My dearest Felinia,
We have made our way to this Finger of Fire tower that this woman Azaka wants us to climb. She believes that her wooden mask of magic is hidden within the tower somewhere, or perhaps someone in the tower has taken control of it. It is hard to say. The human woman is very hard to read, and I believe she has been hiding something from us.
After pulling the canoe from the river and hiding it she began to act strangely. I believed at first it was elation or trepidation concerning reclaiming her lost property at the tower, but now that we’ve progressed further, I know what her secret is. I won’t spoil it yet, I’ll let you come to it as I did.
Before we even made it to the tower we heard voices in the darkness, and choosing wisdom over valor we skirted the path and avoided them. I wonder if they will ever know how close to death they came. Or we did.
Once we were near enough to the tower I did a little scouting, like hunting mice in the fields back home, I tried to be stealthy and cautious, but you know how my curiosity gets to me. I feel like I moved too quickly. One thing I noted for sure, though, was large pools or stains of blood all around the tower, and holes in the branches of the trees above us. I believe either these people jumped, were pushed, or were carried up by flying beasts and dropped from near the top of the tower. I know that there are flying beasts around the top of the tower because it’s something else the woman, Azaka, was cagey about.
But not only were these blood stains all around the tower, I even found some bodies! Corpses of the recent victims of deceleration trauma. I waited, staring at them like they were bait, to see who would come and collect them. The blood stains indicated that the bodies are eventually dragged off, though I couldn’t say how long that takes, or who takes them, but as patient as I was, these corpses were never claimed.
I told Eugenidas and the others what I had found, but we decided there was nothing to do for it and we pressed on anyway. Eugenidas is quite athletic, and he was the first to climb the ladder, it must have been 50 or 60 feet, up to the first layer of the tower. He dropped a rope for the rest of us and we soon followed, finding ourselves entering the tower for the first time. We had to cross through it to an exit on the other side, and during our travel through the middle of the tower we came across giant spiders! You know how I love a good spider leg stew, and I think in my excitement I lost control of my ability to wield a weapon. The beasts were upon me in seconds. The little one, Mixxel, proved his worth, again, dispatching the beasts quickly with his staff and fists. The airy one, Elethia, healed me, and she is quite a good healer. Better than myself, I must admit, though I believe sometimes it’s because I use the magic too often. I understand my greed will be my downfall.
The other thing we learned during this encounter is that Azaka is a terrible archer. For a moment we all believed she was trying to kill Eugenidas! It turns out, in the end, she simply cannot aim.
After the spiders were destroyed, mostly by the small one, but with some magical assistance from the airy one, we continued upwards.
Traveling the ladders and crawling through the twists and turns of the inner caverns was grueling, but I felt a thrill being so high up and in such claustrophobic spaces. What is it about us cats that we love being high in the air or nestled in a space slightly too small for us? Whatever it is I was elated to be climbing through tight passages hundreds of feet in the air!
At the next landing we discovered a nest of stirges, sleeping over a pile of more rotting corpses. Do you remember me telling you about stirges? Half bat half mosquito flying beasts? Bat-squitos?
We were lucky that they weren’t awake or we’d have had to battle them, but I did sneak through the corpses to retrieve a pouch filled with gold coins, a magical ring, and a pair of onyx figurines. I wonder what they do?
At any rate, we managed to sneak past them, though now we found ourselves on a ledge with no visible means of moving upwards. It took some doing to get around the ledge to find the next ladder, and this is where we learned Azaka’s true secret. The woman is afraid of heights! Can you believe it? I had to coax her out of the cave and convince her she wouldn’t die if she just held tight and climbed the ladder. How vexing this must all be for her! Her magical mask hidden at the top of the tallest tower on the continent? (At least the tallest we’ve seen). Her mind must have been racing trying to figure out how she was going to get up there without panic. Good thing we were with her.
At this point, though, we’ve all managed to get up to the next ledge, and it sounds like something’s moving around in there. We’ve stopped to take a breath, which is why I’ve had time to write this letter to you. I will find a way to post it when we return to town. Until then, may your paws remain ever dry.