The Sunshields

Shortly after the dwarven city of Kelderar finally opened to other (select) races several hundred years ago, the city’s ruling rik (dwarven high king) decided that the inclusion of non-dwarven inhabitants would require a new system of justice for the city to survive. Under the old dwarven clan laws, non-dwarves had no rights, but that wouldn’t stand if the dwarves actually wanted people to move to their city. But leaders of most of the clans refused to give up their old laws, even if they were willing to grant more or less equal rights to humans, elves, and so forth.

The compromise was to take much of the dwarven law and apply it to non-dwarves, albeit without all the parts about clan history weighing in on rulings. Furthermore, the tendency of clan feuds and self-policing weren’t really applicable: it turned out that the other races didn’t want to be dwarves they just wanted to live in Kelderar and make a living there, so they weren’t really interested in or subject to dwarven pride or shame.

So with the new, dwarf-adjacent legal system came a new guard force, called the Sunshields because they patrolled the “surface dwelling” residents, and weren’t particularly welcome among the great dwarven halls. Most members were of other races, although the highest ranking positions were always reserved for dwarves of various clans. These officers were generally pretty “hands-off,” leaving their subordinates to handle everything, and generally only interfering when it served them politically.

so the Sunshields developed their own personality, one geared toward maintaining order and generally keeping things out of the notice of their dwarven taskmasters. In many ways, they became the police of everyone except the dwarves, which was very much as the rik had intended it. Crimes committed by non-dwarves fell under their jurisdiction, as did those committed by dwarves on the “surface,” which meant outside of the traditional holds of the great clans (which could be above ground as well).

This worked more or less well for a little less than two hundred years, though as time went on, the Sunshields came to see themselves more and more at odds with the dwarves of the great clans, who never did develop much respect for them. It didn’t help that the Sunshields didn’t defend the city, either, as that was left to the traditional Stone Guard of the city, a force made up exclusively of dwarves and better suited to fighting in tunnels.

So when the blue dragon Voarex’veiar led her monstrous troops against the city, the Sunshields largely stood aside. They helped their own, sure, but they didn’t come to the Stone Guard’s aid when that force fell to the Azure Lady. Legend has it she had agents among the Sunshields who made that conquest easier, and that’s probably true. Following her victory, officers of the Sunshields swore an oath to the Azure Lady in exchange for continuing to do their job, albeit with jurisdiction over even the remnants of the great clans.

Artwork: “Headpiece with Helmets” by unknown artist, from Recueil des divers caractères, vignettes et ornemens de la fonderie et imprimerie de J.G. Gillé, by Joseph-Gaspard Gillé, 1808.


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