Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #259
September 17th, 2023
Name: Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Boarfang Mountain and the Dead Woods of Ceannar – Part 7
Location: Northeast corner of Flattop Hills
Population (approx.): 54 (Under the Silent Grove)
Brief: It is not written in the annals of Aenwyld as to whether the explosion that created Boarfang Mountain was a natural, unnatural or supernatural phenomena. But it is known that the Silent Grove, on the slopes directly south of the Fangs, is much different than the rest of the region. Under those slopes, in that age undreamt of, a great creature, perhaps a first Kin or creation of the First Ones, held court in a grand cavern attended to by its own lesser Kin, created by the creature’s own manipulation of the essence. Then, when it slumbered, the mountain above erupted and the dragon, drake or wyrm was almost instantly buried and suffocated by a million tons of rock, mud and lava. Its lifeforce burst out of its cocooned form and washed across the surface, freezing trees in place and binding its servants to the now crystallized forms.
Over the course of centuries, the trees of the Silent Grove remained as they were, frozen in time, with many tied to spirits of ancient Kin. Most avoided the area, but the yearly rains and erosion eventually unearthed crystals and gemstones, washing them down the slopes into the hands of scavengers and miners. A few were brave enough to attempt explorations of the Grove seeking the source. Eventually the survivors laid a trail to the mouth of a tunnel leading into the depths, opening on to a small cavern whose walls and ceiling appear to be supported by the rock-like bones of the tail end of a vast long dead entity. Rumors say the cave is now home to Kin of the underdark who seek the “Bright Stone of Creation” in the center of the body.
Gruze Nuggetcutter, 103, male Deep Gnome, is the cultist leader of The Ministry of Bright Stones. Gruze is short and extremely thin, with thick black hair and dark brown eyes. He wears long robes in dark colors and a bright necklace with a large ruby in the center. He wears a rope for a belt, which has loops for twin ceremonial daggers. His belt also contains a pouch with an herb that induces a trance.
Gruze is a fiery leader of the Ministry of Bright Stones. As a young Gnome, he received visions of a Deep Gnome carving stones in a fiery volcano. He also heard voices asking him to seek the Stones. He took these to mean he should join the followers of the Master of Stone under the Ulu Maug of Taodeas. After a few years, he felt the church of the Stone ceremonies to be too tame. He broke off his ties to that church and led many Deep Gnomes on an epic journey following a vision of a crystallized entity to form the Ministry of Bright Stones cult in the cavern under the Silent Grove.
Gruze is unmarried and has few friends. Many of his followers have tried to get close to him, but Gruze wants to avoid playing favorites. The cult lives under Boarfang Mountain. They have tunneled a small village there and only go out to hunt and get supplies at night.
Geography: The Silent Grove is a narrow triangle of land covering the slopes directly below the southern Fang of Boarfang Mountain. It is about 6 miles long and just over 2 miles wide at the base. The cavern of the cultists is about a mile upslope of the southernmost corner of the Grove. A narrow defile, shaded by overhanging crystal trees, leads to a narrow entryway resembling a vertical crack in the earth. The path is littered with traps and wards set by the newest inhabitants, the cultists. The entry tunnel descends for another half a mile before reaching the chambers of the Ministry. Stone huts, home to the Deep Gnomes built out of blocks carved from the north cavern wall, rise to the left and right of the entryway in between great curved crystal columns thought to be the lesser bones of the great Dragon of Gems.