"The Axeblade Mountains are a dangerous place to navigate, more so now Wild Magic has been unleashed by the thrice cursed Elves. With the onset of a winter unlike even I have never seen in my long life its becoming ever more difficult to keep our outposts and settlements supplied and protected."
Map of the Eastern Axeblades"This winter has been so cold that even the Axebite River, despite being heated by our forges has frozen. Snow has blocked many of the high passes and even the broad Axebite Pass has become increasingly snowbound. The settlements of Mal Dulm and Mal Hrakken have had their populations swollen by the survivors of the destroyed Hold of Sto Heltd and are desperate for supplies to feed all the extra mouths and our border patrols are struggling to keep the military road open and safe."
Kareth Dull lies in the Axeblade Mountains near the Axebite pass. The Holds warriors have been manning the great wall that holds the Orcish hordes from sweeping into the North West. The hold lies on the Southern slope of the Axebite pass and extends miles back into the mountains itself.
Its mines delve into the depths in search of ore to feed the mighty forges which supply the great hold with its mighty weapons of war while its great walls have held the Orcish hordes at bay for untold centuries. With the arrival of many holdless Dwarf clans, Kareth Dull has begun settling the surrounding area, sending forth doughty groups of warriors to protect its fledgling settlements.
The Pass of Mal Dulm
The settlement of Mal Dulm was the first camp set up by the Dwarves following the Death. Unlike other Dwarven settlements it is situated on the surface and was originally intended to house the influx of refugees from the Hold of Sto Heldt which was destroyed by an earthquake immediately following the death.
Despite being called a settlement it is more akin to a military encampment with the surviving clans of Sto Heldt and colonists from Kareth Dull having quickly built sturdy walls and defences strong enough to withstand even the most determined bands of marauding Goblins.
Situated to the East of Kareth Dull, Mal Dulm lies in a secluded pass and is only accessible via a single narrow trail. While a boon for defence it makes supplying the settlement rather difficult. Fortunately the inhabitants have managed to cultivate small fields of crops in the high meadows above and recently began work on digging mine shafts into the surrounding peaks. These mines have begun returning promising amounts of iron ore, coal and even small amounts of Adamantium.
The road from Kareth Dull to Mal Dulm is a miracle of Dwarven engineering as a large part of it is built along a cliff face. Constructed from solid rock and iron girders the Hanging Road is one of the wonders of the new world. From the Hanging Road the trail becomes more narrow and difficult to navigate so each caravan is led by an experienced trail master, well versed in mountain lore.
The Hot Springs of Mak Hrakken
Built at the Southern tip of the newly constructed military road which winds its way through the Axeblades, Mal Hrakken was built next to the steaming springs which have recently burst through to the surface during the same quake that destroyed Sto Heldt. The settlement itself has been constructed directly into the cliff face surrounding the hot springs. Now mighty watermills line the outflow providing the new settlement with power.
Mal Hrakken is still a small settlement but is quite well protected. It needs to be as the cliffs hot pools have become the home of several wild dragons and the wealth of the Dwarves have led to strife as several drakes have taken to trying to raid the settlement. One particular dragon, a great grey ironback called Ripjaw has taken great pleasure in attacking the caravans winding their way along the military road.
A recent addition to the settlement in the form of a squadron of war balloons has been called in to deal with Ripjaw but the high winds and freezing temperatures have limited their use during the winter. In the meantime an exploration party has been dispatched to the Hoodoo Basin to the South in an attempt to locate the troublesome Drakes lair.
Dur Zamor lies at the Eastern tip of the Southern side of the Axebite pass high in the mountain called Lone Peak. It is surrounded by high mesas and grim pine forests but has been built with a single purpose. It holds a pair of mighty guns called Grimm and Gogg. These mighty guns have a range of several miles and have been used to pound the Orcish hordes that move along the Old Road from the Kargh towards the Axebite pass.
