A Letter to the Followers of Gozreh in Falcon’s Hollow
In my journeys, I managed to find myself on an errand to find the paladin Godric, who set out with a party of explorers to investigate an ancient dwarven temple site near here. I set out cautiously alone to track the company down.
When I finally encountered the party within the temple, I found their situation dire. I caught a glimpse of a large tentacle lifting one of the explorers into the air, followed by a splash and many sounds of terror and struggle. As the rush of battle hit me, I lost my usual composure. Hoping that the water below was deep enough to keep me buoyant, I called on all that within nature that is chaotic, ran past an elf standing at the edge of the cliff and leapt over. What seemed to me at first to be a beautiful dive, flattened out as I fell, sending me flopping into the water with a thud. So much for my grand entrance!
After the kraken-like creatures were defeated, I was able to introduce myself to the battered and bruised company of Godric. (For more context, I refer you to the entry from the journal of Pint the Dwarf that precedes this letter. If we ever see the light of day again, the entire chronicle of this party will be made available to you.) I only impart this part of the story to you to let you see that the company initially thinks me half-crazed. Remember always that you only get one chance to make a first impression.
The record is a bit unclear as to how we first encountered these two peculiar figures within the temple. The first figure had its head and eyes stitched together, while the second was the disembodied head of a dwarf that had been fixed to a cage. Most of the party was wounded at this point. We needed rest and we needed information!
The elf Baywin tried to cut the mouth and eye slits of the first figure open. Perhaps we might then speak to this creature. Meanwhile, Pint the Dwarf was attempting to free the head from its cage. I had little to offer in this endeavor, so I took some rest. We found that an enchantment was placed on the head allowing us to speak with its former owner, a dwarf named Gimble. Unfortunately, we were not able to gain any significant information before the spirit of the dwarf was silenced. If the spirit of the dwarf held any secrets of this place, he was not sharing them. Pint secured the cage in his backpack with the head still attached, and we moved onward.
We passed though a hallway into a widening room ahead supported with rows of pillars. A headless body lay at the far end of the room still flapping as if still in its death throes. It was if some ritual of sacrifice had recently taken place here. With no immediate danger apparent, I took the opportunity to cure Godric and Pint, who were among the worst off. (Bertha was also badly hurt, but put on a brave face, saying that she was fine.) Just as I felt the flow of the power of Gozreh ebb, I noticed a creature of shadow emerge to the right hand of the headless body. The wizard Osric must have seen the wraith quickly, since he cast a spell of protection upon Pint, who promptly charged to the right of the wraith. Mira the half-orc charged to the aid of Pint, and she shuddered as she was touched by the wraith.
I followed into center of the room behind Bertha to protect her rear while keeping a wary eye on the battle with the wraith. Mira hit the wraith as Baywin set up to our right flank. Baywin had her timing thrown off waiting for Bertha and I to pass, and she let an arrow fly into her foot. Her second arrow rang true however, burning into the wraith after impact.
Bertha circled deftly behind the wraith with Godric close behind, and I took position behind Mira, as Osric cast and arrow of acid at the wraith. I saw Pint wince after a mighty thrust with his spear passed through the wraith, striking the wall beyond. Mira and Bertha both connected as did Baywin again with two more arrows. Mira reeled as she was rendered senseless by another touch from the wraith. I missed with my trident, but the wraith dissipated an instant later with Godric’s finishing blow.
After the encounter with the wraith, we gathered to assess our condition. Mira was in bad shape. It is a sad sight to see a half-orc muttering about being afraid of the dark, when the monsters come out. But good Godric slowly approached Mira, speaking soothing words as he gently took her hand. And so, by the power of his God, Godric restored Mira’s tortured mind.
Bertha took the initiative to remove the head of the dwarf from its cage and placed the head near the body at the far end of the room. The head and body fused together for a moment, and then turned to dust. I bowed my head in silent prayer for the blessing upon the dwarf and for blessing upon Bertha for her thoughtful act.
Bertha approached the pillars to examine some ancient script carved in relief upon them. With help from Osric, Bertha pieced together some of the history of this place. It turns out that some 500 years ago; this temple was taken over by a wizard that was described as “anti-life”. The wizard made this place the seat of his power as he practiced the dark arts of becoming a lich. As he grew in power, he assembled and army, slew the long ago king of this realm, and committed genocide against his people. Such vile crimes against nature must be avenged! This place must be cleansed of the evil that took hold here so long ago. It must not be allowed to stand to threaten the good people of Falon’s Hollow.
We continued on through the corridor that the wraith came from and entered a room with a statue of a priest at the center. I must confess that neither, I nor any of my companions recognized the figure. I struggled to see with most of the company in front of me. There were also alcoves positioned around the room with skeletons held back from us by metal gates. I thought it prudent to perform some healing before these skeletons were somehow released upon us.
Before I had much time to prepare, Bertha walked up to the door at the far end of the room and opened it. She seems to abhor inactivity. She sometimes seems to be running headlong and hell-bent in pursuit of her own death. I heard Pint mention something about being stuck, to which Baywin replied, “You stick to everything with your bathing habits”. I turned to see the expressions on their faces soften to a look of respect, or maybe even fondness. The tension was broken for only a fleeting instant however. When Bertha opened the door we were greeted by two more shadowy forms. One hit Bertha immediately, sapping her strength, while the other found Pint isolated near the center of the room, and hit him from behind. Pint fought back desperately without an effective weapon against such a foe.
The rest of us finally entered the fray. I channeled the power of Gozreh against the shadows, while Osric cast a fireball that burst upon the shadows, Pint and Bertha. Mira wheeled clockwise around the statue of the priest to gain the flank of the shadow attacking Pint, but missed with the first sweep of her axe. I then saw two arrows streak by and burn into the shadow that Bertha was facing. It was now noticeably fading.
Bertha and Mira were both hit again. Bertha finished off the shadow facing her, and I tried to gain a position behind the other only to witness its end from another mighty swing from the half-orc’s axe.
By this point we were all physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. Here is where I believe I found my place in this company. Bertha wished to press on, always the ambitious one. Baywin and I were the most adamant that we needed time to rest and recover before moving on. I felt a kindred spirit in the elf. Baywin was a welcome voice of caution. I feared that pressing on, we might all perish, and the evil here would be left to fester. The problem was to find a defensible position as Pint pointed out.
By making our camp back at the room with the water at our back, we hoped to defend one direction. Sentries were posted and we tried to get some rest. Underground and no longer aware of the passage of day or night, we were woken by wave upon wave of zombies until we were mercifully allowed to rest. We have all narrowly escaped death, but it is a new day. We stand together, with renewed strength, and steadfast dedication to the task at hand.