Mantelderith 29, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

I felt much better waking up today, I guess it’s true whatever doesn’t kill you does make you stronger.  Good thing because it’s going to be quite a day.  I met Lord Sonst early, he was clearly overjoyed about the upcoming festivities in his honor.  He begged me to share the spotlight with him but I said that it wouldn’t be appropriate given my low station. 

After that I collected Crookjaw and we headed out to avail ourselves of the Alento family payroll.  It didn’t make sense to bring in Sonst on this one but since things had gone so smoothly last time I figured it wouldn’t matter being a little shorthanded.  I adopted my disguise and we took up our positions.

The coach carrying the paychest showed up right on time but that’s about the only thing that went as planned.  Crookjaw made his dramatic leap and the driver instantly threw a lever that dropped all the tack and harnesses off the horses – leaping bareback onto one of the horses and unfurling a whip.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  In a flash a second man was out of the coach and on the other horse and two more were on top of the coach with a ballista!  Where the Hells did that come from?  

It was at this point that it occurred me that a noble family’s payroll is probably protected a little better than a fugitive being smuggled out of town by someone with no experience.  A fifth man was running down the trail away from the scene as fast as a galloping horse as the two horsemen began harassing Crookjaw.  He lay about with his ogre hook wildly but they were skilled riders and their mounts danced and jumped away from his attacks like nimble little cats.  I did the only thing I could, ditched my crossbow and switched my appearance to that of a simple Graltontownite and stayed hidden.

The horsemen were trying to disarm and trip Crookjaw with their whips but he was too strong – although he wasn’t able to effectively attack back either.  I knew it was a vain hope but I hoped nonetheless that Crookjaw would be smart enough to flee.  I was trying to think of a way to signal him when the ballista fired – not a bolt, but instead a large net.  It unfurled like the wings of an eagle and Crookjaw was instantly entangled.  The line controlling the net was affixed to a contraption on the coach that ran through a series of pulleys.  They coachmen hitched the horses back up with their clever rig and started pulling the net in with horsepower.

Ingenious.   But not designed to contend with an enraged ogre.  I’ve seen anger in my life, anger in many forms.  I’ve seen men in what I would have described as “titanic rage”.  Because of my current predicament I have unfortunately seeing battle-rage up close.  But I have never seen anything like this in my life.  The fury of Crookjaw, entrapped and facing the strength of two horses, four men and the weight of the coach was beyond anything.  Taking the rope in his mouth like a horse with a bit he dug into the ground and strained against their pulling – checking their progress. 

Snorting and growling like a wild beast Crookjaw fought them to a standstill.  The shock on the men’s faces was clearly visible.  This contraption had probably never failed them before, but then again they had probably never used it in this fashion before either.  Impossibly the coach began to creak as if it were going to fly apart.  At this point one of the men retrieved a long pole from the coach with a syringe-like liquid container.  He jabbed it into Crookjaw and immediately his strength flagged, the net taking him off his feet and pulling him to the coach where he was secured with chains quickly and efficiently. 

Not long after four horses came flying up the path to join them – including the runner who had sprinted off earlier riding double with one of his comrades.  The nine men had a quick conference and then one of them went to Crookjaw and poured something down his throat from a potion bottle while the other eight starts searching the area.  Very thoroughly.

I put on my best “frightened village girl” face and waited for them to find me.  Which they did in short order.  I explained that I was out looking for athelas to help my ailing mother when I happened upon the Sugar Sack Bandits and hid in terror.  One of them asked me what athelas looks like and I did my best to present my ignorance as that of someone sent on an errand they didn’t understand.  Then they found the crossbow which I said one of the bandits had dropped.  The men thought that was a very strange thing for a bandit to do. They also said they weren’t finding any tracks other than mine.  I told them it stood to reason that the Sugar Sack Bandits surely were accomplished woodsmen. 

