I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits. Much has happened since our sad parting. I left my work as a guide when I heard of an adventuring company recently formed that goes by the name of "Bold Venture". From the description, I knew it would be a better opportunity for me to hone my skills while still fighting for the cause of good. I still hope to join you one day in your search to discover what happened to father. Of course, that will probably be years until I'm ready. Any more leads in the involvement of the Zhentarim?
At first I had my doubts about Bold Venture. In my first encounter with them we were on a quest to find four young people who had disappeared in a place called the Sunless Citadel. The party had already discovered evidence that two of the unfortunate souls had met an untimely demise. The citadel was now overtaken by kobolds, and the party had information about an evil priest or spellcaster of some sort. The details escape me. I believe he sold to the townsfolk apples that could heal, but that power was coming from some warped evil source. We found Cherwyn and Sir Bradford, the two remaining persons, who had been taken over by the priest. They seemed to have morphed and become part of the power of the tree that was growing underground. Fortunately, the party fought and killed the priest and the other two with no loss of life to our own in battle. Sadly, the young people could not be saved.
What brought me great dismay and made me wonder of the moral compass of the group I had joined was that everyone seemed elated that they had completed the task they had been hired to do, and yet no one seemed to care that Cherwyn and Sir Bradford were now dead and lost to their families forever. It pained me that there seemed to be so little reverence for life. I considered leaving the group. However, Bold Venture is accomplishing good deeds, regardless of the motivation of the individual members. A few of them keep to themselves, and you know me, I'm much the same myself, so it's been a slow process getting to know those who I travel with. I have a feeling though that my first impressions may have been off, and that most of them do have goodness in their hearts. We have since rescued a couple from an evil priest, and I was witness to many feats of bravery and blessings from the gods.
We are currently exploring the ruins of an old dwarven fortress, part of which is called the Glitterhame. We have encountered many horrors - orcs, troglodytes, undead creatures, Duergar, even animated objects - which have proved to be more deadly than you might think. We've been here for weeks. Early on we lost one of our bravest fighters, a dwarf named Khim who had joined Bold Venture with her husband, Ollom. We were in a very trying battle with orcs when she died fighting very valiantly. It broke my heart to see Ollom's grief. I was quite unsure of him at first, but anyone capable of loving another so deeply has to have a generous heart. He changed after Khim's death. I must say I held a special fondness for him, though. Maybe because I know how it hurts to lose someone you so dearly love. I will remember forever a recent event where we came across a litter of juvenile kobolds. Several party members immediately started to slaughter them. It seemed so cruel since the kobolds were helpless and not a threat to us - although I know that when they mature they most likely will be. I tried to scoop some up, and to my great surprise received help from Ollom who assisted me in taking a couple of them outside. I was very touched by his kindness - for the kobolds as well as for my feelings. Soon after he was killed as we explored the rooms. I miss him very much. At least now he is with his "little ingot".
A new man has joined our party. He arrived as we were laying Ollom to rest above ground next to Khim. He is a bard, of the name of Snyder of Hanover. His music is a breath of fresh air in this dark place. He's rather unabashed, but his openness is refreshing amongst some of the rest of my companions who seem to be harboring dark secrets. The men in the party don't seem to care for him - I don't know why. I'm sure they'll warm up. There's just something about him that's so appealing. Our last encounter was with an evil female demon. She tried to seduce the male members of the party. And I'm sure she was hard to resist because she seemed to have a lot of what it is that men want. Snyder's music inspired us all to be strong. She went after him, but I was impressed with how he resisted her. Needless to say, she went back to whatever hell it was she came from. He was wonderful. He kept on playing through it all. Anyway, I go on too much.
Be assured that I am doing well. Remember, brother, the things we are fighting for. Let your love for our parents, rather than a hatred for your enemies, be what drives you in battle. And watch your back. It is more glorious to live for a cause than to die for one. One day, if we are lucky, we will live to see our homeland and peace restored.
My Dear Brother,
Much has happened since last I wrote to you. We finished exploring the Glitterhame, which ended in a battle with a small (horse-sized) black dragon. Fortunately, there's been no further loss of life in our company. That is, with the exception of a poor mule we fed to a roper as a deal for not eating us!
