Dunmar Gazette – First Edition

Welcome to the Lover’s Day Edition of the Dunmar Gazette. As this is the inaugural publication of this newspaper, some introductions are in order. I am Finneaus Reagolus, Master of Linguistics at the Dunmar Academy and I am the editor and major contributor to the semi-daily. Other major contributors are Arona Thistleseed, Chief Oracle of the Academy and Professor Nial Cambershut, Arcanist Department specializing in divination. Our audience is the citizens of Dunmar and wherever a heart opens to the love of our Creators and embraces the philosophy of self-sufficiency. We also hope to reach our most beloved alumni, the Chosen Ones, though so many have already perished. Yet many live, in no small degree due to the lessons they learned here. They are our greatest hope. Welcome to our news paper.

A Divine Spat in Stoneheart’s Mines

AThistleseed, 43 Narlos 1983, Odo Stoneheart’s mines – the liberators witness a heated exchange between Ben’tinnor and Ainna’s chief angel. A delegation from the Dwarven city of Gammeldine, led by retired ranger Egor Mitrallcroft, hosted a celebratory dinner on the evening of 43 Narlos for the group of Chosen we’ve taken to calling the “Liberators”. The occasion was the banishing of the ancient demon Axaxal and the eradication of the last vestiges of evil from the long-lost mines of Odo Stoneheart. Attending were Mitrallcroft, some two dozen Dwarven companions, the honorable sphinx Met’anRa and the Chosen Grimnar Stoneward, Domi Trendar, Bellsulion Taurvantian (Zeph), Waller (nlng), Seles of the Lake and Bancurlian Shearhand (Ban).

Soon after a hearty mushroom soup was cleared away, the gathering had just begun eating the main course of oven-roasted pork, miniature potatoes in a tangy cream sauce, spiced tubors, Dwarven flat bread and a stout Rootblossom ale. Toasts began to the great vitory, but were interrupted by the appearance of Ben’tinnor in a raven-headed guise and His usual dreary black ensemble. Not waiting to be introduced, indeed He was standing on the dinner table, the least of the Gods shouted out straight away.

The Deceiver claimed, “FOOLS! You have the means within your grasp, and yet you dither and slap one another upon the back as if you have accomplished anything. Think you that you can banish these dark ones with the might of your arms or the empty prayers of your sleeping deities? They will brush you aside as a bear does a fox who vies for the same bloody meat. Know you nothing of prophesy?”

The Eater of the Dead then proceeded to issue forth a appetite suppressing screech, incidentally shattering the dining hall. He then was quoted to say, “You, halfling (referring to Ban, a paladin of Ainna), we share the same mother, yet you care not enough to awaken her. And you, (referring to Seles, a cleric of Thane), what care have you for other than your own advancement and the welfare of your tiny group? You have pledged your life to serve Thane, and yet you do him no service! Why do you not just give…”

But whatever Old Scratch intended to say, he was interrupted by the arrival of Galdara, Hayot of Ainna. She used the environmentally unsound method of tearing a hole in the fabric of the universe to hasten her entry. Referring to some ongoing dispute and Divine edict, she admonished the Dark One.

“SILENCE! You specifically have been forbidden to speak of these things by your Father. Speak another word to these mortals and I will visit His justice upon you.”

Apparently intimidated, Ben’tinnor vanished, further vandalizing the fine Dwarven table in his departure. Left alone with the mortals, Galdara spoke to Ban directly. “I have seen you, little one, in the dream world. Your beauty surpasses that of other mortals by the craft of the Dwarves and the Elves and the favor that The Mother bestows upon you. She sleeps, and She will one day awaken again, as the prophesy decrees, but you must guard yourself from the utterings of Old Scratch. His tongue is a worm that fells the mightiest of trees. What chance does an innocent such as you have against his wiles? You must hear my counsel and obey. Do you understand my Ishimael?”

