Ghorsa Borthuum and Kharam-Dzu

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Ghorsa Borthuum and Kharam-Dzu is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

Ghorsa Borthuum and Kharam-Dzu


There are two irrefutable truths about Ghorsa Borthuum. The first is that he was the founder of Kharam-Dzu. The second is that he established the Borthuum Mining Company. Stories have been told about him. Statues have been erected to him. Portraits have been painted of him. And accounts - some would say carefully edited accounts - of his life have been recorded in what is often referred to as the official record of the development of Kharam-Dzu - the Borthuum Mining Company Folios. The depictions of him range from a gruff, somewhat imposing figure to a simple, good-natured miner at home in miner's garb and holding a pick.

Much of the official written information about him has traditionally been drawn from sifted extracts of Borthuum Mining Company Folios - which provides an interesting insight into the early years of Kharam-Dzu's development. The documents are felt to provide a sympathetic gloss to Ghorsa.This tome endeavors to record a more balanced accounting of Ghorsa's role and influence in the establishment and development of Kharam-Dzu. This is done through the examination not only of the 'official' records but also through a piecing together of songs, poems and stories stemming from within and beyond the boundaries of the Terasian Isle. As will be seen, with the collation of this information a picture emerges, not only of a leader and a founding father, but of a shrewd politician and master manipulator.

Early life

Ghorsa grew up in a time when dwarven clans were less isolationist. Trading with humans was more commonplace, but there was still wariness about humans who were encroaching into the lands traditionally dominated by dwarven communities. A noteworthy human mining presence in the DragonSpine at that time was met with a degree of unease which filtered through to every dwarf, young and old. Ghorsa's father Krenak Borthuum was the principal adviser on atmospherics to the Gulroten Clan Chief, Agridan Brendal. The Gulroten clan was adept at extracting the extremely rare veniom from their mines near Zul Golorot. In the process, the clan had acquired a unique specialization - an understanding of natural phenomena such as lightning pulses, the impact of rain, and harnessing the power of the wind. This unique study was practiced almost exclusively for four months of each year in the town of Bortrazo's Canyon to the northeast. The annual migration also allowed the clan to escape the harshness of the northern winter. During these migrations Ghorsa would hear stories of the world beyond his own, of the humans finding their own mines and of the Turammzyrian Empire expanding northward. But the dominant tale of his youth was that of the lost cities of Kezmon Isle, an isle that has mysteriously vanished in 4873. Tales of the "Sunstone Cliffs of Kai Toka" - Kai Toka the capital of the isle - were recounted to such an extent that they became part of the clan's folklore.

One verse of a celebrated song of the time claimed:

"...and Eonak, his hammer points the way

To sunstones yet unmined

A cart filled to the brim with jewels each day

When Kezmon Isle you find..."

Kezmon Isle

For Ghorsa the idea of finding Kezmon Isle was not the childish dream of youth, but the serious consideration of a dwarf who by 4987 had standing within his clan. The thought took root and blossomed. It was two years after his father's death in 4992 that he began to develop quite complex plans. In 4995 a fully formed plan was presented to the clan chief for approval. The intricacy of the planning is evident from the duplicate plans held within the Kharam-Dzu museum. Ghorsa's inherited wealth would enable him to commission such a trip without any direct financial imposition on the clan. However such an undertaking was reliant on the combined skills of the clan whose involvement would require the blessing of the clan leader. The plan was presented as one of exploration - a plan to discover new lands and wealth and to even escape from the threat of human expansion and bitter northern winters for good. Ghorsa's force of argument played upon all the hopes and fears of the Gulroten Clan of the day. It also played to the vanity of the current clan leader Dralin Brendal.

Although the project was heavily reliant upon the skills of his clan, Ghorsa surprisingly began to gather dwarves of the other local clans and even some of the mining clans further south. It was not unusual for clans to support each other. Clans had worked together successfully in defense against troll and orc invasions, the giantkin-dwarf wars, and less than a century before in the exploration of the caves near the beaches of Solhaven Bay. The Borthuum Folios record that:

" is a testament to the strength of character of Ghorsa Borthuum that he was able to enthuse not only members of his own clan, but also other local clans."

Songs of the time speak of dwarves who represented the mountain Gezunel and Grevnek clans, and who brought their prized smithing skills to the venture. In addition, the Egrentek and Krethuum clans were also mentioned, as well the surprising presence of three Khanshael dwarves who also joined the group. The curiosity of their presence, with their physical traits not unlike that of the dhe'nar dark elves, as well their absence from their far off lands won them such recognition. Their skill for discovering veins of metal and other expectant dwarven skills matched that of most clans and would not have otherwise earned them a place in song.

