Mysteries of the Nentir Vale

On to Thunderspire!

From the rumors they gathered in town they had heard that beneath the stormy peak of Thunderspire Mountain lies the Labyrinth, an ancient, ruined minotaur city. For over two decades, an order of wizards called the Mages of Saruun has controlled the Labyrinth’s upper levels,creating a relatively safe haven called the Seven-Pillared Hall. Here, underground denizens come to trade with the mages and with a small number of surface-dwellers who are in the know. Humans, halflings, dwarves, duergar, goblins, orcs, troglodytes, and others come to the hall to barter under the watchful eyes of the Mages of Saruun and their towering minotaur constructs. The mages have one rule in the Seven-Pillared Hall—maintain order. Visitors who leave the safety of the hall and venture into the Labyrinth do so at their own risk. For in the darkness of the Labyrinth, all bets are off and the truce enforced within the Hall has no bearing.

Thunderspire Mountain lies amid a wilderness of pine forests and rocky hills. The mountain’s pinnacle is usually wreathed in gray, foreboding clouds, but on rare clear days, it can be seen from a great distance.
The Trade Road, an old dwarf-made highway, passes near the mountain. It links the human town of Fallcrest
(about a two-day journey west of the mountain on foot) with the dwarf stronghold of Hammerfast (three days
east of the mountain by foot). In years past, travelers and caravans hurried past Thunderspire to avoid attacks from monsters lurking in the ruined minotaur city. Today, this part of the Trade Road is reasonably safe thanks to the presence of the Mages of Saruun. From the Trade Road, a steep cobbled path called the
Vale Road turns north and then cuts into the mountain. The road rises through a valley with sparse vegetation and ends at Thunderspire’s base. Small waterfalls and brooks wash down from the rocks above. A few shepherds, woodcutters, and trappers live in the vale. Their humble houses are made of turf and fieldstone and are fitted with stout doors to repel predators, including bears, wyverns, and griffons. The ruins of Saruun Khel beyond the Seven-Pillared Hall are collectively called the Labyrinth. The ancient minotaur city consisted of a vast maze of natural caverns, gaping chasms, hewn chambers, steep stairs, and twisting passageways. Most of these features remain to this day. The Seven-Pillared Hall and its adjoining chambers form a small part of Saruun Khel. Much of the Labyrinth remains dangerous and unexplored.

Traversing up the Khel Vale which consists of many switch-backs and ledges the widest part is crossed via a 100 ft. rickety rope and plank bridge. It was here that the group found the bridge to be trapped thanks to the keen eyed druid who was not distracted by the fanciful and fully entertaining Halfling. Not to be slowed by a simple delay such as this the bull-headed minotaur plodded on ahead – charging up and over the makeshift pitfall with such grace and agility one wonders what could stand in the way of this monster?

Patrolling the valley 2 wyverns saw an easy snack in the party and swooped in to feast. As the minotaur summoned fire and ice down on one of the dragon like beasts on one side of the valley the rest of the group attempted to hide from his mate on the far side to little avail. Seeing that his associates were not proficient in the fine are of skullduggery Finn bounded from his hidden location onto the wyvern’s back! His surprised comrades, in fear for the tomfool Halfling’s life, threw ropes secured to trees and reeled the flying drake back from over the valley’s edge like a prize fish. Seeing the creature up close and it’s pristine primal beauty the group decided to let the wyvern go and continued on their way up the mountain.

The Vale Road mets the Minotaur Gate about 4 miles from the Trade Road. This was the grand entrance to Saruun Khel. The road enters a 50-foot-tall stone archway hewn out of the mountainside. A towering minotaur statue stands on each side of the entrance, glowering down at the travelers.

Beyond the Minotaur Gate, the Road of Lanterns slopes into the mountain. Green light from copper lanterns dimly illuminates the road, which leads about half a mile into the mountain, sloping steadily downward over several switchbacks. The road is a brick-vaulted passage, 30 feet wide and 30 feet tall at its apex. Seventy-seven demon statues, each over 10 feet tall, stand watch along the corridor’s length.

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