Liberty Journal 1
[This letter was found in the abandoned mine overseer’s office – hidden, but not well-hidden – sealed with wax and addressed to Constance Grace.]
13 Planting, 595 CY
I almost died today. Truth be told, I almost died twice. If it weren’t for the quick thinking of the fellows I went to the Whispering Cairn with, I would have died. And now I can’t sleep, because I still feel terrible about the way we left things. What if that was the last time you ever saw me alive? What if I did die in the middle of nowhere, before I got a chance to tell you I was sorry – and you never knew what happened to me?
So I’m writing this down instead of sleeping, hoping that it’ll find its way to your hands if something does happen to me, so you’ll have some idea what we’re going through in the cairn, and how we got there.
It all started with the map that Drake pulled off that miner who roughed up Delilah. He handed it off to Xan for safekeeping; I’m not sure whose idea it was to follow the map, but it was Drake who asked me to join them. He’s been nothing but good to both of us since Father died; how could I say no? It was also his idea to have me throw the Free City Adventurers off the trail. (I think that went pretty well, by the way; even if I didn’t really get anywhere with Tirra, at least she knows I exist now.)
Drake had told me they were looking for more men to round out their roster, so I mentioned the expedition to Mom when I saw him at the bakery, and he was on board. Xan was kind of cross with me for spreading the secret around, but I thought having a big, tough man with a greatsword and the blessing of Kord along for the ride seemed like a good idea. Fortunately, Xan didn’t need much persuading. I don’t know him well, but he strikes me as a practical man, and he knows that a better chance to survive long enough to divvy up a treasure is worth a smaller share.
Xan knew about this abandoned mining office we’ve holed up in; it’s far enough from Diamond Lake, and far enough from the cairn, that we shouldn’t be bothered by anyone from either. The ceiling looks like it’s going to collapse any minute, but we should be okay as long as we don’t have any big parties.
From here, we set out for the Whispering Cairn. The entrance was well-hidden; if it hadn’t been for our map, I don’t think we would have found it. It’s no mere burial site; I think it was part of some elemental transportation network. I’ve encountered a few names that require more research: Icosiol, Zosiel, Nadroc. We’ve also seen several corpses marked with an eight-pointed red star symbol, but none of us know what it means. Allustan might be able to help me with that,
if when we get back.
I’ve heard so much about the traps and riddles that these places use to discourage, or kill, would-be tomb raiders. Those stories don’t begin to do this place justice. And we’re not alone here – we’ve fought swarms of beetles, something called a slasher, starveling wolves, and a ghoul, among others.
But our trials have been rewarding, too. We’ve found quite a few coins and treasures, including a magic ring that’ll keep me from falling. It’s very pretty, with a feather pattern all around the edges… I’ve lost count of how much money we’ve found, but it’s bound to be enough to get out of Diamond Lake. Despite the danger we’ve faced, I’m not sure that I’d want to go back to boring old baking. Maybe I’m not suited for the adventurer’s life, but we’ve done well enough so far.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll be more willing to talk about leaving with me, next time I see you.
Assuming there is a next time.
Getting sleepy, finally. I’ll leave this here for you, in the hopes that you never have to read it. And that, if you do, it finds its way to your hands.
All my love,