Ban, a hobbit blessed from birth with a pretty face and a winning way, has been further enhanced through magical means in his adventures, making the intrepid hairfoot a rare pleasure to be around, especially for ladies of all races, who find him “cute”. The prophesy Galdara referred to is unclear, though it may be the prophesy of Miathus, the long-discredited seer who prophesied the awakening of the Gods after a ten-year plague of cannibalistic kittens. Needless to say, there is muh speculation among theologians as to what might precipitate the end of the Gods’ slumber, but there is near unanimity that the event will not involve kittens, unless peripherally.

Galdara’s reference to Ben’tinnor’s tongue as a work that fells trees is no doubt regarding his reputation for making things up. When she refers to Ban as her “Ishimael”, she is counting him among the ranks of the least of Ainna’s angels, appropriate for any mortal dedicated to the Goddess.

It appears that the angel may have placed some form of geas upon the hobbit, who immediately replaced his quizzical expression with one of undisguised adoration. The under-dressed Galdara then turned to the remainder of the dining room and said, quote, “Whatever the Deceiver said to you, truth is no craft of his, and if he has spoken it now and again through the ages, it is but to support a deeper lie. I am Galdara, Hayot of Ainna, and I command you forget.”

There was no questioning the intent of that directive, and it appears to have been successful, with only Seles and the sphinx apparently able to recall Ben’tinnor’s presence after the incident. Angels do not wield the magical power of the Gods of course, but it is powerful enough, especially when used to enforce their Patron’s edicts.

Liberators Travel to Gammeldine

FReagolus, 44 Narlos 1983, Dwarven tunnels below Arbordan – as expected, the Liberators accompanied the Dwarves of Gammeldine in their short journey to their home city. The party departed Odo Stoneheart’s mines early in the morning, but was delayed by an unexpected encounter with the Dreadlord Gree, who was in the company of cave giants with over-sized reptiles.

Gree fled the battle immediately. The Liberators made short work of their fearsome opponents, but not without danger. The Dwarven rogue, Domi, came near to being extinguished. But with a man of Thane, supplemented by a warrior of Ainna in the group, anything short of death is only a temporary inconvenience.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful, though they did encounter a number of “spies” when they reached the proximity of Gammeldine in the form of Dwarves presumably aligned with power brokers hostile to their cause. Egor Mitrallcroft, leader of the Dwarven caravan, is retainer to the well-known descendant of Odo Stoneheart, the Fallsgraf Ailoff von Stoneheart. Fallsgraf is analogous to Duke in most human royal castes, while the other civilized races do not utilize such conventional concepts of nobility.

Liberators Granted a Royal Audience

NCambershut, 44 Narlos 1983, Gammeldine Royal Palace – the group of Chosen known as the “Liberators” was granted the honor of attending the Herzog Balthus von Ledgerman in Gammeldine. Accompanied by the retired Dwarven Captain, Egor Mitrallcroft, the youths were witness to a fierce argument between the Herzog’s most-trusted Fallsgrafs.

The Liberators were granted the audience to inform the Herzog of their accomplishments at Odo Stoneheart’s mines and, indeed, it’s rediscovery. The Fallsgraf Jaydas von Riktor, an apparent appeaser, did his best to discredit his rival von Stoneheart and the Liberators themselves, though it seemed the Herzog was unpersuaded by the vicious argument that ensued, and soon ejected the Fallsgrafs, along with the remaining courtiers, from the meeting hall.

Left alone with the Herzog, the Liberators informed him of their discovery, and offered proof by means of some of the magical items that they won from the mines by rite of battle. The nature of these items was sufficient to remove all doubt as to the Chosens’ veracity. Nothing specific was decided during the meeting, those the Herzog seemed to begin leaning more toward the wisdom of attacking the army of Gree, stationed nearby in the overrun city of Arbordan. The enormous cache of weapons retrieved from the mines and the possibility of using the lethally effective team of Dun mar Academy alumni surely influenced the Herzog’s thinking.

The Chosen were released with the Herzog’s blessing, in spite of a flare of cheekiness by the young ranger, Waller and a tendency of the paladin Ban to try to call attention upon himself by interrupting high-ranking royalty. No doubt, the young mens’ deeds and the favor of the Gods played a large part in protecting them from unpleasant consequences. Curiously, this was not how these lads were raised and trained to behave. One wonders how they have forgotten so much in a few, short weeks, doesn’t one?

