Dear Mistress Caradine,
I have arrived at Falconberg and are currently mid way through our first foray into Rappan Athuk. The situation is more dire than my visions predicted. I fear if you no longer receive communication from me, I have perished and another must take up my focus.
Falconberg is as I was led to expect. Age and the death of his heir have unmanned Earl Reynar, and he seems barely concerned with the goings on beyond his walls. The man is in his extreme old age so this is hardly surprising. I must commend him for his hospitality and courtesy, but he will not draw his sword for our cause as I had hoped. Perhaps his daughter could be recruited, though this must be done carefully lest Falconberg become closed to me. I have concerns regarding the half-elf tutor Minetta, she was part of the Fire Knives adventuring band, but for some reason she did not accompany their last tragic incursion into RA. After light questioning I suspect a failed relationship, shame, guilt and some dark betrayal. Further persuasion, perhaps magical, may be required to close this avenue of inquiry. She did furnish us with a map of the first level and some passages she had discovered in the dungeon. The accuracy of these extracts may help determine her veracity. To date they have proved useful.
Interestingly we have acquired a number of companions that have been lured by money and bravado, the classic medley of itinerant adventurers that can prove so effective where larger military intervention could fail. I thought it was prudent to find some “specialists” to accompany us. They seem capable but Alain seems to have his doubts. I fear he must learn to trust, we cannot defeat the evil of RA without assistance. A warrior of a fallen house seems a drunken, lecher, but I suspect it is a lack of parental guidance. A search of the records show that his line was destroyed by forces from RA in the last great expansion. Perhaps his grief can be turned into a powerful motivation, he may yet prove our greatest ally. He has a powerful shield that seems to summon some extra-planar lion, this is powerful magic, I must observe it further. A tiefling spell dancer and a goblin rogue also travel with us. Unlike some of our order, my quest is too dire to allow prejudice to preclude success. So far they have been able and trusty companions and I will treat them thus until they prove otherwise. Ironically they have been better behaved so far than the human, always the truth surprises me more than the stories. From them I learned that our sister Kalina was part of the fire knives and is said to have perished in the dungeon. I must find her remains and verify her passing, particularly if her death here threatens her soul. I only hope another would do the same for me.
Out first foray into the dungeon was difficult but not unexpectedly so. The journey through the immediate forest was perilous, being attacked by giant vermin, where the self-styled “prince” Rathashek dealt fearsome damage with a pair of matched daggers. I considered it prudent to camp some way from the graveyard but we were attacked by wraiths while we slept. I suffered some damage but the spirits were dispatched. There appears to be some emnity between Alain and the warrior Lucius. He blames the stranger for not keeping watch, but he is only being protective. I must ensure that my Warden’s concern does not jeapordise the integrity of the party.
As we approached the surface complex we were harassed by trolls. While we made short work of them, Rathashek overheard them speaking in giantish, and claimed they were asked to wait here for a group traveling to RA by someone called Turane. I cannot believe the name a coincidence and if the arch-conjurer is here we must be doubly careful. Is he the reason the dungeon of graves has awoken? Alain is already on edge, even I may not be able to hold him back if we meet the fiend. Another possibility that the conversation is a creation of Rathashek. I will give it consideration.
The graveyard too is as our scryings showed. A number of buildings all empty. Concerning we found full marked graves for the missing five knives. Also open graved marked with our names. A chilling reminder of the danger we face. Has someone been alerted to our presence, is it Turane? I hope by the light not, if he is prepared for us, it can only mean the existence of a traitor within falconberg… or the party. The alternative is that the location itself possess foul magic capable of altering reality. Either possibility is disturbing.
Returning to the ruins, we had two choices, a well described with foul demonic carvings or a secret passage marked on the map beneath one of the mausoleums. I recalled the common saying “don’t go down the well” perhaps it has no relevance but we resolved to try the mausoleum. Gargoyles dove down from the roof and a frantic battle ensued. I believe the beasts recognised the risk I posed, as most assaulted me. Alain leapt to my defense, splitting two through the middle, though he was soon paralysed by the creatures touch. Surprisingly Lucius came to my aid, summoning his lion to defend me. My magic was able to dazzle many of the creatures giving time for Alain and the party to defeat the beasts. Unfortunately we were left in no condition to try the dungeon below.
After warnings of sleeping in the ruins we sought refuge by the coast, in a defensible position. Unfortunately we were still harassed by worgs and their vampiric master. He introduced himself as the lord of the land. Seeking a tribute of blood in exchange for safe passage, the noble appeared civilised – chillingly so. Believing us outmatched, Alain voluntarily offered his neck to avoid risking damage to me. I felt his pain, but the process went uncharacteristically smoothly and the vampire departed. With rest he will be back to full strength. In the morning an imp appeared with a message from his hag mistresses that live on an island off the coast. A glimpse of the past or future in exchange for blood and treasure. We had offered enough blood for now, perhaps if our need is great enough.
Returning to the ruins the Gargoyles were slowly re-constituting themselves. I estimate that at this rate of regeneration they will be a threat again in a week. Discovering a passage beneath the floor, we descended by rope. We resolved to begin exploring the unmapped areas of the level, discovering numerous rat tunnels including a blocked passageway. Returning to the mapped areas we were forewarned of a spike trap. After searching for some time Alain and Rathashek found nothing. Unfortunately there was a trap as Lucius discovered bravely heading down the stairs ahead. His foot became trapped in a false step, just as foul smelling ghouls assaulted us. Alain and the party drove the ravening beasts back, leaping past Lucius. Once dispatched Lucius was able to extract his foot and while poisoned, one of Alain’s preparations helped ward off ill effects.
I write this report during a short period of rest as we regroup. We will shortly set out in search of the wererats marked on the map. Alain has obtained silver weapons. I will send the report by the regular method when I exit the dungeon. Though I will use one of the lesser known eyes and ears, to protect the integrity of the network. Turane knows too many of our secrets.
By the light and my hope of salvation and rebirth my quest continues.