The Deep and the Dark
Religion and Customs
The dwarves of Ina-Sihirtu have become somewhat less devout in their many long centuries below the earth, and even moreso in the recent centuries, as contact with their outside kindred has become less and less frequent and the interests of the people begin to turn ever more and more inward. While priests once fulfilled many roles in society, their presence has withdrawn significantly, and they are only seen by those who do not actively seek them out on special holy days, to consecrate marriages and to bless new delves. Now, they can otherwise be found tending the sacred shrine-libraries, near the pinnacle of the city, copying and preserving the works and records of their forefathers and occasionally adding to them the (often bleak) major events and musings of the present day.
There are many minor deities worshipped by the layman and sometimes have their own, often polygot priests, but the true Gods who possess their own large cults within the city are from foremost to least in worship:
Buzur-Eridu, the Keeper of Secrets, the Keeper of the Home
Most central to the duergar way of life, if not the most potent outright, Buzur-Eridu is the most commonly worshipped deity in Ina-Sihirtu. His domain is the home, and the keeping of privacy, and thus, to the dwarves of the underworld, safety. His sign is simply a closed dwarven fist, often around some object central to the life of an individual or his caste, symbolizing trade secrets, or personal ones, and lending the personalizations of his symbol a further air of mystery. These are often worn on small amulets under the clothes, or tucked away, inscribed into stones important to a structure, out of sight of all but the Keeper of Secrets himself. His colors are black and grey.
Telal, the Tactician, the Slayer
Worshipped almost universally amongst the warrior castes of Ina-Sihirtu, Telal is the god of clever and ruthless warfare, and endorses brutal, efficient doctrines that any warrior will tell you have kept Ina-Sihirtu standing for millennia when so many others have fallen. His symbol is often worn on the shields of warriors and sometimes even dyed onto the abdomens of spider-knight steeders and takes the shape of a double-edged blade, often a short-sword, stuck through a short bow between staff and string, with a non-dwarven, often orcish or dark elvish skull (though any enemy the inscriber bears particular enmity for might work, as long as it possesses one). His colors are the white of clean bones and the red of fresh blood.
Gašam, the Artisan
Another deity important to the daily workings of the city and its inhabitants, The Artisan is venerated at least in some small way by every duergar who has ever wished to create anything fine, which is to say nearly every one of them. His symbol is simple, and takes the shape of a single anvil, and artisan’s tools of all sorts from Ina-Sihirtu are engraved or stamped or even painted with this simple sign. His colors are the metallic blue of iron, and the brown of either unworked caverns or tanned leather.
Nusku, the Spell-keeper, Incantator
Most mysterious and least-publicly worshipped of all the gods, Nusku the Incatator is the patron of the elusive magi, and to a lesser extent, all who are literate. His symbol is a burning stylus, quill, or most often, chisel, and it often adorns the works etched by the scholar-priests, the pillars of the Sacred Library itself, and certainly whatever private volumes the mages keep. His colors are black and a lambent blue which is the color his fire is depicted as burning.
Holy Days and Traditions
The Cup of Mettle:
Every year, when young dwarves reach adolescence, they are tested one and all by a member of the priestly caste, in rhetoric, mathematics and reason. For this test alone, parents almost always strive to teach their children as much as they can in the evenings, and in some cases hire scholarly tutors for their progeny. Those who pass are eligible to try a draught from the daunting Cup of Mettle, a sacred grail kept in a shrine at the pinnacle of the city – some few are rumored to have died from it, and many others become violently, if temporarily, ill, and those who answer perfectly are often themselves taken and apprenticed almost at once in the great Sacred Libraries. Those who can pass the priests’ tests and have the courage who do not fall ill from imbibing this sacred liquid are those who ascend, almost inexorably, to the withdrawn ruling caste.
While not a holiday in and of itself, there is a market day once every subterranean month (about 30 of the dwarven days, roughly 30 hours in length) and is, in the dwarven way, an occasion for community bonding and celebration. It is highly pleasing to the duergar mind to exhibit his crafts and display his skill, and to appreciate that of others. On this day, trade between all castes takes place, first between those who are awake early, mostly the lower and lower-middle castes, and then those who are awake later, the majority of the upper and upper-middle castes, with a ceremony in the central temple-shaft midway through where everyone gathers upon their tier’s balconies and join together in communal prayers led by the priestly caste.