TALES FROM THE DWARVEN REALM
Aventurian Herald, Hesinde 1031 BF
A Report from the Deep
The hidden secrets of the Anvil Mountains
MUROLOSH/ANGBAR. Ancient mineshafts and long-buried tunnel systems. Unknown dwellers of the underground! The golden city of Corumbra! What ancient secrets, unknown treasures and perilous dangers wait within the mighty Anvil Mountains - those massive granite mountains south of the Great River? Our intrepid reporter Igan Trappenfeld was granted the rare privilege of entering the Dwarven city of Murolosh to explore the gloomy depths of the ancient Anvil Mountains. His journey was fraught with danger! Read on and thrill at his exciting report!
A journey into the depths of the Anvil Mountains! What an adventure! The range is crowned with the mighty peaks of the Red Horn, Drakensang and Red Helm mountains. Ancient secrets, the stuff of myths and legends, lie deep within its mighty vaults. Astute readers will be keen to learn that old temple records in Angbar recount an incident in 247 BF in which dozens of Deonts heard an unknown creature's cries for help issuing from the mountains. The incident was followed by a series of lengthy investigations and theological disputes which failed to solve the mystery. According to the records, even the mighty hero and future dragonslayer Fendral himself explored the mountains in the hope of solving the mystery. My childhood was full of such tales and I have long desired to visit the Anvil Mountains and so many other legendary places... [...] I was forced to wait two long weeks in the windswept ravine that leads to the gates of mighty Murolosh - the 'City of Heroes' and the fortress of the Mountain King Arombolosh. Two long weeks I waited in the shadow of the many hundreds of towers and mighty fortifications that have guarded the Dwarf's underground empire for centuries. From where I sat I could spy the polished copper walls of the Fire Temple of Algoram and the mighty Fire Falls of Algormorsh, a river of searing magma flowing from the mountainside. And then, aided by my many letters of recommendation, I was admitted to the halls of Tosh Mur. But not before I had convinced the dwarven guards that I was not a secret prospector, come to rob the Anvil Mountains of their precious treasure. Human folk call the kingdom of the Anvil Dwarves 'Guardian of Forest and Mountain', but in Regolan 'Tosh Mur' means 'red brittle stone from the roots of dark trees'. [...]
The Mysterious Mushroom Farmers
Having arrived in Murolosh itself, I was befriended by a tradeswoman called Aldessia. Aldessia travels regularly from the Khom Desert to the dwarven underground city to sell her exotic wares and has won the trust of this otherwise reserved people. We are almost the only Human visitors to the dwarven realm at this time, and Aldessia's fiery red hair and smoky voice sooth the discomfort of finding oneself in such foreign surroundings. The young trader offered me her support and strengthened my resolve to seek out and explore the depths of the Anvil Mountains. The sweet scent of adventure hung heavy in the air and drove me onward. I was soon introduced to the dwarven mushroom farmer Grimbolosh, son of Grindurosh, a dweller of Murolosh's deep tunnels and caverns. He took Aldessia and I down into his dark realm and proudly showed us around his underground plantations and mushroom beds. We crawled along cold, narrow tunnels and clambered down into ever deeper mine shafts - while along the way Grimbolosh pointed out his "favorite haunts". Strange sounds, fouls odors and a sense of impending doom accompanied our descent. [...] [...] Suddenly, we stepped out into a wondrous cavern that was lit up by a garden of glowing yellowy-red lantern fungi. Grimbolosh promptly presented me with a dwarven lantern and placed within it one of a handful of brightly glowing mushrooms - so-called Abrodrom Mushrooms. "A gift, young adventurer. That you may better appreciate the wonders of the mushrooms", translated Aldessia his words into her poetic variation of Garethi. As we wandered through the caves Aldessia trampled underfoot a number of mushrooms, releasing a cloud of poisonous spores. It was only thanks to Grimbolosh's fleet intervention that we escaped with our lives. As we supped on a spicy casserole of meat and mushrooms I plucked up enough courage to question Grimbolosh about the mysteries that lie deep below the mountains. With a gleam in his eye he spoke to us of puffball gardens and wartshroom colonies, but at length I pressed him again to tell us of the true purpose of these gloomy catacombs. For I was curious, and I do not doubt that my esteemed readers will forgive me this curiosity! But Grimbolosh grew quiet and reserved. He grew most reluctant when I mentioned the city of Corumbra - a legendary underground metropolis believed to lie deep below the Anvil Mountains and sought after for centuries by many great a Dwarven prospector. "Stay away from the depths... Foul creatures lurk there - ancient and unpredictable beasts," he warned in a rough voice. "The three-headed spawn of banished Chaidarion await you below, Earthwalker." I understood nothing of what he said and resolved to try my luck. [...]
