Enzo's Letters: Part Two
New Vistas of Swearing

Dear Marina,
Damn this place. Damn this magic. Damn Vadge Nefarious and his already thrice-damned metal boots.

I write to you from a pit — quite literally, this time. We followed Barley, that demented old treasure collector, into a recently revealed dwarven ruin. The place was dark, of course, but I have a rock that glows. The other members of my party shoot fire out of their fingers, and I have a rock that glows. It was given to me by the gnome, who found a better rock that glows.

I don’t know how much longer I can take these indignities.

Anyway, we found something else that glows: ghosts! Yes, those amusing spectres from the tawdrier plays that Gisella is so fond of appear to be a real thing that does exist. Dwarf ghosts, to boot: very amusing, I thought. They were just standing around, but Gran Sisters did something religious that seemed to anger them.

There were some ghost dwarf archers (even more amusing, right? ha. ha.) taking aim from a sort of battlement, so I thought I would get up close and slice at them with my magical dagger. I’m quite a fencer, and they didn’t even have blades, and of course magical weapons are perfect for giving spirits the what-for: I’ve been dragged to enough of Gi’s sordid horror dramatizations to know that.

Here’s the thing: against normal opponents, this would have worked brilliantly. With my considerable skill at fast climbing (why do so many architects put bedchambers on upper floors?) I could negate the enemy’s terrain advantage. With my blade, I could strike at vulnerable targets not equipped for close quarters combat. I’m obviously more mobile than any normal dwarf archer, allowing me to strike quickly and withdraw if necessary.

My opponents, however, were not normal. They were not players on a tuppenny stage with flour on their faces. They did not go ‘boo.’ They screamed like a sawblade dragged sideways across slate and then started clawing at me with their bare, spectral fingernails.

Alfredo will be gratified to hear that I do, in fact, possess a soul. I know that, because these horrifying things were tearing it out of me.

I bid a hasty retreat, which proved useless when the dwarves began to fly. This sounds utterly comical in writing, so I hasten to add that they were flying after me, talons first, and tearing out more shreds of my very being.

I was bested, dear sister. I succumbed to unconsciousness; the rest of the fight passed in a dark blur. Frankly, I am out of my depth where these unnatural magical creatures are concerned. You know me well: I would never say such a thing, but it is true. Even now, my flesh is gray and lifeless where they touched me. I worry that it will not heal.

I came to with a stabbing pain in my backside where the gnome was kicking me. I hope you will not think less of me if I murder him once he is no longer useful. Fran did a ritual of some kind, which strengthened me against the clutches of darkness. Her, I am starting to like.

After more mishaps with ghosts — albeit less serious ones, focused on more expendable members of the group — we encountered a sort of supernatural guardian for what must be the buried city’s treasury. I’m not even going to bother describing him, lest you think me mad. He is the most disgusting thing I have encountered on my travels, which is saying something. Let’s leave it at that.

Fortunately, he was capable of speech, and no one in our party had taken any sacred oaths to attack whatever he was on sight. (Don’t even get me started on sacred oaths. I was not aware just how popular they were among the commoners. When I get home, I think I might push for a ban.) We bargained with him: he wants to be released from service, and I want whatever is in that room. We will have to delve deeper into this ruin to acquire components for the necessary ritual; by comparison with magic, it amazes me that I ever thought our government regulations unnecessarily bureaucratic and circuitous.

I’m writing as we take a rest, here in the darkness and silence of a labyrinthine, ghost-infested cave. You can scarcely imagine how comfortable and refreshed I feel. I’ll send you the letter through one of those little magic portals we use for instantaneous communication across great distances.

Kidding, of course! Magic, do something useful? How absurd! I’ll carry the letter out of here and post it once we return to the town of Llamas. I never thought I could pine for what little civilization such a place could offer, but this venture has proven me wrong in so many other respects: why stop there?

Thank Alfredo for the Gnomish crash course he unwittingly sent me. You would not believe the new vistas of swearing it has opened to me.

Yours sincerely,
Enzo Mantova

P.S. Father will soon be receiving a bill of sale for a horse. Considering the sort of danger I routinely have to encounter in this venture, I thought of my fearless dwarf companion, and asked for one that was fast and sure-footed, but too stupid to spook easily.

Isfarġel's First Letter

Brother Desmet:

We have arrived in Llanda, and the first cask has been delivered to the Amorous Unicorn. The proprietor has shown us unwarranted hospitality. I confess that I have yet to tell Smidge the true reason for our journey. I suppose I must tell him before we conclude our business in Yhilport…but that is several days away.

