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Crag Mouth Heap
Crag Mouth #8
© 2023 James LaFond
Crag Mouth is an old toll fort built to control the silver mines in the mountains above in Olden Times. Once The Keening of The Scarlet Kells began, the mine and fort were abandoned. Both became the center of monstrous births, where Skunk Apes, who became possessed by The Keening of The Kells, absconded with their human brides, sired grogs upon them, and thereby suffered a monstrous transformation which increased their size, granted limited human articulation, and increased their intelligence. [1]
The mountain side trail, literally cut into the stone along the path of a goat trace, is between one and three paces wide the entire way, with red and black stone soaring 500 to 1000 feet to the right and east. To the left and west, is a red cliff, gorge, impassible except by Skunk Apes, Stonnish Giant, Grogs and the most nimble rogues. The sheer cliffs plunge from 100 to 2,000 feet down to the left, and in most places are too steep even for the above mention primates to scale.
Three rockslides break the this carven track and make a chute of tumbled boulders and rocks that are hazardous for humans and horses to cross, but are like a highway from high to low elevation for cats, bears, goats and apekind. These are the likely places for ambush and a place to access the mountain tops.
The fort itself is a stone-walled camp built on a natural ledge with a cold spring, under a natural wind-carved stone arch of black rock. From a distance, the black arch, with the jagged red stone wall broken by the sharpened log gate, appears as something of a stony mouth, and hence its name.
The south wall is 20 paces from cliff to cliff. The 12 foot high wall is easily scaled and is of stacked sand stone with iron cressets on either side of the gate. There is a stone stair and 8-pace-long stone ledge cat walk behind the wall, on either side of the 4-pace-wide gate. The gate is barred with a timber beam. One grog is on watch here:
-1. Very alert, afraid of his sire and eager to prove himself
-2. Awake and wondering about his next meal
-3, 4, 5. Sleeping, dreaming about his next meal
-6. Sulking over being beaten by his sire, despairing of his next meal, and inclined to abandon his post.
This is the mountain side camp of The Sons of Big Crag, nine grogs, all half brothers, two being full brother, Aim and Spy, the monstrous sons of Bess Long, [1] who command the rest, the younger brothers. Aim is the eldest and his conception was the occasion for Big Crag’s transformation into a Stonnish being. The seven other Grogs include, Toot, the nephew of Big Crag, and 6 various grogs, called by their brutal sire, only ‘Grog.’ These grogs were all sired on runaway slave girls that Big Crag mistreated until they died of injuries, abuse, terror or suicide. Big Crag rules through fear, whereas his rivals, Old White who loves his last remaining sons, and Red, who has a clannish affinity with his sons, lead different lives outside of the storied fort of Crag Mouth.
The camp is 20 paces by 20 paces to the stone arch.
To the right is a hide roofed wood shed.
To the left, next to the cliff, is a log cabin bunk house, three paces wide by 9 paces long, occupied by 1-3 grogs.
1-3 grogs are on patrol on the mountain and down in the Red Hills.
1 grog is attending his sire within the dungeon.
The ground is bare stone.
To the left of the bunk house is a set of crap holes above the sheer droop to the river 500 feet below.
Under the black stone arch, harder than the red stone around it, a fountain bubbles out of the mountain and carves a small stony channel 2 feet deep which plunges over the cliff in a water fall. The arch is 30 feet high where it attaches to the mountain.
On the north side of the arch, ten more paces bring the wayfarer to a shorter wall, built in the same fashion with a like gate, guarded by no one.
To the left is a 12 by 12 foot log cabin where Spy and Aim live. One of these are supposed to be away leading a patrol. They are fortunately as lazy as their sire, who never leaves his lair when he has a woman to ravish or a kill to eat.
-1. Spy is home, wondering about the possibilities of life among humans and with his mother.
-2. Aim is home, wondering if he would be accepted by Skunk Apes.
-3. Cabin is empty
-4. Both are home, arguing.
-5. Both are home dicing and drinking.
-6. Both are home sleeping.
To the right, a stone staircase, lit by two cressets, rises up into a drafty cave mouth that has been improved with masonry tools by beings far more inclined to work than the lazy grogs. The cave mouth is worked in the shape of a harp frame, a final attempt by the ancients to appease the Keening of the Kells that rose in anger over the silver mine above and drove the garrison to one by one cast themselves over the cliff side. The language is carved into the mountain side:
“Oh Madams Three, Have Mercy on We Graceless Wee.”
It is very possible, if the grogs can be bi-passed, to simply steal by the fort and head upward towards the Kells, those higher, snow-clad mountain peaks from whence an awful howling keen can be heard wafting down, even, and especially when, there is no wind to make a sound.
The north gate does creak terrible not when opened, but when closed behind.
On a die roll of 1d6:
-1, 2. No pursuits
-3, 4. delayed pursuit, the grogs consulting with their sire.
-5. Immediate trackers, one above and one behind.
-6. Flat out pursuit. On a second roll of 5 or 6, Big Crag will participate.
-1. In my original teenage version these were ogres producing half ogre scions who officered orks under their ogre master. For a traditional campaign I suggest that the Kells cause ogres that mate with women to become superior examples of their kind, approaching a Stone Giant in intelligence but as tal as and more slightly built than a hill giant.
-2. Bess Long was taken to wife by Old White, the Stonnish Giant displaced in battle and exiled to guard The Keens of the Scarlet Kells. When Big Crag defeated Old White he took Bess, a runaway from Barrier Town, and sired two sons on her. Old White sent his grog by Bess, Orl Phane, to beg for her release, and Big Crag imprisoned Orl Phane, inspiring Bess to flee. Big Crag sentenced Bess to death and sent his and sent his younger brother, Little Crag, to hunt her down and bring back her head. Bess escaped with the help of was rescued Aim and Spy, who remained loyal enough to their sire not to escort her. She was rescued by Ranger Jon, who slew Little Crag and still holds his ear as a trophy. Ranger Jon holds all Stonnish as enemies. Ranger Arn has parleyed with all three giants on behalf of Bess and has woven such a legend of death dealing about Ranger Jon, that all three of the giants live in terror of the man who can loose arrows that loop around entire mountains to find their target. This is, of course, bullshit. But Jon did put an arrow through Little Crag’s throat and send his head up the mountain with Toot Grog, Little Crag’s only son.
The North Track
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