Bloodstone Mines
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The famed Bloodstone Mines, located beneath the Frostcrown Mountains, have long been the subject of tales of bravery, adventure, terror, and death.


These mines, which are located under a gigantic mountain range the dwarves call the "Salakrün Mountains," are famous for their huge deposits of Bloodstones. These stones, which are called "Nithrak-Tir" in the dwarvish tongue, are extremely rare and valuable gems. The stones were first mined by the dwarves of Corwyn and have long been keenly sought after, throughout the realms of Corwyn.

Long ago, the dwarves discovered vast deposits of these gems below the Frostcrowns. The Dwarvish nation of Kronar and its capital of Krone Feyr were literally built with the wealth generated from these stones.

For centuries, the dwarves mined the Bloodstones and became extremely wealthy. But this enormous wealth also attracted thier enemies. In the year 1079/4, the dwarven nation and its mines were invaded by a huge army of orcs and goblins, who either killed or drove off the dwarves.

Today, the most accessible parts of the Bloodstone Mines are the so-called, "Upper Mines," worked by both men and dwarves from the Freehold of Trevalia.

The so-called "Lower Mines" are much more dangerous, and lead to various underground passages connecting to other civilizations; most notably the caverns of "Deepearth."

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THE UPPER MINES


When the dwarven civilization of Kronar destroyed in 1079/4, many of the passages to the lower mines were blocked by the dwarves in their defense against their enemies. However, many miles to the east, passages to the upper mines are still accessible.

Today, the most well-known entrance to the upper mines is located in the Ansilay Valley. Although the upper mines offer up only a tiny fraction of the bloodstones once carved from the lost dwarven mines, these upper passages are a still great source of wealth to the Freehold of Trevalia.

Today, several hundred human and dwarven miners still toil in the upper mines, including several members of the lost Durthas Clan of Kronar; however, the mining operations are small in scale compared to the vast mining operations of the ancient dwarves.

THE LOWER MINES & THE CAVERNS OF DEEPEARTH


Although it is not well-known; long ago, a small svirneblin city occupied a giant cavern deep beneath the Bloodstone Mines. The dwarves and gnomes traded with each other, and as long as the dwarves confined their mining to the area near Kronar, all remained peaceful.

The svirfneblin mined much deeper than the dwarves, and had a rich and sophisticated culture all their own. But the deep gnomes had their own enemies; neighboring Duergar tribes, who lived desperate and squalid lives in a nearby network of caverns that led up to the svirfneblin kingdom.

The duergar greatly envied the wealth and comfort of the deep gnomes. For many years, they occasionally preyed upon the deep-gnomes in a series of lightning raids; carrying off food, livestock, and slaves.

In response, The svirneblin sent several successful military expeditions against the duergar. But eventually, the duergar always returned, skulking in the darkness, taking their toll upon the gnomes once again.

Then one night, a lone duergar crept into the svirfneblin realm to steal food and perhaps murder an unsuspecting gnome. Sneaking through an infrequently used tunnel, he found an open mine shaft.

Curious, he crawled inside, hoping to find gold or precious gems. Instead he found a pool of mercury, glistening coldly. He felt a strange eerie calling from the pool, a sense of implacable evil that thrilled him. He stretched out his hand and touched the surface of the pool.

A blinding flare of blue-white light erupted; the column of light poured out of the mine shaft, casting its baleful light into every corner of the gnomish realm. The duergar was instantly transformed into an avatar of Orcus; a huge, glowing creature of transcendent horror, with goat-like horns protruding from its head. The demonic avatar quickly strode out of the mines.

As the terrified svirfneblin came out of their caves, bolts of fire from the creature's eyes destroyed them. Their homes were crushed and their great city was destroyed in a single night of horror. A few stragglers escaped into the dark tunnels and catacombs.

The creature then entered the lower mine-shafts, destroying all who worked there, and leaving a taint of permanent evil. Then it dissipated, leaving only death and destruction in its aftermath. Only the strange pool of mercury remained, glowing with an evil blue light.

The duergar were quick to exploit the demonic assault against the svirfneblin, and quickly gathered their own warriors for a military assault. Because of their weakened state, the gnomish King Ruggedo, and his few surviving folk were forced into exile.

Duergar clerics soon found the glowing pool of mercury, studied it, and eventually learned its deadly secret; it was a gate to the lower planes of Hell, specifically, the realm of Orcus; Prince of the Undead.

To protect and honor their benefactor, the duergar built a huge temple to Orcus in the very same cavern, with the infamous mercury pool located within its central chamber. Guards, wards, and deadly traps were built to keep anyone from penetrating the secrets of the Duergar Temple.

Over the centuries, Cultists of Orcus and other dark, sinister figures have often visited this evil temple to pay their dark respects.

Today, King Ruggedo and his svirfneblin tribe live in exile. The exiled gnomes desperately cling to the hope that someday they will reclaim their ancestral home.