Expeditions to Molbrut-orhim, What can be found below.
A rough history of the rediscovery of Molbrut-orhim and the founding of Hammerholm
Compiled here is a collection of Journal Excerpts from the late Simone Erikson and the first ever expedition to Molbrut-orhim,leading to its discovery and the subsequent founding of Hammerholm on top of the site.
“The part I thought was going to be the most difficult turned out to be far easier than I expected. I’d Imagined getting funding and approval for this archaeological adventure of mine would have been tricky, given how little we actually knew about this supposed lost Dwarf hold. But I suppose the success of our relationship with the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains from Vunkuldir has made the lords of Hawk’s Landing hungry for anything Dwarven.
Still, this now gives me a new issue. I’d expected far more time to research but now suddenly I've got a ship, a crew and enough supplies to outfit a small town and little more than a vague direction to head in.
Though, I do now have the funds to hire an assistant.”
“I’ve had my new assistant gathering what information they can about the eastern mountains and the possible location of this lost hold. But I feel no closer than before to even having an area to search in. To make matters worse I feel the crew and my employers are starting to see through my delays so I need to look over everything I've gathered so far, try and ascertain a lead of some sort.
From stories i’d heard or read during my trip to Vunkuldir i know of several tales of a lost sister hold somewhere at the very edge of the great eastern mountains, a lost hold of great wealth and monumental construction. These tales almost always come in the form of morality plays about the danger of greed, hubris or unchecked ambition. Normally they focus on the end of the hold , with the hold and its inhabitants meeting some sort of self inflicted destruction. However the method of this destruction isn’t the same in every tale. Some have it that they dug too deep and awakened foul creatures from some unknown subterranean land. Some have it that the dwarfs built their hold with too much ambition and in the failure of a massive construction project flooded the whole thing. Most useless of all are the tales that pin the fall on supernatural causes, dark magics and a smiting by old gods, ancient sea demons and all that nonsense. Utterly useless for figuring out where it is.
Unfortunately all the Dwarves tales have the same problem, they focus on the failure of the Hold and the moral story that can be taken from this rather than any distinct physical elements.
So I took to looking at human writings about the eastern mountains. Mostly unhelpful, there being very little recorded about the area other than being a dangerous wasteland devoid of human settlement.
However I did find something useful in an old forgotten library, interestingly enough it was a translation of a Daoine story. The translation itself was very old, with no date for when it was made, and claims the part of oral history it records is far older still. For the most part it’s a fairly standard Hero’s story of encountering strange lands and fighting evil monsters, but the strange land in question sounds a lot like what I’m looking for. Great stone edifices carved into a colossal gap in the mountain range. The ruins of splendour and luxury washed away by time. Not a great source, but a colossal gap should be easy to spot if one exists, so I will keep it in mind. Plus the monster our brave hero fights is described as very aquatic in features, could indicate a connection to local waterways.
Unfortunately still no location, if my assistant doesn’t come back with anything useful I’m willing to just sail to the eastern mountains and trek all the way along the edge towards Lian village if we have to.”
“That boy might be a genius. My new assistant, James, I think was his name, actually proved useful. Following up on what I shared with him yesterday he had the odd idea of asking dock workers and fishermen who go out east if they knew anything. Making the logical connection with the flooding, and Aquatic monster stories that if they were true, they need to have more than a river to flood a whole dwarven hold, and the only great body of water out east is the sea itself.
Needless to say the lad managed to find a fisherman who claims to have seen massive stone ruins in a rocky harbour where the edge of the eastern mountains meets the sea. Which so far fits with everything else we know, is the strongest lead we’ve got and is by far the easiest place for us to get to by boat.
James seemed worried about other parts of the fisherman’s story but I assured him that simple and superstitious folk will always spin tales of remote and dangerous locations being home to evil creatures, and that talk of sea monsters or demons under the mountain shouldn’t be taken seriously.
