The Stone-Hearted

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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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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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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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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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32-37 Urmarillion, Pass of 3819: The Abode of Abraxas
Ranina's Diary

Well, we had to spend a few days recovering. It took a little while but eventually everyone was well enough to finish our little expedition into that old monastery on the hill. It was a damned creepy place, but hey, we need gold to continue our quest. Somehow, I doubt we can retake our Mountain with just the five of us. But I digress. That’s a story for another time.

We were stopped by a rusted gate, but that was soon resolved whenDragor decided to axe it down. As we walked down, it was known to be a burial chamber. To each their own, I suppose. If they want to be buried under a creepy monastery then good for them. There were two ways to go and there was nothing at the end of each so we went through the main arch way. Above, there was some sort of demonspeak. Not even Azgan could decipher the writing. We found a stone door in the floor, which was checked for traps and when none was found, down we went. We travelled down a fair way before we came across a round room. The same demonspeak appeared and I noticed it had some similar characters to the writing above.

As we cross the centre of the room, well that’s when shit got interesting. Skeletons decided to bloody crawl out the damn floor. I did try and shoot them but I soon realised I needed something to smash them with. Azgan decided to try and turn them by jumping onto the disc in the centre of the floor. It seemed he failed because they kept coming. The fight went on for some time, ending up with Azgan and I in the tunnel and the others doing some sort of shield wall and picking them off one by one. I honestly have no idea what happened with them, being distracted myself with skeletons. In the end, they were all smashed to pieces and we continued onwards.

As we go deeper, we find that it was getting warmer. It may have been a natural spring, or more demon magic. But I did find metal sheeting that was hot to the touch. It seemed like, when activated correctly, it would dump boiling water on you. There was a drain as well, but nothing of interest was there so we went into the room. It was full of demonic paintings and six arm like things leading up to platforms. To cut a long story short, Orlof stepped on one, it clicked down and Dragor decided we should all step on one to see if that would open the door. Dragor also decides to wedge Azgan’s chisel into the platform no one was on.
Now, remember what I said about the boiling water? Well that’s coming back to bite our asses now. The water crashed into the room, rising slowly. Needless to say, those who had fallen off had to get on new ones. Dragor shared one with me which was a very delicate balancing act. Azgan and Aeric were on their own and poor Orlof fell off his. He had to swim in the boiling water and cling onto the door ledge. In the end, the water receded and the door opened. We had to rest for a little while to recover.

We went further down and eventually, we figured out the next part was a maze. Even more demonspeak appeared, with ever changing symbols. Regardless, we took the system of only turning left. It seemed to work as we eventually did get out. Before we did, we were attacked by a goddamn zombie ogre. I took axes from Aeric and used them. Dragor eventually came up from behind the ogre and after a short battle, it was beaten into nothing. Damn thing wouldn’t be getting up again anytime soon.

We came across a broken bridge soon after and that was the only way across. We spent some time debating what to do but in the end, Aeric climbed down, hopped across and back up the other side with a rope attached. It made a sort of singular rope bridge. We all mdae it across safely, except Dragor had a little accident and swung around like a pendulum first before scrambling up. Privately, it was most amusing once he was safely across.

We finally came across what seemed to be the ‘final’ room. It had a large gold statue at the end which I thought could be worth tens of thousands of gold. That was enough for me. Yes, there were a few channels of water leading to a large pool at the base of the statue but I honestly didn’t give a shit. I didn’t step into the pool, though. I decided to experiment and knock a chalice off the bench. Dragor got angry and sent me to the back but, while he was busy, I went back to smack the statue. Again, I got in trouble but I learnt what I wanted. To cut a long part short, we mucked about looking for traps, found none, then Orlof stood in the pool and activated the statue.

Again, not to bore you with the details, we beat down the statue and discovered it was brass covered with an inch of gold. That was rather depressing but hey, gold is gold. Orlof found the hidden exit and we spent some time hauling up back up to our cart. Once it was all out, it took a few days to completely recover in Copperpot before we headed off to the human city of Dummockton. It took 3 days of traveling but we got there eventually. By then I had gotten used to the weird looks those humans were giving us.

