A quarry located a half-mile from the village of Darkshelf (so named for the dark, stony seabed in the harbor), on the coast of the Lupcin Sea in Greater Narb, has been producing modest amounts of granite and limestone for decades. A surface outcrop of granite was quickly exhausted, but workers tunneled under the surrounding hills to extract more stone. As they moved farther beneath the hills, they discovered seams of flawless limestone.

Today, the quarry is producing more stone than ever. A small, dedicated workforce toils in three shifts around the clock. A steady flow of oxcarts hauls rough blocks of varying size from the quarry to the docks at Darkshelf. From there, the stone goes to building sites up and down the coast or into the continental interior via river barges.

Most of the locals attribute the increased production to the efforts of Bazili Erak, a flame-haired dwarf with a beard to match. Ba- zili has received the title to the quarry and environs from the local overlord in return for a share of the revenues. Until recently, the overlord has had no cause to complain: revenues from the quarry have quintupled. Bazili has not only increased production but also discovered several veins of pure quartz and even a little gold deep in the quarry (or so he claims).

However, all is not entirely well at the quarry. As the workers tunneled more deeply, they broke into underground springs that flooded parts of the quarry and drowned several members of the crew. Other workers have reported eerie sounds—including moans, cries, rattling chains, sobs, and rhythmic chanting—coming from some of the disused tunnels.

Human workers drawn mostly from Darkshelf and the surrounding country fill two shifts at the quarry. The third shift—working at night—is rumored to consist of dwarves from Bazili’s clan . The human workers never mix with the dwarves or even see them except as shadowy figures deep in the tunnels. Only Bazili deals with these dwarves.

The quarry isn’t the only place where mysterious trouble has arisen. On the waterfront at the village of Darkshelf and on the Pelyra River nearby, several half-eaten bodies, both human and animal, have turned up. Carnivorous fish are suspected, even though some of the victims were found well inland. 

Perhaps most troubling, pirates and slavers have been active in the region lately. Sailors, fishers, and farmers have been abducted. The local overlord seems to have succeeded in turning the slavers back for the time being. Bazili and his unseen dwarves lent a hand, tracking a slaver gang to its hideout in a midnight raid and freeing a score of captives. The dwarves also killed several slavers and captured a few of them alive. These prisoners were dragged back to Darkshelf, where they were swiftly tried and executed.

Despite the recent success against the slavers, a cloud of unease hangs over Darkshelf and the quarry. The citizens know that the slavers might return at any time and seek revenge for their setback. The other incidents (the noises in the mines, the mysterious dwarves, and the half-eaten bodies) all seem to bode ill for the area.