Sharde

Subterranean Secrets
Opal's Journal, pages 4-5

The Fehenan soldiers’ mission was not the only secret to be learned at the fort however. Beyond a secret door and a deviously trapped antechamber (through which our pathfinder Coran dauntlessly negotiated a safe route) lay a subterranean laboratory, sealed and forgotten nigh on a score of decades. Hidden therein were treasures greater than gold! On a practical level this dormant chamber of knowledge held ample apparatus for me to establish my own laboratory back in Kaz Dorn.(1)

Our more momentous discovery however was the history of the former occupants of the room; an evil human mage and his unfortunate dwarven prisoner. The nameless mage had captured our unfortunate cousin on the surface and subjected him to all manner of foul arcane procedures. He did however keep a record of what he learned from the dwarf and it is most auspicious for us that he did. That dwarf was none other than Gorin of the noble house Goldenbrow of Caer Banorn. Goldenbrow had recently departed Caer Banorn seeking aid from Kaz Dorn against the terrible invasion that brought low the ancestral home of my very own clan. But who, or what were the invaders? Eagerly I pored over the rotting remains of the mage’s diabolical diary in search of enlightenment.

One entry in particular had survived the parchment’s long entombment remarkably well.(2) It was a short account of Gorin Goldenbrow’s last day in Caer Banorn, which I transcribe below to preserve the original:

“Without warning the King’s guards were overcome and running battles were fought throughout the Royal Level. The King’s last stand on the steps of the Diamond Throne shoulder-to-shoulder with his Council was as brief as it was brave. Noble dwarves of Houses Forgingrimm, Highbeard, Axingrimm, Ironstone, Hammerheart and Goldenbrow were slaughtered in short order. Nothing and nobody it seemed could stand against the sudden assault of the dark-skinned demons pouring forth from below.”

Following a brief stopover in Helm’s Watch neccesitated by our reporting of the Fehena situation to the mannish authorities, we returned to Kaz Dorn with these revelations regarding Caer Banorn. We bore Goldenbrow’s remains with us for an honourable burial and King Hammerfist himself opened the Royal Vault of his hold for his proper interment. The Dauntless Mercenary Company were also made welcome guests at the King’s Table at the wake Hammerfist hosted in his honour.

Rest in peace, Gorin Goldenbrow.


Footnotes

  1. Or perhaps Helm’s Watch? If the Dauntless Mercenary Company are to be employed predominantly by surface-dwelling folk it may prudent to install myself amongst them? I shall give the matter some thought and consult the Brothers in Logic at the Fraternal Order of Aptitude in Kaz Dorn for guidance upon my return.
  2. Given the poor condition of the remainder of the document, the thought occurs that maybe we were meant to find this information? That perhaps even Maultier himself kept it safe from the ravages of time until such time that it’s secrets could be gleaned…
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Onward Bold Champions
Opal's Journal, pages 2-3

Pausing only to heal our most grevious injuries and to help the villagers restore some semblance of normality to Holdt, we marched south to investigate the fortified mountain hideout on Gast’s map and found it with little trouble. Despite being long since abandoned as a regular military outpost, much of the fort was in reasonable repair (for a human construction) and provided the bandits within a distinct defensive advantage. To overcome these foes would require brain as well as brawn, and we approached the ruined gatehouse at twilight in the guise of a group of pilgrims from Gun Gadrun seeking shelter for the night.

A group of the brigands came forth to meet us at the gate and hear our request, whilst their fellows looked down on us from the towers with readied bows. They not only refused us refuge but demanded our weapons and coin-pouches on pain of death. Well, our ruse at least got us to close quarters with the bandits and drawing battle axes we charged and made short work of the men barring the gateway. Faced with two archer-manned towers to overcome and fuelled by overconfidence from our brief triumph at the gate, we were about to learn a valuable and painful lesson. Hrothgar ordered a charge of both towers at once, causing us to split our party into two forces; an act which nearly got some of us killed. Together we could easily overwhelm each tower, but divided the archers had the upper hand. It was only through our dauntless dwarven tenacity that we survived the assault and could regroup ready to take on the keep and however many more brigands laired within.

Holed up in one of the towers we patched up our wounds as best we could, and carefully watched the windowless keep for signs of more bandit activity. Fortunately we had been swift in our attack and luckier still we had not happened upon a rotation of the guards, so those within had not been alerted. Undeterred by our injuries we pressed our advantage. Room by room and corridor by corridor we moved quickly, using the brigands own noise to mask ours as we made our bloody way through the keep. The defenders fought uncharacteristically bravely for common bandits and when we eventually confronted their leader he proved to be a warrior of great skill, although by then he no longer had numbers on his side and he fought to an well-earned death.

With our foes defeated we ransacked the keep looking for the goods stolen from the merchants and villagers of Holdt. Searching the leader’s quarters however we discovered a dark secret; these were no mere brigands and their leader no bandit king. We found irrefutable proof that these men were soldiers from Fehena in the south, probing the Farthian defences with an eye toward invasion. Naturally we returned this proof to authorities in Helm’s Watch at our earliest opportunity.

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An Ironstone Abroad
Opal's Journal, page 1

It would appear there is some truth to the tales of adventure sung by the skalds; our first began when we were approached in a tavern by a mysterious old man! He is Elder Konnalt, hailing from the mannish village of Holdt to north of Gun Gadrun. Holdt had been beset by bandit raiders, and Konnalt barely escaped with his life to seek aid. Whilst escorting him home we were ambushed by a small group of these bandits, though they proved little match for dwarven steel.

Upon our arrival in Holdt we questioned those who had survived bandit attacks and our investigations led us to a man named Maron Gast, a merchant recently settled in the village. He soon crumbled under logical dwarven interrogation and attempted to flee. Dauntlessly we tracked him through the extensive cellars of his warehouse vanquishing surprisingly numerous and martially competent lackeys. Eventually the coward could run no more and was laid low in the darkest corner of his lair.

Needless to say, Elder Konnalt and the grateful villagers of Holdt acclaimed us as great heroes. Modesty prevents us from acknowledging such titles so early in our careers, although we have taken an important first step on a glorious road. Our job was not complete however, as we discovered a crude map on Gast’s broken body indicating the brigands had a hideout in an old fort near the southern mountain pass to Fehena.

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In Dauntless Company
The Journal of Grundopal Ironstone

And so here I find myself in Helm’s Watch. Sipping weak-as-piss ale, sitting on a bar stool too tall for even my feet to brush the floor, and squinting in the human’s beloved sunlight. As luck would have it I am not alone up here. For the time being I have taken up with a newly formed band of stout dwarven axes-for-hire. At present we number five hardy souls, of such varying personality and skill I marvel we are all hewn from the same stone.

Our nominal leader is Hrothgar, a dwarf who talks a good fight though rarely stays on his feet long enough for his axe to back up his boasts. Next up is our scout Coran Pathfinder, a rough diamond who lends a subtle flair to complement the company’s brute force. Talking of which, the fiercely named warrior Dorn Mansmiter is one of the brutest forces I have ever had the pleasure to meet; thank the gods he’s on our side. And on the subject of deities the fourth member of our party is Josive Braveforger, an industrious priest of the Holy Mother to see we all make it safely home after our adventures. Finally there is myself, Grundopal Ironstone; an simple dwarf with an honest thirst for knowledge. Together we are the Dauntless Mercenary Company.

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