Orborros

Faerin's seventh letter
The siege of Woodsong

Dearest Father,

The battle for Woodsong is over. We were victorious!

The situation looked dire. We were gravely outnumbered, with only 50 elves, 20 Towerguard and 20 city guards on our side, while Xerax’s army numbered in the hundreds. Those who had remained behind had done their best to fortify the main square. But Xerrax’s forces were confident enough that they split into three groups to besiege the city. 

Myself, Nissa, Thorin, Miri and Fierna choose to guard the western flank, near the temple. We were already tardy in our arrival, as the temple was already being looted when we arrived. Before it stood a shaman capable of casting dark and evil spells. Fierna blasted it clear into the temple so that we may begin the battle proper. But from the temple burst forth a hideous snake creature made from bones. The shaman then summoned a large number of crocodiles among our ranks. We took the battle to them, and soon after Miri was able to burn down the vile bone creature as Thorin strook down the shaman with his divine magic. 

But we were not given a moments rest, as the horns of battle blew once more and we were engaged by Yuan-ti and as we learned later their Clan king. They assaulted our rear flank, bringing the danger to Thorin. The fight was though and we were unsure if we would prevail. We were still exhausted from our previous days travel. Miri especially could barely stand and was clutching Nissa’ beastly shape to remain mobile. Just as the tide seemed to be turning, the fight was joined by more lizard folk and a basilisk. Knowing the dangers, we quickly averted our eyes, but this did not help our situation. Sensing that this battle would grow poorly for us, Fierna cast a fog cloud over the street were we fought. We were now forced to find our foes within the thick fog that obscured all, but so were they. Moreover this essentially eliminated the basilisk, who we could dispatch with safety within the vision obscuring cloud as it was trapped in magic vines. The fight was soon over with the bodies of our enemies at our feet. 

Having secured the west flank, we returned to the main square to reinforce the central position. However upon our arrival we quickly noticed that the battle was going poorly. The force we had held in reserve had already been called in. The human guards were attempting to retreat from Yuan-ti archer fire as the lizard folk harassed their lines. We ran in as fast as we could to join the fray. I rallied a number of guards around my position to form a tight block to rappel the incoming attacks. But our flanks were exposed and soon everyone stood in melee with one or more of the lizard creatures as the Yuan-ti picked us of with arrows. With the battle turned against us, I focused on channeling Lugh’s power to provide everyone with the strength to keep fighting. While my exhaustion was making it difficult for me to even swing my sword, I shouted out to the archers to target me instead of my allies hoping that my armour would protect me. It was a tough fight, both Thorin and Miri went down but could be quickly revived. Fierna’s trusty raven, Tychondrius was unfortunately strook down by the enemy and disappeared in a puff of smoke. But with our last bits of strength, we drove back the Yuan-ti and lizard folk that we were engaged in. However we still had an entire square filled with them to contend with. 

As we made peace with out gods, we got ready to make a final push. Just then we heard the sounds of Dwarven horns as we saw a new force join the fray. The Dwarven army that had been trapped at Kramer’s Crossing, had arrived. Led by the sisters Fin and Thora Untgart, the new arrivals forced the forces of Xerax into a rout. The elven archers could then make quick work of those trying to flee and with that the battle was won. 

It was early morning as the sounds of metal and fire were silent. Wit the promise of a meeting between the leaders later that afternoon, we went to sleep. We then awoke and met up in the Broken Tower Inn with representatives from all the armies, the leaders of the Towerguard and the city guard, the elf Gol Venthim, the dwarfs Fin and Thora Untgart, Father Porthas of the Obligators, and finally our small band save Miri and Nissa who remained resting. As we had slept, the elves had been scouting the area and the priests had been healing the wounded. As we compared notes with the others, we soon realised that though the battle may have been won, the valley was not yet safe. Xerax had sent this army as a distraction, while he himself attempts to complete the spell. While he hopes to wake the volcano, we already know that he has been deceived and that the spell will do something else. The spell will use the fire gem that was in Anzo’s possession, a gem that we now know to be a key to the Vault of Creation. We cannot take the risk that this spell will be cast and must prevent Xerax from doing so at all costs.

Thorin and I therefore decided to take a small band of volunteers into Arcarost in the hopes of stopping Xerax. We will be joined by our good friends Miri, Fierna and Nissa, along with Zora who lost her brother Anzo in Arcarost and the wolf Maugrin, whom we hope can track Xerax or Anzo within the ruined city. We will leave as soon as our preparations  are final and our allies have found their rest. Thorin and I have been coordinating with Fin and Thora, the daughter of Trollsbane Untgart, with the repair and healing effort of Woodsong. We also shared some of Khan’s Finest with them and found the company of Dwarves a welcome change from our adventures in these lands the past few weeks. I am pleased to report that something may be blossoming between Thorin and Fin, as they exchanged handaxes prior to our deparature. If we are successful in our quest into Arcarost, I am hopeful of a wedding between clans in our future.

Love to mother.

Your son,

Faerin

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Faerin's sixth letter

Dearest Father,

Thank you for your help in committing Dwarven troops to the effort to save the valley from the terrors of Xerax. I have yet to see them, but have heard that they are 30 of the finest Dwarfs (save for Clan Untgart, whom I understood were not in time to contribute any troops). However they have been held up at Kramer’s Crossing by a raid of winged kobolds accompanied by a wyvern. Borther Thorin and Sister Airyn delivered us this news just a few days ago. Even if they manage to push back the raid, it is unlikely that they will be on time to aid in the defence of Woodsong. 

