There are many tunnels
underneath the Tandala Highlands, and some
of them are not only filled with Gob-Oc orcs
or - as the Santharians use to say -
goblins. At the eastern part of the
Highlands, near the Adanian Sea, there stands a door leading to a mysterious
cavern: Ghun'gob. While abandoned now by sentient beings, there is still
something down there that lets people's hair stand on end, though what it is
exactly nobody can say for sure. Some claim that these caverns where originally
made by dwarves long forgotten and then
expanded by the Gob-Oc, though these mythical
Ylossians mostly are rumoured to
have lived in the western part of the mountains. The mines' rich history is now
lost by either the battle that it once held or by the slow decay of time.
"Ghun'gob" is a name given by the goblins who lived in these tunnels until they left. It is supposed to mean "Cursed Cave" in Tharian, but the mines had many more names in the past until it became known as "cursed". Many of these names are inscribed in the walls of the long-winding tunnels and can be found on still existing doors but most of those names are now forgotten. Recently Helvíl Ypherén, an elven traveller on a mission for the Compendium, searched the nearly forgotten mines of what was left and what survived to tell about its past.
Description. The following descriptions are given by the researcher for the Compendium, Helvil Ypherén, who investigated the existence, exact location and purpose of the mines of Ghun'gob. He went on a mission in order to deliver a report on the famed mines that is as accurate as possible, providing us with details on what can be found in the caves these days and what these findings hint at. Artimidor Federkiel helped with editing and revising these findings. To sum the expedition up in Helvil's own words: "When I entered Ghun'gob I have searched most of the tunnels' rooms and passages, or at least those I could reach. Most of the rooms did not interest me aside from the fact that they belonged to the network of the mines and served certain obvious purposes. Many of those were empty, or did not contain anything exceptional nor valuable, others however triggered my curiosity. There were rooms that were still filled with goblin made objects but some of the things there did not look like goblin designs, a fact, which poses a lot of questions. - The areas of Ghun'gob that interests me the most I will try to tell you about in the following:"
The gates located at the north is quite massive in appearance, even though it is partly covered by rocks and debris in the meantime. It stands about 2 peds tall with a width of 2 and a half peds, which is rather huge for orcs that have a maximum height of one one and a half peds. The gate is made of solid stones; filled with runes that Helvil was unable to comprehend. While copies were made of these runes, they are still being investigated by the New-Santhalan scholars.
If inspected closely it seemed that it can only be opened from the inside as it would take a huge amount force to open it from the other side. Inside there exists some sort of machinery that might have been used to open the gates. It would take quite a number of dwarves or goblins to rotate the handle of the device. Though the device is quite useless now since the gate has been stuck open for who knows how long and it is blocked by rocks as well.
It seemed that whoever built these magnificent tunnels wished to protect the northern side of the tunnels since the gates were quite durable that it even stood against time for many years now and it still retained its beauty compared to the gates at the south. But there are also some marks created by sharp and blunt objects but nonetheless, the gates are still a marvel compared to anything built today by goblins.
The Southern Gates
The so-called Southern Gates can be found on the south-eastern side of the Hár mountain range. While there exist some references in ancient Erpheronian texts describing a southern exit of the Ghun'gob mines (the historian Ethelim Herengwar speaks about the "dark hole of the greenskins near the mouth of the Rayne [river]"), it is uncertain if the gates Helvil came across indeed belong to the goblin mine of Ghun'gob. As strangely, the gates at the south are just made of wood reinforced with iron bars. And it only stands about one and a half peds high with a width of two peds. Unlike the gates at the north, this gate now lies in ruin and while it is possible to enter it, one doesn't get very far - the tunnels have crumbled. Only a part of the gate survived against the tests of time and of the harsh wars that might have occured in this area. Maybe the demise of Ghun'gob had its origin here, and it is for the better that the cave can only be partly entered...
Helvil recounts his experiences made at the southern gates: "This gate now lies in ruin. Open for anything that desires to enter the dark mine of Ghun'gob. Anything, may it be an enemy or a friend of those who built this place. When I entered, I felt that the air grew thicker and heavier. I carved with my sword in the nearby wall; a warning to those who are foolish enough like me to enter the dark places of Ghun'gob. Beware travellers! Lighten your footsteps for you might disturb the silence that resides in Ghun'gob. There are more fouler things in here than you might expect."
