To Emiko Lin:
Greetings, Honored One—
Our investigation of the Narlmarch forest continues apace. There are many things worth reporting, but most interesting of them all is the curious village of Hollow.
The residents of the village follow something that they call the “Old Way”; some sort of remnant of an ancient agreement that a mortal named Mikhail the Woodcutter made with the forest. They are reclusive, isolated, sullen, and superstitious to the point of absurdity — I cannot take anything that they say at face value. Any investigation by the Way is going to require a strong knowledge of local lore, in order to properly interpret what the people of Hollow believe.
The area itself is strongly magical; metal items held within the Narlmarch will quickly rust and degrade. Fey stones or linseed oil act as a (temporary) countermeasure. Hollow itself appears to be immune to this effect, at least within the confines of the ring of scarecrows that surround the village. There are other such wardings in the village, including one that protects against encroachment of wild animals, but as evidenced by the wolf pack assault the eve of our first night’s visit, the protection is either imperfect or otherwise compromised by the events gripping the area.
My companions were able to overcome the horrors of the Hollow Man and the Singing Tree while I was absent on a scouting mission, which appears to have given the people of Hollow some measure of respite for now. Just the same, as outsiders, we were asked to leave, and return no more than once a season, unless we intend to join their community.
Before we moved on, they bade us to keep silent about the existence and location of their village. I was noncommittal, naturally; the aims of the Way shall not be denied.
We leave to explore the rest of the Narlmarch.
As always, I am your faithful servant,