Dear Arun, Jariel and Vondyr,
(and Fish, Twixt and Tween too, if you are reading this),
It’s been a while since I last wrote. I hope my occasional letters reach you. I think of all of you often and I hope this letter finds you well. (And well-behaved, you younger three!)
Where to begin? We joined up a while back with a dwarven merchant named Darberik Fivebraids in a port called Sigurth’s Climb. He had three ships heading more or less in the direction we wanted to go. Kind of unusual ships. Made out of stone but still able to float. Some kind of magic. The ships were the Forgeworthy, the White Gull and Cassada’s Vigil. We were traveling on Cassada’s Vigil. Which was a good thing because the White Gull ended up getting sunk in a battle with some pirates (they call them Sea Barons around here) led by this one really ugly pirate named Gar Shatterkeel. We went out after the pirates that attacked us later though, found their lair and pretty much cleaned them out. It wasn’t as simple as I’m making it sound though. For one thing, it was actually us allied with Darberik and his crew and with some allies he (or rather his friend, who’s now the high mucky-muck in these parts, managed to find for us, against the pirates and their allies, which included orcs, sahuagins and some undead, including some kind of undead wizard or priest or somesuch. Main-thing is he was bad news, whatever he was. More on that later. Oh, we also ended up with some divine help courtesy of Eustace being apparently held in high regard by Shandalene and by a dragon named Lazaranthios. I don’t know who managed to get him to fight on our side but it was definitely good having him there.
It was still a pretty tough fight. Tougher than I thought it would be. The Firewasps emerged okay, but our side had its losses, including a guy named Thongal Brekwold whom I’d gotten to think well of. Strange. We met earlier on back in another port when he and his sister tried to pick a fight with me. Why am I the one everyone’s always trying to pick a fight with? It’s never Kidalis or Eustace or Tristan or Shaper. It’s always me. I mean, it’s not like I go around looking for a fight. Is it?
Anyway, we did win the battle and cleaned out that entire pirate’s nest. And captured their biggest ship, Olhydra’s Fury. We letting Darberik have it to help continue his voyage since he lost one of his three ships. We’re probably going to rename it. I think The Wasps’ Nest would the best name, but Eustace wants to call it Shandalene’s Blessing or something like that.
Did see something pretty amazing in the first fight though. Eustace has this spell that allows him to manipulate water. A lot of water. I mean, enough to float a ship in. Or strand one dead in its tracks, along with any sharks or other monsters that happened to be around. That much water. Had never seen him do anything like that before, so maybe it’s something he just recently learned how to do. Anyway, it was pretty awesome and really made a big difference in the battle. This from the guy who was heaving his guts from seasickness when we first started out. Weird, huh?
Which kind of brings me to something that’s been bothering me lately. I’m not sure how to put it but… it seems like most of the other Fire Wasps are getting a lot better at what they do than I am. It’s amazing to watch them in action. Kidalis is like a force of nature and can call on the land itself to attack or ensnare foes. Eustace, besides being formidable physically, seems to have more and more god-given powers, not only to heal (he really does make the difference in almost every fight we’re in when it comes to keeping us up and fighting), it’s like he can banish enemies to gods-know-where and call on divine light to drive back the worst things we face. And he can even get direct aid from Shandalene sometimes, which he did in our battle against Shatterkeel. Shaper can use some kind of mental powers to possess our enemies and make them fight each other as well as call on some elemental powers that let him shape parts of himself to his will. Tristan is still pretty quiet, but his spells have grown more devastating and he’s far and away our best distance fighter. And, much as it really chafes me to admit it, Tilly is now like a weapon-wielding ball of fury in a battle, a blur of attacks that never seems to slow down, let alone stop, switching back and forth between weapons with scarcely a pause and with some kind of gift that turns what first seems like a miss into a deadly strike. I mean, I try to do my part. I never hold back and I always to to be up front in a battle. But I just feel like I’m not keeping up with the rest of my companions. That said, I do feel that I’m where I’m supposed to be though. I have found two – possibly three – survivors from my village that I never would’ve found if I had not been with the Fire Wasps.
I might also be reacting to something that happened in the battle. The undead cleric or sorcerer I mentioned before at one point did something to me in the battle. Something I’d never experienced before. It was like part of my very life force was suddenly taken from me, leaving me weakened in a way I can’t even describe. You know me. I’m not afraid of any foe with a weapon I can see or of any wound a weapon might inflict. This was different. For that moment, for the first time I can remember, I knew fear. I recovered later, once the battle was over. But the memory of that moment stays with me.
Oh, our eventual destination is Estwald for the big festival that’ll be held there. Just so you’ll know where to send a letter. After that we’ll be heading east to that island I told you about where someone saw a shifter woman that looked a lot like me fighting in the fighter pits. She is known as White Cat. I know that the chances that this might be Asha are slim, but I have to check it out. I’ve been given a number of clues that Asha might still be alive. And if so, I have to find her. No matter what.
Speaking of shifters, how are Fish, Twixt and Tween doing? I hope that they are well and that they are learning everything you have to teach them. Has Fish earned a new name yet? I know he didn’t like his childhood name much and was wanting a new one. And he is at the right age for it. But remind him that ‘Ghost’ is already taken, in case he’s showing any signs of forgetting. The last I recall, he’d chosen the whip as the weapon he wanted to learn. Not the choice I’d have made, but it’s best to let him find his own path for that. I know he’s stubborn, wilful, and sometimes shows poor judgement, but I’m hoping he’ll still listen to you at least some of the time.
And no, Vondyr, I’m not admitting a damn thing! I do hope that Tween will be able to learn more from you though. I’m convinced he has some kind of gift similar to yours. From what he told me, Snow Leopard appeared to him in his dreams, telling him that I’d be coming. For someone who was not born a member of my tribe, this is most unusual.
As for Twixt, I don’t know which way she’ll go. In spite of her being younger than Fish, she seems more level-headed and less reckless. Has she picked a weapon to train with yet, Jariel? I think she will prove to be stronger and more resilient than she looks. The bow might appeal to her nature more than the blade, I think, but I’m sure you will find what suits her best.
I know it was a lot I’ve asked you all for, looking after these three kids for me. If you ever are in need for them, or for yourselves, I left instructions with our manor at Seowyn’s Crossing to give you whatever you need from funds I have there.
I miss you all terribly. I hope Snow Leopard and whatever spirits or gods might be near will always look down upon you kindly. Will write again when I can.
Hugs & slugs,