Episode 2 : The Great Southern Gate
 

Dawn broke through the mountain peaks and illuminated the structure we had seen the day before. All the Cave Trolls were inside the structure, however standing outside glittering in the sunlight were five War Trolls. They stood about ten feet tall and looked as though they had metal growing from their hides. They were armed with shields and huge mauls. They seemed oblivious to the sunlight. We backed up around the corner. What were we to do? This had made the Ringroad virtually impassable.

We heard noise behind us and saw in the distance rounding the corner of the mountain we saw a small group of three. A human in robes, a dwarven fighter, and another human. We allowed them to approach. Nixos Naxos said, "Hail and well met fellow travellers.". The human in robes responded, "Hail to you, tell me is the Ringroad up ahead impassable?". Hadrian said, "There are five War Trolls there, for all intents and purposes, it is.". The human said, "Hmmm, this is going to be expensive but we can still buy our passage through the southern gate. I suggest that we travel together for some of the way. Together we stand a better chance in a fight against the perils that lurk ahead.".

The human in robes spoke again, "Allow me to introduce myself and my companions. I am Canious, a merchant and trader. This is Dogar, a dwarven fighter, and Antious who are travelling with me to the Lettifite Republic.". We introduce our party. Nixos Naxos and Risus notice that Dogar has the accent of a dwarf born underground in the vast underground halls. Nixos Naxos and Risus were born above ground and have spent their lives on the surface.

Canious says, "It is too late in autumn to make the western gate, we would freeze in the winter. We must bride our way through the southern gate. As there are War Trolls here it is going to be costly to pass but I have an idea that might work to cut down the expense to get past the War Trolls. I suggest that we make Nixos Naxos and Risus invisible and they walk directly behind Dogar, that way we will only have to pay the passage of one dwarf. I am willing to advance you the cost of your passages, but I will require IOU's and payment later.". We agree and approach the War Trolls.

The War Trolls watch as we make our way towards them. They lean on their weapons and spit on the ground. We stop close to the one at the door. Canious speaks in the Troll tongue to the War Trolls. Risus and Nixos Naxos catch the odd word in Dwarvish. Canious haggles with the War Trolls for at least an hour, he points and gestures, wipes his brow and shakes his head. Finally he turns to the group, "Well the negotiations are going as expected. I have driven the price of our passage down to 250 gold for the dwarf and 75 for everyone else. I will be trading all my rubies, they like rubies these War Trolls, they have greater value for them.".

Canious spends another half an hour more in negotiation with the War Trolls. He pulls forth lots of rubies from pouches concealed on his person. Finally the rubies are handed to the War Trolls and it thumps on the stone door, admitting entry. The door opens fractionally to allow us to pass. We each enter the chamber beyond the stone door. Here there are another four War Trolls. All the War Trolls avert their eyes and cross themselves as Glavinious passes them. The War Troll speaks, "You have paid for the first mile only.". With that the stone door is closed again. Beyond the chamber there are 30 foot wide stairs descending into the heart of the mountain. We light torches and begin our descent. The unseen dwarves reequip themselves as march along as part of the party.

Finius cast pathlore. He tells us that there have been War Trolls travelling both up and down the staircase, there don't seem to be any Cave Trolls, and he says that there are four Stone Trolls which seem to keep very much to the sides and edges of the passageways. We begin our descent, an hours journey brings the sound of a loud reverberating deep rattling to our ears. Hadrian says, "Don't tell us, it is the Trolls sleeping.". Canious says, "I believe that you are correct. A guard post must be just up ahead.". A few minutes more brings us to another chamber with a few passages going off to each side. A large Cave Trolls standing in the centre of the passage and in a gruff voice calls out something, our dwarves catch the word, "Who.". Canious calls back something, again we only catch the word, "Tax.".

The Cave Troll signals us to pass. We walk through the chamber. There are Cave Trolls sitting and sleeping all about. They seem annoyed by our passage and the light that we are carrying. Standing at the far end are four adult males clothed in studded leather and carrying whips. They chuckle as we pass, the dwarves catch the word, "Lunch.". We also hear the words, "Beware the B'nash!", echoing from above.

We are now entering an area where every fifteen feet or so there are passageways leading off the main passageway. These passageways were barred at one stage but the bars are now either snapped off of twisted away to allow passage for the Trolls. The sounds of Trolls come from these passageways. We pass a Cave Trolls snoring on a cot, he has three sacks beneath him. Glavinious spots a gold coin near a sack. Similarly Antious see the same sacks, he id dragged along by Canious rather quickly. Glavinious thinks better of it and moves along as well.

