Lost Mines to the Apocalypse
Red Larch has been an important stop on the Long Road for two centuries now. Named for a distinctive stand of red larch trees that were cut down when the hamlet was founded, Red Larch became a settlement in the first place thanks to a drinkable spring that fed a sizable pond ideal for watering horses, oxen, and pack mules.
An east-west trail meets the Long Road at the pond, running west to the logging community of Kheldell and east to Bargewright Inn and eventually Secomber. Another trail leads to quarries in the Sumber Hills and to ruins of stone keeps long ago left to monsters and outlaws (the Haunted Keeps).
In recent years, new quarries have been opened on the northwestern edge of town. So far these have yielded up great slabs of marble much prized in Waterdeep for facing large new buildings and repairing older edifices. Red Larch is also a center for stonecutters quarrying slate on the fringes of the Sumber Hills.
While Red Larch remains prosperous, dark omens are appearing. The heart of the Sumber Hills has become far more dangerous, with monsters lurking seemingly everywhere (no one goes into the hills berry-picking or hare-hunting these days, though Red Larcher children traditionally did so daily in summer and fall). Banditry is on the rise, and the weather seems to be getting more severe and more unpredictable. Several Red Larcher shepherds have seen strange figures watching them from distant hillsides in the wild fields east of town where they have traditionally grazed their flocks. Quarry workers used to cut by torchlight when orders were backing up but do so no longer, shunning the pits by night. They are spooked by rumors of dark-robed figures in stone masks lurking in the darkness beyond the torchlight. The townsfolk fear that dangerous times are at hand, but no one seems to know what to do about it.
- Allfaiths Shrine On the west side of the Long Road, just south of the inns stable yard, stands what looks like a grand stone mansion. Two wide wooden doors painted with the symbols of many gods stand open day and night. Inside is a plain chapel with a stone altar.
- The Swinging Sword One door north of the Allfaiths Shrine stands the Swinging Sword. The inn is a three-story stone structure, crowned by a steep slate roof that bristles with many chimneys. A signboard juts out over the door, hanging from chains. Its a ten-foot-long carved wooden scimitar emblazoned with the inns name in red paint on both sides. An inn yard with stables and outbuildings lies behind the building.
- The Helm at Highsun Right across the Long Road from the Swinging Sword Inn stands a ramshackle two-story tavern. Rusty metal grills cover its small, dirty windows. The taverns name is very clearly printed in large, simple letters on both sides of a jutting wooden sign. Atop the sign is a rusting, oversized adornment: a warriors bucket helm with two eye slits (actually an upside-down washtub). Inside is a large, dimly lit, wood-paneled taproom. An open-tread wooden staircase climbs to the upper floor, which is just as dim and darkly paneled as the taproom. Across the back of the taproom is a long bar with three copper candle-lanterns hanging over it, and a stair leading down to the cellars.
- Mother Yalantha’s This three-story, dilapidated boarding house has many balconies and outside staircases. Inside, the place is a warren of narrow, creaky-floored passages that snake around small rooms made of flimsy partition walls. However, the atmosphere is cheerful, if generally noisy.
- Thelorn’s Safe Journeys Three huge sheds stand here in a triangle, surrounded by sturdy wooden wagons at all stages of assembly. The first is a workshop full of busy woodworkers, the second is a storage area for parts such as wheels and axles, and the third houses a dozen finished wagons for sale. The foremost wagonmaker in this region, Thelorns is now run by two grandsons of the founder. It is a busy, always-bustling place that works day and night (three shifts of workers) because making wagons of top quality takes time. The quality of Thelorns wagons is well known throughout the region, with the result that workers here have to toil flat-out to keep up Thelorns long-decreed “dozen spare wagons in stock, ready to go.”
- Chansyrl Fine Harness The pungent smell of tanned and oiled leather fills this crowded workshop, and the walls display leather saddles, reins, yokes, and harnesses for working beasts of all sizes. Stylish leather jackets, longcoats, caps, boots, leggings, bracers, belts, baldrics, and full leather armor are also in stock in all sizes.
- Helvur Tarnlar, Clothier Tarnlars is the only place to buy quality clothing for a hundred miles around. The square two-story building stands at the intersection of the Long Road and the Cairn Road. Its signboard is painted with the images of a well-dressed lord and lady, one on each side of the board. Ornate scrollwork iron bars protect the windows.
