I was waiting for them on the outskirts of town for two weeks before they straggled in, looking tired. I’ve not been to the Garden of Graves but I have heard tale of its terrors, and after seeing their bruises and hearing their stories I have little wish to schedule a visit. I had arranged comfortable rooms in the little Feywild town– paid with the blood of a witch who’d been terrorizing the locals for years– and after a good rest the lot of them were in better spirits. I dutifully reported on the news of Gontiago that the witch had spilled before I ended her reign, and we all bid adieu to Monty the next morning as he went off chasing his brother and inheritance.
The rest of us took a leap through the vortex the town council summoned, and were deposited again on the dirt outside Lindestra Manor’s gate, which creaked in the breeze. The place looked terrible, and the last time I had seen it there were zombies milling about the courtyard. We wandered through the grounds and surmised that it had been almost year since the rest of them had left, which was less of a shock to them after meeting me and hearing of two decades worth of stories. The Manor had been searched at some point (brave souls!), but in the Great Hall we found a note that looked only a few weeks old, asking for our immediate conference with the Brindol town council on urgent matters about the ongoing war. This all made little sense to our ears, but we dutifully locked the Manor up– a few more weeks neglect would do little harm– and began the trek to the city where I first met these comrades of mine.
It, too, looked terrible. The outer wall had been breached and repaired in a dozen places, a great many of the buildings had been burned or otherwise destroyed, and the rubble filled the streets. Even our namesake, the Happy Mug itself, was but a pile of splinters and thatching. The council, down a few members fallen in the months since we last saw them, explained the situation: Lord Pep’Ci and his drow armies, after the temporary setback dealt them by my friends in the mine, had surged to the surface and struck from everywhere at once. Overlook was laid siege, Brindol was broken, and many of the surrounding hamlets razed entirely. Astrazalian had been asked for help, but the ambassador never returned. It was now time to ask again, but this time, to ensure the safe arrival of the delegation, our aid had been requested. With no reason to refuse, we agreed to take the single diplomat Brindol still had and shepherd her to the Eladrin city. We bought horses for the occasion.
Two days out we came across a wagon upended off the side of the road, drow bolts littering its exterior. We dropped off the main thoroughfare and made our way through the swampland, the ugly details of which I will not put down here for fear I might recall them too vividly. Suffice to say that we arrived at the gates of Astrazalian not too much the worse for wear, but were surprised by the open gates of the city. Clearly the Eladrin either did not know of the Drow threat, or they were cavalierly unconcerned by it.
Our audience with Lord Hieronymus Wedge confirmed it to be the latter: the council of twelve lords was eight-to-four against joining the battle, for reasons as varied as disinterest, racism, or concern with other threats. We resolved to try our hand at shifting that ratio, and our first target was the drow-hating Lord Gaould, in a meeting ostensibly to ask for information regarding my ongoing search for father (I have met a few here who knew him, and many more who knew of him, but no one has seen him for many years).
Lord Gaould‘s guards were hesitant to let D’cafnaet’d in, but I managed to sway their opinion, and in return it seemed that D’cafnaet’d got the honored guest treatment. When Gaould arrived, though, it quickly became evident that he assumed that D’cafnaet’d was the latest in a series of emissaries from the Drow, who had Gaould’s daughter held captive in the caves to the east of the city. We swore the lord to secrecy and set out immediately, hoping a little excursion might win us a vote. The cave was simple enough to find, but inside we found it infested with a sort of demonic fungus that had wrapped itself around fallen skeletons, animating the corpses and attempting to keep us out. We are a very determined bunch, though, so the fungus merely slowed us down.
Speaking of slowing us down, I fear that this letter is now in danger of doing so, so I will send it on to you and continue on our way. I am sure that you are liking the slowed pace of my letters now that we are passing through time at mostly the same pace. I do apologize for passing so close to home without stopping by to see you or the twins, but I hope that this missive finds you safe and happy, and I promise to make time to visit when we return.