The Halls and Passages
The halls and passages of Ghun'gob are quite amazing even though they are quite ancient. As could have been expected of the rather primitive goblins there doesn't seem to have been a detailed plan on constructing passages beforehand, so the passsages appear to have been hewn into the stone in a rather chaotic way. The walls of the halls are filled with many strange writings that served as direction markers but most of it has been erased by time. There are stone columns and wooden pillars that support the passages, many of them quite large and some of the columns are even beautiful in appearance as if made by an artistic hand - which is rather odd considering that Ghun'gob is thought to be constructed by goblins only.
Helvil of course cannot provide an accurate account on how the halls looked like in the past, but nowthey are filled with goblin remains. Swords and spears are scattered across the floor and the stench of rotting flesh is still in the air. A dark aura seems to be present around these halls...
A Secret Room
The Ghun'gob mine is filled with many mysterious rooms but one of them stands out among the rest. A passage to it was revealed to our researcher when a certain mechanism was triggered by putting weight on heavy plates anchored in the floor. Helvil found it near a pile of goblin bones, which looked like a mass grave. A previously hidden passage opened, leading to further goblin remains and eventually to a room that was quite large in appearance. Unfortunately our researcher was not able to look inside as fear took him. He described his feelings when he was heading towards this room:
"As I came nearer to the doors of this great room, I felt that the darkness in the tunnels grew thicker so that even the torch that I held lit with fire seemed to become darker and darker for some unknown reason. I looked upon the hallways that led to other passages and I was tempted to go those ways. I gathered my scattered courage and overcame my fears but when I heard a deep growl not far away from where I was, I decided to turn back for I felt that something is at work there that should not be disturbed. Something that is darker and mightier than I and I do not wish to end my life out of foolish curiosity. I made sure to close the secret passage again, so that other adventurers can try their luck should they desire to reveal the last secrets of Ghun'gob."
The Bridge of Ghun'gob
Near the hall that leads to the Northern Gates, there exists a bridge across a chasm that leads to a lake below. The bridge may at least serve visitors for orientation, even though the water of the lake cannot be seen from above. The bridge is about one ped wide and 5 peds long and rather plain in appearance. There is nothing on it, may it be designs of the goblins that once lived there or runes that can be seen in the halls and in the Northern Gates.
The Lake of Ghun'gob
Underneath the bridge of Ghun'gob there exists a lake, filling the chasm of the bridge and then stretching across a smaller cave nearby. The place seems to have been used frequently by the goblins, maybe to wash clothes or prepare food, as the utensils found on this spot point in this direction. The overall size of the lake can be estimated with around 30 peds. Its water is quite clear but the bottom cannot be seen from above, nevertheless it doesn't appear to be too deep. The stairs leading towards the lake are now broken and there might be another way to get down there but our researcher found none and need to use his rope to get down.
Upon nearing the lower, southwestern parts of the tunnels, the walls start to look old and very dirty. The supporting pillars increase in numbers and become smaller in size. There are carts, railings, and pickaxes along the way and many other things that must have belonged to the miners. There are indicators of cave-ins and many former tunnels are now completely impassable.
Helvil reports: "The earth was quite rough and very uncomfortable to the touch in the lower levels of the mine. The echoes of my footsteps had become softer. The air however did not become more pleasant, but grew even thicker while I went on. It got colder and the breeze has become somewhat stronger. A chilling experience, especially if you are all along in these abandoned halls and spot a bunch of skeletons on your way down there!"
rumours exist that the mines we know nowadays as "Ghun'gob" were mostly caves
that helped the orcs from the north to get to
southern Sarvonia faster during the Third Sarvonian
War. As such they would have been part of the network of tunnels once
constructed by the Ylossian dwarves,
who are now extinct. While there are clear indicators of
Ylossian presence in the western
Tandalas, it is much more unsure whether
they actually constructed mines in the east as well. Also several major
cave-ins make it impossible to verify the possibility of a once existing
passage to the south below the mountains in order to confirm
Ylossian links. The half-destroyed
gate that exists on the southern side of the
Tandala Mountains might be part of Gun'gob, but there are no firm proofs on
that. Others say that
the Gob-Oc initially dug parts of the tunnels
themselves and connected them with already existing natural caves they found
underground to form a larger system to use as their homes.
Regardless of its origins or past usage, it is undisputed that the goblins of the Tandalas recently used at least the lower tunnels of Ghun'gob for mining purposes. Whether the tunnels were intended to be solely mines remains qustionable, however. But as the mining progressed deep into the heart of the Hár mountain chain it seems that something drove the goblins away from the tunnels and from its vast mineral riches. Now the abandoned construction stands like an unpolished and partly destroyed ornament under the Tandalas. The rumour goes that no-one had the courage to venture to Ghun'gob since then for they heard the stories of the goblins and the rumours about what drove them away. The fact that the mines are difficult to find and the bleak prospect regarding treasure that could possibly be discovered there might also not have worked as an incentive to seek this place out.
