It has been such a long time since we have spoken, or that I have even seen you. You may even believe me to have died in the fall of the Warden’s Tower and if not then, then surely now. I know I may never be able to give you this letter but so much has happened recently that I find myself needing to emulate Ash and transcribe my thoughts to script.
It all began when Jayce, Ash, Catherine, Dain and I went to attend a meeting with Anolf, who you would better recognise by his moniker, the “Chef”. As I predicted it was a trap, although a bit more grandiose than I expected. The large chamber we entered was interwoven with chains which suspended furniture from the ceiling. Anolf, on the far side of the room sitting on a throne connected to more chains announced that “the entertainment had arrived”. A wall then opened and out stumbled three drugged Templars. One I recognised as the young inquisitor from a few days ago who had attempted to accost me at the Gate Chandler. With the threat of several ballistae overhead Anolf then forced us to engage in combat with the Templars.
It was a terrifying fight, the magic cancelling abilities of an inquisitor is something truly to be feared and combined with their martial prowess the Templars are a formidable force. Ash and I combined our abilities in order to fake out and distract the inquisitor, meanwhile both Dain and Cat provided us cover from the two Templars. However the tactics that the Templars employed was simply too much for poor Catherine and she went down under their blows. Ash quickly revived her and they were able to escape the perilous situation. However it was clear that we were in serious trouble. As fortune would have it all three Templars were beneath a large chandelier and I took the opportunity to destroy the supporting bracket. It crashed down on top of them and the tide just started to turn in our favor. Anolf suddenly declared enough and slaughtered the Inquisitor with the ballistae.
Anolf announced that he was releasing the sole surviving Templar to warn his compatriots about the folly of attacking him and that we were to be summarily killed. A bluff on his part obviously. After the Templar had vacated the room Anolf lowered a banquet table and chairs from the ceiling and started to fill it with food and wine. Dain and Cat set into the feast as you would expect and Ash tried to emulate the noble class, however I did notice that he was using the incorrect fork. After Anolf had some wine I lightly sipped mine also, I noted that he was not eating any of the food and as such I too did not consume any.
During the course of the meal he introduced several people, his court if you will. Fates Mortician, a Malificite priestess. Lady Livialla, quite stunning with her dark skin, emerald eyes and silky black hair, a lady of clearly noble birth though she tried to hide it. Anolf’s son, Bertrand, a middle aged human with angular features wearing studded leather and a pair of sabres at his side. Then he introduced his other son, Jayce, who at least had the decency to appear apologetic for abandoning us in the fight against the Templars and hiding who he truly was for all this time.
Anolf informed us that he wanted us to go to the dwarven outpost which was through the oubliette and retrieve a jewel. In return he would ensure that people would believe us to be deceased and thus protecting our family and friends, at least those without power, from the ire of the Templars. My head started swimming as I heard Lady Livialla ask if this was truly necessary with Fates Mortician replying that it was. I noticed that Ash’s crude banter had ceased and he had slumped over the table. Cat was snoring loudly into a plate of the chicken and as my own eyes closed against my will I saw Dain struggling against the effects of the poison. Later I would find out that he was able to resist the anesthetic effect however Fates Mortician placed him under a spell causing him too to succumb.
It is difficult to say what proceeded next for the poison addled our perceptions as did the emotional and physical trauma which followed. I shall recite the facts to you as I know them. We were in a dark metallic room. We were chained, suspended from the walls, stripped to our small clothes and magic binding collars around our throats. There was a small man within a mobile artifice, it wheezed and hissed as it clanked around the room. He appeared to be fused into it with the crystal component running directly into his head. He had another artifice, one that caused great pain without causing physical harm which he used to torture us with, trying to find out why the Chef had sent us to the Oubliette and what the Chef’s plans were for us. I am unsure of exactly what else he asked, or even what was happening, it just hurt so much…
When we next awoke we were on a pillar which was suspended above a void. There were several other people on the pillar also, a sick looking woman, a man with bird like features, a fat man and an Orog. Above us sitting on a crude throne was an obese bald man declaring himself to be the ruler of the third kingdom, obviously he was deranged. He wished to humiliate us before allowing us passage to the second kingdom. Much like Jolt had previously this “ruler” was also able to summon and control lightning. Fortunately it turned out that the magic nullifying properties of the collars are unable to affect Dain’s unique powers. After a brief altercation between Ash and the Orog, Dain teleported up to where he was and was able to “convince” his majesty to allow us to ascend. Taking pity on the sick woman, Eubella, I told her to follow us. I looked at the bird featured man and the fat man and decided that if they weren’t intelligent enough to take advantage of the situation then they would be of no use to us. I was surprised when Catherine did not try to convince them to come however I now suspect that with the psychological trauma she must have been suffering at the time she was just wanted to escape and hide somewhere safe.
