The <Heart of the Mountain> is an ancient order of the mountain peoples of Ironforge, reformed into the Mountain Heart Institute with the founding of the Explorer’s League. A university of the highest caliber, the doors are open to any dwarf or gnome that seeks to know more about themselves or to learn the tools needed to find the knowledge yourself.
- 1 History Overview
- 2 Origins of the Three Chambers
- 3 The Leaders of the Institute
- 4 Recruitment
The Mountain Heart Order was an old, secretive organization tasked with preserving and protecting Dwarven traditions. It was established shortly after the mountain of Khaz Modan was first delved by the Dwarves with the blessing of the High King, but it was promptly forgotten by mainstream society and left to its own devices. The Mountain Heart Order was fundamentally religious in its beginning, obsessed with preserving the little knowledge the Dwarves had regarding their creators the Titans and preparing Dwarven souls for the Shadowlands by the building and maintenance of underground tombs. Its beliefs were codified into the Sacrament of Stone, which reflected a deep commitment to the Titans and to the High King.
The Ark of the Mountain
Many years passed, and the Order’s numbers dwindled as its adherents quietly kept their sacred charge in the shadows of the mountain. During this time, a powerful relic was uncovered in the depths of the mountain, and after realizing its terrible power the Order decided to seal it away in an elaborate stone tabernacle. It has long since been forgotten what was actually stored inside of the Ark of the Mountain, and perhaps deliberately so. All that is remembered is that it was believed that the Heart of the Mountain is present within that tabernacle.
The War of Three Hammers
Many more quiet years passed, and then Order was struck with tragedy when the War of Three Hammers broke out. This enveloped the organization in turmoil, as it employed many Dwarves from all three clans. The Order lost a majority of its membership at the conclusion of the War, a loss that it could not afford. In an effort to prevent such a travesty from happening again, the Order made itself public once more, assuming a slightly more secular, professional character that would be more appealing to the general populace. And this gradual secularization would increase with time.
During the immediate aftermath of the War of Three Hammers, a certain prophecy became popular among the older elements of the Order who were still trying to cling on to its religious past. It was believed by some that one day the Anvilmar line would be restored to the throne and the three clans would be reunited under the mountain. The majority of the organization regarded this prophecy as a dangerous lunacy and attempted to downplay the sway it had over many of the organization’s members in order to appeal to the public opinion at the time. But like anything devised by the Dwarves, belief in the prophecy persisted into the present day: even with the direct descendant of Modimus strongly implying that he will not make a claim to the throne, many of the older Dwarves of the Order stubbornly persist in their belief in the prophecy, that the heir of Modimus may be swayed by the plight of his people.
An Uncertain Future
Many more years passed, and the Order almost faded into obscurity, despite its efforts to engage more with the public. The Order was about to die a quiet death when it was fortuitously discovered by the newly established Explorer’s League. The scholars of the Explorers’ League were fascinated by the existence of such an ancient order and treated it with more respect than it probably deserved. In order to ensure its survival, the Mountain Heart Order was incorporated into the Explorers’ League and renamed the Mountain Heart Institute.
With this change, the organization’s shift into a more secular institution was now nearly absolute. In order to adjust with modern times, the Mountain Heart Institute has accepted an influx of new members from different clans and of different beliefs. But a few surviving members of the older Order remain and guard its secrets with fierce jealousy.
Origins of the Three Chambers
In its beginning, the Mountain Heart Order only had two chambers: the exploration chamber and the prayer chamber, which would eventually become the learning chamber during the War of Three Hammers. The exploration chamber was tasked with delving into the dark caverns in the deepest parts of the mountain, securing those certain caverns with the certain characteristics needed to build proper tombs in the particular fashion Dwarven customs dictated. Many of the exploration chamber would die in their efforts to find the perfect caverns to bury their ancestors, their corpses forever lost in the shadows beneath the mountain. This earned the members of the exploration chamber the title of Deepdelvers, and they had a near monopoly on the construction of tombs deep under the mountain during the early days of Ironforge.
While the exploration chamber was tasked with the construction of tombs, the prayer chamber was tasked with their maintenance. Members of the prayer chamber were known as Soulmasons, and each one swore an oath to the Makers to never leave the mountain, though the demands of this oath would change during the War of Three Hammers. They diligently watched over the deep tombs, performing rituals to appease both the ancestors and the Makers. One such ritual was the pouring of libations before the graves of the ancestors, offering them spirit-ale to enjoy in the Shadowlands. Another ritual was reciting the Sacrament of Stone three thousand times before the Ark of the Mountain. But other Soulmasons would simply kneel before the Ark of the Mountain, staying still in absolute silence for countless hours before its imposing door.
