My dear Marina,
This morning, I woke up from a drugged stupor, tied to a chair. Before you tear up this letter in disgust, know that it’s not what you might expect. I’m not sure Llorcas has an active enough nightlife for such scenarios to naturally arise. I was knocked out and kidnapped by a gnome. (Don’t ask me how the physics of that worked.)
It was Prank, the hoarder I mentioned in my last letter. Suspending him by his toes turned out to be quite unnecessary; he couldn’t have been more eager to share his story. Unfortunately, he wanted to talk to the entire informal group that I’ve been traveling with, which meant I had to find them and:
- Explain the situation through the haze of a soporific hangover
- Formulate a plan through the haze of a soporific hangover
- Talk certain straight-and-narrow dwarves out of a knee-jerk law enforcement response through the haze of &c.
You see, Crank claimed that he was merely a patsy for a more nefarious manipulator. Given certain suspicious details of the situation, especially the gnome’s clear inexperience with skullduggery of any sort, I was willing to entertain the notion. Moreover, in the event that he was attempting some convoluted trickery, the last thing I needed was more dimwitted law-and-order types around to interfere with my response.
Of course, my natural powers of persuasion, plus a few strategic retreats into feigned insensibility and a spectacularly dapper hat, carried the day. We met with Plank per his instructions. He claimed to be controlled from afar by some witchy magic that I am certainly going to be learning more about. He was forced to arrange the dog-man attack as a distraction and then left to take the fall.
I didn’t want to say so in front of my companions, but father uses disposable patsies in exactly the same way all the time. The setup was plausible, and Drank identified two specific people who could confirm or deny the cover story. You know, in exactly the way that every Mantova is drilled not to from the time we learn to speak.
So we sought out these witnesses — a pair of nestofantlers, I think he called them. I don’t mean to brag, but the vim with which I gutted one and intimidated the other won me the admiration of a demon the pair had summoned to aid them. My companions mostly just stood aside and gaped.
The demon wasn’t a bad beast, apart from his atrocious table manners. We established a fair rate of exchange, information for narcolantern carcasses, and learned that we’re up against a coven of hags. They’re a kind of fey, which is apparently a kind of old elf. My grasp of the details is imperfect, but I suspect they’re what Alfredo, the bookish twerp, resorts to for female companionship.
We also have some indication of where to start looking for these hags, so we can stop them from destroying the valley I’m trying to turn a profit in. I guess we’re also clearing the gnome’s name. He’ll soon discover that he owes me for that.
I’ve enclosed the measurements of Vivaldi’s head, by the way. I would be obliged if you could go to the haberdasher and get him something smart. I trust your instincts in the matter — just don’t let them forget the ear holes.