- Lorren’s Bakery This aromatic, tidy buildings ovens and mixing bowls are in use day and night. The bakery has a hanging sign consisting of a carved and painted wooden round loaf the size of a small cart. The bakery always has fresh round loaves and buns for sale. Its specialty is cheese-topped buns with melted mushroom cheese from outlying local farms.
- Tantur Smithy Both ends of this soot-stained building are massive stone blocks that rise into tall, wide chimneys. The din of forge hammers rings out late into most nights.
- Drouth Fine Poultry This largest of the two Red Larch poultry shops is ever-bustling thanks to thriving local farms and the endless appetite of communities along the Long Road. Two or three wagonloads of skewered capons in casks of oil depart this establishment daily, to be finished over far-off hearths. The one-story building is long, narrow, and nondescript on the outside, but the name of the business is painted above the double entry doors (wide enough for a wagon). Inside, feathers drift in the air. Cages and casks sit at the street end of the building, followed by two brick cooking-hearths, long and bloodstained cutting tables, and a plucking area in the back. The feathers are heaped in open handcarts that are taken away for washing and eventual sale as pillow stuffing.
- Jalessa Ornra, Butcher Next door to Drouths Fine Poultry stand four identical single-story stone buildings, running back from the street in a line. The front building has a painted sign of a ham being carved by a cleaver, accompanied by no words.
- Dornen Finestone This plain square building is always coated in a gray-white shroud of rock dust. Its the business office of the busy Dornen quarry, run by Elak Dornen (male Tethyrian human noble). The office displays samples of cut stone as well as “raw” samples from the quarry.
- Ironhead Arms
- Mhandyvver’s Poultry This wooden building grew haphazardly for many years, shooting out single-story wings and annexes untidily in all directions. The interior looks like a barn or attic, with exposed beams and posts. Pens with live chickens fill most of the odd corners and halls of the building, leaving only a narrow aisle down to the back, where the Mhandyvvers live. Their rooms are separated from the chicken pens by a workroom with cutting benches and a central hearth.
- Haeleeya’s Half-barrels planted with aromatic herbs and flowers flank the entrance, and the windows are decorated with flower-filled window boxes. Inside is a tidy room that functions as a dressmakers shop and fitting room. Beyond two sets of doors are bathing chambers that emanate pleasant smells and warm dampness.
- Waelvur’s Wagonworks The workshop is a cluttered, untidy shed surrounded by dozens of wagons shrouded in worn canvas tarpaulins. A crudely hand-lettered sign over the wide main door proclaims this to be “Waelvurs Wagonworks.” Inside, half a dozen wagons stand in various stages of assembly, surrounded by stools, ladders, and benches. Wooden pillars support a loft that is an open latticework of boards, serving as home to some birds and storage for scores of wooden wagon wheels.
- Gaelkur’s Inside is a cluttered shop full of lounging customers-most of them men in no particular hurry to be waited on-with old hair clippings trodden underfoot on the sagging board floor.
- Mellikho Stoneworks A sign set on two posts in a scrap of weedy lawn out front of this small house reads “Mellikho Stoneworks.”
- Luruth’s Tannery This former warehouse reeks with an eye-watering, throat-closing stench that obliterates all other smells within a bowshot of the place. Inside are stretching racks, cutting tables with sharp knives and scraps of tanned hide, a back room of finished leather ready for sale, and six huge, open-topped vats containing various foul-smelling, caustic liquids used in tanning.
- Bethendur’s Storage Four identical, well-built warehouses stand here in ground covered in raked gravel and cinders. The moment anyone sets foot past the sign that says “Bethendurs Storage/Rent Space by tenday, month, or year,” a tall, smiling man emerges to meet them.
- The Market This muddy, well-used field is ringed with outhouses and rings of stones that have obviously been used as cook-fires or trash burn sites many times in the past. Once a tenday, its crowded with wagons from nearby farms. Farmers drive in from homesteads miles away to sell all manner of in-season produce, cheese, cider and cider vinegar, and last years pickled beets in jugs.
- Vallivoe’s Sundries Aside from the bewildering profusion of doors, barrels, rotting old furniture, and tools leaning against its outside walls, this building looks like a private home. A small, faded sign on the front door reads “Vallivoes Sundries.” Rooms are crammed to the rafters with new wares and used items of all sorts.
- Cavalo’s Exotic Animals Shander Cavalo’s ranch doesn’t deal in mules, unless they have wings, or can breath underwater. His animals are rare, exotic, and well trained. His ranch / compound can be found 1/2 day’s hard ride to the southwest of Red Larch.