Composition of the Chambers
The exploration chamber consisted predominantly of Bronzebeard and Dark Iron Dwarves; both Bronzebeard and Dark Iron Clans claimed to have provided the first Deepdelvers. But many Wildhammer Dwarves also joined the exploration chamber; these Wildhammer Deepdelvers were tasked with building underground tombs in towns outside Ironforge. The prayer chamber consisted predominantly of Bronzebeard and Wildhammer Dwarves, but many Gnomes also joined the prayer chamber, as they were familiar with the technology and magic that was implemented to seal the Ark of the Mountain. Together the Deepdelvers and the Soulmasons preserved and honored the memory of the ancestors and the Makers.
Creation of the Protection Chamber
The protection chamber was made in response to Dark Iron grave robbers attempting to pilfer the treasures buried with the ancestors. These Dark Iron grave robbers were only a select few who were banished from the larger Dark Iron Clan. But nonetheless a wealthy Dark Iron patron of the Mountain Heart Order still felt deeply ashamed of what these grave robbers were doing, so he volunteered to fund the creation of another chamber to guard the relics of the tombs with his own finances. The members of this chamber were known as Forgeguards, named after the Forgeguard loyal to the Sorcerer-Thane of the Dark Iron Clan. The protection chamber came to consist of chiefly Dark Iron and Wildhammer Dwarves. But because the founder of this chamber was a Dark Iron, it has traditionally been led by a Dark Iron Dwarf. Together the three chambers worked together to preserve and protect the ancient traditions of the mountain folk.
The Leaders of the Institute
Since the beginning of the Mountain Heart Order, the entirety of the Order was led by the Designate, while each chamber was led by a single Keeper to assist in his vision. And each Keeper had several Watchers to help perform the respective chambers day-to-day duties. These peculiar titles were said to have been passed down by the Makers themselves. So the leaders of the Mountain Heart Order wore these titles with pride; they were seen as having been anointed to their positions by the titans.
The Deep Trial
Before a Dwarf could ascend to the role as Keeper, he would have to choose an official title in addition to the title of Keeper. He would then be tasked on embarking on a quest to justify that title, a ritual known as the Deep Trial. One such Keeper, Popple Pummelgear the Gnome, decided on the title ‘the Iron Wizard’ when he was chosen to become Keeper of the prayer chamber. The trial he performed was the construction of the sealing mechanism that keeps the Ark of the Mountain shut, utilizing both the greatest magic and the greatest technology of the time. And Rama the Dark Iron Dwarf earned the title ‘the High Shield’ after she sacrificed her life defending the other Forgeguards before the Ark of the Mountain. She sustained all the attacks from what seemed to them to be a rogue golem of immense power, acting as basically a meat shield to keep the other Forgeguards alive. It is believed the Ark of the Mountain granted her supernatural strength so that she may honor her kinsmen. She was then granted the position of Keeper posthumously, and all future Keepers of the protection chamber would be known as ‘the High Shield’ in her honor.
The Legend of the Spirit-Thanes
There is finally another rank that is beyond the reach of most Dwarves and Gnomes ever to participate in the Mountain Heart Order. And that is the rank of the Spirit-thane. This rank is reserved exclusively for those certain Dwarves and Gnomes that have seen what is inside the Ark of the Mountain and were able to comprehend its secrets without instantly dying. It is believed that Spirit-thanes are granted immortality by the deep magic inside the Ark of the Mountain...but this belief has no definitive proof. There are exactly two Spirit-thanes to date...and a certain prophecy speaks of a third to come.
But in any event shortly after the outbreak of the War of Three Hammers, in an attempt to secularize the Mountain Heart Order so as to broaden its public appeal, the title of Designate was officially changed to that of Chancellor, but for many among the Mountain Heart Order this was just a mere technicality and so they still addressed the leader of the Order as the Designate. The regression into a more secular institution would be more thorough with the Order’s incorporation into the Explorers’ League, so it is only then when many of these traditions would begin to be changed. The heads of each chamber would still retain the title of Keeper, but the Deep Trial ritual would be mandated as optional. And the practice of occasionally inheriting a position and title was mostly done away with; it was now exclusively decided by merit, unless the Chancellor indicated otherwise. But as usual, the older elements of the Order still insist on the Deep Trial being honored upon a Dwarf’s ascension into the role, among many other ancient traditions.
In-game contact: Thorgoin, Rhallo, Maximillas, Shadowbeerd