Buriza-do is monastery begun by the noted human fighter Enu Ayi and the dwarven wrestling champion Boam. Built into and of Mountain of Titans, the large building has a square base carved from the basalt itself. The main story is oval shaped and is wood on stone, and there is a small wooden rectangle on the oval section that functions as housing for the teachers and a very small pagoda top that is the quarters of the master. The entire oddly stacked structure is whitewashed, and windows glint in the murky light from every few feet on each story.
Founded in 992, Enu and Boam had made a living fighting numerous battles both regionally and across the seas as mercenaries. Their style was complimentary and emphasized multiple opponents; techniques stressing special relations, acrobatics, and non-visual sensory capacity are taught as basic knowledge. After age started tapping Enu on the shoulders, he wished to pass on his knowledge to any with the mind and body to learn it. He opened the school with the intent of teaching the most agile, intelligent, and determined of his people the ability to be an army of one. Boam, already past middle age when he began fighting with Enu, chose to stay and help, adding his unique moves to the mix. Only the most promising students were taken, and only the very best of those allowed to progress.
The school has continued for hundred of years much as it started. Each student studies for two years to determine if they can pass from infant to child. Accepting this rather demeaning title is part of the process; a student is stripped down before they are rebuilt, and training is from dawn until dark every day with breaks only for food. From among the children students are chosen, and another five years of training is required before the student is sent out to test their skills. Most all of the students hire out as mercenaries although some fight for a cause. Those that return with references attesting to their success in battle are then graduated, and the most experienced of these given the option to stay and teach at Buriza-do.
During the time of Bloodstone's occupation many students were graduated, and just as many did not return. The monastery viewed the occupation as a test, eschewing active involvement although they did allow refugees who struggled up the long path to camp outside the building.
As for those students who fail to graduate, most leave and take their chances with what they've learned; some stay on helping with other chores. The monastery is completely self-sufficient and has sheep, chickens, and food gardens that spill down the tortuously twisting path leading to the valley below. The master of Burzai-do since 1485 is Disaui, a dwarf from the Frostflare clan inside the mountain. He has spearheaded recruiting those of his people with the skills to fight unarmed, but to a dwarf the ten or so that have graduated have disappeared back into the mountain and not returned.
And it is inside the gated, barred, reinforced and locked cave entrance midway up the northwest side of the range the Frostflare clan of dwarves live, war, and plunder. Information that follows is summarized from the Clan Books held by the Church of Vorax:
"Originally a family mining group founded by Gvink Frostflare, bonded with their cousins the Coldfire clan, and recognized by Scholar Cleric Harthik Shaftsson in 1232, the Tilmaran dwarves struck pick to basalt in 1234 determined to take what the Spine Mountains had to offer. As their first excavations brought iron to the surface they eagerly began to dig. After just a hundred years, however, the ore was gone and the clan was left with a pittance of quickly depleting tin veins and the occasional deposit of malachite. Correspondence continued with the closest church of Vorax until 1285, when the clan went incommunicado. Repeated messages and two personal visits found locked gates with no guards.
The silence was broken in 1437 when a message was received that the clan was in need of medical supplies. A representative of the Church was sent, only to find a clan both remarkably well-armed and badly depleted. Of the original three-hundred and sixty-three members, only seventy-seven remained. Those seventy-seven, however, were dressed in mithril and cobalt, often with pieces that were clearly not of their making, and wielded adamantium and mithril weapons. The medicines were delivered and the clan hastened their benefactors out and locked the gates again before questions could be asked.
It was not until ten years later that the next call for help came and by this time the clan's numbers were down to fifty-two. However they had undergone a change in leadership that they declined to discuss, and the new patriarch was Zarbarach Coldfire. Lean, cold-eyed but practical, he very bluntly requested warriors and women. Only seventeen female dwarves remained and thirteen of them were warriors of the clan; just six children existed and none had been born in eighteen years.
The story came out, word by word pried from the grudging patriarch, of how the slowly starving clan dug deeper despite the heat and lava to find anything of value. And one disastrous day instead of finding ore, death in the form of slender black-skinned elves found them. After the initial loss of their miners and ninety more of the clan, a war began that has been going on since 1286. Initially driven by Gvink and shifted into high gear by his son Irshim, what was at first determination became an overwhelming, consuming fury that drove the clan to near extinction. For honor's sake no one was to know until the city of dark elves below the mountain was eradicated and this drove the clan to extremes until it was clear they would be defeated by their own tunnel vision.
The first break came when a necrotic sickness contracted from the stony trolls that wander the catacombs of the dark elves killed a dozen of the clan and forced them to seek outside help. The second break they don't speak of, only saying that Irshim was removed and Zarbarach took control. Since that unspoken incident the clan has opened its gates to other dwarves, building back its numbers and sharing a small portion of its blood-earned wealth. While the war with the dark elves has not been abandoned, a new enemy has surfaced; huge, blood-colored crystalline creatures that attack the dark elves and dwarves alike. The dark elves, themselves waning in numbers, have locked off their city and are content to let their enemy deal with the new threat. Strangely, however, a Voraxian cleric through careful study and prayer over a shattered crystal beast has suggested that it shares much in common with the dwarven race, perhaps even being related to it in some way."