Happy as always to contradict, I write to you from my room at the Horse & Henbane Inn, a wholly pleasant little stopover, on my second night in Wolf’s Ear. In fact, the village has proven so charming—especially after the trial of racing across pig-stinking Belkzen and the tedious Storval badlands—that I might extend my stay for even a third evening. I must say, dear aunt, though I always respect your advice, this time your counsel seemed to confuse fact with a fancy from one of your fictions. Although admittedly the shady hamlet’s name proves most evocative, from the agreeable nature of my stay I can scarcely believe anything more sinister than the occasional mad boar or chicken thief harrows its good people.
I regret to inform that my impression of “civilized” Varisia cannot be entirely lustrous, though. My itinerary was most rudely altered upon reaching Ravenmoor. While I can’t say I blame the greasy bumpkins for denying me lodgings—as I’m sure I smelled more of horse sweat than my nag Larkspur—leaving a traveler to the streets, especially one who’s obviously traveled so far and hard, throws doubt on the entire concept of homespun frontier hospitality. I suppose I’m quick to forget that, in some places, little separates man from orc—especially in the case of one particular shrew who claimed I had the face of a “heathen.” Heathen? Truly? You of all people, my periphrastic aunt, know my feelings on the sicknesses of the divine, but to have some dull-eyed, pox-pimped crone and her litter of phlegm-moist whelps speak down to me of—
And here you can see long travels continue to disagree with my charm and ever congenial nature. Nothing another soak won’t remedy, I’m sure. I’ve been eager to indulge in the comforts of civilization again, as they’ve been so long denied. Yet even in these quaint surroundings, there is no comparison to the salons and saunas of Ardis.
Ah, I’m afraid I’ll have to end this abruptly, old mum, the boy has arrived with my order. They make the most decadent spice tarlets here, baked with plum apples that grow wild at the edge of the local Churlwood. Why they insist on garnishing everything with spray of monk’s hood, though, I doubt I’ll ever understand. (I’ve included the sprig just delivered me.) I leave within the week for Galduria and plan to make sleepy Sandpoint three days after. Expect my research into our mythic quarry to follow soon after. As always, I hope this letter finds you as healthy, hectic, and ribald as always.