Herzog Balthus von Ledgerman, 68 of Gammeldine, Dead in Apparent Demonic Ritual, Chosen Investigate

AThistleseed, 45 Narlos 1983, Gammeldine Royal Palace – the Herzog of Gammeldine was found dead in his great meeting hall this morning, victim of an apparent ritualized killing. The death of the popular Herzog was, of course, unexpected. The guards at the door to his hall were rumored to have not heard a thing, but were unavailable for comment according to Fallsgraf von Riktor. The corpulent adviser to the now-deceased Herzog did not choose to answer questions.

The body of the slain leader was found affixed to the wall over his throne, disemboweled and beheaded. The world “GOLGOLTHA” was smeared upon the wall in the Dwarf’s blood, while the corpse’s head was placed upon the throne, looking forward. A number of glyphs of warding were placed upon the area of the throne. Two guards were killed by lightning from the glyphs in attempts to retrieve the body of the Herzog.

When Fallsgraf von Stoneheart became aware of the Herzog’s death, he immediately summoned the Liberators to help investigate. The Chosen Seles was able to dispel the remaining glyph. The Elven wizard Zeph was able to retrieve the dead Herzog and cease the indignity.

Following a brief confrontation between rival Fallsgrafs von Riktor and von Stoneheart, the Liberators began an investigation sanctioned by the latter Fallsgraf. Seles was able to locate the secret door behind the throne used by palace staffers. They tracked the interlopers to a disused area toward the rear of the palace, where they found a smithing hammer that had been recently dropped into the dirt.

Following up on the hammer, the Liberators were informed by a smith that the letters E.StSm embossed on the head of the hammer indicated that it was smithed by Elstead Coalhammer, a well-known steel smith in Gammeldine. Coalhammer professed to not know who the hammer had been sold to. When the questioning became aggressive, the smith summoned the constable, who warned the Chosen against torturing and killing citizens, even with a permission slip.

On a hunch, the rogue Domi waited and followed the smith Coalhammer to another part of town, and to the door of a flat in a multi-dwelling area. No additional information is available at the time of this printing, but we believe that Domi suspects that the smith may have gone to speak to a conspirator in the death of the Herzog.

Social Column: A Randy Hobbit

NCambershut, 44 Narlos 1983, Gammeldine, Gorgon’s Regret – the charming and handsome Chosen Ban, favorite of Ainna and Ainna’s hottie angel Galdara, wasted no time in practicing his hobby of indiscriminate procreation once arrived in Gammeldine. The paladin, having kept his trousers tied for several weeks, was quick to take advantage of Gammeldine’s finest, and indulged in a tryst with the comely Leila Stonebottom, daughter of the ostler of the Gorgon’s Regret, the inn where the halfling is staying while in Gammeldine. The two were seen slipping out of the door of the inn, then climbing three levels up to a rooftop for a romantic interlude.

Ban refused comment on the story. Leila was overcome by a dreamy look when confronted about the affair and stated that the hobbit “rocked her world”. Ostler Stonebottom seemed unconcerned about the coupling when we interrupted his counting of coins from the previous night’s patronage (which was unusually high) and opined that “kids will be kids”.


Week Eleven – The Demon Axaxal

43 Narlos may not ever become a holiday, but it will be remembered among the Dwarves as the day that the mines were wrested from the hands of an ancient evil and returned to their possession. It is the day that their history was restored to them, and the day that the Mahnshadden’s Relics were restored to the hands of men. Altogether a very good day.

The heroes return to the palace entryway, the Elf restored to fine health and everyone having finished their reading, and now sporting silken headbands.

As usual, the mess of a hard day’s fighting has been cleared away. The Dwarves know better than to take a step beyond where the heroes tread each day, but they do go that far and then toil to remove the stain of evil from the place.

