Day three on the “road” to Heathgrove. Early in the morning, before we had even set off, we spotted another group of horses not far from our camp. Presumably they had been attracted by our small “herd”. I mounted up one of the other new acquisitions who I call Stomper on account of his constant pawning at the ground and was able to ride out and bring them in as well. Who knew being a horse wrangler was so easy? Kellgale and I wondered why there would be so many horses out on the plains – wild horses being long gone – and one of my men by the name of Oney mentioned that there had been a substantial skirmish in these plains six months back with Vieland and that often leaves a lot of horses on their own.
Kellgale and I were both shocked, we didn’t think there was any fighting on “our” land. Kellgale’s thug to whom I had traded the magic sword mentioned that there wasn’t really but that the front line isn’t always very well defined. How very comforting. Maybe I should get out of Graltontown just to avoid the possibility of it coming under attack.
We reached the Compass River at mid-day, there’s no ford or bridge but there’s still enough of a trickle of river traffic that we only had to wait a few hours for a passing barge. After a brief shouting negotiation they agreed to take us across – although the captain was very sour about the idea of having horses on his boat. Even though I’m sure he’s done far worse than sweeping up a little horseshit in his life.
Crossing the river took not even fifteen minutes but it still managed to turn ugly. Apparently five minutes was all it took for one of the bargemen and one of my men, Reda, to get into a BITTER argument about how the word “enormity” should be used. They were about to come to blows, the captain not helping things with his bellowing, but Kellgale and I were able to get them calmed down.
And that’s when the river hag leapt out of the water like a porpoise and onto the barge – which, as you maybe can image, was quite startling. I had always assumed that the notion of the sight of a river hag being so revolting that just seeing it could kill you was an old wives tale. I don’t assume that anymore. The captain of the barge dropped like a stone and a goodly number of the crew and various goons instantly stated retching (including myself).
Thankfully though it seems that other than being monstrously ugly river hags don’t have a lot going for them. The men who weren’t puking their guts out (and a couple that were) made short work of the she-beast, Kellgale’s fellow with the magic sword beheading her. I swear as the head hit the water and floated for a moment it waggled its tongue at me in a lascivious manner.
The boatmen were very concerned about the loss of their captain but my men were more interested in the possibility of the hag having treasure nearby – although none of them were very keen on diving into the water to investigate. In the end one of my robbers, Heresia, agreed to go in – stripping off her studded leather and diving into the murk. She quickly abandoned the mission after being bitten by a river eel though. I can’t say as that I blame her.
Finally reaching the other side and the ramshackle docks of Heathgrove the bargemen were looking for some direction Kellgale and I decided to give it to them. With the captain dead the best thing to do was to sell the goods here in Heathgrove and then make their way home – with a fifteen percent commission for us of course. And that’s what we did, there were any number of ill-looking fellows by the docks looking to pick up cargo on the cheap – we sold the horses as well and ended up with a tidy sum, even after giving our men a bonus for getting us here safely with an extra bonus to the hag-decapitator . Hopefully this will purge the ghosts of the Three Rivers caravan.
First thing you notice about Heathgrove is that everyone, and I mean everyone, is openly carrying weapons – even the children have daggers. Clearly this place is even rougher than I had thought. The second thing you notice is in what poor condition most of the buildings seem to be, with little evidence of new construction. We quickly decided it would be best to stick together for safety.
After a few false starts we decided the safest place to stay would be a brothel run by a madam the name of Hecuba, it cost and arm and a leg but unlike the inns we checked out it didn’t seem likely we would be stabbed in the next hour.
After settling in Kellgale and her men set out to see if Bellflower was in town yet while I set out with two of my men – the two that I didn’t think would mind (or mind the least) about what was coming next. Not wanting to upset Hecuba (not yet anyway) I headed for another brothel, the Drunken Bird, down by the wharfs. Confusing the stupid doorman into letting us in for free I quickly spotted the owner – the smug looking fellow with the burly guards. I asked him how much to talk to his girls and after allaying his fear that I was trying to recruit them for another establishment we agreed on a price – although he was still highly suspicious.
Even moreso when I told him he couldn’t be present but some coin smoothed the way. I’m not proud of myself for this, but most girls in a place like this have someone they’d like to get revenge on – although you’d be surprised how pious some prostitutes are in their own way. In the end I had two takers, Poor Annie appearing at my side to seal these deals – souls in return for the power to strike back at the men that had hurt them. I felt a little queasy afterwards but people make their own choices in life – I wasn’t making them do anything right?
My escorts wanted to sample the wares but I told them to do that back the Hecuba’s, which was literally fifteen minutes away – the way they groaned you’d like I told them they’d have to crawl across the Desolation of Tarflume on their hands and knees. On the way back to our rooms a couple toughs tried to take us off and they got to deal out a few blows – that seemed to cheer them up.
I have a feeling my stay here isn’t going to be a very uplifting one. Outside of the bubble of Duke Eaglevane’s court I’m being reminded that most places aren’t very nice.
Funds: 1425 gold
Inventory: Peasant outfit, wooden box, Signet ring, Ring of Many Garments, thieves’ tools, land deed, Bag of Tricks (rust), gold ring, Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Disguise kit (8 uses), Domiel family ring, walking stick
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, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander,
Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel
Rumors : Exiled noblewoman (Reoccurring), vigilante “Litheria”(Reoccurring), murderous Halfling (Reoccurring)
Souls Damned to the Thirteen Hells – 5/10 (23 days remain)
Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and two teams of Soldiers)
Buildings – Mill (repair time 5 days)
Managers – Master Smith (paid for next 5 days)
Behind the curtain – I got another encounter and got horses again, which again was overcome with a Handle Animal check. I’m starting to expect that the plains encounter list doesn’t have a lot on it – which makes sense I suppose.