Nightal 15, 1491 DR
Gundren Rockseeker squeezed the last of the air from his pipes, the final notes of his somber dirge echoing sonorously off the walls of Wave Echo Cave. Wave Echo Cave had not been under Rockseeker for control for a full two months, yet already the tombs of two Rockseekers were being crafted. The first tomb was that of Gundren’s older brother, Tharden Rockseeker. Tharden was killed before he ever entered what was now Clan Rockseeker’s home, by the drow mage, Nezznar, the Black Spider.
The second tomb, which was not yet started although the slab that would be the tomb had been selected, was the tomb of Gundren’s cousin, Orsic. It was Orsic’s death that was the reason for the somber clan gathering. The whole clan was here, save those that were sent to the Allfaith’s Shrine in Phandalin to retreibe Orsic’s body. Were it not for Orsic, the Rockseekers would not be in Wave Echo Cave. Likely Gundren would have died at the hands of the Cragmaw Goblins if Orsic and his friends hadn’t saved him.
Gundren stopped letting his mind race toward the memories of his captivity, instead focussing on the eulogy being offered by Muriwen Rockseeker, wise-woman of the clan, and the oldest living Rockseeker. Muriwen stood strong as she gave her praiseful oration to Moradin and the life of Orsic.
Gundren looked over at the chest that contained Orsic’s belongings. Nundro Rockseeker, Gundren’s oldest and only remaining brother, was the one who had received the chest from the angelic messenger who called herself Moda. Nundro offered Moda rest amidst the cavern, as he had said she looked weary from flying through the night to bring the clan the news. Moda had graciously declined, saying she had more pressing matters to attend to, but expressed gratitude and condolences for the clan’s loss.
“…and such a loss,” Gundren caught the tail end of Muriwen’s words, a little surprised at how well they echoed his own thoughts.
Such a loss indeed. The Rockseeker’s were not a large clan. Nor were they famous like the Battlehammers or the Warcrowns. Their ancestral histories had heroes aplenty, and Gundren had no doubt that he lived longer, Orsic’s deeds would have certainly rivaled those of any iconic Rockseeker of ages past.
“Or maybe not,” Gundren thought. “Maybe we can’t help but remember the dead as better than they were because we hope those that survive us will do the same?”
“…and let those that survive him do the same,” Muriwen was saying. “For in following in this young one’s example, we bring honor to the clan, and Moradin.”
Gundren watched Muriwen give the rest of the eulogy, refusing to get lost in his own head. Although she was venerable, the wise-woman was solid as the stone walls that surrounded them. Muriwen was from one of the line of the clan that had darker skin, like polished teak wood. Yet her hair, now streaked with gray, was the forge-fire orange of the fairer complexioned members of the clan, and gathered into ropey strands. Muriwen leaned heavily upon the clan hammer, a symbol of the clan, but in no way ceremonial. The Rockseeker Maul was still very much an instrument of war, and currently resided in the hands of arguably one of the greatest warriors of the clan, even at Muriwen’s advanced age. Voices solemn and hoarse from regret and refrained use, echoed a final prayer to the Forge Father under Muriwen’s guidance.
The prayer concluded and Muriwen looked to Gundren, her eyes shining like emeralds in the dim light of the chamber that had been repurposed as a tomb. “Play,” Muriwen’s voice echoed hollowly. “Play the song of our clan on yer pipes to ease the journey of our fallen clansmen to Moradin’s forge.”
At this wise-woman’s command Gundren begun to fill the bladder of his pipes after dipping his head to recapture the mouth piece. Gundren began to squeeze and play, his keening pipes thick with loss and solemnity. Nundro’s snare drum joined Gundrens pipes, the staccato notes falling to the stone floor like tears. And Clan Rockseeker bid farewell to Orsic.
Nightal 16, 1491 DR
Gundren was exhausted. His head was still a little fuzzy from Orsic’s death vigil last night, and
this morning. The water clock on the stone desk told him it was evening again, and Gundren realized it had been too long since he had slept. He piled the loose sheafs of parchment splayed across the desk and tucked them in into a stone box whose joints were so well disguised it looked as if the whole thing had been formed from a single piece of highly polished agate.
