A Journey Of Friends
Dima of Gorunn
Hill Dwarf Tempest Cleric
Class: Cleric (Tempest Domain)
Race: Hill Dwarf
Alignment: Lawful Good
Age: 207 years
Height/Weight: 4’ / 131lbs.
Skin: Pale Brown Hue
Hair: Brown/Red Beard
Personality Traits: Reserved and quiet. Unbiased logic.
Ideals: Equality & honesty.
Bonds: Himo, his only befriended Drow. Vadim, his younger brother. The Devourer, his deity.
Flaws: Distrustful of Drow (besides Himo). Despises goblins. Currently banished from his clan.
Known Languages: Dwarven, Common, and Undercommon.
Dima is a middle-aged dwarf of the hills within the Earth realm. He is a lean dwarf when compared to his brothers, but do not let his size fool you. He is just a strong and sturdy as the-lot of them, physically and mentally. At just over two-centuries old, Dima is in his prime.
The color of his complexion is a pale brown with a tinge of red. Of course, that could be the red reflection perceived from his beard. His beard is a auburn color only known to his Gorunn clan. The genes of his ancestors have blessed him with a healthy physique and vital glow.
Dima has the traditional brown dwarven eyes that match the neatly attended to hair atop his head. His common eyes are keen to spot details within the unspoken language so few are wise to. Words spoken with false motives, words with anxious tones, or even words spoken out of true sincerity and honesty are all accompanied by the body language. Dima’s adept skill in noticing this, almost subconsciously, is a skill he relies on to fulfill his clan duties as evenhandedly as one could imagine.
As a dwarf of the Gorunn clan, he did not inherit mass amounts of wealth or fame, but was nonetheless still considered a Noble. To clarify, we are comparing his wealth to those of other gold-hungry dwarves. Compared to those short-lived humans, Dima’s vault could not be counted alone with their small amount of numbered years.
The Gorunn clan has always been respected by fellow clans of all social classes. As such, his ancestors have served in civil seats to maintain the law and the fair treatment of all. Dima is no exception. He trained as a Cleric devoted to the deity The Devourer, but around his half-century birthday he was appointed Judge to the courts. He quickly rose to the larger courts (all while continuing his Cleric devotions) where he became acquainted with the higher ruling noble clans.
Dima’s status and established trust amongst the ruling clans provided the opportunity for travel within the various realms. Considering dwarves are typically isolationists, it was natural that most of his visits outside the dwarf-ruled domains were for business, and always for profit.
The dwarves of the Earth realm had access to mines of rare minerals often desired by those wannabe elven smiths. The rolling hills amongst his home city, Dunmore, were littered with veins of these precious minerals that had been pushed by the earth to the near surface. This provided an economic advantage over the mines in the Underdark where the minerals were also prevalent. Mining from the surface required no deep mines or extensive cart systems. Produce cheap, sell high, marvel at the profit margin.
AN OLD FRIEND
“Dima, it is great to see you again. What has brought you to this realm littered with these pesky High Elfs?” said Himo in Undercommon, a lanky level-headed Drow.
Most dwarves, besides those of the Underdark, are unable to understand the Undercommon language. Himo had taught Dima years ago how to speak it, but he never could teach him to write or read it well. Dima had reasoned there was so little light below in the Underdark that it would be impossible to read anyway.
“Ahhhh, my friend! I believe the last time I saw you, the trees in my yard were mere saplings! You have always had a habit of asking questions you already know the answer to. Don’t you have some fancy parlor trick to see the future?” Dima lets out a hearty laugh that only a fellow dwarf could ever wish to mimick. He gives Himo a stern hug around the kneecaps and after wiping his watered eyes as a result of laughing too vigorously, he continues on, “Himo, I’m here on business of course. I’m here to deliver an invitation to ambassador Katyr of the High Elves. We’re going to be bidding for some business that is rumored to be on the table soon.”
“Interesting, it seems we are here for the same reason. Naturally we expected Katyr to approach us, but of late they seem to hold themselves in higher regard than what is deserved.” Himo replied.
“You’ve always been a friend of few words, Himo. It must be why you’re the only elf I can stomach being around without a barrel or two of ale in me. Business is business, we dwarves don’t mind out-doing the competition! Here’s to hoping the rumor is true!” Dima pulls out a stein of ale, clinks it against Himo’s thin armor, and takes a big swig. Himo, surprised, and wondering where the dwarf was hiding such a thing smiles at Dima.
“We have always supplied the High Elves with adamantine. I welcome the change of pace. I must be on my way. Best of luck, Dima.” said Himo as he turned to mount his horse.
“Likewise, my friend!”
“Ah, Dima, before we part. I have some advice.”
“In these parts, remember to look up a few feet. Elves are taller than you children.”
