The -uick Brown Fox -umps Over the La-y Dog
Author's Note: The gradual letter loss is going to be somewhat hard to deal with, at times; but that's part of the fun.
Nollop is an independent country with close ties to the US, but it is not part of the US itself. For reference.
Disclaimer: Joss created Willow and Giles; Mark Dunn created Nollop and its major inhabitants; I created Moon and her followers.
M L N O L
Tuesday, August 29
The black crystal (crystal? The very word makes me sound as though I should be peddling homeopathic remedies and have a name such as "Starshine Orion") sphinx provided an excellent clue. The sphinx, as I'm sure you're aware, is from Egyptian mythology, filtered through the Greeks. There are similar creatures in various mythoses of Asia, but black crystal is much easier to find in Europe -- it is readily available in the Alps, which makes me me believe that we are looking at the sphinx of the Greeks .
Most reasonably educated laypeople have heard of the riddle of the Sphinx; after Oedipus solved it, she allegedly hurled herself to her death. What is not as commonly known is the Sphinx could not die, and was established by the Council of the time to have been one of the weaker of the true demons, a spirit of true destruction, and the riddle simply resulted in her banishment from this plane of existence, until such time as she is once again summoned.
My strong suspicions would be that this is what Moon plans to do. Why she chose the island of Nollop is uncertain, although, contrary to the opinions of the demon Olm that you met, for much of its history Nollop existed as neutral ground for all factions of demon-kind and other supernatural beings. The locals were not to be preyed upon. This may explain the comparative lack of electronic communications on the island, as most species are known to prefer more primitive situations. A decade or so ago, though, this changed. Why, I am uncertain; you may wish to search local archives, assuming you can gain access.
As far as Willow is concerned, she got caught up while searching for "Lincoln Rhyme's assistance" and her return to the island has been delayed; the Island High council has banned tourists and you, in fact, appear to be the last visitor permitted on the island. By applying all the pressure the Watcher's Council can bring to bear I have been able to secure her re-entry, though from this point onward you should both try to lay low, if you can, and do not attract the attention of the local government if you can avoid it. I understand that may appear to contradict what I said earlier, but alas, the life of a Slayer is never an easy one. She should return in a couple of days.
Good luck, and good hunting.
M L N O L
Saturday, September 2
A search of the public archives yielded nothing -- nothing relevant to us, that is. If I wanted information on how this island regards Nevin Nollop as one step below Jesus himself, I'd have enough to write several books, though I seriously doubt anyone outside the island would read them. (And not that many on the island; for everyone who seems to treat the letter-banishing ways of the Island High Council as the next best thing to John 3:16, I've run across three or four who are following the rules simply out of fear. Many places of business have closed; all grocery stores, though Olm's coffee shop is still open, as are some produce stands. I've been stocking up on what food I can find; I'm not a hunter by nature -- well, not of anything edible, anyway, and I refuse to munch on the Polgara/Burchells just to settle the issue.
Speaking of that portion of the population, not all of those who appear to be leaving the island are doing so. Moon and her followers are aware of my presence, and have sired several rookie vampires; I've been fairly busy simply defending myself the last few nights, and they've been smart enough not to send me anyone who would know anything. I've been back to that mini-canyon in the woods, and looked around as much as I could, though you have to remember that I'm a child of the suburbs and my experience of woodcraft is limited. I didn't find anything but a few designs on the ground. I'll show them to Willow when she gets here this evening.
M L N O L
Monday, September 4
I got here safely; I think Emma-Lynn was right, the patterns she found in the forest are definitely magical ones -- used for rituals of purification, I think, though I'm sending them to you under separate cover.
I also set up out hotel room to mimic a private residence. No point in having those old vampires just think they can pop right in on us at a moment's notice. Which still leaves the demons, but hey, no one's perfect. I've got a separate alarm set up so we'll at least know they're coming.
In the meantime, Giles, shame on you for not knowing who Lincoln Rhyme is. I never expect you to be Xander, but gees Louise, I don't expect you to be like a cloistered monk, either! Just for that you'll have to wait until Emma-Lynn sends you her next letter to find out.
The -uick brown fox -umps over the la-y dog
Wednesday, September 6
To Miss Emma-Lynn Noell and Miss Willow Rosenberg, Nollopton Arms:
Greetings, island visitors! Your presence here is unexpected, though certainly not unwelcome, in these difficult times.
I noticed you were in the audience at today's ghastly public flogging of the entire Rasmussen family, including their children, for their "crime" of having dared to utter the forbidden seventeenth letter. I also noticed that you the two of you really wanted to do something, but decided not to. I wanted to as well; some of us are going to try to form an underground resistance to restore all 26 letters to their rightful places, our thoughts and our words, where they belong.
I would invite you to join, and I suspect you would do so, except that I believe you have more urgent things to do on this island.
Last year I was not ready to be strong. I am now.
We need to talk.
Ella Minnow Pea
PS -- I sent this letter out Just in time to invite you to Join -- did you know that the J has fallen off and is now forbidden? Be careful, island visitors! We don't want to lose you!