The Mountain Pass & Old Dwarven Ruins Geographic Location in The True Dark Ages | World Anvil

The Mountain Pass & Old Dwarven Ruins

South of Aachen there is a small forested mountain pass. Travelling this direction there is a large crack in the mountain on the right. A large pond / small lake to the left that is stagnant in appearance. A small stream crosses the pass pouring into the crack. If anyone were to peer into this they would see that the crack acts like a passage into a large partially worked cavern, that is big enough for a large creature to easily fit through.   In the cavern is a major worn path where the stream runs beside. This is about one mile down to a carved stone door with a stone representation of a Dwarf warrior on either side. This stone door can be pushed or pulled to open leading into the ruins itself.


The terrain is mountainous, rocky, with little ground vegetation. What vegetation that exists is primarily European pines, and scrubland. Small streams flow through many such lower areas, draining in & out of ponds & small lakes. These seem to form from run-off from snowy peaks and/or slightly lower levels where meltwater & rain collect (some which makes it underground to naturally occurring ground waters). The rock is primarily igneous in nature, with granite & basalt being common. Some marble seems to be mixed in too, and very small pockets of quartz & obsidian. A few gems and ores of iron, gold, silver, and copper were discovered here.   The cavern is stable, and has been expanded from it's natural size. It runs from the entrance with a flattened path that slightly curves with the stream beside it as far as the back of it. There the entrance of the Dwarven ruins are apparent. The cavern is quite stable and can be explored. Not much work has been done further on it, though, there is some damage from the surrounding rock moving & settling.


The plants & animals here are usually perennial in nature, able to survive & interact all year long. A rare few like the local cave & brown bears will hibernate from late Autumn to early Spring, giving birth during this time. Most other animals will mate at least once in mid Spring to early Summer, after bulking up during early to mid Spring. Most plants follow the pattern of breeding from late Spring to early Autumn.   Most of the animals in the area are mammals, and some lower orders, along with a few fish in the waterways, and birds are present too. Most are adapted to utilising the plants, other animals and waterways as a source of food. Some sift through the silt at the bottom of the waterways or eat the algae that grow there (usually worms, insects and the like), up to some herbivores like goats, that can survive on the hardy plants that grow here, to predators that eat the other animals.   There is soil here, and crevices, water way banks, and pond / lake bottoms for plants to exploit. Though saying this, the soil is not exceptionally deep due to the nature of the rocky terrain. Most plants have the ability to cling on to the rocks & stones in some form or fashion with their roots, anchoring themselves down. Quite a few, like the pine trees, also spread out their roots to gain maximum advantage of space.   Plants that survive without direct sunlight, and some animals make use of the cavern. The latter sometimes lairs in the cavern, especially bears, and it looks as if a family of Griffons once nested here before leaving. As to why they left no one is sure.   The ruins themselves have been took over by a number of goblins, and other creatures from the Underdark. They followed the stream up, where it went below the structure, and found a part used as a well. There they burst through and attacked. Since then they have took over on a temporary basis, and if any of the them are questioned, they say a massive evil lurks deep below, and will eventually find a way through.

Ecosystem Cycles

The Autumn and Winter months last slightly longer here due to the elevation being well above sea level, and generally cooler.   Spring & Summer are slightly shorter, being cooler, and experiencing more rain than the surrounding lowlands.   In the cavern & ruins, no real cycle takes place except for the odd animal hibernating from late Autumn to early Spring. It is somewhat warmer down inside, especially round the ruins.

Localized Phenomena

The odd minor cave-in or tremor occurs, and sometimes, especially during Autumn & Spring the stream can overflow. It can get quite strong & triples in size at least. This can sweep away creatures not strong enough to stand it.   During the Winter months, heavy ice & snow can make the paths & passes treacherous to all, and driving animals to seek shelter. This can be into the cavern & ruins, resulting in finding animals that are hostile to any treasure seeker.   Very rarely a rumbling and deep bass screams can be heard in the ruins coming from below. Exactly what these emanate from is another thing.

