18th Rova, 4715 AR
The servant has written this letter, may it contain that which the Goddess finds worthy.
Knight Commander Tristan of Navia,
I do not expect this letter will ever reach you, nor do I intend to actually send it unless the world becomes a much darker place. These letters will serve as my journal, as Theodorus, may he rest in peace, instructed me to keep so that I may learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others. My master died peacefully in his sleep three days ago. When I arrived into their camp, the others whom I will soon make known to you, helped me erect a funeral pyre and their priest gave him his last rites. I was exhausted and at my wits end. I did not know if I would be able to visit the shrine where our Lady’s mortal form was laid to rest.
My new companions are an earthy lot and consist of: a dwarven cleric of Gorum who introduced himself rather pleasantly as Bander Forgetender; a fellow dwarf by the name of Burblecut the Bold, and a quiet elf whose name I could barely understand when he gave it, which appears to be Aaron. They had with them a bard of questionable skill. He was not in my company for long before being eaten by a dragon. What I would wish your guidance on, Knight Commander, is how one is to answer those who stand idly by. Perhaps there was nothing that we could have done, but did he not deserve the effort? I do not understand.
It matters little, I suppose. We crossed the path of a blind old man and his boy, who had been rendered mute by having his tongue cut out. We of course shared our camp with him and he deigned to tell us the story of Khorkuna, a fell sorceror who once held sway over this area of the world.
To the best of my woefully inadequate memory, the tale goes as follows: Khorkuna was once servant to the Overfiends who rule the lands far from us, skilled in their dark magics. He sacrificed everything in the name of power, rising to impossible heights on the backs of the living and the dead broken in his quest. But Khorkuna, at the height of his power, was not satisfied by service to any other being, even the Overfiends. So he stole their secrets and fled here, to these lands. But the arm of vengeance reaches long, and the Overfiends worked their plots in subtle ways until they found Khorkuna’s weakness and devised a fitting trap. Once, Khorkuna had loved, you see. She was one of the many sacrifices he made, but if the legend is true, he felt some small trace of longing or regret. And so they crafted for Khorkuna his perfect mate in body and soul, trapping her in a chrysalis, and used it to lure him to his prison. They sprung their trap, trapping Khorkuna in the depths with the woman he desires most but may never have. The magics there have held him captive for years uncounted.
That is about where the old man’s story ends and about where our own begin. Some days ago, the dwarves and their elf breached the defenses of the prison that was meant to serve Khorkuna’s tomb. It is not their fault that their actions had consequence far beyond what they expected. As Theodorus told me many times, “We cannot predict the ripples that will spread from our cast stones.” I hope they will come to realize that Khorkuna cannot be allowed to grow his power unchecked. He is an evil few could even comprehend. Certes, I was at a loss.
He destroyed the town that we were heading to, but that was not alone satisfactory to the wicked mage. He assaulted those who had fled the attack again, after we had bought their good will with gifts of meat and furs to begin again in a new life near Sandpoint or further on south. HIs power was greater than I have words to express. It did not even feel as though the sun were shining. It was cold and dark and weakness began to creep in with its withering fingers. I do not know how Burblecut survived his confrontation with the mere shade that confronted us, but a shadow of the full power of Khorkuna, I am certain. He must be endowed with considerable fortitude, even for a dwarf.
I will admit the attack stirred an anger in me I wish I did not possess. I called upon Iomedae and drove my lance into his side. It did something, though I do not even think it was a wound, and then he flung me horse and rider to the side like a child’s plaything. Then, just as he appeared, he was gone and only death and the wailing of the living lingered after him.
We have stopped to regroup and plan. I have made the acquaintance of a man I believe to be a proper scholar of an orcish descent. He has the enmity of our dwarves, however, and I do not think he will likely continue in our company. I can only hope that whatever is decided, we decide with the consequences of failure in mind. A threat like Khorkuna cannot be allowed. I do not think we are the ones to stop him, as we are not so skilled or armed as you, Knight Commander, and the others of the order. But necessity may make a jester take up the lance and the shield, so perhaps we will simply have to toss our bells aside and do as best we can.