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.
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.