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History of Cavernhold (2 of 2)
These are fantasy historical notes as recorded by the medieval fantasy character Thuunk of the real massive multi-player roleplaying game “Gemstone IV”. The history is divided into two parts to reflect the latest two major evolutions of the area known as Cavernhold. This section describes the history as interpreted by Thuunk between the month of Koaratos, year 5100 and current day.
In the previous history of Cavernhold it was noted that the gnolls were away from the caverns for a long time, and were last seen when the merchant Selandrial had visited Wehnimer’s Landing. The gnolls have since returned stronger and more organized. When Thuunk looked into this he developed a theory about what had happened. That theory is recorded here.
Events Near Phannus
Shortly after the month Koaratos year 5100, rumors of a small town overrun by gnolls reached the Landing from far to the South. I was not the only one interested, and many adventurers from the Landing traveled south, farther south than the town of Solhaven, past the sands of the Sea of Fire, to a small town north of the city of Phannus. Once there we found a small village, rumored to have been terrorized by a jackal, and said to have been saved by a man in black who destroyed the village even as he rid it of its curse. We found the village to be over-run by savage gnoll raiders, but soon discovered the gnoll raiders had not come upon the town on their own.
As we investigated we found the laboratory of a mad mage. Within his lab we found scattered notes and papers, sketches, scrolls, books and journals, all apparently collected as part of the mad wizard’s research. To many, the most intriguing of this collection was a small book, the cover stamped with the image of a jackal’s head, its contents revealing that the Arkati named Sheru was among the villagers in his favored form of the jackal. Most interesting to this particular investigator was a stray note indicating the gnolls seemed to be gaining intelligence and becoming more restless as they were being experimented on. To me, this explained the absence of the gnolls from Cavernhold. The conjectures were that they had come here to aid their own kind or that the mad mage had brought them here. The fact that there had been evidence in Cavernhold of isolated fires within the caverns of the sort usually associated with a fire mage supported the latter theory. In any case, the group of adventurers helped deal with the threat to Phannus, and then returned to the Landing.
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The Return of the Gnolls
The gnolls returned to Cavernhold shortly after our return from Phannus. They had indeed become more intelligent, and had grown in strength and organization. Fortunately for the Landing had also returned to their more peaceful isolationist attitude towards outsiders.
The gnolls of Cavernhold are ancestrally related to the common cave gnolls encountered throughout the lands of Elanthia. However, when one nears Cavernhold, they will encounter more advanced members of the gnoll civilization. In the foothills of Zeltoph mountain, one will occasionally encounter the worker, thief and ranger gnolls. The curious adventurer may find that these gnolls will be just as curious about him as he is about them. The unwary young adventurer who is always looking for a fight will learn quickly that these gnolls are far better trained than the more common cave gnolls. If left alone, these gnolls will sometimes continue about their business. Of course, a thief gnolls business may not be the most agreeable. Explorers in this area may also stumble across the ranger gnolls out collecting gnollish mushrooms. Of all the Cavernhold gnolls, these seem to be the ones that travel farthest from the home caves.
If one manages to get closer to Cavernhold they will find mounds of rubble, perhaps smooth stones collected by the Great Gnoll. These discourage all but the most dedicated of adventures from finding Cavernhold. Once past this barrier they will find a calm alpine meadow. Ranger and thief gnolls may be encountered here. If they are particularly lucky (or unlucky if they’ve angered the gnolls) they might also encounter the gnoll miners. If left alone, these miners will continue their task in this area, to carry the rainbow crystals they have mined to their proper destination. Always keep your guard up in this area, as the miners are one of the more dangerous of the gnolls when provoked.
Once in Cavernhold, most adventurers will not be able to get too far. The passageways and entrances are contrived by the gnolls to prevent the larger races from being able to penetrate the interior of the caverns. Only the smaller races will be able to view the unexpectedly civilized and interior parts of the caverns. If one gets this far they may meet, gnoll guards, gnoll workers, gnoll fishermen, or the gnoll priests or priestesses. Gnoll fishermen will be found mostly by the gnoll lake, which is past the mushroom farms, and near where the gnolls make their wines and lagers. The gnolls make their own boats here, and have their own marina to support fishing the lake. If one visits the eastern part of the large interior they may encounter the gnoll jarls, the strongest and most powerful of the gnolls
The Great Gnoll seeks acorns (rather than smooth stones)
Other changes have occurred since the events near Phannus. Prior to the mad mage, the Great Gnoll was traded smooth stones for items. After Phannus, the gnolls hold a greater interest in acorns. I have traded an untold number of acorns to the Great Gnoll, and brought back many interesting weapons from those trades. It seems the gnolls, who do nothing in a hurry, are content for now to grow trees for whetever purpose they have in mind.
The Miners and the Shadow Dragon
Also after Phannus, a great shadowy dragon began to patrol the secluded valley periodically. As it turns out, the gnolls make significant offerings to this dragon, with the help of a red-headed dwarf who maintains a hut and spiral shaped structure. The spiral is used to present these offerings. Gnoll miners may sometimes be seen trekking from the interior of Cavernhold, carrying backpacks full of crystal, to visit the red-headed dwarf so that he can perform his part of the offering process. Some believe the red-headed dwarf serves the Arkati named Imaera, that the shadow dragon serves or represents the Arkati named Koar, and that the offerings are made to the Arkati named Lorminstra so that the grand circle of life across Elanthia is continued. Several dwarves and halflings now make a routine of traveling to Cavernhold to turn the crank that allows this process to continue.
After-words from the Author
The gnoll culture drastically changed near the time of the incidents near Phannus. In some ways the changes are for the better. I will never forget the gnoll child, wandering the caverns, looking for her grotti.
Like all recorded histories, the history offered here is a hypothesis based on what the author believes to be the correct interpretation of the facts. Official history, or history shared by others, may interpret the events and available facts differently. It is of little consequence, however, since the fun is in the telling of the story.
For those of you inclined to hear more, I can usually be found in the East Tower of the Landing.
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