here you'll fight more barbarians. The Nordstone settlers, however, are slightly more primative having herds rather than crops. After you defeat them, slaughter their herds and stave off their dogs, you'll have a clear entrance to the Desert of Shifting Sands.
Desert of Shifting Sands
okay, think Forgotten Forest in that you get lost easily, but instead of spiders everywhere you have to fight off stingers. Eventually, if you stumble around enough you'll find 3 interesting landmarks, the zalc camp, the temple of desert flower and finally Dwarven Stronghold. I'm playing with the idea of periodic environmental damage from the heat. Nothing major, just something like 1d6 fire damage every few minutes or so.
hopefully you find this place first, but if you don't whatever. Here you'll learn that there is an old temple, the Temple of the Desert Flower, where there is a plant that buds a magical flower every year. It is this blossom that keeps the zalcs' (a tribe of halflings) oasis healthy. Unfortunately a crazed necromancer bent on death in the desert in order to bolster his army of flesh golems (called desert fallens).
Temple of the Desert Flower
Here you'll have to defeat the necromancer, get the blossom from hims and then return it to the zalc camp priest if you can manage finding the place again. The necromancer can't destroy the blossom, but still you'll have to wrest it from him. This guy, being... perhaps a lich... keeps respawning so that the task of killing him will always be available.
Here... as you might have guessed.... you fight dwarves. After this first part you get to the inner workings of Mithril Hall - yes from the Icewind Dale series sort of.
fight more dwarves until you make your way to the tunnels of the Underdark
freakin' sweet. More to unfold down there... I'm still working on possible story lines.