The cursed city of Garnetpike
Status: old dwarven city, now cursed and covered with dark vapors and shadows.
Denizens: Twisted dwarves, constructs, spiders, kobolds, (few) wretched elves… and maybe some other, even darker beings.
Also, contains two 5 men instances: The Stonefork crypts and Roots of Echodeep.
The fortified town of Garnetpike was considered one of the largest and most ancient dwarf settlements in the whole red down mountain zone; with a rich history of many centuries of trade, diplomacy and struggle. Before the third war, the city was home of about 4000 dwarves, and about 1000 elves and other denizens; with its many guilds of artificers – including stonemasons, carpenters, toy makers and jewelcrafters, the city served as an important trading station between the mountain pass and the great elven city of Kul’glorel. Inside its vast stone halls, dwarven nobles, merchants and guild masters from older and newer clans struggled to gain supremacy – including the houses of Stonefork, Garnetwing, Tilhammer and Eboncliff.
Garnetpike city was (and in a way still is) a magnificent sight of ages long lost; it is rumored, that though dwarves lived here for nearly 2000 years, some of the older parts of the city predates them (some may even say that it was built in the rustusk era), though shaped and polished in more proper dwarvish style later.
Ley of the land: Sitting in the middle of an ancient conifer forest, with its walls and towers looming high above the rustling tree tops, Garnetpike was built over the splitting of a “stonefork”, in which one broad rocky vale splits into a pair of narrower ravines. The city was renown by its many huge stone pillars, many of them carved in strange owl-face and bird eye forms, that seems quite peculiar for dwarven architecture; large and deep yards with fading deep forms carved on their stones, and dark looking round tooth towers, looming high above the rest of the city.
The city itself was built in three different levels of height, from the deep vales to the tops of the three hills overlooking the vales from the west, north-east and south-east; an immense dwarven complex of walls, deep stone yards carved into the rocky flesh of the foothills, looming carved pillars and round tall towers overlooking the hills; usually, the local markets, traveler inns and the dwelling of the more humble workmen and miners, were spread on the bottom level inside the vale and ravines, while the richer and more powerful dwarves lived on the higher levels, usually also digging large sets of cellers, tunnels and even burial crypts under their fortified hovels.
As time passed, and the population grew, the city relied more and more on the vast mines dug into the mountain side, named The Garnetblood and the Echodeeps – few miles to the east of the city itself, and slowly spread east, rising camps, shacks and workshops outside its original walls.
The Downfall of Garentpick
The end came during and shortly after the third war. Though the city itself was speared from the direct onslaught of the scourge – as the main undead force that sacked Kul’glorel passed south of the city, marching into the Gonheriel mountain pass where it was defeated by the mountain elf lord Karahir Dawnglare – and only few scattered bands of undead attacked the dwarves directly, something shadowy had fallen and spread over the city, engulfing Garnetpick and most of its dwarf, and slowly turning them into something strange and dark. Though not straightly undead, many of the dwarves were changed; cutting all connection to the outer world, and developing strong affinity for shadow magic, and especially shadow imbued stones, mined from the deepest part of the the Garnetblood and Echodeeps.
Bent and withered-looking, their eyes glow with glinting deep purple (and sometimes deep green), their arms longer and sometimes tainted and growing long, purplish nails; their voices reduced to a kind of hoarse whisper… those deformed dwarves are closed deep inside their nowdays cursed and shadow soaked city and the tunnels beneath her; still digging deeper and deeper; still working, their hammers ringing with ominous echoes… one rumor that is whispered among the elves of foredawn vale, is that those ill-shapen dwarves doo trade.. but not with their normal relatives or the elves. Some stories tell about some kobold-like creatures, smuggling giant sickly looking eggs from the Stonehoots into Garnetpike; and even some wretched elves crawling nearby. Horrible echoes are heard from the gates of the mines, sometimes so strong, that they hang over the forests for long hours before fading altogether.
It is said, that even the conifer forest around Garnetpike is slowly changing, with the trees becoming twisted, denser and shadowy, growing larger than usual cones, glowing in sickly glint in the dark hours; maddened animals howl and growl, seeking travelers to devour; and even worse thing hide deeper between the shadows.
The Few dwarves (about 500 or so) spared from the shadowy madness, are nowdays fortified few miles south of the city, in and around a well protected mansion, that originally was owned and used by house Tilhammer for hunting and “countryside” vacations. Not surprisingly, many of those survivors are part of the Tilhammer clan (a relatively newer clan, that migrated from the hinterlands few hundred years ago) and some of his lesser servitor families.
The current head of the family, lady Keira Tillhammer, commands the small defense force, and use her tower to breed fierce griffins to bolster her defenses; unfortunately for her and her people, and her repeating attempts – very little help came from the elves.
The old mountain lord, sinking deeper into dark mood, is mainly interested with the Amani threat from the south, and also about a possible confrontation with Silvermoon, as the tension between the mountain and the high kingdom rise higher and higher; Silvermoon itself cares only little about the plight of dwarves – even less since the regent lord joined the horde. As a result, only a handful of Farstriders and few mountain elf warriors are lending some aid here and there; While the old dwarven city seems to darken further from year to year… Lady Tilhammer is sure, that a massive attack is only a matter of time, and that horrific weapons forged deep under the earth are being forged to be used against her people.
Caring very little about the tension between Quel’thalas and the mountain lord, and even less about the wars between the Alliance and the Horde, The Tilhammers will gladly greet aid from anyone willing to risk scouting the dark forest and their former cursed city and mines.
