Montresor 18, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

Finding a reputable inn that will take you in after dark is always a bit of a problem but the day I can’t charm a sleepy innkeeper is the day I start murdering sleepy innkeepers.  After a mediocre breakfast at my new lodgings I went back to the Maiden’s Saber – most of my hirelings along with several watchmen had been killed.  And of course all of Helgan and his people had survived and made their escape – having fled the city one assumes. 

I immediately sought out the nearest watch house and told them how I had hired the five of them to help me retrieve and item from a nearby ruin and then tried to hold me up for more money.  When I wouldn’t pay more than the original agreement they had sworn revenge but I had dismissed it as bold talk.  I broke down in tears and sobbed that I should have taken their threats more seriously.  The watch-captain was very compassionate.  Not bad looking either.  For a watchman.

I told him about my meeting with the mayor and since there was a chance the miscreants were still in town he and ten of his men escorted me to the mayor’s office – you can never be too careful.  There are all kinds of dangerous people out there. Once there the mayor’s assistant entertained me for a while before the mayor came to see me with a priestess of Adariel at his side – a youngish woman with dun colored hair, in ponytail of all things.  Aside from a silver pin on her blue robe she didn’t have much in the way of priestly trappings.  If I were a religious type I would approve of that, I’ve never understood why a church would waste their money on finery and grand buildings – but I’m not a religious type.

Her name is Arastra and she and the mayor explained that the gemstone was taken from a holy temple where the caretakers used their divine gifts to keep the evil magic of Korrok in check – but clearly now it’s time for the stone to be destroyed rather than just contained.  Adariel had sent Arastra a vision that if the gem was bathed in the waters of Quillshire Lake and then blessed eleven times its horrible curse would be abated.  I was about to say “Good luck with that guys” when the mayor said that if I did this the Countess would be in my debt. 

Now that’s something of interest.  In my dark moments I wonder if I’m any closer to revenge on Duke Eaglevane than when I started.  I have some gear now, but a Cap of Disguise and a Bag of Trick isn’t going to take down the Duke.  But a favor from the Countess – now that’s a foundation that you can build on.  I said that of course I would be honored to undertake this dangerous mission to destroy a relic of cruel, vicious, mean-spirited ancient times.

We leave on the morrow.  Arastra excused herself to spend the day in mediation and communion with her god in preparation for the journey.  I paid a visit to Francis and gave him the good news that he was now in charge of the Workshop.  He nearly passed out with fright and started moaning about how he was going to be killed by the other gangs.  When I told him that Grotharar had died recently under mysterious circumstances that didn’t seem to make him feel any better.  When I told him that several of the Brotherhood of the Spider members had died under mysterious circumstances as well he still kept whining. 

After a quick slap to help him regain his senses I set up a meeting with Balad Gad and Vory Mishka and drug him along.  I explained to them that there had been a lot of changes lately and that this was a time to come together in the spirit of cooperation – there’s plenty of money out there for everyone after all.  Violence is counterproductive – it’s what “they” want, for use to kill each other while they sit back in their fancy homes laughing.  Clearly things were going to change, the Workshop had been devastated, but there’s no reason they couldn’t change for the better right? It got them talking at least.  And the good news is I don’t really care what happens.  After the other two left Vory and I shared another drink.

“What’s the news on the Mendev job?”

“Cancelled.  My crew came down with a bad case of being dead.”

“There’s been a lot of that recently. . . . ever since you came to town.”

“I must be bad luck.  Thankfully I’m leaving town.”

“I can’t say as I’ll be sad to see you go.  Who are you anyway?”

“No one of consequence.”

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 7,580 gold

XP: 44,738

Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (rust), Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, Resplendent Diplomat’s Palette, Secure Paypack, Skeleton Key, Brooch of Shielding, Pouch of Magic Stones, Masterful Grey Gloves, Black Marketers’ Bag, Biting Bracelet (Endless Ammunition), Boots of Escape, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer, Ring of Animal Friendship, +1 Falchion, +1 Greatclub, +2 Commanding Light Crossbow, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, mysterious Korrok gemstone

Signet ring, noble’s outfit, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Domiel family ring, walking stick, masterwork playing cards, spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, diamonds (14), silver crown

Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Spider Climb, Potion of Eagle’s Splendor

Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace, mithril hair clasps (3)

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee,  Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin

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

Graltontown Buildings – Mill 

Montresor 17, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

It’s the age old dilemma – what do you do when the counterfeiters you wanted to use to destroy a merchant family have been corrupted by a gemstone tainted with the magic of some savage god of olden times and thereafter slaughtered by “heroic” adventurers?  Pegwhistle is going to be an issue as well since he saw me pocket said gemstone.  Thankfully that part at least can be easily rectified – as we came into town last night I invited him to have breakfast with me in my room at the Saber.  He was whistling quite a jaunty tune when he came bounding up the stairs – it almost made me feel bad Mary and Eormon were waiting in the closet for the ambush.