Your efforts however have warmed my heart. I knew we Dwarfs would not abandon this valley or the humans of Woodsong to its fate. Indeed, the defence of Woodsong has become critical. We have received a message directly from Xerax, stating that we had three days to leave the valley or be destroyed. His messenger was a large fire elemental in the shape of a salamander. It was summoned in the middle of the Drake Bash monument that we had erected only the day before, destroying it entirely. After delivering its message, the fire elemental simply disappeared. While Xerax may attempt to test our resolve with such opulent displays of power, I find my heart hardened for the coming battle. For I know that I have Lugh on my side, and together we are a force that fights for the joy and beauty of this world. Something that Xerax directly opposes. 

This message was followed by a brief confrontation with the Black Knight that had been seen wandering the surroundings. We had hoped to implore for his aid. But when I laid my eyes upon him, I knew him to be an enemy that must be dispatched for the good of the world. Such a fiend could not be allowed to continue to walk our pristine valley. The knight dared to charge us and drew his blade to strike myself and my siblings. But he proved no match for the bond that exists between my friends and family. Nissa turned into a spider and crafted a web that was as beautiful as it was ensnaring. After which I summoned Lugh’s might and smote him down with holy power. We claimed his items as our own so that some good may come of this foul fiend. He had in his possession a symbol of Morigan, goddess of battle, along with a magic sword and an adamantine full plate. We know not from whence this beast had come, and it may be good that we will never know now.

Our first order of business was then to evacuate the town prior to the coming invasion. Airyn proved to be of great aid here in her help to get everyone organised and out of the town. Miri meanwhile scouted the surroundings. While doing so, she learned two things. The first was that she encountered Wodin, the successor to Naeras in retrieving the flame crystal from Anzo or wherever it may currently be. Secondly, Miri noticed an ongoing battle raging near the Elven village. The elves seemed to possess great magical power and we set out to ask them to team up in the war against Xerax. On our journey there, we stumbled upon a Yuan-Ti camp. We dispatched several, however at least 4 Yuan-Ti and 1 human were unaccounted for. This human may be the Mage Burkly whom we encountered later.

Upon our arrival at the outreaches of the Elven village, we were greeted by Glorandal Caelas and his animal companion Uhr. He agreed to take us to the village and arrange an audience with their leader. We were told to wait in the village. Airyn took the opportunity to make some sketches of the Elven designs for her weaponcrafting. A while later their leader Gol Venthim arrived back at the village. He promised us some aid in return for our help to defeat the human mage and the fire elemental that was tormenting the village. Airyn and Thorin stayed behind to defend the settlement, while the rest of us set out to do battle with the mage. With Nissa’s and Miri’s tracking capacities, we soon found him and did battle. We forced him to surrender after a few bouts and extracted all information we could in exchange for sparing his life. The mage was named Burkly and he was sent here by an unknown third party that has a vested interest in Xerax. He has been order by his master whom he could not reveal due to a geas to aid Xerax in any way. The same master was apparently responsible for revealing to Xerax the spell required to raise the mountain. However Burkly did reveal that the spell is a ploy. It will not actually awake the volcano but has another sinister purpose that Xerax is not aware of. He also revealed that the planned attack on Woodsong is a diversion while Xerax enters Arcarost to begin his preparations to cast the spell. He has however committed his entire force to Woodsong. We then imprisoned Burkly in the Elven village and forced him to dismiss the Fire Elemental that had been rampaging through the lands.

The Elves kept their promise, however I am bound by my word not to reveal any more, and gave us troops to aid Woodsong with great risk to themselves. We then returned to Woodsong and found that preparations had been made for its defence. Miri rode out and rallied more of the Tower Guard and Townguard to come to the defence of the town. In this manner, we were joined by Father Porthas, Orsen, Fiera and even Erevan the Aurion Emissary. 

We have travelled long and hard to arrive at this point. Xerax’s army is fast approaching and myself and my companies are exhausted from the events over the past few days. But we aim to triumph against the vile forces of our foe. Else tonight we sleep in hell. We shall not give up and we shall not flee. Xerax has made a mistake of angering this valley. We shall stand together against him and with Lugh’s blessing we shall prevail. 

I am unsure if this letter will even reach you. But no matter what happens, I know that the Khan clan will remain strong and thrive in the coming years.

I love you all.

Your son, 

Faerin

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Faerin's fifth letter
To Thorin

Dearest Thorin,

Things are finally looking up. Our brother Dhorin has arrived in Woodsong and delivered the emergency supply of Khan’s finest. Just in time for the grand celebration following our victory over the drakes.

I also met the most fascinating woman called Maranta. We talked and danced. Then she turned into a Yuan-Ti, tried to kill me and summoned poisonous snakes to kill everyone in Woodsong. But I feel like we had a real connection.

But I get ahead of myself. Shortly after dispatching the drakes terrorizing Woodsong, we rode south to retrieve the fleeing villagers. Fierna stayed behind and encountered the Black Knight again. The Knight had arrived to help, but all the drakes had been defeated. The Knight did reveal to Fierna that he had been in a war with Dwarves, which explains the dent in his armor and the symbol. The Knight then left without incident. As far as I am aware there haven’t been any major wars in this region for centuries. Perhaps while you are in Khan Hall, you could check the historical archives for mentions of a battle or these knights? 

Returning to town in the early morning, I set about with a gran plan to raise the spirits of the townsfolk. A grand festival to celebrate our victory over the drakes! Nissa suggested the name Drake Bash and so Drake Bash it was! I set everything in motion, and then went to bed in the stables of the inn.