Arriving at the second tier of the oubliette we were now properly able to see where we were. Ramshackle huts were the best of what you could consider of the buildings with other residences were nothing more than a few rags stitched together. Frankly it made the Pit seem like a paradise. Ash managed to pull over a couple of teenage brothers, Aiden and Brinius, and with a bit of fast talking from Ash they informed us about the area. They warned us of a local gang, the Mad Dogs, who we should look out for. I asked about who had been here the longest and they told us about Cyril and indicated where he made his home. They also told us the only way to ascend to the first kingdom was to go up the lift at the guardhouse which was run by a man named Gerard. Ash convinced them not to tell anyone about us and they left our company.
As we traveled to Cyril’s home we were stopped by a group of hoodlums who could only have been the Mad Dogs gang. They attempted to threaten us however Ash and Dain managed to handily disarm the situation and with promises of not “intruding on their turf” and that we planned to leave as soon as we could.
When we arrived at Cyril’s it was dark and smelled like stale urine. Cyril was positively ancient and obviously on his death bed. It turns out that he was a rogue channeller who had left the order of Sol after becoming acquainted with a form of magic which the religious orders did not recognise. While interesting, and something I would be interested looking into at a future time, more importantly he informed us of a mason named Dalmod who would be able to release us from the magic inhibiting collars, for a price of course.
With great trepidation I ended up revealing my own rogue channeller status and he offered me the use of his channelling stone provided that we were able to remove our collars and I was to promise that we would to do something about the head jailer who had tortured us. Feeling no pity for the jailer and seeing that Cyril was soon to pass on I had no problem with promising this. It was entirely possible that we would come to blows with the jailer at some point and if not Cyril would not likely be long for this world in any case so he would die believing that he did all he could for the people he considered as his community. We left Eubella with Cyril to heal her as well as he could with what little power he had left and she would tend to Cyril’s own ailing health.
Dalmond was in front of his home, one of the more finely constructed in the area, and after Dain had warmed him up with a conversation about stone craft he agreed to remove our collars provided we returned his son to him first. He also wanted Dain to cave in his ex-wife’s skull if the opportunity presented itself. What proceeded next was farcical beyond belief. Even in writing this I can scarcely believe what occurred.
We went to where Dalmod’s ex-wife and her four brothers lived, it was an average dwelling for the area, which isn’t saying much. Ash went in with a story that a couple from the first kingdom wanted to adopt her baby in return for supplying them with goods. After a few minutes he pulled me inside as the prospective mother to be. I played along remembering the times when parents would come to the orphanage in order to adopt a child. Luckily it was poorly lit so they did not notice the black eye I had sustained earlier, though they must of thought it odd that we were in our underclothes and at the very least one brother was very suspicious. I did my part and aw’ed and coo’ed at the child and asked to hold him. He was pretty cute and surprisingly healthy considering where we were. I did momentarily wonder if we were doing the right thing however we had to do what was necessary and the child would be with his father. I asked if I could take him just outside to look at him in the light and she agreed. Then, with Ash distracting her and the four brothers, I left. Once outside I said to Cat and Dain that it was time to go and then we bolted for Dalmod’s. We must of looked a sight, me carrying a wailing infant as carefully as I could, a red furry Catherine just in front and the dwarven Dain bringing up the rear running through the ramshackle buildings and make shift tents in our underclothes.
Long story short we returned the baby back to Dalmod who was apparently popular enough not to cause a riot with the general populace, in fact most seemed amused by the situation. Dalmond told us to return after a short while when things had cooled down and he would remove the accursed collars from us. While we waited we returned to Cyril’s abode. Eubella had started tidying the place up but there was still a long way to go before it could be considered habitable. As we waited I talked to Cyril more about why he became a rogue channeler. He told me of an off rock tribe of people who the temple had decried their particular use of magic, one which did not follow the tenants of the four churches. To think that there are other kinds of magic out there other than the four orders of Churches and Talenters.
