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Faerin's Thirtieth letter

To my friends in Raven,

Though it has only been a few weeks, so much has happened that I must tell you.

As I spoke of in my last letter, we journeyed to Matt Sadom in the hopes of entering the Vault of Creation. Thus we hoped to find a cure for the Tree of Death growing in Woodsong by retracing your steps when you made a similar journey .

Before we left, we gathered as much information on the Vault from the Arcarost library. We learned that an access point is located on the 31st floor of the main tower of Matt Sadom. Also that a Keeper guarded the Vault and that he has the only means of escaping the vault. It told of the great difficulty of escaping the Vault, but I had faith that my party would manage it. We then traveled to Matt Sadom and soon discovered that to access the vault, we needed the permission of Amelut Nebarum. We have a complicated history with the demi-lich Amelut, however Fierna was able to convince him to grant us access. Fierna just has a way with people, as you are aware.

We entered a normal looking door on the 31st floor, which led to a series of dusty old rooms. Unbeknownst to us, we had already entered the Vault of Creation and were now on another plane. The objects in the room were ancient looking and covered in tarps. It was an amalgam of misplaced furniture and antiques. The only thing that immediately caught our attention was a chest that spoke to us. The chest, or whatever it contained, implored us to release it but we refused. We searched around and found a golden book with two trees on the cover. We opened it and discovered it was written in Celestial. It spoke of a Tree of Life and a Tree of Death located within the Grand Garden of the Vault of Creation. Their fruits were said to contain great power, but were each other's opposite. They were placed in the Vault as they cannot grow on Mount Celestia.

As we continued our study of the book, we were interrupted by an undead creature, who claimed to be a groundskeeper of sorts. He said that we were not supposed to be there. We explained that we came from outside, and the creature agreed to escort us to the Keeper of the Vault. He took us outside to a large boulevard. We saw that we left a grand tower of which there were many along the boulevard. All around zombies and other undead seemed to patrol the streets. The groundskeeper rang a bell and a carriage drawn by undead horses appeared. The carriage took us to a grand temple that was all but deserted. At the center was a throne with the Lord Protector, the undead Keeper of the Vault of Creation. He told us that we were not allowed to leave anymore, but that we were free to roam the Vault. He did himself have a key to allow creatures to leave, but would not give it to us willingly. We confirmed that the Keeper was indeed the original Thief from which Miri was descended, and that his entire family line was now cursed to protect the Vault. The Keeper then allowed us access to the Inner Sanctum where the Grand Garden and the Trees were located. But he reiterated that we were not allowed to take anything, and that we were not allowed to enter the crypt.

So we entered the Grand Garden, which was quite a sight to behold. Crafted by a master gardener with hedges and plants lining sweeping paths to a center area. In this center area stood two grand trees, one white and one black. Between the trees stood a structure with a dark stairs, which we suspected to be the crypt. We plucked some silver fruit from the white tree. And after consuming them; we felt younger than we had ever been. Furthermore Nissa changed back to her Gnome form! We took some extra fruit to cure Woodsong and made it into juice.

The only thing that remained was our escape. We did not want a direct confrontation with the Keeper, so we tasked Cedric with stealing his key. No sooner had we spoken the words, and Cedric was gone from view. We waited near the Trees, resisting any temptation to explore the crypts. As we were about to give up, Cedric returned with the key in hand. So we used magic to shift us out of the dimension and found ourselves back in the tower of Matt Sadom. However as we left, we heard the ominous bells of Matt Sadom. Our escape had not gone unnoticed and we had taken too much.

But we returned with speed to Woodsong, and cured both the square and the villagers with the fruits that we had extracted. We even had a handful left, but vowed to get rid of them as soon as possible. We saw the devastation of a Tree of Death and supposed that any Tree of Life may have similar effects. After all they keep each other in balance.

We brought the populace back to Woodsong. Meanwhile, Fierna traveled to Aurion and offered one of our last fruits to the dying Magelord. Similar to us, he immediately regained several years and was cured of bed-ridden fate for now. He was grateful and vowed to plead on our behalf with Flagos to stall the incoming Obligation army.

As we cleaned up Woodsong, Naeris appeared once more and demanded the return of the stolen items. We offered him all of the fruit we had left, but he did not wish it. He wanted us to return the Ring of Dedevra. We said that we did not know what he was talking about. However Cedric immediately took of running. We chased down Cedric and after a long chase, trapped him with magic. But rather than returning the ring, Cedric released the demon within. The demon promptly vanished. The ring was now inert and Naeris went back to the Vault, his mission a failure.

The next day, we had a long discussion with our friend Cedric. He was clearly not on the right path, and we were very worried for him and his eternal soul. So I had a long talk, and told him that he could stay in our group if he promised to better himself in the future. Cedric agreed, and before Lugh, took a vow to try to do better. As the light of the ceremony washed over us, I could sense that some of the evil injected by Dedevra had lost its hold on Cedric.

We then checked back in on the incoming army using the mechanism in Arcarost. We could see that they were making good progress, but that it would likely still be months before they reached the valley. And that is not accounting for any delays that they would encounter near the Jewels. So we made the bold decision to start our journey to Am’ Saor. Two plagues promised by Pax still remained, but we had hopes that we would be contacted using our sending stones if they would occur. We knew that our long-term survival hinged on defeating Pax, and that a new godslaying arrow would be our best hope. To make such an arrow, we would need a scale from the legendary destroyer of worlds who had been defeated at Am’ Saor. So we left instruction with the Arcarost Community Defense Council and set out towards the Deep Gate in Mason's Hall.

The Deep Gate was a large Golden Gate flanked by large statues of Dwarfs. It was guarded by a handful of Mountain Dwarf guards, who only with great reluctance traveled from the central elevator to the gate itself. When we approached the Gate, one of the great status came to life. It told us that it was bound by ancient decree not to let anyone pass. Sevento tried to cast a spell, however it was immediately counter spelled by something among us. Apparently the demon that Cedric had released, had not left his side. Seeing the demon that had corrupted our friend, we immediately attacked it. Though it was too powerful to defeat, we did manage to send it back to Hell.

We then tried to sneak past the giant Dwarf statue. However we were unsuccessful and it attacked us. We did not wish to leave the Deep Gate unguarded, so merely temporarily banished the statue. We then sped through before it returned and told the Mountain Dwarf guards to close the gate behind us.

Behind the Deep Gate was a large network of tunnels. Supposedly these tunnels crossed into a realm called the Deep Dark. The atmosphere was surprisingly warm and the sound of water could be heard echoing through the long winding corridors. We were now tracing the footsteps that my ancestors had once made when coming to this world. We saw fragments of Dwarven Masonry all around us now faded to time. As we progressed further, we saw cracks in the walls that radiated heat. Finally we came upon magma flows that crisscrossed the tunnels. We continued in gaseous form, only stopping to rest in Sevento's impenetrable dome. At night, we witnessed monsters stalking the caves.

At one point we came up a grand cave filled with old bones. Between the bones slept creatures with great hooks as hands. Cedric took the opportunity to scavenge and returned with a handful of gems and an old map. The map showed the tunnel network and in the top right corner something called 'Tzakarach' was marked. I sent a message to Ruby asking about the term, and she could tell us that it was an old Dwarven Legend about a 'mother'. This seemed a good lead as any for a lost Dwarven colony so we followed the tunnels to this Tzakarach. We had to pass among other things, a grand chasm with tentacles. But we were unhindered in our gaseous form.

Finally we came upon a set of Dwarfs mining. However they seemed odd. Their skin was pale and their hair was dark. They all worked in perfect unison. Fierna told us that these Dwarfs had no individual thoughts. We though them very strange indeed and continued. We saw plenty more similar bands of Dwarfs. Always in group, always in the same clothes and with very similar appearances. Then we came upon a big cavern with a lake. At the center of the lake was a Dwarven city with a stepped pyramid. The pyramid was not of Dwarven make and contrasted strongly with its surroundings. The city was filled with Dwarfs, but they all looked the same. None were children, none were particularly old. We camped and approached the city the next day.

