Deep in the heartland of the southern continent lays Yomin Valley. The verdant valley is bordered on all sides by the Sybok mountain range. This keeps the climate in the valley temperate almost all year long. Hundreds of years ago Yomin Valley was discovered by halfling merchants looking for a new overland trade passage. The merchants found the valley’s environment to their liking and settled there. The soil in Yomin Valley was incredibly fertile and allowed the halflings to cultivate a wide variety of crops. Life in the valley was pleasant until others came for its riches.
A legion of fire giants lead by their queen Auqenos was the next to find Yomin Valley. The wilderness of the valley was tamed and now held dozens of halfling villages. The giants settled on the Mount Solkar, a dormant volcano within the Sybok mountain range. They soon launched an attack that cut off Yomin Valley from the rest of the continent. This brought the halflings completely under Auqenos’s power. They were enslaved, and the fortunate ones were forced to produce food to feed the hungry fire giants. The rest were sent to mines to dig precious metals for their new masters. For nearly one hundred years the giants ruled Yomin Valley unopposed. But eventually, their kingdom was discovered by outside invaders.
Rumors of the richness of Yomin Valley managed to sneak out into the wider world. Daratrok the mature adult red dragon, was able to fly over the fire giant’s blockade. He brought a horde of fire drakes and flame drakes that were cowed into serving him. Daratrok refers to them as his loyal soldiers. He collects a hefty percentage of any valuables they loot as a tribute. Upon entering the valley Daratrok claimed several of the halfling villages for themselves. The giants did not take the conquest lightly and have been battling the dragon and his drakes ever since.
The halfling valley folk are caught between a rock and a hard place. They are cut off from the rest of the world. The communities are forced toil for tyrant giants or try to appease ravenous dragons. Most are hardworking folk who keep their heads down and just try to survive. After the initial giant occupation, magic users were purged from the communities. This was done to remove a possible tool for rebellion. As a result magic of any kind be it arcane, divine or psychic fills the halflings with both wonder and fear. Outsiders are extremely rare in Yomin Valley, and the valley folk treat them with the utmost caution. They do not wish to draw attention to themselves from either by harboring outsiders.
Queen Auqenos and the fire giants rule over the majority of Yomin Valley. They live primarily in tunnels dug into Mount Solkar. There are a few giant outposts spread throughout the valley. This allows them to watch for and quickly report dragon activity. All of the fire giants wear armor embedded with rubies and obsidian. Distinctive patterns are used to denote rank in the military hierarchy. They rule over the halflings with an iron fist. Any who do not meet their quota of food or metal are publicly executed. Queen Auqenos is extremely active in the fight against the dragons. She often leading troops herself to defend against dragon incursions.
Daratrok and his drake forces rule over a handful of Halfling villages. They’ve claimed the northern edge of Yomin Valley as their territory. Daratrok’s affiliation with the drakes has branded him as freak and traitor by other dragons. He hopes to prove them wrong and demonstrate the benefits of his alliance by conquering all of Yomin Valley. The fire drakes act as the main infantry force. They spend a great deal of their time patrolling the conquered villages. The flame drakes act as their captains, keeping them and the halfling valley folk in line. Daratrok leads from a distance, allowing the drakes to do most of the actual work when it comes to the giants.
The halfling valley folk have been working on a secret weapon. They pulled their plan together from the burnt remains of a spell book that escaped the magic purges. The valley folk have been building an icy burst and bane spear keyed against giants and dragons. Without trained spell casters progress has been slow. But the weapon is approaching completion. All that remains presently is some way to cast the spell chill metal and the spear will be complete. The valley folk paid a small fortune to have a smuggler bring them a scroll with the spell. The smuggler is days overdue, and they fear the worst.
There are many among the halfling valley folk who believe that fighting back has failed. Escaping from the valley is their only option. Knowing they can’t escape over the Sybok mountains the halflings have decided to go under them. They dug eastward to avoid magma vents from Mount Solkar. After breaking through into an existing network of deep tunnels most thought their freedom was imminent. Unfortunately for the halflings, the passages are already occupied by scavenger worms. The worms have been dragging off anyone brave enough to venture into the tunnels. No one else is willing to explore the tunnels further until they have been cleared.
Drag & Drop Encounter (CR 11)
The sounds of battle can be heard ringing off the trees. In a glade dotted in scorch marks, a fire giant stands surrounded by the corpses of several fire drakes. Covered in dozens of minor cuts across their face and arms the giant stands firmly with their back against a tree. Two flame drakes hover just out of range of the giant’s sword with gashes across their scales. Neither drake nor giant is aware of your presence, completely focused on the foes at hand. Just behind the giant’s tree is a cage with five halflings crammed inside. One of them spots you and lets out a plea for help causing the drakes and the giant to whip around in your direction.