Dearest Daideó,

All of my friends just nearly died - I thought *I* was reckless, but apparently I'm a timid marsh hare compared to the others! We arrived at Soutley Fort, and it wasn't much of a Fort. The orc army will probably overrun it pretty quickly. We're doing our best to help, but if we actually help these humans survive, we deserve accolades and legendary epic poems in our honour!

First, Sharn just waltzed right up with no head covering - an invading orc army on its way, and she didn't want a disguise! Maybe that turned out okay in the end, but she was clapped in chains right quick, and the guards didn't pay any attention to my protestations. Brutes. One of them even pushed me over. You'd be proud - I was steaming mad, ready to call down a metaphorical lightning bolt, but I took a deep breath, shut my mouth, and decided to forget about being a hero for a while and do some scouting instead. If they ignore a noble gnome, then I'll take advantage of that and be a spy for a while.

The guards were distracted with El and Firia and Sharn, so I crept away to check out the great hall. My serendipity continues - the servants' door in the main hall was unlocked, and very conveniently, I found a pile of laundry freshly aired out that had a servant's robe just my size!

Scáthfile hid beneath the long robes for a bit, but his tail kind of stuck out the back. When we walked past the kitchens, his cute little nose started twitching and he sprang away from me. The naughty boy knocked over a pitcher of cream and got a few licks in before he had to escape an angry cook! I scolded him, but he just licked his whiskers.

That put some attention on me, and I explained that I was new here, and invented some sort of believable tale that seemed to satisfy the cook. He loaded me up with food and told me to serve Lord Joram in the main hall. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to help out Sharn.

Lord Joram wasn't around yet, and no one was paying me any mind, so while Scáthfile was nibbling crumbs of cheese off the floor, I quickly found some paper and ink, and scratched out an artistic warning note about the invading army. I can't remember exactly how I signed it - something very clever, like “Valor's Chosen”. I decided to sound a bit more certain than I really was about the size of the orcish invading force, but I think I was fairly close. I tucked it under his plate with the corner peeking out.

Shortly after, Lord Joram arrived and started eating his food, and I guess my note was too subtle! He just chowed down, so hard that he actually started choking on a chicken bone! Thanks to Maimeó's excellent lessons in first aid, I sprang to the rescue, and pounded on his back to help him dislodge the deadly shard. He was quite grateful, and spoke to me for a while. He seemed like a thoughtful person, and I'm glad I was there to save him. If I keep this up, the Maiden Maebh will be known across this kingdom as a brilliant hero!

Free of my current duties, I started looking for the prison and, hopefully, try to rescue Sharn. Unfortunately an earthquake shook the whole building, and the walls shuddered. Screams, shouts, and running. I followed the braver guards towards the epicenter of the quake, and came to the prison area. The wall was crumbled, but for a moment I could see all 3 of my companions through a gap in the wall, and then a massive pointy chunk of earth speared through the wall, incapacitating one of Lord Joram's men!

It looked suspiciously like magic, and while I respect Firia's abilities, I wasn't too impressed with her timing. I think she may need to learn to be more subtle - these are superstitious common folk, who own pointy pitchforks and have access to both tar AND feathers!

At this point, I thought for sure they were doomed, and I'd have to save these humans on my own. The Lord's men were all upset, and I could hear Father Herbot yelling at my friends. He was the man that locked up Sharn in the first place - one of those so-called “holy men” who seem to care more about themselves than any god. I'm quite sure he's really a chaos mage in disguise, trying to fool Lord Joram. He probably has a deal with the invaders.

In any case, someone must have calmed the situation down, because Sharn, El and Firia trooped back into the hall, surrounded by the guards. Lord Joram wasn't too pleased, for good reason. His hall was a mess, and one of his men was not healthy at all!

They were talking angrily, Father Herbot's spittle flying from his mouth very rudely, and I leaned in intently to try to figure out everyone's motivations. Unfortunately, my elbow knocked over a cup, spilling wine all over the floor. The evil chaos mage stared at me, recognizing my beautiful face from our first encounter at the gate, and yelled, “She's part of the unholy group. Put them all to death!” Quite the charmer.

My friends were trying to convince Joram to listen to them, and that if he didn't do something he'd be a complete failure - Sharn even seemed to threaten him a bit. That may have actually settled him down a bit, but I could see in his eyes a fear. I looked around, and realized that he was most afraid of looking like a fool in front of everyone. I decided to take a different tack, and build this leader up. Give him a chance to look like a hero in front of his people instead, and offer him a way to look good. Who doesn't want that chance? So I made a flowery speech, getting a few subtle jabs in at the demon priest, and pulled in a few references to Valor. Oh, right, I managed to reference me saving his life earlier - I leveraged everything I had on him. I flashed him one of my brilliant smiles, and he stood up and acted like the leader I knew he could be - he has decided to put up a resistance against the invaders, and call in allies from the neighbouring towns.

He might still be a bit suspicious of my group, but I'm confident that if I can keep Herbot the Horrible from interfering we can soon be good friends.

You always told me I was too optimistic, Daideó, but I can't help myself - that's just who I am. If things start to go sour, I'm sure I'll come up with a better plan at that point!


Maebh the Inspirational