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Faerin's Eighteenth letter

Dearest Father,

I require your advice and guidance. How is it that you can manage our entire clan, when each individual has their own needs and wants? How are you able to negotiate all those trade contracts for our exports? As you and the other party have clearly divergent ideas of what the best deal would be.

The reason I ask is because our party is troubled by different opinions. We all feel the weight of the world upon our shoulders but cannot agree on what to do or who to trust. This is despite the great danger that we face and the many lives that are at stake.

As you know, we left Khan Hall in a hurry in the midst of the night with the avatar War in tow. Do give my sincere apologies to mother for our abrupt departure, I truly wish that I had more time to spend with you all. But the fate of the world is in balance. We travelled to Woodsong with War, as the avatar indicated that he felt the presence of a remnant of the Morrigan. When we arrived, a shield had been placed upon the town, which seemed to be keeping War out. We asked around the town, but no one had any knowledge from whence this shield had come. Indeed, it was entirely invisible and seemed to only be keeping War out.

Therefore we resolved to bring any suspect item to War for further investigation. We first brought Marianne, a girl with the Obligators of Good Will, who has been stricken with an unknown necromantic curse. But she was not the bearer of this remnant despite our strong suspicions.

As we brought potential candidates to War, Varis and Miri went into town to learn the latest news. They discovered that Zora had packed up her tower and had apparently moved it elsewhere, along with the remainder of the adventurer band of Welby. Ivar and May, the two rebels we saved from Aurion, are now staying at the Broken Tower Inn and have plans for a vineyard and a quiet life. The clansmen from Aurion have also arrived and they were causing quite a bit of commotion. Miri and Varis decided to travel to the clansmen camp to the South West of Woodsong to hopefully resolve the conflict, while we continued our investigations with War. They learned that the clansmen were searching for a place to set up their new tribe and were negotiating a suitable location with the elders of Woodsong. After speaking with Chief Pineblood, it was clear that an agreement could be found. The only item that remained is that the clansmen wanted the area around one of the old Towers of the Tower Guard that is used for training. However the Tower Guard were reluctant to give this tower away as they currently have no leader who could approve such a thing. Miri therefore resolved to solve the leadership issue within the Tower Guard post haste.

Meanwhile, Nissa had been successful with disabling the barrier that barred War form entering Woodsong. Now that he was free to roam the village, he soon led us to the remnant of the Morrigan. This turned out to be two swords in Marianne’s carriage. One that can conjure flame, another that can conjure frost. In this manner they are similar to the swords wielded by the Morrigan, Snaga and Dragni. But all of our magical spells failed to identify anything special about the weapons, other than their conjuration properties. Marianne also swears that the blades were an heirloom passed down from her father. We were at a loss on what steps to take next, thus decided to aid Miri in her quest to find the successor.

Normally the Tower Guard leader appoints his successor well before their death. However given the sudden departure of Brane Lancelin in a strange accident, no such successor was ever appointed. Thus Miri saw no alternative but to use divine magic to contact the spirit of her former Guild Master. To this end, we needed to body of Lancelin, which had already been placed within the crypt of the Tower Guard. Upon learning that we intended to dig up Brane, one of the other Tower Guard captains, Duroll was furious. He claimed that Miri would desecrate the corpse and memory of Lancelin. Miri claimed that the need for clear succession was too great and went ahead with the plan anyway.

Thus we journeyed into the crypt of the Tower Guard, and travelled through layers of catacombs filled with former Guildmasters. We saw many carvings that likely date back to the time of Arcarost. We finally found the body of Lancelin deep within the crypt, but when we lifted up his body, the crypt reacted. A seemingly ordinary statue came to life. It was a giant skull with a gaping hole where a singular eye should have been. It was a great terror, and I cannot imagine the power that it must have taken to bound such a creature to this tomb. The skull caused great havoc as it fired rays in all directions. It knocked me back against the wall and restrained me in place. But the power of Lugh allowed me to shift between space and place myself right next to the giant skull once more. I hacked at the skull with all of my might and the creature eventually fell.

However within the last moment, I glanced behind me and noticed the still body of Thorin. He had fallen during the battle after a barrage of beams from the undead skull. The skull seemed to have drawn the life right out of him. I rushed over, but it seemed nothing could be done. For the second time in just a few weeks, Thorin was dead once again. But this time, Nissa had a plan. Nissa reached for her cubic gate, an item we acquired in Aurion that allows travel between the planes, and opened a gate into the Celestial Realm. We picked up Thorin’s body and journeyed into the land of the Gods themselves. Nissa quipped that Thorin’s death always seemed to take us to new places. A welcome levity in such a grave situation.