I awoke to the sounds of explosions and arguments near the inn. Apparently an emissary from Aurion had arrived to town to retrieve Faera, sister of Fierna. Faera did not want to return and was using her magic to blow up some crates that the emissary, Erevan, was hiding behind. Eventually Faera was knocked out and taken to her room. Erevan was revealed to be the son of the advisor of Fierna’s and Faera’s father. I did not have much opportunities to interact with him as I was taking care of the festival.

Nissa and I had grand plans for the festival. Different stales with games, like Slap The Drake and Happy Hungry Drakes, and foodstuffs, like fried chicken and cake, were setup in the main square. However Nissa pointed out that not everyone was fully on board with the festival, as there had been several casualties among the Townguard and people were still in mourning. So we decided to honour them by commissioning a statue in their honour. I found a local Dwarf called Vosark Otangard who could make a grand wooden statue. Given that the festival was that evening, we agreed to first build a temporary placeholder, which would be replaced by the permanent statue two weeks later. We got the major to announce the statue at the funeral of the lost guards that afternoon. The permanent statue itself would then also be placed later on their graves.

However our festival preparations were once more put on hold as Fierna and Faera needed help. Faera had escaped once more from the grasp of Erevan and paid Fierna to help her. There had apparently been quite a confrontation between Erevan and Orson of the Obligators as Faera made her escape. Fierna drafted a plan to aid her sister, and has sent Miri away to create false tracks away from the Obligator camp. Faera will then use her magic to disguise herself, making Erevan believe that she has run away from Woodsong. This did mean that Miri missed the festival, but I made sure that there was a party box set aside for her.

That evening was the Drake Bash festival. It was then also that Dhorin arrived with the ale delivery. We exchanged stories and got each other back up to speed. Apparently you have been causing quite a stir at Khan Hall and have been rallying our forces to defend against the lurking danger. Good job!

I got Nissa to keep Dhorin company as I thought they would make a nice couple. It would be good for Dhorin to find someone who could help him find his confidence and some direction in life. And Nissa might be a good fit as she is a very caring person with a heart of gold. They stayed together the entire evening, so I consider my ploy as a success.

I checked up on Father Porthas, Orsen and Marianne, who all attending the festival. Marianne was mostly interested in the puppet shows and retired quite early in the evening. Porthas and Orsen stayed a while longer and kept our company.

I alos went to visit Welby and Zora with two party boxes as they weren’t joining. Welby was under care of the temple and still recovering from his trauma with the kobolds. Zora stayed at his side, likely also not fully recovered from her encounter with the Yuan-Ti encampment.

I returned to the festival and joined Nissa and Dhorin in some drinking. It was then that Maranta joined our table. She eventually got me alone and revealed her deception. She was a Yuan-Ti assassin, sent by Xerax to take us out. It is more than likely that she was also behind the drake attack the previous evening. She then stabbed me with a knife, which hurt almost as much as her betrayal.

Luckily I had Lugh on my side. I called to his aid and entrapped Maranta in spiritual vines, restricting her movement. But she still had her magic at her disposal and we were a stone’s throw away from where the villagers were dancing. I pleaded with her to stop her attacks, that she doesn’t have to do what Xerax tells her. I feel like I did get through to her a bit, but it wasn’t enough. She summoned her snakes and forced my hand. I summoned all of Lugh’s might and struck her, forcing her to release the summoning spell and dispelling the snakes. In the meantime Nissa and Fierna had come to my aid. I rushed into the town square to heal those villagers that had been bitten. But in so doing, Maranta got away.

And so this is where we are. The festival ended on a sour note. We are all wounded and tired. The danger from Xerax and his minions is ever looming. We are trying our best to keep the people safe and thus far we have been rather successful. I hope you will return to our aid soon, we could surely need it.

Love to Mother and Father.

And thank Barin for the ale.

Your brother,

Faerin

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Reply from Aurion
Reply to Fierna's letter home

Fierna,

I was surprised to receive your letter. I would have doubted it’s veracity had not its tone and language made it abundantly clear whom had redacted it.

You know very well I would never allow your sister to travel outside the city unsupervised. Her presence in Woodsong is as much a surprise to me as it must have been to you. I have both high hopes and high expectations for Faera and thus require her at my side to further groom her for the bright future that awaits her here in Aurion.

I will send someone to recollect her immediately. Expect them within the next day. You will grant him any and all aid he requires, as is your duty and responsibility as a member of my house. You need not accompany her home. Your ambassadorship to Woodsong is not yet at an end.

Do not attempt to pretend this message did not reach you as the magic that delivered it to you assures me of its arrival.

Do not vex me daughter!

Your sister’s return to my keep is instrumental for the future of our house, nay for the future of Aurion.

Thus, you will do as instructed by my emissary.

Gladus Azif Auzetior

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From the diary of Tukas Khan part one

It has been a while now since I last wrote down my thoughts in this diary. I think it must have been  somewhere around the time my beloved Vistra passed beyond the veil. Vistra, the love of my life. I remember well the day we settled in this valley and began constructing what would one day become the proud Khan Hall. How young and strong I was back then. It is true what they say, youth is wasted on the young. Maybe if I had both the strength of youth and the wisdom I gathered these past few centuries, maybe then I could better prepare my children for what is to come.

War has come again.

I read a letter sent by Faerin, one of my offspring, to his father Dain. The rune has resurfaced!

I wasn’t meant to read the letter. They kept it from me, as I know they do other things. They think me too old and senile. Too worried about ghosts and whispers of the distant past. I would say they are fools, but I too am to blame for their ignorance. I was there you see, on the first council meeting. The meeting that decided to hide our past, out of shame.

It was right after we settled the Beinnhall hills. Important decisions had to be made. Five families we were. Five weary and tired families of dwarven warriors. We had roamed the Jewels as a nomadic people for nearly two centuries. Hated, despised, welcome nowhere. And for good reason. The fall of the city of Arcarost freed the region of a tyrant and we hoped no-one would object to us moving in. I remember looking out over the hills and thinking they looked like paradise.

