Hex Crystal Battalion
The proud dwarves stoutly stand guard at their fortress Skarhir Kos on the Northeastern Canton of the Kirinal Pit. The outcast dwarves who were sent to the "hole in the dirt" by their highland cousins have thrived here in the Kirinal Concordance Zone. They control the supply of hex crystal that makes our civilization possible. These "earth dwarves" take full advantage of trade with other worlds and dimensions. They have mastered combining the lessons they learn from the Pit with their sturdy dwarven craftsmanship. They field soldiers in mechanized armor bearing weapons that combine the magitech of dozens of worlds.
I got no problem with the hex crystal moguls in the Tortoise Slice. They're nothin' like their stuck-up cousins in the hills and mountains. Down here, on the dirt, they're not afraid to work hard and learn from everyone around them. Some of me best mates have been earth dwarves. They make the best boom sticks you can buy and they're the only folk I've met who can match us orcs drink for drink!
The dwarves and halflings hold the Northeastern Canton of the Kirinal Concordance Zone. Their fortress of Skarhir Kos has never been breached. They have successfully combined dwarven craftsmanship with halfling ingenuity to create a devastatingly powerful Battalion of warriors. The "earth dwarves" of the Tortoise adapt the weaponry and technology of hundreds of worlds together with their own traditions. They fully embrace the concept of Maharlitech and have made it their own.
As the caretakers of the Hexworms, the Tortoise Conclave has direct access to Hex Crystals. They incorporate the new magitech into their designs and have come to value hex crystal more than they do iron and gold. They outfit their warriors in modern armor and with new powerful weapons. Their moving city, The Tortoise is the marvel of the age. They have recently rediscovered the ancient dwarven technology of "flying citadel helms". They have added flying stone citadels to their already impressive list of technological achievements.
The Hex Crystal Battalion consists of 6,000 heavily armed and armored warriors. They consist of mostly dwarves, halflings, and gnomes along with some allied humans, soulforged, genasi, and tortles. They are divided into six squadrons named for things that the "Tortoise-folk" hold dear. Some are named the Second Breakfast Squadron, the Hexworm Squadron, Kamera Squadron, and Mjollnir Squadron. Three are assigned to the Pit Wall and the main fortress of Skarhir Kos. The other three squadrons serve on the new flying citadels that protect the Wall.
A Dwarf Leaves the Mountains
I was born into Clan Dunghand outside of Kul way up in the Ironspike Mountains. My people were so poor, the mushroom farmers looked down on us. Despite my low birth, I knew my worth. I am smart, strong, and hard-working. I had aspirations for a better life than the one I was born into. As a stripling, I went down into the city and asked every smith and stonemason to take me on as an apprentice. They all agreed that my work was good but the grags wouldn't allow them to take on someone from my caste.
I knew I had to leave the Mountains, but the grags would never allow it. Someone had to muck out the goat sheds. My chance came when I was 50 years old and considered a dwarf full-grown. The Night of the Shattered Moon changed our world and we were at war with the Far Realm. The kingdoms "down on the dirt" asked for warriors to defend the world. The grags sent the shit shovelers instead of their real warriors.
Armies of Iron, Stone, and Crystal
The wealth and ingenuity of the Tortoise Conclave allows them to field an advanced fighting force equal to those of the Eldritch Army and the Tridenser Host. Despite their mastery of new magitech, the Battalion are still mostly dwarves. They value heavy armor and crushing weaponry. They cover their warriors in heavy practical armor and equip them with weapons that deliver crushing blows. They still favor hammers and axes, but supplement them with heavy cannons and blunderbuss-style shotguns.
The halfling and gnomish members of the Battalion favor roles that favor their more dextrous abilities. They deploy as scouts, messengers, and assassins. They prefer gear that allows them to move quickly and silently. They serve well as the Battalion's hit-and-run forces.
Becoming an Earth Dwarf
As we were being loaded into the caravans that would take us down to the Pit, crowds of other dwarves came to see us off. My clan was proud of me, they could finally count a warrior among their number. Other dwarves were less kind. As the donkeys pulled our carts out of Kul, I could hear them yelling, "Good riddance!" and "I hope you die in the dirt!" I decided right then that I would never go back.
My first years on the Pit were desperate. The Tridensers were glad to have the help and we dwarves were given a position of honor on the Northeast Fortress. I arrived between the two Catastrophes. There was no Orrery and the Manifest could change at any time without warning. We'd go months with no change and think maybe the threat was over. Then suddenly we'd get a dozen hell dimensions straight in a few days.
I saw many good dwarves die over the years. I barely avoided getting killed more times than I can remember. I put my blood. sweat, and tears into the fight, and finally, one day, we won. I was there when the Concordance formed and I was one of the first Maharlikans. I finally belonged somewhere I could be proud of.
Hex Powered Sky Fortresses
The dwarves and other people of the Torotoise have been perfecting hex crystal maharlitech for decades. Their most recent innovation enables them to use hex crystals to power the ancient flying citadel helms that sat unused in their armories for millennia. They have recovered and recommissioned two helms. One from deep beneath the dwarven capital Razun and another scavenged from the wreckage of a crashed citadel that appeared in the Manifest decades ago. Through their study of the convergent magic in those two differing artifacts, they have been able to build one new helm themselves.
I was on the salvager team that recovered the Drako Helm from that dragon world. One lesson from that pile of wreckage, redundancy. They had one artifact keeping up a citadel with an army on it! That's just bad engineering!
Dwarf Among the Clouds
I have been here, on the "dirt", for almost two centuries. I honored my vow, I have never returned to the mountains. The dwarves that come from the highlands still try to treat us like their "poor cousins." They can't stand the fact that we're richer and more powerful than they could ever be. The Thanes and the Grags send their orders from their dusty caverns. We ignore them and send back gold and technology.
My clan now lives here with me. They live on the Tortoise creating miracles from crystal and steel. Around the Zone Clan Crystalhand owns Hexworm Corrals and herds Incarnation Moths. We reap the benefits of Concordance that the stone-bound just don't understand.
Here on the dirt, in the heat, I am a respected dwarf. I command a company of warriors on a fortress that floats in the clouds. We fly higher than the mountains of my birth. I am a true "dirt dwarf" for I have touched the soil of a thousand worlds.