The Company of the Silver Star
Ethnicity: Mostly tiefling with a smattering of all other races. Dragonborn and Dwarves are not represented at all.
Beneath the catacombs of the Temple of Pelor in Valdere there lies a great, spiraling stair into the depths. This stair is clearly magical and while it extends easily 1000’ into the depths it is likely it spans an even greater distance than it seems.
At the bottom of the stair lies a great hall. At one end of the hall is a great arch which has been destroyed by a flame hot enough to have caused the granite to melt and flow. It is now an impassible ruin of boulders fused with molten slag. At the other end of the hall is a smaller arch with a short stair up into a passage with murder holes and arrow loops.
Beyond a series of defensive positions, there lies a huge, oaken pair of double doors leading into an unimaginably vast underground hall carved from the living granite. Valdere-Below is all that remains of a once-proud tiefling city that filled the hall. Now broad avenues go unlit leaving the magnificent facades of buildings to decay in the shadows. The tieflings who remain dwell in small, free-standing shanties built into the avenues as often as they dwell in the original structures.
Some of the “buildings” within the hall are so large that they appear to be hollow pillars within the hall, their facades extending from floor to ceiling and hinting that the area inside continues beyond the roof of the hall. Others, even of the original construction, are modest dwellings with roofs well short of the hall ceiling. In all cases, the original constructions are ornately carved with bas-relief images of notable events. The larger and more ornate structures also include glyphs identifiable as runes and wards woven into the bas-reliefs.
When the Company finally reached Valdere-Below by passing through the defensive redoubt, they found a community on the verge of panic. Headman Martine Dunsar explained that roughly a millenium ago, during the end of the wars, the great lords of Valdere left the fastness here and met the Dragonborn enemy on the surface. They fought a great battle but were forced to retreat into the main hall where they destroyed (or perhaps concealed) the portals to prevent the enemy from reaching their families in Valdere-Below. In this final act, most perished. Those who remained knew that there was now no exit from the halls below and a new gate had to be forced to the surface before the remaining inhabitants perished of stavation.
This gate stands at the far end of the hall from the Great Oaken Doors. It is appears to be a great arch in the granite wall of the hall but Dunsar explains that it is a portal to the surface. Stepping through and looking back makes this clear since the portal appears as a freestanding arch of granite with nothing around it in a small valley surrounded by hills and low mountains. Dunsar further explains that once the portal was open more than half the surviving residents fled Valdere-Below. No signs of Dragonborn were found beyond the portal and the need for food led some to move just beyond the arch into the valley where they established farms while others traveled until they found neighboring villages and established roads.
Recently, something has begun blocking the roads. There have been no traders from other villages in the last two months and those who have left Valdere-Below have not returned. While there is no shortage of food yet, Dunsar is not fool enough to wait until things become critical. He wants to know what is preventing the traders and even his own people from returning through the gate.