The Search for the Golden City
Attack of the eight-legged beasts!
Strange sounds rang out in the dark tunnels! A clicking sound, something heavy and powerful! And not just one creature either! Something was moving towards me! I shuttered my lantern, crawled into a narrow crevice and drew my long dagger. The Dwarf has not lied - monstrous beasts dwelt in the depths! The clicking sound grew louder, as I spied out from my hidey-hole, desperate to catch a glimpse of this demonic creature. My senses told me that I should flee, if I did not want some foul beast to rob me of my life. But suddenly my heart was filled with Rondra's courage and the wisdom of Phex. Determined to face the worst, I took one of the glowing mushrooms from my pocket and jumped out into the passageway with a battle cry on my lips. I froze in terror at the sight of dozens of cold arachnid eyes. The beast stalked towards me, its huge mandibles snapping and its eight legs stabbing at the ground like mighty spears. Encased in a glittering carapace, the beast bore down upon me with a speed that was terrifying. There was no time to hesitate: I drew my long dagger and threw the glowing mushroom between the spiderous monster's vicious jaws. As I expected, it retreated before the bright light and snapped at the glowing missiles with its deadly mandibles. Darkness filled the tunnel as the monster crushed the mushroom between its jaws. I rushed forward and stabbed rapidly at the beast. Again and again I tossed one of the glowing mushrooms at the creature and stabbed at it with my blade, driving it back into its dark lair. Again and again, blinding white light filled the tunnel before it fell into darkness once more. [...]
A Splenderous Treasure
Eventually the mighty Queen of Spiders fell to my blade and the will of Rondra. She collapsed on the tunnel floor. The laboring breath of the eight-legged colossus whistled through the tunnel. Her venomous jaws clicked and her myriad eyes gazed at me with sadness. "Listen, Earthwalkder. You have entered my realm, a place to which I was banished many years ago," spoke the Spider Queen. "And now the curse is lifted, my task is fulfilled. The treasure that I have guarded for so many years shall be yours." And with that her spirit passed from this world. I did not comprehend her words at first. But then I raised my dwarven lantern to illuminate the darkness. Where was I? I found myself in a softly shimmering cave of enormous dimensions. The floor was covered over and over with bones and long-dead cadavers. But it was the walls of the cavern that caught my gaze. They were covered with images and inscriptions! Among them I recognized dwarven runes, aged patterns and sculptures, dragon glyphs and even cyclopean engravings. I was struck with awe as my hands wandered across these ancient works of art. Then, remembering my mission, I took out my hammer and scraper and set about securing some proof of my discovery. [...] I tried to understand the meaning of these inscriptions - and slowly the truth dawned on me: these sculptures and inscriptions had nothing to do with the Golden City of Corumbra or an ancient secret of the dragonfolk. I had stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient race, discovered long ago and hidden from curious eyes by generations of Dragons, Cyclops, Dwarves and Giant Spiders. Finally, at the back of the cavern I spied a magnificent collection of treasures, shrouded in a cloud of ghostly white spider webs - there were chests of gold, jewelry and pearls and precious stones, shields of moonlike silver and diamond-studded swords. So this was the secret of the Anvil Mountains! Ignorant of their true identity, I named this unknown and ancient folk the "Trappenfelder Highfolk". From the spider's powerful legs and its sticky web I fashioned a crude pallet, on which I heaped as much of the treasure as I could safely carry. It was but a fraction of what I had found. And I swore that I would return. [...] I wandered in the dark tunnels for many days before I finally reached the shafts of Murolosh once more. The Dwarves' eyes glowed with delight when they saw the treasures I had brought with me from the depths. But seconds later I was rudely seized by ten warriors and dragged before the Mountain King Arombolosh himself. The furious dwarven ruler maintained that the gold belonged to the Dwarves alone, and I was banished from the dwarven city without a single coin. The mighty gates of Murolosh closed behind me and I found myself once more in that windswept and uninviting ravine deep in the Anvil Mountains. I set out for Angbar at once. I was more than satisfied with my expedition. Once word spread of my discovery other adventurers would soon journey to the Anvil Mountains in the hope of finding the lost treasures of the Trappenfelder Highfolk. And as for the future... who knows what other fantastic discoveries will follow the publication of this report?