The first council wasn’t a council of elders, it was an open forum. Every dwarf could speak his mind and every dwarf had the right to vote. We decided many things those days. We would help the people of Woodsong repair and expand their village, we named the clans and divided the hills among them and finally, the topic of our shamed past came up. The people of Arcarost didn’t seem to know about what had transpired in the west, so many thought it to be a second chance, a way to live without the disgrace of our forefathers. The vote wasn’t even close. We deliberately erased out history and vowed not to teach it to our children. Many even vowed to relinquish the path of the warrior. I myself was one of them. 

I see now how foolish we were. The past doesn’t disappear by ignoring it.  

I am the last of our kind that was there during that meeting. I am the last who knows our true history. I have tried to talk to my children. I have tried to tell them the truth. They will not listen. They pay no attention to the crazy stories of an old man. Whatever influence I had left is now gone.

I do have hope, even if it is fleeting and faint. My children’s hearts are in the right place. Long ago, when War came to the Wyld Peaks, our race could care less about the fate of humans and elves. Now I hear one of my younger offspring has returned with tales of danger for the people of Woodsong, and my clan is considering rallying to their aid.

If we must face our history, let it be with formidable allies. We will need them.

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Faerin's fourth letter
To Thorin

Dearest brother Thorin,

We have glimpsed the ruins of Arcarost and lived to tell the tale.

As you know, we left Woodsong to aid Welby’s adventuring band. Welby himself was badly injured by a kobold raid, so we were forced to leave him behind. Guiding us was the wolf Maugrin, who was determined t lead us back to his master, the ranger Lander.

We travelled a full night and day before finally resting at the base of the mountain. As we set up camp, Fierna enthralled us all with tales of a mystical forest with trees that grow pudding. Nissa was taken by the stories and started planning her own journey there. During our rest, two wanderers with long cloaks passed us by. We exchanged pleasantries and they seemed like nice people. However they were deceiving us, brother! Miri followed them and discovered that they were in fact a pair of the dreaded Yuan-Ti. 

One Yuan-Ti circled back to spy upon us, but quick action from Miri and the rest of the group soon knocked him out. As we waited for the Yuan-Ti to awake for questioning, we were ambushed by the second Yuan-Ti accompanied by three winged kobolds. But out superior skill prevailed, and we dispatched them all with hardly a scratch. Fierna and her strange raven proved especially deadly against the flying creatures.

Once the first Yuan-Ti awoke, Nissa and Miri used their enhanced interrogation techniques to extract information. The Yuan-Ti confirmed the presence of a large camp at the base of Arcarost. They themselves have journeyed here from the far East, driven forward by their high priest Xerax, whom we had heard about before. They believe that the volcano near Arcarost is a god, and that Xerax is his chosen one. The Yuan-Ti made claims of a gaint army that could crush any opposition from the Woodsong valley. Furthermore the Yuan-Ti had knowledge of the adventuring band, whom they had fought on at least three separate occasions.

We left the Yuan-Ti tied up and hidden as we journeyed forward to the encampment. However we were much closer than expected, and nearly stumbled upon a set of kobold guards. As we had arrived during the middle of the day, most of the camp was asleep. So we sent Miri forward with an invisibility spell to scout out the camp. She estimated that the camp had a total of between 300 and 500 individuals. Mostly made up of kobolds, but also some Yuan-Ti, troglodytes and lizard folk. She also found one larger tent and the adventurer Zora tied up.

In a daring rescue, Fierna went next into the camp, again hidden with the invisibility spell. She first scouted the main tent and found the creature Ssszoon there reading several books. One such book detailed a ritual to disspell a great warding spell. However it requires as a critical component, a key matching the description of the flame gem that Anzo was carrying. This is undoubtably the ritual that this Xerax intends to use to awaken the volcano. Fierna then stole some robes, made Zora invisible and managed to get back to us without incident.

Once back in safety, Zora could finally tell her tale of what transpired in Arcarost. She confirmed that that they had indeed made it to Arcarost, but found it far more dangerous than anything they had expected. She explained that while each individual enemy posed no real danger to the band, as they were mostly consisting of small elementals and tiny devils, their sheer numbers threatened to overwhelm them. They called the retreat as they were confronted by a strange elemental engulfed in purple flames. In their flight, Lander supposedly sacrificed himself to buy time for the others. Anzo disappeared and his current whereabouts are unknown, but he still had the staff with the flame gem last he was seen. Zora herself was captured by the lizard creatures on their way back to Woodsong. She had no idea of the fates of the rest of her band. We healed her up and journeyed back to Woodsong.

However when we arrived back at Woodsong, we found it under attack. We were spurned forward by the sounds of distant battle and signal bells as we rushed into town. There we were confronted by a giant drake with dark red scales. The drake was strangely wearing a collar but it was viciously attacking the town and its people. I throw myself into the fray without hesitation and soon felt the brunt of the drake’s attacks. Its razorsharp teeth bit into my armor as if it was paper and its claws raked my sides. I must admit, brother, that the situation looked very dire. But I called upon the protection of Lugh, who closed my wounds and bolstered my defences. Against the might of Lugh, the beast stood no chance and it was unable to land a single blow against my shield of faith. As the drake was weakened by my allies, I channeled all of the power that Lugh granted me into a single strike. The drake had pulled back to spit its vicious flame breath, but with this one strike, the light of Lugh overtook it and dropped it dead where it stood.

