No subject proved more diverse in the research than that I did for the Dvergar. The wide amount of speculation spanning a millennium, allowed for a considerable amount of liberal translation than any other subject used for my story.
Prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia (995 C.E.–1,000 C.E.) the stories and legends around the four Alfar clans — the Dokkalfar, Ljosalfar, Svartálfar, and Dvergar — gave a limited description. As with Ireland’s Aes-Sidhe and the Tuatha De Danann, the Christians of the Middle Ages altered the appearance of the Alfar. There is some speculation that 13th century monks mistranslated or simply replaced the word “Dvergar” with the verb “dwarf” to mean small in hopes to emphasize their insignificance. Eventually, the metaphor was taken literally and the tall slender, god-like grace of the Elves, the Fae, and the Dvergar were diminished. This, of course, is mere speculation.
From this evolution, came the elves of the North Pole, winged fairies, pixies, and sprites that captivate children today. The Dvergar became little, ugly things similar to gnomes called “Dwarves” literally meaning “Smalls”. Anyone who is familiar with any Dark Age children’s story knows the exuberant amount of gore, horror, kidnapping, death, and cannibalism that occurred.
Some sources gave a description of the Dvergar familiar to readers today: tall, pale devils that lived underground, recoiled in the sun, and drank the blood of children. These features would become malformed and eventually be depicted as troglofauna, similar to Mr. Wells’ Morlocks as seen in The Time Machine. Overtime, the ancient stories of the Dvergar evolved into the modern day vampire.
That being said, in ode to the legends lost to time, I have restored the four Alfar clans to their Christian predecessors. My Dvergar are not dwarves, nor are they to be associated with the word Dwarf or the images the word evokes. They are the Alfar, who reside underground in the mountain city of Niðavellir and carry the regal grace of the Alfar. The are simply caves elves.
I see them as a cross between the Morlocks and the Drow mixed with Wood Elf from D&D. Black hair, large black eyes, muscular and strong build from centuries of working in the mines, but tall.