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People & places: The Whistling Caves

The island chain of Sevrin has seven main islands and dozens of tiny islands, most of them uninhabited.  The Whistling Caves are located along the coast of Karivala, a small, mountainous island located on the northwestern part of the archipelago.

Strong, steady sea winds blow through the caves, producing an eerie sound that varies slightly with the shifting weather patterns.  During the approach of extreme weather, a “storm whistle” can be heard as far away as Stormwatch Island, the most southern of the seven main islands.

Legend has long suggested that Karivala’s cave system was the result of art, not chance. Storyspinners tell of an ancient culture that sculpted the caves to warn inhabitants of storms, or of shifting wind patterns favorable to invading ships.  Most people assume such tales have more to do with entertainment than history, but a recent discovery suggests that the storyspinners stopped short of the truth.

This spring, herring fishermen noticed a new note emerging from one of the caves–a deeper, more haunting sound than any had ever heard from the whistling caves. Two of the younger men–both of whom had explored Karivala’s caves since boyhood–decided to investigate.

They took a row boat into the cave and found that a section of the cavern wall had crumbled.  Existing pieces of the broken wall were surprisingly thin and smooth.  Stranger still were the gouges along the thicker stone next to the break, as if the thin section had somehow been slid aside.

The two men proceeded into this new opening and found a long, straight tunnel. They saw no other breaks, but at several places, just above the water line, they saw similar gouging on the stone. These “unopened portals” seemed to be placed at regular intervals, giving the impression of a gigantic stone flute.

Though this discovery is a matter of mystery and wonder to the inhabitants of Sevrin, any dwarf would understand the implication immediately.  The Karivala caves are evidence of a long-gone dwarven culture, and the tunnel is exactly what it looks like:  A wind instrument carved into the island’s stone.  A group of stoneshifters could move these portals at will, changing the pitch and volume of the sounds coming from the caves to send messages to the rest of the islands.

Any dwarf who hears of the herring fishermen’s discovery is likely to be very concerned, particularly those dwarves who are secretly laboring beneath the streets of Sevrin. They don’t want to draw human attention to the very civilization they are working to undercover and reclaim.

People & places: The Whistling Caves

The island chain of Sevrin has seven main islands and dozens of tiny islands, most of them uninhabited.  The Whistling Caves are located along the coast of Karivala, a small, mountainous island located on the northwestern part of the archipelago.

Strong, steady sea winds blow through the caves, producing an eerie sound that varies slightly with the shifting weather patterns.  During the approach of extreme weather, a “storm whistle” can be heard as far away as Stormwatch Island, the most southern of the seven main islands.

Legend has long suggested that Karivala’s cave system was the result of art, not chance. Storyspinners tell of an ancient culture that sculpted the caves to warn inhabitants of storms, or of shifting wind patterns favorable to invading ships.  Most people assume such tales have more to do with entertainment than history, but a recent discovery suggests that the storyspinners stopped short of the truth.

This spring, herring fishermen noticed a new note emerging from one of the caves–a deeper, more haunting sound than any had ever heard from the whistling caves. Two of the younger men–both of whom had explored Karivala’s caves since boyhood–decided to investigate.

They took a row boat into the cave and found that a section of the cavern wall had crumbled.  Existing pieces of the broken wall were surprisingly thin and smooth.  Stranger still were the gouges along the thicker stone next to the break, as if the thin section had somehow been slid aside.

The two men proceeded into this new opening and found a long, straight tunnel. They saw no other breaks, but at several places, just above the water line, they saw similar gouging on the stone. These “unopened portals” seemed to be placed at regular intervals, giving the impression of a gigantic stone flute.

Though this discovery is a matter of mystery and wonder to the inhabitants of Sevrin, any dwarf would understand the implication immediately.  The Karivala caves are evidence of a long-gone dwarven culture, and the tunnel is exactly what it looks like:  A wind instrument carved into the island’s stone.  A group of stoneshifters could move these portals at will, changing the pitch and volume of the sounds coming from the caves to send messages to the rest of the islands.

