Faerin's Sixteenth letter

To the sisters Thora and Fin Trollsbane,

I hope you are well.

I am afraid I have to be the bearer of sad news. Thorin Khan, my brother and the most beloved of all Dwarfs, has fallen in battle. He valiantly sacrificed himself to save the Khan clan and the rest of the Beinnhall Dwarfs.

We recently made the journey back from Aurion, the closest city of the Jewels of Matt Mattonwy. We had travelled there to resolve a personal issue for one of our companions, Fierna. While we were in Aurion, we were witness (and somewhat participants) to the start of a civil war in the city. We decided to make haste with our return to the Arcarost valley. For this reason, we choose to travel back through the Fey Realm.

A gate to the Fey Realm close to Aurion, Arca Velis, was known to us. However when we arrived, we found it guarded by several knights and fire giants hired by the Inaste family. We were confronted by Aisolon Inaste, whom we had dealt with before. Luckily we had Thorin The Brave on our side, and they did not seem include for a confrontation. So our newest companion, Varis, was able to talk us through, of course. We journeyed through the gate and were startled by what we found on the other side. An army of elves and other fey!

The army was under command of Guard Commander Innarro, whom Thorin and the rest of us had aided previously in the capture of a human mage who had been secretly living in the elven city of Solvelis. We were very worried to discover that this was indeed an invasion army targeting Aurion. Luckily my brother was there to present a calm demeanor, or I believe we would have all panicked. The division between the Fey Realm and Ourborros, and in turn the creatures that reside in each, is kept by an ancient pact between the gods, the Elder Fey and the major races. The Solvelis army seems intent on breaking that pact, but the gate was still closed. We noted many symbols of the Elder Fey Dullahan, who had been the presence behind many other recent evil conspiracies. It was on his command that the army marched forward now so there was no doubt that he had decided to take on Ourborros and its gods, starting with Aurion. We also learned that the prince of Solvelis had fallen ill, and the regent, whom we had previously suspected of being an agent of Dullahan, was now in charge.

Thorin, our leader in all but name, managed to get us out of Solvelis without any further incidents. But even I realized the dangers of a broken pact. Nissa started guiding us toward the Gnome city of Aurora and when we were far enough from Solvelis we summoned Uhr, the companion of the warden of the Fey Realm. We asked about the pact and the army, and the great elk was already aware of the situation but sighed that there was little he and his master could do about the situation. They did not have the power to go against Dullahan or his army. Normally Titania, Dullahan’s wife keeps him in check. And Dullahan would not dare re-enter the Material plane for fear of Morrigan, who defeated him last time before the pact was in place. We had already learned that Morrigan was missing from Urzo, the traitor Dwarf. And Uhr claimed that Titania had likewise disappeared from public eye. We resolved ourselves to journeying forward and to go talk with the wardens themselves. Uhr summoned magical elk steeds to ferry us through the Fey Realm. Before long we were at Aurora. The Gnome city had closed its gates and we were not allowed entry due to an incident several months prior.

We continued on to through the gate to the Material plane nearby and ended up at the Elven settlement west of Woodsong. While the settlement had been abandoned, we did find the warden of the Fey Realm and the two gate wardens of the gates near Aurora and Solvelis. They were also disturbed by the recent developments with Solvelis and Dullahan. The warden himself explained that he got his power from the pact and that if the pact were broken, so would might his power also be lost. In addition, he had lost all contact with Wodin, the warden of the Material plane. The three ancient elves therefore sought the guidance of Thorin the Wise, whose judgement is known across the realms. After contemplation with all parties involved, it was agreed that the warden and his companions would go search for Titania in her own realm. In the meantime, we would search for the warden of Ourborros in the hopes that he knew the whereabouts of Morrigan.

The warden of Ourborros is a peculiar case. Both the warden of the Fey Realm and the Umber Reach are Fey and enjoy a long life. But the warden of Ourborros had to come from the mortal races. Thus a human family line was selected to serve as a punishment for the deeds of one of their members. As humans have a tendency to die off quickly, the gods bestowed upon them a curse of semi undeath. This would prolong their lives unnaturally, though they would still be able to have children to maintain the line. We realized that we had met Wodin once so many months ago near Woodsong, when he was in search of the flame gem that had been stolen from the vault of Creation. We had also encountered one that was hunting him, a man called Ivan.

Thorin called upon his bond to the god Dianecht to send a message across the plane to Wodin. It is truly amazing how one Dwarf could hold such divine presence. He only got a weak reply. The warden of Ourborros had been captured and needed help. We therefore headed towards Woodsong, where both the hunter and the warden had been last seen.

Seeing Woodsong again was a welcome sight. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you of the fine job that you did in the rebuild of the town. Most damages has been repaired and the town is better than before with the benefit from true Dwarven craftsmanship. You have my heartfelt thanks for your efforts there. We met up with our friends, Welby and his band, Father Porthas and the Olbigators and Faera. They all spoke very highly of your work.

As we set chatting in the bar, the innkeeper informed us that they hadn’t gotten their delivery of Khan’s Finest for the past few weeks. We sent a message to our brother Dhorin, but he claimed not to know what the message meant and that the delivery was no longer necessary. This was our first indication that things were not right at Khan Hall.

There was another strange occurrence that I do mean to ask you about. This may have happened after you left. A section of the headquarters of the Tower Guard collapsed and killed the guild master. We investigated this briefly and Thorin with his perceptive eye noticed something strange about the beams that had buckled, but did not know what to make of it. We do not believe that anything of Dwarven make would collapse in such a fashion, so we do expect some kind of foul play. Miri had a look at the personal effects of the guild master but could find no additional clues. Only a drawing with the name Lavinia Glenfellow. Miri told us that she once heard the guild master speak of a long lost daughter. But our investigation had to end there. Did you notice anything in particular about the repairs of the Tower Guard HQ or the guild master himself, when you were in Woodsong?

In any case, we set out to find the warden of Ourborros. And soon discovered that Ivan the lone undead hunter had set up a group called the Zealots to clear out the undead that menaced Woodsong. They had co-opted one of the abandoned houses as their headquarters, and it as a fair bet that Wodin was being kept there. So in the dead of night, Nissa snuck in as a small spider. She soon found Wodin near death. So she used her druidic magic to also transform him into a spider and managed to get out without anyone noticing.

We brought Wodin to the Metal Tower that Zora has placed in Woodsong. Alas there was very little we could still do for Wodin. The Zealots had tortured him and his life force was draining away rapidly. Before Wodin expired, he gave us two things. The first, a Seal with the symbol of the Vault of Creation. This amulet was tied to the Pact. As long as it remained in place, the Seal would retain its magic. He also gave us the name of his successor, Nilia. Wodin could not help us find Morrigan himself, but perhaps this successor could as it was Morrigan herself who originally cursed his family. Wodin then died in our midst and his power left him. However despite what we expected, the power did not leave the room but swerved around and finally poured into Miri. There was a flash of light and after Miri had taken on her undead appearance. We had seen it before when we had entered the Umber Reach but had not known the reason. Apparently Miri was part of the warden’s family but was unaware herself as she was abandoned as a child. She had now gained the mantle of the warden of the Material plane. When we went outside, we found Midnight, Miri’s new mount and companion. However as Miri is still new to her role, she did not have any additional knowledge into the whereabouts of Morrigan.

Midnight, Miri’s new pact companion, did reveal to us that the Zealots had stolen another of the warden’s possessions, a horn. This horn is apparently tied to Midnight himself and is part of the warden’s magic. So we set out to take it back. We all went up to the zealot’s headquarters this time. The house has several symbols of Arawn, whom seemed to be the patron for these Zealots. Miri and Nissa snuck in quietly while the rest of us lay in wait outside. Before long the sounds of battle thundered out of the house. So we all burst in. Miri and Nissa had engaged the hunter Ivan. Luckily Thorin is so well known and loved that the other Zealots refused to take up arms against us. So it was a quick fight with Ivan alone, who seemed to have otherworldly powers of his own. His skin took on an unnatural hue and he started radiating burning heat. My wise brother was able to tell me later that Ivan was part celestial. In any case, we knocked Ivan out and placed him under the watch of the Tower Guard.

We all went to a quiet sleep knowing that the Zealot threat had been dealt with. The next day Miri went to the temple and spoke to Isota, the local cleric. She revealed that Miri had indeed been found as a baby abandoned in the forest nearby. She also told us of a seal that she had found similar to the one that Miri now carried. Isota had found this seal near the clearing of Arcarost in the old snake people camp. This was our only clue to the warden’s knowledge and the possible location of Morrigan, so that became our next destination. Before we left, we made a quick stop by the Obligator Hospital in an attempt to remove a necromantic aura from the girl Marianne. But alas Thorin’s powerful divine might to remove curses was not sufficient in this case. Nor could Nissa make out the underlying nature of the spell to remove it with her druidic ways.

We journeyed north towards the Arcarost clearing. There we found signs of a battle between beasts. Trees and been knocked down and giant claw marks were everywhere. We eventually found the remains of a bronze dragon in a nearby crag. It had many bite marks from another dragon along with several patches of frost burn. There were also the remains of a saddle. This seems to have been the mount of what we now know are likely the Fanghunters. These were ancient protectors of Arcarost who disappeared when the city fell. We have encountered them before in our forays into Arcarost and I still do not know what to think of them. They have helped us when the need was most dire but remain distant during lesser threats. They value their secrecy above all else, sometimes even saving lives. They may hold the key of knowledge that we seek, yet they keep their location a secret. We committed ourselves to finding the rider of this dragon in the hopes that he may have the answers we seek. Unfortunately we found the evil white dragon first.

Fierna has an odd whistle. It can produce a tone that can only be heard by dragons within the nearest mile. She tried it and the white dragon answered. It was huge and seemed to be made from cold itself. We quickly hid as soon as we noticed it but some of us were caught in its chilly blast. Luckily we are made of sturdier stuff and we managed to get away.

We continued on and Miri found the tracks of the rider as he had left the clearing. We went east, past Arcarost and into the mountains. As we walked through a pass, we were approached by snake people on wyverns. After a brief exchange, they attacked us. Fierna immediately use her magic to create an unnatural fog, covering us form most of the snake people attacks. We set out, taking on the riders and their mounts one by one. The last one surrendered as the fog revealed that it was indeed Thorin the Great that they had been up against. The final enemy revealed that they had set up camp a bit further into the mountains and that there leader was now a half dragon called Atraya. Thorin the Just inspired us to let our prisoner live as we had promised, there is no glory to be found in striking down an unarmed creature.

Not willing to deviate from our course, we continued east. Finally we approached the great lake that feeds the river of the Arcarost valley. There we found the dragon rider Gennal in the midst of constructing a raft. Nissa approached him first to avoid any unnecessary alarm. Eventually he allowed Thorin the Wise to treat his injuries and help him get home. We also told him of the seal that Isota had found, which was indeed his. Thus he decided to first travel to Woodsong to pick this up. We told him that we were in need of help and information. But Gennal told us that he could not reveal anything. However when he was returned he would talk to a Loremaster to seek us out and give us some aid in return for our help. We agreed to meet up with this Loremaster in about two weeks from that date. Nissa summoned several large bats who then ferried us back to Woodsong. Gennal thanked us, retrieved the seal and was back on his way home.

We decided it was then high time that we head back to Khan Hall. Little did we know that this would be the last journey of the beloved Thorin. While our trek along the road was uneventful, nature itself seemed to be saying its goodbyes to Thorin. I saw two butterflies skirt his helmet on the first day. On the second day, I was stung by a branding nettle, which now that I think about it was a definite sign of the tragedy to come. The third day we saw a deer, which just stood there seemingly saddened before running away.

We then arrived at the Beinnhall hills. The first thing we noted was that the stones at the moot circle had all been toppled. The first Noble Goat Guard of the Beinhall Hills had apparently abandoned their post! When we got to Khan Hall itself, the changes were immediately apparent. The normally welcoming gates were closed and sealed. The warm scent of barley and hops from the brewery had been exchanged with the fumes of smoke and rust. The grass fields normally filled with playing Dwarven children were barren and empty. We walked on and approached the sole guard, a Dwarf that I did not recognize. But the Dwarf guard knew Thorin, as most Dwarfs do, but he seemed almost terrified and submissive when he spoke to Thorin. He said that he was unaware that Thorin had left the hall and that the gates would be opened without delay. This was a very strange reaction as all the Dwarfs of Khan Hall know of the gentle and friendly nature of my brother.

We entered Khan Hall and encountered even more Dwarfs that we had never seen before. We did not understand where they had come from but they seemed to have made themselves at home. We first rushed to the house where our family lived, but found it abandoned except for Dhorin, our brother who seemed to reside in a state of confusion at seeing Thorin.

We went to the main hall itself and were started to find Thorin sitting on a throne. This Thorin was identical to the one we know and love but he sported black armor emblazoned with infernal script and the symbol of War, the dark avatar of Morrigan. I used my divine sight to reveal that this was indeed a fiendish imposter. Urzo the Dwarven traitor fiend stood by his side seemingly as some kind of advisor. Apparently this evil Thorin had seized control of Khan Hall shortly after we left for Aurion.

It turned out that when we journeyed through the Umber Reach, the holy goodness that is Thorin’s soul drove out any evil that attempted to entrap him. But the evil seemed to think it was part of Thorin and took on his form and his place at Khan Hall. I can only suspect it was out of jealously of the pure hearted Thorin. No evil could hope to aspire to such divinity. The evil doubleganger thus brought back an army of Gob-grins, evil fey dwarves from the Umber Reach, and disguised them as guards in Khan Hall. He captured our family at Torunn Hall.

Despite that this evil Thorin seemed to be in complete control of the situation, he only wanted one thing: To merge again with the real Thorin. Of course it would make such a demand. Now it was just a pale copy but it wanted the real thing. It seemed to suggest that itself was part of Thorin, left abandoned. But I found that hard to believe that any part of Thorin ever think of closing the Khan brewery or hurting his family. The evil Thorin gave us until the next morning to make our decision else he would kill our family.

