Orborros

Fierna's art, sixth entry

 

Monkey business

Fear is a powerful tool

Explosive entry

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Faerin's thirteenth letter

Dearest Father,

I regret to inform you that we will be delayed from returning to Khan Hall following our quest to retrieve our friend’s body from Aurion. We have gotten involved in the local politics of Aurion and find ourselves unable to leave again for at least the coming two months.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, we had travelled to Aurion through the Feywild and Shadowfell after the events at the shrine of Goibhniu.  My last letter I had written from the family home of House Auzetior, on the outskirts of Aurion. We spent the night there and awoke to find that Fierna, our friend, had her body restored to her. Our quest complete, we decided to take one quick look around the city and make some acquisitions. I was hoping to buy plenty of souvenirs to take back home with me.

Aurion is very impressive, far large than I could have possibly imagined. And everywhere you look, there are stone buildings reaching to the skies, at least ten times as high as the tallest building in Khan Hall. I had no idea that these human wizard were capable of such architectural feats. There are many canals that intersect through the city, and several sections are blocked of by great walls and stone gates. Most of the population at first glance seemed to be human. It is only after spending a day there that we discovered some of the other races as well. And what variety there are in humans, there are skinny humans and fat humans, smelly humans and well dressed humans. It took me some time, but I have learned to identify the different subraces that exists within Aurion. There are the wizards, the so-called nobles, with fine dress and on occasion a pointy hat, and then there are the clansmen, with barely any dress and often covered in dirt. I much prefer the clansmen to the wizards as they seem to be far more pleasant and far less deceitful. 

As we were interested in magical items, we first went to the Arcanum district. There we found a shop called ‘Modern Magic’, which contained the largest store of magical artefacts that I have ever seen. I went a bit on a spending frenzy and bough we four magical items and a non-magical painting. After which I was 1000 gold shorter. But it was money well spent! I now have a helm that allows me to understand nay language. A stone that allows communication over great distances. A periapt that stops bleeding and a ring that offers protection from weapon attacks. The painting is also exquisite, it features the surrounding landscape with Aurion in the middle. Quite a sight.

As we hadn’t found everything we wanted yet, I was still missing some souvenirs, we journeyed to the Layman’s district in the North of Aurion. Varris in particular was very keen on finding a magical item that would hide him from magical detection, but such an item was seemingly banned in Aurion. We went to Elvira’s Brew, a potion shop, but could not find any the items we searched, save for a stone of luck and an impotence potion that Fierna offered to buy for Varris. I had no idea Varris suffered from such issues, you definitely would not be able to tell from the way he behaves, but Fierna was quite insistent. We then continued on to Bron’s Bazaar. Here Nissa bought a pair of invisible gloves (for which Varris claimed she overpaid by quite a bit). Varris himself sang a beautiful song before purchasing the item that he sought, at a bargain price apparently. Our final shopping stop was at Aurion Oddities. Here I finally found my souvenirs and trinkets that I wished. I even found a nice doll for Lyn. While I’m sure she’ll tell me that she is too old for dolls, this one is special.

Within the Layman’s district, we did happen upon a strange but very familiar sight, a Dwarven style tavern called the Hall of Hills tavern. It is quite jarring to see stout Dwarven architecture surrounded by flimsy wooden human buildings, but it immediately reminded me of home. The inside is just the same as the outside, 100% Dwarf. We even got some of Khan’s Finest Stoutrock Ale inside! This tavern is going to make my stay a much more pleasant one. And we even ran into Aunt Karin there! She was just returning from Raven, a nearby mage city, and was getting ready to return to the Beinhall Hills. We shared a pint and the latest gossip. Apparently a conflict is brewing between the clansmen and the wizards in Aurion. Several incidents have already transpired. At the time I did not know the details, but later we learned that the clansmen’s land was stolen during the founding of Aurion and that there shamans were put to death. Even now the clansmen are treated as second-rate citizens, if even that. Karin also spoke of wizards being assassinated over the pas few days. While we did not think much of it at the time, we would be facing the assassin up close before long.

Our thirsts decently quenched for the first time in days, we travelled to the Highlord District. The Auzetior family has an outhouse in this district where Fierna said we could spend the night. The Highlord District is a combination of parks, ponds and magnificent mansions. The Auzetior house was again huge. Though this is just an outhouse, I believe it could fit an entire Dwarf contingent, maybe even twice over. And this only housed a single person, namely Fierna’s mother, Mercelina. We had a pleasant evening dinner with her and told her all about our journeys and adventures. Before long, we were headed to bed. By this time, my brother and I had grown weary of the opulent bedrooms and we took up our residence in the cool basement.

The next morning, we awoke to cheering coming from outside. Nissa, Fierna and I ran out to witness a ship flying overhead. It was the strangest sight. The ship looked inverted, but had masts and sails like one would expect. It was also suspended in the air and did not seem to give any indication of dropping down any time soon as one would expect it to. We followed the ship and it docked at the Aurion Magical Academy. While they did not let us in, Fierna and Nissa used their magic to make us invisible. I followed Nissa in, just in case she would get into trouble, which I fully expected to be the case. We made our way through the academy, using a strange magic device that could teleport us unto different floors. At the 30th floor we found the sky ship dock, along with its crew, a well-dressed Half-Elf. The skyship was listed as part of the Inaste Trading Company and we learned that it heralded from Raven. Nissa slipped the Half-Elf a note stating that she was interested in acquiring his ship and we got away before we were detected. We then returned to the Auzetior Mansion in the Highlord District and regaled our friends with our tales of a flying ship.

As we were exchanging stories, Fierna hushed us. She had heard something out of place, reminiscent of spell casting. Before we knew what we were dealing with, we were beset by several large snakes. The snakes were huge and vicious. We engaged them immediately, but each time we struck one down, it simply disappeared and a new one would just slither in and attack. After what must have been six or seven snakes, they stopped coming. We spread out trying to find the person responsible. We checked outside but could not find anything. Then we realised that Miri was no longer with us and we heard thumping sounds from the upstairs floor. We rushed up as a group and were greeted with the sight of Miri engaged in combat with Marantha, the same Yuan-Ti assassin who had attacked us in Woodsong all those months ago. I had since wondered what had happened to her and I tried to convince her to stop attacking us. Surely there was no longer any reason for her to fight us, Xerax was long dead and his plans for Arcarost valley were no longer relevant. We still hadn’t gotten to the bottom of what had transpired in the mountain with the Calamity. So I wanted answers and the best way that would happen would be to talk to her. 

