Time to Dice
Deep underground Raslen Stoneforge led the small community of Ironthal peacefully. The community of rock gnomes were excellent tinkerers who designed many engineering wonders that helped them flourish until the duergar came. They descended upon the smaller gnomes to take them as slaves and those who displayed exceptional skills, like Raslen, were to put their skills to use in serving the duergar.
Raslen was eventually paired with another gnome for breeding purposes and thus Colwyn was born and left with Raslen alone to raise to pass on his skills while teaching the new generation subservience and obedience to the duergar. But Raslen was always a crafty old gnome and instead raised his son to despite the duergar for what they did to their home but to keep it secret until the proper time.
Years passed and Raslen trained his son in working the steel and designing new tools and inventions. Raslen even garnered a certain level of respect among the dark dwarves who would seek him out for special purpose items or a finely crafted warpick or hammer. Eventually he found himself at odds with a duergar named Tormir, the son of the duergar in charge of Ironthal, who would secretly learn all he could from other gnomes then have them put to death so any work he came up with he could claim was his. Soon Raslen found the mark that he would leave on his work was eventually being covered over with a brand similar to his own. He was soon able to track it down as Tormir’s brand who was claiming credit for Raslen’s work. The years of getting some of the respect he once had among gnomes being given to him by duergar got the better of him and he confronted Tormir. Tormir had him and all other gnomes who were not in the mines already to be sent there while declaring there was nothing that could be learned from them.
Working in the mines was the hardest labor Colwyn ever experienced but fortunately it was not to last for him. A party of gnomes broke through and subdued the guards before gathering the all the nearby gnomes they could and fled, sealing off the escape tunnel behind them before more guards arrived. Unfortunately Colwyn’s father was not among them. As it turned out, these gnomes knew his father and brought him and the others to a camp of former slaves and refugees from Ironthal. They had been doing what they could to sabotage all the Duergar operations but were, for the most part, remaining hidden since their numbers were small and they had very few fighters. Colwyn offered the skills he had learned to help the camp if the experienced fighters they had would train him to fight so he could hopefully one day rescue his father and free his people. He sharpened the pick axe given to him as a slave miner and turned it into a tool of war to use against the duergar, and to him it became an instrument of freedom. He would come to be a patrol leader and would always leave written on the site of any attack ‘Free Ironthal’. He became known as ‘The ghost in the halls’ for causing so many duergar patrols to go missing.
After a couple of years of participating in hit and run attacks against Duergar patrols and freeing slave miners, it was obvious to Colwyn their efforts were not having the greater impact on the Duergar control over Ironthal that was hoped for and the increased patrols and their few numbers made any activities they wanted to do much too high risk. He realized the only way he was going to free his father and liberate Ironthal was with help from outsiders so he headed for the surface where he hopefully could gather allies, and wealth for equipment and supplies.
Colwyn travelled for weeks through the meandering tunnels to find a way to the surface. A particular tricky section had him trying to sneak through a den of giant spiders. With careful and slow movements, he made his way through the set of webs that crisscrossed the cavern that was full of dessicated corpses and ruined wooden caravans that had attempted to pass through. He had almost made it through when the whole cavern started to rumble and drawing the attention of the giant spiders. An ankheg, anxious to feed on the spiders, broke through the cavern walls and went directly for them. Even the large amount of spiders could not bring it down as its bites deflected harmlessly off its thick armor. Colwyn was easily able to avoid them as they focused on each other but as the ankheg moved through the cavern, making new tunnels to strike again, it all started to cave in. Bad enough that the crumbling rock started to bear down but the entire tunnel system was already beneath the ocean and so water started to rush in. Colwyn was knocked unconcious from the rubble and deluge of water.
It is unknown how much time has passed before Colwyn awoke clutching to a piece of wood and drifting in the ocean but he knew he was at least that he was on the surface and in the distance he could make out land which the ocean current was taking him closer to. He made it to the beach and from there easily found Easthallow. He was able to establish himself as a blacksmith there after the previous one died during a raid. Being able to work the steel and make something of use to others gave him a sense of peace because it brought back fond memories of his father. But raids seemed to be a re-occurring problem there which made the population unruly at times from the fear of attack looming over them at any time. Colwyn was familiar with these kind of raiding tactics being used so took it upon himself to put the other skills he had to use. The situation reminded him of his home and he simply could not let this continue so he went out into the area and began designing traps in areas he was able to determine raiders would use on their way to the area. There he would lie hidden, waiting for them to appear. Once they did and the traps thinned out some of their numbers, he would rush out and finish them off with a series of lightning strikes while they were unbalanced from the traps.
He returned to Easthallow to inform the locals of what happened to let them know they didn’t need to be afraid now and how they must stay ready for any attack. They hailed him as a hero and had wanted to offer him some kind of leadership position which Colwyn turned down. To do so he felt would take away from his responsibility to Ironthal. But it did result in increased business for his smithy from which he could store away gold until he could find a way beneath the surface again, however long that might take.
It still felt to Colwyn that there was something missing. The weapons and engineering tricks didn’t keep Ironthal free before so more was needed. He found it among the travelers that would make their way through town. One in particular was an elvish wizard named Arana Gwadhen who needed his blacksmithing skills to fashion a scepter in a specific shape from a special metal she had in order to enchant it. She had heard of his skills from people in the area so specifically sought him out. He told her he would do for no cost if she teach him some of her magical skills. She agreed. Over the following days she taught him what he could and in doing so, Colwyn hoped to put minor enchantments on what he could build to further strengthen whatever forces were employed in the struggle below.
Now Colwyn is biding his time as he continues to work and gather money and contacts. Among the list of these needs he also hopes to hear of rumors that will lead to an entrance to tunnels that delve deep below. His mind is also troubled by others around him who he has come to value now that his eyes have been opened to a greater world beyond Ironthal. What will he do when the time comes that he must choose the world above that he has come to know now and the world below where his father may already be dead?