For any it would be a hard choice, but not for Thorin. He knew that he would sacrifice himself in an instant to save just a single innocent life. And so we waited until the next day noon for the merger to take place. Thorin remained silent that evening. We slept in the brewery and Thorin separated himself from us. Maybe to pray to Dianecht or to think. I do not feel I boost when I say that the calm that came over Thorin was the same that Ragtarin the Resolute had just before the great battle with the great black dragon Varvumthor. Just as I only imagined Ragtarin knew that he would die slaying the great beast, so do I know that Thorin was resigned in his fate. But he did not waver for a second, for Thorin the Great has no fears, not even of death itself. Should the vile fiend tore his soul into oblivion, it would be a small price to pay of Thorin for his family. That is how I remember my brother.

When the sun hit noon, we gathered ahead of the main gates of Khan Hall. As promised the Gob-grins were packing everything up and getting ready to leave. Urzo was also already nowhere to be found. But the evil Thorin told us that if we dared interfere with the merger, he would send a message to execute our family.

Thorin stepped forward and looked up at the sky one last time. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and birds were chirping in the woods. Thorin smiled and looked back at us. He gave us a nod as if to reassure us that everything would be ok. And then he clasped to hand of the fiend.

There was a bright light and after there was only Thorin, the real Thorin, lying on the ground in front of Khan Hall unmoving. I rushed over but alas could not aid him. I cried out to my allies, but alas they could not aid him. I yelled at the sky and the gods, but alas they could not aid him.

There was nothing left to do but go to Torunn Hall in the hopes of freeing our – my family. Dhorin, our peddler brother seemed to have resolved his confusion and accompanied us. Nissa summoned her typical bats and we rode them over the Beinnhall Hills with great haste. When we arrived at Torunn Hall, we rushed in to see the elder. We had to navigate past a dutiful secretary before we were granted an audience with Firelde Torunn. However she claimed to have no knowledge of any dwarfs being imprisoned at Torunn Hall. So we used Nissa’s magic and her familiarity with my sister Lyn’s bracelet to track them to an abode within the Hall. Firelde accompanied us under the guise of helping us, but we know now that she had darker motives.

We knocked on the door, but they did not open. So I broke it down with my hammer. We were directly confronted with a dark priest who summoned a field of fiends to trap us. Before we knew what was going on, we were beset by hellhounds and chain snakes. Then everything went dark, our vision obscured by magical night. I struck out with my sword but could find little purchase. But then I felt chains wrapping around my arms and legs, trapping me in place. I could hear the battle cries of my allies but did not know where they were or what they were fighting. We seemed doomed to fail.

But I reached out to Lugh and summoned his might. And I could swear I felt my brother at my side again, encouraging me on and lending me his strength. My sword took on a glow that drove back the darkness and I swung it down at the fiend that had attacked us. The first blow released me for its grasp as the chains weakened. The second blow it cried out in pain. The third blow the darkness was dispelled and the creature fell over mangled and dead.

But then the truth was revealed, the chain devil was none other than Firelde herself! Her body had been warped and changed from fiendish power. It was the same as Urzo, half-devil and half-Dwarf. I have no idea how such a well-known paladin of light could be enticed to join these fiends. The fiend dropped another part of the Peacebringer, though I have no idea how she might have gotten it. This bring us up to four pieces with known whereabouts (I have three, and your father has another one). After we rescued the Khan family, we immediately went to inform one of the Torunn elders, Kilvar Torunn, about the fight and the discovery. They seemed unaware that Firelde had been corrupted and could offer no good explanation. It did seem to be another isolated incident. But this was the second Dwarf from the Torunn clan that had undergone this transformation. We therefore decided to search the office of the Torunn elder, now vacant, for sources of fiendish influence. There we discovered a book claiming to be about the History of Torunn Hall. But the more that I read it, the more I felt chills running down my spine as it seemed to be reaching out and pulling me in. We were able to identify a transportation spell that had been placed on the book. It seemed like whomever read it was transported to another place on Ourborros. As this seems to be the source of corruption, I am hesitant to try this out myself.

We travelled back to Khan Hall, the slow way this time. We freed professor Jake, a scholar from Aurion with an interest in Dwarven history. We allowed him to study the new piece of the Peacebringer, but he could reveal little new. The weapon was forged by two brothers, one Borum and the other whose name has been lost to history.

So that is the tragic tale of how Thorin the Great met his end. But do not worry. For we shall embark on an epic quest to revive my brother once more. The gods would not dare keep such a beloved dwarf from us. So we will ask the Fanghunters for aid, and if that fails journey to the Three Priests in the North and demand to see the high priest. I promise you this, Thorin will return once more to the land of the living.

Sincerely yours,

Faerin Khan

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