Written in a sharp, evidently Elven script, the letter forms are clear, but the contents obscured by cipher. To eyes that can read them, the message is this:
13th day of Woodmonth, 1472 DR, Year of the Salt Hawk
As noted in my last report, I presented myself to the court at Elturgard’s capitol Eltur, as military liaison from Evereska. Intelligence from outlying cities reported a dire threat from the northern border, and Eltur’s command agreed that my expertise could best be used there. I arrived in the northern Dwarven town of Overlook-Triel, and there forged an alliance with the other military commanders overseeing the defense of the town itself and of the mountain pass at Bordin’s Watch. The captain of the town guard, Elder Cadrick, and a Human paladin of Torm, Tertius, were the two principals with whom I met.
Most able-bodied fighters, both military and civilian volunteers (though with Dwarves it seems there is little distinction between the two), were being sent to defend the pass, but Cadrick and Tertius tasked me with a mission better suited to my particular skills. It was clear that the Serpent Folk were somehow bypassing Bordin’s Watch, coming into Elturgard through some other route through the mountains. I, with a hastily assembled band of irregulars, went to find the means by which the enemy was entering.
My compatriots were all volunteers, none residents of Overlook-Triel, but good fighters and enemies of the Netherese. The enemy of my enemy, as the saying goes. Setting out we had a company of five: myself and two others of the Fey-kind, a human, and a creature whose kind I haven’t seen before — an intelligence contained in a body made of garnet shards.
Specifically, my companions were these: Arakos, a tribal elven archer of great skill who calls upon the strength of Nature as I rely on Shadow. He is a quiet, contemplative elf, tall for his kind, with a steadiness about him that speaks of great reserves of strength and courage.
Second was a very young elf, Saranco, barely come to adulthood. He was one of the warrior-monks of Myth Dranor. At one point he mentioned he was on a quest to seek deposed Myth Dranor prince, Angiledhel of house Findwallae, but I was never able to learn more of his intention, nor whether those who sent him believed Angiledhel still living, for Saranco fell in battle with the Serpent Folk.
The human goes by the name Augustus. He is clearly a front-line fighter, with battle-scarred armor and evident delight in a good fight. By his manner, he seems as if he may have commanded troops of his own in the past. He is strong and brave, but like so many of his kind, he often acts rashly, without sufficient thought. He also mentioned a member of the ill-fated Scepter Tower Company — the wizard Hosvir. He seemed not to know Saranco, so perhaps this is merely coincidence, but perhaps not. I advise that Evereskan Intelligence investigate further.
Our fourth, the creature of shards, called himself Kirshakru. He is like no being I have encountered before, and were it not for the sense of life I perceive in him, I would think him an enchanted construct. Indeed, I am not even sure I should use the male pronoun, but it would be a disservice to call him “it”. He conveys thought directly into the minds of others, and hears thoughts directed to him. If he listens to thoughts not intended for his ears, I cannot tell, but I have been guarded around him. Nonetheless, he is a powerful ally, bolstering his friends through psychic means, and wilting his foes with crippling psychic pain.
We five set out, and found a devastated mountain stronghold at a temple of Moradin. The bodies of Dwarves and Serpent Folk lay everywhere, and we found inside and underground, a lone Dwarf still fighting, surrounded by the corpses of the fallen. We joined him in the battle, and were able to turn the tide. His name is Thurgoth, and he is a worthy Dwarf and a cleric of Moradin. He mislikes me, I think, but what Dwarf has ever been fond of the Fey at first meeting?
Our company, now of six, traveled deeper into the mountains, to a place of vents that Thurgoth knew of, where the serpents were slipping through. We entered the ventilation system for the Dwarf-hewn mines below, and found, beyond a maze of traps and snares, a choke point with a mechanism for sealing the underground passages. We encountered a small number of Serpent Folk and Shadar-kai,of whom we let one live, as our prisoner. He was amenable to our persuasion that he should tell us how to seal the vents in exchange for his life. I had some misgivings about freeing him once he told us what we needed to know, but the others of the company, especially the Dwarf cleric, prevailed, convincing me that this lone Snake shaman had little chance of returning to his own people, having betrayed them to us.
We found an antechamber where two great valved tanks rested, guarded by more of our enemy. The group fought ably, freeing me to slip by means of shadow to the tanks and open the valves to release a corrosive liquid. When we proceeded into the room where the pipes converged, we found a nearly uncountable number of enemy in a vast cavern, ringed by steps, with the ceiling more than eighty feet above us. There was no choice but to fight our way upwards, to the control mechanism at the top of a massive spire in the center of the chamber. It was in battle there that the elf Saranco fell, and we could retrieve no token to deliver to what family he may have, for his fall was far, our enemies outnumbered us, and it was clear to all that life had left him.
We fought our way to the top and Kirshakru activated the mechanism, from which showered a torrent of acid which filled the chamber and slew all the Serpent Folk and their kind within. Alas this was also the burial for Saranco, whose body was destroyed by the acid.
Our company managed to escape through a long shaft that led straight up, to a lone Dwarf lookout, where we found an old Dwarven soldier named Durkin, who gave us aid for our wounds, for none of us escaped that battle unscathed, and most of us, myself included, were near to exhaustion.
From there we saw a signal fire across the plain, from the pass at Bordin’s Watch: the pass had fallen. Our company split then, with Thurgoth going to undertake a trial of Moradin which would secure his god’s blessings. He took Augustus with him as his squire. Arakos and Kirshakru undertook to climb to yet another lookout and trigger an ancient Dwarven defense which Durkin told us of. I went with Durkin back to Overlook-Triel, to see what information we could glean and attempt to persuade what forces remained in that town that could be mustered to retake the pass.
This is my mission now, for I am sure that if the pass at Bordin’s Watch falls, so will Elturgard.
To this my true seal I set: Faegin Gildorean, Captain, Shade Stalkers of Evereska
P.S. Hiron, my friend, I know you will set eyes on my report whether you are cleared for it or not. If you eat a ripe apple and the taste is sweet, think of me. Dwarven fodder is nourishing to the body, but it lacks the savor of Evereskan orchards. ~FG