A Subpar Adventure
Dwarf, Great Weapon Fighter
The Fall of the Granitehelm Clan
(as was passed down from Durn to Grimm)
You never hear of the Granitehelm clan anymore, and for good reason, there aren’t many left.
There was a time when the Granitehelms were a clan of respected Dwarf soldiers, stalwart defenders of the King’s might and the dominion of the Dwarven race at the height of it’s power in Faerun. Within the ranks it was often joked that the ONLY battle line without a Granitehelm was the REAR line. Still, they were a modest clan, the young were taught humility, duty, and honor above all things. Loyal to the King and their god Moradin, they fought to the bitter end. It was for this very reason that the king kept them close, eventually appointing Keld Granitehelm as a royal body guard and personal adjutant. Unfortunately this was ALSO the reason the clan was soon to be marked for death…
Several prominent and powerful Dwarf nobles, jealous of Keld’s close relationship with the King and fearful of the growing power of the Granitehelms as a whole, decided it was time for the clan’s long standing service to the Empire to come to an abrupt end. Their solution was simple—frame Keld in a fabricated plot to assassinate the King. Great care was taken in doctoring the evidence and making sure it implicated Keld and those close to him. The scheme paid off in spades, for the evidence they produced was irrefutable, and the King was easily convinced of his imminent danger. Incensed and deeply betrayed, a secret edict was quickly passed calling for the entire Granitehelm clan to be wiped out.
It wasn’t until the night of the King’s birthday that the hammer finally fell. Keld, thinking he was attending a routine meeting, was lured into an empty hallway and riddled with crossbow bolts. His severed head was presented to the King as a gift, and while the Empire celebrated that night, the rest of the Granitehelms across the kingdom were tracked down and executed for high treason.
Those that escaped the culling (either through wit or by fortune) slowly dispersed Southward to scrape by in lands dominated by mankind. While not unskilled (nor masters) in the art of Dwarven Craftmanship, few made a living in the more accepting cities of the Sword Coast, fulfilling the roles of armorers, weaponmiths and machinists. However, the rest survived with whatever work a Dwarf could get, often finding a niche within the dregs of society, especially in large communities with lucrative trade and thriving underworlds. This would often mean taking positions in taverns, gambling & fighting rings, or even thieves guilds. Their lives were often violent and short. Dain Granitehelm of the City of Waterdeep was one of these dwarves.
Grimm remembers little of his father Dain. Vague memories paint the picture of a strict and serious Dwarf that was a master at avoiding conversation and would disappear at night and for long stretches of time. Grimm would often ask his father where he was going but would always get the same reply, “business”, Dain would say right before slamming the door. Despite Dain’s mysterious life, there was always food on the table and the two managed to get by living together in Waterdeep’s Dwarven community for the formative years of Grimm’s life.
Somewhere during the 9th year, Dain finally did not come back. Grimm would not have lasted long alone in Waterdeep, if it weren’t for his old uncle Durn taking him under his wing. Durn Granitehelm was an old soldier, a veteran who had seen more than his fair share of war and had somehow managed to survive it. He always came by with some half cocked story to tell, like the time in battle when he lost his axe mid swing and accidentally knocked over a line of goblins, or the time he fought a battle drunk and with no pants on. He was a free spirit, and made his own way in the world as a hired axe, occasionally visiting Dain & Grimm in Waterdeep when the trade caravans came in.
When the caravan Durn was hired to protect moved out of Waterdeep again, he took Grimm with him, telling the “young buck” that the best way to start over was to just leave everything behind. The two traveled up and down the Sword Coast stopping from city to city with the trade caravans for the next 4 years. Durn tried his best to set the young Dwarf right, despite his father, teaching him everything he knew from love to war to how to speak rudimentary Goblin. Under Durn’s tutelage Grimm learned much of what it meant to be a Dwarf and of his ill-fated family history.
But, as with all good things, it didn’t last. Trade caravans are not without their risks as they make tempting targets, and it was on the way from Baldur’s Gate to Daggerford that they were beset by a force of well armed brigands. In the confusion Grimm lost sight of Durn, who had ran out to protect the caravan. Before he knew it Grimm was bagged and knocked unconscious. He never saw Durn again.
Dragged far away into the Graypeak Mountains, Grimm was sold to well armed and organized slavers who forced him at swordpoint to work deep within an iron mine. Grimm, now 14, quickly learned to rely on himself, his will, and his growing strength as he was forced to crush and haul rock day after day. Each day faded into the next for next 16 long years.
It was widely accepted among the slaves that the level of coordination their captors showed was not that of any ordinary band of thugs, but indicative of a more well funded and malevolent force. It also occured to them that although much rock was removed, very little ore was produced. Mages with body guards would also show up from time to time to survey the work—were they looking for something?
The Battle of the Graypeak Mine
Whatever it was they were doing there, it had unknowingly attracted unwanted attention. Grimm’s tenure was cut short when a sizable raiding party of Orcs descended upon the mountain. With surprise on their side the Orcs neutralized the outer defenses and flooded into the central mineshaft, but got more than they bargained for when the slavers resisted with sword and spell. Sounds of struggle and shouting echoed down into the mines. When the slaves finally realized what was happening they turned on their captors in an attempt to escape and fighting erupted all over the mine. Grimm knew it was now or never, grabbed his work hammer, broke his chains over a rock with it, and made for the surface.
The slavers were losing. Topside, the orcs were forcing them down into the mine, slaughtering those that fell behind. Below, the slaves were coming up to meet them head-on wielding shoddy iron mining tools but an advantage in numbers. They clashed with the slaves first, easily taking down the first groups but got overwhelmed as more and more slaves bunched up trying to get past, that’s when the orcs hit. They cut a swath through both groups running at full speed into them, almost slicing all the way to Grimm’s position. It was every one for themselves as the hand to hand fighting broke up into small groups with slaves darting inbetween attempting to break free and getting caught in the melee. Grimm’s small stature made it easy for him to dodge most of the fighting but a large orc, singling him out, swung wildly in his direction slamming it’s axe into the wooden ceiling support, smashing it into splinters, and causing part of the ceiling to collapse. This instantly crushed the orc and narrowly caught Grimm’s arm, gauging it, as he tumbled out of the way. The dust from the collapse threw everything into further disarray and allowed Grimm to slip past the fighting toward the mine entrance.
Only two Orcs guarding the entrance stood in the way, and they were already engaged with the few slaves that got there ahead of him, killing them as they tried to get by. Feeling no fear, only pure rage, Grimm gripped the haft of his hammer with both hands, ignoring the gash in his left arm, took a deep breath, and charged into the nearest orc knocking it off balance as it turned to deflect him. Grimm spun around and drew his hammer over his head like he would to pulverize a rock, and brought it down upon the Orc’s chest, crushing it’s rib cage into it’s heart as it fell to the ground. Grimm had killed for the first time. When the other Orc saw this, it dropped it’s weapons and ran.
Free at Last
A free Dwarf, 30 years of age and directionless, Grimm wandered his way from town to town and job to job slowly making his way Southward to Cormyr over a period of 8 years before landing a contract with the newly formed Ad Hoc Adventuring Agency, but that is another story entirely…