We do manage to get in after some negotiation with the guards and the markets… they were a bustle of humans yelling and talking and in such a rush. I almost wanted to leave and go back to anywhere that wasn’t here. But, we pushed through and try to find someone who can separate the brass from the gold. The first day, we had no success and slept in the cart at the local inn. The next day, we found some information to go see Henry Campion. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the negotiations but in the end, he did agree and I do suppose we offered to help make his forge a little better. Nothing like a bit of Dwarven elbow grease to get things going.

Anyway, that’s the end of this particular leg… I’m sure there will be more, provided I’m not dead.

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37-40 Urmarillion, Pass of 3819: Welcome to Dummockton
Th Journey Home: Dragor Stoneheart, The Iron Fist's Personal Log

Log Entry 56, Day 37 of Urmarillion, Pass of 3819
The crew returned from the markets looking a bit roughed up, apparently they had a run in with some thugs lead by Flynn. This guy has messed with the wrong dwarf, mark my words I will make him pay for messing with my boys.

Henry informed us that Flynn works for Trenton Radley, a kind of king pin when it comes to the thuggery of the city. Flynn Is his right hand man and isn’t someone to take lightly, a piece of turd that needs to be wiped off The community’s boot heel.

Log Entry 57, Day 38 of Urmarillion, Pass of 3819
Late evening we awoke with the front of the workshop on fire, Flynn and a bunch of his dogs ambushed us as we tried to put out the fire. The lads fought well and we took it to Flynn’s scurvy pups. I gave Flynn a beating he won’t forget and we broke them in satisfied dwarven style. It brought a smile to my face to see them flee with their tails between their legs. Flynn is a slippery snake, under Orlaf’s guard he broke free and fled into the darkness. (Note to one self, not only Is Orlaf useless at negotiation he also couldn’t guard a goat out of a vegie patch. I am yet to see this Dwarfs gizzards, one thing is for sure he is handy in a fight)

Our satisfaction in winning the skirmish was short lived, as we soon realised Henrys grand daughter Alice was kidnapped right from under our noses as we
were battling with Flynn’s dogs. A perfect diversion, bloody fool I am, I should have seen it coming.

We pursued Flynn’s thugs under Ra’s tracking guidance this lead us to their hide out. A large tanning factory heavily guarded. We informed the Night watch of what had transpired and asked them to assist. We had no choice but to retreat back to Henrys and try to form a plan of rescue/retaliation.

I have let Them down, it can’t happen again. Alice must be returned to her grandfather and Flynn must die.

Later that morning a girl arrived with a ransom note stating a time and place to meet for the following afternoon as well as 1/10th of our hoard as payment. We decided after long discussion to gather as much information as possible before proceeding to the hand over location

I found a hound breeder in town, not the best pup I have ever seen but the best I could find here under such a short notice. Never the less a good Guard dog, solid in size and loyal to my commands. Black in colour wide mouthed and well muscled frame. I shall call him Harek (Small Axe) He will guard our goods from now on.

Orlaf goes off on one of his soul missions of stubbornness to gather information from patrons at The Guilded LIlly tavern. He doesn’t seem To conform well to leadership but this time he actually gathered important information that lead us to a valuable contact. Orlaf met up with this contact called Oliver, sounds like he was the former thieves’ guild leader looking to reinstate his guild back into power. They struck up a deal where Oliver will supply us with illegal weapons we can use as well as a way into the thieves base through the sewer system. In return we have to give him a ledger that Trenton Radley holds; with in the ledger apparently there is information that would be incriminating to the current duchy. For the time been we decide not to act with ill content to Flynn and his crew until after the exchange has been done. Once Alice is safe we will teach these scum bags a lesson they will never forget.

Log Entry 58, Day 39 of Urmarillion, Pass of 3819
We went to the designated hand over location which was a large warehouse full of various crates stacked to the rafters. Fynn and 6 of his thugs were there waiting for us with Alice in tow. Upon entry Ra found a spot to hide and cover our retreat if needed.