As has already been mentioned Ghun'gob is also considered unusable for a shortcut through the Tandala Highlands, even though there might still exist unblocked, but rather unstable tunnels that once were used for that purpose. The supposed only southern exit (if it actually is one) is blocked and chances to get lost or become victim of a cave-in are quite high. To try such an undertaking cannot be recommended.
Location. The mines of Ghun'gob are located at the easternmost parts of the Tandala Highlands, near the Adanian Sea. The tunnels are mainly located underneath the Hár mountains chain and the mines are said to extend to the other side of the mountain range, near the Rayne river that passes through the Tandala Highlands.
There are at least three known entrances, two of them very hard to reach (probably used merely as outposts to survey the moutains from an elevated position), and a third, which seems to have been the main entrance, tucked between some rocks in a small northern looking valley at the east side of the Hár mountains. Even when you are looking for the entrance and stand close by you might have troubles finding it, as it is well hidden - maybe unintentional though, due to rock slides that happened after the mine was abandoned. There is a supposed southern entrance as well - or let's say: There exists a crumbled entrance to a tunnel at the southern side of the Hár mountain range, which perhaps belongs to the same tunnel system. This however, cannot be determined for certain.
Myth/Lore. Various rumours abound about the origins and the history of Ghun'gob, but little of it can be seen as confirmed. Many scholars believe that these tunnels where created by the extinct Ylossian dwarves, worshippers of the dwarven galf-god Aephesvil, a tribe, that lived in Tandalas millenia ago. Documents only prove their existence in the west of the mountains, but there are columns in Ghun'gob that clearly indicate dwarven participation. Maybe it were the Ylossians, who initially constructed these tunnels, or the goblins later had dwarven help for the one or the other reason.
Regardless of its origins, it is also a strong belief among the Erpheronians that these tunnels were used by orcs during the Third Sarvonian War to get to the south much faster, complementing the horde's trek through the western tunnels. But as is the case with these western tunnels, it is unclear how the orcs managed to get into the tunnels. If Ghun'gob really had been built by the Ylossians, then the orcs should never have been able to find the gates of the tunnels - as according to historical accounts, the Diorye'oleal dark elves who attacked and killed the Ylossian for the fabled treasure of Aephesvil, cast many spells to hide the gates. Did they spells wear off? Or did the Gob-Oc shamans have enough magical means themselves to counter the powerful barriers?
Some scholars speculate that due to all these unanswered questions Ghun'gob had once been a very well hidden extension of the main Ylossian tunnels. Its secrecy then must have kept it safe from the assault of the dark elves, but the goblins much later found the long forgotten eastern entrance. Daring theories even suggest that these tunnels once hid or may still hide the fabled treasure of Aephesvil, but adventurers are not likely to find a welcoming environment in the mines.
A few years after the Third Sarvonian War goblins started to populate this nearly forgotten mines. A record book was kept in one of the rooms that our researcher Helvil ventured in. On the first few pages, the goblins recorded their first arrival in their primitive tongue, which can be translated as follows:
arrived in this forgotten mines. We found some bones which belonged to
short (small) creatures [the translation here is unclear, it isn't
mentioned precisely whether these bones were animal or
dwarven bones]. Some of us have cleaned
it up. We stay here now! Many gems and many ores here! We smith and we
work! We are happy!"
They seemed happy when they arrived in the tunnels. But when Helvil scanned the last few readable pages of the dusty book, he was horrified by what was written:
beast has come! The beast has come! We are trapped. It has taken over the
mines in the south, including the gate! We cannot get out! The northern
doors are now guarded by traitors! We cannot get out! We cannot send any
messages at all! The beast is too powerful. Our spears and shields cannot
protect us anymore. We cannot get out!"
This is the disturbing content
of the last page of the book of records. It seems that the creature that drove
the goblins out was horrifying. Whatever
caused the orcs to flee must have been
dangerous that even the numbers of the goblins
could not match it. What this last record refers to when mentioning "traitors
guarding the northern doors" will probably remain a forever unanswered
To this day, the mines have been abandoned. Not any orc nor any man to our knowledge has ever dared enter it, except the brave Compendium researcher Helvil. But upon the dark corners of Ghun'gob there probably still lie creatures that were twisted by darkness. What are they, where did they originate? We do not know. Ghun'gob remains an enigma we will probably never be able to uncover.