Any dwarf who hears of the herring fishermen’s discovery is likely to be very concerned, particularly those dwarves who are secretly laboring beneath the streets of Sevrin. They don’t want to draw human attention to the very civilization they are working to undercover and reclaim.

SEVRIN LORE: Cragslore

It will probably come as no surprise to anyone that the northland dwarves were fond of hoarding.  In addition to the usual stockpiles of weapons and a lavish treasury, they collected knowledge.

The library known as Cragslore was one of the finest repositories of knowledge any civilization could claim.  A thriving community grew around this library, and dwarves came from all the known lands to study lore that could be found in no other place.  During Cragslore’s glory days, dwarven adventurers quested for rare volumes nearly as often as they sought magical items and treasure hoards.

The greatest wonder of Cragslore was the runewalls–long, smooth expanses of stone arranged to form a circular maze.  Both sides of this maze were inscribed with the history, lore, arts and science of the Carmot dwaves.  Walking the Runewall required years of study, the equivalent of attending a human university.

No human or elf has ever walked the runewall.  In fact, the very existance of Craglore is one of the dwarves’ most carefully guarded secrets.  Only a few elves have heard the tale, and they have nearly as much reason as dwarves to keep the knowledge housed in the library out of human hands.  No human knows that Craglore’s secrets lie beneath the island of Sevrin.

The destruction of Craglore unleashed wards designed to protect the library even in death.  In the centuries since Craglore’s fall, a few dwaven adventurers have tried to excavate the site.  None returned.  The restoration of Cragslore is widely considered an impossible task, to the extent that “digging for Cragslore” has become a dwarven proverb for futility.

SEVRIN LORE: Carmot dwarves

Sevrin’s alchemists are fascinated by the discovery of substances in living bodies that are also found in rocks and soil:  iron, copper, zinc.  A certain race of dwarves, the Carmot, also have trace amounts of carmite in their blood and bone. 

This rare mineral attracts energy like a load stone attracts metal. Of more interest to sorcerers and alchemists is its volatility; it readily binds with other substances and in doing so, releases energy. Carmite can amplify many potions without altering them.

As a result, Carmot dwarves were hunted nearly to extinction. The long reign of Eldreath, the sorcery who ruled Sevrin until he was slain and replaced by the Council of Adepts, was infamous for its attrocities against the dwarven people. Sevrin’s alchemists point to this grim history as one of the reasons for Eldreath’s overthrow, as well as an argument against the use of magic.

In truth, alchemists have a keen (if secret) interest in the Carmot dwarves. Gatherers funded by Sevrin’s adepts travel throughout the northland, investigating rumors of dwarf settlements and tracking down individual dwarf adventurers.  For a Carmot dwarf, there are few places more dangerous than Sevrin.

The Carmot have several distinquishing characteristics. Even among dwarves, their affinity to  stone is remarkable.  The high contents of mineral in their bodies allows them to find minerals in a manner some elves describe as “like a pig sniffing out truffles.”  Some Carmot have the ability to stoneshift: to cut, shape, or move stone through the use of magic.  

Carmot dwarves are natural chameleons, able to shift the color of their hair and skin at will.  Their natural coloring is gray, and when they are not colorshifting, they appear to be sculpted of stone.

Though skilled miners, Carmot dwarves are also fond of travel, trade, and adventuring. They tend to be curious, lusty, charismatic, and possessed of a wry sense of humor.  Carmot enjoy associating with other races. If you find a Carmot dwarf in mixed company, he’ll usually be the person in charge, even if he’s not the nominal leader. 

Carmot are taller than some races of dwarves. A few can pass as short, muscular humans.  Humans find these Carmot physically attractive and occasional liaisons occur, but there are no half-dwarves.

A persistent legend speaks of the last king of the Carmot, an ancient dwarf who has sent his many sons throughout the northlands to reclaim old settlements and find lands hospitable to new habitations.  Most humans dismiss this as a tavern tales. They probably shouldn’t.