We quickly took up the situation in Woodsong and learned that three drakes in total had attacked. The Towerguard managed to dispatch one and the City guard the other, but not without taking heavy casualties. The civilians had fled south toward the Gate Tower.

Our arrival in Woodsong was therefore timely. But now we have a new mystery to solve. It seems clear that this was no random attack. Especially without all of the strange events that have been occurring in the area as of late. Could this be connected to the curse of the Vaultkeeper or the plans of the Yuan-Ti Xerax? Or is there another player in this game that we have not met yet?

The danger has therefore not passed yet. I suggest that the clans remain on high alert and prepare for any eventuality. If it is possible, please ask Barin to send Woodsong a new shipment of Stoutrock Ale soon. I believe that it would do greatly to improve the mood of the populace after recent events.

Love to father and mother.

Your brother,

Faerin

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Faerin's third letter

Dearest Father,

As we feared, the potential danger from Arcarost has become too great to ignore.

We have therefore decided that one of us must journey to Arcarost, while the other returns to Khan hall to make preparations if the other fails. As the older brother, it is my duty to see Thorin happy and healthy. I have therefore taken upon the task to venture into Arcarost.

Thorin will undoubtably be able to fill you in on the events that have transpired the last few days. But I feel it useful to still recount them in this letter and offer my perspectives, should they prove useful.

We first journeyed in the direction of Arcarost two days ago. We had rumours that a man long thought lost within the ancient city had been sighted again. Three years ago a boy called Jona fell in love with an adventurer that passed through Woodsong. However the adventurer eventually continued on her quest and left the boy behind. Not willing to abandon their young love, Jona and his father Derrick decided to follow the adventuring band into Arcarost. They were never seen or heard from since, until someone matching Derrick’s description was spotted to the north of Woodsong. We travelled to the location of the sighting to investigate if this was another undead tormenting the region. We first found the site of a recent battle between a group of humanoids and a man on a horse. Following the singular tracks deeper into the woods as the weather worsened, we were soon confronted by vicious fiends. One shaped like a large hound, the other shaped like a great warhorse. We took to battle and quickly dispatched them. However we noted a man fleeing the scene. 

We gave chase and discovered Derrick corrupted by dark forces. He had been infused with fire-based magics and was accompanied by a small winged creature composed of magma. We took Derrick down and knocked him unconscious. He was tied up and his items were taken from him. Among them we found an amulet that had been cursed. It nearly seized control of Thorin, but a dwarf’s will is not so easily broken. We put the amulet separate and kept a vigilant watch on it. When Derrick awoke some hours later, he was very confused. Without the amulet, he seemed free from the dark corruption. He explained that he and his son did indeed journey to Arcarost. Within one of the towers, they discovered the remains of previous adventurers, luckily not those that they had been chasing. They did take the magical items from these corpses, and this was the last clear memory that Derrick possessed. He only knew that his son was still safe somewhere. He could recollect a vague image of his son with brown wings ascending to the sky near a large tower in the city. Derrick also still remembered that he had a fight with some snake-headed people a few days ago. The remains of which was the scene we stumbled upon just a hours earlier when tracking Derrick. We later learned that these snake people are referred to as Wanti. I am unsure of the spelling as I have never encountered them in my travels or reading. We then returned to Woodsong the next day, only noting an increased winged kobold presence in the area.

Miri reported back with the Tower Guard and delivered the cursed amulet for safe keeping, as we headed to the Broken Tower Inn. When we entered, there was a commotion in the common room. An new arrival was grabbing the attention of the townsfolk. This turned out to be the tiefling Faera, sister to Fierna. From their starting interactions and their humerous quips, I could tell that these two sisters care deeply for each other. It is always nice seeing other siblings get along as well as me and my brother. Faera had travelled from Aurion to visit her sister. Apparently their home situation had become uncomfortable as their father had been acting strange lately. We did enquire about the possibility of Thorin courting her, as she seemed impressed by our exploits. However Thorin decided that she was not his type. I am unsure why and did not get a chance to tak to Thorin about it as soon after everything started happening in a rapid pace. 

When Miri joined us at the Broken Tower Inn, she was approached by a wolf crying for help. We recognised the wolf as the one we encountered several weeks previously in the company of Lande, the ranger who travelled to Arcarost. I used my connection with Lugh to communicate with the animal. The wolf revealed that the adventuring band was in trouble. Welby, their halfling leader, had returned from the ruined city to get help but they were ambushed by kobolds. We followed the wolf to a clearing where Welby lay. Miri and Nissa’s perceptive senses did reveal the situation to be an ambush. We scouted around and noted several kobolds laying in wait. Unfortunately they saw as too and a small dozen kobolds lept from the bushes. Nissa turned into a giant spider and trapped several of them in a web. We could then take out the remaining with the help of Faera, who turned out to be a capable spellcaster as her sister. We captured one of the kobolds and questioned it. 

The kobold revealed that there were many kobolds gathering at a camp near Arcarost. They were waiting for their boss, a creature called Xerax, to arrive. This boss was also one of the snake people and it was from this kobold that we learned the name Wanti. The goal of this Xerax is apparently to wake up the mountain. This may refer to the dormant volcano near the ruined city. I have no idea if such a feat might be possible, however such an event would spell disaster for Woodsong and the Beinnhall Hills. 

After the battle, the wolf seemed eager for us to continue on to Arcarost and rescue his master. The adventuring band is therefore still in trouble and needs our help. We shared a merry evening with ale, songs and laughter with them those weeks ago and I feel it my duty to raise to their aid if we can. We therefore made speedy preparations to set out. Miri will likely not journey into Arcarost proper with us, but has been tasked by the Tower Guard to investigate the kobold encampment. Thorin and I said our goodbyes here. The dangers of Arcarost are not to be underestimated. But the situation cannot be ignored any longer for it seems to be after our happy existence within this valley.