When we returned to Dalmod’s he removed our collars as agreed. While he was removing Ash’s and Dain’s Catherine and I did our best to ensure that the baby would be safe. While we were reorganising Dalmod’s home Catherine and I were surprised to see Veil slip in. I was glad to see that he was doing okay and would have liked to talk with him but he indicated for silence as he handed us a note. It was from the Chef. It was instructions on how to get to the dwarven settlement, or more to the point landmarks along the way to the settlement. I don’t know why he sent us here but I doubt it is because of some jewel, in fact I suspect that it is the Malafice priestesses doing rather than the Chef.
After we had returned to Cyril and he gave me his focus we went to the lift in order to ascend to the next tier. I won’t tell you of the rather crude guard or the vulgarity of which I was subjected to, however I have to say that Ash was the hero of the day and I am most thankful for it. Needless to say we were soon at the first tier and we made directly for the tunnels. We passed by the guards easy enough, though one did run off to inform the Jailor of our sudden rise and subsequent departure.
Following the tunnel we soon entered into a massive manufactured tunnel. It must have been created with some kind of amazing burrowing artifice, the walls and floors were scored with deep spiral carvings along its length. While we did end up walking a fair distance we were never able to see the end of the tunnel. It must have been an amazing time to have been alive during such an age of artifice, we have lost so much knowledge over the centuries, but I digress. Along the tunnel there were shafts descending into the earth covered by a grating which had an artifice crystal embedded into it. After a quick study I determined that they were used to activate artifice which would burrow into the rock. With my assistance we could ride one such and descend below as instructed by the note. The first few we found were too damaged for our purposes however we did come across one that was ideal.
Just in time too for we heard the booming footsteps of the Jailer’s artifice echoing along the tunnel increasing in volume at an exponential rate. I directed the others to climb onto the platform and lowered it a slight way, I then halted its progression and cast an illusion of an empty space above us. We waited in the dark as the Jailer thudded towards us, every step reverberating through the rock. We held our breath as he passed above us, not slowing for a moment. We waited until he had traveled far enough away to feel safe before we began our descent.
Our descent ended with a tumble as the artifice fell through the side of the shaft and ground to a halt. We decided to take a well-deserved rest. It was nice to be able to relax for a time after our recent ordeal. Catherine still seemed a bit shaken up and I comforted her the best I could, it wouldn’t help any of us if she were to break down. I could tell Dain was eager to be off and find the dwarves but even he could see the need for the break. Ash was strangely quiet. I think it was a lot for him to take in, it was a lot for us all to take in really, and we were all trying to deal with it in our own way. I clutched Cyril’s focus to my chest several times for reassurance, I had not enjoyed feeling so powerless being without my abilities.
As we traveled down the tunnel we saw some amazing sights. One such was a magnificent waterfall. It was so beautiful Robin, you should have seen it. Lit up in the soft blue light of the scrim which lined the walls as it plummeted into the depths below, a fine mist sprayed throughout the cavern sparkling in the half light. I admit that I did spend a few moments committing the sight to memory so I could replicate it with my abilities. Further in we encountered what could only be described as an underground jungle, large and unusual insects and odd creatures slithered by unafraid of our presence. There was an ancient temple there also which had a malevolent aura to it as if some ancient darkness was sealed behind its stone doors just waiting to escape, or perhaps it was just the stress from the whole ordeal finally hitting us.
Bedraggled, filthy and exhausted we finally made our way to the dwarven settlement. There two large stone doors which halted our path, our final obstacle of our long and arduous journey. We were so happy to have arrived we almost missed the crossbows leveled at us from above. I am sure they would have fired if not for Dain’s presence. We were allowed in and they gave us new clothes, though a touch on the short side, and a place to rest. Over the next few weeks we will take time to recover, to gather our strength and find out why we are really here.
Robin, it is true I may never see you again and even if I do you may have found someone else. I just want to tell you…
May the wind lift your wings and your voice sing ever sweetly my Robin.
Celeste de Alicorn