“Children?! Just because you pointy-eared tall folk live near twice as long doesn’t make us dwarves children! Dammit, Himo, I’m over two-centuries old! Dismount that horse, and I’ll make sure that I never have to look up at you again! I’ll put your ass permanently in the ground!” Dima’s face was as red as his beard, but his words only filled the empty air around him. Himo had already started galloping away
- anticipating Dima’s reaction. He always had a knack for pushing the dwarf’s buttons.
A few months later, Katyr, Ambassador of the High Elves, arrived in the luxurious halls of Dunmore. Dima’s role in the meetup was to protect the ambassador. In addition, Dima’s persona and charisma was to be used to glean more information. The dwarves of Dunmore were interested in knowing where the Drow of the Underdark were in the bidding ladders.
“Katyr, it is good to see you again. I’m told by the guardsmen at the gate you were accompanied by quite a large escort party. I assume you had no trouble on your travels to my beautiful Dunmore?” Dima spoke clearly and concisely to the High Elf. In his experience, elves had trouble understanding his accent, despite their large ears.
“Likewise, Dima of Gorunn. Those of my people who have a bit more foresight than myself cautioned me to commission the larger force. In my time alive, I’ve learned to heed their advice even if it is beyond my own understanding.”
Dima vocals a small chuckle; maybe even a scoff, “While you’re here in Dunmore, I will be your personal protection. You’ll have nothing to worry about besides having to duck under some of our older shorter doorways.”
Katyr with a face of stone that rivals those of the mountain dwarves did not laugh. He motioned silently to two of his escorts. These two were obviously highly trained and some of the elite warriors of the High Elves. As they moved to each flank of Katyr, their feet made no audible sound on the hard stone floor. They were swift and graceful with their adorned silks. The thin, but strong armor that the elvish preferred under the silks echoed no sound, just as their footfalls. The armor adjusted to their movements as if it were liquid being poured around their body. Everything about them, flowed, completely silent.
Dima had no doubt they had already spotted his own combat weaknesses. He thought to himself never to pick a fight with these two, they would be far too quick for him to engage in a skirmish without having some element of surprise. He was even more certain catching them off-guard was an impossible task, for all he knew they noticed every detail about everything. Maybe even the number of inlaid stones on the floor they seemed to be floating over? He was glad to be on the good side of these elves.
With the two guardsmen at Katyr’s side, he took a step toward the hall that would lead him to his quarters, “Dima, I do appreciate your protection. You are a fine warrior no doubt, and I attend to have your protection on my moves throughout the city. While in my temporary quarters your clan has graciously provided, Sudryl and Sedryl will stand guard just beyond the threshold.”
Dima took note of their names as Katyr looked to his left and right in identifying them, “Names so similar, brothers?”
They both nodded.
“Very well, Katyr. By the look of these two, you’ll be quite safe in your quarters. Any sort of attack would need to make it through the defenses of Dunmore first regardless. I’ve never seen them fail in my lifetime. Negotiations on the adamantine will begin this evening. Please excuse me for a moment.” Dima gave a small smirk of confidence, turned, and walked away.
Dima and Katyr would later meet to move around the city prior to the negotiations beginning. Dima’s prerogative was to introduce him to the various highly-acclaimed smiths of Dunmore to help reinforce the superiority of dwarven-crafted weapons. Working backwards in the process, Dima provided a small guided tour of the adamantine mines. Here his goal was to accentuate the efficiencies of their mining process as an advantage over his known competitors of the Underdark. Dunmore’s surface mines of adamantine is common knowledge to most of the realm, but their mining technologies are not. Dima made sure to leave out key parts of the tour as to not give the intelligent High Elves enough information to deploy the technology in a joint venture with the Drow of the Underdark.
During their walk through the city and prior to entering the mining area, Dima sensed something was off. He had always had a knack for passively detecting some sort of danger, but in particular today, nothing visually seemed out of place. He had hosted those of influence and noble blood many times in his life. Surely he wasn’t intimidated by Katyr or the two guardsmen brothers (who followed along through the city, despite their previous conversation)? He did notice that Sudryl and Sedryl both walked through the city with their hands resting on the hilts of their blades. They seemed ready to unsheath them from the scabbards on their hip at any instant. The High Elves are very perceptive people, did they sense the same uneasiness as he did?
Katyr, Dima, and the guardsmen returned to the hall an hour or so before the dinner was to occur. Dwarves love food and ale as much as they love gold and the business deals that lead to it. After dinner, the negotiations would begin and may very well last until the early hours of the morning. Negotiating is hard work and can’t be done on an empty stomach, be it full of food or exclusively ale.
