Translated from the journal of Dyer’ Mi Shaton. The original text being written in a complex cipher utilizing the languages of demons, madness, elf and dreams.
I write this as my fellow continue resting, using the additional time my superior fey blood allows me to jot down some thoughts in a hope that doing so will allow me clarify the mysteries of the last few hours.
We find ourselves in a situation I can not be precise about. I do not share all my suspicions with the others, as it is nether important to our immediate needs nor are the implications likely to fully register to them. It will need to be discussed soon, but that can wait for the others to finish resting.
We came here through a portal, located in the sewers of Sharn within a closed off chamber not far below the spot the others left a Daask hooligan I had hoped to be able to ask some questions of. Zerif, Keyleth, Aldos, Erdirck and I returned down ahead of the others, and found the “prisoner” gone. I often think that they do these silly things so ineffectively as a way to vex me. They keep a halfling who knows nothing of worth for endless days, but can not secure a villain with knowledge of the inner workings of Daask and insight into all of us for even a few hours. If I thought them crafty enough, I’d suspect that one had snuck back and finished off the man before he could tell the rest of us some secrete they had been hiding.
Exploring the nearby areas resulted in Zerif yet again charred from a serious of snares, but did gain us access to a camber containing a cluster of goblin carcasses of some age. One of which was in possession of notes and a satchel belonging to a noble of House Cannith, detailing research and pursuit of a Xendrik artifacts and darker areas of study than typical of that house. After stuffing the skull of this creature into Zerif’s magical bag, and after he again found a snare by allowing it to burn off the outer layers of his skin, we located more goblin corpses bearing the trappings of an exploration team. All having died in combat with some unknown foe. There, a nearby wall radiated strange vibrations of magic.
My tentativeness was counterbalanced by Erdirck’s hasty ego, as he pushed through this wall and into the unknown. Followed shortly by the other, who seem to have forgotten the nearly fatal rush into the darkness that almost allowed a acrid cube of gelatinous solvent to dissolve several of them a short while ago. I attempted to secure a route back as best I could, and for lack of a better available avenue found myself headed after them.
Now perhaps the best I can hope is that the others left behind find that rope and it leads them toward us. Not the best of fortunes for them, but other sources of reinforcements are not likely.
The other side of this magical portal found us in a desolate and oddly dulled stretch of open land. Among the rocky and hilled landscape, a nearby cave seemed to have been blasted open. My immediate thoughts, based on the writings from the Cannith scholor I had reviewed so far, was that we had been brought to Xendrik. The wrongness and ill nature to the very air though also brought to mind the possibility of having been taken to one of the nearby planes. While I was able to quickly dismiss that possibility, my mind continued for some minutes to fixate on the concept that we had found ourselves in a manifest zone of some ill natured plane. I think now that such an outcome would have been better than what I have come to believe is the truth of our situation.
Peculiar noises and the signs of danger, including phantom forms circling, soon made it prudent to make hast to the cave. Hopes of having some level of protection there were quick fouled. We found the entrance guarded by a squad of well armored hobgoblins, who wasted not a moment in raising arms against us. Leaping from over boulders and from among the rocks, they attempted to swarm over us. Still, they found the combat less to their advantage than if they had waited and parlayed with us as Erdrick seemed to have attempted. Their apparent captain was rather lethal individual, swinging a glavie with enough potency to fling several of us about at a time back. In the end though, they all fell. Yet again, my fellows fail to see the benefit of keeping at least one around to talk, with Keyleth raining furious sword blows upon the weakened captain even as he lay crippled in the dirt where my magic had pinned him to the ground. Maybe vile actions are primed by something in the air, as Zerif seems to have resorted to rather barbarous means of dispatching the opponent he struggled with deeper in the cave. I did not see it myself, but Erdick was much closer to him at the end of the fight and his tongue is ever spitting out his mind’s thoughts. He taunted Zerif for some minutes, commenting on Zerif’s willingness resort to biting to bring down that hobgoblin during the last moments of their private struggle.
While some of us surveyed the dead and the others bound wounds, Zerif tired of listening to Erdrick’s prattle and went exploring. This time brought more clues to our predicament, though I would not realize their significance until the final piece of the puzzle fell into place a while later. Those who were injured by the hobgoblin’s found it much harder to bind wounds and restore themselves than typical. The air here saps the very flesh, reminding it that life is not welcome in this land and resisting its presence. We even noted all plant life near to be withered and dead. Strange manifestations of power continued, causing our foes’ weapons to sizzle and corrode. A further sign of how unnatural these hills that once were a center of an empire have become.
