Dear Lady Cierra,
As I left off in my previous letter, the monks of the Order of the Sundered Chain, after we rescued them, implored us to pursue the orcs that had taken their artifacts from their monastery. So, the night being young, we set off through the wine cellar that the orcs had entered from, and followed a maze of tunnels in pursuit of the artifacts. It was a strange; in one room we ran across a statue of a hydra, which seems to indicate that these passageways had previously been occupied, probably by dwarves based on the work. I did not have time to look thoroughly, since we were fighting an ourag (a cross between an orc and an ogre) and several goblins at the time. After several more encounters with orcs we came upon a chamber that appeared to have had been used as a dwarven forge. Lava was pouring in through the far wall, making the room hellishly hot. There were several orcs in it, as well as an ourag and a goblin mage of the most unholy magic possible. The ourag was doing battle with a dwarf paladin, attempting to force him backwards into the advancing lava. We set about engaging the others on our way to reach the paladin; we soon discovered that they were a tougher set than we had encountered previously. It was a long and drawn out battle, and I was hard put to using my cleric powers to keep the others alive. The dwarf paladin (his name, we learned later, is Kalin), was brought near death several times while I struggled to keep him alive. Ataeo was pushed into a furnace, severely injuring him before we were able to put the ourag down. Thallimain and I then dragged Ataeo and Kalin out of that room and back to the monastery so that they could both recover.
After a night of rest Ataeo had seemed to recover fully but Kalin still was in a state of shock. Through questioning we learned that his dwarven city had been wiped out by the orcs and he had set off the lava flow through the tunnels to keep any more from coming to the upper world that way. He then stated there was another way through which they might come up. Ataeo and I followed him while Thallamain returned to Overlook to tell them of our success and caught up with us before we had reached the other place, which was a series of vents in the earth. It took us the better part of two days to reach the vents, and when we had crested the valley that contained them, we saw a party of adventurers battling some orcs. We rushed to their aid, but most of the party had been torn apart before our eyes by the time we reached them. We rapidly dispatched the orcs and discovered one of the party members was alive. Rather, I had healed him to consciousness and he promptly tottered off and started casting spells at the remaining orcs. Once the last orc was dead, we found that his name was Alex Cloudbringer, he was a sorcerer, and that he had been a member of the now-late party the Farstriders, and their mission was to close these vents off from orc access. The dwarf Kalin proceeded to climb down into one of the vents, and we followed. We saw tens of dead orcs, slain by the Farstrider party. We haplessly ran across some luminous oozes consuming the orcs, and then they attempted to attack us and one had covered Ataeo when Cloudbringer fired a bolt of lightning at it, killing it and injuring Ataeo in the process. But we were grateful to recover Ataeo in one piece.
Kalin then led us into a tunnel whose sides were covered with luminous slime. Very disturbing. The tunnel opened into a massive room, revealing the walls and gates of an abandoned dwarven stronghold. What happened next is almost beyond the telling, but I will do the best I can in my next letter.
Blessings of the Raven Queen,