Know Your Lore: The Dark Iron Dwarves of Blackrock Mountain
When last we talked about the Dark Iron Dwarves, Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan had just summoned Ragnaros and destroyed himself and the city that bore his name in the process. This wasn’t the end of the Dark Iron clan of Dwarves. It was, however, the end of the War of the Three Hammers. From the civil war after the death of Modimus Anvilmar to the final destruction of Thaurissan, the Dark Iron had vied for control of Ironforge and the destiny of the Dwarven people for years.
Ragnaros’ arrival changed everything for the Dark Iron clan. They moved into the volcanic mountain created by Ragnaros’ arrival, serving the Firelord as slaves under fear of death for decades. There, they would create one of the greatest cities Dwarves would ever construct — the Blackrock Spire complex. Today that vast city is broken up into many smaller enclaves, fought over by various factions over the years. The Dark Iron still control the Blackrock Depths, but signs of their craftsmanship range throughout the mountain.
The rule of the Firelord
The arrival of Ragnaros killed Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan, but it did not wipe out his family line. The modern clan’s leader, Dagran Thaurissan II, is a direct descendant of the deceased Sorcerer-Thane. However, for the years following the destruction of the city of Thaurissan it is not that bloodline we must speak of. Instead, we should look at the architect and builder Franclorn Forgewright.
Before the Dwarven Civil War, Franclorn was a Dark Iron of superlative skill and genius. He designed and build the Stonewrought Dam in Dun Morogh. Years before that, civil war would force him to fight the other Dwarves of Ironforge. He was friends with a Human warrior named Windsor, and gifted his family line the astonishing magical hammer Ironfoe.
But while Franclorn was a genius at building, he was still a Dark Iron. When his people turned against the other Dwarves he went with them. And if he had not, today his people might not even exist. It was Franclorn’s genius that raised the towering volcano-city in the Spire that soothed Ragnaros’ vanity. His work gave his people hope for survival following the death of their Sorcerer-Thane.
Forgewright knew that his people would not survive the reign of the Firelord unchanged. His tireless work constructing a new home for them saved them from destruction. But he watched as they changed from the people he’d known, and it broke his heart. He died not long after the city was completed and his body was entombed above the molten heart of the volcano so that he might always watch over his people.
There was nothing Forgewrite could do to stop Ragnaros’ cruelty from carving his people’s hearts into a new shape. By the time he died, he barely recognized his own kinfolk. His hammer Ironfel, twin to Ironfoe, fell into the grasping hands of Chief Architect Fineous Darkvire. Ironfoe remained in the hands of the descendants of Windsor, eventually passed down to Marshall Reginald Windsor.
Orcs, Dragons, and death
Things remained much the same for years, until the Horde arrived on Azeroth. The Orcs saw Blackrock Mountain as a fitting base of operations. This was especially true of the Orcs of the Blackrock clan. They took its name as an omen, once it was translated into their language. However, seizing hold of the mountain from the Dwarves and Elementals who served Ragnaros would have been an exceedingly difficult task. After all, they were already at war with the Alliance.
Crafty Cho’gall, however, was already in tune with the malevolent Old Gods. As an emissary of the Shadow Council, he used that connection to strike a deal with the servitors of Ragnaros. The Shadow Council took the top of the mountain, what we call today the Spire, and left to the Dwarves the Depths. Neither side was wholly satisfied with this. Gul’dan had sent Cho’gall to the mountain to claim it all, and the Dwarves chafed at being forced to cede half the city they’d built without a fight. But Cho’gall’s scheme worked, and the Horde moved into the mountain.
The First and Second War saw the Horde wax and wane in power. The Dark Iron kept to the Depths, where they clustered around their masters and chafed at the presence of the Orcs and their allies. Even after the Shadow Council was destroyed, the Blackrock clan simply moved into the Spire. The Dark Iron were prevented from taking steps to drive them out.
From detente to war inside the mountain
When the Alliance defeated Orgrim Doomhammer and the remaining Orcs retreated into the mountain, the Dark Iron were free to wage war to reclaim what they’d lost. Cho’gall was no longer part of the Horde. Gul’dan was dead, and the Old Gods didn’t recognize the Maim and Rend Blackhand’s claim to the peak of the mountain.
However, what should have been an easy victory for the Dark Iron against a demoralized, defeated enemy was complicated by the presence of the Black Dragonflight. The Dragonflight chose to back the Orcs in exchange for their fealty. Now Ragnaros and the Dark Iron were locked in a war with Nefarian and the Dark Horde under Rend Blackhand.
Dagran Thaurissan oversaw the Dark Iron as they created a war machine to battle the Dark Horde at this time. During this period he even reclaimed the hammer Ironfoe, taking it from the hands of Reginald Windsor. Windsor was captured while investigating a connection between Lady Katrana Prestor and the supposed lord of Blackrock Mountain, Lord Victor Nefarius. Thaurissan knew this information might serve him in his war with Nefarian and his dragons, and so held Marshall Windsor rather than killing him outright.
A rough courtship
By this point Dagran Thaurissan, descendant of Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan and Modgud, had fully asserted his rule over the Dark Iron. While he still served Ragnaros, he was much less of a servile toady than others like Fineous Darkvire were. He served because he knew his people would die if he didn’t, and while he like all his people had a streak of cruelty and a vengeful streak a mile long, he wasn’t without his graces.
Moira Bronzebeard, daughter of Magni Bronzebeard and Princess of Ironforge, grew up knowing she wasn’t what her father wanted. He loved her, but he made sure she knew that he believed a son would be a better ruler, that a woman could not do as well to lead the Bronzebeard clan. By their laws she was the rightful heir, and he never disinherited her, but he wasn’t shy in his dismissal. And so, when Dagran Thaurissan had the Princess of Ironforge kidnapped, he did what her own father was unwilling to do.
He respected her. The very act of kidnapping her at all was a mark of respect, from a Dark Iron — she was worth the risk. And once he had her in his city under the mountain, he never treated her as less for her gender. He spoke to her as an equal. He discussed their people’s respective situations. And he listened to her, even taking her advice. To Dagran, Moira wasn’t a trophy in his people’s eternal war on the Bronzebeards. She was a head of state in her own right, the rightful heir to Ironforge just as he was heir to Blackrock Mountain.
Death of the Emperor
We’ve seen little of their courtship. We don’t know who pressed it — did Dagran try and woo Moira, or did she pursue him? But in the end, the two were married and for a very brief time lived as husband and wife. From their union came joy, in the form of a child — a son who would unite the Dark Iron and Bronzebeard clans in himself, as heir to both.
But in Ironforge, King Magni sent a squad of adventurers to reclaim his kidnapped daughter, In the process, they struck down Dagran Thaurissan — and to their surprise, Moira refused to return to Ironforge with them. She revealed that she was pregnant, and that she had married Dagran freely and of her own will.
And there would be consequences for Ironforge and the Alliance. Next week, we’ll cover Moria’s return to Ironforge.
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