The excitement of the Cirilian Gold Rush sparked massive mining expeditions all across Athera. While mining deep into the heart of the largest peak in the eastern Snowglades, excavators came upon a massive tunnel inhabited by an underground race of dwarves. The Valderkal claimed to be an ancient order of paladins whose ancestors built the very land itself.
The Valderkal Tunnels
Charged with the protection of their ancestors' creation, the dwarves claimed they had constructed a massive underground tunnel system connecting every part of Atlas - but only the Valderkal were allowed access. To date, no other Atlian has discovered the location of these tunnels, nor the rumored dwarven metropolis at its center, Valderkal City.
Reverence in Vantian Society
In the Vantian religion of The Four, it is believed that Kaldras, the God of the Earth, created the lands of Atlas. Kaldras is often seen as a peaceful figurehead of Vantian society, due to the general professions of His direct worshipers - farmers, fishermen, and miners. In fact, the Valderkal are revered in Vantian society, as they are believed to be the Servants of Kaldras (a fact that the dwarves have conveniently never confirmed nor denied.) It is possible that the name Kaldras itself was derived from Valderkal, though the origins of this nomenclature have been lost to time.
Since their first interactions with Atlian civilizations, the Valderkal have strived to maintain positive political relations throughout Atlas. Using the fast transport of their hidden tunnels, the dwarves established themselves as a strong international trading ally. Cementing their neutrality (even during the wars of the Era of Revolution,) the Valderkal built embassies in nearly every major city on Atlas.
To date, the only conflict the Valderkal have taken part in has been a bloody land dispute with the Yukrov people, known as the Battle of the Blue Valley. After mass casualties on both sides, the Valderkal and Yukrov reached a peace accord, agreeing that neither would lay claim to the Yukrovian Highlands.