Vedui' Melloneamin:

As I write to you today I am sitting in the quaint Edan village of Stonehold. This small gathering of homesteads can be found the remote hills and forests of Northwestern Dereth. I am pleased to say that the folk here about are simple and kind hearted. However, they are beset by the cal'gothea (ones that Edanea call Banderlings) and in sore need of succor. I think that perhaps for a time Ilu and I shall lend our swordarms to the protection of these brave folk.

Perhaps more interestingly, however, as Ilustriel and I continue our explorations of this world we become more and more convinced that there were indeed other Tel'Quessir here at one time and that they most certainly fell to the treacheries of the cal'gothea.

With my own eyes I have seen a wonderous village crafted amoungst the trees of the Glendon Wood forest. It is without doubt in my mind that a Tel'Quessir is the architect of this wonderful place. Alas that it is overun with cal'gothea which now seem to use it as a base for banditry and general depredations.

I have also noted that some the blacksmiths in Dereth have mastered the art of forging extremly light but quite protective chainmail shirts and haubreks. I find this quite interesting for the vast majority can produce only the cruder heavier versions. I have plied several of these smiths with enough ale to kill a dwarf (!) but to date the source of their skill remains a closely guarded secret.

Great events are also affot in this land, so that you might be aware of what transpires, I have summarized recent events into a somewhat long text below. Be advised that I do not claim this text as my own for time constraints limit me to copying from certain tomes and scrolls. Towit:

A Recent History of Dereth

In the month known as Frostfell, the isle of Dereth was beset by a sudden freeze. As mages scrambled to explain the dropping temperatures, the snowline dipped down from the lofty peaks of the Lost Wish and Linvak mountain ranges, until the entire island was coated with several inches of snow. Even the Gharu'ndim, deep in the hot and barren A'mun desert, awoke one morn to find their stately brick courtyards blanketed with white. In Samsur, the Fountain of Musansayn froze solid.

Somewhere in the wastes, the exploration party of Sir Joffre Tremblant fell afoul of dark forces. The legendary Knight of the Golden Flame order had gone in search of a fabled lost city alluded to in certain Empyrean texts. At first, his party was presumed lost in the blinding snows. Intrepid bands followed his meandering path from Arwic to Stonehold, gathering clues to his final destination. Along the way, many assisted the aims of Lady Tallial of Neydisa Castle, or those of her rival MacDugal in the Bandit Castle. Others grappled with Hoary Mattekars, ferocious mountain creatures the size of a house. The hides of these creatures, when given to the skilled tradesmen of Dereth, were quickly turned into fine Mattekar Robes.

With the assistance of the scholars of Zaikhal, the search parties discovered the path to the mysterious underground city of Frore. Here the fate of the Tremblant Party stood revealed; the group had been slain and then turned into undead slaves by an ancient cult of Empyrean necromancers calling themselves the Gelidites. In the depths of the frozen hell of Frore, adventurers struggled through legions of undead sorcerers, who were lead by a council of three dark priests. These three, Ferundi, Frisander, and Fenngar by name, were slain at the gates of the city. In the deepest caverns, parties were brought up short by a cadre of Gelidite Lords lead by the powerful sorcerer Frisirth. The Gelidite necromancer controlled Sir Tremblant, who pleaded for death even as he was magically forced to defend his evil master.

When Tremblant was released from his misery and Frisirth defeated, the parties confronted a greater mystery -- a large, rotating crystal the Gelidites called the Great Work. This magical artifact had been discovered by Frisirth centuries before. Under the enchantments of the Gelidites, the Great Work sucked the heat from the earth, causing the snows that carpeted Dereth. When the explorers rushed to destroy it, the crystal defended itself with powerful magics. Many were slain, but in the end the Isparians prevailed. Abrim of Morningthaw chronicled the final battle against the Work in his tale “Return to Frore,” which became a bestseller at the capital towns of Cragstone, Hebian-To, and Zaikhal.

With the Great Work shattered, warmth began to seep back into the land. The exhausted and battered adventurers returned to their homes, to enjoy the blessings of the Solstice, Festival of Lights, and Night Feast holidays. During the celebrations, new culinary delights had been invented to delight the palate. Kakori of Thistledown made Carrot Cake, Dani the Crazed of Leafcull introduced Famous Pizza, Raszagal and Tassadar of Morningthaw created Hot Kimchi, and Firedemon of Thistledown baked the first Spiced Apple Pie. Bortin of Frostfell created Fruitcake, but he has since been forgiven, and is occasionally allowed back into town.

The remnants of the Gelidite cult were left in sorrow, their great hopes dashed. Departing adventurers even seized their ancient scriptures as spoils of war. Our Great Work, a memoir written by Ferundi, was given to the scholars of Hebian-To, and the ancient Book of Minesh, a history of the Gelidite cult, was seized by the Zaikhal Arcanum.

As the heat seeped back into the earth, snowlines receded. Patches of slush still dotted the landscape, but hints of green returned to most of the land. All was not well, however.

The enigmatic Shadow creatures began to walk the landscape openly, harassing adventurers and making travel through remote areas a dangerous proposition. In addition, floating Crystal Fragments appeared. While originally thought to be pieces of the Gelidites' Great Work, the vast numbers of Fragments that soon swarmed across Dereth seemed to imply another origin.

Fortunately, the most learned mages of the land had taken to heart the dire prognostications of the recovered Gelidite scriptures. The Archmages Celdiseth, Fadsahil al-Tashbi, Nuhmudira, and Shoyanen Kenchu offered for sale Master Mage Robes of fine quality, while they allowed their Apprentice Mage Robes to be sold by the local mages of various towns.

Non-mages were not left without fashionable attire, however, as the traditional warrior garb of Ispar began to appear in Dereth. Celdon, Amullian, and Koujia Armor became visible signs of a warrior's prowess.

As of this writing, Dereth has fully recovered from its magical winter. Plants have begun to flower, pollen floats upon the warm breeze, and rabbits multiply on the landscape. However, the idyllic mood has been upset by the ominous Shadow creatures that gather in the remote wilderness. Scholars searching for historical references to the Shadows learned that the Empyrean had once defeated an invasion of them using powerful weapons of pyreal metal. For some reason, the Empyrean destroyed the weapons after their victory and scattered the pieces, but heroes have managed to recover some of these pieces and reforge them. Each weapon is powered by any one of several gemstones, which imparts it with a specific kind of elemental magic. By swapping out gemstones, the wielder can change the properties of the weapon. Adventurers have also recovered strange crystal fragments and shadow gems, but no one yet knows what uses these might have, if any. Using these weapons, heroes from all over Dereth were able to attack an defeat the largely invincible Shadows. Sensing a turning of the tide against them, the Shadows have retreated from all but the most remote locations.

Meanwhile, A vast bridge of obsidian has materialized over the River Prosper near Holtburg, and certain powerful adventurers have been kidnapped by an invisible force and subjected to a bizarre gauntlet of fiendish trials. Similar things were recorded in ancient Empyrean texts and scholars believe that a major war with the Shadows may be imminent.

For months, floating Crystals and Shadow creatures held stations in the wilderness, arranged like pieces in a game. Now they have mobilized. Rumored to have emerged from the earth, strange, twisted citadels hover over the land near several towns, and a vast, bat-winged figure is now regularly seen flickering like dark lightning amid the storm clouds. Have Dereth's heroes forced the leaders of the Shadows into some sort of desperate stand, or are these merely the opening moves in some larger and darker conflict?