I stayed my weapon, trusting in Miri’s ability to take a punch. Miri is far stronger than I will ever be and I have learned to trust her in these things. I reached out to Marantha and she launched a small dart into my neck. It didn’t really phase me, so I pressed on. Seeing that we had her cornered, Marantha teleported away. But she offered me the chance to join her spell. I felt I had no choice and I joined her. We teleported out of the mansion to the garden that surrounded it. And for the first time in months, we got to talk again. She told me that the Yuan-Ti clan was now on the run, pushed out of Arcarost Valley with no where to go. She herself had been forced to raise funds the only wat she knew how, as a blade for hire. In this case she had been hired by a masked figure who called himself Ombras to kill wizards. She had come her today to kill Mercelina.

I immediately felt a pang of guilt. The entire resolution with Xerax and the Calamity still festers in my heart. I feel that I have failed Woodsong and our clan. Learning that the entire Yuan-Ti clan, whom I could only see as the enemy during our conflict, were now on the run as refuges only adds to the burden. Though they were wrong the wake the mountain and attack Woodsong, I feel sorry for the Yuan-Ti who followed Xerax because they had no other choice. As I had learned, their clans fought and killed each other more often than not and Xerax had brought stability and rest. We had taken that all away and now I believe we have failed the Yuan-Ti as much as we failed those in Woodsong. For me, Marantha embodies that failure. I feel like I was the one who forced this life for her. I could have looked for her afterwards. I could have tried to arrange something for the Yuan-Ti. It was then that I decided that I would try to save her as part of my penitence. I know that there is good in Marantha and I know that I can bring her to the side of good. If I can do just that, I could almost convince myself that it might all have been worth it.

Marantha told me that she had poisoned me with a magical disease using the dart she hit me with before and that only she had the antidote. She told me to stay out of her business and then she would give me the antidote when she was done. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Lugh protects me from such malignancies. I gave Marantha one of the sending stones so that we could communicate with each other. Miri rushed out at that point and I blocked her way so that Marantha escaped. I had to prove that we were not the enemy and she was not ours. Our main foe is Ombras, the masked man who had hired her. Even if we captured Marantha, he would simply hire someone new. Miri strongly disagreed and snuck off after.

We went back in the house and questioned Mercelina on who might want to kill her. She could not think of anyone. For her own safety she did move to the Archmage’s Castle where she would be safe from any would-be assassins hopefully. So we headed out into the city proper to gather some information. We let Varris take the lead as he was to most acquainted with the best spots for socializing. As we headed into town, Varris told me that he suspected that I had been entranced by Marantha (not the last person to accuse me of such). He praised that there was no fruit as sweet as young love. I explained that he was being ridiculous and that I only wished to save her. Furthermore I am pretty sure that at the moment she does not like our band nor me, and with good reason. Varris did keep up this conversation topic until we finally arrived at the Dancing Dryad.

Varris immediately set about gambling at a table with six guards. Gambling makes the tongues loose, he claimed. It seemed to have worked, as he discovered that all the murdered wizards so far had been likely candidates for the upcoming election. They had also all been killed by snakes. The lead investigator was someone called General Sasha Coldfire, who was apparently the daughter of some important mage. I did some interrogation myself and learned that the clansmen had had dealings with Ombras. In particular I was referred to Chief Darren Pineblood.

Just as we were about to leave the Dancing Dryad, a bouncer grabbed someone in front of us who had just lost terribly at a game and threw him out on the street. Varris bought back a jute bag that the man had lost and went out into the street to give it back. The man turned out to be a professor at the Magical Academy called Jake Omar. Varris gave him back his bag in return for a favor, a meeting with General Sasha Coldfire. Jake told him that he would do his best but that his connections might not be good enough. Jake proved to be a useful ally in the coming days.

We quickly went to visit Mercelina at the castle and confirmed that indeed she had been approached to be a candidate for the city council. But this was all unofficial and no one knew the whole list before publication, save for the high lord. She also told us that assassinations for this post never occur, they are very temporary and one can simply try again in a few years.

We then travelled to the walled enclave in the north where most of the clansmen lived, in the hope of gaining more information about Ombras. The humans there were dressed mostly in leathers instead of the fancy robes common through the city. They sported tattoos and have long hair. Many of their house are simple huts on poles. We sought for one of the larger buildings and entered an inn called The Warrior’s Rest. The inside of the tavern was absolute chaos. There was fighting, drinking, singing, lovemaking and dancing all in a single room. It was glorious.

Miri and Nissa tried to make their way to a clansman in the center of the room who seemed to be someone of authority. But they were stopped by a very loud and very drunk clansman looking for a fight. It all escalated very quickly. They bumped into him. He yelled. Nissa turned into a beer. Luckily I jumped to diffuse the situation with the universal remedy, some of Khan’s Finest. I joined the drunk clansmen back at his table. I spent about an hour drinking with three clansmen. These were people who knew how to live. One of the clansmen, Krisbend told me all about his four wives and how they couldn’t know about each other. Another one, Kusrar, had journeyed all over the world on a walk-about to find his spirit animal. The last one, Brurr, once fought two bears, maybe even at the same time – the drunken slurs were hard to understand. 

In the meantime, my friends got the chance to speak to the figure in the middle of the tavern, who turned out to be Chief Darren Pineblood. He told us of the injustice that the wizards had brought upon the clansmen. How their lands had been taken and their shamans killed. And to strike a blow at the wizards, he admitted to working with Ombras right up until he betrayed them. When the council had recently raised the import taxes into the city, the clansmen had risen up and organised a food blockade. But the wizards had simply built a portal to get the food. The clans organised a raid on the portal and it was here that Ombras helped get them in. But Ombras had set them up and it turned out to be a trap. Ten clansmen were killed and they were seen as the barbaric aggressors. The conditions for the clans were now worse than before. The chief did still have the key that Ombras had provided for them and claimed it could be used to magically track the masked man, but he wanted something in return. Nissa offered them a place in Arcarost valley. While they did not all seem inclined to leave their home, they did agree to send an ambassador to Woodsong to survey the location. And in return we received the key.

We then traveled to the Magical Academy in search of someone who could scry for us. We asked after Professor Jake Omar and were escorted inside. Jake was inside his office with his assistant Diana Jae. Interestingly they were just doing research into Dwarven history. It turns out that they had recent discovered a strange Dwarven artefact in a residium mine. We immediately recognised it as another part of Peacebringer, the legendary weapon used against War. They were eager to learn more and we told them about the other pieces we had found. We worked out a deal with them. We left them the piece we had secured from the Celestial Tome for them to study. In exchange, they would give us both pieces when their study is done in a few weeks. They will send us a sending spell to let us know when they are done.

