Earth Brothers final night
Birth of the stone brothers
---ancient dwarven prophesy.
With the coming of the Horde, it is certainly the darkest hour for the dwarven race. All but one stronghold has fallen to the vast tidal wave of goblinoids lead by demonic officers. The last desperate hope of the dwarven people rests in the hands of four young but carefully trained dwarves. A fighter, a cleric, a scout/trap master, and an Underearth ranger have been selected to carry the Hammer of Moradin – a smith’s hammer of incredible age and holiness – to the lands where the dwarves were first created by Moradin. Deep in the homeland, beneath the seven Mountains of Virtue, rests the Origin Forge. It was upon this ancient and most sacred site that Moradin forged the first dwarves. The group must extract raw ore from each of the mountains of virtue, smelt it into raw iron, and forge an iron statue of a dwarf. If properly done and with the right rituals, the statue will become host to a small fragment of Moradin’s spirit – just enough to aid the dwarves in their darkest hour. It is believed by some that vast numbers of ancient dwarves – the first of their race – lay beneath the Mountains of Virtue in an eternal slumber waiting to be awoken. Others believe that the avatar / statue will forge a new race of dwarves.
The four of you have been selected, gathered your supplies, and made all necessary arrangements for the journey – a three month journey if no unexpected delays. Since the Mountains of Virtue lie in the northern reaches of the Human lands, the first leg of the journey will take you to the western most human lands. While vast underground trade routes once linked all dwarven strongholds and most major cities of other races, since the coming of the Horde, the majority of those trade routes have either been conquered by the Horde or collapsed by the dwarves themselves to prevent the Horde from using them. Those that remain are heavily trapped and / or invaded by creatures from the deepest pits of the earth - some from other planes of existence – all bent on devouring any form of food that can be found. After reviewing the options with those who have traveled to human lands in the past, you plan to head to the human frontier settlement of Syene – just a few hundred or so humans behind a semi-stout log wall where a lot of dwarven goods were sold before the siege by the Horde closed off all trade. The route to Syene was one of the routes the Horde took first at the start of the siege and while dwarven teams have snuck back in from time to time to set traps, deadfalls, and to unleash unpleasant monsters dug up from the darkest reaches of the earth most of the route should be open. It is expected that the humans will have closed off the exit but it remains unknown for certain – no dwarf has traveled that far along that route for nearly fifty years. The priests create a temporary passage from one of the most isolated and forgotten passages in the stronghold to place you beyond the siege lines maintained by the Horde. The passage will be sealed behind you. There will be no help coming – you are the only hope of your race.
Carefully you crawl through the temporary passage the priests have opened up to the trade route that will – or should depending on the activities of the Horde – lead your group to Syene and from there the Homeland were you can complete your quest. It is believed that your home can hold out for at least another couple of years despite all the Horde can throw at the defenders.
Once in the trade route, you take stock, triple check your provisions and consult the map of the trade route to make sure you know where each caravan stop can be found. Like most of the routes, this route was once rough stone but now reinforced with fitted stones and periodic support columns. The route is about twenty feet wide in most areas and ten feet high so to easily accommodate the pack lizards and rothe drawn wagons that made up dwarven caravans. Each column is supposed to be home to a colony of specially bred bioluminescent fungi that would enable the travelers to see nearly a quarter of a mile ahead. The priests tunneled out where there had been little reason to expect Horde patrols and the first caravan stop in the direction of Syene is expected to be about 4 to 6 hours away. Unfortunately this fungi has been untended and visibility tends to vary quite a bit – as far as a mile in some places where it has grown wild and sheer darkness where you must rely on your darkvision (60’) for any clue as to what might be ahead.
Just before last meal, you near the expected caravan stop. It once held an extended family of about twenty adult dwarves. Approaching quietly, you can see the fungi has been cared for and the area ahead is dim but lit well enough to see that the route goes through a natural cave that is nearly a quarter of a mile long and averages 250 feet in width. About middle of the cave, a stone wall with two block houses can be seen. The nearest wall has been shattered and the block house virtually destroyed – a gate way through the wall is half shattered and there is no sign of the once stout wooden door. The furthest block house and the fortifications attaching it to the cave wall seem intact. Vek volunteers to scout ahead to see if there is any trouble before the rest of the group proceeds into the cave. He comes back about a quarter of an hour later to report that the further block house is intact and the door to it is closed. He could see four crossbow slits facing outward but there was no sign of activity. The court yard between the walls and the cave looked to have been a small stable – less than 80 ft square (draw out the area for the players). A double door separates the stable from the rest of the caravan stop. One door is intact but the other has been badly damaged - its rightmost side has been shorn from the wall and it leans against the other door. A small passage way about 3 feet or so has been cut through the stone where the damaged door would have been hinged.