Gundren had just finished reading missives from his friend Sildar Hallwinter, now the town master of Phandalin. Sildar was in communication with a small enclave of Waterdahvian wizards that had expressed an interest in relocating to Wave Echo Cave.
Another correspondence now secured in the box with the others, was from the famed gnomish artificer, Luftvarger Von Listleschlepin. Luftvarger and his acolytes had accepted a temporary residence at Wave Echo, eager to learn about the Forge of Spells.
Phandelvers Pact would be renewed. Wave Echo Cave would again be a place of creation and discovery for the finest artisans of three races, all under the vigilant protection of the Rockseeker clan. Gundren knew he should feel excited that he had resurrected a piece of history. Yet he didn’t.
Gundren loved the history of his people. He had spent as much time in his life studying books, maps, scrolls, and songs of Delzoun’s past as he had at the forge. That love for the lost things of the dwarves was what had led him and his brothers to find Wave Echo in the first place. And now that it was coming together, Gundren felt as if he should be more…something. But what was coming next was not exciting to Gundren. Statecraft would be necessary to appease the visiting human and gnomish artisans. Stonecraft and smithing would be used to restore Wave Echo Cave to its original splendor after decades of neglect and the attack that destroyed the original inhabitants. And while Gundren appreciated all these things, they did little to captivate him.
“Sure’n I have seen some things me day young Rockseeker,” Muriwen’s voice echoed warmly off the chamber walls, her brogue thick like summer honey and just as sweet. “Ye be hearin’ the stone’s call or I am maid fresh faced and new”
Gundren dipped his chin respectfully to the wise woman and stood offering her the only chair in the chamber. Muriwen declined with a wave of her gnarled hand, and instead leaned heavily on the haft of the Rockseeker Maul as one might lean on a walking stick. “Evening clan mother,” Gundren offered, careful to use the honorific due the wise-woman.
“Ye can be stowin’ all that formality lad,” She smiled. “Tis’ too late in the evening, and has been too long a day. But ye can’t hide from me Gundren. Ye have heard the stone’s song. Ye have heard it all your life. It is in your songs, and in the tales ye tell. Ye be blessed and be cursed, for ye be a Rhok seeker.”
“I am not fer follwin’ ye Muriwen,” Gundren said. “Sure’n all the Rockseekers in this halls are Rockseekers brave and true.”
“Aye, lad,” Muriwen said behind her tired smile. “But I said ye be a Rhok seeker. In all your tales did ye ever come to know how this clan got it’s name?”
“Aye Muriwen,” Gundren began, “In the time of Regnir-”
“That was six three centuries past,” Muriwen interrupted. “Twas, but a little more than yesterday. Sure’n ye be knowing our clan is older than that?”
“I suppose,” Gundren said. “I was fer thinkin’ we had another name in those times.”
“We did,” Muriwen said distantly. “And we didn’t. Long ago, when our kind first came to the north, before time was recorded, Moradin knew that we would be needin’ a stronghold to fortify and a place for our forges. He called this place Rhok, and within its sunken stonewalls the first of our kin made ready to face the north. It didn’t take long for the other ancient races, then new to the north as we were, to become jealous of the things we made within the stone halls of Rohk. They wanted our steel for making war on each other, and our stone to shelter them from the cold winds above. And so the jealousy caused those defilers to unite, at least for a time. They raided the Rohk as they have done for many centuries since, and the stronghold fell, as so many of our halls have since.”
Without interrupting, Gundren poured Muriwen a cup of cool water from a clay pitcher on his desk. Being a story teller himself, Gundren knew her voice would be getting hoarse, and he didn’t want her tale to stop. Muriwen received the cup with a grateful nod and continued.
“Eventually we ended up forming Delzoun, and those tales be vast and well known. But those that remembered Rhok remembered the great gift the Forgefather had given us. They didn’t want to forget, and so it was said that tasked a skald to sit with the stones for one hundred and one tendays to teach them the songs of Rhok. Once the skald had taught the stones his songs, he died. With his dying breath the Sklad asked that the stones to sing to those that could hear them, and through the old songs, help our people remember Rhok and what we had lost. As time went on, we lost more of our ancestral homelands, and though it took place over centuries for us, that was but as a second to the stones. The stones that had learned the songs grew confused, unable to remember which dwarven halls were to be sung about, as so many had fallen in so short a time.”
