Glim and I are doing well. I have seen much in the past few weeks. It has been an amazing time for all of us. Hopefully we have done something to help restore light into this world.
After several days of walking and a boat ride, Glim and I came across Maeglin. He's the elf that Gilliam had traveled with, but the amazing thing is that he, too, knew of the Shield Maiden. When we came across him in the forest, I felt like we were walking closer to the light. Maeglin kept Glim and I good company as we traveled.
One morning we saw some smoke in the forest. Upon closer inspection, I spotted Laern. He was with some guy I never heard about named Kid, the dark elf named Myrathel, and the one Gilliam specifically told me about, Sabra. She is still with the group. They were honoring a friend named Nandelle who died from an encounter with a shadow. You can tell Gilliam that Nandelle did not become a shadow even though she died by one's hand. From what Gilliam has told me this is rather odd. Sabra told me that Nandelle followed the Goddess of Music, Knowledge and Daylight.
The group told us of a paladin vampire named Lord Thomas Holtgrove who once served Heironeous. He had been victorious against a whole army of orcs many, many moons ago. They had received some message from Nandelle's goddess about him or something like that. Anyway, they also met the paladin vampire's wife, Lady Elsa Holtgrove. She told them that he was in danger of turning truly evil. He was due to be part of a ceremony to give him more power. Part of the ceremony involved the sacrifice of his great great granddaughter, Mari. The paladin did not know that he would be harming his own blood. The Lady felt that if he knew that he would be hurting Mari, he would not go through with the ceremony. The thing was that if this Lord did go through with the ceremony, he would become a very powerful force for evil. The Lady felt that he was still basically good, and if given the chance, he turn away from the evil around him.
Well, we saw a very real looking dragon, a huge Troll general, a very bad, bad mage, and lots of other evil things. Some of us even saw a Nightmare! In between, we planned and fought and regrouped and were inspired by the dark elf, Myrathel. You would have been so proud of Glim. He cast a very strong spell from a scroll that Nandelle had. From what I understood, it was a much higher level spell than he could normally cast, but he risked his life so that we could enter the tower and save the girl.
You know, Mom, you and Gilliam are right. You cannot judge people by their appearance or their species, but by their actions. The dark elf, Myrathel, did some amazing feats of bravery. She was against the bad, evil mage and the huge Troll general all by herself and survived when we had little hope for her escape. She even jumped to the floor to free Mari. The one who is no longer allowed in Greyhawk, Sabra, placed herself in very dangerous situations again and again to save the girl, Mari and redeem the paladin. She scouted for us. Without her, we would have walked into some bad fights, and we may not have succeeded in our mission. Maeglin went against an orc who kept elf heads as trophies, and he also stood up to the evil ones.
I have also been witness to something that you should tell the Heironians about. I have seen Lord Thomas Holtgrove receive redemption from their god. Even though he was a vampire, he still wore the holy symbol of the Archpaladin on his chest. The symbol burned his skin, but Lord Holtgrove asked for redemption. When the Valorous Knight answered,there was a bolt of lightning that flashed in the hall. It was the most amazing feeling to be there. When the Invincible one was done, all the evil assembled at the table was stunned. The Lady Elsa Holtgrove, who had been chained to a table, now turned to mist and moved to a glowing sword on the floor where Lord Thomas Holtgrove once stood. She said something like "You can tell the young knights that I will not part with my husband easily." Glim said that we witnessed the making of a holy sword.
Oh, by the way, I was the one elected to speak to Lord Holtgrove to appeal to his goodness. At first I felt clumsy with my words, but when I gazed upon the helpless little Mari chained to the altar, something happened. I think I felt the Shield Maiden spring forth from my soul and speak to the light within Lord Holtgrove. She gave my voice strength when it almost faltered.
By the time you receive this, we hope to have Mari safe at home with her living relatives. I will try to write you often. Give Uncle Gilliam my love.
With much respect and love,
I hope that all is well with you and Uncle Gilliam. I am doing okay. My physical body is just fine, but my soul is deeply troubled lately. I am very worried about Mari. She has seen so much that she should have not had to witness. I fear for her health both mentally and physically.
