The dwarven homeland is a harsh and unforgiving environment of stone cliffs and rocky mountain fortresses.
Dren is the son of a thane, residing in a holdfast east of the capitol. A mighty warrior, the thane has little time for Dren, preferring to drink mead and revel in the great hall, or leave the holdfast for months at a time on a hunt, or to fight in one of the Dwarves’ innumerable territorial conflicts.
Perhaps all this explains why Dren was so susceptible to the call of the Earth. When he was a teenager, Dren began to hear voices - whispers that he was chosen, and that he had a great destiny.
At first he dismissed the whispers as hallucinations, brought on by too much mead. But over time, it became clear that not only was there a real being sending messages to him, but it could give him extraordinary power.
Dren spent months testing his newfound abilities, hunting birds and other small animals of the fields. Eventually, despite all of Dren’s precautions, his father caught him using magic to defend a young girl against the advances of a drunken thane.
Dren’s father was angered. The boy’s powers smacked of infernal magic - an unnatural abomination that Dren’s father was sworn to destroy. He cast his son out of the holdfast, and out of the mountains, never to return.
As the old thane was making his pronouncement, he began to gasp and choke. He was quickly struck down by what would come to be known as the Choking Sickness, a magical plague that soon swept through the holdfast, leaving no survivors - except for Dren.
“Fear not,” the voice whispered. “No mere sickness can kill you. You were meant for far greater things.”
“But where will I go?” Dren whispered back.
And the voice answered: