Letter 54

Written out of regular game session as days leading up to the Great Games to conserve time.

Dear Herkus,

We are on the cusp of the Great Games and what a week it has been. I can’t speak to the activities of the others but I have kept very busy. I’m sure a lot of it would be boring to most people but I did promise you to write the mundane as well as the exciting. Be careful what you wish for. I made a note of what happened each day so that I could easily keep track of things. 

Five days before the Great Games: Woke up in the shrine of Helios. I still can’t seem to look Rendu in the eye. Yesterday was… It was something that’s for sure. I want to talk to him but I’m not sure what to say. 

I decided to call out a flying snake familiar. Clio had expressed an appreciation for them. I admit I’ve never had many interactions with them myself but they are cute… In a slithery winged kind of way. I instructed it to keep her company and it quickly curled itself around her arm, it’s little tongue darting out every so often. Leef kept making this pbpbpbpb noise every time it did much to everyone’s amusement. I believe I shall call him Simon and bring him out more often. This gives me an idea for the rest of the group this week.  Back at the Starfall estate I worked in the courtyard to create more privacy with plants and trees. I know we wont be here long term but until we leave I wanted to create a superficial forest for those of us who need a reprieve from the city outside. I also went shopping. You would be very proud of my haggling skills this time. I know I still overpaid for a few things but I’m learning. Leef had asked me to make a picnic lunch for him and Clio. Does that mean they have a second date planned? I need to ask her about it. 

Four days before the Great Games: I woke up early and called out a new familiar to greet Leef first thing. I was rewarded with a yelp and then a squeal of happiness. I think he enjoyed the fox-squirrel that I have dubbed Jinx. This is going to be fun. 

I was only able to get enough elfroot to make a few potions so a few of the others offered to join me to go forage for reagents. Leef, Clio, Shadow and myself made a pretty good team and a lot of interesting plants were found. Leef can use several of them to make spell scrolls which will certainly prove helpful. We were able to harvest quite a bit. 

I went to the library for a good chunk of the day as well. I am trying to learn several different kinds of trades. I worry that if I am not useful to the group they might resent me. But let’s not get into that now. I’m studying woodworking. I love the idea of finding a piece of a tree that no longer grows and making it useful. I also have goals to learn more alchemy as well as continue to improve my cooking. 

I almost talked to Rendu but then felt very shy so I just blurted out that to help him train for the games I would conjure some animals for him to work with. Then I had a bear attack him. He sparred for quite a while. I instructed the bear not to hurt him, just to help him train but now I’m worried that it was probably a really aggressive compensation for not being able to say what’s on my mind around him. I’m so confused. We had a really nice time getting to know each other the other day, why am I even more anxious around him? My stomach is one big knot.

Three days before the Great Games: I called out a dinosaur-cat today to greet Shadow. The courtyard was filled with laughter and enthusiastic sounds of play. I think Shadow had Thumble come and meet the familiar. It sounds like they all got along. 

Today Shadow and I planned on making dinner for everyone. Please don’t be disappointed but it’s a fish dinner. He’s going to go catch the fish and I’ll get the rest. I still remember how my father liked to eat his fish. Baked with veggies. I’ve decided that I don’t know any fish personally and while that isn’t the best excuse to cook them, it’s all I have. 

We had a really nice time together. We got to know each other a lot better. He asked about you and I learned more about his wife and daughter. It was honestly pretty lovely. There were some sad moments as well as he recalled some painful things, I did the same. But I’ve decided it gets a little easier each time I explain the various parts of my life, and while it’s still painful, it’s less acutely so. Everyone seemed to like the fish we made as well. Clio and I stuck to just salads and bread with cheese but I’m glad they all enjoyed the butchered remains of a living creature. It was apparently “tasty.” I’m sure that sounds judgemental on my part. I assure you it’s not. But what else do I call it? 

Two days before the Great Games: Torag woke up with a gentle shock to the system. The lightning lizard I called out really took a liking to him. I don’t know how well he enjoyed the affection but he did say later that it helped him overcome his tiredness rather quickly. Glad I could help. I had a name picked out but Torag kept calling it Zippy so that seems as good a name as any. 

