Long, long ago, when the children of Human and Dwarf were few, there
existed between Mareldja and the neighboring Dwarves a sense of peace.  As
both groups prospered and grew in number, the peace eroded and vanished
beneath a growing scarcity of arable land.  Goaded onward by the thought of
hunger and starvation, the people of Mareldja rose up and struck out against
the Dwarves.

   The battle lasted long, and longer the war.  The hills and plains north of
the city, once covered with crops, now boasted scorched grass and the
forgotten dead.  For decades the conflict continued, first waxing, then
waning, always foremost in the thoughts of both peoples.

   Eventually, a hero rose amongst the Mareldjans, a man of fair face and
raven curls, born of an illegitimate branch of the ruling house.  Knighted for
his many victories, Salazar succeeded in driving the dwarves from the hills
and into the mountains and caves.

   Their defenders decimated, their lands laid waste, the Dwarven people
turned to the darker gods for solace and power.  Those of more noble nature
were thrown bodily from the cliffs, and the priests of greed and terror began
their rule.  A handful of warriors escaped the wrath of the new order and
banded together on the northern edge of the hills.  Embarking boldly on what
could only be their final journey, they made their way southwest, traveling
then westward, parallel to the Telemacus.

   Coming upon a small party of humans at rest, they ambushed the group and
brutally massacred every man.  The Knight Salazar was among the dead, and,
recognizing his garb, the Dwarves slung his corpse over his own horse and
returned in grim and vengeful victory to the mountains.

   Seeing that they could no longer maintain a presence in the hills, the new
leaders called upon their evil deities, offering as sacrifice the spirit of
Salazar.  Casting charcoal symbolically from the mountaintops, the Dwarves
cursed the lands for eternity, destroying any chance of future fertility.

   The scourge of the curse devastated the city.  Many starved as field after
field failed to bear fruit.  Others left in great crowds for other lands:
Oldgate, Napenthe, the fabled Southern Empire.

   Although most of Mareldja had depended on the croplands, many others were 
able to survive on the fruits of the nearby sea.  These few remained, and over
time, the city healed and became again prosperous.  Seers and oracles trickled
into the city, and with them rumors arose that the secret of the curse lay in
the tortured soul of Salazar, buried deep within the mountains.

   Many would-be heroes sought vainly for the secret, but none succeeded.  
Most died alone among the hills, vanquished by the minions of evil that have 
since the time of the curse grown numerous in the blackened lands.  Of note is
one Narcin, who found an entrance to the great mountain of the Dwarves, but 
was killed before he could make it known.  His body was buried in a small 
glade near the mountains, the only bit of land in that area to escape the 

   To this day, the curse lies heavy on the land.  Perhaps you will be the one
to lift it?


   Recommended Levels: 4-10
   Group Size: 1 (restricted)

   At level 4, you may have some difficulty getting in, and you will probably
   have to be around 10 to complete the quest.  This is a solo zone, and you 
   must play alone (you're welcome to try other ways if you want, but the 
   rooms are almost all 1-person, and the quest is designed for one person).