We ended up under an immense mountain near a lake of silver. A small village was nearby, not unlike one that could be found in our realm. But this village was populated by grey-skinned pointy-eared humanoids that had little balls of light following them. We beseeched them for help and at first they were taken aback but eventually they relented. They brought us to a house and served us glasses of silver water as we waited for one who could aid us to appear. The villagers seemed most wary by the appearance of Fierna, likely due to the demonic heritage that underpins the Tiefling race. Fierna, as Fierna is, did not make any effort to correct any misbelieving these people had about Tieflings. But I would say that our group has excelled so far at not caring what other people think of us in strange lands. Eventually an angelic creature arrived at the house. It agreed to bring back Thorin if we left the Celestial Plane and never returned. We accepted these terms and were soon reunited with Thorin once more.

We returned to Woodsong, now with a recently resurrected Thorin and the body of the former Guild Master. Priestess Isotta cast a spell so we could learn the last wishes of Guildmaster Lancelin. We learned that he had considered both Miri and Duroll as worthy successors. While he might have picked Miri a few months ago, she has been too absent as of late. Thus the succession should go to Duroll. As we still had some questions left over, we asked him about his death. Brane seemed to believe that it could have been an accident. However it is also a possibility that he may have been killed by his son-in-law. His son-in-law is a Stone Speaker, which seems to mean that he can talk to crystals and stones. They function as storytellers in a tribe of traveling nomads. Brane seemed to have had a history with them.

With the Tower Guard succession question solved, we resolved to get under way to find the second remnant of the Morrigan. We followed War’s guidance once more and it did not take us long to realize that we were headed to Arcarost. We landed the griffons near the landing where Xerax’ camp had once been. The white dragon was still circling the area so we choose to sneak into Arcarost, and thanks to Fierna’s magic we could at least do this invisibly. Having been in Arcarost before, we knew what to expect and what to avoid. We camped out our first night in an abandoned Tower Guard tower. That night we were woken by the sound of two giant monsters battling in the distance, a Remorhaz against a Behir. But these massive creatures ignored us entirely. The next day we were not so lucky as we were ambushed by strange wild magic elementals. They looked like solid hurricanes and caused strange winds with ever-changing smells. Fierna took quick action to banish one, so we could deal with them one at a time, which made the fight much easier.

After that fight, we had a clear path to our destination as marked by War, the Cathedral to Lugh. The adjacent square still contained the cross with the Pit Fiend, now just skeletal remains but still moving. War told us that the last fragment of the Morrigan resided within the cathedral but that he himself would not enter. Within the Cathedral, we met its protector once more, Pax. However Pax had no knowledge of the Morrigan’s remnants, he didn’t even know that she had gone missing. He did allow us to search the cathedral. We quickly found what we were looking for, a cage with two giant ravens. The ravens had a strange aura if looked at with the proper magical spells, a corona that seemed to emanate from within. From Nissa’s description, it seemed like a darkness suppressing flames trying to escape. But the birds seemed normal in all other respects, despite their larger size. The Morrigan has historically been represented with two ravens, but these really did seem like ordinary animals. However they did carry rings around their feet with the symbol of the Morrigan. After we spent about an hour prodding and poking these poor animals, Pax told us that this was enough. He had apparently been ordered by Dianecht to guard these animals and make sure nothing happened to them.

Meanwhile, Nissa was talking to War outside. War saw his promise as fulfilled and was intending to leave the moment we returned. Nissa shared this information with us and I got scared. I had no idea how powerful War had become in this new form or what he would do next. All we know is that he has sworn vengeance on all Dwarfs. While we might have made a deal to spare at least Khan Hall, I don’t know if that the deal covered all of the Hill Dwarfs. Even worse, just his presence last time was enough to drive all Dwarfs nearby insane. Just his symbol used to make me sick in my stomach. And with the Peacemaker now permanently lost, I felt like we have no chance to stop whatever he was planning next.

I didn’t want to be responsible for unleashing another evil upon the world, so in a moment that eats away at my soul, I told Pax that War was outside. I knew full well what would happen as their gods are mortal enemies. The battle was quick but far from one sided. Pax emerged victorious and War was just a piece of empty armor once again. He might re-emerge as he has done so in the past, but it will take a while. In the meantime, I intend to find something to replace Peacemaker to stop him once and for all.

But a Dwarf has once again betrayed War. I never understood the tough choices that our ancestors must have faced better than in that moment. I regret it now, and I truly wish that I had made more an effort to reach out to War and see if he could be turned away from his Dwarven vengeance. But he seemed like such a force of nature, an embodiment of evil and a cruel reminder of the misdeeds of past Dwarfs. Could he be reasoned with? We may now never know, as I expect that his fury will be greater than ever before.

But to protect you and Mom. To protect Morin and Lynn. To protect Dhorin and Thorin. To keep all of the Dwarfs safe and happy. That is what is important to me. I am not sure I could have made another choice. And when War comes back, I’ll be there to stop him at all costs.

I expect that one day there will be a reckoning for what I have done. And I feel like what happened next, might have already been a part of it.

We left Pax behind to travel back. However Varis of all people had a vision from the divine! He said that we had to have one final look at the ravens and that the truth would be revealed. So we kindly asked Pax for one last look, and luckily Pax agreed. When we went back to the cage, we discovered indeed that the ravens had taken on their celestial aspects once more. There is no doubt anymore. These are the Morrigan’s ravens! Pax asked us to leave and did not allow us to take the ravens with, so we left them there.

We left the cathedral once more and headed back out of Arcarost. We already saw the white dragon flying in the distance. We knew that the creature is up to no good as it is in league with either Atraya or the dragon Sevalaxos, and that it had already taken out one dragon of the Fanghunters. We resolved to try to take out the beast. We recruited the Behir that we had seen the night before. The creature was hesitant at first, but eventually agreed to aid us in battle against the dragon. Behir and Dragons are apparently natural enemies and the Behir was looking forward to having this dragon removed from his territory.

We headed into a frozen cave, where we found the white dragon sleeping on a mountain of ice. Fierna and Varis held back to support us. Myself, Miri, Thorin, Nissa and the Behir crept closer. We then jumped the dragon, getting a few hits in. But the dragon was huge and strong. It started using its frost breath at will and I could feel my adamantine armor almost freezing shut more than a few times. But Thorin’s healing spells kept us alive and going. It was a tough fight. We tried restraining the dragon as long as possible to take it down with multiple hits, but it eventually escaped and did another breath weapon. We had to move up to the creature again before we could hit it once more. But finally the dragon fell. So had the Behir at that point, but I used my divine power to bring it back from the brink of death. And so we left the Arcarost plateau once more, now with one dragon less to threaten us.

We then decided to check in on the snake people that have been operating in the vicinity of Arcarost. We flew back into the valley where we encounter their guards before. There we saw Marantha waving us down. Varis and Nissa went ahead to see what she wanted. She told them that she needed our help to save her clan. However this did not sit well with Miri. The moment she recognized her, Miri charged at Marantha. I tried to stop her, but failed. However Varis succeeded in getting a spell just in time to calm Miri down.

The relationship between Marantha and our group has always been complicated. I don’t think I have ever seen such hatred from anyone as Miri has for Marantha. When we first met Marantha, she was an assassin working for Xerax. She had been sent to Woodsong to take us out and almost did. She unleashed several venomous snakes on the people of Woodsong to get away. Luckily I had Lugh’s power on my side and prevented anyone from getting hurt. Even back then, I saw something in Marantha that she wasn’t all evil but that she had been forced into this life. But the event has scarred Miri with a hatred for all snake people, and Marantha in particular. When we saw Marantha again in Aurion, she had been hired to kill several upcoming members of the ruling council. We had just been staying with one, and Marantha and Miri squared off for real. But I convinced Marantha to back off. However Miri was relentless, chased her down and threw her in jail to be executed. When the Aurion revolution happened, we freed Marantha. We travelled with her for several weeks back to Woodsong. She finally left one morning without a word. It was unspoken but Miri made clear she wanted to never see the assassin again and would kill her the next time she did. So Marantha must have been desperate if she came to us for help.

Stopped by the spell from having her revenge, Miri took off with the griffins and Fierna in tow. The rest of us promised to help Marantha’s clan. She was looking for a way to take out Atraya’s influence over her people. Apparently Atraya was away from the camp but had left a Medusa high priest and some lizard folk in charge. If we could take them out, she might be able to convince her clan to follow her instead.

