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Mysteries Upon Mount Harakus

I wrote this story as a gift to Altus Ironfist on his wedding day.

Mysteries upon Mount Harakus

by Balthasar of the True Academy

 

In the month of Augustum 402, a small band of heroes went into the mountains of Arinth.  Ten ventured forth to Mount Harakus, the legendary Dorum, said to be the most powerful Dorum Haern in all the world.  In ages past, it was the forge of the Silverbeard clan.

 

Altus Ironfist, known to you all: a respected smith among the peoples of Arinth, a powerful Fire alchemist, and a staunch warrior.

Griff Talisane, born of Baranor: a man of many talents, husband of Damara, and fearsome on the field of battle.

Damara Blackthorne, an elf of the Lethriel Forest: an archer of skill, wife of Griff, and gifted in Air alchemy and more mysterious arts.

Maeldwyn ap Rhys, now counted among the Dhurrae: a warrior of the forests, and the Master of Wood on Arinth.

Zormandy Trackenar, born of Caladyr: not since the days of legend has there been one so talented with traps.

Roland Fourtunata, a squire of Arinth: strong is his tie to Metal, and great is his courage in strong battle.

Ember Earthblood, newly come to Arinth: a duergar alchemist of both Fire and Stone.

Damien Elsewilde, an elf of Arinth: a valiant man in the clash of a shield-wall and bearer of Truethorn.

Skye Lockhardt, born of Baranor: an accomplished locksmith and the Master of Air on Arinth.

Balthasar, a humble scholar.

 

One more traveled with them that day.  Gorin Silverbeard, scion of the Silverbeard clan, honored brother of Griff and long-time companion of this brave band, was killed in battle against Emperor Valerian Salvatore and the forces of Tal Shar.  He lost his life in defense of us all, and the people of Arinth mourn him still.  To honor his memory, the ten took his ashes with them to Mount Harakus, that he might rest among his ancestors.  Little did they know the dangers they would face or the wonders they would witness.

As they drew nearer to their destination, they saw tracks in the earth, marking the passage of foul creatures called gurtal, or simply grim.  Created in ages long past by Tal Shar, these creatures are a constant threat to the people of Arinth.  They come spilling forth from their mountain homes to threaten the island.  These tracks indicated a large band of them in the area, and it was shortly thereafter that they made their first attack on the ten companions.  Fierce was the battle against them and brief.  Altus laid waste to them with his Fire, and even the inhuman strength of the grim was no match for Rolands blades.  It is, perhaps, a pity that none of the grim survived to spread tales of Damiens valor, so that all of its kind would know and fear him.  Not so much as wounded by the grim, the ten continued along their way.  Griff had scarcely caught his breath by the time he found himself in the thick of battle once again.  Yet these foes fared no better, and I think the heat of mid-day posed a greater threat.

They were now indeed quite close to the Forge of the Silverbeards.  As they continued along the way, they saw yet another group of grim attacking a lone figure.  The bold warriors rushed to his aid, for he was a Tecari Chitterling, one of a race of strange creatures found only on Arinth.  The Tecari have long guarded the Forge on Harakus, but on this day a painful truth came to light.  No more could the Tecari guard the Dorum from the threat of gurtal.  A greater and more insidious threat had come to Harakus.  As many know, Dorums of every sort have recently become unstable.  Though many have sought an answer to this question, few have found answers.  Despite its enormous magical strength, Harakus too was unstable, and because of this it was now a threat to those that would guard it.  All ten companions silently vowed once again to find out what had caused this problem and set it right.  Despite the danger, they pressed onward to the Forge with Gorins ashes and Grandfather, his hammer.

It was then that Damien, Damara, and Maeldwyn began to suffer an inexplicable pain.  Tough as they are, they pressed onward unflinching.  Altus, bearing Gorins hammer, noted that it seemed to grow heavier as they drew nearer to the Forge.  Once they reached the Dorum itself, the pain was too much for Maeldwyn and the two elves.  Altus found that Grandfather had grown too heavy to carry, even with his great strength.  The purity of the metal inside Grandfather was resisting the corruption it sensed within the Dorum.  The other three were all tied to Wood, each in their own fashion, and the unbalanced Dorum caused them unbearable agony.

