The House of ShadowLore
The Hearthammer clan ruled the dwarven people for many generations. Like most royal families they had their good leaders and their bad. Legends say they came to power during a particularly dark time in dwarven history; the previous empire had crumbled after drow armies had cut large sections out of the kingdom. Many dwarves were taken as slaves, many more were killed. Gerbin Hearthammer organized a popular revolt. He orchestrated a simultaneous uprising amongst the occupied population as well as an assault by those dwarves who remained free. While a couple of their grandest cities were left smoking ruins, the dwarves won their freedom, and vowed, that day, never to lose it again. The Hearthammer empire was organized, initially, around the concept of national defense. Gerbin was, at first, named Protector Under the Mountain, and given charge of securing the borders, using whatever means he felt necessary. Some years later, when the various clans came to squabbling about who should lead and how important the army upkeep really was, Gerbin once again answered the challenge. He had agents in every clan and again he organized a simultaneous take over. Every clan leader was arrested and given the choice of swearing fealty to the Hearthammers or the execution axe. Gerbin had many children, most legitimate, but some not. He kept them all close to him, teaching them each what they would need to know, but promising his empire only to his eldest son.
And so life went on for a long time. Somewhere along the way Genevieve Hearthammer, the emperor’s sister, took a commoner to her bed and some months later named the issue of her dalliance Connor Davet. Raised like a son to the Hearthammer emporer, Connor never passed on a chance to demonstrate his loyalty. He and his strong sons alike served in the army with distinction. Generations of loyal service were eventually rewarded and formalized when the Davets were named chief of the HomeGuard.
Like most empires, the Hearthammer expanded beyond its ability to control and spread themselves thin. Increasingly less competent leaders coupled with internal unrest led to tumultuous times. Civil war seemed inevitable and, indeed, in some places skirmishes had already been fought. In order to avert this disaster the Davets did the unthinkable; they arrested and executed the remaining Hearthammers, including Empower Harbin II. By a twist of fate, the chieftain at the time was named Gerbin Davet, and the task drove him mad. After the last Hearthammer was executed he took his own life.
The Davets refused to take mastery, maintaining that they would only ever protect their people, never would they rule. The debate that followed was fierce and hard-fought, and lasted three years, but violence never broke out because the Davets had promised to exterminate any clan who violated the peace. Eventually it was decided that the three largest clans would take parts of the empire each independent of the others. The northern most area became the land of the Jenan clan, the southeast portion became the Firebloom empire and the central area, the area which included the capital city Munari is ruled by the Rockbearer clan. The Davets swore fealty to all three, but vowed that they would keep their sacred duty of defending the dwarven people.
The years passed and the Davets developed more and more rigorous training methods, turning out warriors far more capable than those of most other clans, with exceptions, of course. The Davets never forget their elevation and prosperity under the Hearthammers, and they never forget how they repaid that friendship. Every Davet child is named for a past Hearthammer emperor or other member of the immediate royal family, and every child is charged to personally do enough good for the dwarven people to atone for that sin.
Eventually other clans were allowed to send their children to the Davets for training, but few outsiders had the heart to endure the regimen. Only the best are named to the title Warden and given personal responsibility for the physical safety of every dwarf everywhere. There are never enough Wardens. Their numbers rise and fall, but the duty never lets up, never relents, because the enemies of the dwarves do not give truces and do not accept parlay. The enemies of the dwarves go on, and so must the Wardens.
Clans came and went over the years, some splitting apart when they became too large, some shrinking to almost nothing and being absorbed into one another. Most of the clans which were the largest in the Hearthammer days still exist, though not all are as powerful as they once were. Intrigue has begun to rise once again. It is very subtle and rare, but enough mysterious deaths and unexplained changes of allegiance have occurred to start those who watch wondering. The Davets would have to be destroyed before any real strife could begin, so the Davets wait for the knife in the darkness, from within as well as from without.