Dearest Daideó,

Things have been very difficult lately. My spellsong has been strange - there have been occasions when I push into the Resonance, my head starts ringing and there are clashing harmonics throwing me off. I think it has something to do with a pulsing light coming from the North. It began shortly after El's exploding fireball trick.

It's affecting all the magic users, El in particular. She threw up the first night, and even Firia's plant magic shrivelled up, all misshapen and diseased. We tried some herbal and other natural medicine, but nothing seems to take away the headaches we experience.

We travelled about 2 weeks along the river, and eventually made it to the crossroads in the foothills. Daideó, it was the strangest ambush I've ever experienced - Shambling Zombies! We had seen some bodies on the ground, and as we investigated a broken cart and a small shack, the bodies began moving and attacking us!

This was Scáthfile's first encounter with the undead, and he didn't like them one bit. He wouldn't attack them directly at first, but he was a real hero and stayed in between me and the horrible monsters. I tried yelling at these creatures, but they didn't seem to have any humanity left.

Sharn threw an entire wagon wheel at one - she amazes me with her incredible strength. I'm so glad she's on our side. When the zombies started attacking El, I screamed a Dispel, which sort of worked, but El also was seriously hurt! I didn't think it should do any wounds to people, and I rushed over to comfort her and see what happened. I'm a bit scared to use spellsong - I certainly wouldn't want to hurt anyone! I wish I could ask Maimeó about it - why would Dispel cause blood to flow out of the ears?

After that crazy encounter, we decided to head into the hills and take the shortcut to the capital city, and to the King! I hope he's worth meeting. I at least managed to sing without a headache while walking - “The Road Goes Ever On and On” - and hopefully my wandering feet “turn at last to home afar.” Ach, I'm getting sentimental again.

We set up camp in a forested area, and magic did not work even for lighting a fire. El was upset, I think, and wandered off. It was a beautiful night - no moon, lots of stars, peaceful and quiet. The horror of zombies drifted away with the wisps of cloud and gentle breeze. I followed El, making sure she was okay - I was still upset about the harm I caused her.

We came to a clear, still pool, reflecting the Aurora Borealis. I started playing a reflective song to match the water, and the moment felt magical even though I didn't push into Resonance. El suddenly stepped into the water; at first I thought she was chanting beat poetry along with my instrumental - “I see a room, beauty, and an evil eye.” Almost trance-like. She was in some sort of vision - I could see nothing.

The others helped her out of the water, and we returned to camp, wondering at the strange events of the day. Unfortunately, they were about to get stranger. The temperature dropped suddenly, like the moments before a hailstorm. Shadows began to move. I was shaking, frozen in fear, primal terror gripping my heart.


Firia reached out, but nothing happened - then El unleashed some crazy blades into the writhing mass, and we felt a tangible release of pressure. Chilling shrieks pierced the night, and then Scáthfile leapt in front of me, his claws shredding the misty forms. El screamed at everyone to stand back, and cast flaming swords at the biggest shape - it made a strange sound, then tendrils dissipated into the sky.

It was all over so quickly - silence and heavy breathing, and slowly the night sounds returned. We decided to very quickly start a fire, and discussed the day's events. Apparently the shadows knew El's name - very disturbing to say the least. She's worried that she is a target, and is drawing these creatures with her presence.

And yet the one with most cause to fear falls asleep first! It must have been my soothing, gentle lute that lulled El to sleep - I spent some time composing a new ballad, considering heroic lyrics that may some day be sung from these very hills. Sharn spent her night writing field notes and stabbing shadows. I think she is most affected by the supernatural events - her worldview is somewhat limited.

We passed through the mountains in 10 days. It was difficult, but the path was true. Along the way I found a cowled cloak that fit very well - a bit warmer and very fine. We cobbled together a monk disguise for Sharn, and both El and Firia put up their hoods to avoid attention while visiting the King's City.

I am the Princess of Monlovia, with my warrior monk bodyguard retinue. El is my mystic advisor, a seer with a scarf wrapped around her “all-seeing eyes.” We didn't get much attention when we first entered Windhall. It was a busy city with busy peasants. There seemed to be some variety here - dark-skinned, exotic travellers, and even a few dwarves. There are rich and poor, cultured and rugged clothing, and lots of noise!

We decided to look for books to gain knowledge of the North and figure out what's going on out here. The best place seemed to be a Temple - we couldn't see a library anywhere. Tall spires, stained-glass windows, and terribly annoying priests make up this Temple.

We met a Father Gilbert, a condescending but nice enough fellow. We spoke about the invasion, but he refused to believe us. Fortunately as we were speaking and causing a small commotion, the Abbot Thibaud, the apparent leader of this religious establishment, pranced in with his resplendent robes. He stopped and conversed with us for a while, and I believe I impressed him with my natural charm and witty banter.

The good start didn't last too long. El and Firia started trying to negotiate and convince him to allow us privacy to give him proof of our claims… And when he made a derogatory and paternalistic comment about women in general, Sharn revealed her orcish visage. That got everyone's attention!

(continued on another parchment)