The Tyranny of Dragons: Dawn of Heroes
Mirabar is a human city that rests atop dwarven caverns. On the surface, humans dominate the population, with some dwarves mixed in, and a handful of gnomes and halflings. The uppermost level of the undercity is mostly dwarves, with some few humans. The mixing of races is due to convenience of trade, preference, or skill; just as some few humans like to mine, to imbibe strong dwarven drink, and to work underground, so do a minority of dwarves take to the open sky, doing dock work, or even manning and building ships. The lower levels beneath Mirabar are all dwarven, as even the most dwarf-like human can live so deep below ground for only so long. Almost all of its citizens, regardless of race, honor Moradin and the dwarven gods, making Mirabar a dwarven city in spirit and ethics, if not entirely by population, much in the way my own Silverymoon speaks to elven ideals of natural beauty.
Long ago, the great dwarven kingdom of Gharraghaur stood to the west of Delzoun, delving mines near the River Mirar and finding great, near-endless veins of gems. Like many of the dwarven realms, Gharraghaur fell to marauding ores, which destroyed the kingdom and its capital city but couldn't take advantage of the wealth therein. For millennia the lower city lay empty, until some eight hundred years ago, when Prince Ereskas of Amn settled the same spot, creating the city of Mirabar (coincidentally echoing the dwarven “-bar" naming convention used for citadels throughout the North). It was only when dwarves returned to work the mines below that Mirabar began to see its fortunes increase.
Mirabar is ruled by its hereditary marchion, Selin Raurym, who issues edicts fed to him by the Council of Sparkling Stones. The council is a group of dwarves and some few humans elected to make policy for the city, who determine where the output of Mirabar’s mines will be sold. Although the council has long kept Mirabar associated with the Lords' Alliance, it is the marchion who negotiates with his fellow lords. Thus far, Selin Raurym has proved far more capable than his predecessors at making beneficial decisions for the city, and the council has given him great leeway to speak for Mirabar outside the walls. His threat to pull out of the Alliance following its failure to aid the northern cities against the most recent ore hordes, though considered by some an empty gesture, has brought Mirabar more advantageous relationships with Waterdeep and Baldurs Gate, something which has not gone unappreciated by the council.
The city’s guard, the Axe of Mirabar, exists primarily to deter and prevent sabotage of the mines, without which Mirabar would collapse. The guard also provides swift and capable defense and law enforcement within the city. The wealth of Mirabar is so great that it maintains docks, ships, and fortified harbors on many of the islands in the Sea of Swords, and as such the city is always seeking magical and military support for these defenses. Where other cities might use such vast mountains of coin as Mirabar possesses on shows of prosperity, Mirabarrens use it for more functional goals, making sure that the city’s defenses are new, that its gates close securely when they are moved, that its buildings and walls are strong and secure. Given the recent destruction of Sundabar’s surface city at the hand of orc armies, such expenditures are well justified, since no one in Mirabar wishes to see the surface city wiped out. It would simply be bad for business. Mirabar spares no expense in defending its wealth, and hires as many mages and adventurers as necessary to clear threats away from roads, investigate sabotage, and otherwise protect its vital trade.
With the rise of Mithral Hall in the last century, and now Gauntlgrym, Mirabar fears its place as the armory of the North is at risk. The miners, smelters, and smiths of Mirabar work ever harder to increase their output and improve their craft, while the jewelers and enamelers study ways to incorporate ancient techniques of melding dwarven, human, and elven designs together in their work, in the manner of old Phalorm.
Mirabarren (or to some, just Mierren) dwarves like to cultivate long, wide (as opposed to tapered or pointed) beards and tight braids of hair growing elsewhere than on the chin, a fashion copied by some local humans. They love polished, everbright-treated sheets of metal, particularly copper, used as doors or mirrorlike wall-panel inlays. They often set gems into the pommels and nonworking ends of tools and weapons. Mierren dwarves tend to be wealthy, to have personal collections of unusual and rare gems, to use seals made of gems carved into signet rings, and to be investors in ventures (rather than property) up and down the Sword Coast. They are sophisticated and worldly, and they decry the isolationist and xenophobic attitudes of some dwarves. Mierren dwarves demonstrate their own broader attitudes by being the diplomatic traders and power brokers in trademoots and agreements in Fireshear and Neverwinter and everywhere else they can worm their way into, among dwarves and between dwarves and non-dwarves.
The dwarves were the first to discover the secret of treating their metal with everbright. The technique has been imitated by other races, to varying degrees of success. Armor, weapons, and other metal objects to which everbright is applied maintain their luster without needing to be polished, and are resistant to natural (and, in some cases, magical) pitting, rusting, and tarnishing.
To other dwarves, Mierren are translators and local guides and “the people who know the right people" in human-dominated cities everywhere along the Sword Coast and in much of the Heartlands. Most adult Mierren have dealings with a variety of human costers and merchants, taking care to avoid exclusivity or cultivate too narrow a range of business partners and contacts, so they control their own destinies and fortunes. They abhor the thought of humans having the slightest chance of dominating them.
The wealth that flows through Mirabar has not only extended the reach and worldly knowledge of all Mierren, it has enabled them to indulge all sorts of personal hobbies, such as art collections (statuettes and paintings in particular). The private living quarters of most Mierren feature comfortable furniture, painted artwork large and small, statuary, and hanging chimes often metallic, but always soft and pleasant, never loud or strident. Gems are plentiful in Mierren families and are used as currency and in all manner of personal adornment, rather than being hidden away. Semiprecious stones line many of the streets in Mirabar, and gorgeous inlays mark important corners and intersections, some so new that one can still smell the jewelers dust.
Still, despite the city's overall wealth, there are rich and (relatively) poor Mirabarrans. Not everyone shares in the coin the city’s sales bring in, and wage workers whose income is determined by a day’s labor or a month’s output can’t hope to expect that a well-worded contract by an employer will enrich them in the least. Wealthy merchants and business owners are careful not to show their success ostentatiously; their clothing might be of richer fabrics, but still in the same styles and colors as the garb of poorer folks. Waiting rooms and front halls in the fortified homes of the rich are just as sparsely furnished as those in poorer homes. Keeping up the appearance of relative equality in fortunes is vital, for if anyone in a position to commit a violent act— say, a weaponsmith with access to great stores of swords and axes— knew just how wealthy the wealthiest Mirabarrans were, there would very likely be bloodshed before the offended parties were satisfied.