Balloon Construction

"...creation of a great machine

to drift upon the wind's breath

to lands beyond, in Eonak's hands

transporting kindred kind..."

Gulroten Clan "Song of Ghorsa Borthuum"

The idea of creating a balloon large enough to accommodate a significant number of dwarves took foresight. What in the more modern world was considered common place, was beyond the wildest dreams of most dwarves, even those within the Gulroten clan. The balloon's construction was a labor of love and a challenging task for which the Gulroten clan were well suited. The design was not too distinct from many smaller single-person crafts, which at the time experimented with a strong lightweight basket suspended below a spherical balloon envelope. The basket was built out of woven wicker and partitioned to segregate the centrally positioned fueling mechanism from up to 30 passengers, mining gear, charts, compasses, and provisions. The construction of the balloon envelope required the purchase of large quantities of Elven veniom to supplement that meager quantity taken from the Gulroten mines. Gwartilpo wheels, the latest invention by the Krethuum Clan for the spinning of metal thread, whirred day and night, created the thread to attach to the basket.

In 4997, twenty-eight dwarves set off from the center of the Bortrazo's Canyon. By use of favorable winds they drifted slowly westward to thunderous applause and a fanfare equal to any ever seen before by the Gulroten clan. The names of the travelers are listed in the Borthuum Mining Company Folios, but there is little other verbal or written reference to most of the travelers with two notable exceptions. The Kazunel clan claim two dwarven smiths called Rezudal and Kendukal left their fire forges to join the quest of Ghorsa Borthuum. Although their family names are not included in song, the song is full of heraldic imagery which helps to confirm their presence. Conversely, there is a poem now recited by the Krethuum Clan with a much different tone. A verse captures the somewhat disparaging tone, but also provides us with the names of two further travelers:

"...duty forsaken, clan forsaken;

Did Dradel and Bedric,

Abandon stock on Vaslavia Meadows

To aid in Borthuum quest

No Krethuum gain; to Krethuum shame..."

(Poem: "Duty to the Clan") anon

Arrival on Teras Isle

An entry in the Borthuum Mining Company folio from 4997 makes reference to "...the winds blowing the balloon off course and the balloon coming to rest upon a peak." Beyond this there is scant indication in any text as to how the travelers came to arrive on an island that was descriptively so different from the famed Kezmon Isle. The group flew precariously above the volcanic isle and landed heavily on the most prominent point - the volcano now known as Stormbrow. The impact resulted in the balloon's virtual destruction, although miraculously there were no fatalities. The occupants were able to salvage a portion of their scattered resources. The volcano afforded them a good view of much of the semi-tropical island, from the western forests, to the magnificent central canyon and the river which meandered to the sea.

Ghorsa organized the group into working parties. Equipment was loaded onto their backs and they climbed somewhat precariously down the volcano. Apprehension about potential hostility from an as yet unknown indigenous population was used by Ghorsa to keep the group unified as they focused on finding shelter before the onset of night. They camped in an opening halfway down the volcano, and the cavern provided the first taste of the riches to be found on the island: the precious material of glaes. Within a few days much of the exterior of the island had been traversed and a rudimentary map created, which pinpointed the first obvious veins of rare and valuable minerals. Glaes was still a rare material, much prized for its strength and durability, and they had discovered large veins, of varying colors, including the rarest rainbow glaes. Assured that the island was uninhabited, Ghorsa claimed it for himself and declared that the island would be called 'Teras'(meaning 'wonder or marvel' in the Gulroten dialect).

The Borthuum Clan

With the island producing food and fresh water aplenty, mining operations developed over the next few months after the arrival and with it, the erection of small support structures within and outside the rock. A small raft was constructed to give them access to the land on either side of the river and the river itself was named River Muagh after a tributary to Lake Jostallim to the west of the DragonSpine. The mining began with great industry in the belief that eventually the accumulated wealth would be transported to their respective clans. However it became apparent that some were reluctant to simply give away the wealth accumulated. Ghorsa himself believed strongly that the riches should be shared only with those who had joined him and was reluctant to see the wealth transferred from the island. The conflicting feelings within the group resulted in friction amongst its members and resulted in the very rare occurrence in dwarven history: the establishment of a new clan proposed by Ghorsa, the Borthuum Clan. All those who had come with him would become part of the clan and the clan would use their combined skills for the betterment of their island and themselves.

