In the Dark
Hollow Stone is a mid-sized trading town that is located very close to the dwarven Stoutheart Clan iron mines. Hollow Stone lies on a major trade route from Mereskute to the Halls of Moradin and is the first large town on this side of the Warren and its proximity to a dwarven clan affords it a great deal of protection that many other trading posts outside of major cities lack. Hollow Stone has around 7,000 permanent residents, but on any given day there will be as many as 10,000 people in town. This large transient population is made up of traders, adventurers, pilgrims, and other travellers and are the source of Hollow Stone’s wealth and its means of survival. While Hollow Stone has an abundant source of water, the cavern the town lies in, as well as those adjacent to it, are not suited to growing crops and are not capable of supporting the amount of plant or animal life that would be necessary to keep a town the size of Hollow Stone fed. Outside of a few small gardens, mostly private, and some small livestock pens (mostly lizards and rothe) all of the food the people of Hollow Stone eat is brought in by traders. The mayor’s office keeps standing contracts with various trading compaines for delivery of food and whole companies are sustained soley on the trade of food and other supplies between Hollow Stone and Mereskute.
Hollow Stone is governed by a mayor who is elected once every 3 years by 200 citizens who are randomly chosen by a lottery. Once elected, the mayor chooses 4 people, one from each of the 4 districts in town to act as advisors and representatives of their respective neighborhoods. Due to the proximity, the Stouthearts also send an ambassador to Hollow Stone to act as an advisor to the mayor and to represent the dwarven interests as the Stoutheart Clan and Hollow Stone have become more and more integrated as they have grown increasingly reliant on each other.
Hollow Stone is divided into 4 neighborhoods:
The Bazaar is the largest of the 4 neighborhoods and is very much the heart of the town. Almost everything that can be bought and sold is here, as are the services of mercaneries, guides, laborers, healers, thieves, and assassins. The Bazaar covers the floor of Hollow Stone’s cavern (except the northwest/western corner) and is almost always filled with carts, kiosks and merchants from all over the Dwarven Kingdom selling their wares. The Rock is a large stalagmite that justs up from the floor of the cavern that has been carved out and now serves as a kind of city hall. The Rock containd the mayor’s offices as well as the offices of his advisors and other town officals. The Rock has a public hearing room where citizens can come and report a greivance directly to the mayor as well as private hearing rooms for criminal trials or grievances that require legal mediatation. The town jail is located beneath the Rock and the town’s judges, gaurds, and other security personel are located here.
The Slip is located in the northwest/western corner of the cavern floor and is the closest thing Hollow Stone has to a slum. The Slip is seperated from the Bazaar by a cleft in the floor that makes the floor of the cavern in this corner angle downward toward the wall. This is the home of the poorer citizens of Hollow Stone, people who make thier living mostly as unskilled or manual laborers or servants. The Slip is also known for low cost shops, albeit with questionable product, taverns, flophouses, brothels and other things considered too unseemly for decent merchants to have in their respectable shops in the Bazaar. The Geode is one of the most well known taverns in the Slip. Mostly staffed by scantily clad women, it is a popular spot for people from wealthier neighborhoods to “go slumming.” Anything goes at the Geode as long as you can pay your bill and information as traded as vigorislouy as illicit goods that even the shops in the Slip wont sell.
The Lower Wall is the home of most of the citizens of Hollow Stone, many of whom live in homes carved out of the sides of the cavern. The Lower Wall is populated by the town’s middle class, mostly traders who can afford to live away from their stores, servants to wealthier households, and town officals.
The Upper Wall is home the rich of Hollow Stone. The Upper Wall is almost as self contained town within a town. There are high end shops, theaters, gardens, and anythings else the rich might want but not nesicarialy want enough to mix with the common people to get. The rich families are sometimes considered the nobility of Hollow Stone even though they are not of noble birth, mostly traders who have made enough money so that they no longer need to trade. Were they to go to larger cities with a real nobility such as the City of Iron or Mereskute they would be considered upper-middle class at best and mocked by true nobility as pretenders and posers.
Recently the trade route to Mereskute has been disrupted. Caravans carrying supplies to Hollow Stone have been attacked and food is quickly becoming scarce as panicked people are buying all they can as fast as they can and there is little coming in to replace it. The current mayor, Luin Yaley, is worried that if the trade route is not soon restored the town will either starve or tear itself apart in a panic. The most recent attack was carried out on a dwarven caravan carrying a large amount of mithril ore that the Stoutheart dwarves recently traded a great deal of iron for. The Stouthearts have already delivered the iron to the Deep Hewer Clan and if the mithril is lost the Stouthearts will have lost a great deal of valuble metal ore for nothing. A few days after the attack on the dwarves, a tiefling leading a large caravan of food and other supplies arrived in town and sold off all of his wares very quickly and at extremely inflated prices. A survivor from the dwarven caravan claimed that their caravan was attacked by a group of orcs being lead by a tiefling. Both Luin Yaley and Merlog Stoutheart, the patriarch of the Stoutheart Clan, are willing to pay handsomely for this tiefling, who witnesses say is named Varian, to be captured and made to pay for his crime.