I most likely would have slept the entire day away if left to my own devices. Sadly we’ll never know because at dawn Irda and I were awoken by the innkeeper at the behest of the guard. We were summarily rousted and brought before the mayor – who was holding office in a mortuary of all things. She looked very much like a young boy playing a female character in a mummer’s play – soft but not shaped in the way a woman should be. Fittingly enough for the venue she was dressed all I black.
Without preamble she told us that the town was under martial law and that our horses had been confiscated for the use of her men. After that she started grilling us about where our loyalties lay but we were able to convince her quickly that we had no part in whatever local squabble was going on. She was an unabashed braggart and almost painfully susceptible to flattery – which Irda and I lavished upon her.
You encounter this from time to time with accomplished women – no one will recognize their deeds so they’re desperate for anyone to give them their due. I almost felt bad for her, if we put our minds to it I’m sure Irda and I could have talked her out of the clothes on her back. I presented her a sympathetic ear and listened all about how her mother was a soldier who had died when she was very young – leaving her to be raised but a cruel and relentless mentor. Her need to prove herself to the world was palpable.
Irda clearly wanted to be gone, but I asked about the particulars of why the town was in turmoil. As a frontier trading town Gevudan was dominated by the timber and stockyard trades. Two local consortiums had allied to try and remove her from office, trying to intimidate her with their gangs of ruffians. She responded with a crackdown from the watch and the situation had escalated. I offered my services as a mediator to a lukewarm response. Changing tactics I told her that what she needed was outside support – and sending a party to the hunting lodge could earn her the favor of the powerful people there, assuming any of them were still alive.
She didn’t want to spare any of her men for such a task though, and I sensed that pushing the issue at that time wouldn’t be smart. We were dismissed and Irda quickly began making arrangements to leave, pausing only to give me an appraising look. She said that I had changed and before I could respond she held up a staying hand –
“I didn’t know you well Ela, but you have changed. You’re . . . dangerous.” I told her that women like us are always dangerous and she shook her head with a humorless smile “I’ve never killed anyone Ela, something tells me you can no longer say the same.”
Before she left she gave me two gold and a silver, a little joke as this is the price for what my grandmother called “the crouching lioness” in your standard house of ill repute. After she was gone I sold “my” crossbow for a good price – with the situation in town people are on edge and thusly weapons are in demand.
After that I started gathering information around town. The ringleaders of the bid to oust Mayor Kinley are Wolcott Chester a representative of the drovers, Kent Richard the representative of the lumber consortium, and Gilthur Trueblood – who clearly seems to be leading the charge but about whom I couldn’t find out much. Wolcott Chester is a city-slicker who isn’t well respected by the men he represents or by Kent, a beloved rough and tumble workman sort, but they were trying to work together to get a leader more pliable to their wishes in control of the town. I learned they met every night at the Orc’s Head “tavern” (which was little more than an open air bar with stumps and empty barrels for seats and tables) to strategize.
I took a sorely needed rest before I went out to meet my three new friends. I found them holding court at the Orc’s Head with their men – the sort of frontier folk used to hard days and rough nights. A lady being in their midst was clearly peculiar, their attempts at courtly politeness were comical. I told them the tale of the hunting lodge (well , A tale of the hunting lodge) and how I had gone to the mayor and begged for aid – which was not forthcoming. I explained to them that going and rescuing the helpless fancy folks at the lodge could gain them powerful allies in their attempts to dislodge the mayor.
Kent was immediately on board, as was Wolcott in an oily gross way, but Trueblood seemed unmoved. I noticed that he had cards laid out in front of him as if for Red Queen – a common parlor game – he said that he had been trying to teach a few of the lads to play but they were proving hopeless so far. I said I would be delighted to play a few hands. He agreed but didn’t seem enchanted at all – I hate when a man won’t acknowledge my obvious charms.
Although I have played many times in Duke Eaglevane’s court I was never more than an average player – thankfully Trueblood was clearly a pretender, I took the first three hands. My quick fingers didn’t hurt either – every time I shuffled he seemed to end up with the Red Queen. As he gathered up the cards he said that the game was really only interesting with wagers riding on it. I told him where I came from we usually played for honor. He smiled and said that honor didn’t mean much out here.
I offered him a wager – if I won the next hand he’d support the rescue mission. And if he won . . . well, he could have anything he liked from me. That finally was enough to elicit a small smile. I won of course and he was as good as his word, all but giving his fellow “leaders” permission to proceed. As we shared a drink he said that he was quite familiar with the Skin-Takers, being one quarter of some other Kostelos tribe, and agreed they were a menace. I asked him if that’s why he had lost the final game on purpose. He grinned and said that he had no idea what I was talking about.
I stayed up quite late carousing with the lumbermen and drovers, and subsequently it took me a significant amount of convincing to get to see the mayor – who’s nightclothing was also black, what’s with this lady? I told her that the following day her enemies best fighters would be leaving town, which seemed to me a good time to arrest the agitators. She said she couldn’t arrest them without a good reason or she’d have a riot on her hands.
I told her not to worry, she’ll have reason soon enough.
Funds: 219 gold, 8 silver
Inventory: Signet ring, Ring of Many Garments, noble’s traveling outfit
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum,
White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler , Alice
Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Cardshire Arms manager,
Erist priest of Strider, Griselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe
Anti-Revenge List: Dorehe the maid
Graltontown Rumors : Murderous servants (Reoccurring), exiled noblewoman (Reoccurring), vigilante “Litheria”(30%)
Behind the Scenes – Since we’re back in town I started rolling for events again and got Crime Spree, although I doubt it will come up.