothe it and make it an example to those who come this deep. There should be bands on its wrists also. We are tough as stone, but even stone will break if a hammer strikes it just so."
On this plan, both sensible and productive, the brothers agreed. Each devised his own plan on how to make the stone person a proper image of a worker. Some thought the hands should hold a torch, some a pick, and some an axe. The fattest of the brothers, ever hungry, thought it should hold bread. All agreed it needed clothing, but beyond that they disagreed.
After each had said his piece and returned to the works to begin the creation of his own designs, they met again to decide how eight ideas could improve one stone shape. The wisest of them said that each should contribute the idea most dear to him. Thus each, with his different ideas, would do his part and not be prevented by the others from acting. On this they agreed and each set to work anew.
One whom all called Gildhammer crafted a belt of alloyed gold for the waist of the thing so that it would be marked at a distance. Two brothers, after that time called Stonetorch and Whetstone because they worked best in the making of lights and tools, crafted a lamp for one hand and an axe for the other. Another, skilled with making rings both stout and delicate and thus called Ringforge made bands of steel to guard the wrists and ankles of the thing. Two brothers set to work crafting a shirt of metal and a helmet of steel fitting for struggle with wolves and deep earth. Those brothers were both called Helmforge. The fattest of the eight, though he wished still for a platter of bread for its hands, made instead a sturdy necklace cunningly worked. He was called Hillgirth or Throatgird after the waking of the wives, depending on the mood of his espoused.
The wisest, called Gemthain, took counsel with himself. He thought it not fitting that the thing should have eyes of dull stone. Surely stone could not see. It would be a poor example to all if he left it thus. If he could have crafted eyes of flesh, he would have done it. He chose instead to make for its sockets diamonds in the likeness of eyes - clear, hard, keen, and dear. He travelled to the Mountain of Glittering Caves, where such stones could be found. After his labours, the mountain was called Gemthain Mountain, for he ruled it. He entered caves known to hold such treasure and sought out the gems he required. While the rest smelted, forged, and fashioned their contributions, he delved into the earth seeking gems both clear and large. The others completed their works and clothed the thing as they had agreed to do, leaving the part of the wisest undone. They were sure that he would return.
Gemthain found the stones which he had sought and returned to his own works to cut and shape them. He cut each stone until it had dozens of facets and sparkled like a star. When he was pleased with his labours, he called his brothers together and they returned to the figure of stone. He chiselled away the sockets to hold the gems and then set each diamond in its socket. "It is complete."
Then the Lord of Mountain and Stone spoke to them. "Nay, my sons, it is not complete, though you have done well in adding to it by your craft. Now I will add the last things to it, that it may live and bring forth life."
At this they wondered, until a living Dwarf stepped out of the statue to face them. She was shaped as her statue had been and was clothed as one of the brothers had imagined her. Her sisters followed her until for each brother there was one sister, clothed and adorned as he had imagined.
The sisters became wives and fashioned life while the husbands fashioned stone. Therefore, the wives were highly regarded, for they were the forge and anvil of life itself. The eight brothers and the eight wives began the first generation of the first clans - Gildhammer, Stonetorch, Whetstone, Ringforge, Helmforge, Throatgird, and Gemthain. Each excelled at those things in which the father had excelled, but all gained a part of the craft of the others. The people multiplied, grew in craft, and delved ever deeper and farther beneath the mountains.
The things that they had made remained long on the form of stone, which remained in its place even after the wives had come forth. Long after, in the abandoning of the Mountains of Making for other mines more rich with ores and gems, the artifices of the eight brothers were removed from the form of stone. Each article became the heirloom of the line which had brought it into being. Though afterwards some were improved or surpassed by newer craft, each item was held in reverence and remembrance. The Cap and Coat of Helmforge and the twin stones of the Gemthain especially held the reverence of the people, but the Cap was taken at need into battle and lost. The other treasures - Gildhammer's Belt, the Lamp of Stonetorch, the Whetstone Axe, Ringforge's Bands, and Throatgird's Collar - are still kept by the clans. They can still be used at need, so great was their craftsmanship.