This was a unique concept. Historically, dwarven clans had developed through the coming together of like-minded dwarves, forming communities based on shared interests. The strength of the clan, however, stemmed from filial loyalty, with generation after generation reinforcing and developing the clan's identity. The idea of breaking ties with existing clans for what were essentially commercial purposes was an entirely new one. To this day speculation abounds as to how Ghorsa convinced his companions to agree to the formation of the Borthuum Clan. Strength of will alone would not have been sufficient to combat the emotional ties the expedition members held to their long established clans. Some have suggested that pure greed was the motivating factor. Faced with the prospect of losing control of their accumulated wealth, each dwarf embraced the idea of the new clan. Although there may have been some element of truth to this, one deciding factor seems to be an agreement to provide all clans with substantial remuneration.

There is a notable reference in the Foilio of 4999 to an agreement to supply "..a collection of precious gems and materials in abundance and to transport this to the mainland clans to honor them...".

This was evidence of Ghorsa's political shrewdness. It is almost certain that these were tithes paid partly to smooth ruffled feathers of other dwarven clans, not least his own, but also to placate any qualms that his travelers may have had about abandoning their traditional clannish ties. An action which led to the enrichment of their old clan could hardly be seen as a betrayal. Likewise, there was a transportation of a large consignment of materials and gems five years later to various clans. As an aside, the consignment to the Gulroten clan came later due to the acrimonious ten year Trade Dispute of 5002.

Ghorsa was accepted as the clan chief and quickly established a council of ten, ensuring representation from each of the former clans. The remaining members were given advisory or enforcement posts of note appropriate to their skills and were accountable to the council members. The council members in turn were accountable to the clan leader. Thus, the political and administrative hierarchy was established. (It was not until many years later that the title of Prince was bestowed upon him, which coincided with the consolidation of his power base.)

Commercial Enterprise

It soon became clear that visitors would not be deterred from traveling to the island. Human merchant ships continually found their way to the shores. The threat of krolvin attacks, though never realized, still presented a real threat. So Ghorsa, supported by the Council, proposed to open up borders to others, to encourage residence within isle, and to give the newly arrived a stake in the island's future. However, that stake would be rigidly controlled by the Borthuum clan. The first task was to establish the Borthuum Mining Company to facilitate and control trade with the outside world. All members of the Borthuum clan would share in the profits from this company, with the Clan Chief naturally retaining the greater proportion of the profits. A charter was established which solidfied the agreement and the crest of the Borthuum family became a miner's pick and a battleaxe crossed over a stack of ingots.

Trade with human merchants was born out of necessity and pragmatism. Elsewhere, humans eagerly exchanged goods and services for the much sought after glaes items crafted by the dwarves. The first major trade event with humans occurred by accident, when a merchant ship arrived off shore after fleeing the threat of krolvin brigands. The ship was acquired at considerable cost from its human owners, but Ghorsa saw this as an investment. There was considerable benefit to the Borthuum clan members with this acquisition. By refitting the ship into both a cargo and passenger ship, they were able to arrange for the transportation of their families to the island after it hauled the first of many loads of glaes, amongst other valued ores and gems. The ship was named "The Glaesen Star" in honor of the precious glaes found on the island.

Development of the Town

A bustling trading port was soon established. The buildings quickly designed to support mining operations had become a small temporary shanty town, which accommodated the families of the Borthuum clan as they arrived. Humans, dwarves and giantkin soon arrived in greater numbers, with small businesses centered around the port established only with the approval of the Borthuum Mining Company and subject to a tax. No business were permitted to operate in direct competition with the company. Eventually, the town spread outward beyond the confines of the shanty town and across the river into the canyon. The town that emerged was given the name Kharam-Dzu - roughly translated as King's (Kharam) City (Dzu) or City of Kings.

One of the major impacts of trade was the increased wealth of the Borthuum Clan which enabled them to construct properties to the east of the town, away from the noise of the mining operations and with additional protection afforded by canyon walls. Their old properties in the shanty town were rented out to the newly arrived. Dense forests were harvested and wooden constructs were raised, which stretched from the craggy, reddish-brown canyon wall to the river, and formally marked the town's northern boundary. The wooden constructs, later be replaced with stone, solidified the town defenses and gave the growing population a sense of security.The power base of the Borthuum clan was consolidated with the creation of a militia, formed ostensibly to defend against the threat of Krolvin raiders and the indigenous wildlife. It also served to remind everyone of the military power behind the company, a power which matched its financial strength.


There are those, perhaps envious, who have labelled Ghorsa an imperialist. However, there is no evidence to suggest that Ghorsa ever sought to extend his influence beyond the boundaries of Teras Isle or to undermine the traditional clan structure of the dwarven people. Ghorsa did not conquer, but merely made the most of the opportunities that presented themselves. He was undoubtedly politically shrewd and savvy, he recognized the system and worked it to his benefit. By his vision and sheer opportunism, Ghorsa created a undeniable legacy that influenced dwarves, Teras and Kharam-Dzu to the modern day.