We immediately headed towards the strange pyramid and snuck in through the top. The rooms were covered in runes detailing prayers to 'Mother'. As we journeyed deeper into the pyramid, we found ourselves in a room covered in roots and vines. After some magical exploration, we discovered that there were twelve mummified Dwarfs being held and fed by the pyramid. We did not wish to disturb the ominous place and left the pyramid. We went back out and talked to the guards that were patrolling the area. They did not speak but did eventually escort us to their 'leaders'. They took us into the pyramid and into a strange circular chamber with a moss-covered ceiling. They simply left us there and soon thereafter an old Dwarven woman came to us. She introduced herself as Ethel and we surmised that she was one of the ancient Dwarfs that we had found covered in vines before. Ethel told us the history of the place that we were in. The pyramid was a Celestial Giant Roper called Tzakarach that made the journey along with the Dwarfs from Am’ Saor. Am’ Saor was all but destroyed after a large conflict between the Gods and the giant snake Ourborros. Its heavens caught fire and the land sank away. The Dwarfs escaped Am’ Saor through a gate forged by their gods and entered the elemental Plane of Earth. They wandered there for many generations seeking a new home. The Plane of Earth was very dangerous and many Dwarfs died during the trek. After a long time, the crown prince found an ancient armor. The armor bestowed knowledge on the crown prince to lead the Dwarven people to a new world. And so they finally found a gate to Ourborros. They entered the Deep Dark and ended up in the cavern where we now stood. While most Dwarfs wished to return to the surface, thirteen Dwarfs remained behind including the crown prince as they felt themselves too old to survive the journey. They entered a pact with Tzakarach who sustained their lives until this day. It generated empty copies to populate the city around them and built up a symbiotic community. The crown prince died and was buried in a crypt nearby along with the armor and his crown. Ethel agreed to tell us the location of the crypt and the crown and grant us access to the planar gate, if we promised to send five old Dwarfs to join their community. We realized that they had no ill-intentions and simply wanted their community to survive so we agreed to their terms.

Ethel gave us directions to the crypt of the crown prince but warned us that it was guarded by an evil creature. They had had many skirmishes with the creature and its minions of Grimlocks and Formians. So we traveled to the crypt and found that it had a strong magical aura which mixed Divination and Transmutation. We soon found three Formians and convinced them to take us to their leader. We were led through the corridors of the crypt, almost too small for the giants that patrolled it. We were brought into the central chamber, where their leader floated above a throne positioned on top of the tomb of the Dwarven Crown Prince. The leader was a giant eyeball with various stalks with even more eyes. It reminded me of the undead creature we once fought in the tombs near Woodsong and that one managed to kill my brother, the great impenetrable Thorin! So we knew to be extra careful.

We claimed to be pilgrims seeking the tomb of our ancestor. We asked if we simply could gaze upon the visage of the Crown Prince and the creature seemed to entertain the idea. However it was deadly afraid of assassins. Thus it wanted a trade in return and asked us what we could offer. The creature wanted no gold and the magical items that we offered could not satisfy it. However as we discussed, Cedric got into position. Seeing that this was leading nowhere and wishing to rid my fellow Dwarfs of this nuisance, we jumped to attack. Nissa immediately set up a wall of thrones that separated us from the Formian guards. We spread out, trying to keep out of range of the powers of the Beholder so that our magic would work. The beholder immediately went on the offensive and turned Nissa into stone. The walls themselves then sprouted hands and attacked us. It was a tough battle but luckily Fierna seemed to have an almost supernatural tendency to resist all of the creatures effects. With thunderous magic she brought the creature down low. Eventually it tried to flee, but we finished it off.

We then only had to wait a minute for all of the effects and spells to wear off on us. I instructed everyone to stay still. Cedric interpreted this as do not touch the sarcophagus, so he started looting the gold nearby. The gold promptly exploded. Luckily we had recovered sufficiently from our confrontation that the explosion was not lethal. Cedric has improved since the Dedevra incident, but it seems like he still has some ways to go.

After our rest, we opened the sarcophagus. Inside was the crown prince, who awoke as undead. We tried to reason with him, but he attacked us on sight. It was clear that the crown prince was no longer in control of his own body, but had been possessed by something else. He brought down great fire upon us and smote us with his sword. This hurt us a lot. But we were able to drive him back and with one fell swoop he turned to ash. He left only his crown, his sword and his armor. We took another rest and tried to figure out what the items were. The armor was clearly cursed. It had been forged by a great king on Am’ Saor but the armor had trapped the king's soul. Whomever wore the armor would gain the knowledge that the king possessed. However the soul of the king would slowly take over the wearer. Should they die, their body would be returned as a death knight. The armor could only be destroyed on Am Saor where it had been forged.

We returned to Tzakarach with the crown and the other items. We were now allowed passage to the Elemental Plane of Earth. Before we left, we asked a description of the gate to Am’ Saor and an item that was associated with it. Luckily they still had a chisel that was once used to craft the gate, and with more luck we would be able to use it to find the gate. With chisel in hand, we descended through an opening that Tzakarach made for us by moving. We descended down a long staircase and chills came over us. We had entered the elemental Plane of Earth.

We entered long rock tunnels that seemed somehow alive, shifting and sanding. Though we could not see it happen, over aeons these tunnels must change and move. As we progressed the tunnels dried out and the soil became sandy. Before long we emerged in a giant cavern, one where we could not see the ceiling nor the opposite side. It was covered in sand, as if a grand yellow sea. Right before us stood an obelisk and to the side we noted the remains of a camp. A small sphinx-like person hid among the rocks and tried to warn us to be quiet.

No sooner did we approach the camp when we were beset upon by strange rock creatures. These creatures seemed to animate the rocks around us and we were soon surrounded by enemies. However we quickly beat them back and the rock creatures fled. The Sphinx person was impressed and introduced herself as Safka. She explained that she was from the City of Sand, where a great Dao Pharaoh ruled. She offered to escort us to the city in return for our aid in her hunt. She wished to take down a sandworm, a great predator of the sea of sand. We agreed, and so she summoned a sandskiff using the obelisk that stood nearby.

We ventured forth with the sandskiff, deep into the sands. We saw one of the great beasts and headed in closer. The great worm was probably larger than our sandskiff and we used all of our magics to restrain it. Once it could no longer move, we shot a harpoon, piercing its tough hide and attaching it to our skiff. The worm was now dead, so we dragged it all the way to the City of Sand.

We were paid for the sandworm corpse with a mix of small ivory chips, the local currency. Gold was apparently common and worthless while bones were rare. The sandworm corpse was very valuable and the traders were impressed with our feat. We were even offered a job to become permanent hunters in the city if we so wished; but we had more pressing matters. We journeyed into the city and found inn to stay the night. The food there was meaty, probably carved almost straight from the worm we had brought in ourselves, and the beer was thick and fragrant. The local beverage gave me some great ideas on some Stoutrock variants.

The next day we went to the market in the hopes of finding the location of the gate to Am’ Saor. We bought some maps, but they showed no other settlements. We did learn more about the Pharaoh’s challenge. Apparently the Pharaoh would grant a wish to anyone who could overcome three trials. Only if you lost, you became a slave to the Pharaoh. Though many had tried, none had gotten past the second trial. As the Pharaoh was a powerful Dao, it had the ability to grant grand wishes. We did use our magic to try to find the gate ,but this only told us that it was more than 4000 miles away. Far further than we could travel, especially given that we were in a hurry to return to Woodsong. So having no other options, we decided to take part in the Pharaoh's challenge, at the risk of our very freedom.

So we traveled to the palace in the City of Sand. As we approached, trumpets suddenly sounded and the jade gates opened. We were greeted by silent slaves throwing flower petals at our feet. We continued on to a second set of gate, this time in gold. We were then greeted by a second set of slaves carrying wine. We were led through corridors covered with silk carpets and gems. Finally we were walked through a set of adamantium gates where we found the throne room of the pharaoh. On the throne sat the Dao, and the strange thing was that she knew us. She even had a set of custom chairs brought out for us, engraved for each individual. The Dao recognized us as she followed the happenings of Ourborros through her magic and she had noticed our deeds. She enjoyed watching us and was excited to be meeting us. For that, she gave us some free information. The gate we sought was protected by powerful magic, to keep anything in Am’ Saor from escaping. Legends spoke of a great crystal city nearby inhabited by crystal creatures. She told us that she could teleport us there with a Wish, but for that we needed to complete her challenge. So Nissa, Cedric and Sevento agreed to the trials. They claimed to be the most expendable, though I disagreed. But if it was a battle of wits, these were the three with highest chance of success.

So the trials started. The first was a map puzzle, which all three solved easily. The second was a riddle with chests, which required serious thought but soon the solution was found. The third was a conundrum with black and with hats. This required serious discussion among the three of them, but just before the deadline passed, they found the right solution. Thus we were granted a wish. We asked some time for the exact wording, and surprisingly Cedric asked for a celebration our honor. This was unusual as Cedric prefers to keep a low profile. But during party Cedric regaled the attendees with stories from our grandest adventures. Perhaps my good influence is rubbing off on him.

After the celebration, we set our wish. If Nissa, Cedric and Sevento said a word at the same time, our entire party should be teleported to the crystal city. The word chosen was 'Hornswaggle'. The irony is that because of how the wish was worded, its effect would not wear off after one cast. The next day, the word was spoken and we all teleported to a city 4000 miles away. We found ourselves surrounded by crystal pillars. When we spoke to them, the colors within the stones seemed to swirl in response. It was only when Fierna spoke in Primordial that one of the pillars changed into a crystal creature. It asked us to leave, but pointed us in the direction of the gate. We then walked for a few hours among crystal pillars and shards. Until we came to a point in a dark cave where the shadows seemed to encircle us. We felt their hunger. First there was darkness, then there was light, and then shadow creepers emerged. These were beings from the Umber Reach which had been stranded here and they seemed to live on the light that the crystals emitted. But it hurt the pillars, so we drove the creepers back. The crystals thanked us and spoke of the gate and of Am Saor.

A short distance away we found the gate to Am’ Saor, but there was a small goblin chipping away at it. The goblin first ran, but we caught up. It was clear that something was wrong with the goblin's mind. It did not remember who it was or what it was doing there. When we tried to remove a spell that had been cast upon the goblin, it disappeared.

We searched around and found a small house. It was inhabited by a father and his three sons. However the father was very old and no longer spoke. The sons told us that they had come from Am’ Saor long ago and now lived there. They had known of the goblin, but did not know what to make of it. We asked about the gate and they weren't sure if they could open it to the place we wanted to go. Thorin and Nissa had a closer look at the father and noticed a necromancy spell active on him. So we attempted to cure it, hoping to remove the father of his mysterious illness. Instead the sons dropped to the ground and the father awoke with great anger.

The father had apparently been sharing his consciousness with his sons. When we tried to cure him, we removed the spell and undid all of his work. The father introduced himself as the old god of time of Am’ Saor. He had escaped when the world ended and now stayed near the gate to guard it. He had created his sons to procreate himself. We apologized about what we did, but the god of time remained disgruntled. However he did agree to open the gate for us so that we could go to Am’ Saor. He even asked if we wanted to go to the past, present or future. We chose the present and stepped through the gate.

We arrived in a jungle, near the ruins of an ancient temple. The sky was dark. A strong sense of foreboding feel over us. We had arrived on Am’ Saor, a destroyed world. The ruins were clearly Dwarven and featured an ancient temple with signs and runes to gods long forgotten. We tried our sending stones but they no longer worked. After some searching, we found an ancient golden anvil. The first thing we did was destroy the king's armor, so that no one else could be cursed. We took it apart with smiting tools and then buried the fragments.