We must set off as soon as possible, I’ll write again when I can, but for now I have to get this ship east as fast as possible.”
Editorial note- It seems Ms Erikson failed to write in her journal for the whole of the voyage, with entries only being made nearly a week later by which time they appear to have already been at their destination for some time. It is unclear how long the journey actually took the Expedition.
“Curse that foolish boy. It seems in finding out about this harbour he failed to ask the fisherman any physical descriptions of this rocky death-trap. If he had he might have been able to warn us about how damn treacherous it is. It took the Crew nearly a day just to anchor down and getting the ship in a position where we can unload has been a nightmare. But at last we have our supplies off the ship and I can leave that mess to the ship hands while I take the rest of the expedition inland to try and find this Lost hold.
To make matters worse the captain seems to be losing her nerve, I thought she was meant to be a veteran but tall tales and rough seas have her at wits end. Gods if I never step foot on a ship again it’ll be all too soon. Those damn things will be the death of me.”
“I’m starting to regret bringing Knights on this expedition, only two of them but they’ve already slowed us down immeasurably. Getting stuck in the mud of that dried up river bet or having to be helped over rock or cliffs. They say they need that heavy armour to protect us from the threats of this wild land but our Ranger has been far more useful without any armour at all. We haven’t even seen any dangers around here either, the most threatening thing we’ve seen was a wild and territorial cow.
I just hope we can find this place soon and I get to work doing actual archaeology rather than babysitting this band of merry fools.”
“My last entry was very rude to the rest of our expedition, especially to our Ranger who is turning out to be so very useful, he spotted something in the mountain chain running to our west, saw what appeared to be a pass though the mountains, remembering the tale about the gap in the mountains I asked him to scout ahead. Though he only arrived back at nightfall, what he claims to see is very promising. Apparently the pass is like the mountains were split in two, leads right through to the over side. In the middle of this pass he says he saw a massive stone doorway. The like of which he’s never before seen. Which if true, Is very promising.
Oh I cannot wait to get a closer look, it could be the greatest discovery of this century. All within my grasp.”
“Oh it is better than I could have imagined, the doorway may be sealed but it alone is enough to prove this is the lost Hold. Mighty and taller than some keeps it is something only dwarfs could make. Even the two dwarfs in our Party were impressed, awestruck by it. Truly nothing like this has been made in an age.
I asked the Ranger to scout around the local area. Myself, James, our two other researchers are all going to try to find a way into the Hold. Either by unsealing this door ( no easy feat given it’s taller and wilder than most buildings I’ve seen) or by finding another way in.
One of the knights is to guard us. the other knight, both of their squires and the two labourers have gone to the western end of this pass to set up a base camp.
Once all this is setup, I will send the labourers to collect the rest of the supplies from our ship, once that is done then the ship is to head back to Hawk's Landing with one of the researchers to inform them of our success and get the supplies ready for our return voyage.
Oh I can just feel my name in the history books. ‘Simone Erikson -greatest expert on dwarven history!’, I cannot wait .”
“I am an archaeologist, and yet it seems that at every turn I am stopped from doing what I damned well came here to do!
That idiotic captain left without us. Dumped the rest of supplies on the beach and left some half-hearted note about seeing things in the water and being unsafe to stay, and that they’ll send another ship to meet us when we originally agreed to leave. Bloody coward.
Now I have more people than I know what to do with and they’re all panicked.
It’s not all bad news though, we found a side passage that looked only partly blocked, we should be able to remove the collapsed sections and make an entrance. I’ve recruited some of the party to help move it. James said he wanted to go with the Ranger to try and scout food and water in the local area, and I can't see anything better they could be doing. The rest I've tasked with improving the camp, give us some more amenities. Maybe use those dwarven foundations to have somewhere better to sleep than a tent under a tree. Not really useful but it gives them something to do other than worry.”
“We got in!
