Return to Karak Goranthal
The living ancestor of Tor Kald ak Karak Kaldrak. Oldest of the elders. Frail and near blind.
Gehzgrim Bronzehair, the living ancestor of Tor Kald ak Karak Kaldrak.
Gehzgrim is the oldest living land dwarf and even he has never seen the great cities that were the Karak. The fear of the undermountain is even more pronounced in him that your parents. The withered dwarf sits on a divan before you, his yellowing white beard is the longest you’ve ever seen. It is kept off the ground by a multitude of complex plaits showing battle honors and accomplishments. His shrunken arms bear bracelets and armbands that are hanging loose now but would have once strained at his previous health. Gehzgrim’s eyes are clouded and milky and his teeth are nearly all gone. But his voice, his voice is strong and uplifting. The slightest inflection conjures images of what was…
“The dark is a palpable thing, a malicious, omnipresent specter. The last of us were driven before a wave of hatred and anger and evil that had no face. It was brother turning on brother and the cities fighting amongst themselves, driven mad by nothing. Jealousy and paranoia ran through the tunnels like a black tide washing the sanity from entire clans. Whole cities were sucked away in the rising deluge of madness. Runners and messengers ran ahead of the darkness and warned the outlying cities to flee. Very few did. The bravery and the stoicism of Dwarves as a whole worked against us. They stayed, determined to fight this evil, but there was no enemy. Only what lay inside of us. Only those who dropped everything and fled as fast as the tunnels would allow would escape. Refugees fled from every exit and from every Karak. As our ancestors watched, entrance after entrance became a scene of carnage as the powerful began to stop those who were fleeing. Brave and bold warriors were witnessed beating back commoners and herding their own people back into the gates. The great horns were blown signaling the attack and those who had escaped ran faster. The Gates slammed shut with a great crash and a resounding finality. A lucky few Dwarves escaped from lesser-known sally gates or secret tunnels to join the exodus from the mountains. We fled in ragtag groups, keeping to ourselves, not knowing if this madness infected the other groups, not knowing if those who remained would descend on us at any minute to drag us back into the dark. The Sun seemed to drive the Tainted back, and we were not followed; at least not during the day. There are stories of groups of refugees being hunted by the Tainted at night; that groups of our people were tracked down by their former lords and taken back to the Karaks. But there were no witnesses to this. Perhaps others took them.” The withered old man lowers his face into his hands. He wipes tears from his cataract covered eyes and murmurs, “No one knows…. No one knows.” He lifts his head to you then, and though it would seem that he couldn’t see thru his shrouded eyes, he looks at you each in turn…
“This is the great shame that we hide from the world; that our own kinsmen drove us from our homes; that we set upon each other like rabid Orcs; that we ran from that which we could not see and we have no honor. No one must ever learn of our reasons for leaving the mountains. We need give no reply to those who question”
He gestures out the door of his windowed chamber at the Tor below him. “We have found a wealth of minerals and materials here on the plain. Our pits earn us a reasonable livelihood and we have adapted to this life above. We make a show of being productive and we have amassed some measure of wealth even,” He waves his ringed fingers as he holds up his hands, “But we are shamed. We are homeless. We are forsaken and our ancestors call us back home. We must find what went wrong there. Find it and fix it.”
“Perhaps we cannot return to the Mountains. Perhaps they are lost to us and we must make do with these sad reproductions of mountains, these Tor. We have named them for our homelands, for the Karak but even this we have shortened, we have made less of ourselves for it.” His face flushes and grows impassioned, “We must make this right.”
“Your families have implored me to tell you what I know, what I have been told. These are the stories of stories and our greatest skalds were left in the mountains. I am a poor repository and the tellers of these tales were not historians. Our past is jumbled and lost, as are our people. But I will tell you the truth as I know it.”
“Gilbar Harkhaz is the Southern-most gate into Karak Goranthal. It is a great fortress carved into the cliffside with various defensive positions to protect it from the dangers of the Dargoth Plain and the Shadow Fen. The switchback road to reach the gate is wide and houses many towers and gates. Several groups have traveled thru the Fen into Karak Goranthal through this gate. Most have not returned. It is the only known gate that is open. The towers are reported to be destroyed and the road in disrepair. You will have to travel through mire and swamp to reach it. Shadow Fen has swallowed the great trade road.”
Gehzgrim Bronzehair pulls a crude map of the intervening countryside. There are very few details. “Dargoth Plain is featureless but for our Tor, and this is the last of them. Tor Kald was the first to stop, the first to turn back to face what had driven us from our home; and the first to fall into despair. We, all of the clans, have been afraid of the dark, of the underground ever since.”
“Once you have entered Karak Goranthal there are things you will need to know and places you must go.
The map indicates approximations of certain features of the under mountain but is by no means complete. There are several points of interest and some notes about hazards you may face.
“The Forge of Hathvic FoeBlade. This great forge once allowed the making of magic weapons and armor. Your families have set this as your first goal. It is imperative that you locate the forge as soon as possible. It is said to be relatively close to Gilbar Harkhaz and is deemed to be a vital resource if the dwarves are ever to return to the Karak. It is said that the forge can be separated from the city to protect and defend it. It may have held out all this time. The Defenders and Hearthguard set to protect it may hold it still. If they have locked it down, this will be a great task even if it is undefended. Locating this Artifact is grounds for immediate return to the Tor to bring an armed group back to guard it. Clan QuartzTooth along with Clan BluePick, Clan StoneBoots, and Clan LongBeard will send every available warrior to protect and defend this relic once it is found. Magnri Firemaul will be sent along with several ingots of the purest ore to begin forging magical axes immediately.”
“There are several Runic Circles in the Karak. These locations are rumored to be here, here, and here.” The old man points at the crude map with a carven brass, rune covered cane. “The Runic Ring of Holdfast was set in a choking point of the Karak. The circle is said to provide a mystical protection to Dwarven defenders. Arrows were said to bounce off of the Defenders there and, once planted firmly, it is said that a dwarf cannot be shifted from his or her ground. It would be ideal for a last stand against great odds, or a place to lure creatures to derive the benefits? This is the only Circle that I can be sure is exactly as it is on the map. Two Dwarves have returned and both confirmed its location. The comrades of these dwarves could not.”
“There is mention also of a Runic Circle of Healing. It was said to be in the great plaza near a temple to Hrostos. Any that were ill or injured were free to rest there for a time and recover from their ailments. The full powers of the Circle are unknown. Perhaps if you find it, you could test its properties. Hopefully it will not be in a time of dire need.”
In speaking with Gehzgrim, the PCs can learn some additional information about what can be expected and learn of ways to activate Runic circles and Dwarf Ancestors. Speaking with Gehgrim will give a +2 circumstance bonus to all the players on Knowledge: Dungeoneering for any time they spend in Either the South or West Mountains of the Pole.