Forgive me, loyal companion, journal of my secret thoughts, for failing to write in so many moons. If you were a lover or wife waiting for news of brave Thunderhead’s fate on the field of some distant battlefield, you would surely have taken me for dead and rotting, forever ensconced in the deep racial memories of our people, our poems and our songs, the kind that demand tears. But I am not dead, and I have no wife to mourn, no little children to wonder what kind of dwarf their father was, no sturdy son braiding his beard in the style of his long-gone sire, honoring my memory with every twisted knot. No. I am a Gloamingborn, neither day nor night, neither pure light nor full dark, but orange and gray and blue that fade to black, twilight and sunrise and dusk again. I am the last of my kind, and I call that an honor. I have not written to you, dear friend, because I would not dare to dishonor your pages with blood and offal and filth: the honestly earned work of my ax. I have seen horrors. More are to come.
When I last found time to chronicle the adventures of the Faterinos, we were about to face down a creature that we have come to call the Walking Graveyard, a beast foul, comprised of the bodies of dead men, some of whom I personally put to the ax. It seemed as though our past deeds were coming back to haunt us, that unspeakable Nerull had unleashed some new hell upon the earth in order that the Faterinos should be made humble as in the callow days, when demi-gods and dragons wandered the earth and all was young, eager for blood, blood to grow up the world. Great things are fed on blood, after all. Still, with the help of some gallant men in the service of valorous Heironeous, including the mysterious Dmici, head of the god’s order in the city, the beast was stricken down. I was somewhat concerned by Nabayo and Donaldino’s seeming abandonment of the fight at a critical juncture, but their ways are inscrutable. They claim to have been seeking help, but I am forced to wonder. They have time and again proven their loyalty, so I can hardly blame them for a moment of desperate panic in the face of a beast whose hideous visage was beyond anything, ANYTHING, we have hereto encountered. Indeed, perhaps they were right to flee.
In truth, I am ashamed that my tactics almost led us to disaster and broken-bodied ruin. I thought we could take the beast using the ancient Hoth technique, passed down from our ancestors who came to this world a long time ago from a place far, far away. I believed in the power of the Faterinos, and simple, true Woodbine almost found himself joined in unholy communion with the monster as a result. I am glad to say that I somewhat atoned for my misjudgment when I saved the poor lad’s life, but it was a close call, closer than any I’ve had before. It seemed as though even a slight change in the roll of Fate’s dice would have doomed me. Still, life forgives itself, and I am alive. Draw your own conclusions.
After the creature fell, we were given leave by Captain Hendrix to investigate those responsible for the creation of the Walking Graveyard. After some leg work, we came across what we thought was Dmici in a temple. He was acting flighty, and his behavior was such that we followed him until he revealed himself to be pip the Illusionist! Pip is a strange fellow to be sure, though it is unclear whether Pip is male or female. Perhaps this is part of the aura of illusion and deceit the surrounds a true wizard. We have made Pip a provisional Faterino, for he displays the qualities of daring and foolhardy recklessness we seem to privilege, for better or worse. As much as I have an innate distrust for magic, I must admit, Pip quickly proved himself to be useful, and I see the value of having a spellcaster to lend support to Donaldino’s unique brand of magically infused aural ribaldry.
After encountering a strange clothier who gifted each of us fine clothes and equipment of a distinctly magical nature, we set out to investigate the temple of Heironeous itself. We saw tell-tale signs of monstrous goings on inside the temple thanks to Pip and the ever stealthy Scratch, who was further enhanced with a spell of invisibility. I suspect Pip and Scratch will make natural allies, as unlikely a pair as they seem at first glance. Scratch’s ability to move undetected never ceases to amaze me. We dwarves are not much trained in the roguish arts, but to see a master at work is always awe-inspiring. Scratch assures us that something never meant for the hallowed ground of a temple is residing in the passages beneath the compound…something abides in darkness and terror, hungry, insatiable as a desperate tongue seeking new tastes that it might know and feast upon. If I were a wiser dwarf, I would be afraid, but I no longer have that luxury. There is only the path forward.
After meeting a visiting priest of Heironeous from a distant town, we learned that pilgrims have been disappearing from within the temple, and that there are murmurs of dark goings on within the ranks of the order. Treachery is afoot in the temple, I can feel it. With a heart fortified with the mithril of experience, we allowed ourselves to be led underneath the passages of the temple. Moradin, Moradin, cruel is the day when caves and the solitude of the deep places casts a pallor over my soul, and that day is come. I know not if we shall emerge from this labyrinth, but in your name, Moradin, Soul-Forger, Dwarf-father, I pray you watch over the Faterinos, a band of friends who meant only to be a force for good in the world, a wave of justice that brought deliverance to the shores of inequity, and a shining light in the darkness, the gloaming that gives way to dawn.