We traveled for over a week from the Castle in the Mountain to the town of Highfolk with Mari. It had the feel of a very long trek since we knew we were being followed. We encountered a large group of goblins and a smaller group of ogres who ambushed us. One of the ogres was a strong priest, and he made some trouble for us. Myrathel was amazing in her sword play, but a human with no name other than Kid Blood survived a fight that should have killed him early on. He did some spectacular dodges that saved his life and ours. Laern was busy shooting arrows at the hidden goblin archers. Maeglin stepped up to engage some of the archers face to face. Glim turned Mari into a mist. I was still worried about Mari, so I fogged the place which made some of my other companions unhappy,but I had to do it. I wanted to protect Mari from all the goblin archers. There must have been twenty or thirty of them. There were arrows flying at us from all directions. In the end we prevailed, and evil lost.
I do not think that the Assembled Evil will forgive and forget those of us who ruined their plans. There has been an invisible force that has been following us. I have not seen it yet, but others in the party have. On several occasions, they have attempted to shoot at it, but this thing, this watcher, continues to elude us. I am most bothered by the fact that this evil seems to know who we are and where are going to. The agents of the Old One are tracking us as sure as the sun rises.
When we finally reached the town of Highfolk, we decided to see if the Inn of Laughing Leaves had room available. When we entered, we got a reception that we did not expect. All the people at the Inn spied dear Sabra, and the guards were called for. Then Glim, oh, you would have been so proud of his quick thinking, put a box of some sort around Sabra, and said, "And now for my next trick..." Luckily Sabra's pretty bright, too, so she made herself to look like a lovely elf maiden while she was in the box. Glim dropped the box and there was Sabra as elven as could be! Everyone cheered and clapped for this marvelous trick. We were invited to perform a show at the inn.
Before I get back to the Inn, I have to tell you that the people around here are getting more nervous by the day. First, they thought that they saw a Tiefling. Then in comes a Drow maiden. Let me tell you Myrathel was not well received. She was basically told to stay in the room while we were there. We have been told that there are now Drow in Chendyl, and from the townsfolks' response, I suspect most of them are not working for good.
Anyway, back to the Inn... Sabra, Maeglin and Glim put on a wonderful show. Or at least that's what Myrathel said. She has an ability to look beyond walls for short periods of time. I could tell things were going well from the echo of applause drifting up to the room. Myrathel and I decided it was best for us to stay with Mari. She needed our protection. It was a good thing we stayed in the room since things took a turn for the worse downstairs. Evidently some human bard named Cromwell tried to poison our friends, and we think he also tried to poison us, too. Thank goodness for Myrathel who checked some drinks that were brought to us. These drinks also had poison in them.
The next thing I remember is Myrathel saying that she was going to go out and check things. I did not go her since I felt it was more important to stay with Mari. Well, Myrathel met with someone or something that fights as well as she does in the dark. She was badly injured, but she managed to run this person off into the night. We then decided it would be best for all of us to stay in one room, so we all crowded into the room next door.
We, well most of the party, was awakened by the sound of screaming. Evidentlly there had been a gruesome murder. Some young girl was murdered in front of her mother. The person who did this awful deed looked just like Maeglin and he had a rapier just like Maeglin's. I knew for a fact it was not Maeglin, but he was the one the mother described as slaying her daughter. At about this point, I got to meet two people who later joined our group, Kaleb and Alimar. I think that Kaleb looked at the tracks near the murder, and he said that whoever did this changed themselves from an elf to probably a human. The guards were called, and Maeglin was detained.
Now here are several things that have bothered me. First, we think the guy who did the murder was the bearded human bard, Cromwell. Secondly, Glim talked with the innkeeper about Cromwell. Evidently Cromwell had been in Highfolk for at least a week before we arrived. I think that Cromwell works for the Old One. I have a feeling he has been trying to stop us from getting Mari home. Or, he could just be trying to stop us from further interruptions to the Old One's plans.
While the guards tried to question Maeglin, rooms were searched. It looks like our dear friend, Cromwell, had set a trap on the knob of the door where Myrathel, Mari and I were originally in. There was a needle around the door knob that had some poison. Maybe I am not remembering the exact order of events, but I do know that there was poison on the door.
There was a lot of disagreement in the inn about whether or not Maeglin was guilty. One of the town guard, named Eron, said that no one was to leave the room, so I went to the door to make sure of it. I did not like how things were going for Maeglin. Everyone was all tense. I knew that the guilty party had managed to escape, but the guards felt differently. They were sure that Maeglin was at fault. As the tension increased, Sabra felt the sudden need for honesty, and she dropped her elven image. I felt torn...here was Mari who needed me. Then there party members who might need my assistance. Luckily there was a knock at the door.
