After my last letter, my companions determined that the best course to pursue would be to excavate the entrance to the mine which stands at the center of the mystery of this town. I worked with Gilsa and the two Dwarves to clear the collapsed rock where we finally gained entry. Before we could go in, Tavarous came bearing sad news. Our companion, Artemis, had been waylaid in the night and killed. According to her journal, which a half(?) Orc named Greznok brought to us, she heard suspicious activity in the night and decided to follow. We can only guess at what happened. Greznok found Tavarous in the town and brought him Artemis’ things after he had buried her.
I didn’t know Artermis well, Master. We had hardly spoken, but she seemed a kindred spirit. Her stoic manner of accepting whatever befell her shall be missed. I wished we had had the time to look into the circumstances of her death more, but perhaps clearing up the mystery of the town will allow us to clear up her mystery as well. Regardless, my companions and I will do everything in our power to ensure her death has meaning.
As for Greznok, to me he looks like a small oni. He is horribly scarred and grizzled, leading me to think he has had a rough life. Fangs protrude from his lower lip. At first, I was very scared of him, but he seems gentle and kind, in spite of his scary appearance. From what Gilsa has told me, Orcs are frightening and violent, but Greznok does not seem that way at all. Perhaps he is not indicative of his Orcish background. He is more like a priest than a warrior. Also, he has a large dog that loyally follows him around. Animals are excellent judges of character, so I believe him to be a good man.
Speaking of dogs, once we gained access to the mine, we encountered sentries posted inside. It made little sense to me as to why they would be there. There was at least a ton of rock blocking the entrance and it took us a long time to clear it. Regardless, there was another “half-Orc” who was scary and the leader of the three other sentries who we fought with. They had three large dogs who had obviously been horribly mistreated. Though we had to kill two of them, I was able to tame the third. From what I’ve been told, large dogs like these are used as mounts by the small people called halflings, of which my friend Gilsa is one. I shall train this dog to be her mount as she does not have one. I know she will help heal the wounds on its soul as her own soul is gentle and kind.
As we progressed further into the mine, we found a small hole the Dwarves said had been opened by an earthquake. Gilsa was the only one small enough to go inside, and in a section that had been opened up, she found the body of a grimlock. This is apparently a sightless denizen of the underworld. I’ve not seen one yet, but the description was most unappealing. I hope we can avoid these. It seems this one carried a crude map and a warning for someone, though who it was trying to send it to was not apparent.
The map came in extremely handy. We used it to to start heading to the place where Ayden and Thorin think the cultists are residing. On our way, we encountered some large pests someone said were “stirges”. They looked to me like ka, just ka the size of cats! Master, the more I explore, the stranger the fauna here are to me.
Poor Silver, Tavarous’ large okami friend, and Gilsa got into more trouble further in. They were pulled up onto a ledge by something called a “choker”. From what I understand, it was an apt description, but again I did not see it. Torin assisted them and apparently there was no real danger because it seems the choker was relatively weak.
We now wait on a cliff just out of sight from our enemies. We are sitting in the dark trying to be silent to avoid letting them know of our presence. I’m writing this in the ambient light cast by the enemy’s camp. We can hear heavy things being dragged (by slaves I would venture), someone or a group of people crying in an area that looks to be a slave pen (grrrrrrr!), and some other noises that sound like a raucous group some little way off from us where we can’t see. As soon as we’ve rested, we plan on doing something about those who are crying. Their state and answers will determine how we treat those who put them in that situation. Wish us luck, Master!