Most Noble Baladov,
Aerizell has informed me of the unfortunate symptoms related to injuries you sustained in our most recent battle: namely, that you suffered a temporary disruption of your core personality and a confusing loss of short-term memory. The former I can well believe and understand, as you hardly seemed your usual self during the past twenty-four hours. The latter is a bit harder to accept. However, in the interest of supporting the camaraderie we have built here, I have taken it upon myself to recount for you what has transpired in this past day, so as to assist with your remembrances.
As you may recall (or not, I suppose), we set out on a number of ill-defined and confusing quests – to find an oddly-named wizard, searching for particular items of power, and, most importantly, finding this reprehensible Duergar tribe of slave-traders and putting an end to their abhorrent practice. We are now well on our way in accomplishing that goal, at the least.
In our travels through this sun-forsaken land beneath all that is right and good, we were attacked by a flock of bizarre, flaming bats. The dense smoke that surrounded them caused the battle to be especially confusing, and I was unable to use my bow. It took some time, but we were eventually triumphant, and Vimak was able to obtain a small portion of the mystical ore that he is seeking so greedily.
Continuing on our way, we eventually reached the fortress of the Duergar. It appears to include multiple buildings on both sides of an enormous chasm, connected by a pair of narrow bridges. We were hardly able to approach with any stealth, owing to the extreme limitations put upon us by this underground realm. As such, the orc doorwardens easily saw us coming and were prepared for our arrival.
The entrance was barred by a heavy portcullis. Vimak rushed forward and attempted to lift it, but failed miserably. I have noticed that when the goliath’s immense strength could come in very handy, it is often less impressive than expected. At any rate, the orcs behind the portcullis mocked him thoroughly while riddling his body with crossbow bolts. I dispatched one of the orcs, while Ferrin did his part in harassing them. You and Aerizell, after attempting to convince Vimak otherwise, finally joined him at the portcullis and were able to force it open. Unfortunately, as we rushed in to finish off the remaining orcs, one of them fled through the door (an event that was to repeat itself throughout the subsequent hours, much to our annoyance).
As we took a brief respite from our labors, we were disgusted by Vimak’s actions. As these were the first orcs we had defeated, he took great delight in thoroughly desecrating their bodies. Aerizell briefly questioned this, but as Vimak’s atrocities seemed motivated only by revenge and not by any false religious belief, the paladin shrugged his metallic shoulders and did not intervene. Personally, I am reconsidering the value of our large companion, as well as the paladin’s commitment to genuine righteousness. He told me of the differences between good and evil, but this seems to contradict some of what he said. It is… somewhat disturbing. Perhaps this “unknown god” is not as righteous as has been portrayed. Or am I attributing too much of the servants’ beliefs to the god himself?
Forgive my digression. This is meant to be a recounting of our exploits, not a philosophical treatise.
Moving on through the duergar stronghold, we encountered small bands of resistance, including a duergar smithy that we first took for some kind of leader. Nevertheless, he died quickly, despite Aerizell’s pleas to take him alive. (Once more, the goliath could not control himself.) Ferrin did seem pleased with the smithy’s bedroom, however, as he found some sort of skull scepter that is apparently instrumental to one of the side quests that we took on. Yet again, a duergar scout managed to escape our righteous wrath and fled deeper into the stronghold, alerting its denizens to our approach.
Our most intense battle soon followed. You, Ferrin, and Vimak burst into a large dining hall in which a number of duergar guards and scouts were ready for us, along with their leader, “Hrothgar” or some such nonsense. Unfortunately, Aerizell and I had made a tactical error, bursting through an additional door we assumed led to the same room. Instead, it led to an abandoned trophy room of some kind, filled with bizarre stuffed creatures. Still, it allowed us to come from behind and flank the dining hall, entering just behind the arrogant leader who was yelling in some pagan language that only Vimak appeared to understand.
As the battle escalated, Aerizell and Vimak assaulted the leader with my support. Regrettably, this left Ferrin in a most disadvantageous position, being surrounded by a number of the other duergar in the room (none of which were weaklings, I might add). You were barely able to keep him alive, as you were also concerned (rightly so) with the presence of a female serving girl, the first actual slave we had encountered.