We continue our descent. At one point there were two other staircases spiralling off to either side. Drumming sounds form the left staircase, and snoring comes from the right. We continue down the main staircase and into another chamber. He we are met by eight Cave Trolls, again dressed in leather and complete with whips. We continue past and hear from behind, "Beware the B'nash, Beware the B'nash.". The Trolls laughter followed our descent.

In this portion of the great staircase Jager comments on the distinct lack of Cave Trolls tracks. Again Finius cast pathlore and has visions of only War Troll groups using this passageway, and also only two Stone Trolls this time. We enter a landing, a chamber that is sixty by sixty by thirty high. There are three archways. The right archway leads to a passageway the seems undisturbed by the passage of time. The left archway leads to another passageway which has cobwebs scattered about, the Stone Trolls went this way. Finally the central archway continues the passage of the great staircase. This archway's arch has escribed above it, "Enter The Halls Of Hazgel.". On the left and right columns are inscribed six names of the twelve sons of Hazgel. Three names have been scrapped off and reinscribed with the words, "B'nash The First.". We recalled tales from the Dwarven folklore of long ago.


The Saga of the Four Halls of Centerum Amania

In ages gone the people of Hazgel Dwarven-Lord were driven underground and their lands lost to the Stone Enemy. North, South, West and East - into the Gates of the Valley of Amania Centerum did hide the peoples of Hazgel and they closed these mighty doors.

Two centuries later did Garamegnon, the great human Warrior-King defeat the Stone Enemy and place his new capital in the Valley of Amania Centerum without the knowledge that Hazgel's people still dwelt below.

During those dark years, Hazgel's people, split like the points on a compass, contended with underground battles with the Stone Enemy, fell beasts and division amongst themselves. Eventually, closing themselves more in the links between them closed altogether. Moreover, when the Northern Hall fell to the Great Stone Army of Kernoz the Butcher, the other three Dwarven Halls were not even aware of what took place.

At the coming of Garamegnon, the three Dwarven Halls that remained both rejoiced at the destruction of the Stone Enemy and bitterly lamented in the loss of their kinfolk. Whilst others, particularly in the Southern Hall began to dream of their return to the Valley of Amania Centerum. These were the sons of Hazgel.

For twelve bitter years, the sons of Garamegnon and Hazgel battled with mixed support from the two remaining Dwarven Halls. They had lost interest in living above ground and had made peace with Amania Rex, as the human kingdom was now called. Finally joining in battle against the sons of Hazgel in retribution for the endless curses and threats that the sons of Hazgel had made.

Finally, the sons of Hazgel shut the Southern Gate for good and neither Dwarf nor men were able to open the gate.

One Hundred years to the day since the Southern Gate was shut did a lone Dwarf open the gate and stumble along the Great Ring Road to the Eastern Hall. This Dwarf told the tale of how the sons of Hazgel turned mad and battled amongst themselves. Eventually one such son - Hazgel the 13th did turn himself into the Undead and killed off his family.

The Dwarves of the Two Halls and soldiers of Amania Rex entered the Southern Gate and battled Hazgel the Witchlord, eventually destroying him and his loathsome forces. But alas, all that had lived in the South Hall had been slain.

The battles and horrors entered into by the Dwarves and Men to take the South Hall were so grave that the King of Amania Rex claimed the Hall as banned and doomed. The newly created Southern Pass some 170 miles to the West is only for use to travel to the southern reaches of the Western Empire.

Still, many bold but foolish Dwarves, Men and even Halflings have attempted (and failed) to travel the Southern Gate to find Hazgel's Treasure. So it is told that the Ancient King had moved his fantastic wealth to the Southern Hall when the Stone Enemy came.

By Dom



In the dark, damp and chilled halls of Hazgel

In the dark, damp and chilled halls of Hazgel - did the party tread
As refugees passing through, or was it to find glory and gold?
Below now beyond the Trolls did they descend, now with two dead.

The very tomb of Hazgel they did find; helm, shield, weapon... the scrolls,
That Hazgel's ancestor had written,
Of the B'nash, his warning, before the coming of the Trolls.

And as the Seer and Priest dream of B'nash - awake and aware,
Does the party turn back and face the Trolls?
Or do they trek further, silent and without care?

For are the dreams false, or a prelude to fate?
Is B'nash's tale legend or fact?
Just remember the great scratches written on Hazgel's gate!

And think what the Troll had cried out, is it in jest that they said
"Beware the B'nash, Beware the B'nash.",
perhaps you should face the Trolls instead!

For if you decide otherwise, with all your spells cast,
Think of his toothpick, that the doomed Hazgel had trophied,
And be prepared to run, run very fast!

By Dominicus Maximus, Poet-Major of the Lettifite Republic

 

 
 
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