Not surprisingly the Orcish Khans are desperate to destroy the keep but due to its location its proved almost impossible to assault. This has changed recently with the discovery of a narrow defile which leads from the valley of the Seven Daughters up into the High Mesa. Now hordes of Orcs are amassing in preparation of the coming of spring to assault the keep. Fortunately for the Dwarves this force has been spotted and engineers have been working round the clock to mine the defile so when the Orcs do come they will have a very warm welcome!
The Broken Lands
The Broken Lands are a large area of tortured earth riddled with chasms and scree. Even for the Axeblades its a dangerous place with few safe ways through and even the bravest of Dwarven explorers have given it a wide berth thus far. Its Northern boundary is marked by the Golden Lode river while the Axeblades mark its southern border. Despite its dangers the Broken Lands are inhabited. Its is a mecca for elemental creatures of all sorts as the constant movement of earth has provided an unexpectedly strong source of Earthpower.
It is this instability that has begun attracting adventurers as the quakes have brought precious metals and jewels to the surface and if one can but survive the surroundings, a fortune can be made.
The High Mesa
The High Mesa bounds the Eastern side of the Axeblade Mountains. Its Eastern edge is marked by a steep cliff which proves an initial deterrent to any Orcs trying to approach the Axeblades.
The Hoodoo Basin
The Hoodoo Basin is a region of strangely shaped boulders, carved by the Ironlode which at one time fed into a large lake, long since drained. The resulting boulder field is a treacherous maze of strange canyons and is almost impossible to penetrate. It is this maze like quality that has attracted Ripjaw, the mighty grey ironback dragon to make its lair in the caverns which lie at its centre.
The Seven Daughters
The valley of the Seven Daughters is steeped in myth as the great pillars which gave the area its name are supposed to be the daughters of the Earth Mother frozen for eternity.
The Kragh is the name for the great encampment and staging point of the Western Horde of the Orcs. Its a sprawling tent city ruled by the iron hand of Gugrum the Large, a Khan of truly titanic proportions. Its only purpose is to ferry re-enforcements towards the front lines of the siege of the Axebite pass. Gugrum has become vastly wealthy running the tent city and has indulged his passion for food and is now so fat he can't move under his own strength but is transported around in a specially built howdah between two Titanosaurs.
The coming of winter has led to a bitter freeze at the Kragh and already hundreds of Orcs have died of frostbite. The food supplies have begun to run low and the Orcs have begun eating their Goblin minions. This has led to many small bands of Goblins to make a break for freedom and head for the Axblades in search of safety. This has not gone un-noticed by the Orcs and slavers are already scouring the region for runaways. Several of these Orcish bands have come to a sticky end as large bands of Goblins have ambushed them and slain them.
What is interesting to note is that these Goblins are surprisingly well armed and equipped and often have their own warmounts. The Orcish pride has been pricked by these setbacks and larger expeditions have been sent to deal with the upstarts.
Krulls Winter Encampment
The encampment of Krull, the greatest Khan in the Western Horde is a place of pain. The Khan has decreed that the Great Wall must be breached at all costs as it would make his name live on in Orcish lore forever. To achieve this he has sent wave after wave against the Dwarven defenders but with little success as the Dwarven engineers are skilled at their craft and the Orcish assault is constantly breaking like the sea against the wall, without any noticeable effect.
Realising that a frontal assault is unlikely to succeed, Krull has sent many trusted underlings into the surrounding mountains in an attempt to try and find another pass that will allow him to finally defeat the hated Dwarves.
The winter winds are biting and many Blackbloods have died but Krull will not show weakness by striking camp and heading for the relative safety of the Kragh. He knows full well that any sign of weakness would be deadly for him as Gugrum will take any opportunity to depose him.
Therefore the Orcs are resigned to a hard winter and can only hope that they can break the Dwarves. The Dwarves have begun sallying out to harry the Orcs with lightning raids, their Wargolems belching fire and destruction amongst the Orcish lines. In return the Orcs are heating their blood by whipping themselves into a frenzy of Gorath worship.
This dedication and carnage has led to the appearance of one of the Eyes of Gorath. This terrible being has been seen conversing with Krull and he is once again turning his attention towards the Dwarven fortifications.