Jake then performed a scrying spell on the key. He ahd no issue finding Ombras Onel, who turned out to be in a forest somewhere near a shrine of Duluhan, an ancient archfey. He was taking part in a ritual along with a circle of other humans. Jake recognised one of these humans as Ivar, a student at the Academy. This student as we soon learned is part of the transmuter student guild and has an abode close to the campus.

So we set ourselves up near the student mansion where Ivar Kenneman lived. We were not the only ones waiting for Ivar, there was also May Willowlash, a clan girl who is apparently the girlfriend of Ivar. As we waited for Ivar, we got impatient. Miri tried sneaking in invisibly but failed when the spell faded as she crossed the threshold. The same happened to Nissa in cat form. I lost five gold to Varris here because I had faith in my friends. at least they hadn’t set off any alarms or alerted any guards. Varris himself tried more successfully by simply disguising himself and entering the mansion, claiming to be searching for Ivar for his expertise. Before long Ivar did arrive and he was accompanied by a goat, a cat and a snake, which was twisted around his staff. Varris spoke to him about acquiring his services to change him into a true elf and he seemed to convince him of his interest. He did not immediately ask him about Ombras, but Varris assures me that it is part of a ‘long-con’.

We then regrouped at the Auretior mansion again. When we entered, a wizard called Rovaart Temps was waiting for us. He wished to hire us as his campaign managers. Rovaart is one of the upcoming candidates for city council and has gotten a bit worried with all of the murders. He doesn’t trust anyone from the city itself, so was looking for trustworthy outsiders. Mercelina was the one who recommended us. He offered us a magical item for our services as he was the owner of ‘Magic On Demand’, one of the renowned shops in the city. He seemed honest and genuine, and his policies were fairly reasonable for a wizard, so we said we would think about it.

Miri had stayed behind to keep an eye on Ivar. But she was startled by the distant sounds of battle. May, the clan girlfriend, rushed away. Apparently a war had broken out between the clansmen, between those that wanted to leave the city under guidance of Chief Pineblood and those who wanted to use ancient grove magic to bring back the shamans under the lead of Oakblade.

We joined Miri just a bit later. And it was then that she admitted the truth to me after prompting by Nissa. When she had left two days before, she had hunted down Marantha and captured her. She had then turned her over to the guards. I thanked her for telling me it to me then and sped away to find her. I knew that this city was absolutely ruled by these wizards and they had little tolerance. So I was worried what would have happened if they knew they had captured an assassin who had been killing their fellow noblemen. I entered the first guard house that I saw, which did not turn out to be the right one. So I rushed to an even larger one where they are supposed to keep the prisoners. Unfortunately it was night, so they would not let me in until morning. So I waited.

The next morning the magister arrived and he agreed to see me. I told the magister all the things we had found out about Ombras, who he was creating chaos in the city by killing wizards and by setting up the clansman. He used some sort of magical device to confirm that I was telling the truth. I asked him what was to become of Marantha, and he said that she was never getting out of there. He also had me tested for charm effects after I detailed how Marantha had tried to kill me twice already but I was still trying to save her. Eventually he agreed to let me see her.

I was given five minutes with Marantha. She was angry, mostly at Miri, which was understandable. But she had also resigned herself to her fate. I told her that I would try to help her in anyway I could. Unfortunately the prison is far to secure to attempt a jailbreak at this time, so I decided to use a more diplomatic approach. And I happen to know someone who was running for city council and would soon owe me a favour.

So I headed back to the mansion and explained everything that had happened and my plans going forward. Miri gave me back the sending stone I had given Marantha before leaving. Varris  came up with an elaborate plan involving three different persona’s that he would have to play. Sometimes I think he just likes complicated solutions. We headed out to Rovaart’s place to tell him that we agree to work for his campaign. The candidate names had also been announced. Some we knew, some were new. I could have sworn that I saw Varris lose a bit of color in his face when he saw the name lists, but I don’t know what that might be about. Varris spent the remaining day train Rovaart in public speaking and election politics. Me, my brother and Nissa set about to make some plans for the campaign.

Election day is two months away. I hope, for my soul’s sake, that I am in time to save Marantha. If that is even possible.

I am sorry that my trip is going to take so much longer. I wish you all the best and hope to return as a true hero for once.

Love to mother.

Faerin

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Musings of a bard II
a bard's review

 

He removed the election pamphlet from his pocket and went over the names one last time. This has got to be some kind of nightmare. He thought to himself as his eyes remained fixed on one of the last names he ever wished to see again. His fingers moved to the amulet on his chest, tracing the edges. Just as I acquired the means to stay out of her way, I seem contend to throw myself in front of it. He sighed and crumbled the pamphlet before throwing it at the door. Part of him wanted to leave town and that would most certainly be the smart thing to do. But another slightly louder part didn’t want to leave his new friends. Which surprised him, when did I start seeing them as friends? At first it was quite simple, he was in need of protection and there they were. A group of adventurers that seemed out of their depth, perfect for him in order to get into their good graces. But after travelling with them, he had grown kind of attached.

First off, there was Fierna. She had an air of mystery to her as well as being the kind of person who seemed like she would never take no as an answer. A quality that she carries well with sense of grace and nobility. Another valued companion was Nissa who seemed possessed a flair for life that nearly matched his own. Not at all what he had suspected a druid to be like. His image of them had always been more down to earth and serious, like a wizard with more muddy feet. Not excitable and chatty. A stark opposite to Miri who is a very strict and no nonsense kind of person. Not to mention, very capable. He sighed as their last discussion came to mind. It wasn’t hard to see the growing animosity between them. Something that he attributed to her being one of those kind of people who dwell on that one fine white strip of coast that edges the great sea of grey that represented the majority of this world we live in. I should apologize next time I see her. If for nothing more than to alleviate the tension. Speaking about bright spots on the horizon, that brought his attention to the Khan brothers. They were some of the most annoyingly noble and naïve persons he had ever met. But they were also impossible to dislike. A part of that simple came from the fact that they possessed a better character than he could ever have.

I suppose that’s why he wanted to help Faerin with Marantha. Another sigh. If only Faerin realized the true meaning behind his feelings for her. It would make him so much more happier. Still there was still the matter of how he could get Marantha out of prison. Preferably some time before Faerin decides to do something noble in order to save her. He was still continuing his plan to meet with the general despite the fact that Faerin’s confession threw a great dwarven hammer through it. The only angles I have left to play at the moment are the business of Fierna and Nyx as well as Ceeleman. No wait, Faerin’s testimony is an angle in itself and could be used to my advantage. He knew the plan was tricky to pull off and even dangerous depending on the personality of the general, but it could work. Either way, he knew it was meaningless to continue planning without first knowing more about the general’s personality. He would go do research on that the first thing in the morning.

