I fear I must report on the most dire of circumstances.
Our supplies of Khan’s finest Stoutrock Ale have run dry. We have been unable to sample the poignant flavors nor experience the viscous texture of real Dwarven Ale for almost two days now. Both me and my brother have been under the weather since the supply finished. Thorin in particular has been experiencing bouts of extreme paleness. However this may also be partially caused by an ancient rune we encountered. Your sons have therefore been forced to travel and battle without the sweet poignant flavor of our delicious ale. We had prepared ourselves for this occurrence, but did not foresee how this would test our will.
When we set out of Woodsong almost one week ago, we only had the smallest ale cask left in our possession. We were sent to the south in the direction of Kramer’s Crossing by the Tower Guard to investigate a band of strange individuals. Given our low Ale supplies, we knew it to be a risk. But recent incidents concerning necromancy and the danger looming from the Arcarost Vault, meant we had no choice but to take the chance. We did buy a stronger draft horse, which Thorin has named Fluffy, to pull our cart to make the journey quicker. But our speed of travel still did not match our ale consumption.
Our band still consisted of Miri, the inquisitive ranger, Nissa, the cheerful druid and Fierna, the mysterious spellcaster. We first travelled towards the Gate Tower, keeping our spirits high with those travel songs that Aunt Karyn taught us. These included such classics as The Dwarven Lass and The Diamond Axe, Fourteen Golden Nugets, Uphill & Underhill and The Lame Donkey of Sylva. We then camped at the Gate Tower that first evening, joined by two Tower Guard that were posted there. It was a merry evening with beer and gaming, despite the restraint of the Tower Guard to really join in either.
The next day, we set out and encountered the group we were sent to investigate. They turned out to be a band of wandering missionaries that are travelling from place to place and spreading the word of their beliefs. They call themselves ’The Obligation of Good Will’ and they worship a pantheon, which apparently means several gods. How they can divide their faith across so many, I still have no idea, but they are good people. Their creed is “Peace above all”, and they refrain from picking up weapons. They only use divine will to defend themselves in the form of their spells. Their leader is Father Porthas, a cleric from Darovius. They came to our lands from the Jewels of Mathonwy, where they were outcast as heretics.
However not all in the camp are missionaries who call themselves ‘Obligators’. Many more are the families of these Obligators that have come along. Most peculiar among these is a girl called Marianne, who is often dressed in a red veil that covers her face. She is not an Obligator, but has been travelling with them for the past three weeks ever since they found her in the burned ruins of her family’s farm. Strange things happen around her, as small animals flock to her, which she cannot harm accidentally. Furthermore she has a persistent necromancy aura that we have been unable to identify. The most worrying thing about her is that when she was given a sip of Khan’s finest, she could not taste it! There is clearly evil afoot if something wishes to deny a young lass all that is joyful in this life.
We shared our last case of Khan’s finest Stoutrock Ale that evening with some friendly Obligator missionaries. However our merriment was rudely interrupted by an attempted abduction on Father Porthas! A law keeper from the Jewels had followed the Obligators to our land and wished to arrest Porthas as a heretic for converting away peasants from the Jewels. We stepped in and stopped the law keeper from claiming Porthas. It was a battle that would have made you proud, Father. We managed to safely knock out the law keeper, get Porthas back to his feet and destroy a set of magical armors. Our allies proved to be extremely competent, Nissa transformed herself into a giant cat like I have never witnessed before, Miri wielded two blades with quick precision and Fierna holds control over powerful magics that I cannot begin to comprehend. The law keeper was tied up and we all sat down and had a civilized discussion. We managed to convince him to return to the Jewels and not bear too much ill will towards our actions, but I fear this is not the last that we have seen from Jewel incursions. They seem to be under the mistaken belief that we are still a subsidiary province that owes allegiance. And that they can squash our rebellion with their greater armies. Thorin did correct him that their soldiers would be no match for the Dwarven steel from the Beinnhall Hills. Eventually we did agree that a war would not be in anyone’s interests and sent him on his way with some food and a bit of Ale to get him home, as one needs when they wander dark paths.
The next day we journeyed back towards Woodsong alongside the Obligators. Thorin and I were sure to introduce them to the finest of Dwarven cuisine and the local herbs and spices. We helped them out with various chores and entertained the young children on their long journey. Discussions soon converged to the happenings of the prior evening and the Jewels of Mathonwy. Fierna, who apparently hails from Aurion, explained that the peasants who joined the Obligators from the Jewels were not allowed to do so. She said that they were supposed to be bound to the lands that they worked, not as slaves but as something close to it. She called it the feud-all system. This does not sit right be me, as anyone should have the choice of beliefs or path that want to follow. The name also seems to suggest that they are all fighting each other, but I feel that this is just some weird city speak. That evening, we arrived back at the Gate Tower, where we sent messages back to Woodsong regarding our encounters with the Obligators.
That was the first night that we were without our loved Stoutrock Ale. Thorin in particular slept very poorly. When we awoke in the morning, Miri and Nissa reported a strange encounter that they had had the previous evening. They had run into a black knight with a large shield that we had heard rumors about. He had been previously spotted wandering the countryside seemingly without cause or direction and had been startling the locals for days now. Miri and Nissa managed to get some information out of him that only deepened the mystery. The black knight claimed to have been imprisoned, for how long or where he did not know. But now he had been released and he knew he had a mission but he did not know what it was. The knight also had a dent in his armor, which was imprinted with an ancient Dwarven rune of War. When Miri showed us a sketch of the rune, we felt immediately ill. Thorin gagged by simply glancing at it. This rune did not help with the unease brought upon by lack of ale. Neither me nor Thorin have any idea how this rune ended up on the black knight’s armor. I would have drawn the rune into this letter, but I cannot stand the sight of it.
The next few days, we continued the journey back towards Woodsong with the Obligators. Each day was more or less a repeat of the first day. However, there was a new arrival in the camp. Orson, a paladin of Dianecht and sworn protector to Father Porthas. While Orson does not seem to believe in the Obligator way, he does believe that he is on a quest from Dianecht to accompany Porthas in his journeys. He had stayed behind to cover the escape from the Jewels and was only now joining up again with encampment. He is a fine fellow and has joined us on several evening gatherings, where he will often enthrall us with stories of daring escapes from his journeys with Porthas. He carries a strange tube that he calls a musket alongside a magical shield.
We eventually arrived back at Woodsong. As Miri and Nissa went to report to the Tower Guard and High-Priestess Isotta, Thorin and I sped into the Broken Tower Inn to quench our thirst. However they only had human beer on tap, as the supplies we delivered a week earlier had already been consumed. This beer is a poor substitute however as my throat was dry mere minutes after consumption. But it sufficed for now. It is at this moment that I have taken the time to write you this letter.
I humbly request from our brother Barin to prepare us an emergency supply and send it our way to aid us in our quest. We are likely heading out of Woodsong again soon as we have received word of some one thought long dead possibly reappearing. There should be a small cask in the far left corner of the storage room that I had been saving for exactly such an occasion. If the fermentation took right, it should be a partial concentrate of Stoutrock that would last us a time longer. If Aunt Karyn or our brother Dhorin is planning to journey out of the Beinhall Hills soon, perhaps they can take the barrel with them and deliver it to Woodsong. I am sure Zerlina will set it aside for us at the Broken Tower Inn if we are not in town. In the meantime, we have bought a stock of human ales that we are rationing as we continue. The call to all that is good and just in the world requires great sacrifice from those who follow it! And neither myself or my brother shall be dissuaded from our quest by that vicious Dwarven enemy, soberness.
Love to Mother,