U is for the Underdelve
The Underdelve is a large network of natural caverns, branching out from under mount Ombelikos in the northern hills, interconnected over the centuries by carefully dug tunnels by way of the hard labor of countless dwarven miners. In the current age it is one of the largest dwarven settlements in the realm. Two centuries ago, before the dwarves came, claimed the caves for themselves and renamed them the Underdelve, they were called the Tenebrara, the shadow caves, inhabited by small tribes of earthmen, kobolds and a few gnomish clans. Dwarven merchants, conducting trade with the original inhabitants, soon became aware of the unexploited mineral wealth of the caverns, and their exaggerated stories of precious stones the size of a small boy's head quickly spread among their greedy brethren, and an assault on the caves was planned. Unprepared and ill-equipped, the besieged tribes didn't stand a chance, and the fiendish dwarves gave no quarter to those who tried to surrender. It is even rumoured that when an entire gnomish clan laid down their weapons, the dwarves rounded them up and drove them into one of the many chasms that cut across the caves, a story that does little to improve the historically troubled relations between the two races.
Once the meagre resistance was put down, the dwarves set to work. At first mining shafts and simple housing for the miners were dug out, but soon entire living quarters and the elaborate palaces of the wealthy merchant lords were carved from the living stone. The unabated industriousness of thousands slowly transformed the dark, quiet caves into a bright stone city, rivalling the beauty of the great dwarven holdfasts in their native realm. Despite its remote, inaccessible location, the Underdelve has become a prime destination for human trade caravans from the major cities, trading rare ores, gems, stones and dwarf-crafted jewellery for luxury products such as spices, foods and textiles.