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My Niece, Lora, Has Written Me

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Dearest Aunt Sadie,

I've finally arrived at the Draracle's lair, and not a day too soon, nor one too late. You can't even fathom the adventures that befell me along the way. Of course you know that when the village elected me to serve on their behalf, I would have done anything to slither out. No one in all of Grisbl has been able to determine the exact nature of the servitude that is required here, and the darker rumors were more than enough to repel me.

As it turns out, though, it's mostly quite nice. We are well taken care of and most everyone is very kind, with the one exception of the infamous Jikel... and, well, truth be told, the Draracle, himself, still scares me. Everyone says I will grow accustomed, but I'm less confident. When we are in his presence, which is decently rare (thank goodness!), he's always looking but never seems to see anyone. It's as if he's looking off into the distance. I guess that's what being a seer is like though….He only really ever seems to talk to Jikel or the travelers that come seeking his advice…and pay for it!

But enough about that, what happened before is really the interesting bit. On my way from Grisbl, our convoy was attacked! It was in the Southlands around the area of Roland's keep. Our assailants were a detachment of orcs and other dark creatures under their control. I did what I could to fend them off with my magic, but I also saw my opportunity in all the chaos to make my escape. The orcs weren't really interested in us; they were clearly on a grander mission. At least that's what I've told myself so as not to think about the causalities I may have left behind, but it was just the break I needed, and I took it.

Truly Aunt Sadie, I always intended to make my way to the Draracle's eventually. I felt bad thinking of mama and papa without the weather predictions, and after all, they had benefited from this same system of slavery for years (though if anyone got fresh with me, I couldn't have put up with it – I do declare!). Anyhow, I was wandering about trying to find the marina there when I found myself face-to-face with a wild boar. I remained calm, after all, I'd just fought much more formidable foes, but just then, I felt a set of large hands grasp my shoulders and a smooth male voice whisper that it was going to be alright. He said he was there to rescue me.
Ha! Aunt Sadie, of course you know how I well I react to that kind of nonsense. I ripped my frame free of his grasp and shot off a spark spell to confuse the beast as I rushed forward. I slipped the dagger from my boot and plunged it into the beast's neck before it could even glance back at me.

The man was almost as stunned as the boar had been! He stared at me wide-eyed and I could see then that he was quite handsome with long flowing blond hair and a slim build. He promptly regained his composure and gave a small clap for my performance. I bowed low, mocking his patronizing gesture, spun around on my heels and set off a long my way.

"Do wait a moment," he called out behind me. I had not half a mind to do so, of course, but after a few feet of his increasingly annoying begging, I glanced back to tell him, and he kissed me, full on the lips.

My eyes widened and this unexpected advance, and I slapped him across his face.

Well it turned out that Timothy was something of a freelance hero, himself, and though he grated on my nerves constantly, I was none to eager to fulfill my errand with the Draracle. So I spent about a week roaming around with him, training with Timothy, beating up thugs and gathering the treasures hidden in their caves.

It was good fun and would have been wonderful if it weren't for his constant cheek. After about a fortnight, I found that I had had enough and truth be told, the guilt about the weather predictions started to kick in so I decided to play a final joke on my host.
When we were sitting on logs around a campfire that night, I told him that perhaps we should spend a few of the crowns we'd procured that day on an evening at the Grey Eagle rather than sleeping out under the stars as had been our custom. He lifted an eyebrow at this, suspicious but interested.

I looked longingly up at the moon in mock shyness and said, "Of course, we could but afford one room…"

"Oh but my dear, for you, that one room is easily done." He stood and bowed low over me, kissing my hand. I giggled…and then almost wretched! But I held my façade. He lifted me up and carried me all the way to the inn. Carried me! What audacity.

We had spent many an evening drinking at the Grey Eagle and were familiar with the neurotic shop keeper. Timothy winked at him as he paid for the room.

I'll spare you the details of what went on (or almost went on) upstairs, but suffice it to say that Tim woke up the next morning with a terrible headache, arms and legs bound to the four bed posts…!

The next part of my adventure was less fun and more frightening. I still don't know what happened exactly or what attacked me, but next thing I knew I was being sliced out of a giant green pod where I was being held in a kind of altered state of mind. My rescuers were a Thomgog named Baccatta, and a dashing Huline, Kieran.

They were so kind to me, Auntie. After freeing me from the pod, they gave me boots to replace my sandals and a leather tunic instead of my torn shirt. While we were together Baccatta, even helped me to improve my magical abilities. I am now able to use second-level intensity Spark and Heal. And with Kieran I advanced my rogue training further.

Their goal is to brew the Elixer of Life to heal the king of Gladstone. I've done some research in the library here but there is only one ingredient I can determine. When the Draracle spoke of powders taken form the heart of your mother, I believe he meant Earth Powders. I am aware you peddle in those, Aunt Sadie, and though I know not how to contact my accomplices now, but should they make it to Wivel, I hope you will help them – not just to repay my debt to them but for the good of this kingdom.

I don't know what I will do when this year of servitude is over. I am studying all I can during my down time so that I may have as many options as possible in the future. Though I hate to admit it, I miss Timothy very much. I hope to find him and continue at least for a time in his company and in his life of grand adventures. And then perhaps I'll track down Kieran. Sadie, I had never met a Huline before – few in Grisbl have you know – but he didn't seem so foreign to me. I admit I was swept off my feet. I don't know what it was, but there it is.

Your niece,