I fear for my own life and those of my companions as we journey toward Arcarost. But I am hopeful as I sense Lugh guiding our path. He is after all the God of Travellers. I can feel his hand in my shield protecting us as we venture forward. I can feel his will in my hammer awaiting the foes we may encounter. I can feel his joy in my mind giving me the strength to drive away the fears and doubts if this is truly the right action to take.

Should I not return, know that my life as a happy one and without regrets. I wish to thank you all for the love and support that you have given me. 

Let Barin know that I recently had a new idea for a Stoutrock variant using some of the local herbs. Thorin has the details. 

And please tell Airyn that the hammer she crafted for me has served me well so far.  If she keeps this up, she will overtake Aunt Riswyn one day as the best weaponsmith in the Beinhall Hills. 

Give Ealyn all my love as well. I still have the symbol she gave me. Every time I pray with it, I think of home.

Try to convince Dhorin that there is more to life than gold. If I return, and once I find a wife for Thorin, he is next on my list.

Give Morin a hug from me and Lyn a kiss. Should I return from my trek into Arcarost, I’ll be sure to bring them back some souvenirs.

I would like to request that my companions, Miri, Nissa and Fierna, be considered honorary Dwarfs part of the Khan clan. They are willingly risking their lives for our safety, it seems the least we can do.

My one regret is that we will be making this dangerous journey without the sweet tastes of Khan’s finest Stoutrock Ale to carry us forward. However this will motivate our hearts to return home to its poignant flavours.

Love to mother.

Your son,

Faerin

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Letter Home

Dear Father,

 

I write you to inform you that my darling baby sister has arrived safely here in Woodsong, though why you would let her travel here without an escort is beyond me. The road here is not the safest so far away from civilization, and the region has recently become more dangerous, with undead and other foul creatures wandering around.

Give all my love to mother

 

your most faithful daughter,

 

Fierna

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Faerin's second letter

Dearest Father, 

I fear I must report on the most dire of circumstances. 

Our supplies of Khan’s finest  Stoutrock Ale have run dry. We have been unable to sample the poignant flavors nor experience the viscous texture of real Dwarven Ale for almost two days now.  Both me and my brother have been under the weather since the supply finished.  Thorin in particular has been experiencing bouts of extreme  paleness. However this may also be partially caused by an ancient rune we encountered.  Your sons have therefore  been forced to travel and battle without the sweet poignant flavor of our delicious ale. We had prepared ourselves for this occurrence, but did not foresee how this would test our will. 

When we set out of Woodsong almost one week ago,  we only had the smallest ale  cask left in our possession. We were sent to the south in the direction of Kramer’s Crossing by the Tower Guard to investigate a band of strange individuals. Given our low Ale supplies, we knew it to be a risk. But recent incidents concerning necromancy and the danger looming from the Arcarost Vault, meant we had no choice but to take the chance. We did buy a stronger draft horse, which Thorin has named Fluffy, to pull our cart to make the journey quicker. But our speed of travel still did not match our Ale consumption.  

Our band still consisted of Miri, the inquisitive ranger, Nissa, the cheerful druid and Fierna, the mysterious spellcaster.  We first travelled towards the Gate Tower, keeping our spirits high with those travel songs that Aunt Karyn taught us. These included such classics as The Dwarven Lass and The Diamond Axe, Fourteen Golden Nugets, Uphill&Underhill and The Lame Donkey of Sylva. We then camped at the Gate Tower that first evening, joined by two Tower Guard that were posted there. It was a merry evening with beer and gaming, despite the restraint of the Tower Guard to really join in either.    

The next day, we set out and encountered the group we were sent to investigate. They turned out to be a band of wandering missionaries that are travelling from place to place and spreading the word of their beliefs. They call themselves ’The Obligation of Good Will’ and they worship a pantheon, which apparently means several gods. How they can divdide their faith across so many, I still have no idea, but they are good people. Their creed is “Peace above all”, and they refrain from picking up weapons. They only use divine will to defend themselves in the form of their spells.  Their leader is Father Porthas, a cleric from Darovius. They came to our lands from the Jewels of Mathonwy, where they were outcast as heretics.    

However not all in the camp are missionaries who call themselves  ‘Obligators’. Many more are the families of these Obligators that have come along. Most peculiar among these is a girl called Marianne, who is often dressed in a red veil that covers her face. She is not an Obligator, but has been travelling with them for the past three weeks ever since they found her in the burned ruins of her family’s farm. Strange things happen around her, as small animals flock to her, which she cannot harm accidentally. Furthermore  she has a persistent necromancy aura that we have been unable to identify. The most worrying thing about her is that when she was given a sip of Khan’s finest, she could not taste it! There is clearly evil afoot if something wishes to deny a young  lass all that is joyful in this life.  

We shared our last case of Khan’s finest Stoutrock Ale that evening  with some friendly Obligator  missionaries. However our merriment was rudely interrupted by an attempted abduction on Father Porthas! A lawkeeper from the Jewels had followed the Obligators to our land and wished to arrest Porthas as a heretic for converting away peasants from the Jewels. We stepped in and stopped the lawkeeper from claiming Porthas. It was a battle that would have made you proud, Father. We managed to safely knock out the lawkeeper, get Porthas back to his feet and destroy a set of magical armors. Our allies proved to be extremely competent, Nissa transformed herself into a giant cat like I have never witnessed before, Miri wielded two blades with quick precision and Fierna holds control over powerful magics that I cannot begin to comprehend. The lawkeeper was tied up and we all sat down and had a civilised discussion. We managed to convince him to return to the Jewels and not bear too much ill will towards our actions, but I fear this is not the last that we have seen from Jewel incursions. They seem to be under the mistaken belief that we are still a subsidiary province that owes allegiance. And that they can squash our rebellion with their greater armies. Thorin did correct him that their soldiers would be no match for the Dwarven steel from the Beinnhall Hills. Eventually we did agree that a war would not be in anyone’s interests and sent him on his way with some food and a bit of Ale to get him home, as one needs when they wander dark paths.  