After the exchange Flynn betrayed his word and set upon us in large numbers. We tried to retreat back towards the entrance where Ra was in hiding but were cut off by another group of thugs.

Orlaf went down gravely injured and Aeric lost his footing, I had no choice, I had to act quickly, I couldn’t leave my brethren AerIc. Orlaf might not be of my clan and I am still not convinced of his loyalty or motive but he is one of my lads now and I will not abandon him either.

In order To save our lives I offered Flynn a bribe I new he wouldn’t refuse. I offered him 2 bars of gold for him and 1 for his thugs in exchange for our freedom. Thank the gods he took the bait.

We gave them the gold, Orlaf was healed and we limped away liking our wounds and our pride.

Log Entry 59, Day 40 of Urmarillion, Pass of 3819
Time for revenge.

We met Oliver, got weapons, sewer map and intel on Trent Radleys compound.
We headed into the sewers with a new found fire in our bellys. Flynn and his dogs will pay for our injustice.

We knew there was a creature within the sewers that we had to pass to make The Tannery but I don’t think any of us were truly prepared for the beast that tore into our ranks. The creature a crawler, had tentacles of blinding speed that stunned most of our crew. We bravely fought on and eventually slayed the beast. I believe if it wasn’t For my brother’s quick thinking & magical rocks we wouldn’t have survived.

Why didn’t you take the crownAzgan? You may not know it brother but you are a worthy king.

The gods watch over us.
We entered the court yard of the tannery. Ra set to starting fires at the opposite end as a distraction for the guards which worked marvellously. We sat in wait for their leader Radley to exit his room but upon opening his door he stayed with in and did not exit. I took initiative and entered the room to engage him. Aerik & Orlaf barrage him with fierce attacks and push him back into the room, only to be turned unconscious by the words he spoke. The man was a caster of magic, we couldn’t afford To let him cast again.
At this stage Flynn appeared at the top of the stairs, I saw red and charged him; knocking his filthy ass down the stairs to land in a heap. Azgan then sets Flynn on fire with some oil flask, burn pig.

I re-enter the room finished Radley, retrieve our loot, the ledger and we made a run for the sewers. Unfortunately the town watch moved in and started arresting everyone. Only Azgan and I didn’t make it to the safety of the sewers and also wind up in the clink.
The crew smartly negotiated our release with the duchy using the ledger as the bargaining tool. Thank the gods it worked.

We said our goodbyes to Henry and Alice and as discreetly as possible packed up our wagons and left.

We may not have cleared the town of all the scum it holds but at least we rescued Alice and as I promised put Flynn 6 feet under. Rot in the Nine Hells dog.

My Crew

Azgan is still my soul compass, wouldn’t know what I would do without his guidance and steady hand.

Aeric; three words come to mind: Strong, sturdy, reliable. A true Dwarven warrior.

Ra may still be young and act without thought at times, but my sister has clearly proven she is an important part of our crew. A proud older brother I am. Keep growing little bird.

Orlaf, I am still not sure of his motives and his thoughts, his strange opinions were cast from a different dwarf mould that’s For sure. But I have to say I am starting to think his diversity of character is actually a plus for our crew. Throughout the last few days he has gained important intel (even if it was obtained through methods I would not approve) that were imperative to our survival. For a man of the cloth he sure is a powerful warrior, I am glad he fights our fight.

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36-39 Korimaril, Pass of 3820: The Bull, the Bear, and the Wolf
Expedition Update: Dummockton – Basilia, Azgan

37 Korimaril, 3820
After an uneventful month of westerly travel from the human town of Dummockton we wintered in Darren’s Rest. There we met a bard with tales of dwarven refugees in the Basilia hills. It was decided that these rumours were worth investigation and as soon as the thaw made travel possible we departed with this destination in mind.

Several weeks later it became apparent that we were going to need to detour for supplies, but as we were so close to our destination we decided to split the party between gathering supplies and investigating the Basilia Hills.