Fauna & Flora

Plants such as pine trees, hardy mountain shrubs & grass, as well as river & lake bed plants all grow in the region outside. A few of the shrubs & water plants still grow inside the cavern too near water. Mosses & lichens grow too both inside & out, not needing the light & heat of the sun. Some wild herbs can be found sprinkled around, including in the cavern / ruins, after being introduced by animals, the Dwarves and/or goblins.   Goats are common, and the odd brown bear & cave bear., as well as lynx They all regularly use the cavern & ruins too, both for protection from the weather and for hibernation for the bears. Eagles & hawks patrol the skies looking for prey, and voles live in lower parts of the waterways. Wolves can be found hunting at times around the pass eating anything they can. Rabbits can be found in greater or lesser numbers depending on predation, and the odd pack of deer can sometimes pass through looking foraging spots, or to drink. There are a few small trout, and breen found in the waterways, as well as the odd pike.   At least once a pack of griffons had lived in the cavern, but none have recently lived there. There is the chance some may return in the future to take up space here and create a nest. A few local hunters (who avoid the cavern) have reported finding the paw & foot prints of other animals once in a blue moon. At least every few months if not year or two, they report finding the kills & paw prints of both a manticore and a wyvern. Not together but separate. The manticore tracks seem slightly higher than the wyvern's, though it is likely both are nesting somewhere nearby. Others make a claim that a cockatrice has been spotted in or around the cavern, warning travellers to stay away from it, as the cavern is thought of as cursed by superstitious locals. They also point to large wolf-like prints found nearby going into & out of the cavern claiming that Worgs have took up residence too.

Natural Resources

Water for feeding animals are abundant, along with those brave enough to go higher can mine ice blocks for use at lower levels. Pine timber is able to be collected easily enough, and grazing for sheep is good enough. Hunting is common place especially for the goats, bears & wolves.   The cavern seems to contain little in the way of most basic metals, though for a small band of prospectors they may be able to get enough for a half decent payday. There are gemstones present and there is an abundance of both quartz & some obsidian, though the latter is found in very small chunks, and not worth as much.   Most adventurers prefer to examine the ruins when they can but very few return if at all. Rumours about the ruins have existed long enough that certain local legends state that there is a chance a good big pile of Dwarven treasure exists somewhere there. If any can find this resource, or even the weapon & armour stores they could be set for life. That or if they manage to finally drive of the goblins & other vermin in the ruins, maybe theĀ Asgersonn clan can re-establish themselves there, though they may need someone or some group to explore below to find out what drove the goblins upwards. This could be just as lucrative as any other resource here.


Centuries ago, the Asgersonn clan from the north, had decided they wanted to make a new hold where they could spend half their time. Part of the idea was if they could expand their holdings, along with their family they could have two clan holds for two different branches of their family, and expand their trade further. Unfortunately this was not to be.   Certainly they had the family, and soon found an entrance to the cavern in question. At the same time, they detected local ores & gems that appeared promising. So they modified the cavern to better suit them, and they followed the stream to where it went into the rock. Building their new hold from the rock in the cavern they were able to build a well over the stream, and got it to fill with water.   Everything was going fine, until one day they felt tremors from deep inside the cavern floor. This was followed by a massive scream, deep & bass-like in sound it seemed to appear as if there were some primeval monster were about to tear the mountain apart. This was not the case. From the well, countless goblins from deep below spilled out and over the rim, driven upwards by some unseen force. Many were battered & bruised, a few dying from horrific injuries as they escaped into the hold. Yet there were still to many.   By appearing like this, the Dwarves thought that the goblins might attract the attention of the 'thing' chasing them, so organised warbands to fight. Unfortunately the goblins were more terrified of what lay below & fought back. By the time it was over little remained except a few goblin clans numbering a handful each. By this stage other creatures started to find their way up too, so now if not wiped out by the goblins there is also the risk of running into something just as bad if not worse.   The goblins to this day still hasn't the strength or the inclination to expand further, fearing whatever lurks below might be attracted by their presence.
"I've been up there, travel regularly. A few sheep I have like to graze up round that cavern entrance. I don't, like them grazing there though. Quite a few killed there. The trail of blood leading into the cavern. Some things best left alone. Don't know what's down there either myself. Heard from Gunther that there's some old Dwarven ruins there, and eerie lights & cackling laughter coming from on inside. Best not go down when you're near it laddie. Can't loose another young shepherd can we?"   Aldorf Sigmund, elderly shepherd & farmer speaking to his grandson Gilberd.
"Ya, I've been in there. Got as far as that blasted door to the ruined hold. Strangest grating laughter, and lights I ever seen. The smell too, like unwashed bodies. Thinking that maybe the old tales are true, that the Dwarves there were overrun by Goblins. Didn't stay too long, had to help Aldorf later with some of his sheep. Lost a few to some bird like creature. Big it were too, and scaly. Damn animals had scattered earlier and we tracked a couple to that cavern. That's why I'd originally gone in. See if I could find them."   Gunther Ivanson, farmer talking to a a Dwarf trollslayer by the name of Floki Bigbeard.
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