He would also have to check in on Ceeleman somewhere in the course of next week. All in all, he was pleased with how that first contact went. He could have attempted to push a bit more, but he figured that it maybe better not to risk to much. After all, this was one of the few remaining leads they had on Umbras. The best scenario would be that he failed to find a way to change me. A dark thought started beckoning in the corner of his mind. Could she be involved? It certainly would match her preferred tactic. Destabilizing a situation before appearing as the benefactor with the solution. The more he thought about it, the more it began to make sense. The only thing that was holding him back from making up his mind was Umbras himself. While it would perfectly be possible for her to use him as a middle man, he simple seemed like to much of a wild card. After all, she always preferred to make use of stable elements that she could keep under control. He decided to leave that train of thought for now. The only evidence that he had for this theory was circumstantial at best and it would simple blind him from other ideas. But a sinister voice seemed to whisper in his ear. If she is involved, than they will learn what kind of person you really are. A despicable cretin and murderer. He forced that voice to silence. That will be a hurdle to cross when we get there.

At the very least, he should pull out of the election business. It would gather to much attention. But on the other hand, he had about 5000 reasons not to. An item like that could very well save his life one day. And he also couldn’t live in fear of her his entire life. At a certain point, he would have to take a stand. And let’s not forget, there are three positions. Even if my client would win, it would hardly matter for her plans. Feeling a bit more secure, he turned his mind to finding ways to help secure victory. While he was hardly an expert on politics, in the end it was little more than a popularity contest. If he focused himself on teaching ways to play the audience and keeping an eye on their reaction to the client then it should work out. Perhaps even going so far as to teach a few negotiation tactics as well. What’s most important is to remain in the background and not pull to much attention to myself.

He reached for his traveling pack and pulled out his disguise kit in order to remove his current disguise before going to bed. Damn, he thought as he examined the reduced content of his kit. Maintaining three disguises at once is difficult and also draining, both mentally and financially. He would have to assemble several new once in order to last the two months. Let’s see, one for day to day, one for Riordan and one for Donaghy. And let’s not forget a backup or two just in case. That would make a grand total of five disguises. Where in the nine hells am I supposed to put them? He pulled out the coinage that he had left and drew up a budget. Even after assembling five kits he should still have enough in order to get one of those handy bags of holding. Even if that meant commission one. He laid down onto the bed and closed his eyes. Maybe I should get me a new set of armor as well, just in case.

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Musings of a Bard

 

He took a deep breath, as he waited in the transmuters guild for his mark to show. I shouldn’t have rushed, he thought to himself, I should have taken time to prepare properly. Unfortunately he also knew that time was limited, the actions and mistakes that were made were causing the window for this opportunity to close. Still, he had a little bit of time left, per change enough perhaps in order to gather his focus. The target is a young noble, a transmuter and prodigy of the university. He has sympathy for the barbarians in this city who are the bottom of society here. His girlfriend is one of them. His master is a wizard who I am hunting. He belongs to a cult that worships Dulahan, an archfey.

What does he know of me? I asked around the university. Faerin attempted to introduce his girlfriend to me. Nissa and Miri attempted to break into the guild. His master is a possible associate of Nix. Does his master now me?

What do I want from him? I need to find his master. Thus I need him to bring me to his cult. But that is too far for now. I first need to make contact.

He imagined the person he wished to become. Riordan a half-elf traveler who has ventured from far in hopes of achieving his dream. He regarded his clothing. Nothing to fancy, but suitable clothes for traveling. This works, he thought to himself as he imagined those moments in his life in which he was desperate and nervous. He adjusted his posture accordingly. Bend over slightly, keep my eyes to the ground. Move my right leg up and down slightly. I am desperate, he may be my last chance.

Next he imagined a wheel, constantly in motion in slow monotonous repetition. I am Riordan, a half-elven orphan who was born in a small fisherman’s town. I was to be freed from my human blood, the blood that have brought me nothing but pain. The blood of the one who killed my mother and baby sister. The blood for which I have been ridiculed all my life. I have sought out many for aid, but human mages did not care and the elven ones shunned me for my cursed blood. I arrived here with a few friends today and asked around. I heard about him and decided to approach him for help.

The wheel continues, and with each turn he repeated himself. Becoming less himself and more Riordan. As the threats that connected him to his old self were cut one by one.

A thought did creep up in his mind however. What if he could actually do it? Would I dare take that chance? It was not as if he had not wondered about it before. It would probably make it that she wouldn’t be able to hunt him down as easily, for he would no longer be himself. But would it be worth the price though, freedom in exchange for his own self being. It would mean giving up the eyes that were blessed enough to behold her beauty. The ears that were graced by her sweet voice. The lips that touched hers with such passion. Would it be a fair price for freedom, to no longer have to gaze over his shoulder in fear for sins catching up to him?

He pushed down those thoughts. Riordan had never met her, thus she did not matter to Riordan. But still, as ever it remained the one string to his past that he dare not cut. The wheel turns. I am Riordan, a half-elven orphan …

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Letters "home"

To my darling baby sister,

 

I hope this letter receives you well. A lot has happened since the last time we saw each other and I will not bore you with the details, I am pretty sure you will get a full account from Faerin once we have arrived back in Woodsong.
No, the purpose of my letter is quite different. I wish just to inform you that, with a high personal cost to myself, I have managed to secure your safety and well-being. Father's interest in you has passed and you are safe to travel home here to Aurion. Again I will not bore you with the details in this letter, though I might share them if or when we meet again.

 

Much love,

Fierna Auzetior

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Letter to guildmaster Lancelin

 

Guildmaster,

it's been far too long since I've been in Woodsong.
A lot has happened since I left, too much to write down, and not all is for the better.
As you know I'm not much for writing, I prefer to talk in person.

But right now I feel I must put some things on paper, to gather my thoughts, vent some frustration, and have some writen evidence of my version of what has transpired in case something ought to happen to me in the coming days.

We're now in Aurion, guests of Fierna's parents.
As it happens the last few days people were being murdered in this city, and there was an attempt on Fierna's mother's life. We managed to stop this, mainly because I decided to check the house for intruders when everyone ran outside. This way we managed to stop the same assassin who attacked Woodsong during the feast. She teleported away taking Daerin with her, and on a hunch I ran outside.

Now this is where it gets very frustrating, enough so I'm contemplating simply returning to Woodsong to take up my duties there once more.
When I attacked here in an attempt to capture her, Faerin tackled me. He wanted her to escape saying she was simply a hired help, payed to assassinate a number of people. And we should focus on capturing the one who ordered the hits.
When I interjected we should not allow a professed assassin to just walk away and continue her trade all the others joined the merry bandwagon of love.