Oh what a wonder it was to behold, just this morning we managed to move the last of the boulders and the support beams we placed looked strong enough to stop anymore collapse. I was the first to squeeze my way through and though I was expecting total darkness besides my torch, it seems the old Hold isn’t as sealed as I thought. A few rays of sunlight, errant bits morning sun rays had managed to creep into this mighty cavern. Though the gentle light was not enough to give detail to what I was seeing, it gave the whole place a faint luminescence as they refracted off the aged but still smooth stones and the waters that flowed and pooled. I could see the Hold was massive, a great layered hall around a long central cavern that descended beyond sight. The cavern at either side is lined by tiered walk ways that must lead to the other parts of the Hold. Below us I can make out at least 2 more tiers(though I can't see the bottom so there may be more) and above us appears to be another. There are great stone stairways that connect between them placed at intervals. Though I cannot make out what is at the far end of this great hall I can make out faint hints of something colossal and central far away. This Hold might be the majestic thing I've ever seen.
We must map and categorize everything in here. Come this afternoon I will split the party into four so that we can explore quicker, we’ll go two levels at a time, each group taking one side of the great hall. Starting with this level and the one above.
I cannot wait to uncover the secrets this place must Hold, to figure out the story of its people and it’s grand history.”
“While this site is certainly exciting, it is proving very difficult to navigate, many sections have been made completely unnavigable by collapse or erosion. A lot of this is down to the many streams and small rivers that seem to flow into the Hold from the surface, but much of it seems to have collapsed for other reasons. This raised two questions in my mind. First, where does all that water flow to? And second, what caused the collapse? This area isn’t prone to earthquakes, in fact there has never been one in recorded history big enough to cause this so it seems unlikely it was naturally caused.
Maybe the old tales about them building with too much ambition is to blame, and the support structure simply gave out in places.
Regardless these blockages and gaps have stopped us from reaching the far side of the Hold. Given that some of the stair cases still seem to be stable it may be possible to reach it by detouring through the lower levels. Which we will need to explore anyway.”
“Of the 4 groups I split the party into, the two groups that had knights in them keep causing trouble, every time I send them down into the lower layers to start mapping they keep coming back prematurely. Always some excuse, and they keep getting more unfounded. Hell one of the labourers that was with them has started claiming to have seen something moving around in the caves that connect below. Honestly how foolish can they be, there is no way anything could be alive down here.
We have however made some progress despite this. My group managed to find out where the water flows at least. It’s hard to see but it seems that this Central cavern the Hold is built around has its lowest floors all flooded. Giving further credence to the flooding story being accurate. However we’ve found weirdly little in the way of remains. No bodies or relics or random objects. Nothing you would expect to find in a collapsed Hold. Maybe the residents got out and took their things with them. Maybe we aren’t the first to rediscover this old place and it’s been looted before. Interesting questions that i hope to answer in time."
“They’re gone, i don’t know what happened but one of the groups never returned. It was one of those foolish knights again. We’d found a way through the tier two below us that led to a whole column of stairs that was seeminglyundamaged. My group went up, to see if there was any more above and the other group went down to investigate closer to the lake below. They never came back.
Hopefully they come back before tomorrow, if not we need to set out to the lower levels to find them. I really hope they didn’t get caught in a rock slide or collapse. A truly horrible fate that would be.”
“We found them, well, most of them. Apparently one of the labourers heard something on the level below and went to investigate on their own. They disappeared and the other two had been searching for them all night. We managed to get everyone but the disappeared labourer back to camp. We’ve mapped out what we can of the other sections and it looks like we have no choice but going even further below.
So if we all search down there we should come across the missing expedition member, or what remains.
We only have 3 days left until the ship returns so i really hope we can find them before then. I doubt the ship is going to wait around for us.”
Editor's note- at this point Simone stops dating her entries, whether this is because she was unaware of the day’s passing or due to distractions is unclear.