Domi swings wide the gates of the palace and you enter in. This magnificent hall is lit from the ceiling, with dozens of grand chandeliers reflecting the light until they sparkle. The walls are lined with rich tapestries and the floors covered with tables, sofas, chairs and other furniture, each looking as if it were made yesterday. Breaking the spell of beauty is the foul stench of a decay that reeks from the left, and the litter of bones and chunks of moldering flesh that stain the thick carpets. More

Week Ten – Drakes, Bugbears, Ogres and Varghoul

It is early on Narl 41, and the heroes have just ventured into the stone-sculpting studio. A huge rock troll, posing as a statue, attacks Grimnar as soon as he comes within range.

Through liberal use of detect evil, you are aware of the danger and have cast spells to prepare. What you are not prepared for is the sheer volume of damage the troll can produce. Round one goes to the troll, with Grimnar tottering on the edge.

Domi attacks the troll and hits. Grimnar attempts to intimidate the troll while calling on his inner barbarian to recover some of he damage. The intimidation fails, as one would expect. Ban casts a spell on himself that is designed to focus the enemy’s attack upon him. The paladin is so comprehensively armored, that it is difficult for anyone to hit him. Then Zef casts displacement upon the hobbit. Seles, unable to make his way to Grimnar’s side, channels positive energy twice. The troll lands one clean blow on Domi. More

Week Nine – Stalkers and Creepers and Slayers (and Abominations), Oh My!

The party is in the chapel, fighting a mad Dwarf who is doing a lot of damage with his two axes. The Dwarf has just “appeared” on the ground in the midst of the group, and began laying about him. Ban remains airborn. It is the 40th of Narlos, a Fieldday.

Zef casts haste on the group and Seles follows up with a shield other on Waller. Everyone digs in on the Dwarf, but he’s harder to hit than he looks. Nobody lands a blow. The Dwarf picks Waller for this retort and hits the young ranger with a solid blow.

Zef then casts displacement on Grimnar, knowing that the barbarian is easy to hit and in need of an advantage. A voice speaks in everyone’s mind, “Okey doke, I’ll kill him last.” Seles Channels twice. Waller swings and hits, but does little damage. Grimnar lands two blows, but his usually devastating blows are truncated by some hidden resistance. The Dwarf wheels on Domi, but only manages a single, moderate hit on the rogue.

Zef finishes his defensive spells by casting blur on Waller. Seles casts moment of greatness on the party. Waller lands three blows this time, but only one actually gets through the resistance. Domi finally hits, causing a solid wound with significant bleeding. The Dwarf disappears. More

Week Eight – The Death of Beck

That our heroes have danced with death for so long while avoiding its embrace made them seem charmed. But the charm was an illusion of course, and on this fateful day of 39 Narlos, one of The Marshall’s most beloved would fall to the predations of the black elves, the underworld’s most feared soldiers.

It seems a bad omen that the God of Armies would suffer such a loss when the forces of shadow sweep Western Orandell, but bad omen or good, those who wish to live in and leave to their offspring a world of peace and prosperity must continue the fight, as failure means death and enslavement. There is no rest for such as they.

Grimnar leads the fellows back to the barrel room, then north into a long hall, full of small tables and chairs, along with scattered ash buckets. No doubt this room was filled with smoke many a day before the evil times fell. One can imagine the faint smell on the air of rich tobacco and good conversation. More

Week Seven – War and Pieces

There’s an old saying that the 38th of Narlos, known as the Day of the Fey, is more alum than spice, which is to say that one should look forward to things going badly on this day due to the essential mischief of the world and unseen powers around us. It is to be an apt predictor, in that the party briefly delves into a corner of that realm of essential life and death and natural magic, the Green World, or Old Ben’s Palace.

Paladins like to say that evil is evil and that it is only limited by the heart in which it resides, but most people have a more tempered view. The merchant who lies, cheats and steals to maximize his profit and gives not to charity, must still benefit others through his trade as he benefits the wainwright and the teamster. A tyrant who seeks to enslave his people and murders those who resist is evil as well, but no good comes of it and he will shy from nothing. Old Ben, Ben’tinnor, the wicked and cut-throat black sheep of the Old Gods, though he loves none but himself, is bound to their fate. He would not destroy that which his siblings created for it is around the margins of their followers’ commerce that his trade takes place.