Aeric and myself ventured south with the wagon to stock up. After a two days travel, we encountered some Romani humans by the side of the road. With our chest of gold concealed in the wagon and their reputation for theft we decided to give them a wide birth. This as it turned out was a grave mistake.

We rested for the night at the Bull and Bear; A human tavern of relatively sturdy construction although our rest was short-lived before we came under attack. A number of wolves led by a half-man, half-wolf monster burst in and managed to drag away a couple of humans before we were able to fight them off. We were assisted by a human woman with a giant sword and another human mage.

We were able to determine that the attackers were werewolves and likely to return for the next few nights during the full moon. Unable to reach anywhere safe before nightfall we decided to fortify the tavern and wait for them to come back. We spent the daylight hours boarding windows, creating fire bombs and gathering wolvesbane.

When they returned we were ready for them and managed to kill several of the beasts with minimal human casualties.

We have another day of respite before their inevitable return. I only hope it will be enough.

38 Korimaril, 3820
It’s day three of the siege and a bunch of the weaker-willed humans decided to try their luck in the open. Fools. We hoped they would make a more attractive target for the wolves. Wrong again.

By nightfall we had re fortified the windows and the mage had finished his concoction to coat the weapons with. What few humans remained were now armed with silver sling bullets. We felt like we stood a chance tonight and as night fell we resumed our vigil.

Several hours later the wolves struck, the sneaky bastards managed to get in through the basement without making so much as a squeak and killed a human before we even noticed them. As they burst forth from the kitchen the warrior woman proved her worth and quickly cleaved them both in twain. Then things took a turn for the worse.
The tricky bastards set the place on fire. Honestly, I’m surprised it took them this long to think of it. We retreated to the relative safety of the basement and were able to hold the fire’s progress from cooking us alive but the tavern would be no use as a defensible position the next night.

39 Korimaril, 3820
We were forced to retreat to the nearby mine, the only defensible position in close proximity. Hoping to find a safe spot to defend from we were instead confronted by a pair of Vorn. Dumathoin’s knowledge continues to flow through me, I have no idea how I could possibly have identified these twisted creatures, let alone talk to them! We negotiated a price for our rental of their cave mouth, turns out they like gems and gold as much as we do, although for a different purpose. In addition to the gold and gemstones, they have recruited us to help them clear out some Duergar tomorrow morning.

That task was pushed to the back of our mind though as we awaited the inevitable onslaught. Surely enough the wolves did come and for a fourth night we did hold them. This time only barely. We burned and stabbed and when the dust settled, they had retreated just seconds from our obliteration.

We sit here in the cave mouth, waiting for morning, and four weeks of less-than-full moons. Safe from the wolves for a while, but with a new possibly even deadly challenge at our feet. Hunt down nine dark dwarves or face the displeasure of at least two deadly monstrosities from another plane!

I never thought I’d say it, but I think we’re going to need help, even if it’s from humans.

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47-52 Koramaril, Pass of 3820: The Forge of Fury
Ranina's Diary

47 Korimaril, 3820
Reader,

I assume since you’re reading this, my diary has either been stolen, lost or is now a relic telling of how we got our home back. I’m hoping for the last.

The boys were five days overdue. Normally I wouldn’t be too fussed about this but Azgan was with them so I was worried. It wasn’t like them to be late. To take our minds off of it, we decided to go hunt around the hills looking for any signs of the dwarves we’d heard many rumours about. As suspected, there were no dwarves to be found. Instead we met an injured elf by the name of Lera. She was far too injured to accompany us to check out her ambush place, but she told us all she knew and that the orcs had taken two farmers prisoner. Frederick and Agnes, I believe their names were. Funny names, but well suited for humans I suppose.

We were able to borrow ponies from the village and went on our way. We found the ambush site well enough and then proceeded to track the orcs down. We decided to head north, which was fortunate because there were a bunch of those damn stinkers. Needless to say, they were slaughtered. Found a sword that looked to be of Dwarven craft. It was a mighty fine sword, too.

We headed back and followed the other path, since we hadn’t found those humans yet. We pulled an all nighter and found a Dwarven carved path and an unnatural rock formation. Naturally, we were curious and had to wonder. “Had we found the home of the rumoured Dwarves?”

