[A letter in Adelmar’s hand:]
Esteemed pursuer or pursuers,
I write to you from one week in the past to inform you that you are too late: this refuge is abandoned, and I am seven days ahead of you. Without prescience to compete with the likes of mine, I am certain you must tire of this chase long before I shall.
Why you deem it justice to seek my destruction for my failure to name some one of you as traitor to the fellowship is beyond my understanding.
Though you are bent on my undoing, I am not bent on yours and have afforded you what intelligence I can, save only this latest revelation: Erasmus does indeed walk the paths of the dead. Whether he seeks Chiara’s ghost remains to be learned.
Speaking of our departed Chiara, if there is someone or something that holds her captive, it is impenetrable to me for the time being. It must wait until later or never at all.
[Excerpt from a red-bound spell book:]
On the creation and usage of charms.
No spellcaster may utterly magnify his potential without the creation of magical charms. One speaks in terms of creation, but a more accurate designation would be development, for upon its creation, a charmed object is of no more value than the cost of the materials. Only after years of maintenance and investment does the charm enlarge the strength of the caster.
In order to maturate, the charmed item must reside in the caster’s den and be furthermore exposed to light.
Because misappropriated charms — speaking of the item and not the magic upon on it — offer an access by which to bypass its owner’s defenses, recommended practice is to conceal the nature of a charm, that it be perceived a mere bagatelle to any but the owner.
[In a ghostly hand:]
A cool draft is drawn beneath two girls at a well.
(The red-bound spell book is a tongue-in-cheek reference to The Red Bound Book, available in part on the repository at duck-of-doom.com.) We shall see later the importance of this lesson on charms.
The riddle: Two girls at a well refers to the painting hanging in the foyer. There’s nothing immediately below it, but exactly one floor down is the intake for an air duct. The next clue lies between the grate and the air filter.