When I was compared to an assassin for trying to stop her something just snapped. I've told them basically to fuck off, and continued my hunt on my own. I work best on my own anyways.
I've captured her and brought her to the guards. I've asked the captain to hide the fact she was captured so her master won't know about it; hopefully.

I'll decide what to do after this mess has been solved.

Hope to see you soon. And say hello to the rest.

Miri.

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Faerin's twelfth letter
Into the Shadowfell and the Feywild

To my dear friends Welby and Zora,

I hope that by the time this letter reaches you, you have been reunited with your friends Bareres and Henk.

They should have filled you in on some of our adventures in the Shadowfell and the Feywild, but here in this letter in will detail the rest as it pertains to the mystery of Fierna. As I have mentioned previously, Fierna has recently displayed similar symptoms to your own history; travelling to/from Aurion, memory loss and sudden transportation to Kramer’s Crossing. As we have learned more, I do now feel like it may be separate cases. But I intend to fill you in as promised.

It all started with a Dwarven party at Khan Hall. We had just negotiated a truce with the Brachura, a cave-dwalling crab people that we had recently encountered. As with all major Dwarven events, such things must be celebrated with ale and song. The entire Khan family had gathered, alongside some distinguished guests, such as the heralded Trollsbane. He had travelled to our Hall to learn more about a strange Dwarven artefact that he had found, seemingly part of a hammer, and I was very pleased that he accepted my invitation to our celebration. Trollsbane is of course the father of Fin and Zora, who may still reside at Woodsong. The celebration ventured deep into the twilight hours and many a tale and song was spoken. 

The next morning, the clan awoke slowly. I am pleased to report that my brother Dhorin spent the night in the room of Nissa. Though he claims that he only slept in a chair, I believe that he is only being chivalrous as I sense something may be brewing between the two of them. The first one up, as always, was Miri who went on a walk with my mother, Ilde. They journeyed to the shrine of Goibhniu to set up the cleansing ritual that needed to be performed that morning. On the way over, Miri detected the presence of fey and undead in the neighbourhood but could not explain it. 

Closer to noon, we all walked to the shrine as is Dwarven custom after a large celebration. Incense and candles had been prepared by my mother and Miri. The ceremonial texts placed upon an alter bathed in light. Pillars flanked the inside of the small shrine, surrounding a large statue of Goibhniu holding his hammer aloft. Thorin, my brother, started the ceremony and silence overtook the shrine. 

Then without rhyme or reason, Fierna collapsed and started screaming. The spot at the back of her neck that she had carried since Kramer’s Crossing had become swollen and red. And just as if they were being called by the sound, three calls of light flew in through the walls of the shrine. And in the center, where once a bright light illuminated the ancient marbled floor, a dark-blue oily shadow gathered. The shadow took the form of a humanoid woman, horrific in appearance and visage. Before we even had the chance to intervene, the dark-blue figure started screaming. The sound was unlike I had ever heard and it burrowed deep with my mind. I felt like my bones had been shattered just from the sound alone. I could see my family and loved ones around me clutching their ears and howling in pain. One by one they dropped to the ground, possibly never to awake again. I wanted to go to them, but my strength had been drained. There was nothing I could do but watch my family die in front of me. I cried out, tears streaming down my face but everything just went dark.

Then I heard my brother’s voice. A common prayer to Dianecht that I had heard so many times before. But this time it drummed with divine energy. I took a sharp breath and opened my eyes. I saw Thorin floating up with light tendrils swirling and turning around him. Each tendril spread out to one of our fallen family. With just a touch from the tendril, the color of their skin seemingly returned. My family now saved by my brother, I turned to face the banshee. This creature had just attacked the ones I cared about most in this world and had almost wiped them out. There would be no quarter for such a foul being. I called upon Lugh to give all the energy he could spare. My sword hummed with divine light and I cleaved into dark-blue shadow until nothing remained. The wisps –  the little balls of light – were also quickly dispatched by Miri and a gang of wolves that Nissa summoned for the occasion. But Fierna did not awake.

Her sister, Faera, told us of the strange experiments that her father had done on them. Strange rituals reminiscent of the Shadowfell. Indeed, Fierna did put off a strong necromancy aura. After determining that the illness that had stricken our friend could not be cured by any normal means, we were lost on where to go next. Our only clue was the attack on the shrine, the strange mix of fey and undead creatures. We therefore decided to journey into the Feywild. There is an old legend of an abandoned Feygate near Khan Hall. It is located on top of a hill and if one gets near it, the overcast sky plunges into darkness only illuminated by an eerie moon. We approached it and recognzied the same symbols that we had seen previously on an other Feygate. Nissa as a gnome was able to attune to the device and active it. We entered to ancient gate and ended up in a dark realm that was unfamiliar to us.

The sky was overcast and grey. Only the darkest shrubs seemed to grow on the rocky outcroppings. It was completely unlike the area in which we were previously, yet there was a strange familiarity. The only discernible landmark was a distant village around the area where Khan Hall should have been. It then became clear to us that we had not journeyed into the Feywild but into the dark Shadowfell. 

Our first strange experience was Miri’s new appearance. On this side of the Feygate, her skin had turned whiter, her eyes were sunken and her clothing more dark. She even registered as an undead. Going through the gate to the Material Plane again seemed to resolve the issue, so we did not overly concern ourselves with this issue. I have been told that this undead state is not normal for Humans. I have limited experience with both Humans and the Shadowfell so I do not know if this is the case. Perhaps either of you are more knowledgable in this area?

We travelled to the nearby village in the Shadowfell looking for answers to Fierna’s mysterious illness. The name as we soon discovered was Grinner Hall. It like so many other things in the Shadowfell felt like a tormented version of Khan Hall. There were forge sounds to be heard echoing through the village, but where in Khan Hall there was laughter and cheers, Grinner Hall bowed under the cries and screams. The local people were dominated by Gobgrins, a strange mix between Fey, Goblins and Dwarfs. Throughout we spotted many fey creatures and Drow. Even some undead that seemed intelligent. The entire village was under control of the Gobgrin boos called Gob-Mara the Shadow Tongue. He had a fortified stronghold in the worst part of the village that I will come back to later.

We did meet a new companion here who at this time was disguised as a Half-Drow. His name is Varris and he seemed to be a worldly figure, so we asked him to guide us around in this dark place. He turned out to be a stout ally, but somewhat of a ladies man. I feel a kinship with him and his enjoyment of life, although he is far more cultured that I would ever pretend to be.