Katyr and his guardsmen entered the hall from the far end. He spotted Dima towards the opposite end of the table. The table looked to be one solid piece of wood and matched the sturdiness of a dwarf. Hill dwarves were good with stone and ore, but the dwarf commissioned to build this table might have been thoroughly underestimated. The seams were barely noticeable, even to Katyr’s sharp eyes. The stain atop the wooden surface was consistent with the color of the ale filling the multiple pints in front of members of the Gorunn clan. Lost in the moment, Katyr let out a small smile. He ventured that the table was not actually stained with a varnish, but maybe with the many steins of ale that have probably been spilt. Gold and ale were always a dwarf’s best friend.
“Katyr, welcome to the feast!” Dima’s voice was exceptionally booming throughout the busy room. He quite possibly might have used Thaumaturgy to cast his voice so well, but Katyr was unsure. Dwarves have generally always had good lungs. “Your seat will be next to me here. We know you’re a busy fellow so we will finish quickly in order move into the negotiations as soon as possible.”
Katyr moved to Dima’s side and took his seat. Looking at the plate in front of him, he noticed the food was not of traditional dwarven cuisine. It was elvish. “A very nice gesture,” he thought to himself. “Thank you Dima, until this moment, I did not realize my hunger. This looks satisfying. Who is this young dwarf sitting to your right?”
“Ah, this is Vadim of the Gorunn clan! Vadim is my apprentice first, and a relative second. His role tonight is to listen and nothing more,” Dima slaps Vadim on the back and bellows his trademark laugh.
“It’s nice to meet you, Vadim.” Katyr begins to eat.
After a typical dwarven feast with laughter and messes abundant, Katyr returned to his provided quarters with Sedryl and Sudyrl to ready himself for the negotiations. Dima excused himself as well to ready the negotiation room and assemble the necessary parties.
Dima and the mining bosses were all seated at the table in the negotiation room. It was 7 minutes past the agreed upon start time. High elves were normally considered to be punctual. This was out of character. Something was amiss in Dima’s mind.
Dima spoke as he lifted himself out of his chair, “If you’ll excuse me, I will go check on Katyr.” He walked out of the negotiation room and proceeded towards Katyr’s chambers. He entered the dark hall where he noticed the torches were extinguished. Relying on his darkvision he peered down the long hall as he moved forward. The sight he was about to come across would stop him in his tracks.
Roughly fifty feet in front of him lie Sudryl and Sedryl, just outside Katyr’s door. Even from this distance their adorned silks and armor were uniquely recognizable. Dima could see they were breathing, they were not dead, but incapacitated as if they were merely sleeping. He quickly dashed down the hallway to the two brothers. He was not wearing his normal heavy armor or carrying his typical shield and mace — only a small handaxe at his hip. Without the weight of his typical equipment, the lean dwarf was surprisingly quick and light-footed. There was no sign of struggle, only Sedryl’s blade was partially unsheathed.
Worried that a being with malicious intent was still inside Katyr’s room, he did not signal for the Dunmore Hall guards. His shout would surely alert whoever was in the room and eliminate his element of surprise.
With his right hand on his handaxe and his left on the holy symbol suspended from his strong neck, Dima threw the door open while chanting words inaudible unless your ear was near his mouth. A blinding light sourced from the holy symbol fixated on the ceiling of the room, illuminating a horrific scene.
Dima’s quick eyes scanned the room for any body that might have been hiding in the shadows that once existed before the dazzling light above. He perceived none; however, on the floor lay a tall body on its side with long mahogany-colored hair. It was smooth, but no longer neat. Strands were laying over one another and fanning out on the floor. One leg was lifted, on it’s way to meeting the chest. Only one arm was visible, from the shoulder it led at an angle to the floor where it pivoted at the elbow resting on a blood-soaked carpet. From the elbow the arm traced up behind the hair, leading towards the neck of the still body.
It was Katyr.
As he rushed to Katyr’s side, with a thundering voice he called for the guard. At his side, he found Katyr’s hand partly resting on his neck. His eyes were cold, absent of color, and no longer vibrant. His head was resting in the collection of liquid blood sourcing from his neck. Dima grabbed Katyr’s hand removing it from his neck to check the severity of the wound. His hand was still warm. The blood from the wound was steaming. Maybe he could stabilize him enough to take him to the elder clerics to revive? Elven souls were beyond his ability to bring back.
Examining the wound, it was not done by a knife. The cut was not a consistent depth one would expect from a knife slash. The beginning of the wound had a deep bite and it shallowed as it followed down the elf’s neck. This was the work of a small axe. Any dwarf trained in field medicine would recognize this. The gouge was deep with bone visible colored pink by the leaking blood. This was a mortal wound, Dima would not be able to save Katyr’s life.
Wait. There’s more to this. Dima sensed more than just a physical wound. Magic? Was there magic used here?
