(GM: Sephora)

Hi, Teach,

The Sleeper Island Network seems to have decided not to accept my reports anymore, so you will have to rely on me remembering to send them to you personally.

Just a few days ago, Tinfoil’ at, Zerdan, Marcus Wellspring and little ol’ me were asked to help a nearby farmer with a small problem. The farmer’s name was Chip Skylark, and he had run into “troubles” because his farm was quite new and he was afraid he would not produce enough produce to sustain himself and help sustain Port Mirandia. Therefore, he asked us to search out two “ladies” he had met that came from the Forest of Thorns, and who had offered their help on the provision that he send his daughter to learn with them. Curious as to who these two ladies might be [that forest is known for a thriving populace of your and your king’s kind], we promised to go and see whether we could persuade these two girls to help you.

So, we set out on a sunny pre-spring day – the meteorological trick you showed me told me that the weather was going to turn colder, which caused me and most of the group to grab some cold-weather clothing as well – and first tried to follow the road southward until we were about as close to the Forest as we could get. We did take a detour, though, when we noticed a building that seemed to have popped up recently, looking like a well defended homestead. On our way there, jokes like “I see buttresses” – “better than seeing butts” were traded back and forth.

When we knocked to say hello like good neighbors would, we were greeted by a rather gruff, unfriendly man who had the demeanor of a highwayman and told us that “the Mistress” was not around and that he would relay our greetings. The name of The Mistress seems to be Edith Montière, though I cannot vouch for the spelling. Feeling decidedly unwelcome, we shook the dust off of our shoes and proceeded southwards.

As we were crossing the plains towards the Forest, we suddenly found a number of hempen bags lying on the floor, next to a place where obviously something had been dug up, bags containing quite old coins. It looked a bit as if whoever had dug up the coins there had been surprised by some bandits and dragged along.

From there he followed a bloodied trail of several people wearing footwear and one barefoot person – someone was leaking his rhesus positive as if there were no tomorrow. Following that strata we came upon an odd sight: a scorched clearing devoid of snow as if a fireball had blown up there, and the remains of several individuals , armor fused to them. (Yes, there seems to really have been no tomorrow for the bleeding ‘un) From there, a single set of footprints shod with boots led onward, up to a place where a ring of weird runes or glyphs was found. Here, the trail suddenly ended as if the whatever-in-boots had teleported away. Unfortunately, Tinfoil’at could neither confirm nor deny our suspicions. Puzzled we went on looking for the two ladies.

Finally we discovered those ladies whose it seems were at that moment beleaguered by a band of bandits – unfortunately for the bandits, as when they started making threatening noises, the fighters in our group quickly disposed of them.

The two ladies introduced themselves as Roxanne and Sylene , – unfortunately, I again am a bit unsure of the spelling – and thanked us, offering us a hot toddy which we gratefully accepted. When Zerdan drank from it, he promptly fell asleep. I, too, did feel a small wave of tiredness, but the effect you instilled in me, denying me sleep forever, helped me stay conscious. Especially our wizard, having not drunk any tea, also stayed awake, which must have surprised the two no end. It seems they did not realize that I have been under your tutelage, because they unabashedly spoke with each other in your courts’ lingua franca, wondering whether we would still allow them to teach the child. I am not sure what their intentions had been regarding the tea, Marcus later voiced concerns that these two might have been from the unseelie faction. Maybe you know them and would care to enlighten me? In any way, that was not our decision to make, but the father’s.

Near the end of our visit, the bodies of the dead bandits were dragged to a glowing pool nearby that – according to Tinfoil’at – literally reeked of necrotic magic. I wonder what this means – is it just a way to get rid of refuse or does it have a more sinister use?

In the end, Roxanne and Sylene gave us a scroll that allowed whoever read it aloud to cause plants to grow, similar to the magicks you recently showed to me. Provided this enchantment does not have any unwanted side effects, Chip Skylark should be quite pleased with the spell.

On our way back, we first came to what I would like to call a “arboreal Stonehenge”: a circle of 13 fir trees surrounding one large oak tree. As we looked at it, we noticed a white rabbit melding into the oak tree. Unsure what to make of this circle, I warned the others to stay back and did a small experiment, stepping into the circle of the evergreens. Feeling duty-bound to protect me, Marcus followed me – and just like me was trapped in a field of extremely slowed-down time.

This could have been a problem, because, as you may remember, I recently swapped out the “Misty Step” enchantment against one that seemed more useful at the time. Luckily, I quickly [? I probably was a bit slower than usual in my thoughts in this slowing field] remembered that you had insisted on showing me how to escape from attacks recently, so I could use this knowledge to escape. I telepathically asked the other two of from the group to throw stones at me, and not mind whether they hurt me with them, because the damage I would be taking would trigger my escape. This way, I was able to get out of that zone.

Next, we tried to get Marcus out of the zone as well. One of us lassoed him and Zerdan pulled on the rope, noticing that he was just not strong enough to move him – though he could apply almost enough strength. When I then lent my weak muscles as well, we managed to pull them out of the field and set up warning signs.

The next night, I noticed a cloud of steam rising in the not too far distance which we decided to investigate the next day. What we found looked like some kind of Hot Spring or Onsen, with water that was quite saturated with minerals – there was a noticeable layer of salt crystals around it. As most of the things we found on our way had proven to be somewhat sub-optimal for our well-being, we decided to decline the invitation of a hot bath and warming ourselves up. Though I felt a bit bad at this: Tenfoil’at did not own any protection from the cold and was visibly “under the weather”. Still, when I offered her that she could tuck her hands under my clothes to siphon off some of my body warmth, she refused 😉 Was it, because in my current body I look like a young teenager and she was afraid of looking like a pedophile? I dunno…

When we got home to Port Mirandia, we first went to see Chip Skylark who was overjoyed to receive that scroll – and also promised to visit us sometime soon in the town.

I sure do hope that Matthews apprehensions are unfounded.