We journeyed to the Bloody Meet Inn, where we acquired some rooms for a stay in Grinner Hall. Varris tried to dispel to necromancy aura around Fierna, which failed in removing the strange curse but succeed in waking her up. With our friend awake but still strikken with a mysterious aura, we went to get our bearings. The first item was of course to try the local brew. Unfortunately the only thing close was something that the Gobgrins call ‘whiskey’. While it does have a fair kick, it is far removed from an appetising pint. It doesn’t even have any bubbles! 

Miri then set out to find more information about the town in an attempt to find someone who may know more about magical curses. She learned of two individuals, the mage Umferat who lies outside of Grinner Hall and the mage Geron who lives on an empty plot in the village. However while Miri was investigating, we had a strange encounter in the Bloody Meet Inn. A bunch of Gobgrin guards came in and gave us a bag of gold for no apparent reason. At first we thought this was an misunderstanding but could not return the money anywhere. It was only later that we learned that this was likely a bribe for staying away from the whole affair with Elanna. We also got the chance to talk a bit more with Varris, who was apparently on the run after he had an affair with the wife of a powerful mage. He was now searching for a way to misdirect this mage magically so that he wouldn’t be found.

Our companions then set out to find the mage Geron, who we hoped could cure Fierna. Me and my brother stayed behind as we did not wish that our divine bonds anger the mage needlessly. It didn’t take long for us to get bored waiting in the inn. With my brother Thorin still down from his broken engagement, I decided to treat him to some companionship. I asked around where we could find some that most matched his type, for a Dwarf this is of course stout and hairy. And the innkeeper directed me to a place a bit further into Grinner Hall. Thorin and I travelled there and entered a street filled with the nicest people. They kept approaching us and asked us if we wanted to have some fun. We declined each time as we knew where we were going. The address I received was by far the cosiest house in the street. It could definitely use some repairs, but that is to be expected from anywhere without proper Dwarfs. We were approached by a Gobgrin who promised us the experience of a life time in exchange for 100 gold each. I treated Thorin and bless his heart, Thorin paid for me. We had to set a 'safe word', I am still unsure why. Thorin took the right door, which promised to be sensual. While I took the right, which was supposed to be adventurous. 

While I entered the door, I felt a faint tingle run down my spine and suddenly ended up in front of a large tower. I felt strong, was encased in the most brilliant armour and held a large hammer aloft with the most gracious of Dwarven script. I was also surprised to find my brother standing next to me. Yet somehow I knew it wasn’t really him, that he was elsewhere. The Thorin-but-not-Thorin pointed to the top of the tower and a flash of lightning revealed a large red dragon, not unlike the Calamity we had encountered. Thorin-but-not-Thorin said we had to defeat it to save the twin elven princesses. The dragon swooped down and with a crash landed in front of us. And I and Thorin-but-not-Thorin charged. It was a glorious battle. I felt no fear like I usually do, only exhilaration and excitement. Before long, the dragon submitted and granted us the victory. The dragon then changed into a buxom young lass, who said that she would do anything I asked of her. I told her to take me to where she had imprisoned the princesses. Thorin-bot-not-Thorin and I journeyed into the tower and found the two elven princesses in the highest room. They were elegant and gracious and very very grateful. I would go in more detail about what happened next but Varris has explained to me that it is chivalrous to not ‘kiss and tell’. Suffice to that the elven princesses treated me and my brother very well and at one point the dragon joined in. I did see a flash of red, spiders and wings but thought nothing of it. Both me and Thorin (the real one) left very satisfied customers. 

We returned to the Bloody Meet Inn to find that our companions had returned. The mage Geron had not been able to cure Fierna, but had been able to diagnose her. Fierna was not Fierna. Her body was actually elsewhere while her mind was controlling a doubbleganger. Geron offered to make us an item that we could use to track her body but we had to wait two days for it to be completed. Thus all we had to do was lay low for a few days and not cause any trouble in the Shadowfell and then we could finally get our friend cured. We didn’t expect this to be any problem, thus far we were enjoying ourselves and none of the residents seemed too spooked by a Paladin and Cleric walking about. We were content to just sit in our tavern for the duration.

That evening Nissa finally managed to open a Celestial book that she had acquired from the First Hall of the Beinnhall hill Dwarfs in her rooms. It had been a project of hers for a while. As she flipped pen the first page, an angelic choir began singing and a Dwarf in golden armour seemed to descend into the room  from a bright white light. This Dwarf was Borum, the forger of the legendary weapon Peacebringer. He turned to Nissa, shouted “Not for you!” and attacked her. Nissa quickly ran to our room, escaping the broad swings of a Dwarven hammer crashing into the furniture. “Someone for you” she said to my brother and I, and we engaged in battle. It was in this battle that we discovered that Thorin no longer had his clerical powers. Apparently Dianecht does not like his followers to have too much fun. But we managed to wear Borum down enough for him to reveal that he was a guardian of a great treasure and that we were not worthy of acquiring it. He told us to release our claim, but feeling unfairly treated as his indirect descendants we persisted. We managed to defeat him and Borum shattered in a thousand pieces to reveal an inscribed hilt of a Dwarven Warhammer. Exhausted from our battle, we went to sleep intending to pay for the damages in the morning.

We awoke to find the inn abandoned by all except our party. Even the street in front of the inn was abandoned. The sky was overcast by a dome of darkness. The dome itself seemed to be a living creature that react to any stones we threw at it. It reacted by spawning shadow hounds to attack us. We dispatched them quickly and they turned back into shadow. Miri eventually found a fleeing Gobgrin who only screamed that ‘Herod’ is here.

We journeyed to where we knew the underground complex of Gob-Mara to be located. As leader of the town, we expected to get some answers. We found the complex closed and sealed. The Gobgrins inside said that we had to deal with Herod. In exchange for our getting rid of him, they would release a prisoner that they had. We were conflicted on our next move, so my brother and I turned to our gods for guidance. Thorin still powerless, prayed to Dianecht. But Herod answered.

Herod turned out to be the Warden of the Shadowfell. We had upset the balance by our presence and our actions. We convinced him that we meant no harm and that we would leave as soon as possible, refraining from any more divine actions. Herod agreed and left Grinner Hall once more. We then forced the Gobgrins to release the prisoner that they had as promised. At first thye did not want to, as we had not actually done anything about Herod. But we reminded them that we could bring him back with a simple prayer, and they relented. This is where we met Elanna, whom you should have encountered by now. She still remains the only Ervid I have ever seen. She told us that her husband had been captured by Umferat. It was only much later than we discovered that this was Bareres They were fleeing to the Feywild when they happened upon Woodwail. Thinking the village had been abandoned they journeyed into a house lured by the promise of a powerful magical item. then Umferat descended upon them and Elanna was only just able to escape. She had been looking for outsiders to aid in the recovery of her husband. We agreed to help.