In the distance, we saw a tower of light so we headed towards it. We came upon a town next to a large tower and an abyss. There were numerous airships docking at the ports across the abyss. It was clear that people had survived the destruction of Am’ Saor and that a community had been formed. As we approached the town, we saw many of them were humans with only a few Tieflings scattered about. We stopped a farmer on the road and he was very confused at the sight of us. It was clear that he did not like Dwarfs and that he worshiped no gods as they had all died. He did direct us to the sheriff of the city, who seemed to be the unofficial leader. We entered the city proper and found The Half Sail Inn. The bartender was friendly enough, but seemed suspicious of our Dwarven nature. Apparently there was still much resentment that the Dwarfs had escaped Am’ Saor and had left these humans behind. He did tell us about the Bravers, scavengers who searched the remains of Am’ Saor for treasure in airships. Most worryingly the inn had no beer! This world was clearly doomed.

We found a library and tried to find more of the history, but it only confirmed what we already knew. the Dwarfs had left through a gate upon instructions from the god of the Dwarfs and had kept the humans away. The Dwarfs were travelling the planes while Ourborros was being finished, arriving only after it was long complete. The gate had now been sealed to contain the evils that resided here, and it could only be opened by a god.

Then we saw the sheriff who seemed more friendly towards the Dwarfs. Indeed he was the most informed individual that we had encountered yet. He was able to tell us that the scales of Ourborros could be found on Godfall Island. But the Island moved and we would need the help of a Braver airship to find it. However Godfall Island was very dangerous and most Bravers stayed away. He did suggest we go to Cindertor, the great tower near the city, and talk to the Archmage there.

So next stop was Cindertor, where we met Efram Cinder. The Archmage was a young human who opens his own front door. He was friendly and explained how his tower was used to guide Bravers back to the city. When he heard that we were planning to leave Am’ Saor, he wished to aid and join us. Sevento seemed to like him, so we agreed to his proposal. However Cedric made me promise not to bring anyone back to Ourborros, so we could only take him so far as the plane of earth. Efram explained that the scales we sought had grown into Scale Lords, powerful agents of destruction. The gate could be opened with the crystal from a dead god, which we could also find on Godfall island. He then gave us 3000 gold to recruit an airship to bring us.

So we headed to the harbor and managed to recruit a captain named Zayna Val and the airship Valkyrie. We managed to convince her with a substantial sum of gold to just get us as close as possible to Godfall Island as they did not want to risk venturing above the Island itself. When we returned to the inn to collect our belongings, we were greeted with a strange sight. Hundreds of white-cloaked individuals had packed themselves in the common room. And they were very excited to see us.

It turns out that the white robed individuals were a group of people who had waited for the Dwarfs to come back and rescue them from Am’ Saor. They had heard of our arrival and wished to be taken away. They asked for my and Thorin's blessings, so I blessed them in the name of Lugh. We taught them the basics of how to brew beer, and explained that not all gods were dead. We said that we had indeed come from another world, but that the path to it was not clear. I did not want to squash all their hope, so I told them that perhaps there would be a day when they could leave. I told them that we were on a quest to Godfall Island and that they would have to wait more. Seeing these people suffer through this devastated world really plucked at my heart strings. I really wished that I could whisk them all away to safety. But we did not have the power to get them through the Elemental Plane safely. Furthermore we had another mission to focus on.

We were joined by Efram Cinder and boarded the Valkyrie. The airship lit up a series of magical runes and away we went. The crew was noticeably tense during the journey and the great ballistae mounted to the sides were manned around the clock. We were travelling through the void and there were monsters out here greater than anything on Ourborros.

After a day's travel, we encounter a set of air elementals. They spoke in gales and torrents, and demanded that we leave their territory. We tried to reason with them, but they had no patience and attacked the air ship. We fought back the air elementals after they brutally slaughtered my summoned griffon and even turned one into a rabbit. But then they a great storm appeared. Everything went misty and the wind rocked the airship side-to-side. A strong gale knocked half of us of the ship and we started to fall into the void. Luckily Nissa was able to turn into an air elemental and catch us. Then we saw a serpentine figure in the storm that was the cause of all the mayhem. It rushed forward and tore through ship and crew alike. We tied ourselves to masts with ropes to stop the creature from pushing us off, but then it just wrecked the air ship. The runes died and the ship cracked. Sevento and I used our magic to try to keep the ship together, but we started losing altitude fast. The tempest was relentless and kept harassing us as the ship went down. So with only hope and Lugh at my back, I jumped from the ship unto the tempest and channeled all my remaining magic into the creature. This was just enough to slay the beast.