The dead hobgoblin’s bore brands of clan markings, but little else of value. Zerif though soon located deeper within the cave a dead goblin down a shaft that had been cut by a waterfall, but he nearly broke his nose as he slipped trying to get down to it. I instead found myself at the bottom of the pit, and assessed the body of a goblin sage. This one bore marks that made him as a member of the Wordbearer clan. I hope to one day be able to inquire of this one’s spirit what secretes it keeps of the long lost Dhakanni empire, and cajoled Zerif into putting the whole wrapped body into his bag as well. The others find their treasures, but scoffed at this true treasure as one might overlook a tarnished coin. If I can find the means, this corpse may hold enough worth to make all this worth while. Now though I realize his presence here should have also warned my mind that Xendrik may not have been our location after all. Certainly it would be possible for a member of this goblin clan to travel that distance, but relics of the Dhakanni empire are not found across the sea.
This strange find did opened, if only a mere crack, in my thinking and allowed me a glimpse at our true location. Yet, though my mind is barren of irrational hopes, it seems that some part of me refused to see the facts right before me. Instead of examining that line of thinking, I allowed myself to be distracted by the simpler and more direct question of what else these caves contain.
Having regrouped and rested for a few minutes, we proceeded down another shaft. Zerif again found a snare by the worst possible of methods, but this one being far more potent than the fire blasts back in the sewers. One that also nearly broke my spine as well. Zerif, still wounded though got the worst, as both of us were forcefully blasted by an arcane ward. Further, it flung us up to the passage’s ceiling then only to let us fall equally painfully to the ground once again. As Zerif proceeded to bled out, I managed to drag him back from the area under the ward’s sway. Erdrick, again indulging his hasty ego, simply left the rest of us in a dash to the other end of the cavern. Luckily for Zerif, Aldos remained long enough to bring him back, before he too rushed down the passage. Zerif followed them quickly, as did Keyleth once she stopped talking to her swords about whether or not to do so. I remained back long enough for the ward to appear to fade, and to be sure that the trap was not going to block us should we need to retreat with hast from whatever was behind a door the others found at the far end of the cavern.
Past that door and down a constructed underground chamber, a wall had been breached by force. Zerif and Erdrick peaked in enough to see a chamber outfitted to construct or at least research warforged, including incomplete or experimental versions and a arcane machine with a pulsing purple stone at its apex. We rested briefly before entering this strange workshop, and it was fortunate that we did. Keyleth was rushed a mere moment after passing the threshold of the chamber by every one of the decrepit warforged in the chamber. Soon even the strange machine was acting against us, flashing bolts of energy against us and using these same pulses to raise up the warforged we put down. Keyleth again took blow after blow, with Erdrick working feverously to keep her from falling and Aldos doing what he could as well. I in the meantime made my way to the strange machine and set to deactivating it, striking at these forms as I could with blots formed from the spaces between all places.
With the strange warforged all broken and the machine now reset to now help guard us in this abandoned chamber, we set to rest after all this. It has left us physically drained, but not enough to put our minds to sleep. I can see the glow in Erdrick’s eyes at finding this workshop, but I am not sure if its significance has completely penetrated his intellectual fever. I can not but admit that such a place of curiosity and secrete studies holds much interest for me as well, but I find myself distracted even as I hold myself in trance. The others seem content to contemplate potential treasure, or think on what will come next. I do not believe though they think on the right question, a habit I try to break them of often but to no avail. Then again, perhaps not thinking on that question will allow them to enjoy this rest, and hold hope that they will profit from treasures of whatever sort they prize from within these caves. To me it is madness not to ask it, but it may it just be a clarity that comes from staring into madness that lets me think on this puzzle.
Even if they asked it, would they know how the clues fit to solve the truly important question at hand?
Warforged workshops. House Cannith. The strange atmosphere. Even the Hobgoblin clans, who are far more likely to have set out from Darguun to lands nearby than across the sea in search of plunder or relics from their ancestor’s grand kingdom. There are no jungles here, and the ruins are not those sized to fit the giants of eons ago. They are of a more recent fall, of a much briefer empire. The creatures outside are not exotic breeds from across the sea. Anything still native to roaming these landscapes are no longer natural, no matter how exotic one’s thinking, and are perhaps even less hospitable than what travel in even the wildest parts of Xendrick or even the rest of Khorviare.
We are not in some patch of Xendrik under sway of foul planes. We are not nearly so far from Sharn, though in spirit we could not be further.
We are in the land that was once the seat of House Cannith’s power. We are somewhere in Cyre, hopefully close to the border with Darguun if the hobgolin’s did not travel far.
Of course, Cyre is gone. The land fallen and sour.
We are in the Mournland.
And there is no certainty we will ever leave.