Journal: Earthday 27 Planting 598, Continued
As Master dwarf Dilur Malvor began to speak, there was trepidation, a hope for answers. But his story only revealed more questions. He spoke of Doru Morgu and his young apprentice who commissioned the building of the "sanctuary" back in the Common Year of 577 ... over 20 years ago! His telling gave no light to the story of us. No insight into how or why we found ourselves in the sanctuary, and no memories of our past. Dilur did his best to answer the questions presented, but he was not the caretaker of the Vale during the time in question, so his interaction with the important events was limited.
However, Master Malvor did mention a possible path for us to follow. He spoke of a great red ruby the size of a melon, "the greatest treasure in all the Flanaess." According to the previous caretaker, this was the payment presented by the apprentice of Doru Morgu for the Sanctuary. An incredible gift as none of the dwarves had ever seen or heard of such a gem. The previous caretaker, Tydar Bimme, sent dispatches to all the major dwarven kingdoms requesting any information on this great red ruby. However, no one ever heard of such a find. Dilur then spoke of how Tydar was summoned to the ancient dwarven kingdom of Gauntlgrym, deep underground in the far north. There, Tydar met with King Bruenor who explained that the great red ruby was taken from the mines of Gauntlgrym over a thousand years ago, and has not been seen since. Apparently, the gem also had a twin, which is also missing.
Dilur said he built a great vault to secure the prize gem in the Vale, even hiring Jara Arlec, a local alchemist from Saltmarsh to create magical traps to protect the vault. Only to find later, the gem and the alchemist had vanished. However, the alchemist had an apprentice named Erlas who may know more. He told us that Erlas - some time ago - was said to have taken residence in an abandoned keep. So off we go.
Of note, Dilur says we are welcome back to the Vale, but reiterates our oath to keep it a secret. Should we need to send word of things, he gave us all small pendants which other members will recognize. Also, many of the area dwarves have been hired for mining work near Saltmarsh.
Journal: Freeday 28 Planting 598
Lastnight we reached Nighford, the next town on our journey south following the Javan River. Here, the river-folk have all but overrun the place. The Rhennee have setup their barges all along the banks, joining them together to form a small village on the water.
We got rooms and join the festivities at an inn named the Red Skull. Belgariad drinks too much. However, we gain insight into the rumors of the area. I heard nothing of interest to me.
This morning we located supplies and bought horses and tack. We make way for our next destination, the Abandon Keep of Erlas.
Journal: Starday 1 Flocktime 598
Yesterday, we ferried across the Javan and traveled through Lavienth, heading for the hilly pass where an abandoned keep is said to be. We were told by others in Lavienth to visit the Great Bridge on the other side of the pass, said to be one of the wonders of the Flanaess. Apparently, they have never heard of any "great red rubies" the size of your head, but I look forward to seeing the bridge.
Later that night we reached the craggy pass. The Dreadwood loomed behind us creating an uneasy feeling that we were being watched. We bedded down for the night to look for Erlas' keep in the morning. An impending darkness pervades this area, the daylight should help. Again, my sleep was interrupted by a voice in the dark.
At dusk we began our search of the keep, by midmorning, we have located it. A well-hidden, ruined mess of stones overgrown with nature and vines. We climbed the steep goat trail to the keep, battled nasty Stirges, and found a hidden map located in a false-bottomed chest. We also discovered some notes written in shorthand and a contract with Erlas' name on it. Valas located a trove of Stirge eggs, not sure what he plans, but Dezlan seems determined to make breakfast from them.
The map, which is labeled "The Morhigen Deeps" leads us to a craggy opening and a dank cave. Wish us luck.