To our shock and amazement, the duergar leader was grotesquely transformed upon receiving serious injury. He grew to a substantial size. I was never clear whether this was some shape-changing power innate to him, or whether he was actually some sort of giant in disguise (the language issue I mentioned aforehand seems to argue for the latter). Nonetheless, we were able to slay him, though not without significant injury on our part. It was an extremely bloody battle.
In the end, not one, but three of the cowardly duergar chose to flee our martial presence at the death of their leader. Aerizell and I rushed back to the trophy room to try to overtake them before they could escape across the bridge to the next area of the fortress. Vimak, meanwhile, raced madly and blindly after them in the twisting hallways, bellowing his bizarre battle cries… which were suddenly silenced. At the time, we knew not what had transpired, but we were… resigned to the belief that we had seen the last of our large companion. Ferrin and Baladov were quick to follow him and the fleeing duergar.
We were able to dispatch two of the cowards posthaste, but as seemed our doom to repeat, one of them was able to escape and flee through double doors into the next building.
Bruised and bloodied, we turned to see the results of our battle. At that point, I beheld you perform the most amazing medicinal task I have ever seen. I could have sworn Vimak had breathed his last, but with nothing but bandages (?) you were able to stabilize his descent into darkness and restore a twinge of life into his battered frame.
From what we could deduce, upon overtaking the fleeing duergar, the already-wounded goliath had attempted to charge them, but had somehow instead charged a solid rock wall. (Upon reflection, this could be seen as enormously amusing, and no doubt the hilarity the fleeing duergar enjoyed was what allowed us to overtake two of them.)
We found a little loot on the giant/duergar, but nothing all that impressive. The slave girl had fled into a back room. I wisely proposed that, since she was human herself, our human paladin should be the one who approached her. Aerizell did so, finding her with two other female slaves. He assured them of our good will and was able to persuade them to come out. They had been vilely mistreated and desired only to leave the stronghold immediately. If we would not escort them out, they were willing to leave on their own.
As they seemed drawn to my presence, I escorted the women back to our guide and inquired as to whether he would escort them back to Seven Pillars and then return for us, as we continued on with our mission. (Although, I will say the women were horrified and much disturbed by the atrocity Vimak had committed in the foyer. Their reaction is something to be considered before we allow him such “freedom” again.) Our guide, whom I have always considered a greedy, manipulative, worthless denizen of this lightless realm, would not consider the task I lay before him without extra payment. Imagine the heartlessness of someone beholding the wretched state of these emaciated and mistreated slaves and then demanding payment to assist them! I make a personal vow that there will be a reckoning with this so-called guide before we leave this blighted domain.
In the end, I paid him a hundred gold pieces from my own supply and a longsword for his own protection. He left as we took a much-needed lengthy rest, especially allowing Vimak to recuperate. I am much disturbed that the guide has not returned as yet.
We then crossed a narrow bridge over the chasm only to encounter a heavily locked door. I surprised everyone with my rarely-called-upon lockpicking skills and we were able to enter. Faced with multiple doors, Aerizell made a random selection and discovered a room with another duergar guard and some sort of magic user. I maneuvered past Aerizell, let fly with a number of arrows that reduced the magic user to near-death, and shifted back out of the way to allow Aerizell to finish them off.
To our dismay, our escaped duergar guard then burst into our current room, followed by some more guards and two of the most bizarre creatures I have ever encountered. They appeared to be some sort of constructs, resembling nothing more than walking, self-loading crossbows. They were a serious threat, and this battle once again strained all of us to the breaking point.
Perhaps most noticeable in this encounter was a freak happenstance in which, while angrily whipping out another arrow to avenge injury done to one of my companions, I accidentally tore off my own upper armor, exposing my torso for all to see. This may have provided some small means of distraction for our enemies, as it was not long after that we were able to finally overcome them.
Having given our all in this battle, we once again retreated over the bridge to rest and recuperate. I am pleased to report that I have finally mastered a deadly splintering arrow strike that my old mentor once showed me, and the others are murmuring about feeling stronger and more enthusiastic about our chances now. The only doubt that plagues me now is the fate of the three slaves I sent away with our so-called guide. If he has not returned after this rest time, I fear my vowed reckoning will have to take place sooner rather than later.
I hope, noble Baladov, that this has been assistive to you in recalling your most recent memories, as odd as that concept may seem. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask Aerizell. I tire of this.