Thus Elanna took us to Woodwail. We needed her help to get through the confusing Shadowfell. Distances don’t really make sense there, things that are far away turn out to be just a step away, yet those things that are just a stone’s throw away remain ever so. We found the village of Woodwail at the spot where Woodsong would have been. The village again seemed eerily familiar yet horribly distorted. Everywhere we could find half eaten corpses being pciekd at by ravens. Where there stood a powerful temple to the gods as a sign of hope in Woodsong, here stood a ruined Gothic temple devoid of life and joy. Near the main square was a large mansions guarded by undead. Elanna said that her husband was being held there so we engaged the undead. The wights proved tough opponents but we managed to strike them all down. Though my brother no longer had his powers to rely on, he remain a formidable fighter and placed himself in front of Elanna to keep her safe at all times. The undead defeated, Umferat showed himself. The great mage was also a great shadow dragon. He landed on the mansion in front of us.

We prepared for battle but Umferat only laughed. He claimed that we were no match for him. We said that just one of us would be enough to take him down. To prove it, we challenged the great dragon to a wrestling match between him and Miri. If we won, he would release the prisoners. If we lost, we would surrender ourselves. Not knowing that Miri had had her strength magically enhanced, the dragon agreed. The dragon and Miri wrestled in the square. It was a close fight, and it could have gone either way, but in the end Miri emerged victorious pinning the great dragon down to the ground. Umferat choose to hold his end of the bargain and released Bareres and Henk to us. He then let us go if we promised never to return. We agreed, knowing that our luck would likely not hold up twice.

As we journeyed back to Grinner Hall, we saw Umferat pass overhead. We thought he was going to breath dragon fire upon us all but he seemed to have changed his mind at the last moment. We arrived back our inn without any more incidents. Indeed at this point it was our inn as we hadn’t seem the proprietor or any other guests in days. Nissa decided to rename it ’The Grinning Gnome’ and changed the sign. This did not last very long and the locals showed us that we were no longer welcome by throwing rocks at our windows. “Go Home Dirty Gnome” they said. So we went to see Geron, who had luckily finished the construction of the item we needed. It turned out to be a monocle that would allow Fierna to see the way to her body. We would just need to follow the astral line that it revealed. Varris also asked about a way to misdirect the mage that was chasing him, but all options were too expensive and doing Geron a favour was not something we wished to be involved in.

The monocle revealed that the quickest way to Fierna’s body was to go West. So we said our goodbyes to Elanna, Bareres and Henk, who could travel back to you quickest through the Feygate we used. As we left Grinner Hall, we encountered Umferat one last time. He was there to collect his regular tribute form the town and did not pass up the opportunity to unleash his breath weapon upon us this time. He then moved on to collect this cart of gold. It hurt, badly. But we went on our way without any more trouble.

We travelled west, and passed Umferat’s tower, which we gave a wide berth. By the evening we arrived at the river that borders the Feywild and the Shadowfell. At first Miri tried swimming across, but she was pulled down and attacked by a shadow hydra that lived in the waters. We engaged the hydra to save our friend, but soon discovered that each time we struck one of its heads, it would grow a new one. So Nissa turned into a giant constricted snake and held the hydra down while I dealt the killing blow with a smite fueled by the divine energy of Lugh.

We then managed to travers the river safely but were confronted with an impassable treeline. Not knowing how to pass into the Feywild, we called upon Uhr, a great elk and a trusted ally whom we know lived in this area. Uhr answered our call, but told us that we could not journey into the Feywild as we were. He said that we had to leave a part of evil behind and the the way would show itself. Fierna and Nissa however could pass as they were, being part fey creatures. Varris left some money behind, the rool of all evil, and he could pass. Miri left some black blood, a symbol of her undead nature in this realm, and could pass. Thorin prayed and left his sins behind in the Shadowfell, reconnecting him with Dianecht, and he too could pass. I left a single note behind explaining that I only want people to be happy.

We ventured through into the Feywild and rested. We thought we had left all of the evil behind us, but we discovered one last source. I felt a fiendish presence inside of me. I don’t know how it got there. Fierna used her magic to read the thoughts of the demon and learned that it’s name was Abalam and that it was waiting to come out and kill everyone. Somehow the demon had possessed me. Knowing that it had been discovered it poured out of my body as a mist. It coalesced into a treelike creature that seemed to be made of wax that had been left for too long in the sun. A battle ensued but we again emerged victorious. The demon seems to be gone for now and I hope it stays that way.

Meanwhile Varris had started talking to a local dryad called Ebony. She had been hiding in a nearby tree. I don’t know what he said to her but he returned with an apple and some information. To the west of us was Solvelis, an elven city. That is where Fierna’s astral line was seemingly pointing us. As we continued onwards we noticed that something was following us. Miri doubled back and we eventual caught the creature stalking us. It was a browny called Runkle and it was very interested in Fierna. Apparently there was a bounty out on her head, placed by someone called Nyx. The browny agreed to guide us to Nyx for the price of 10 silver. 

We set up camp for the night and during my watch, we were approached by a young elf called Hava. Apparently she had been part of a caravan to Aurura, the gnome city, when it was attacked by a large beast with long white hair. She thought that she was the only survivor and she was now lost in the woods. I offered her some food and some comfort by our fire. In return, she offered me something called tea. She made it out of boiling water and herbs. I had high hopes as this is similar to the way we make beer. Although we let it cool down after and bury the keg for at least a month. But I remain ever open to new experiences. Like most drinks that these non-Dwarfs seem to enjoy drinking, this tea had no decent foam. It was also quite plain. It wasn’t bad, but not great  either. Hava seemed very expectant of something when I drank the tea, and seemed disappointed after. We continued to talk but our conversation was interrupted by cries coming out of a nearby bush. I used my divine senses and realised that there were two fey lying in ambush. As it was obviously a trap, I awoke the party. We set out the root out the two fey – shadowhounds as it was revealed – when Hava turned on us. She cast a spell on Nissa but luckily she is made of studier stuff. Varris disspelled the illusion aura around Hava and she was revealed to be a hag, also after Fierna. We fought her and her shadowhounds. I channelled Lugh's power to chase the hounds away, while the rest of the party took down Hava. Eventually she surrendered and we chased her away. 