It is a subtle lesson, and one that not every Chosen can grasp, but an important one. It is the nature of evil that it cannot trust, and therefore cannot ally long, only subjugate and bend people to its will. That does not mean that it can’t recognize and nurture a similarity of purpose. These alliances of convenience are always short-lived, but they can embrace any party, no matter how diverse their beliefs. More

Week Six – Dogs and Demons

It is 37 Narlos, Huntinday, and Lovers’ Day is just over a week away. You imagine the summer warmth is beginning to set in above ground, but it is still cold and dry here, deep below the surface. It’s been a week since any but Domi have seen even a glimpse of the sky. Three weeks ago, you first saw the dark lightning that inspired your journey to Arbordan. It seems like a lifetime ago.

You breakfast with the sphinx and your companions. Met’anra informs you that he does not require food to survive, but it is a great joy to him to partake in it, even as meager a fare as you have to offer. Before you venture out for the day, he blesses you once again with fire protection. It is well that you had it the day before in the forge. More

Week Five – I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes

A few hours pass and you come to a place where the tunnel widens. On the east, several branching tunnels lead off from the main chamber. The tunnel you’ve been following, White Ennox Tunnel according to the map, leads off to the left, almost due North.

You’re getting close to where the map shows another split when you hear the sound of distant shouts and the ring of metal on metal that is the familiar signature of combat. As you hurry and arrive at the split, you find a battle engaged between a dwindling troop of Dwarves and a small horde of burly humanoids with a hide of overlapping plates and thick, claw-like hands encased in metal gauntlets.

The Dwarves are putting up a spirited fight, but they are poorly armed with picks, shovels and walking sticks. Dwarves are nearly born with mining tools in their hand, and they are quite proficient in their use, including how to fight with them, but there is a reason that warriors don’t fight with shovels and put long handles on a pick before calling it a weapon. The Dwarves aren’t faring well and several already lie upon the ground, unconscious or dead. More

Week Four – Dark Dwarves, a Xill and a Sphinx

A bit more travel and it’s becoming apparent that it must be getting late above ground because you’re all getting tired and hungry.

Other than the skittering of small animals in the darkness beyond your light, your rest passes by undisturbed.

You march on for another three hours. The cross-tunnels and mine shafts are numerous. Then, without warning, you’re taking fire from in front and behind. There appear to be a half dozen or so dark dwarves, forty feet in either direction, dropping crossbows and pulling out war hammers.

Zef wastes no time dropping his biggest fireball from his necklace on one of the two groups, devastating all of the rank-and-file dark dwarves. A few more fatalities and the Duergar are focused on trying to retrieve their dead, and doing poorly at that as well. Finally, a rare few manage to escape, though they are unable to drag off any of their kinsmen.

The Duergar seemed well-equipped and organized. It is likely that there are others down here in the mines, and that they will soon know of your presence from those that escaped. You resume your journey with a renewed sense of urgency, making good time for the rest of the “day”, inasmuch as you can distinguish day from night. More

A Night by the Fire

The boy stood alone on a clear winter morning, close behind a tree at the base of a ridge. The cold was brutal, but he paid it little mind. In the distance, a boy and a girl his own age were having a hard go of it. Yesterday’s snow had crusted during the night and each step held for just an instance before the boot punched through the crust and then a good foot or two into the snow underneath. It made travel difficult and was a good way to get snow in your boot.

Master,” the boy said inside his head, though there was no outward physical sign, “People will notice. They will become suspicious. I will be found out.

As always, the master’s voice came as the rushing of a wind from afar before coalescing into syllables. “There are many ways to avoid detection, human, and I will teach them to you.”

But Master,” he began to protest, but was cut off.

You made the pact, boy,” the voice sneered inside his head, “and you will either keep it voluntarily or you will be compelled. Either way is the same in my regard, but have you forgotten the pain of compulsion?More

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