The Stone-Hearted

28-31 Urmarillion, Pass of 3819: Wolf Hunt
A Tale of Copperpot

I am hurt, I know that. I lie here replaying the last few days over and over in my mind and one thing springs to the front of my mind.

Orlof should be watched.

It is the only conclusion a logical mind can draw while listening to him for any length of time. On arrival in the human town of Copperpot, a meagre and poor village whose inhabitants were shocked upon the arrival of a party of war clad dwarves.

We found the village beleaguered by on multiple sides by unknown enemies who hide in the forests and haunted ruins that surround this dishevelled place. Preliminary investigations suggest that their persecutors could well be the remnants of the goblin army that the armies of Dallorak broke higher in the mountains only weeks ago.

Upon hearing of their plight Orlof’s advice was that we move onwards with our quest leaving these people to suffer the mess that our people have possibly driven to their door. Not necessarily poor advice on its own but confusing and contradictory as my memories unfold.

Over ruling his dissent we decided to visit each of the farms who had suffered attack and see what could be elucidated as to the source of their troubles. Three main areas appeared to stand out for further investigation. The source of smoke coming from forest to the north across the river near where Barnett farm. These folk were raided twice in recent days first in their mountain pasture then again in the river pasture.

Tracks were found which can we followed into the forest with the scouting prowess of my lord’s sister, the caver Ranina. Finding a camp with 2 dozen goblins we paused to discuss our next option. It is here that Orlof’s truly untenable behaviour began. He argued that the enemies of our race should be given the rights and respect of the stoutest of dwarves. That these raiders who had recently attacked the nearby human settlement, which he would not have helped, should be negotiated with and asked to move along peacefully. Such a fool he is that he volunteered for the role of negotiator. There is no negotiation with goblins, they will always capitulate until they are in a position of strength and then they strike. They like their foul brethren the Orc must never be trusted.

We approached the camp, and Orlof went ahead as discussed. He began negotiating with the scum in the common tongue. His suggestion that they leave was rebuffed by the creature’s leader. So he then suggested we would escort these enemies through the villages they have raided to their companions situated in the abandoned Talbert farm. He is a fool and should not be humoured. The goblin leader rightfully scornful of this fool’s plan immediately began plotting in their own tongue to betray Orlof once they reached allies and had greater numbers. Exactly as I had told him they would. I could countenance his foolery no longer and slew the treacherous beast in once blow. This scattered the other goblins as we should have done to begin with and we were able to destroy their camp. They will no doubt continue to flee until they are far from dwarven lands now.

Following these events the farmsteaders were at least grateful and allowed us to use their meagre dwelling as shelter for the night. Orlof sulked into the evening like a whipped puppy, while he should be thankful. Thanks to the slaying of their leader all their young fled and still live. I am confused still, he did not want to help the humans who have been our allies in the past but would comfort and succour the enemies of our race.

The next day we travelled to investigate what manner of beast had attacked the nearby Lewin property. We found evidence of where the beast had attacked and followed it into some nearby barrow mounds. In the vicinity of the barrows we located evidence that the attacks were being perpetrated by a local bear. It was decided that the villagers were well equipped enough to cope with a wild animal and we pushed on to investigate the third area where attacks had originated. Following the tracks of a large creature past the Cooper farm and found that a cow was taken from the Ackerman farm. We began to follow some tracks toward the abandoned Priory ruins to the southeast of Copperpot. Judging from the tracks Ranina believes the beast to be a Warg. Intelligent wolf like allies of the goblin bands in the area.

En route to the ruins we found the savaged cow corpse and had an encounter with a huge beetle creature that spat acid towards us until we were able to circumvent the area.
Reaching the priory we beheld a huge ruined complex. A leering demon like visage appears to stare forth from the main building confirming our findings which revealed that the ruins were once the haunt of a community of human demon worshipers. The overgrown, mould filled pond and undergrowth overrun grounds did not daunt us as we pressed on to investigate. Ranina was able to follow the Warg tracks to double doors leading into the main building. We decided to investigate the only other significant building still standing. Through the doors we spied a 12 foot tall Granite statue similar to the demonic visage adorning the main doors. Dragor and Orlof wanted to retrieve the statues glowing red garnet eyes. We eventually agreed despite the grim warning of a set of desiccated remains of what we assumed were a previous group who had tried the same. The walls of the building were lined with armed skeletons which exuded an aura of menace according to the clerics who travel with us.

As we entered the room several of the skeletons sprung to life moving to attack us as though controlled by an invisible puppeteer. It was at this point that Azgan, the unsung hero of the day let forth some form of energy pulse, shouting to his god and causing the skeletons to collapse. Truly a sign of his divine favour.

Approaching the larger building we searched the barracks either side of a slimed entrance to the main building. Finding some giant rats in a room we entered and engaged the vermin. As the warriors engaged one foe Ranina ever the sharp eyed scout turned to find a pair of Wargs, not a solitary beast as we had imagined, stalking the party. Shouting warning Ranina and Orlof turned to combat the creatures. Ranina taking a savage blow in the opening seconds of combat leading to a frantic fight with the beasts.