The next morning we set off again, and before we knew it, we arrived in Solvelis. The first thing we noticed was Feyraz, the behemoth Fey Dragon that watched over the city. It rested on a hill that towered high. We moved into the city but were stopped by two elven guards and an owlbear. Miri stepped forward and explained our cause and that we were allies of Gol Ventem. The guards let us pass and directed us to the Merchant’s Quarters to find lodgings. When we arrived there, we discovered that there we no real inns, but only grand halls with many beds. Visitors apparently could simply claim one for their stay. We did so and set out to explore the town. Me and my brother accompanied Varris, who is much more knowledgable of that area and he promised us an exceptional experience. He took us to a place called the Harpy’s Sister. This was an amphitheater on the second floor of a building. The stage is nest shaped and all the waitresses are dressed as harpies. The walls were painted as if the entire room was perched on a mountaintop. It was quite the sight. We spent an evening listening to music. Varris had to translate for us as all the elves spoke Sylvan. I tried some juice – that wasn’t that good – and some Elven beer – that was ok for a non-Dwarven brew. I had hoped for a bit more excitement but the evening was pleasant enough. 

The next morning Nissa ad Miri walked in, obviously having spent the night elsewhere, possibly with someone. They didn’t want to talk about it. What they did want to do was go talk to the dragon Feyraz. We got to his compound and asked for an audience. It was a spectacular sight to see such a magnificent creature from so close. The dragon radiated power and spoke with a boomiong voice. It was very patient with us in return for 5 gold from Nissa and a song from Varris. 

We then went on to Nyx’s hideout with our browny guide Runkle. Nyx was apparently staying in a water mill on the outskirts of the city. I paid Runkle his 10 silver and we entered. We called out to Nyx but received no answer. We went in but were ambushed by a bunch of displacer beast. Fierna immediately released a wave of fear that set the beasts on edge. Thorin sent out his divine handaxe while Nissa started small fires under the beasts that singed and burned them. All the while Varris stood there making quips that caused the beast to physically recall. Before long all the displacer beast were dispatched. We noted that they had collars, so they were likely guarding something. As this Nyx had put a bounty on Fierna’s head, we did not have any reservations of breaking into his house. We went up to the second floor, where we found a bunch of Xorn hovering near some traps. We avoided these strange creatures. On the third floor, we eventually found Nyx. He was masked and knew immediately who were were. We demanded an explanation but he refused to give it to us. He did offer to release the bounty if we killed the prince of the city. We would not have it and Varris charmed him with his magic. Varris took Nyx out of the mill and brought him to the guards quarters. Meanwhile Miri search the remainder of the mill. She found a letter from Holima regarding a secret conspiracy to overthrow the prince of the city. Miri also found a shrine to Dullahan, the archfey.

We brought Nyx to the guard house but just as he was about to turn himself in, the charm wore off. He immediately turned invisible and tried to get away. But fast action from Nisaa and Fierna put a stop to that. A battle ensued. Nyx touched my armour and suddenly I was back in the material place in some kind of woods. I couldn’t move and seemed to be stuck. Luckily this only last a few seconds as a strike from Thorin broke Nyx’s concentration and brought me back into the fray. We eventually grappled, pinned and knocked Nyx out. We unmasked him and he turned out to be a human that we did not recognise.

The guards then surrounded us as we were fighting in the middle of the street. We surrendered and said that we would explain everything. We were taken to a room for questioning. We expalined the entire story, the bounty of Fierna’s head, the conspiracy against the prince and that we were here to turn Nyx in. We showed the letter we found, and Varris told them to confirm with their contact that there was indeed a bounty out for Fierna. The guard captain who was questioning us, an elf named Letia, said this was far above her head and sent someone to get the guard commander Innarro. The woman Holima mentioned in Nyx’s letter turned out to be the regent of the city. The conspiracy seems to have gone high up indeed. The guard commander came about an hour later. It was then Innarro who promised that he would start an investigation, but that we were free to go. Hoping that we had helped the situation rather than make it worse, we took our leave.

We travelled to Arca Velis, the Feygate that connects Solvelis to Aurion. The gatemaster Gol Settin questioned us but we were eventually granted permission to travel back to the material realm. We arrived at Aurion, which turned out to be huge. I had though that Solvelis was as big as cities would get, but Aurion took my breath away. I hesitate to imagine who many hundreds or thousands of times that Khan Hall could have fit in it. The streets were also full of people from different races. Grand spires climbed to the sky throughout the massive metropolis. It had a sense of busy that I had never seen before.

We did not go to Aurion itself, but journeyed straight to the keep of Auzetior, Fierna’s family home and the location of her true body according to the monocle. I was again surprised to find that the Auzetior family owned a massive amount of fields, worked by farmers – who apparently were unrelated to the family but somehow indebted to them. The main building could have easily fit Khan Hall twice or thrice between its walls. And this only for a single family with two children. I have never seen so much living room in my life. I still can hardly believe it.

Their Henry greeted us when we entered. Fierna said he was their butler, but didn’t explain what that meant. He seems to be unrelated, but has a better standing than the humans working out in the fields. I do not understand human relationships. It was Henry that took us to our rooms. We each got a room. Each room was twice the size of the room I had to share with Thorin, Barin, Morin and Dhorin back at home. It is remarkable. I feel like you could wander the house from one side to the other and never bump into anyone. I sat and waited in the room, not willing to get lost in the massive mansion. Eventually we were called to dinner.

The dining room was massive and opulent, like everything in the Auzetior mansion. Fierna’s father and his advisor arrived late at the meal. His advisor, Darthoridan, took a special interest in us. He said that we were all touched by the Feywild. I suppose that is true, Nissa is a gnome, Varris is a half-elf, Miri has a strange fey/undead bond, my oaths place me closer to the Feywild than any other Paladin. The meal therefore started relatively peaceful, but the conversation soon turned heated between Fierna and her father. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, it didn’t seem good but they both remained relatively calm. Eventually they seemed to form a truce of sorts, and Fierna would get her body back. Her father had taken it for some reason that I am not aware of, something about securing the family line. We then retired to our rooms, our mission completed and hope to awake tomorrow with Fierna in her own body again.

I am now writing this letter, among some others, in my much too large room at house Auzetior. I wanted to update you both about our incursion into the Feywild and the strange occurrence regarding Fierna. I had hoped to uncover more about what had transpired regarding your memory loss and sudden appearance at Kramer’s Crossing, but the incidents seem unrelated for now. We intend to journey into Aurion proper tomorrow, and I shall try to see what I can find out about any similar stories to your own. 

Hopefully we will soon journey back to Arcarost’s reach, and we can all meet up for a beer. We have much to celebrate with the return of Henk and Bareres!

Thorin sends his regards.

Your friend,

Faerin

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The account of Henk and Bareris

 

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,

Henk

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