A Million Steps and Almost a Thousand More
Played on November 10th, 2013
Saintsday, 22nd of Highsun, Year of the Tunneler
We had arrived in Westhaven. It was a fairly large settlement, fiercely proud of not being part of the Dragon Empire. There was a large dwarven presence, so we were hopeful to get some information on the whereabouts of Ainkal Silverthumb. While most of us went shopping for supplies, Enzo and Bazkar used their different ways to gather information. It turned out that being a dwarf was not enough so the latter returned to the inn rather frustrated. Enzo, on the other hand, had had an oral description of the route to Ainkal's hut. He was no longer a resident of Forge, but lived nearby. He also determined that the dwarven Archchancellor was always in Forge, but entering Forge as a non-dwarf would be impossible and a severe transgression. Lacking other ideas, we packed our supplies and set out on the Million Steps Road toward Forge.
Saintsday, 7th of Firemoot, Year of the Tunneler
I won't bore you with the journey. Suffice to say that it was a long trek across a well-maintained dwarven road. Parts of the scenery were beautiful but the solitude got to me something fierce. After two weeks I was thoroughly bored and rather testy.
Standing at the bottom of the Thousand Steps Stairs I groaned a little, feeling very sorry for myself, and set out after the others. Enzo's informant had said that there would be a small path off to the right, near the top of the Stairs, and indeed there was. We walked past a small dwarven town, whose inhabitants looked suspiciously at us but did not approach us.
At the end of the day we reached a small dwarven hut. Knocking did not cause any reaction, so Bazkar opened. Most of the group went inside, but I remained outside. If one wants to live by themselves in the middle of nowhere, it won't do any good to barge in with six boisterous people into a tiny hut. While I waited outside, I caught some parts of the conversation. It seemed that Ainkal was not really happy to see us (or anybody). Once the others showed the chest and the scrolls, his curiosity was peaked though. He remembered some stories that his grandfather had told him, things he always thought of as myths. The stories mentioned there were multiple chests.
At that point I was dragged inside to recite Azyvax & Garrick, which I reluctantly did. I was a bit taken aback by the look of Ainkal. He was 361 years old at the time but apart from the snow-white beard and wrinkled skin he had a sturdy presence still.
My recitation helped to persuade him to translate the scroll, which he promptly did. The scroll told a part of the story of Myriath Heartstone! Apparently she was a stonecarver by trade and her fame came from commanding Dwarven troops during the Cascade. She defended the survivors of the battle of High Dale and defended them against trolls. Her troops took up the name "Trollslayers" after that. I guess Bazkar had interpreted the whole trollslayer thing differently. Indeed, he was totally flabberghasted and just sat there with his mouth open.
Ainkal told us that if his grandfather's stories were indeed true, there were a lot more chests. These would be stored in the vaults that every major dwarven city had. Two of the nearest ones were in Forge and in Adamant. We took our leave of the ancient dwarf after he agreed to translate any other scrolls in Ancent Dwarven that we would come across.
We had had a long discussion on what to do next, during which I asked Vharguk why he was with us anyway. This had bugged me for quite some time but now I more or blurted out the question. He didn't take offense and answered that he felt responsible to make sure we didn't inadvertently trigger the Cascade again. That man had a over-developed sense of duty, I thought, but it made sense. In the end we decided to visit the Vault of Forge and to look for a chest. It would be tricky because while the Vault was not in Forge, it would take a lawyer to explain that if the dwarves decided to say that it was...