Dearest Uncle and Cousins,
I don’t think any of us was more surprised than I when the messenger arrived on our doorstep with that letter. My confusion continued to grow more intense when I and the others who’d received a copy finally met with Sir Christopher Sanders. It seemed unfathomable that I would be called so far from home to simply investigate a location that had become unearthed at the edge of Veluna during recent seismic activity. Its true that they had identified the site as being a barracks built by very early Oeridians — 800 years ago — from the time our people battled with the Flan in that area. But still, there are plenty of those who know more about our history than I.
It wasn’t until we entered the site that it became excruciatingly clear why I had been called upon.
The very first chamber we entered was a dreadful tableau. There were dozens of dead paladins and priests of Heironeous. Some were hung from the ceiling in whatever horrible ritual had been attempted. As we moved the bodies into a more restful position, the halfling, Marsys Lightouch, discovered a sealed secret door. Only those of good heart were capable of opening it, and we found a chapel of Heironeous inside. It was here that we started to uncover what had transpired in this awful place.
We found the solemn bodies of a handful of individuals who had lived out their last days in this single room, trapped by the monsters who had invaded. The novice priest, who was the last to die and who had cared for the others, left an account of what happened. And it shocked me terribly.
The barracks were funded by the Von Slythe family, and the general who had been in charge was Everan Von Slythe. He was guarded by our valiant ancestor, Theodore Stalwarth. The cleric was not privy to the entire happenings but knew that devils had emerged from the general’s office and began sacking the place. Sir Theodore held off as many as he could to give the remains of the bases’ inhabitants a chance to escape. Sadly, they too found themselves sealed in.
We decided to continue on and found a few remaining devils, some undead, and a few other creatures roaming the ruins. It seems my fellows are quite strong and clever, though, and we had little trouble dispatching them.
It wasn’t until we found Sir Theodore’s body that we learned the rest of what had occurred. I say with pride that with a simple sword and spear take from their armory, he slew at least a dozen devils and other horrors and finally Everan himself. His own wounds were mortal, but Theodore had enough time to scribe a final letter. I have enclosed a copy for our history records, but the gist of it was that he had failed. It seems that our nobles were corrupted this far back and even then we did not know until it was too late.
Sir Theodore explained that Everan had been experimenting with a way to infuse his family’s blood with magical, infernal power. He used poor Flan prisoners as his early test subjects. We know quite well the final results of this terrible exercise and how successful it was. It was with great shame that Theodore told of how the bases’ captain begged him to see the truth, but even then our family was blinded by duty. What he learned was that Everan had used an evil tome given to him by his dark masters to perform the rituals. He also spoke of how he sent his sword — and I can only assume it is the one we still hold — to his son and that he regretted not having sent the magical gem he carried on his person as well.
We took the gem and letter and explored further. I have to confess that my anger got the better of me at this point, so that when we came to the captain’s office, and we knew there was something vile inside, I didn’t hesitate to kick in the door. Literally. The poor captain had been transformed into some wretched undead combined with pieces of devils. I am proud to relate that I killed him with a single strike, but there was something odd that also happened at that very moment. Theodore’s gemstone flew from the hand of the person carrying it and embedded itself into the hilt of my sword.
None of us was able to divine what the effect of this might be, so we carried on to the general’s office and into the secret passage beyond. We found all manner of infernalist trappings including statues to the nine lords of hell. We also came across the tombs of seven Von Slythe’s who had died during the testing of Everan’s methods. I have requested that those bodies, along with Sir Theodore, be sent home for permanent internment. Our duty is to watch over them, even in death, as penance for having failed to prevent their terrible fall. I expect, considering some of our conversations, that you will all agree with me.
Our final destination was an unhallowed room that held the book we sought. Inside was a strange… thing made of rope. It was the cleric of Garl Glittergold, Tulla, who advised us that it was, in fact, a rope golem and that its weakness was fire. Jevan, our mage, quickly dispatched the monster from the doorway, sparing us from any unnecessary injuries.
The book was ensorcelled and declared itself to be “the key to the final transformation of the world.” I have no idea what that means, but we took it and will be handing it off to the authorities of Geoff. I can think of no place safer than in the hands of the Canon of Rao.
As children, we saw the end of it, but now we know the beginnings. I hope that Sir Theodore’s soul can rest easy knowing that our family’s sacrifice finally put an end to what he couldn’t stop. There is still much that doesn’t make sense, but there was a description of the Von Slythe’s manor house near the barracks. I fear that when that is unearthed I may find more answers than I have stomach for.
- Yours devotedly, Wilhelmina Stalwarth