The Eighteen Blades of Vode Nulan

Message in a Bottle

Written in dwarven – charcoal writing on a cracked and rolled piece of parchment folded into a corked milky white bottle:

We suffert claim-jumpers and bandits these last fort days and nearly lost a member of the company – all this to defend a dusty, dry mine that’s little more than a coyote hole.
It’s the law of might what reigns out here, just beyond the Vale. A claim is given legal rit within the Gleaming Valley, but these papers count for little in the wilds of the Gascars where there are no roads to support the King’s forces and the terrain is a poor suit for the Hollow Knights.

With a final push from some frenzied claim-jumpers we’ve loaded up and rolled out two nights past. Yab’s following a part dry riverbed, lumbering the cart over the rocky bed and pushing the animals to follow the stream bed against a trickling current. It’s a sharp incline but we’ve got to go where there’s ore, got to get away from the places where bandits and thieves are seeking out easy pickins.

It’s an early night’s camp I call; I’m not a popular figure right now, I pushed ‘em hard today and we put some miles ahind us. The terrain only seems to get rougher for the morrow so a full belly and a night of sleep is what’s needed. Huakna seems to be the only one who believes in the direction Keldar and I have chosen, but even if the priestess were opposed, I’d follow Keldar’s nose for ore into the Hornsaw. I think these higher reaches be worth assaying before we turn back, if nothing else.

Blessings on young Gilesli, I’ve never seen a dwarven hand so finely pick at harp strings, she seems too purty, too dainty for such rough livin and I fear a life swinging the pick and shifting boulders will ruin those digits and her harp playing days for good. For now she’s keeping the mood light, her faster than jack rabbit stringin’ nearly had old Zuth cuttin’ a jig. I’d like to strike the mother lode for no other reason than to send her off to some fancy bardic academy in the east, we all know she got the talent for it.

Belbaza’s off to scout a bit of the path ahead and to make sure we won’t have any surprise in the night; taking on that tracker was the best bit of advice Zuth has given, though it was more endless complaints than suggestin. How such a surly cuss calls so often to Corean’s ears is beyond me, maybe HE just gives Zuth less to complain about than the others of the divine.
I praise Belbaza’s scouting, but could have gone without her ill-spoken words before leaving to scout. Yea indeed we’re camped in a low gully in a dry riverbed – she’s likely right, a good rain will flood out the entire camp and our equipment with it, possibly some lives. But Keldar, Huakna and even Belbaza agree that rain tonight is highly unlikely, it’s just one more thing for the others to grumble about. Even as I write Yab is giving me the crow’s eye as he tends to his winded animals, Zuth hasn’t stopped complaining since breakfast and even quiet Kiram is shaking his head whenever he looks my way.

I don’t fear an uprising, these are good loyal folk, believers in the peace of Madriel, the joy of Tanil and the honor of Corean and Goran; but I feel their tops a bubblin’ and our company’s desperation. Original plans had us back in Forge by now, and he we are lumberin the opposite way up mountain ‘stead of down. We’re deep in debt for the prices of our supplies and I fear we on verge of folding as a company and going our separate ways.

This pocket of high valleys might be our last effort at finding a claim that pays off our debts, let alone turns a profit. Time is against us, the terrain is against us and by the sound of that peal of thunder rumbling over the mountains, the weather may be turning against us. My worst fears for tonight. Tanil help us if one of those fierce mountain storms rides our way. I fold up this ledger so we can shift the camp to whatever higher ground might be reached, I’m storing it in this musty old bottle of White Peak Ale, The kerchief tied around is my own, Rotu Stonefoot, founding member and chief miner of the Pick and shovel Prospecting Company. Should any find this letter in the wilds beyond the Valley, say a prayer to Tanil that we find our way out of these highlands alive.
Sometime late in Enkilot, 150



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