Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2001 - 2007 All Rights Reserved
The trail ahead beckons but you need your equipment if you are to continue. As you look around you can see pieces of clothing and other gear spread through the trees and undergrowth. Shaking your head you have no recollection of when you lost your pack, however its contents now lay strewn through the woodland. On the grass close to your position you find your sword buried almost to the hilt in the soft earth, a short distance into the undergrowth your pack hangs awkwardly from the jagged end of a broken branch. Thankfully it has sustained only a broken strap and can be used, but some of your equipment cannot be found. Quickly you collect what you can and look to the trail.
(Regardless of the equipment you were carrying with you before the fall you may only take six items with you from this point forward. Choose the items you believe will serve you best for the quest ahead and leave everything else behind. Your sword must be one of these items. Most of your other gear has unfortunately been lost in the dense undergrowth and these six items will be the only pieces of your belongings that you can recover in the short time available to you. Please note that the rules that apply to money and Nahla Bread still apply here. No matter how much you might have of either they still count as only one item each.)
With your remaining equipment packed away you look to the trail ahead and consider what you should do. From the direction of the valley floor you are certain now that the entrance to Stoneholme will be found somewhere along its reach to the north. If you are lucky you should find the trail leading to the edges of the mountain itself, and then, with a measure of further luck, the entrance to the fortress. One last time you check yourself for injury and then begin to follow the trail.
In the full light of day you find your way along the old pathway. It is clearly marked against the encroaching vegetation of the forest floor but it is very old. For some time it meanders through the forest, keeping a norrtherly heading before turning to the west. About you the woodland closes in, but the trees are not close and as you travel you can see the remains of large standing stones littered across the valley floor. One in particular grabs your attention, and with a need to rest you leave the path and spend a few minutes looking over its worn surface.
Set upon a low platform of cut stone, the monolith stands some five metres high. It is not large by any measure but the stone itself is covered in carvings and devices, indistinct against its dark surface, weathered and cracked by millenia of exposure. Most of the symbols and glyphs are unknown to you, however you are sure that they are not the workings of either Men of Hordim. Only one of the glyphs is recognisable and it has been carved over the older symbols in more recent times. Carefully you rub dirt out of the grooves and look more closely. It is a sign left by your Dwarvendim brothers many years before and it says plainly "Dragon". For all its vague intention it appears as an ominous sign of what might be found within the dark corridors of Stoneholme.
For a moment you stand before the stone, and then look out through a break in the forest canopy ahead. Against the absolute blue of the sky can be seen the summit of the Devkraager Tor, shining with a peak of snow, imponderable and massive, its dark granite rearing out of the surrounding trees. To the east of the Tor itself you can also see the lesser peaks of the Krodestaag marching away to the horizon. Within those great mountains can be found the ruins of the Dwarvendim Stone Kingdoms, and you cannot help but wonder if there will come a time when the Dwarvendim might reside there again. You smile when you think that you may have a small part to play in such a return.
With the sun well overhead you rest for a short time then return to the trail. (Restore two endurance points if needed.) Quickly the path veers towards the mountain and then is lost upon the hard ground of a rising series of foothills. With the mountain clearly in view you push on, climbing each of the undulating rises until you find yourself against a further sheer face of stone. Here you have found the edge of the Devkraager Tor itself and somewhere within the stone of this ancient mountain will be the ruins of Stoneholme.
Against the granite of the Tor you stop and rest again, before turning eastwards. To the west the cliffs disappear into an impassable tumble of fallen stone, but to the east you can see the remains of a roadway, broken and cracked but definitely Dwarvendim-made. There seems no other alternative but it is the most likely path to the entrance you seek.
The early afternoon is spent negotiating the rocky base of the mountain. Its weathered face is cracked and broken, strewn with rockfalls and enormous flows of gravel that trickle noisily down from the high cliffs above. The forest has grown thickly in places up to the base of the Devkraager Tor, and you find you have to make a number of wide detours to get around falls of rubble that have brought down large areas of the surrounding timber.
In the end your persistence pays off. Some two hours into your circumnavigation of the mountain, and just as you are making a difficult detour around a huge tangle of fallen trees, you are confronted by the impassable obstacle of a stone platform some ten metres high. It extends from the side of the mountain and out into the surrounding trees. Although the stones are worn, and vines and other creeping plants have grown into its chiselled joins, you can see that it is Dwarvendim-made and exactly what you are looking for. Retreating back into the forest you make your way carefully about the platform's edge, then out into the trees to find a spot from which you can properly consider what you have discovered. Amongst a clump of small pines and low brush you find a hiding place from which you can survey the platform better.
Through the thick bushes you peer out at the massive entrance to the fortress of Stoneholme. Although showing the effects of long neglect the entrance remains awe-inspiring in its scale. Shaped as a huge archway carved directly into the face of the mountain, the images of two immense Dwarvendim Warrior-Kings have been sculpted; arms raised as if they are holding the weight of the Devkraager Tor on their huge shoulders. Under these images the open cavern that is the entranceway is black, the light of day swallowed completely in the darkness of its interior. From the entrance a wide polished stone platform extends outwards for more than fifty metres, at each corner the intricately carved statue of a Dwarvendim warrior stands in full battle armour. A long flight of white marble stairs rise from the green grass of a large clearing at its base and reach upwards to the stone platform. In times past this marble staircase would have met a road leading to the east, but this has long since disappeared. Gleaming white balustrades of carved stone border the platform and stairs on all sides.
Leaning back against the sturdy trunk of a young pine you relax for a moment and take in the rough grandeur of the Imperial Entrance and the encroaching greenery of the forest that surrounds it. Within this dark treasure-house, somewhere deep within its cold, silent halls lies the Tellandra. It seems a pity to squander the remains of such a fine day by attempting to enter this great fortress but you know you must.
After your efforts in finding this entrance you decide it is a good time to again take a meal. Only the gods know when you may have another opportunity to feed yourself, so you take a ration from your pack and rest in the shade of the Pines as you eat. (Withdraw one ration from your pack and record this on your character sheet. The rest you take will restore all endurance points you may have lost in the course of your journey so far. If you have no food or Nahla Bread available only restore a maximum of four points to your endurance regained for the rest.) Upon finishing your meal and taking the time to rest, you pack away your meagre equipment and, by keeping to the edge of the clearing make your way to the stone platform and the base of the marble stairs.
This book, and its associated books and other documents in the Chronicles of Arborell series are the intellectual property of the author, Wayne F Densley, and all rights are reserved by him. Windhammer is best viewed at 1024 x 768 resolution. Any questions regarding the Chronicles of Arborell can be answered by emailing the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2001 - 2007 All Rights Reserved