I opened the door to see a high priest of Rao in full plate at the door. His name was Vladamir, and with him as a wizard named Cronin. They cleared almost everyone out of the tavern part of the inn to speak to us. I knew that Vladamir would be in search of the truth, so I relaxed a bit. It seems that Vladamir and Cronin both knew of Cromwell, and they told us he is working for evil. He informed the town guards that Maeglin was not guilty, and that they should let him go. We were asked to leave town, though.
Now, Vladamir seemed like a nice, decent man, so I asked him to help me get my first letter to you. He recognized that I was a priestess of the Shield Maiden. He knew we are of a new order, so he gave me two platinum pieces to help the church. I cannot wait to get to a temple and give them this wonderful gift. For not only did Vladamir give some assistance to the religion's finances, but his offering speaks for his order's willingness to work together to combat the evil that plagues this land. This knowledge has been a bright spot in my heart. Together we will overcome this darkness.
I better go now. Everyone is almost packed and ready to leave. I will try to write as we travel on the road.
With much respect and love,
We have have been on the road for four days now. I am feeling a little better about Mari. She has begun to talk to us a little bit. She is still wary of Sabra and Kid Blood. I think the Kid's spiked armor does not help her like him. Besides, Kid Blood does not seem to like her much either. I wonder if he is just as scared of her as she is of him. Laern gave her a beautiful green gem, and Mari seemed to have liked it.
While we were in Highfolk, Maeglin found her a lovely toy. He bought her a carved wooden horse that prances and moves. He presented it to her in a blue silk scarf which she now wears. She has enjoyed her new toy. I think that it is helping her to forget some of what she has seen. I also have tried to help her by brushing her hair and holding her close. I want her to understand that everything will be alright. She will be with her familiy soon.
It is morning now. What a night we have had. We met up with some wispy winged creature with a woman's upper body and a feline lower half. She told us if we answered three riddles that she would not kill us and eat us. We answered the first two of them to her liking eventhough the answers were wrong, but we answered the third riddle incorrectly, and she did not like the answer we did offer.Well, she did not eat us as you can tell, but she roared at us which made some of our group run. I want you to know that I did not run; I stood my ground as you taught me to do. She said something about bravery being as good as intellect. I had a suspicion she was undead, but since she did not try to eat us and since Lady Elsa Holtgrove, who is a vampire, did not try to harm us, I figured that I would let her talk. If she did try to harm any one of us, I would have done something about it, though.
This wispy winged creature told us that she had been murdered and that her soul could not rest since her treasure was taken. She told us to find her treasure in the lair in the mountains. When we get her treasure back, she will be released from this undead state. She said that since we serve the cause of good together that we should distribute her treasure to the worthy. I told her that we would find her treasure so that she may rest in the arms of her diety. The creature promised to visit us again the next night. I will wait for her.
Today we arrived at the Holtgrove estate. Mari was so excited to see her father, Lord Maurice Holtgrove and her mother, the Lady Francesca Holtgrove. She was also very excited to see her nanny, Betty. I was very wary of Betty for some reason, but after talking with her, she seems to have Mari's best interests at heart. Mari seems to truly love her, too.
I told Betty that Mari had thought she had died when Mari was kidnapped. Betty said that she was hurt severely, but mended after three days. She was very happy that they were all together again. I told her that Mari had spoken fondly of her while on her journey back home.
The Holtgroves were very happy to have Mari back. They prepared some rooms for us to stay in, and then they presented us with a wonderful lunch. It felt so good to eat such tasty food again. You know how I get sometimes, Mom. I just cannot eat when there is a job to do. After lunch, I took a nice long bath and then went to my room to sleep. Oh, the linens felt so good against my skin. A soft bed and pillow were a reward for a job well done. I felt as if you were near me.
Sabra woke me up for dinner. Betty seemed to be a bit cold towards Sabra, but Sabra had also taken on her natural appearance. It does have a funny effect on some people. Anyway, we spoke to the Lord and Lady Holtgrove about some of what we have seen. We told him of Lord Thomas Holtgrove and his wife, the Lady Elsa Holtgrove. He said that he knows where Lady Elsa Holtgrove lives. He said that he will test any young knights that desire to find this sword. If he finds them worthy, he will give them directions on how to find the Lady Elsa Holtgrove and her husband.
We also told him about our wispy friend. He seemed saddened to hear about this creature. She is a friend of the family, and we found out her name is Gwenyth. He told us that she is on the side of good. We told him that she is supposed to come back again tonight, and that some of us will wait for her outside so that she does not intrude on the Holtgroves while they rest.