He clasped his holy symbol again and began to chant. Midway through his chant, Dima was slammed to the ground with his handaxe falling from his grasp. It gave a hefty sound as it impacted the stone, falling in front of his face. His right cheekbone was being pressed into the stone by a dwarven hand. Confused and surprised, it took a few moments to realize the guardsmen had arrived. The one holding him to the ground was a strong female dwarf, named Ravna. She was a lieutenant in the Dunmore Hall’s guard. She had risen through the ranks quickly with her keen mind and uncanny strength for a dwarven woman. Well, for any dwarf.
Her eyes moved back and forth from the handaxe to the killing blow on Katyr’s neck. Dima’s axe was consumed in a vibrant red. Was he so careless when he found Katyr to let the handaxe rest in the pool of blood?
Dima has found himself in a troublesome situation.
Even as your omniscient narrator, the finer details of the trial are unknown to me. For weeks the closed trial continued on. The details as to what was said and presented during the arguments of the trial are known to only those who were behind the great doors that served as the entrance and exit to the court.
What is known to me and the general public is sparse. It is known that Sedryl’s and Sudryl’s testimonies were inconclusive. Their testimonies read that they did not recall anything. The last moment the brothers remember was standing guard at the door and the torches illuminating the hall instantly extinguishing.
Continuing to summarize the limited details, Dima was stripped of his civil position, stripped of his clan name, found guilty, and imprisoned. His sentence hearing was scheduled for 19 days after his day of imprisonment.
It goes without saying, the negotiation for the adamantine supply to the High Elves did not go well after word of Katyr’s death made it to their capital city. In fact, there are fears amongst the public that the High Elves will engage in all out war with the Hill Dwarves. Skirmishes have already been reported.
Time will tell.
Dima had replayed the scene over and over in his head. If only he had gone to Katyr’s quarters earlier than he had. Maybe he would would have been able to save his life or even stop the murder.
He was in the only prison within the Dunmore city limits, Tyur’ma. The prison was small with basic gates and locks. The dwarves augmented the basic security measures with an increased guard presence inside the prison. The prison was not designed to hold inmates for long periods of time, but only for the duration between the conviction trial and sentencing trial. Usually after the sentencing trial the inmate would be transferred to one of the many dwarven prisons outside of the Dunmore limits, but still an undisclosed location to most.
His cell was cold and damp, no light was present, no window to the outside. The air was stale with the smell of the small straw mat that lay on the floor for his sleeping. It was suited perfectly for a clanless criminal dwarf. Dima in his capacity as a high court Judge of Dunmore sent many guilty men to this exact cell. Momentarily shifting his thoughts from the Katyr murder, he realized the abhorrent conditions of these cells. With a small prayer holding his holy symbol (the only item they allowed him to keep), he hoped that he had never condemned an innocent soul here — as he was now.
Dima’s holy symbol emitted a dim light from his prayer. As he opened his eyes, his gaze landed on a slim white line within a seam between the stones that made up the wall across from him. He walked over to the seam; closer he realized it wasn’t slim. The grout between the stones had been carved out with this white replacing it. He ran his finger over the white he was barely seeing with his darkvision. From the texture, it was a folded piece of paper.
He carefully pulled the folded parchment from the seam and opened it. In it he found a few gold pieces, a makeshift key, and a note written on the inside.
Daegon needs you. Extremist Drow suspected. Neverwinter. Good luck.
It was written in Undercommon and was difficult for Dima to interpret. He laughed at himself. In the dark cell much like the Underdark, his suspicions about reading and writing the Undercommon language in such lighting were correct. He’s glad the message was kept simple.
It was signed with one letter, “H”.
ESCAPE FROM TYUR’MA
He was certain the key was meant for the cell door holding him in, but as a dwarf of the law he struggled with the thought of using it to escape. Nevertheless, he found himself studying the guards and their shift changes. From his cell, he could not see all of the guards, but it was easy to tell that each position’s shift change was staggered from the shift changes of adjacent posts. It would be near impossible to time an escape right. Besides, he had not decided whether he would even use the key. He had a duty to the law. Well, did.
He lay awake at night struggling with the decision to where his loyalty should lie in his current predicament. Was he to abide with the law and hopefully appeal at a later date? Would they even allow him to do so? Was he to stay loyal to his deity as a cleric and prevent war from ravishing Daegon? How would he restore his clan name that he no longer possessed? How would he restore his clan’s honor?
Dima’s decision was made for him in what would be the early hours of the next morning. A distant boom was heard and the ground beneath him rumbled. The majority of the prison guards rushed to the entrance of the prison to exit. The boom sounded as if it was sourced from the entrance to Dunmore. The prison erupted in chaos as guards moved to exit.
Grabbing one of the gold coins from the pocket of his tunic where he had stored them, he ground one edge down smooth with help of the stone wall and left it in the straw mat on the floor. He inserted the makeshift key into the lock on the cell door. It didn’t turn immediately, but after some rudimentary raking, the lock turned and opened. Opening the door as nonchalant as possible, he made his way to the prison exit.
Dima chose the people of the realms.