I am writing this, not knowing if and when I can send the letter. I may have a chance once we reach Lyceum.
We spent the night at Haddin’s place to gather our strength for the upcoming journey into the burning forest. Torrent conveyed to us what little information she had on the it. It was as much documented history and eye-witness reports as it was folk tales. The forest called “Innenotdar” was once home to a group of Eladrin 40 years ago. During the conflict between the Ragesian Empire and Shihalest they were driven out of the forest and fled to Gate Pass. It is unclear who set the forest on fire, the Ragesians or the Shihalesti. What is certain though – this forest has been on fire ever since. I remember lectures about how scholars of Gabal’s have been sent out to investigate it. Although they agree that magic is at hand, they have not come to any conclusion as to what caused it or what keeps fueling the fires. Sufficed to say, I was both anxious and afraid to venture inside!
This place is as fascinating as it is terrifying. We dare not stray from the path, to our left and right are burning trees and bushes. The core of the trees is still there, yet there is no crown, no leafs – only ash. Where we walk, the road seems fairly untouched by the flames. At one point I could swear I saw the fire back away from us, as if the forest reacts to us. Looking back it seems like the road is fully engulfed in flames, as it is in front of us. Yet our relative surroundings are clear of the inferno. I cannot explain what magic as at work here. The heat is almost unbearable and the sounds that echo through this place are dreadful. So are the creatures in here. We encountered bodies, fiery bats and a burning goblin. I do not know if the bodies where human. They seemed human-like and I believe I heard them speak. They were charred to the bone, but still on fire. Whatever this was, it couldn’t have been alive, but yet it was moving. I can see why nobody ever comes here – this place is hell.
The burning bats were tough enemies. If we got to close we would get burned which made fighting them all the more difficult. After we killed the bats, the goblin started talking non-sense about them coming back and ran off.
About half-way through the forest we reached a stone bridge across a gorge. All the crazy stunts Donnacha pulled so far pale in comparison to what would unfold next. He took of his armour (in a burning forest full of hostile creatures!) and decided to repel down the cliff side of the bridge with the intention to explore a wreckage at the bottom. And while dangling under the bridge in his under garments he screamed up “Hey guys, there is something here under the bridge!” (He must have suffered a serious head injury at some point during his military career. Yes, that must be it – will check for scars tomorrow.)
Naturally whatever was under the bridge woke up and we had of fight off swarms of lesser bats. No less dangerous though. I managed to keep them clear off the group for the most time and Ta’waran made good use of her Longbow. She could still use some training though, her aim is off sometimes. Donnacha, still half naked, made it back up and tried to shoot them with his crossbow. Clearly the man has never fired a ranged weapon before. Why he carries one around, is a mystery to me. My spells seemed to have an enhanced effect on them though, so I was able to dispatch of them without any of us sustaining any serious injuries.
Between Donnacha undressing, burning and talking corpses, fire bats and a crazy goblin – I doubt the other half of the forest can hold more surprises.