This letter is bound for Alain Marsters, late of the Sebohin monastery, and would be of dubious utility to any other should it be intercepted. I seal this in the name of Andrikos, may his light shine upon those who carry it to its’ intended destination.
It’s been only a few days since we parted company, but so much has happened that I barely know where to begin.
We traveled north, attempting to reach Girithin, but we encountered more and more hobgoblins from the Red Hand ‘tribe’. (I’m not actually sure if they call themselves tribes, clans, or soemthing else, but it turns out this is important!)
As we attempted to take a deeper path into the forests to evade their notice, we chanced upon a group of gnomes assembling some fantastically complex machinery in a large clearing. It turned out that ‘Nicole’, who you may recall joined us while we were in Dimlain, seemed to know one of them! They asked us to keep out of the way while they conducted an experiment, and to defend them should we be attacked by the hobgoblins.
As it turned out, we were indeed discovered, but by a different ‘tribe’ of goblins – this batch wore tunics and armor with a different design – an axe upon a shield that had been divided between black and white. To my surprise, as we gained the upper hand in the short battle that followed, their leader surrendered rather than shed blood needlessly, and we spoke for a time. He was pledged to the Hobgoblin general Morthok we had heard about when we met with the Council of Seven.
As we parleyed, the gnomes began their experiment, and that’s when everything got strange, even by recent standards.
Their machinery began to cause strange and intense Earthquakes – much like the ones we felt not long before we encountered the dire wolves, back when this all began. As the Earthquakes intensified, a began to appear in the forest clearing! From what I was told later, the city belongs to the Eladrin, and the gnomes were attempting to bring it back from the Feywild by their science and magic. Unfortunately, they didn’t get it quite right…as the gnomes worked, a sudden rip in the sky appeared, and through it came a creature that I cannot truly describe. My eyes seemed to almost slide off of it as I tried to discern details. We’d later learn that it was a creation of Primordial natures called a ‘Mursaat’.
We attempted to battle it back, but I regret to say that many of the gnomes and our temporary hobgoblin allies fell before it could be stopped. However, by luck or fate, many of the Eladrin who the gnomes had attempted to rescue were able to remain in our plane, along with a great deal of the city.
After taking some council with the Eladrin, they gave us some fresh provisions and magical gifts, and we traveled on to the North.
Unfortunately, as we neared Girithin, we found the small obstacle of the main Goblin army besieging the city. Even worse, we felt another earthquake (apparently the gnomes have been performing quite a few ‘experiments’ in an attempt to re-open our world to magic and the Gods), and another Mursaat appeared!
After a battle where many goblins were slain, and ‘Nicole’ stricken by a strange affliction by the Mursaat, we were captured and escorted to the heart of the camp. There we met with Go’ren and Nog’ri, the massive Bugbear and the goblin sorceror we encountered at the monastery. It seems they are sworn servants of General Morthok.
To my surprise, we were ushered into dinner with the general, where we discussed the Mursaat, our attempts to reach our friends, and some discussion (very carefully) around what the Goblin army was attempting to do. I found the general a surprisingly honorable man. The forces dedicated to him (as opposed to the red-handed ones, of whom I will speak more shortly) clearly fight with an aspect of being a professional, disciplined army. No wanton killing or pointless destruction – were he not involved in besieging our friends, I’d actually say that he seemed quite admirable.
His second in command, however, is less so. A goblin mystic named Hakjor, he leads the red handed goblins, and seems…well, you’ll complain about me making snap judgements again, but there seems to be almost a palpable sense of evil coming from him. He was apparently the one who told his minions to burn the monastery, where Go’ren and Nog’ri sought to simply steal the orb. He also seems to be sending more and more of his forces south towards Dimlain, and I fear his ambitions do not stop there.
I fear that the Council’s request that we break the siege by stopping the army’s commanders is a dangerous one – if Hakjor claimed full command of that massive army, he would be a true terror. As it was, we could not proceed to Girithin, and it did not seem safe to travel back to Dimlain, so we accepted the General’s offer of shelter until Nicole recovered, and to release us at the Western edge of the encampment, so we could travel on from there.
We made some safe travel away, though we were eventually beset by attackers sent by Hakjor in an attempt to kill us. As we traveled, we originally considered returning to the Eladrin city, but we were favored with another path.
We were guided in another direction by means that you simply would not believe should I tell you. Once we traveled for a few days, we found what I can only describe as a truly ancient temple which appeared out of nothingness as the dawn broke through the skies.
As we explored it, we became aware that strange creatures – elves, but not elves, men, but not men, wolves, but not wolves, had inhabited it. We attempted to meet them in peace, but we were forced to battle. It was a near thing, but we prevailed, and after a brief rest we explored deeper into the temple.
To my great shock, we battled even stranger creatures as we approached the temple’s heart. Beings of wind, rock, and burning stone attempted to drive us out. Warriors made of ice and flame nearly slew us all, until Mikhail was able to rally our band to drive them off. And finally, in the lowest chambers of the dungeon…a dragon!
It was massive – scales that were the colors of fresh grass, heavy leaves, and old copper encased its’ bulk. We were nearly spent, but we knew that we had to defeat the dragon if we had any chance at all of surviving the day.
It was a long, difficult battle, but by skill, luck, and Andrikos’ protection, we managed to finally slay the dragon, and claim his hoard before we made our way to safety as quickly as possible!
I seem to have forgotten to mention that we heard sounds of battle from another part of the temple even as we made our escape – it would seem that Hakjor had sent another party to attempt to murder us and seize the temple! Fortunately, they were slowed by more of the strange defenders we had already battled through, and could not reach us before we were able to make our escape.
Going through the treasures we recovered, It turned out there was a reason we had been guided to this temple – within the dragon’s lair was another orb, much like the one stolen from Hannah’s monastery. I intend to protect it until we can find someone who can tell us what it is, and why Hakjor is trying so hard to gather them to himself.
These are truly strange times – I still can’t believe that I saw a dragon, much less tested myself in battle against it!
I hope that someday soon I will be able to come to the monastery that you and Hannah are working to restore. It seemed like it was a very pleasant place, before the battle. I think I would enjoy spending some time there in peace!
I pray that all the gods watch over you, and that this letter finds both you and Hannah well.
(P.S. – I’ve been given what I can only call a staggering amount of gold from the Dragon’s hoard. I really have no good use for it, so I’m putting it away in a sealed bag until I see you next – I would think it should make rebuilding the monastery a great deal easier!)