Dwarven Funeral Rites
While many of the peoples of Aressa have similar funeral rites, those of the dwarves of the Iron Mountains are unique and extraordinary. Their rites revolve around the city of Khinaut Dïdeldithlïdush, the greatest city of the dwarves and believed by many to be the place where their race began. At the center of the city, at the highest point of the hill, is a great temple that extends deep beneath the surface. When a dwarf dies, if their body can be recovered, they are brought to the temple to be interred. The funeral is private, with only the deceased's immediate family and closest friends involved, and consists of several hours spent in prayer to the dwarven pantheon for the deceased's soul. At the end of the funeral, the deceased's most valuable possession (usually brought to the temple alongside their body) is burned or otherwise destroyed, in a symbolic representation of their departure from the world. The body is then taken by the temple priests and prepared for burial. Traditionally, the deceased's eyes, nose, and mouth are all covered by a featureless metal mask. Once this is done, the body is taken down into the underground chambers of the temple and arrayed as they were in life; a smith might pose above his forge, while a warrior might stand in formation with many others. These chambers are known as the Halls of the Fathers, and it is believed that, when great threats arise, the dead awake from the halls and return by the grace of the dwarven gods to aid the living. To damage or destroy a dwarf's body, so that it cannot be placed in the Halls, is a great insult, and even former enemies of the deceased dwarf will pursue those who desecrate dwarven bodies until they are dead.
The family and close friends of the deceased, the temple priests