“And so,” Muriwen continued after another sip of water. “Each stone began to sing about the hold they liked best, for our homes are always pleasing to the stones. As they sang, their songs became confusing, and many stopped listening to them. The people were convinced the stones were old and senile.”
“Yet, some among them still listened to the stone’s songs. A very few would hear their words, and go find the halls lost, and forges too long cool. Ofthose few that heard the stone’s song, even fewer would hear the songs of Rhok. Those few strove for nothing more than to find Moradin’s original gift to the dwarves of the north. They were called the “Rhok finna” which in the old tongue means Rhok Seekers."
“After a time even our clan became distracted from the quest for Rhok, Because we were well traveled from our journeys to find lost halls, were well suited to the task of King Regnir that
eventually earned us the place we have today. Yet every once in a great while, there is still one in our clan that hear’s the stone’s songs. That feels the call to find the lost halls of our people, and perhaps even one day, rediscover great Rhok itself.”
Gundren found himself exhaling slowly as Muriwne finished her tale and he realized he had held his breath through most of her legend. How had he never heard this tale before? There was so little dwarven lore Gundren hadn’t at least encountered, let alone studied. Gundren had so many questions, yet as he looked up he could already see Muriwen disappearing down the dim light of the hallway.
“Go to the place where stones sing Gundren. Listen to them as the call your cousin home. See what song they sing to ye.,” Her voice echoed back to him.
Nightal 17, 1491 DR
Gundren awoke not the least bit sore from his slumber upon the stone floor of the tomb. He had done as the wise-woman had said. He had come to the tomb and tried to listen, yet he had been so tired. He had slipped into sleep quickly. Yet during that sleep he had dreamed of a place called Tyar-Besil. He had heard the songs the dwarven craftsmen sang as they built it. And he had heard the mournful ballads that had been sung when it was lost.
Pushing himself off the floor and springing to his feet Gundren made his way to the two chests in the room.
“Brother, I’ve a journey ahead of me,” Gundren said reverently. Kneeling before the the stone slabs that would soon be tombs “I’ll be needin’ yer boots, the same that Orsic wore, to carry me far.”
“Cousin, I will be needing yer gauntlets, the same ye claimed when bravely you cleared Wave Echo Cave for our clan, to carry me load and make strong me sword arm. I’ll be swearin’ to ye both that I will return em to ye once I have found the lost halls and forges of our ancestors. Until that time, I will carry a piece of both of ye with me, and together, maybe we three Rockseekers will find Rhok.”
Gundren didn’t know what to expect, but as nothing seemed adverse to his request, nor was nay ill omen given, he rifled through Orsic’s chest as he had the guantlets and the boots. Gundren considered carrying Orsic’s axe, Hew, as well. But that thought was short lived. Hew had been too long among the Ruins of Thundertree. The blade deserved to rest back with its people for a time.
In just a few short hours Gundren had provisioned himself for his journey. He gathered a few works or lore, and some maps with potential information about the location of Tyar-Besil. It was close, he knew that, and somewhere to the east. Gundren would start with the Bellows Road. The underdark path went under the mountains and Wyvern Tor, and although somewhat dangerous, would be the fastest way to what was called the Dessarin Valley on the surface.
Taking his baldric off the hook in his quarters that contained his longsowrd and dagger, Gundren shouldered his weapons and secured the straps. Lastly he gathered up his pipes. they had not been used since the funeral, and the deflated bladder hung familiarly at his side once he had thrown the instrument’s strap over his as opposite shoulder.
“Sure’n ye are damned fool,” Nundro said from Gundren’s door, his face split with a grin and naught but pride showing in his eyes and he surveyed his younger brother once again in his adventuring gear. Gundren wasn’t sure how long his brother had been standing there “Ye’ll never find a place that’s lost,” Nundro’s voice was heavily steeped in sarcasm.
Gundren grinned at his older brother thinking again of the recently reclaimed Wave Echo Cave, now bustling with activity, and soon it would be restored to its former glory. He remembered those same words being said not too long ago to himself, Nundro, and Tharden before they left for the lost site of Phandelver’s Pact by some of their clanmates that now resided with the halls of Wave Echo cave.
Gundren flung his chin Nundro’s way with a wry look, “That’s what I be hearin’.”