The battle over, we evacuated the crew to Godfall Island. It was a wasteland. Nothing seemed to grow there and the earth itself was cracked and jagged. We fled to the safety of Sevento's magic house and kept the crew safe for a day until we could teleport them back. The next day, we set out to find the God Gem and the Ourborros Scale. We witnessed giant titans of magma consuming the ship, and managed to avoid being detect. Next we searched for several days, but found no trace of a Scale Lord. So we hatched a plan.

Thorin consecrated a piece of Godfall Island and then we retreated to the safety of the magic mansion. This consecration was enough to attract a Scale Lord. However it was invisible. But Fierna and Sevento had magical means of spotting the creature, so we got ready to spring our trap. We all jumped at it and tried to hit it. But it kept teleporting around and going after the weaker casters. It even tried to eat my brother! But the beast eventually succumbed to our blows. As one last act of vengeance, it exploded. We all came out quite singed, but alive.

We then headed towards the keep where a soul gem of a god was being kept. We were surprised to find a village of humans. Although there were only a dozen, their village seemed to be capable to hold many more. The villagers turned out to be celestial guardians tasked with keeping the gem safe, so that no denizens of Am’ Saor could escape. They were followers of the old god of the sky, Tarsym. The guardians did not wish for us to take their gem that they had guarded for thousands of years. We understood their plight and were impressed by their dedication to their god. We did not wish to harm these creatures, even though our objectives clashed. We asked if they could hear our story, lest it may convince them to give us the gem. They agreed if they could first check to see if we are who we say we are. I told them that we would keep no secrets from them. So they had a closer look and discovered that Efram Cinder was some kind of fiend!

Immediately a battle broke out between the guardians and Efram, but we put a stop to it. I had suspected Efram for the past few days, but so far he had not harmed us. On the contrary, he seemed helpful with good intentions. We did not wish to harm Efram either, so we convinced him to leave so that we could talk to the guardians alone. We settled in for the evening and told our tale, starting all the way in Woodsong up to the betrayal of Pax. The guardians agreed that our cause was a noble one. Their numbers were dwindling, so they agreed to let us use their gem to escape. They would take on a new task of protecting the gate. I humbly thanked them for their sacrifice and asked them for the names of their fallen. Such noble creatures should not be forgotten to time, but should be remembered as shining examples of detection to service and good.

We thus returned to the gate with gem in hand. However we were surprised to see that the Dwarf cult had taken up residence near the gate. I was very torn at this point. I wished I could allow these humans to escape, but feared that the fate that awaited them on the other side of the gate was far worse than what they had in Am Saor. So we made the hard call to chase them away with Efram's help. It was not an easy decision, and likely this means that these people will never be able to escape Am Saor. I wish we could have done things differently, but saw little other choice.

We opened the gate, consuming the god gem in the process and stepped through. Once we got to the other side, Efram did not follow us. Sevento stepped through last, and directed the God of Time to immediately close the gate. The God of Time complied and the gate was shut, probably forever now that the last gem has been used. I did not ask what had happened to Efram. I know he and Sevento did not see eye-to-eye after Efram had cast several charm spells on him, and several others in the party had strong misgivings on letting the fiend out. Though I regretted not being able to fully hold up my promise to him, it may have been for the best.

We used our magic to escape the plane of earth and returned to Woodsong. This is where we are now. We should have the means in hand to raise up a powerful army of Dwarfs to take on the Obligation and a weapon that can defeat Pax. Though we still live in fear for two other plagues that had been promised to us. I still hope we will be able to solve this with little bloodshed, but with every day that hope becomes more and more distant.

Your friend,

Faerin Khan

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