The next day we journeyed back towards Woodsong alongside the Obligators. Thorin and I were sure to introduce them to the finest of Dwarven cuisine and the local herbs and spices. We helped them out with various chores and entertained the young children on their long journey. Discussions soon converged to the happenings of the prior evening and the Jewels of  Mathonwy. Fierna, who apparently hails from Aurion, explained that the peasants who joined the Obligators from the Jewels were not allowed to do so. She said that they were supposed to be bound to the lands that they worked, not as slaves but as something close to it. She called it the feud-all system. This does not sit right be me, as anyone should have the choice of beliefs or path that want to follow. The name also seems to suggest that they are all fighting each other, but I feel that this is just some weird city speak. That evening, we arrived back at the Gate Tower, where we sent messages back to Woodsong regarding our encounters with the Obligators.  

That was the first night that we were without our loved Stoutrock Ale. Thorin in particular slept very poorly. When we awoke in the morning, Miri and Nissa reported a strange encounter that they had had the previous evening. They had  run into a black knight with a large shield that we had heard rumors about. He had been previously spotted wandering the countryside seemingly without cause or direction and had been startling the locals for days now. Miri and Nissa managed to get some information out of him that only deepened the mystery. The black knight claimed to have been imprisoned, for how long or where he did not know. But now he had been released and he knew he had a mission but he did not know what it was. The knight also had a dent in his armor, which was imprinted with an ancient Dwarven rune of War. When Miri showed us a sketch of the rune, we felt immediately ill. Thorin gagged by  simply glancing at it. This rune did not help with the unease brought upon by lack of ale. Neither me nor Thorin have any idea how this rune ended up on the black knight’s armor. I would have drawn the rune into this letter, but I cannot stand the sight of it.  

The next few days, we continued the journey back towards Woodsong with the Obligators. Each day was more or less a repeat of the first day. However, there was a new arrival in the camp. Orson, a paladin of  Diancecht and sworn protector to Father Porthas. While Orson does not seem to believe in the Obligator way, he does believe that he is on a quest from  Diancecht to accompany Porthas in his journeys. He had stayed behind to cover the escape from the Jewels and was only now joining up again with encampment. He is a fine fellow and has joined us on several evening gatherings, where he will often enthrall us with stories of daring escapes from his journeys with Porthas. He carries a strange tube that he calls a musket alongside a magical shield.  

We eventually arrived back at Woodsong. As Miri and Nissa went to report to the Tower Guard and  High-Priestess Isotta, Thorin and I sped into the Broken Tower Inn to quench our thirst. However they only had human beer on tap, as the supplies we delivered a week earlier had already been consumed.  This beer is a poor substitute however as my throat was dry mere minutes after consumption. But it sufficed for now. It is at this moment that I have taken the time to write you this letter.  

I humbly  request from our brother Barin to prepare us an emergency supply and send it our way to aid us in our quest. We are likely heading out of Woodsong again soon as we have received word of some one thought long dead possibly reappearing. There should be a small cask in the far left corner of the storage room that I had been saving for exactly such an occasion. If the fermentation took right, it should be a partial concentrate of Stoutrock that would last us a time longer. If Aunt Karyn or our brother  Dhorin is planning to journey out of the Beinhall Hills soon, perhaps they can take the cask with them and deliver it to Woodsong. I am sure Zerlina will set it aside for us at the Broken Tower Inn if we are not in town.  In the meantime, we have bought a stock of human ales that we are rationing as we continue.  The call to all that is good and just in the world requires great sacrifice from those who follow it! And neither myself or my brother shall be dissuaded from our quest by that vicious Dwarven enemy, soberness.   

 

Love to Mother,  

 

Your son

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Faerin's first letter

Dearest Father,

I regret to inform you that  we will be delayed from returning to Khan Hall following our delivery of Khan’s finest Stoutrock Ale.

It all started with the arrival of a new band of adventurers in Woodsong as  we  were  peddling  our  wares.  As  is  customary,  we  broke  out  in celebration as the band arrived in town and set everything in motion to celebrate their journey onward to Arcarost. As many do not return from this  journey,  it  is  best  that  their  heroism  is  commemorated  now  while they are still around. So that their last few days in the realm of the living are as happy as we can make them.  If they do turn out to be successful in conquering those cursed ruins, it will truly be a joyous occasion.  

These  were  however  the  most  remarkable  band  of  adventurers.  Their leader Wilby, a halfling, rides upon a mighty warhorse that would strike fear  in  any  warrior  that  sees  it.  Their  bard  is  a  half-orc  named Henk  with the most beautiful voice and positive temperament to match. They are joined by a sibling duo of a brother sorcerer and sister wizard, named  Anzo  and  Zora.  Finally  they  are  complimented  by  the  warrior Barreris and the ranger Landerr. All six are marked with a strange tattoo featuring an encircled triangle.  This band soon grabbed the attention of many  of  the  Woodsong  residents,  including  Miri,  who  usually  does  not concerns herself with these celebrations, and our good friend Nissa, who had just returned from a foraging expedition.    

