Into the Dragonhold
This location has been noted before, having briefly stopped to observe it myself a number of months ago. But at last I return to it, in the company of my friend Gleipnir, his companion Mr. Grin and with an elvin wizard of strange tradition. Not forgetting of course our venerable brother in the faith of Kastus, Deacon Andreth who wields the legendary sword of St Cuthbeort.
At first of course we examined the site above ground which consisted of the skeletal remains of what was clearly once a dragon, arranged in the centre of a mound. Around it there was a cicruclar path and there were eighteen stone caskets exposed to the elements – within each were the skeletal remains of men and women. Their bones suggesting their number consisted both of humans such as myself and kin such as Sheik, the people known as dragonborn. There were a number of dark stele placed in the cardinal positions around the circle I was able to translate the runes they bore into messages.
So end all the enemies of the drornlords.
Those who serve will never die.
Here lie the servants of Kashgar the Blind
Cursed are the servants of the Masters
By the Drornlords shall they be defeated
Take nothing from the circle.
A large headstone and altar contained further text, giving the name of the dragon in the circle as Ishaga, the mate of Grishilgrim – the name we know is borne by the dragon of Morrendeep. It gave also the names of 30 dragonknights and drornguard, who it accounts gave thier lives to slay her, but as the runes say they went not into death. Their souls, their spirits remain bound here keeping Ishaga from rising again. Aswell the power of the passed Drornlords it seems holds a ward over the interior of this place – while the light of the sun shines – it binds their enemies interred within from escaping to spread their foulness upon the land beyond.
Eventually we entered the hold itself, with the being known as Barakus' warning ringing within our minds. This is a place of testing and prooving, those who enter within we will never be able to leave without attainting the goal – taking up the ancient weapons of the drornguard once again. The ancient stone corridors were worn and weathered but structurally well preserved, most likely of dwarven make according to Gleipnir. The layout that we explored suggested one main path heading north-south with a crescent path on the west leading into a gaggle of tombs before rejoining the main. Both crossroads are marked with glowing pools of murky water in which we saw coins, gems and a strange crystal-glass dagger. Another corridor lead east from the second crossroad and one north, continuing the main. The path on the west side by the way can be cut off by portcullis that drop from the ceiling, they are triggered by pressure plates about ten feet inside the corridor, however there are levers hidden within the wall recesses to lift them again.
Andreth began a ritual to detect the presense and nature of magic as we gathered around one of those glowing pools in the wait I took the opportunity to examine the frescos on the walls, and the great skulls of slain dragons that were installed into the walls of the corridor. Each one an ancient enemy, a servant of these masters? slain by the drornlords of old, quite the achievement. Shortly after the ritual and examination of the pool however we were assailed by a strange enemy. A skull, flying in the air and wreathed in flames. It made terrible mischief with it's magics, doing a great hurt to myself and almost killing andreth before hiding off in the west. Mr. Grin followed, discovered the portcullis in the process. There he was assailed by bloody skeletal corpses while the skull contined to circle around and assail from behind. They were not too difficult to overcome however despite their ghastly appearence and we were able to continue west in persuit of the skull.
Instead we found the tombs and as we were examining them, fell into another portcullis trap, where upon apparations wreathed in ghostly green flame drew up from the sarcophagi and attacked us. Thanks to divine aid of Gleipnir's creator many were Turned from the fight giving us a chance to dispatch those that remained steadfast in their evil. Of course our chum the flaming skull decided to turn up again in this confusion but was soon sent to the dust after a good throw from Grin's spear shattered the blasted menace and atlast the ancient place was silent once more. After a quick rest and prayer of healing we could atlast examine the caksets in peace. They all bore names and within them of course long dead corpses lay, but with them more of the strange glass weapons aswell as burial coins, which we took. Some of the caskets bore names matching the list of the thirty, two we opened, those of Carroe and Belanus. Within Carroe's lay a sword of mithril, which as i reached towards it leapt into my head. Runes that flared to life gave it the name Escarra. When we opened Belanus' casket, another similar sword lay within. This I could not pick up but as Grin stepped forward to look, it leapt to his hand and he now also wields such a blade. It seems that these weapons are rather choosy about who takes them, only one who goes through this prooving may attempt it.
There was then a tolling from the depths, as if some deep and ancient bell were sounding deeper within. We took that as our signal to leave but were ambushed at the exit. The stout pillars that mark the entrance suddenly erupted in walls of flame, seperating us from one another. More of the spectal skeleton aflame poured out of the walls to attack and a being of ice and darkness wielding a sword of iron so dark it ate the very light attempt to assail us. This is truly what Barkus meant then, for the being had a terrible power and it's servants were ferocious – yet with the power of Kastus and the drornlord's blades at our side we managed to turn what would have been our sure and certain death into a mere brush with the shuffling of our mortal coils. It was a duel of the fates to be sure.
Afterwards we emerged back into the light of early evening and drew away to make camp. We found a place called Kel's Cavern about three miles east of the hold, and spent a merry night within before returning home on the next day.
- This portion I write only to you, uncle. For I wish these quite personal circumstances remain within the power of Shiek himself to disseminate as he sees fit -
Just before dawn during our stay in Kel's Cavern the horse Valdin whom we had not seen since the death of Sheik rode in through the morning mist. He was agitated and demanded our attention, he bore upon his back a cloud of that mist that bore resemblence of Sheik. He bade us all touch our swords to the forehead of this ghost for h said we now had the power to return him from death, we did so and as the first light of dawn alighted on us the air rent and there Sheik was, solid and alive as last I had seen him. Valdin bade us goodbye then, explaining that life must be paid with life and then dispersed into mist himself. My uncle heed this, according to Barakus, Valdin did not merely sacrifice his life but his soul too was utterly destroyed by our ritual. No holy spark of life that was once valdin will inhabit the earth again, the essense of him was entirely unmade. Had I known it, I would have refused to do it, and I even commanded Barakus to never do such for me under any circumstance. I am glad that Sheik can live again doubt me not there, but the price… by Kastus the price…