The 28th day of Summertide, The Keep on the Borderlands
Salutations Genrok of Silverwood, Autumnreaver of the Emerald Enclave and protector of the Iron Yew, may Nature’s blessing be upon you. Necessity demands that I employ a griffon rider to speed this missive to you (I shall submit the appropriate remittance voucher through the bursar’s office when time allows).
A Cult of Zariel, the comely but deadly ruler of Avernus, has taken hold in the Borderlands and risks fouling the region–like a spilled barrel of lantern oil spoils a well. I am marching hard to Everlund in the company of my companions: Urxikas the tiefling paladin, Torbrek the half-elf monk, and Risrin the drow warlock. We should arrive in Everlund 8 days after this letter. We will proceed to Danivarr’s House to secure lodgings–please leave a message there informing me where I can meet you when I arrive. I now relate was has transpired.
Weeks of scouring the caves had left us scarred and depleted of resources. In addition to kobolds and goblins, we fought bugears, hobgoblins, an ogre, and a minotaur. Some of our group relished these fierce combats, but they did not bring us closer to understanding what or who bound these creatures to the Caves of Chaos, or if there was–as I suspected–a traitor in the Keep. Our investigation was also delayed by Torbrek’s insistence on spending a ten day obtaining a land grant from Castellan Mirthmillen and a writ of custodial martial training to establish a monastery-orphanage. This is a noble endeavor, and I contributed by clearing land and then seeding an apple orchard, but it did not further our quest to discover the evil at the root of the Caves of Chaos.
Our presence in the Keep also created demands as the residents constantly beseeched us for aid (a poor reflection of Mirthmillen’s ability to satisfy his duty of care!). We investigated the swamp south of the Goblinwater river and discovered that an adolescent black dragon had taken residence in a ruined ship. Tobrek’s longbow sang that day and Urxikas’s sword arm was strong. The wyrm Varonyx perished under our onslaught. We also solved the riddle of the Tomb of Dromond and defeated the necromancer of Lance Rock (n.b., we subsequently had to deal with a corpse flower here–instruct all Emerald Enclave agents to burn the bodies of necromancers).
When we finally were able to return to the Caves of Chaos we proceeded with caution. I remembered Thref’s wise counsel: “roots can be for tea or for tripping on–care decides.” Risrin was engaged with investigations in the Keep so we reverted to my strategy of constructing a blind to observe the Caves of Chaos. A young goblin ranger named Grashook who had forsaken his kin’s ethos aided our quest. Later that night we saw three cultists entering a heretofore undiscovered cave. We girded ourselves for battle and entered the cave.
This cave was full of cultists and undead. Silvanus favored us, for my spike growth spell proved more than a match for the shambling hordes. The cultists fell under the swords of Grashook, Urxikas, and Torbrek. We penetrated the inner sanctum and confronted a devil emissary named Binlarga and a high priest. We indulged in a parley with Binlarga (the priest’s tongue had been cut out as some form or ritual self-mortification). The devil spawn offered us all officer commissions and command postings to devil armies engaged in the Blood War in Avernus. I watched Urxikas carefully–ready to strike him down if he wavered. My doubt was misplaced. Neither Urxikas nor Torbrek were tempted by the devil’s offer. In a fit of rage and violence it attacked. Our swords and magic triumphed. The destruction of Zariel’s emissary caused the evil magic of the Caves of Chaos to disappear. The unnatural binding of the humanoid tribes broke and they fought each other and fled into the Nether Mountains.
We returned to the Keep and informed Mirthmillen of our victory. Later we captured his advisor Marovak fleeing into the night. He confessed to being an agent of the cult and after a brief roadside trial I humanely executed him–thereby releasing his soul to serve in the front lines of Zariel’s legions. I fear that the cult of Zariel has agents in Everlund. Castellan Mirthmillen advised that we seek an audience with Krowen Valharrow in Moongleam Tower. Please arrange letters of introduction for my companions and I so that we may seek out Krowen when we arrive. The balance of nature in the Borderlands remains on a knife edge. No matter how deep they penetrate, we must eradicate the roots of this cult.
I remain your faithful servant,
“Child Eating Rice with Chopsticks,” by Isabella Lucy Bird [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“Cave mouth,” by Thomas Quine [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.