We celebrated until late in the evening in the Broken Tower inn after a rousing speech by the lord  mayor Brayden. There was singing, dancing and  drinking  of  the  finest  casks of  Stoutrock.  Thorin  attempted  to  woe the  fair  wizardess  Zora,  but  alas  she  proved  resilient  to  his  stout charm.  Soon  we  were  singing  our  favorite  Dwarven  ballads  and toasting  the  warriors  of  old.  The  celebration  was  however  rudely interrupted by an infestation of a score of dismembered hands animated by  foul  necromantic  magics.  We  alongside  with  the  adventuring  band made quick work of them. I had hoped to capture one for further study within  a  mug,  but  it  proved  a  too  dangerous  foe  for  Thorin  who  was holding  said  mug.  And  so  we  were  forced  to  dispatch  the  last  of  the monstrous appendages. Some valiant detective work by Miri lead us  to uncover  that  the  source  of  the  undead  hands  was  none  other  than  the Woodsong  cemetery.  Following  the  proper  rites,  the  hands  were reinterred  in  the  cemetery.  More so  Miri  informed  us  that  she  found  a camp  site previously  used by  the  adverting band  that was  now infused with  necromantic  energy!  She  suspected  Wilby  and  his  gang  of  evil doings,  but  I  corrected  her  that  no  such  lovely  group  would  ever  align themselves with such dark forces.  

However the surprises of the evening were not over yet. As we returned to the inn, we discovered a theft had taken place! A magic staff crowned with a red gem was stolen from Anzo the sorcerer. The adventuring band were in disarray  as  the  red  gem  was  key  in  their  expedition,  allowing them  access  to  a  sealed  vault  reported  to  hold  many  treasures.  My brother  and  I  immediately  volunteered  our  service  to  recover  the  lost artefact. We searched the inn high and low, yet did not find any trace of the staff. We retired for the evening in the common room, hoping that the next day would shed more light on the situation.

The next morning with our  early  brew  and  hearty  Dwarven  breakfast,  we  were  told  that  the staff  had  been  mysteriously  recovered.  Even  after  the  dark  secrets  we uncovered about this accursed item, we still do not known what caused its  disappearance  and  reappearance.  We  bid  the  adventuring  band farewell  and  sent  them  on  their  way  with  a  cask  of  Khan’s  finest Stoutrock.   However before we could enjoy our breakfast, we noticed Miri running through town, raising the alarm. More undead had been spotted on their way to Woodsong. Thorin and I offered up our hammers in defense of the town that has been so hospitable on many occasions. Following Miri, we set  off  accompanied  by  Nissa  and  Fierna,  the  mysterious  thiefling  and long-term resident of the Broken Tower inn. We soon discovered the foul beasts.  This  time  the  undead  were  no  more  than  ancient  bones  held together by foul magics. We quickly dispatched them and followed their tracks back to an ancient cemetery from whence they spawned. There we found  a set of ghouls lying in ambush. They cried out in Celestial about their master wanting ’it’ back. I took on the brunt of the ghoul assault as my allies dispatched them from afar.    

Again there was a new set of tracks to follow. Miri soon got to work and we  traced  back  the  ghouls  to  their  origin.  They  led  us  to  the  burial mounds  to  the  south-east  of  Woodsong.  These  mounds  date  back  to  the time of Arcarost and housed  valiant Tower Guard from the olden days. In the center of the mounds, we found a final undead creature. A Tower Guard cleric of Lugh  called Naeres brought back by the same foul magic that  had  been  harassing  us  this  past  day.  He  proclaimed  that  he  was driven to  find  a  flame crystal stolen from  the Vaultkeeper. An  ancient curse had been triggered upon the theft of this artefact. He accused us of aiding in its theft as he could smell the crystal’s influence upon us. This seemed like a grand coincidence as his description of the crystal matched that of the gem embedded in Anzo’s staff, the very same staff that was stolen  the  previous  evening!  It  seemed  obvious  that  a  thief  was  afoot, stealing these various gems. Naeres urged us to return the crystal as it is a key to the Vault of the Creation holding back vicious foes of lore. When we repeated that we did not possess the crystal, Naeres sprung an attack on us. He summoned the spirits from the old Tower Guard and knocked me off my feet. Luckily Thorin’s healing magic got me right back up and into the fray. It was a battle worthy of song and drink as we drove back the  cursed  cleric.  With  his  last  undead  breath  he  proclaimed  that  the curse was broken for now, but that the master would find us.    

As we set back to Woodsong, we puzzled upon what had transpired. Miri suggested that the cursed flame crystal and Anzo’s red gem may be one and the same. She also implied that the adventuring band may have been the  thieves  that  originally  stole  the  crystal  from  the  Vaultkeeper.  This seemed  unlikely  to  me  as  adventures  are  a  force  of  good  within  our world.  However  the  implication  that  their  red  gem  may  be  the  same crystal cannot be dismissed as it too was reported to open a vault. It may very  well  be  that  the  band  of  adventures  may  be  on  a  path  to unwittingly  unleash  great  evil  upon  the  world.  Indeed  as  we  thought upon  our  findings  we  realised  that  the  common  tattoo  shared  by  the adventures is the symbol for the vault.  

Thus while the undead  curse may  now  be  broken,  the  situation  has  put me and my brother ill at ease. We have therefore decided to remain in the Woodsong area for now, until we are confident that the danger has passed.  It  may  even  be  that  we  will  have  to  journey  into the  forsaken city of Arcarost in the future to prevent the arrival of great evil. I have therefore  taken  the  liberty  of  drafting  this  letter  to  explain  to  you, Father, what may have transpired to your sons. Should we meet our end, know that our quest was a noble one to protect all that is good and joyous in this world.  

Love to Mother,  

Your son

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