I am sorely wounded from the fight and lie here, I may be dreaming but I will hold onto these memories until I awake. Orlof should be watched. I will remember that. What kind of a dwarf praises goblins and orcs but would not help a village being savaged by the remnants of once of their armies? A fool or a traitor. He will be watched.

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24-26 Urmarillion, Pass of 3819: The Journey Begins
The Last Record of the Hearthstone Line

So, I’m writin a diary. Essentially, if you’re reading this it’s because I’m dead. Not necessarily that I died while this adventure was going on, but just that I’m dead. So, what does this journal recount? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe the ascension of a great king or queen, or possibly the last records of the Hearthstone family, or maybe evens a final recounting of the return of a betrayer to rival the Kinslayer. Who knows? What I do know is that I am on a trip to find out where the Golden Mountain is, and we just set off. So, this’ll be the journal of one Orlof Hearthstone, last of the Hearthstones, and final Judge of the Kinslayer’s Line.

24 Urmarillion

So, our first day of travel was rather uneventful all told, excluding the Wolverine I managed to irritate while on watch this evening. Otherwise, just a long day of walking in heavy armour. We decided to hold over the evening in an abandoned watchtower. There were signs of little folk that had been messing about here, but other than that not many things terribly noteworthy. Though, the little folk may also be some goblins. Apparently they had quite the force out here the other day, but they got chased off by an army of our kin. So, maybe there be some stragglers out ere?

Oh, that reminds me. We be headed to the Dumathoin sage. It’ll be a long trip, and on the way well visit many a town an ask folks if they remember where they came from in the mountains to the west. Honestly, if today was any indication, it’ll be a long uneventful trip all told.

25 Urmarillion
Another day with little happening. Though we are starting to suspect were being followed. On a side note, we passed what I suspect to be a barrow on our way here. The shrine had been vandalised, but we didn’t find anything of great value. Pity really, but a pleasant sight all the same. In fact, to be honest this whole valley is a pretty sight. Maybe a tad overgrown, but still not terrible.

Oh, seems some of us were right, we are being followed. We just moved camp. Whole big hullaballoo about what to do now. As usual it boils down to run away from the scary goblins. Gah, what kinda dwarves suggest running.

26 Urmarillion
So, in the evening, after we’d made camp, we were attacked. Not much of a fight though. Maybe a dozen goblins, we killed most of them, a few got no one was particularly hurt by the whole thing. Today we arrive at the human village. I forget the name, but still. Hell it won’t even be there in a few years’ time knowing humans.

So, the humans seem to have a problem on their hands. A bunch of Goblin things, or wargs or some such have been chewing up their folk right nasty like. Put the whole village on alert too, they were much fond of strangers. Still, it’s a good time to see our new“king” in action, maybe get a measure of his mettle. Might give him a bit of a poke in the right direction, since I’m the last of me line an all. Still, eventually I’ll have to take the training wheels off and get the measure of the Dwarf. An speaking o which, I should be careful of Aeric’s influence on the lad. Too much mercenary, not enough Good for my liking. Hell, him an Azgan both seem far too inclined to not care in my books. Pity too, considering me brother died for one of ‘em. Still, we are off in a mo, so I’ll leave this ere for the moment an get back to it.

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22 Oontrom, Pass of 3819: The Fallen Prince
Report of Azgan Stoneheart

To: King Togren of Dalarrak
From: Azgan Stoneheart

Orders: To scout the outer rim of the great valley and rendezvous with the dwarven army on the far side of the bridge after the orc assault. Any resistance to be dealt with at our discretion.

Outcome: We followed the path around the outer rim of the valley as ordered. When approaching approximately level with the third great column supporting the bridge we encountered a band on orcs. We immediately engaged the enemy killing three and capturing one for questioning. Through interrogation and investigation of the area we uncovered the orc’s plan to bring down the bridge under the dwarves. The captive was then executed for his crimes. Unfortunately this was not the only site where the sabotage was to take place.

We attempted to sound a general retreat but our location made this only partially successful. We do believe, however, that in stopping that particular pile of boulders we may have save the second column from collapsing.

After the bridge collapse we changed our plan and made our way down into the valley to aid in the rescue. We saw orcs recovering the body of the prince and taking him away. We set to pursue. Along the way we were able to rescue one golem and his controller but no other live dwarves were located.

The cave network that we followed the orcs down was infested with giant centipedes but we discovered that they have an aversion to fire and continued our pursuit. We eventually found ourselves outside the gates of Khel Gurum, which were guarded by an ogre. As our resources were already somewhat depleted, we opted to sneak past the troll into a secret entrance to the city.

Once inside we discovered the prince about to offered as sacrifice to their foul god Grumsh. We quickly dispatched of the evil priest and his guard then recovered the body and got back out.

My Grace, it was a terrible day in the history of your kingdom, and we did all we could to lessen it’s blow. We thank you for your generous gesture in calling our enormous debt to your people paid.

It has been an honour serving you,
Azgan Stonehearth of Thorbadin.

