Though the dwarvish love of ale is well known, the challenges faced by dwarven brewers go unremarked. Barley, wheat and hop vines do not, after all, grow without sun. Grain and hops are major commodities for merchants and traders in dwarven lands, worth their weight in uncut gemstones.
Trade is not the only method the dwarves have for keeping their tankards full. In at least one case they have even taken up ploughshares. The poor and penurious dwarves of the Round Rock Hills have begun growing their own grain, clear cutting trees, hewing sweeping terraces out of the Hills' southern slopes and building sturdy walls with the stone they've moved. Unfortunately good fences have not made good neighbors of the free-roaming wild elves who hunt and camp in the Round Rocks.
Skirmishes are not uncommon. Most observers, however, credit one unusual personage with keeping a grumbling sort of peace. It's a peace not forged with diplomacy, but brewed in the great copper vats of the Leaf and Anvil, Thuriel Nidalfir, proprietor. Thuriel, who built his wayhouse and brewery with the spoils of an adventurer's career, has a more cosmopolitan view than most Round Rocks folk. A wild elf with a peculiar fascination for dwarvish culture, affecting stooped posture, a wispy beard and a cloth-of-copper kilt, Thuriel is somewhat of a figure of fun among dwarves and elves alike. Nonetheless, his easygoing charm, backed up by a staff of doughty henchmen, makes the wayhouse a place where all of the people of the Hills can take their leisure.
But it is for Thuriel's gift as a brewer that the Leaf and Anvil is celebrated, especially for the eponymous house blend, a smooth black and tan made with crisp Redleaf Ale and a dark stout called Loam. In addition to being eminently quaffable, this blend has the curious and apparently non-magical property of improving reaction roles between elves and dwarves by 1 (or 10%, depending on reaction table used).
I have to thank S John Ross for inspiring Thuriel with his comments on this post over Jeff's Gameblog way.
MP3: Rustavi Choir,
(This could be the song of dwarves going to war over grain; lyrics after the break.)
We must promise an oath at Khidistavi and must become blood brothers
We must attack Mukhran Batoni
Because of Mukhran Batoni I can't even have a basket of wheat
I can't bring up a heifer and can't thresh the field with a bull
You, the sword forged in Khevsureti
King Erekle sanctified you and blessed you for the war
Enemy, you defeated me, but I don't cry...
I have often been in similar straits but have never whined
Let me grind the sword
And you will reap what you have sown for me