I had to pull out the big guns – I started crying and asking why they were all attacking me when I had done nothing wrong.  It only partially worked, are these men made of stone or what?  Who doesn’t want to comfort a crying maiden?  What cads. They said they would accompany me home to my mother since these hills weren’t safe.  I said that was very gallant of them but unnecessary.  They assured me it was very necessary.

Not long after that another coach showed up with an additional four men – this was clearly a professional outfit that took no chances.  The original coach, after some fiddling with its fancy modifications, took off with two of the riders.  The second coach, which was more of a covered wagon, loaded up a semi-comatose Crookjaw, and started trundling off while I was pulled up behind one of the two remaining riders who headed back to town.

I sighed and thanked my “rescuer” ever so much, doing a little “innocent” flirting but he didn’t take the bait.  Who are these people?  Once we were within sight of town I “came clean”, I was not out there gathering healing herbs for an ailing parents, I was on my way to a tryst with a married man.  This they seemed to buy.  I was ordered off the horse and one of the men drew his saber – pressing it up against my chest.  He said that I should swear right then and there that I was no bandit, and that if I was lying he’d know and run me through on the spot.

I lied and said that I was no bandit, merely an adulterer, and they rode off – kicking up a cloud of dirt on me and making a comment about me being a whore.  Some people have no social graces at all.

Hurrying back to town, I changed my disguise and made my way to the Whale in the nick of time.  Rago and my “cousins” were there and starting to get antsy – the parade had already begun.  I assured them we had plenty of time.  First we went to the finest dress-shop in town, closed due to the festivities, and smashed our way in.  I found an expensive funeral gown which I slipped on over my clothes – looking slightly ridiculous, but that was the point.  I had the men rip strips off the fanciest black dress in the place and make themselves armbands, as well as face-masks – except for Rago who insisted he had nothing to hide. Then they wrecked the place just for laughs.

I handed out the smokesticks and it was time to make a difference. The parade had reached its conclusion at the gibbet where Whilhye and Wickter were to be hanged from their necks until dead, and currently mayor Deveris and various other city officials were honoring Lord Sonst.  The guards were occupied with protestors who had shown up early – it’s always a good idea to be fashionably late.

As Rago and the men spread out I found a good high spot and drank the Elixir of Thundering Voice before flicking the Toothpick of Pyrotechnics near the crowd, maybe into a little – a couple people got singed.  With all eyes on me and voice of a giant I boomed out a quick speech about the oppression of the poor by the rich and the rights of men and so-forth.  I was wearing a funeral gown because this signaled the death of the rule of the elite.

Smokesticks started to fly and very quickly confusion reigned.  My hired goons were just shoving into the crowd and creating chaos but Rago proved to be more than just a loudmouth malcontent – he produced two curved blades and killed a richly dressed man on the spot before running towards the gibbet. It was pandemonium after that.  Having no desire to experience a riot in person I stepped off my high spot onto a balcony and ditched the dress, making a quick change of appearance as well.

The house was so dilapidated that I assumed it was abandoned but after a moment an old man stepped out on the balcony and asked what the entire ruckus was.  I told him the rule of law was breaking down into anarchy.  He asked me if I wanted tea.  I said that would be delightful.

The guard had things mostly under control around sundown – they found another rope and Rago hung right alongside Whilhye and Wickter.  A fitting end for such violent criminals.   People like that destabilize society.

Funds: 1100 gold 

XP: 10,209

____________________________________________________________

Inventory: Signet ring, Ring of Many Garments, noble’s traveling outfit, thieves’ tools, disguise kit (3 uses), land deed, Bag of Tricks (rust), gold ring, Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, candlerod (9)

Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler , Alice Kinsey , “Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis,  Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, coachmen

Anti-Revenge List: Dorehe the maid

Rumors : Exiled noblewoman (Reoccurring), vigilante “Litheria”(Reoccurring), murderous Halfling (40%)

Graltontown Unrest – 5

Behind the curtain – Ela made her second save for Filth Fever and is now cured.  I used the Social Combat deck again for Ela’s verbal duel with the coachmen – too many cards came up requiring Intimidate her to do well.