To cut things short, dear reader, we took care of the lookout post guards by the doors to this Dwarven fortress and went to go explore. We made sure the rooms either side were empty and dispatched anything that was still alive and orc looking. We crossed the bridge over the ravine, which I sent a dirty orc tumbling down. Mighty proud of that, but anyway. We found those poor farmers locked up, seemingly to be the next meal. Dragor set his dog to watch over them as we had to find the key. During the explorations, we found a well, the ‘kitchen’, a dead end and a secret door. It was rather off putting. Covered in blood writing. We decided to leave that particular nugget of fun for a later time.

There was a huge door up the other end, but to make sure we’d be safe we checked the smaller door off to the side. They clearly were not expecting us and we managed to kill them all before they could even pick up their weapons. Idiots. Always be prepared, as Dragor pounded into my skull since before I could even walk or talk. That being said, when we opened the big door we were not prepared for the sight that greeted us.

A goddamn ogre and his two wolves.

Shit.

48 Korimaril, 3820
Reader,

As I was saying. Two wolves and a danm ogre. Dragor was on it like a flash, killing one wolf as it charged and then the second as it jumped over its buddy’s corpse. For some reason, he dropped his weapons and proceeded to get smashed unconscious. That left Orlaf and I, clearly not warriors, to take on this ogre ourselves. It all seemed futile, especially when more orcs came up from behind and tried to overwhelm us. We were doing alright, me dancing out the way of the ogre and Orlaf picking off other orcs until that spell caster. Why is it always a spell caster?

The poor bastard got a dose of what looked like his worst nightmare. The distraction allowed the ogre to get his one and only hit on me, which pissed me off to the point where he fell down, exhausted. I’d make sure he wouldn’t get up again anytime soon. Once he was down, Orlaf came to his senses and we finished them off. Bastards thought they could finish us. Us! We are Dwarves! (I was lucky to not get hit by that ogre, but the confidence boost didn’t hurt me one bit!).

We freed the farmers, took our little cache of gold we found and escorted them back to the village. Though, I did see something strange while on watch… none of the others believe me but I know I saw something fly across the moon… I just wish I knew what it was… nothing good. Nothing that ever flies is ever good.

Once we were rested, we went back to the mountain we now knew it to be called Stone Tooth. Fitting name, come to think of it. We spent a further two days fixing the bridge so we wouldn’t plummet to our death while crossing it. We spent some time thoroughly searching and inspecting things. We managed to dispose of the corpses down the ravine the bridge crossed. If we were going to stay here for awhile, we had to make it look at least a little respectable.

During our search, we found a straw stuffed gate. Naturally, we unstuffed it and opened it. Beyond was the most amazing huge formal hall. The reason for the door being stuffed and blocked became apparent when Stirges flew down. Luckily, the boys sliced them down easy enough. After, we were able to marvel at the detailed carvings that told the fall of our home, their rise to glory and their many battles. The carvings ended with them heading back towards home… I hope they made it. If there’s any way they know where our Mountain is, it would have to be here somewhere… right?

51 Korimaril, 3820
Reader,

Forgive my girlish hopes at the end of that last one. This is no time for such sentimentality.
We had a thorough search of this hall. There was a large crevasse that disappeared into darkness in the middle of the room. Nothing else seemed to stand out. But we did find a room with hanging skulls and a secret door wide open. Instead of closing it and risk us not being able to reopen it, we settled for piling crates by the entrance. Noise would be a good indication of something coming through.

We decided to bar the front doors to the place so nothing could come and bite us in the ass as we went to explore the lower levels. We were attacked by striges on the way down, but they were killed and we kept going. At the bottom, we found some Dwarven tombs. The earliest date we could find on them was 1700 years ago.

We kept going until we came to another cavern with these giant puffball mushrooms. I told the boys to be silent as I scouted ahead to check what the clacking sounds were. I had a fair idea, but seeing it confirmed it. It was Hook Horror. But this one only had one hook. Even with just one, it would be tough to take on. As it was, it had already hunted and went on its way. Seems there were Trogladites down here, too. I advised the boys that we should leave this particular cavern for another day.

