Mysteries of the Nentir Vale
The small hamlet of Durin’s Hole sits nestled in the southern Dawnforge Mountains, at a bend in the White River.
Roughly 100 years earlier, Durin Greyhelm was exploring the mountains when he came upon a narrow crack in the rock face. Hoping to take shelter for the night, he squeezed into the crack. Inside, he noticed that the air smelled slightly of the sea. Wagering a guess he licked the cavern wall and was rewarded with the puckering taste of salt.
He later returned with a small team of surveyors and miners. They discovered, as far as they could tell, that the region was one giant rock salt deposit. With more enthusiasm than forethought, he immediately put the miners to work.
At first, the going was slow. Raw rock salt had to be shipped out to be processed before it could be sold, and establishing trade routes and agreements was difficult for the remote settlement. A few of the more adventurous and solitary folk settled to work the mine, but labor was also in short supply.
But the value of salt was high enough, and the mine’s leader stubborn enough, to allow the mine to continue operating and the town to survive.
A shaft was bored down, and an elevator constructed to haul rocks and miners alike. A sturdy, rectangular building of logs was erected around the mine shaft where the miners would live, eat, and work. Around the area was raised a stockade fence. The logs for both the mine structure and the fence had been stored below ground, and as a result had become petrified and hard as stone – something Durin noticed when shoring up mine shafts and quickly capitalized on. It took years for the process to complete, but it was worth the wait to convert plentiful pine logs into virtual stone columns when all of the workable stone was valuable rock salt.
As time went on and more of the earth was excavated, chambers and sculptures were carved into the mine; including shrines and temples, living quarters and recreational areas. Natural caverns and underground lakes were discovered along the way as well. There were steady raids by orcs and kobolds native to the region, but the salt kept coming.
The current presiding lord and owner of the mine, Griggen Greyhelm, has been working tirelessly under close advisement from his recently hired adviser Jeffrey Aderis to improve the mine’s output, security and establish better trade routes. His efforts, combined with the experience and technical improvements made by the generations before him have raised the humble mining town to a new level of prosperity.
Now the town is expanding beyond the subterranean chambers and petrified stockade fence. Dwarven engineers have been brought in, along with stone for building. Roads are being paved, houses built, and a new fortified stone wall is being constructed around the expanded perimeter. A network of rails and carts has improved the distribution of the mined salt, and a mill (a second is being built) allows on-site processing making distribution and sales that much easier. A portion of the mine’s profits are shared by the townsfolk, even by those unable (or unwilling) to work the mines – though this is less by far than a miner’s pay, it is still more than most other working class would earn.
The townspeople now focus less on mining and look to other ways of filling their time and spend their money. For the time being, much of this is directed towards new construction. The town is also seeing more travelers than ever before, putting many of the more solitary residents on edge.