So we hatched a plan. Thorin and myself would pretend to be captured. Nissa would be a small snake and Varis would disguise himself as a snake person. We would then be placed in the prison of the town and from there it is a short trek to assault the high priest. Our plan worked perfectly. We entered the town as prisoners and got past the guards without any fights. Marantha kept her word and released us again at the agreed upon time. Just as we were about the take out the high priest, we were stopped by Fierna. She warned us that Miri was planning to destroyed the entire town with an avalanche. But it was too late as Miri had already triggered it.

We could do very little and we were ourselves in the middle of the avalanche. Fierna used her magic to banish herself to safety. Varis levitated the largest rocks in the hope of blocking parts of the avalanche. Thorin and I channeled all of our divine power to shield as many of the townsfolk that we could. You have to understand, this was their village. These weren’t all warriors, there were builders, craftsman, cooks. I fear to think that it is likely that there were some snake people young in the huts they had built for themselves. And Miri tried to annihilate them all, and mostly succeeded. We saved those we could but there were so many dead.

Marantha had survived, but she had grown cold. All the progress I had made with her, seemed to be gone in that one instant. I gave her one of my sending stones and we departed the camp quickly. The survivors seemed out for blood and we were strangers in their midst. I fear any chance we had to turn them to our side was now permanently gone.

Thorin, Fierna, Varis, Nissa and I walked away from the devastation and set up camp on the other side of the lake. Miri approached us and was entirely remorseless. There was no doubt in her mind that her actions were right. That she risked our lives to do it was not a concern to her. She was cold and calculating. Everyone else was furious, so I sent Miri away and told her to come back the next morning so that cooler heads would prevail.

And it was needed. Thorin, typically the light of the world, had gone dark and would have nothing to do anymore with Miri. Varis was just broken by what he had witnessed. He has sometimes seemed to doubt himself and this event seemed to have given the final nudge. Nissa who is often with a quick quip in the darkest moments, said nothing. Fierna pulled me aside and told me that it was my responsibility to keep this group together. That this was the moment that I had to step up. So I did or at least I tried.

When Miri returned the next morning, I convinced the others to give her and the group another chance. We had all made mistakes, and had done things that others did not agree with. And the world is in danger and it needs us to stay together. Because we are it. Having travelled far and wide, I have realized that the world is simply a mess. There are no heroes coming to save us. If we don’t step up, no one else will. And to do that we need each other.

And I almost believe it myself. But then I think of the dead eyes of a snake person crushed besides me. The coldness in the eyes of Marantha. Then final look I shared with Thorin as the avalanche came crashing in. I had just gotten my brother back and I had to make peace with the fact that I might have lost him again. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive her for almost killing my brother.

The worst part is that I can understand why Miri did it. Her choice was not so different from what I had just done to War. Our families had been threatened by a being whom might strike out any moment. Even if they aren’t a threat right now, they might become so once more in the future. Eliminating that threat easily trumps anything else. So I could almost imagine that I would have done the same.

But this act seemed so callous, so indiscriminate. I don’t believe I would be able to harm my friends in such a manner. And I thought that was what we were. I sometimes wonder if taking up the mantle of the Warden has made Miri more distant from the lives of ordinary mortals. Or worse, if the Zealots were correct and that all undead are inherently evil.

And I fear for another confrontation in the near future. After our encounter with the snake people, we returned to Woodsong. Armed with new knowledge, we had another look at Marianne and her two swords. Nissa first dispelled to misdirection magic that was on both of them. We then got Professor Jake to cast an identify spell on the swords. This way we discovered that the swords have been bound to the material plane and the a key was needed to move them to another plane. We quickly discovered that Marianne was this key. This poor girl herself has been cursed with a calm emotion spell, making everyone who comes near her, like her. This is a powerful spell, one that warped reality itself and it would need powerful magic to remove it.

So now we plan to go back with Marianne to Arcarost, to see what happens when we combine all the fragments of the Morrigan that we have found.

But I am very worried. We know that Pax is under orders of Dianecht to protect the ravens. I feel like we are once more in the dark with what our actions will unleash. I also do not want a confrontation with Pax. He has sheltered us twice and is the only force of good in the entirety of the Arcarost ruins. I will not fight him, nor will I encroach on his divine mandate. I cannot presume to know more than the gods. I may even protect Pax from my own party if they decide that cold blooded murder is what they wish to accomplish.

I do hope to reach out, perhaps with my brother’s magic, to those divine beings we have encountered before and let them know of the situation. I hope that it can be resolved peacefully in this manner.

Any insight you may have, would be most welcome.

Give my love to mother.

Your son,

Faerin Khan

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