The Heroes of Travia
The ancient mine of Ilkenven is an enormous mine within the borders of the Silver Empire. The mine was discovered in 6874 the Dwarves broke through a wall into another, much larger mine that predated Dwarven civilization. In 6875, the main entrance to this mine was discovered. The mine was named Ilkenven, a word engraved on the columns surrounding the entrance. Strangely, the name was spelled in Dwarven runes, although the word Ilkenven has no meaning in the Dwarven language.
Stunted vegetation grows in the surrounding countryside. Normally edible plants seem to be poisonous. For years the local communities believed the land was cursed. Modern scholars believe the original miners stored the mine tailings in ponds in the surrounding area that have long since collapsed and dried out, spreading their toxic debris. Interestingly enough, the size of the blighted area is significantly smaller than a mine the size of Ilkenven would require to store all of its tailings. In fact, the true extent of Ilkenven is not truly known. Two prevailing theories are that the long-gone civilization responsible for digging these mines must have disposed of the material magically or by dumping it in a long-lost lava tube.
The main entrance is currently being preserved by the Imperial government and is the location of a major archaeological project. The mine is thought to have many other entrances lost to antiquity, and a few uncovered abandoned mines are thought to connect to this system. Experts suspect that the mines and tunnels span much of the mountain range and even outside the borders of the Silver Empire.
There are many urban legends and myths surrounding the mines. These include:
- Famous criminals hiding underground
- Entire lost cities
- A race of dwarves who believe they are the rightful heirs to the Empire
- A race of dwarves who no longer remember the surface
- Tunnel stretching all the way under the Rust Basin to Omare through which agents enter the Empire
- Huge loads of gold abandoned because the miners discovered a beast, demon, evil god, or dragon