Once upon a time there was a family of dwarves living beneath a small mountain. The mountain was located at the edge of a great, old forest, and the dwarves living beneath it went by the name of Thunderstone. The Thunderstones were an old and respected family with blood ties to some of the greatest clans in dwarven history, and thus they had prospered throughout the ages. In the centre of their realm lay a great hall where the dwarves would meet on important occations. The hall was built around a great central hearth, the ceiling blackened by centuries of smoke from the fire. Hundreds of dwarves could fit into it if necessary, crowded on benches around tables all along the great trench of a hearth. The great hall stood unused most of the year as everyday life went idly by, but today was different. Today, a feast was being held in the hall of the Thunderstones. The feast was being held in the honor of seven brave souls who had decided to undertake a journey to the Mountain of Soot, found at the very edge of the map, in order to claim the golden treasure within it for the glory of their family. So songs were being sung. Speeches were being held. Mead was definately being drunk. And the dwarves rejoiced in the celebration, for they knew what lay ahead of them.
Or, rather, they thought they did.
Algomin the Whitebeard rose from his seat. He was the family elder of the Thunderstones, a dwarf of the staggering age of 297. He was a widower, his wife having died nearly thirty years passed, but he was not looked down upon for this. The Whitebeard was loved and respected by all dwarves bearing the name of Thunderstone. He held his mug high, a sign to the musicians to pause and let him speak. As the music faded, he turned towards the seven adventurers and spoke.
Travel now ye will,
Through woodland over plain and hill,
To mountain where a serpent lies,
On a pile of gold.
Dwarves remember this,
When hope fades into the abyss,
Even though dwarven friend dies,
Our saying of old.
From earth we once came,
And to the earth we shall return,
But in the hall of legends we,
Once finished, he emptied his cup. The rest of the dwarves did the same, as was customary. When the mug was drained, he saluted the seven adventurers and sat back down. The sound of drum soon began to fill the silence, echoing through the great hall like the beating of an enormous heart. It was soon accompanied by flute and pipe, setting the mood of the piece about to be played, and then by the fiddle. The night had just begun. Grahame sat on the corner of the table where the adventurers sat together. He had eaten with them and shared mead with them, but had otherwise stayed silent. He did not care for all the excitement and attention - to him this was just another ranging in need of doing. He would see his partymembers safely to the mountain and back, but that was all he needed to do as far as he was concerned. He would not befriend them if he could avoid it. Friendships tended to end in disappointment, according to his experience. People betrayed each other or misunderstood each other or disagreed on all sorts of different matters. The best solution to the problem was to avoid it entirely, he'd found. He suddenly realized that somebody was trying to tell him something, and immedietly looked to see who it was and what he or she could possibly want.