In truth, many days passed before I had the time or inclination to revisit this ancient adventure. The whims of fate and time dragged me off to care for my son and finish out a semester with students. I left my brave heroes adrift in the snow, and Kuldahar left abandoned for my futile efforts at a life outside of ancient video games. I put together a new anthology that I will be very pleased to announce, soon. I baked many things, and washed many dishes. When the crisis is truly behind us, I look forward to having takeout for two days straight to prevent any and all dishes from happening. Also, we will need to do this while wearing the same clothes over and again, which is normally not how things are done, but the laundry tide never fades. I spend my days washing dishes, cooking, washing dishes again, cooking, washing clothes, folding clothes, etc., etc. In between, I try to get my son around the block (He’s not, yet 2 years old) and work remotely for the college. In between, I am exhausted, and I push on through Kuldahar’s beating heart, seeking out the evil that stalks the poor villagers. It is a tangible, felt evil. My heroes returned to the village to discover an attack of monstrous Orog raiders, stealing and killing. We swept through the village, and did what we could.
The paladin sensed something very evil suddenly emanating from the Archdruid. He was trying to tell us something, but he could not hear. The aura of evil was too great. The dispatched imposter only revealed that the Archdruid was dead on the 2nd floor – murdered during the raid and replaced by an evil imposter. The hearthstone gem, so precious and difficult to acquire, cannot be used here. Our fearless band of weary warriors must trudge on through ice and snow and down and down into the valley below the spine, to seek out a haunted corpse of an elven mage that may still be capable of utilizing the gem to scry out the great evil brewing. One would think wandering into a huge, elven ruin would be no great problem. The elves are dead, after all. Whatever baubles and gemstones remain would have long ago been plundered. Alas, when the Hand of the Seldarine fell, a powerful spell was cast to protect and preserve the elves, and this spell did that by haunting the halls with deadly specters who often do not even realize they are dead. They tumble about in an echo of the life they once had, unchanging and immutable. Even in death, there is supposed to be a transformation of things, of spirit matter from one plane to another, and the realm of the living builds upon the bones and dreams of the dead. The Mythal changed all that, of course, and the dead wait, unfallen, unbroken, with no hope for a future and fading memories of the past. It is a truly unnatural state, reminiscent of Myrkul’s BoneDancers in Kresselack’s tomb. The state of undeath is made more horrific when we reached a floor of the Hand, and spoke with a little girl who claimed to work for her parent’s inn, where our adventurers could find a bed. The food was all rotten, but the girl couldn’t tell. The beds were dusty and musty and the blankets moth-eaten flimsy wrecks, but the specter of the child sees only that perfect day, just before the fall of the Hand, forever and ever in that one day. It is a terrible thing to see a kingdom fall to siege, and all the death and despair that comes from it. More terrible is to keep the city in siege forever, breaking it into a bulb of broken magic that traps everything, everyone. Glad were we to climb into the dark and broken places and bring rest to the legions of lost elves. We gathered pieces of a machine, and faced a new sort of monstrous undeath in these cold wastelands. Like Kresselack, we fought to the tower only to be disappointed in the sentient bones we found presiding over so much misery and darkness. We were sent, then, to go climb into the ruins of a dwarven kingdom, then, where the Hearthstone points. And perhaps we will, soon.
Oh, time racing on, oh lost days and restless nights, waiting for things that never arrive, I turned this machine off and looked about my own ruins, with the waves of dishes and clumped piles of semi-useless things. It is too late in the night to bother with any more words than this: My journey into the past glory of a twenty-year-old video game rpg only serves to feed me back the person I was, and it doesn’t help my mood remembering a life before marriage and pets and careers and kids. Adventure all you want in digital heroism, no dish will be washed and no shirt is folded, and it is in these basic acts of care and cleanliness that our current war is being fought. It is less glorious than powerful, magical swords handed down from ancient knights, perhaps, but I am grateful my battle lines are drawn with soap and water, not blood and iron.