Today was spent bent over a mortar and pestle and brewing pot. Clio and I alternated tasks so that it wouldn’t get too monotonous for either of us. I was really happy to spend some time alone with her. We haven’t had a lot of opportunities lately. There is something lovely about slipping into the Sylvan tongue that is soothing to me. There are moments when Clio speaks that she sounds a lot like Aglia, my da’s mum. I think it’s because they are both so no nonsense, but also very compassionate. You just have to read between some of the tones to really feel it. We talked a lot about the games and we have a few plans we are excited to execute. It’s more mischievous than I’ve ever been. I will let you know after we’ve done it, if it worked or not. We first joked about this idea on the Gjallarhorn when we were spending time with the mast. Then everything happened with Rendu, and then rescuing the children, and then there were always others around us. I’m crossing my fingers it works!

We were rewarded with five health potions. We gave each of our competitors one just in case and kept the last one for general party use, should we need it. I’m only keeping it in the haversack out of convenience but really anyone can claim it. I hope no one has to use it. I would much rather it expire than need to be drunk, but I don’t think that will ever happen. We have Torag in our group so it’s almost guaranteed. 

One day before the Great Games: It’s our last day of preparation before the games. The pteranodon hatchling I called out for Actaeon seemed to amuse him greatly. He carried it everywhere while it was in our realm. I even saw it helping him choose javelins to practice with. It was adorable how it would nudge the one it wanted him to use with its beak-like face. Then it would squawk with happy excitement whenever he would hit the bullseye. I called the hatchling Pouli. It just seemed to fit. 

For the most part today was restful but I did have a few errands to run. I went to the sacrificial market and purchased an ewe for the Day of the Burning Sun. This will be my first time performing a sacrifice to Eos by myself, but I felt that I should. I can’t afford to sacrifice something every month but I’m sure the mother knows that I do whatever I can to honor her. This sheep is incredibly sweet and docile. I brought her back to the estate and I’m sure everyone thinks I am setting myself up for heartbreak knowing her end will come in a week’s time. But that heartbreak is what is essential. I explained to Leef when he looked horrified that I was bonding with the creature and what my intentions for her were. I explained to him as you explained to me long ago that each god or goddess requires a different form of sacrifice. For Eos the sacrifice must know they are loved, cared for, and appreciated. This week leading to the ewes death is essential. She must know I will mourn her loss, as the mother mourns for us, that I will not leave her even though it will be painful for me to endure that loss. The mother is with us always and then we return to her. I think it helped Leef when I explained that but I do understand it doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve invited everyone to join me but I’m not sure if they will or not. I also extended the invitation to Mikhaila, as she is also a follower of Eos. It might just be me and that’s okay. But I wont lie, I really hope the others will be there too. I would love to show them a different form of sacrifice than the horrors they learned of in the temple of the lady of dreams.

After setting up the ewe and making her comfortable I approached Rendu to see if there was any last minute training he wanted to work on. He said he felt pretty confident and that eased my mind a lot. I wish I could have that confidence. It turns out that I will also be competing in the games if everything goes according to plan. I will have to be sponsored by one of the winners, but I will be taking part in the relay, the final event of the games. I am doing the swimming part. 

I went down to the water and asked a fisherman if there was a good place to swim that would not get in their way. He looked at me like I was nuts, so I might have stumbled a bit over my explanation of wanting to swim. He pointed me towards a small area and I estimated a distance of about 300 ft. That’s how far I will have to swim. Then I jumped into the water and shaped into a dolphin. I haven’t shifted into very many swimming creatures and the experience is oddly wonderful. There is very little resistance to your movement, but you also seem to lack any weight. I have to admit, I loved it. I didn’t leave the water for nearly two hours. I splashed and played. I wish the others could have joined me but that’s okay. It was nice to just feel free of any burdens or social pressures. 

There was talk of drinking tonight but there was a general consensus that we should all have clear heads in the morning. I made a dish I read about in the library. You combine flour, egg and water and roll it out and cut it into thin strips. Then you boil it and use oil, garlic, onion, tomatoes and olives and serve it in a dish with some sprinkled cheese. It’s supposed to be a good dish to store up energy. I’ll make it for you some time. It was pretty tasty. 

Now we all have full bellies and are just relaxing. I’m working on carving my gift for Clio. I hope she likes it. 

I need to get to sleep soon. It will be a busy day tomorrow and a crazy week is to come. I can’t wait to tell you everything!

gaol agus gràdh,