After dinner Sabra brushed and braided my hair. She also placed in my hair a lovely flower that Betty brought for me. It is nice to have Sabra as a friend. I like her very much. It is too bad that others do not see the good shining in her. Her eyes remind me of coal, but her soul is as bright as a diamond in sunlight.
I have to go now. I think that Glim is waiting for me to meet him outside with the others. We are going to wait for Gwenyth to show up tonight. I do not think that she will be happy that we have delayed finding her treasure. I am sure she will forgive us for the delay when we tell her that Mari is back home safe and sound.
If I find anything you might like, I will ask the party if I can take it back to you. Same thing goes for Gilliam. Give him a big bear hug for me.
With much respect and love,
Oh, so much has happened since yesterday. I hardly know where to begin. I am sick with grief. There are now two more people dead, and I feel horrible that I could do nothing to save at least one of them. This poor girl, Mari, has so much more to deal with now that I am not sure what can be done for her. I fear that she does not realize all that has happened to her these past few weeks. I do not understand why this child continues to be a target for the Old One and his minions.
First, some of us decided to sleep indoors. I think that Maeglin stayed in the study because hwewanted to talk with Lord Maurice Holtgrove about training or something. Sabra decided to call it an early night, and she went to bed. I thought I heard that the Kid and Betty were, uh, um, going to spend the night together. There were some funny eye winks between the two.
Kaleb, Alimar, Glim and I went outside to wait for Gwenyth. Like I told you earlier, we did not want to disturb the family inside with her appearance to us. We found a spot that was a respectful distance from the house. It was across from the Master suite under a tree.
Then I really do not remember what happened. There was some yelling inside the house. All I know is that the four of us started to run inside because we knew that something was terribly wrong. Kaleb and Alimar made it in first; Glim and I followed.
By the time I made it to the second floor, it was darker than night inside. Betty was crying for help, and I wanted to reach her and help her. However, Maeglin began to say that I should not trust Betty...that I should watch for her. He said that she had stabbed him and Lord Holtgrove. I immediately ran towards Maeglin, but it was so dark that I had trouble finding my way to his voice.
While I was inside groping in the dark, Alimar, Kaleb and Glim tried to catch Betty. Glim turned himself into an imp and flew around the outside of the house to look for Betty. Kaleb turned into a hawk and flew up high to get a better view. Alimar sneaked around the balcony to try to find Betty.
Out of the four of us who stayed outside, Alimar was the first to meet up with Betty. She was climbing out of the Master Suite window with Mari in her arms. Alimar forced her to release Mari from her grip, and then Betty jumped from the balcony and ran towards the forest.
Kaleb was not about to let her get away, so he changed back to human form and chased her down. Glim slowly followed them in his flying imp form. It took awhile for Kaleb to catch up with Betty, but he never gave up. When Kaleb reached her, he fought her one on one. When Glim caught up with them both, he tried to talk to Kaleb, but Kaleb could not hear him since Betty cast a silence magic on Kaleb. Eventually Betty was killed by Kaleb's efforts and a magic missile spell from Glim.
While all that was going on outside, we had things to do inside. When I finally reached Maeglin, I found out that he had been poisoned. Whichever poison Betty had used took almost all of Maeglin's strength from him. Lord Holtgrove was poisoned and stabbed several times. We found Sabra collapsed on the floor near the door to her room. We found the Kid in the hall. It was really weird, Mom; he was not wearing any clothes and he was frozen solid. I mean all of him was stiff as a board. I still wonder what he and Betty were doing. I thought that they were going to be sleeping together.
Anyway, we finally reached the Master suite. I still cannot believe what my eyes saw there. Right before me was Lady Francesca Holtgrove. She had been brutally slain, and poor Mari was a witness to it. I still remember the look on Mari's face when I saw her. How can one family attract so much tragedy in their lives? Why does Mari have to witness most of it?
Well, Mom, I have to go. I am sure that we are going to bury the Lady Holtgrove today. I also want to tend to those still in need of more healing. I hope that Gwenyyth is not too mad at us. I will not be able to stand another assault on the Holtgroves. They have been through far too much already.
With much respect and love,
P.S.-Well, Gwenyth did come by. I was relieved that she was not mad at us at all. She understood what had happened. She said that we should rest up and tend to the injured. She said that she would come back in one week.
Lord Maurice buried the Lady Francesca Holtgrove under the tree across from the Master Suite. The Lord Holtgrove and Mari seem so worn from all the sadness in their lives. I hope I could help bring some peace to them for at least a little while.
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