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Prelude: The Fall of the Golden Mountain

Thorbadin – The Golden Mountain. Tis said that no traveller could enter her halls for the first time without weeping at her beauty: her great, radiant columns rising nearly to the heavens, her streets aflame with the shine of gold, her architecture so fine as to make the greatest of masons shamed at their own meager craft. The famed skald Dwinden Mythriltongue once declared “There may be greater kingdoms in dwarvendom, but none so lovely as Thorbadin.” One of the 12 great realms of dwarvenkind, The Golden Mountain was known far and wide for its boundless riches and its noble rulers. Thorbadin’s mines were deep and rich, her people prosperous and diligent, and her walls tall and impregnable. It was thought that she would stand forever, as solid and unchanging as the stone from which she was carved. But the tiniest of streams can undermine a mountain with time, and no walls are high enough to guard against the treachery of a corrupted heart.

So it was that the fall of the Golden Mountain began with the loss of a single battle. Not a battle for riches or for territory, but for the soul of its greatest paragon: Marduk Fireheart, Son of Yorgal – forever after known as Marduk Kinslayer. General of the armies of Thorbadin and younger brother to its last true king, Balgur Stonebeard, Marduk was its greatest champion – fearless in battle, wise in leadership, steadfast in determination. It was said that Marduk’s mettle was forged by the gods themselves, from the purest of mythril. Yet unbeknownst to all, the forging had left a single, fatal flaw: envy.
The evil god Abbathor, long covetous of Thorbadin’s prosperity, learned of this flaw, and set out to turn it towards the kingdom’s destruction. Like a master smith, Abbathor worked Marduk’s covetousness, stoking the fires of his pride, stretching and tempering the Fireheart’s envy of his brother. Slowly, diligently, he turned Marduk’s valour into arrogance, his love for his brother into disdain. Was it not widely acknowledged that Balgur was a fine dwarf, but that his younger brother was stronger, wiser, more valorous? Why should Balgur reign through mere chance of having been born first? Thorbadin deserved more, it deserved better – it deserved Marduk as king.

So it was that Marduk opened his heart to Abbathor, and The Golden Mountain’s destruction was assured. Secretly allying with the evil duergar, the would-be king struck a deal: the grey dwarves would assist Marduk in obtaining the throne, and he would reward them from Thorbadin’s vast riches. Marduk laid open the gates of the Golden Mountain to the duergar, and at the head of their army, marched upon his brother’s fortress. The battle that ensued was bloody but short: the loyal dwarves of Thorbadin, taken unawares, were no match for the cunning of their former general and the powers of the grey dwarves.
In the final, desperate battle, Balgur’s sons and daughters fell one by one. When the invaders entered the throne room of Thorbadin, only two warriors remained to stand against the usurper and his legions – King Balgur and his nephew Bofin – Marduk’s youngest child, and his only offspring to remain faithful to the true king. The two fought valiantly, but were no match for their opponents. Bofin was quickly overcome by the duergar’s dark magics, while Marduk engaged King Balgur in an epic battle, shaking the very foundations of The Golden Mountain. In the end, Balgur lay dying, and Marduk grasped The Heart of the Mountain, symbol of the king of Thorbadin, in hands still red with his brother’s blood.

Marduk’s moment of triumph, however, was short-lived. Not content with a mere share of Thorbadin’s riches, the duergar general turned upon the new king, summoning forth a foul beast and setting it upon the Kinslayer and his heirs. It is said that as his end approached, the gods blew upon the last embers of goodness within the Fireheart, burning away Abbathor’s taint. In his final moments, Marduk saw clearly all that he had done, to his family, his clan, and his kingdom, and understood his only chance to make amends.
Charging into battle for the final time, the Fireheart and his kin sacrificed themselves to free the loyal Bofin from the duergar. Mortally wounded, Marduk entrusted his son with the Heart of the Mountain, commanding him to flee, so that one day he might return and undo what his father had wrought. Marduk remained to face the grey dwarves, and his end.
Little is known of Bofin’s escape, obscured as it was by the duergar’s later spells. Justly fearing retribution from the other dwarven kingdoms, the grey dwarves employed a dark ritual to remove all knowledge of Thorbadin’s location from dwarvenkind. Overnight, the most knowledgeable sages and skalds found themselves unable to place Thorbadin, their maps mysteriously blank. The survivors of The Golden Mountain, harried and scattered wide by the duergar, found themselves unable to recall their own home. Most wandered the land in vain, finally taken in as refugees by other communities. Bofin Oathkeeper, as he would come to be known, never gave up on the promise he had made his father, working tirelessly to rediscover the location of his birthplace. Upon his death, the Heart of the Mountain, and his oath, were bequeathed to his oldest daughter, Orila.

It has been 1,600 years and four generations since Orila returned to the Maker’s forge. Some 2,100 years after the Fall of The Golden Mountain, three siblings, great-great-great-great-grandchildren of Marduk Kinslayer, and their allies set out upon an epic quest to right the wrongs of their distant ancestor. Amongst them marches the wielder of the Heart of the Mountain, the last regent of Thorbadin and the bearer of Bofin’s ancient oath.

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