Those that could do so entered the Dorum and found a horrific sight.  The trees that grew there bore the signs of rust, and seemed to flake away at the touch.  The natural energies of the land were corrupted; in this most powerful of Dorums, that corruption was plain for all to see.  The anvil at the heart of the Dorum showed the same signs of rust and decay; even those untrained in Alchemical lore were aghast at what they witnessed.  Altus, a duergar smith, mourned the loss of this powerful place of crafting.  Zormandy, Griff, and Roland all have ties to Metal, and were grieved the evil fate that had befallen this place.  Hoping to preserve some of its power, they took some of the rust of the Forge for later study.

Now Griff knew of a cyclops that lived not far off, and this cyclops was gifted in Alchemy beyond what any mortal might hope to achieve.  They resolved to rejoin their three companions and skirt around the edge of the Dorum, seeking the wisdom of the cyclops.  They came at last to a clearing in the forest, where they saw another sign of the corruption of the land.  A variety of elementals clashed in the clearing.  A lone and rusted Metal elemental was attacked some sort of mixed elemental: it had the body of a wood elemental, but its claws were gleaming steel.  Another wood elemental joined in the fray as well.  The companions attacked the mixed wood-and-metal elementals.  Little did they know that all of the elementals had been driven mad by the corruption of the Dorums.  The ten companions soon found themselves under attack by all of the creatures.  This battle was more dangerous by far than the grim they had earlier defeated, and several of the companions suffered grievous wounds.  Damara had a handful of brews, and she gave them freely to heal her comrades.  A voice from the edge of the clearing called to them, and there they saw the cyclops.  He explained that his ravine was warded against the threat of the elementals.

The cyclops greeted the companions once they had reached safety.  He explained then that the Tal Shar energies released by the destruction of Emperor Salvatore had hastened the unbalancing of the elements.  Even the forces of Tal Elan and Tal Shar were affected adversely by this chaos.  Altus shared what he had learned in his previous efforts to repair the Dorums.  Nodding sagely, the cyclops told them about the Order of Oakenshield from before the Shattering.  This Order existed to deal with just such threats as we now face.  He believed all of its members to be long dead.  But Arinth is a place of mystery, and Oakenshield found new life among the people of the island.  The cyclops gave the ten companions directions to a cave once used by Oakenshield, in the hope that they might learn something of value there.  He wished them good fortune and, drawing upon his great power, briefly calmed the madness of the elementals so that they might pass safely.

Following his directions, the companions did indeed discover the entrance to a cave nearby.  The entryway of the cavern bore strange markings that none of them could decipher.  Taking a cautious step, Roland found the first marking to be safe.  When he stepped to the second, however, an arrow of fire erupted from the cave-wall.  He deftly avoided the gout of flame and leapt back to safety.  Pondering this further, Altus cast a Flame Aura upon a sword so that all of the companions could safely pass by the fire.

Once all of them were past the markings, they came to a large chamber with three statues.  Approaching with caution, they were not too surprised when one of the statues began to move.  Oakenshield was well known for such tricks.  The statue began to speak, demanding to know why the companions had come here.  Knowing that a wrong answer would plunge them once again into combat, they considered their words carefully before Balthasar stepped forward and spoke.  We come here to heal the land and help the people.  The statue seemed satisfied by this answer, and spoke again, demanding to know in what name we drew near.  Altus then spoke with wisdom.  We come in the name of Oakenshield.  The statue then advanced upon Altus, and it seemed as if it was about to attack.  Yet Altus did not fear its approach, standing firm.  The statue stood before him and produced a strange stone.  It was a key of some sort to unlock further mysteries and adventures.  It is certain that this key will be central to the struggle to stabilize and purify the Dorums.

 

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