Points of Interest in Garnetpike
The deep market
A pair of winding streets on the bottom of the central vale, wrapping around each other, meeting and separating again like a pair of shadowy onyx snakes; even before the downfall, this place was shadowy at all times, with dark stone houses looming high above the cobblestone. Before the city fell to darkness, it was a thriving commoner market, with dozens of stores, food stalls craved in the stony walls, boiling caldrons, and simple workshops, hidden under the dark mass of strange ancient pillars, with fading owl-like shapes and bird-of-prey eyes, carved into their top, as well as into the roofs of the houses, above the narrow dwarven windows.
The Apprentice halls and the garnet guild gatehouse
Higher over the western hill, a series of deep stone yards are dug deep into the hillside, connected to each other in many underground corridors, with only vague sunlight entering some of them threw narrow windows in the ceiling. Hundreds of tiny rooms were built inside the inner rooms of the large yards; some in the end of short dusty staircase; and many others opening into the yards themselves, with only curtains to separate them from the ruckus outside.
The yards themselves were full (and maybe still are) with long stone tables, simple forge and opening for murky streams of greyish steamy waters; in the corners, high statues of elder dwarves are rising high above the yards, as if looking with a grim open eye on the working areas below them. In the past, it was the living and working place of the numerous apprentices and lesser craftsmen working and living most of their life in those crowded, steaming yards, totally separated from the master craftsmen.
Broad stairs, decorated with (now) half broken statues and pillars (again, with owl-like and bird eye motives), rise from one of the largest yards, higher into the western hill, ending with great pair of dwarven gates, inside a 50 feet tall wall, once caved with glittering stones pieces, some of them in the shape of a griffins fighting each other in mid-air; above that, a heavy roof loomed over the gates, plated with pale silvery metal nuggets.
This huge building, now party fallen to ruin, housed one of the most famous crafting guild in the city; inside it, old masters were working on their jewel-crafting master pieces; guarded doors led into shadowy corridors and secret underground vaults, and more. Few adventures tried to snick inside in the last dark years to seek forgotten tresures; and even fewer lived to tell the tale – after being fought back and chased; The rumor, however, tells that while neglection and spiders rule in some of the yard, the work is going on in others – though in a terrifying, sickly way, with ill lights glinting on the dark walls, mixed with the constant echo of the now darkened hammers and unhuman (or undwarven) voices groaning and squeaking.
It was said, that the steam cannels were cracked and flooded some of the corridors, both between the yard and maybe even in the cellar of the garnet guild itself… one farstrider, that managed to get deeper than the other, is still drinking his sorrows in Tilhammer retreat, swearing that he saw huge, horrible shapes moving and groaning inside or near the old vaults, far deeper than the ground level.
The Stonefork clan, though considered the most ancient of the dwarven clans that inhabited Garetpike, was considered for centuries as the less wealthy among the major clans – a large, rugged looking family of mainly miners and stonemasons, with much fewer skills in trade, let aside negotiating and earning connections with the elves.
It was changed about 50 years ago, with the rise of the grand scholar Bramrik Stonefork, that his knowledge about both magic and the depth of the earth, raised untold fortunes for his clan.
With his four decedents: Durik (head of the miners guild before the fall), Norgan the master stonemason, Targond the artificer and Tilda “Sapphire gauntlet”, he moved from the former humble dwelling of the stoneforks, into a newly made round palace carved from dark basal stone on the top of the north-eastern hill, surrounded by little ornamented squares and quite a few ancient troll souvenirs, which the old dwarf scholar was very fond of.
The dark round palace, though some of it quickly fell to ruin, is still standing on the top of the hill, often covered in thick vapor (some says, that now it looks even more trollish than ever, with strange statues that their eyes glint in sickly glow). Some of the surviving dwarves blame old Bramrik, whispering that his kin was the first to fall to madness and twist – and for a good reason. It is also rumored, that the old master scholar still lives deep under his palace, guarded by his sons and some of his nameless creations, and continues his – now deformed and dark – learning of the secrets of the depths.
The Stonefork crypts (5 men instance): Once belonging to a strange, forgotten family of dwarves, those deep ornamented tunnels and burial halls were cleaned and converted by master scholar Bramrick Stonefork to serve as the the burial crypts of his own family – after long generation of lacking a proper ancestor burial place. It was even told, he ordered to move some remains of his ancestors and properly burry them in sealed rooms of dark stones. It was also said, that the master scholar prepared a strange looking library hall for his most precious books and artifacts, to be guarded by the spirits of his beloved ancestors, that finally got the respect they lacked for centuries.
Later, when the comined efforts of the Tilhammer militia and their blood elf and adventurer allies had broken into his palace, the deformed master scholar retreats into the dark burial depths, preparing a horrible counter-spell that will serve as the greatest of his creations…
The Blackpine (whispering forge)
In the middle level of the east-southern hill of Garnetpike, the gates of the great guild of the weapon smiths opened into a marvelous great underground square, decorated with a unique, nearly 50 feet tall conifer-like statue, forged from pure black metal.
In the sides of the square, deep moats lead outsides, carrying boiling water and steam that emerged from the famous forge halls of the guild. Partly made from the same dark metal, those forges were built like ominous visages of birds, with lava streams falling from their open beaks into the forges, where metals were melted and master weapons were made.
It isn’t clear what’s happening inside right now; though some claim that the now maddened twisted dwarves still resides and work on revolting pieces of work – mockeries of their former arts. Other claims that the forge flames had died and darkened, and only glittering, venomous sparks are spewed here and there, lighting the shadows and reveal the once famous forges for brief seconds, before the darkness re-emerge and recover the sights again.