“They” say that the dwarfs of the Fool’s Hold are, well, fools.
On the surface it appeared to be a failed venture - dwarfs that set off to start a hold of their own, only to discover too late that their gold wasn’t really gold at all. Dwarfs should know better than to be fooled by fool’s gold; shameful even. At least these dwarfs are proud and stubborn, keeping themselves going in their remote hold by selling lumber, pork and ale - albeit mediocre by dwarf standards- almost as if their attention is devoted to something else.
They are fortunate that Golloch is so greedy for land that he brings them under the iron protection of his empire.
What “they” don’t know is that a warsmith, named Mimir, has been obsessing over the metal found in fool’s gold. Treating it as an ore, she found that fool’s gold is made of iron and something else. As useful as iron is, the other chemical was far more interesting… She showed it to Mendeleev, a flame priest, who excitedly recognised that the other component is sulphur.
Mendeleev told her that saltpeter and charcoal with sulphur are the components necessary to make black powder. If they could find a place to mine fool’s gold, near a forest then they could strike out and build an industry! They could make charcoal from trees and saltpeter from the waste of agriculture.
They would need plenty of rangers for the forestry, gold for expenses and muscle to claim a mountain. Rangers were easy enough, especially if you’re going to establish a rural hold. The gold would come from Norgrunn; a dwarf with a large brock, a fortune amassed from adventuring and a following of beserkers with more brocks. Norgrunn fancied being a lord of a hold, but agreed that the three of them and a representative from the rangers would run their small hold as a council. They found the place in Estacarr towards distant Dar-Esa, but not as far as Fentis-Ron. At the edge of the mountains, to be near the forest, between the Hare’s Rest and the Carric River.
The problem would be that once they began to gain momentum, others would want to take it from them - gunpowder is a valuable resource. They relied on their reputation as fools, on a failed venture relying on producing lumber and agriculture for survival, all the while selling lumber as an excuse to harvest wood; and pork and ale to make the waste needed for saltpeter production.
Were they prepared to do the things needed to keep such a big secret? Certainly not to dwarfs! They would need to defend themselves eventually.
Golloch has the best warsmiths and flame priests and would figure it out eventually. Golloch would come to take it from them. Unless they joined the Empire before then, they could exchange their explosive wares for the weapons and protection of Golloch’s Empire. Turning their greatest threat into their defender.