We went down another passage into yet another cavern, and this one reeked. We founded a lot of passages down this cavern but we decided to check the barricaded one. There was a Trogladite watching us and we knew it was a trap. We decided to spring it anyway and then another appeared and released a brown bear on us! We killed the bastards and I somehow managed to calm the bear down so it wouldn’t attack us. As I was doing this, we were attacked from behind by what seemed like the whole damn tribe and a lizard pet on the roof.

We fought defensively and backed away, although we had some miscommunications along the way. Apparently the lizard had a sticky tongue and tried to throw me from the ground. I didn’t let that happen and we slowly retreated. Even when they sent the bear in to fight, it clearly didn’t want to.

We somehow got to the surface, on the far side of the mountain. We were alive, ad that was what mattered. Once we were healed up, we’d fight our way back in. This was a Dwarven mountain and there was no way in hell would I let those things infest it any longer than they already had.

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55 Koramaril, Pass of 3820: The Forge of Fury
He 'it 'is 'ead on the end of da bed and couldn'a get up in da Morn'in...

To those that follow.

Tis a funny thing this ‘ere journey. Every night, all us dwarves curl up in some foreign place, and pull out our journals. It’s like a ritual for us. An yet, i tire of recounting each days events like some market list of the day. I mean, im a priest of the Stoneborn. Were sposed to be learned, and ‘ere i am recounting our days events like some soldier with a log book. So, im gonna stop dat. I want whatever folk that find this to learn something from my life. Specially if it’s gonna end in a stupid way, such as it nearly did this morn.

To Clarify, i write this from me sick bed within Stonetooth keep, where i ave to rest couse i near split me ‘ead open fallin down a ruddy chimney. Aye, thats what ya read. Me, the last of the Hearthstone line, falling down a chimney. That would ave been a right good end to my family’s oath, wouldn’ it. To quote “The HearthStone’s were a long lived and noble family, intent on preserving the honour of the Golden Mountain. There quest lasted for generations, until it met it’s unfortunate end when the last of their line was spooked by a great bastard of a black dragon an fell down a chimney.” Just splendid that tale, aint it. Full of thrilling, daring escapes. Bah!

See, an thats the problem with big generation spanning Oath’s, aint it. I mean, its hard to live up to that righ’. If i died of dysentery tomora, you couldn’a really fault me for it, since its a disease. An yet, it’d be kind of a sad way for the HearthStone line to end all told. Out with a whimper, not a roar. Well forget that!

My family died for this ruddy oath, and I’m gonna damn well make sure it weren’ for naught. If those ruddy Stonehearts get emselves killed, im gonna find the damnable mountain meself and take custody of the sodding place. Ill bring my people back, and ill shake em out of their self centered Isolationism. Its mad i tell ya. We’ve been wandering the human lands for the better part of a year now, an you know what we see. Ruddy chaos. Everywhere we go, there’s some upstart git bossin’ the poor folk around. An there’s no’ aye hint that anyone is gonna put it to rights. An that, i tell ya, ain’t right. The Stoneborn didnt give us dwarves the sense of right and wrong so we could let these foolish young races fight the surface into utter chaos. I mean, they stand on the Earth just as clear as anyone else. They need to sort ’emselves out. Instead, they war with each other.

An then there’sDragor, the Heir. He’s a Good Dwarf, no doubt. The problem is ee ‘as no foresight. He looks at the humans like you look at ants. Sept ’ee doesn’a realise there so many of ‘em they could drown the whole world in their madness. We need to find Thorbadin and restore it, but not just for our own people. The world needs a place of sanity, of calm. It needs a place of stability, so that it can grow. It needs a place not just of dwarves, but of a whole mess of different folks ’appy to work together. We can build that. I truly believe it. An if i can, ill make that place exist. Its not enough anymore for the Hearthstones to simply judge. We must come forward and guide. If we dont, i fear the whole world will fall into darkness, and then there’ll be nothin’ anyone can do.

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