On our way back to Shadowdale, we stopped at an inn called the Osterhouse. The innkeeper had a shield mounted on his wall that was supposedly cursed. The story behind it brought us to entering some caves that we were told locked up something evil. Strange things had been seen lurking about, though, and we had the key to the locked doors - so we went to investigate. Soon after we entered, we heard footsteps hurrying out the door we had left unlocked. I and other party members fell in quick pursuit along a trail that had been literally burned in their wake. I myself had weapons drawn with the intent to kill as I ran after them, as I had assumed we had let out whatever evil had been locked up.
They moved quickly and we reached them at the inn. Fearing for his life, the innkeeper barred the door. The beings we had pursued were called Azer, and looked like fiery dwarves. It appeared they were attempting to burn down the inn. When they saw us come out of the forest after them with weapons drawn, they fired upon us and a battle ensued. We killed a few of them, which I later came to regret. In his wisdom, Snyder convinced them to stop the fight and talked to them. It turns out they were trying to get into the inn to touch the shield that would send them home. They had been charmed by someone from a group called the Brigands of the Flame to do evil deeds. The Azer had been locked up for years, and when their opportunity came to escape they only wanted to go home. I felt horrible for the misunderstanding that ended up with several of them dead. Under the circumstances, I don't feel we were to blame, but it certainly was a sad event. After several of the Azer touched the shield and returned to their own world, Snyder did the right thing by beginning to touch the shield to their fallen comrades to return the bodies back to their home. Several of our party members eagerly jumped in to loot the bodies before Snyder could send them back. I thought it was obvious that we had no right to their things. I continue to be disgusted by the behavior displayed by a few of those I travel with. There is such a lack of respect for the life the gods have granted to this world.
Snyder and I have grown closer. I am so slow to trust, but he has displayed nothing but compassion and kindness to others and me. His words in dangerous encounters have managed to avoid bloodshed on several occasions. At times he seems so irreverent, but he makes me smile when I feel I shouldn't - and I think I need more of that. Since our elven home was destroyed, I didn't realize how much I missed the joy of music and poetry. It is good to have it in my life again.
Something wonderful and completely unexpected happened when we arrived in Shadowdale. There was much talk of the "Harper of Shadowdale" coming to play her music at the inn. We didn't want to miss such an opportunity, so we went to listen. Her music was as beautiful as she was. I enjoyed the music for its own sake, but apparently, she was trying to get a message across to us. One of the local merchants came to me and said she wanted to meet my companions and I on Harper's Hill. We went there that night, and sure enough she was soon there to greet us. Her name is Storm Silverhand. She addressed me by name and said that she was a friend of our father's and she was sorry for my loss. I asked her if she could tell me anything of the circumstances leading up to his death, and she said I would learn it all in time. She gave me a package and asked if we would deliver it to a halfling village called Creek Knoll. Of course, being she was a friend of father's, I would do anything that she needed me to. She gave me a pendant with her symbol on it to show in Creek Knoll to receive a better reception. We delivered the package to Creek Knoll, and were given a different package to deliver back to Shadowdale in turn. I know not what the packages contained. I assume if I needed to know or it was my business, Storm Silverhand would have told me.
We did run into a bit of an adventure on the way back to Shadowdale. A series of circumstances led us to battle an evil halfling who had charmed a caravan of people to do his bidding - including killing others. We managed to get to him and kill him without too much harm to the members of the caravan who were trying to kill us. We sadly killed one guard before we knew he was under a spell. While battling the others, a half-drow in our party killed one more. (I do not think it was by accident. I do not like him, but he hasn't done anything so blatant yet to get him removed from our company. I'm sure others would rather keep him because he's a good and deadly fighter as well as clever at discovering and disabling traps, but I don't think it's worth the sacrifices of character that must be made to keep such company.)
The evil halfling had built a dam with the intent of releasing it to flood the community of Creek Knoll and to uncover a wizard's tower for himself. Presently, we are resting in Shadowdale, and the members of the halfling community are draining the dam safely. We will be returning there in a couple rides to explore the tower. We shall see what interesting things that adventure will bring. I hope to write to you again soon.
p. s. I have purchased a signet ring with my seal. It has my initials in our own writing with a crescent moon behind them. The letters I send you including this one should all be sealed from now on.
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