Foremost, let me say that it feels good to have ink and quill at my disposal once again. For this, and for saving the life of me and my friends, I would like to thank Mirri. Without consideration for her own safety she wrestled a dragon to the ground and pinned him there. A feat worthy of mythic songs and tales.
But I am getting ahead of myself. The account of events that befell my friend Bareris and I shall start much earlier, but still in medias res. Our flight and route from the ruins of Arcarost.
Together with the rest of our party, Landerr the hunter, Anzo the mage, Zora the sage and our leader Wilby, we had set out to explore the ruins of the infamous city of Arcarost. During a previous quest we had come in to possession of a key that could open up a vault of untold riches. We were now in search of that vault. We had payed no heed to the warnings of others who said that Arcarost was too dangerous and that venturing there meant certain doom. We were sure of our abilities and certain of our strength. We were fools.
The unwavering onslaught of enemies wore us down. Our mages could not rest to regain their spells and our warriors became exhausted by the constant battle they had to wage. It did not take long before our optimistic venture in to the ruins turned in to a hastily and unorganized retreat. How exactly It happened I do not know, but during our escape from the enemies assailing us, Bareris and I lost track of the rest of our group. Finding ourselves alone in the dark streets of the abandoned city we took refuge in an old tower. Some ancient and unstable magic must have lingered there however, for as we searched the ruins we suddenly found ourselves transported to a cold dead forest beneath a dark and cloudy sky.
Exhausted by the earlier battles we quickly made camp and huddled together by the warm fire. I recalled stories of travelers who had traveled to a similar land called the Shadowfell. A land of evil fey and undead monstrosities and even though I had some basic knowledge of this plane, I could think of no way to get back home.
The night was uneventful and despite all our worries, we rested well. The gloomy morning brought, despite all odds, new hope and energy. We traveled south, away from the grim mountains that reminded us of the ruins of Arcarost. Soon the dead trees fell away and the forest turned in to ragged hills. We roamed these hills for several days, finding no sign of any inhabitants. Eventually we came upon an all too familiar sight. A small caravan of merchants was beset by raiders. The caravan’s guards had done their job well and had reduced the attackers to a mere handful, but they had payed for these deaths with their own lives. Without any remaining defenders the remaining assailants were beginning to ransack the wagons. The drivers and passengers were either dead of fleeing.
Frustrated by the passed events, Bareris and I took this opportunity to impart some cathartic justice upon these ruffians. The first two fell before they realized more enemies had joined the fray and the rest were either defeated without difficulty, or quickly fled in to the surrounding hills.
The caravan’s owners and passengers thanked us and offered us much needed supplies and passage to a nearby settlement in exchange for continued protection.
I feel I must make a quick and short note here regarding the race of our new patrons. As other scholars are well aware, humans, dwarves and other well-known races of our world are rather rare in the Shadowfell. Therefore, while I can say that the caravan was manned with normal drivers and passengers, I mean to say normal for the Shadowfell. Our new travel companions were mostly fey creatures, dark elves and a race formerly unknown to me, called the Ervid. It is here that Elanna makes an entry in to our story as she is one of these Ervid, a race of tall and slender humanoids with doe-like ears and large horns.
Elanna was one of the passengers. She was on her way to the west, towards a region she called the Feylands border. Here she believed to know a passage that would lead to the Feywild, a more pleasant plane of fey and elves. Recalling that elves existed on both our world and the Feywild, I hoped to find a way back home with them, so with her in agreement we joined her on her path.
Our stay in the nearby settlement was short but rather unsettling, for me at least. I do not think Bareris noticed much of the gloom and corruption of Grinner Hall as he became ever more entranced with the fair Elanna. It quickly became apparent that she returned his affections and not long after we left Grinner Hall, they consummated their relationship, sadly to say not far from where I was trying to sleep.
Our travels returned us to the dead forest where first we had entered this world. Elanna lead us deeper in to the once green thick of rotting wood until we came upon an abandoned village. Still littered with the rotting corpses of humans, we could not determine what disaster had befallen the inhabitants of the town. We decided to stay there for the night and took shelter in the largest building we could find, a once beautiful gothic mansion.
It is here that we discovered something amazing. A magical crystal of an otherworldly and intensely dark beauty. It hung suspended in a magical field in the middle of the mansion’s sitting room. It radiated both power and sadness. Venturing near it brought about an unsettling feeling of loss and melancholy, as if feeling the last dying emotions of hundreds of people. While Bareris secured out hideout I set myself to the task of studying the artifact. I could not determine much. As far as I could tell it was bound to this plane, drawing upon the shadowy energy that flows through it, focusing it for some unknown purpose. I tried, unsuccessfully, to remove it from its suspension. Nothing happened. As Bareris and Elanna settled down for the night, I could not turn my attention away from the mysterious crystal.
Maybe it was my continues examination that alerted the artifact’s master to our presence, or maybe he was simply making a routine inspection. We shall never know. Whatever the case may be, a few hours in to the night, we were disturbed by the arrival of Umferat, a shadow dragon.
According to Elanna, who knew about Umferat and almost went insane with fear as she realized who had arrived, Umferat is a mighty wizard as well as a dragon. He has claimed the entire region as his own and demands fealty and tribute from nearby Grinner Hall.
The dragon was furious at our trespassing in the village. He proclaimed it to be holy ground off-limits to anyone on pain of death. I tried to negotiate our way out, but the dragon became paranoid the moment I mentioned the crystal. A fight was inevitable. It did not take long for us to realize we were no match for this mighty beast and so, at least, we managed to procure a safe escape for Elanna with what we believed would be the cost of our lives.
Umferat did not kill us however. He imprisoned us inside the mansion and would return to question us at length. He created wights to guard us when he was away but never left us alone for long. For some reason the dragon was convinced we had been sent by someone named Gob Mara to steal the crystal.
I am sure eventually the beast would have either seen that we had accidentally stumbled upon his prize or would have grown tired of us. At that time he would no doubt have killed us. Thankfully, Elanna returned.
And she did not return alone. Elanna had brought with her old friends we had made on our way to Arcarost. On a quest in the Shadowfell to cure one of their own they had already saved Elanna from the Gobgrins of Grinner Hall that had captured her after she had fled the dragon, and now had accompanied her to save us.
Although these heroes managed to slay our wight guards with little effort, the dragon still awaited them.
The cunning gnome tricked Umferat in accepting a challenge from Miri, a human woman, to a wrestling match. At first he laughed at the idea that she might best him. The contest was a thriller however as both wrestlers kept escaping each other’s grasps. Finally however, Miri managed to lock down the dragon’s wings and threw him on his back, pinning him beneath her boots. Umferat had been bested.
Despite the dragon’s evil nature, he kept his word and allowed us to leave his territory. And so, that is how I find myself now, in good company on my way back home through a magical portal my friends happen to know about.
The past few weeks have been humbling, but exciting none the less. I have decided to stop questing for a while, write down my adventures and recount the histories of my former party. I feel my tale is worthy of telling and some of my old friends, who apparently have fallen to the evil of Arcarost, should be honored and remembered.
From the heart,