During our soujourn, Smidge encountered an old friend, a treasure hunter by the name of Harley. Reluctant as I am to abandon someone in need, I agreed to assist him in his search. In doing so, we earned some coin and made the acquaintance of several, shall I say, adventurers: a stalwart paladin, an acolyte of the Moon Temple, and a choleric nobleman whom you would likely deem “a total shit-whistle.” I will probably put him through a wall before journey’s end.

…I should take some time to meditate before the others awaken.

Anyway, I have noticed that several of them are attuned and I hope to convince at least one to accompany me to Xiahe Temple. I will post an update once we reach Yhilport. Give everyone my regards.

Temperance (Izzy)

Enzo's Letters: Part One
Is there anything these peasants won't breed with?

Dear Marina,
This magical attunement and its attendant exile from civilization keep finding new agonies to inflict upon me.

First, there is the town of Laredo itself. Calling it ‘quaint’ would be an insult to the lies we tell to advertise our rental properties in the slums. Three taverns and a bridge suitable for jumping off of: there’s the nightlife summed up.

And the taverns — gods! I decided to stay at one called the Fabulous Tricorn, on the assumption that there might be an attached haberdashery, or at least the innkeeper and I could converse about fashion. No such luck. It’s a dwarf, so you know how that goes: “Is it metal? Is it vaguely bucket-shaped? Then it must be a hat!”

The entertainment last night was some bumpkin mouth-farting into one of those horrible little reedy things I refuse to learn the name of, and there’s no wine to speak of, but at least the bucket-hatted barkeep knew his liquors. He practically shat his tiny pants when he received a delivery of Brewer Swanson’s private reserve.

To be honest, I nearly did so myself. Never mind the shock of the monastery making deliveries of their absolute finest. (Someone must be blackmailing the monks. This is a travesty — we must find out what someone has on Swanson and start blackmailing him ourselves.) You should have seen the messengers they sent.

One of them was a gnome, and they occasionally conversed in Gnomish. Send one of those language courses Alfredo swears by. Don’t tell him it’s for me, or he’ll tear out every other page, the prig. But the other? The other was a half-goat! I suppose this is the sort of rural arrangement that I will have to grow accustomed to.

They were both as filthy and uncultured as the tavern itself. After the barrel of reserve was tapped, I saw someone buy a glass of it and chug it down in a single gulp. This custom is called ‘shooting,’ named after the reaction right-minded people have to seeing it done, I assume.

Unfortunately, my crossbow was in my room. Still, I intervened, attempting to rescue at least some of the casks from whatever ignominious fate awaited them. Instead, my own impeccable manners left me and my guide, Bran Cereal, entangled in some sort of misadventure these rough types were planning.

(There was also the mention of magical artifacts at their destination, lest you think I’m letting my benevolent nature get the better of me.)

We also brought along a dwarf, to run headlong into dangerous areas ahead of the rest of us. He might have introduced himself, or it might have been a coughing fit. I kept my distance; the last thing I need is some sort of dwarf-ague.

Apparently the old man with the offensive drinking habits is a collector of curiosities with a line on a number of caches of magical artifacts, with guards he is too incompetent to bypass. Promising, no?

That’s what I thought, too. But these people! Up at the arse-crack of dawn, for hour upon hour of walking. I’m going to need to buy a new pair of boots. Also, a horse. Also, possibly a house, so that I don’t have to spend another night in this stinking, reed-honking, dram-shooting cesspit of an inn.

My apologies. This is a letter, not a shopping list.

We eventually arrived at the magical location, to find it guarded by odious half-dogs. (Is there any creature that these peasants won’t breed with?) We murdered them all in a fit of good taste. I’ll say this for Ishtar the Goat and Fridge the Gnome: they are not only attuned as I am, but capable of freely performing powerful magic. Apparently Pan Skillets isn’t the only one.

(Mel Odie, the dwarf, may also have cast a spell in there somewhere, but he might have just been shouting nonsense. It’s hard to tell with dwarves.)

We went into a cave, where attunement made a nuisance of itself again by raising up some skeletons to attack us. Ludicrous, I know, but I checked them for wires; it wasn’t some sort of theatrical effect. They seemed to be animated by magic. I know that doesn’t sound any less ridiculous, but this is my life now, dear sister. I fenced a skeleton. Promise to leave that out of the family tapestry.

After vanquishing — oh, I can’t bear to write it again — our opponents, we opened up a trove of ancient coins and artifacts. The coins were paltry, but a few of the items were interesting. I’ve ended up with a dagger, superbly balanced, that seems to draw itself toward its wielder’s intended target. (I’ll keep it tightly secured to my belt, for obvious reasons.)

It’s not much, but it’s a start. Tomorrow, we will raid a dwarven ruin, sure to be full of half-sheep and animate chamber pots. For the moment, I’ll go along with these ruffians and see if they turn up anything of value. Besides, there are still a few casks of whiskey that need rescuing…

Yours sincerely,

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