Time has passed in a blur these past few months…more has occurred in a season than in the lifetime of my generation. My brothers and I stand at the eye of a storm and walk with it, lest we be swept away as well. This is truthfully the first time that I have been able to collect my thoughts and preserve them, and I must lest I should fall and some record of these events pass with me.
The early time in Kaels is like to be known enough, so I’ll not bother with the details. We grew in servitude and learned strength in our endurance and honor from our clans and the memory of those who came before us. At first, all we had was the short hope of buying our way from bondage by doing the grim work of protecting the land the soft milk-men neglected and we did. We bled for the land and won some passage through it. As Goris Scaled Eyes might say we stood as proxy for the old Arkhosians and expiated their sins in our suffering.
In the lands around Kaels and the paths towards Thunderspire we drove goblins and orcs before us, wiping them from our homelands and removing the blight of slave-taking and theft they brought to the peasants who worked the land. They bore the emblem of a blood-drop, a resurrected symbol of infamy from the Blood Reavers, an once-powerful ur-tribe of goblinoids that festered in the mountains east of Thunderspire in my grandfather’s time and were broken by the Silver Scale legion some years before the fall.
Some few even thanked us properly for our efforts and showed the respect due to those who care for their lands. The grass-eating magistrates of Harkenwold nominally in charge had lost any hold on these peoples’ hearts through their indifference, whereas we showed them that Keepers properly tend their holdings.
I should note that another Keeper named Selena nursed that land as well; solitary and standoffish the few times we met, her name is worthy of memory for her dedication to the proper way of things. As with Ekkas the Fork-tongued from long ago, even an individual’s dedication can make changes that allow other events to occur and their good deeds deserve good words.
Thunderspire itself was magnificent; truly a testament to the heights of artifice that our kind and the Dwarves could achieve in harmony, before the folly of the Dwarven enslavement…
The scene in the Seven Pillared Hall, with the noise of a dozen species bargaining and bustling under the passive gaze of the Warders and in the gleam of glowbulbs and lightcrystals was unlike any we had ever seen. The initial impression was quickly tarnished by the guttural harangues of Duergar slavers, wheedling threats of goblinoid thugs and the presence of Harkish mages.
Our initial time in the city let us see the filth that bubbled up from the Underdark under the palsied governance of the mages: slaves fresh-taken from Thunderspires own shieldlands were sold down to the depths to die as slaves in Duergar mines or – as we later discovered – to serve as food and sport for Drow and Illithid. The mages hid in their tower and sold away the vitality of the domain to dredge up blasphemous knowledge from the deeps.
Claritus Shadowfang was of great help in dealing with that nighted realm both in our initial forays into the maze of caverns as we hunted after and rooted out the slavers harrying the towns; were it not for his knowledge of dark places and the skill of a hired guide – Turlyn Darkseeker – both Goris and I would have died in our initial ventures.
As it was, while recovering from our explorations we came to our destiny obliquely in that we became beholden to a mage and found ourselves caught in the first currents of the gathering storm. Oruntar biletongue, eggbreaker, mind-killer. Oruntar the grey, whelp and cur of Sarun-Kel, cursed for a thousand generations baited us with half-truths and a forced promise that we would help him track and apprehend Paldomar, head of his order, for fear that he was engaged in illicit research and using artifacts of Arkhosia to hunt and kill those dragons still living in or near the lands in the bloody hands of Harkenwold.