Krak the Half-Orc is in some sort of heated argument with the high elf mail officer in White Moon Cove. Some rough words are exchanged, but eventually Krak hands over a sealed letter to the elf and storms off, fuming. Merely a day later, a handwritten copy of that sealed letter is posted up at the Axe and Thistle noticeboard for anyone to read should they wish to do so. It reads the following:

Mother dearest,

I write to inform you that I have arrived to Sleeper Island safe and sound, so you may sleep easier at night. I know you worry about your favoured son. And rest assured I am not resting on my laurels. In fact, I wasn’t even here a day before venturing out of the town of White Moon Cove with a party of newly met folk for some exploration. Figured it would be the best way to start getting the lay of the land.

We headed north along the road out of town, and walked for a few uneventful hours before spotting what looked like an old, abandoned and boarded up two-storey house. We decided to make a house call, approaching carefully and knocking upon the door, just in case any inhabitants inside needed help. Alas, no answer came from within, and the door seemed jammed rather than locked. Troubled by the thought people might be stuck inside, we decided to force our way in – carefully – because I noticed through a crack in the boards of the nearest window that instead of a floor, there was a sheer drop to the basement behind the front door!

The force exerted to kick in said door made the whole rickety building creak and groan, visibly shaking as if it was ready to collapse at any moment. A certain party member, Gorstag the human, claimed to be a woodworker, and estimated that the building was safe enough to enter, as long as we didn’t cause any further damage inside.

He also had a companion with him who I could only describe as a walking corpse. And no I am not being mean to a slow person, mother, he literally was as I described, rotting flesh and all. He was volunteered to stay behind and hold a rope for us to be able to climb back out more easily from the basement, but I didn’t quite trust the mental capabilities of “Friend”, as they called him. So I tied one end of the rope around him, and the other around me with a pair of knots that would have made Aunt Bonny proud before venturing inside. I asked my companions to cover me while I searched the place, which had a further drop into what looked like a sub-basement, at the centre of which we could make out a copper-coloured object in the shape of a large hammer.

With Friend’s friend Gorstag watching over me from the basement I hopped into the sand pit further down and noticed two partially-barred passages on either side of it. Hugging the walls I approached the rusty, heavily damaged bars to the right and peeked through. It was very dark, but I could just make out a ditch in the dirt, like something heavy and fairly big slithered or was dragged across. I didn’t like the look of it, but the hammer in the centre of the pit was nearly within reach, and it looked like it might be worth something if we sold it back in town. So I approached it and tugged it out of a similarly coloured hand-shaped receptacle that was holding it, handle up. Up close, it looked extremely rusty and much less valuable, but before I could properly examine it, two red bug-like insectoids burrowed out of the dirt and made it abundantly clear I was not welcome.

As Rael the elf summoned some kind of turret and Gork the goblin and Shamsiel the aasimar cast some of their magicks to attack these not so friendly critters, I tried to get away from them and back up out of the pit with the help of the human tugging on the rope I secured around me. Not before one of the bastards bit me and the other tried to bite at my shortsword though – I suspect they had a soft spot for iron. Luckily enough, the creatures did not seem capable of climbing up or burrowing through stone, so they waited for us in the pit. Unluckily, they had friends who were – two massive worm-like monstrosities that moved surprisingly fast for their size.

One of the worms slithered out from between the bars I was looking through and expertly slithered up the walls of the pit to try and take a bite out of my human companion. Arrows were shot and spells were cast in abundance, including a helpful healing spell that closed up my bite wound decently well. The other large worm slithered out of a hole at the basement level and snuck up on Shamsiel, who had descended to help with Rael, nearly biting off the former’s shoulder so hard it knocked her unconscious.

Rael backed away after almost knocking the whole building down with some sort of explosive lightning in his efforts to hurt this second worm, clearly not being an up-close and personal kind of combatant. All well and good because it gave me space to deal some more damage with handaxe and shortsword to the worm that had assaulted our self-appointed party leader so harshly. The goblin healed Shamsiel back to her senses, which was handy as her spell made the worm I hit back away.

Eventually we managed to take out the two worms and climb out of the basement with our prize to catch our breath. The goblin seemed eager to eat the worm it had fried with fire magicks, whose teethed end I chopped off as a trophy, but I stuffed it into my backpack for safekeeping. Later I turned its sharp teeth into a vicious-looking necklace I have been wearing since – you wouldn’t like it, as it is far too wild for your tastes, mother. The creature’s hide was a thick one though, and its flesh hard and inedible, at least by non-goblin standards. I doubt even Aunt Tonda, with her formidable skills, could have cooked a decent meal out of it, and you know how she can overcook almost anything to a gummy paste.

Despite Rael’s attempts to magically mend the warhammer we’d recovered, it remained rusty and seemingly beyond saving. He definitely did not want to touch it any longer after trying to identify whether it was magical in any way, so I strapped it to Friend’s back for safekeeping. He didn’t seem to mind.

After a brief discussion we determined to go back in, finish off the other insects we had banged up pretty well and explore the area further, and so we did. Tired of being bait, I volunteered the goblin to be lowered by rope down a hole we discovered behind the bars I had previously looked through. Shamsiel helpfully made the goblin glow like an eye-catching little firefly, which Grok seemed none too happy about. No fish bit however, and eventually we all made our way down into the subterranean cavern beneath the house.

Here we discovered some valuable art pieces and a variety of coins, likely left behind by some previous occupants. Cousin Jack’s nails sure came in handy – please do thank him for those! We also discovered other specimens of the nasty worms we’d first met upstairs, except these ones were dead, and not by our hands. One of them had a gaping hole in its mid-section, suggesting an even deadlier creature had burrowed through it, perhaps.

Strangest of all, however, was a thick, purple mist covering the surface of what seemed like a small canyon that seemed to stretch on for quite a long way deeper into this unexpectedly expansive cavern. It was definitely much larger than the flimsy house above it. Matching the purple of the mist were plenty of glowing purple mushrooms all around, some big enough to take cover behind, but not ideal for hiding around since they were like torches illuminating the otherwise pitch black surroundings.

The mist itself was unsettling, at least to me. I thought it was poisonous, but I was told it was merely cold. In any case, there seemed to be no way to go any deeper in this cave without immersing ourselves in the thick mist that seemed almost impossible to see through. And with the high probability of an even hungrier and angrier beast hiding within it, we decided it was time to head back out for the day.

The cavern is intriguing though, perhaps it even contains more valuables to find and re-purpose. But before going back down there, I would personally knock down the whole building and clear away the rubble – it is very likely it will crumble down on its own, burying whoever explores the cavern there for the rest of their short and miserable lives unless some other exit exists. I would also prefer to bring along some seasoned alchemist or wizard who could divine what the purple mist is and what it might hide, if I went back to check it out myself. For the time being, we left the house standing and apparently abandoned.

On our way to the nearest tavern, we stumbled upon a broken chest in the middle of the road that contained some more paintings. These ones were horrible however, to my plebeian eyes at least. You might have liked their… uniqueness. To me they were just smudged monstrosities, but we took them anyway in case we found an eccentric art dealer to sell them to.

And that was just my first trip out of town, to only a few miles north of the main settlement on the island, no less! I am looking forward to more adventures further out, perhaps along the coast or to the smaller nearby islands – you know how fond I am of beaches. And please don’t worry – you also know how I am always so careful and that I can take good care of myself. I will keep you appraised of my adventures in this strange new land, which seems so promising and full of opportunity from the little I’ve yet seen. Say hello to the whole family from me – everyone’s favourite half-orc – and do take care of yourselves over there.

With love,