-”More didn’t come back, We split into pairs to cover more groups. But now we have 5 people missing, including the labourer who we’ve still yet to find. All went down to the lowest level. I think there is something about that area that causes confusion, or hallucinations and that is why they aren’t returning. It makes sense with the things people had claimed to have seen down here. Hell when i got close to the lakes edge i ended up thinking i could see fires glistening off the water but when i looked up where they should be reflected from there was nothing there. Something is clearly messing with our perceptions.
I think we should stop, regroup, figure out what is wrong with that area and not go back until we have a solution.”
-“Oh lords, I told them not to go, I warned them. I knew we should have just cut our losses. Now I have no clue where they’ve gone.
When we went to go searching for the missing members only a few came back whole. We got far enough down into the old Hold to see the murky waters that lay at the bottom. Those black stagnant waters are wrong. I can’t put my finger on what but it feels so wrong.
It’s like I'm being watched. Like the Air is too heavy. Like it knows that I'm here and it wants me gone.”
-”We need to get back to the top”
-“I can smell burning fire but can’t see it. The torches are nearly out. I can’t see much. Why do I still smell burning”
-“Our group was the only one to come back out of the depths, myself, James and the second squire. We were together, we found a way back up. The Ranger made it out too somehow, won’t say much. Said he heard noises down in the dark and went to investigate. Told the expedition members with him to wait where they were, and then when he got back they were gone.”
-“That means there are only 4 of us left. I’m not going back down.”
-“I’m getting my things, my evidence and I'm getting on that ship out of here. James and the Ranger say we can’t leave the others down there. But I refuse. This Hold has eaten most of this expedition and I'd rather not have it take me too.”
“I’m back on the ship, I have my evidence, but not my fellow expeditionaries. I must apologize about my previous entries. I was not in the right state of mind. Losing most of your party members at the bottom of a damp dark cavern will do that to you. But I have enough maps, charts and sketches to make a present a good demonstration of the upper levels of this Hold to my benefactors back in Hawk’s Landing.
As I expected the ship's captain refused to stick around. At this point I'd imagine the rest of my party will have gone back down into the Hold to search for survivors. So it’s unlikely I'll ever see them again.
There is something down at the bottom of that cavern. At the far end it would seem. I don’t know what it is, or even if it’s a real physical thing. It could just have been gases pooling on the lower levels causing us to hallucinate. That is how I will explain it at least. If I talked about seeing things in the water, being watched by some hateful feeling, I would sound like a madwoman.
But regardless every one who disappeared did so after descending to the lowest level, the one just above the deep black waters.
When i get back I’m suggesting a second expedition, this one with proper mining equipment, a full guard. Maybe even the help of mages. Such an expedition would have to be over land for its size and it’d take too long to get back there for there to be any hope for survivors.
Once the lords know what I have found, and approve a second expedition, I'm going to go back on my own. Take this ship again, I will not let the captain refuse, the complaints of sea monsters be damned. I cannot let them rot at the bottom of that damp rocky tomb.
I’ll burn it all if I have to.”
While the first expedition to Molbrut-orhim was a success and caused subsequent expeditions and the eventual founding of Hammerholm and the partial reclamation of Molbrut-orhim, it was very costly in lives. Particularly to the writer of these journeys Ms Simone Erikson, who after setting off once again to the Hold died in a shipwreck along with the rest of the crew of the ship. No records of this voyage were recovered. Though the remains of the ship can still be found in the seas between Hawk’s Landing and the Eastern mountains. She never reached Molbrut-orhim and would never know that members of her party had survived and would one day go on to found at town at the top of the very hold that had caused so much greif.
Readers interested in the further story of the mountain hold should refer to the records from Ms Erikson’s assistant James Blethen and the Ranger Osian Caddick. Who have had their tale of adventure into the fowl depths of Molbrut-orhim, along with how they and the survivors of this expedition went on to found the town of Hammerholm, written out in detail.
Edited and published by Mr J. Blethen.