His grin was a league wide if it was an inch as I let him into my room – although I was in my dressing gown so you can hardly fault him for that.  He quickly ruined everything however –

“I have to tell you my dear that I was most impressed that you took the gem as you did, now we can claim the reward together!  I already stopped by the mayor’s office this morning and . . .”

Ugh.  He rattled on for a while as I decided if I should kill him anyway.  In the end I sat down with a sigh and knocked three times on the wall – the signal for Mary and Eormon to come out without killing.  The little man’s eyes nearly bugged out his head as they strolled out of the closet.

“Whoa.  I had no idea that’s what the plan was.  It’s a lot of ground to cover but back in the Shire they called me . . . hey where are they going?”

“Shut up.  What do you know about counterfeiting?”

“Nothing really.”

“Well then get the Hells out.”

“But I thought we were going to . . .”

“Yeah, yeah, we all thought a lot of things, now beat it.”

I’ve scarcely seen a man look more dejected- a wee little man to be sure, but still.   I have to assume that like many of his ilk Pegwhistle is all talk when it comes to the ladies.  Now I have to talk to the mayor?  Annoying.  First I had to disguise myself as my own maid to make an appointment – I really need to get a valet or an attendant or something of that nature on the payroll instead of just goons.  Maybe I can get a squire.  Or are those only for knights? 

I decided not to use my cap for a change and actually made myself look fabulously gorgeous the old fashioned way – it was kind of nice to take some time like that.  Allowed me to think.  I need to start carving out some time just for me – I do so much for others.  I had Berney and Eram clean up as much as they could and took them with me as my men at arms – footmen would have been better, but what can you do?  The mayor was your standard bald fatman but with the most outrageous muttonchops, which served well to distract from the horrible sky blue doublet he was squeezed into.  Nice enough fellow though – for a mayor.

I told him that Pegwhistle and his lowbrow companions had recovered the gem at my behest and I told him as well that my people have reported that a crimelord in Heathgrove was seeking the gem as well – although the word was that he was trying to get it back to pass it off Councilor Rseikharhl rather than to abscond with it.  And then I told him about the deleterious effects that the gemstone had on the smugglers.  He pondered for quite a while before speaking.

“That Councilor Rseikharhl has always been a rascal.  One wonders if maybe giving his dangerous gem to the Countess was his plan all along.  Do you feel safe with the gem in your possession madam?

“I’ve felt no effects so far your honor, but based on what I’ve seen I wouldn’t mind it leaving my proprietorship.”

“I’ll consult with my spiritual advisors on what should be done with it.  I’ll contact the Countess as well, she can decide what Councilor Rseikharhl’s motivations were.  For now do you mind holding onto the gem?  I’m not sure who can be trusted with it at this point.”

“Of course I will your honor.”

“If you feel even the slightest bits of its strange powers come to see me immediately.  Don’t be a hero madam.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it your honor.”

After that he invited me to stay for dinner with his bland wife, forgettable children, crabby old mother, and a couple of the insipid nobles of the area.  At least it was a nice meal – and the after dinner port was very fine indeed.

Walking back to the Saber I was so lost in thought that I didn’t notice the commotion until I was almost on top of it – the place was a warzone.  I saw Hereisa lying dead on the steps out front and there was fighting raging inside between the guard, my people, and the five adventurers – and by fighting I mean mostly that the dwarf and his friends were killing everyone.  Pegwhistle must have ratted me out and they came to confront me and things turned ugly – as they always do with adventurers.

I turned on heel and headed back the way I came – time to find a new place to stay.  I should have known better than to get mixed up with adventurers. 

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 7,580 gold

XP: 44,738

Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (rust), Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, Resplendent Diplomat’s Palette, Secure Paypack, Skeleton Key, Brooch of Shielding, Pouch of Magic Stones, Masterful Grey Gloves, Black Marketers’ Bag, Biting Bracelet (Endless Ammunition), Boots of Escape, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer, Ring of Animal Friendship, +1 Falchion, +1 Greatclub, +2 Commanding Light Crossbow, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, mysterious Korrok gemstone

Signet ring, noble’s outfit, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Domiel family ring, walking stick, masterwork playing cards, spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, diamonds (14), silver crown

Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Spider Climb, Potion of Eagle’s Splendor

Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace, mithril hair clasps (3)

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee,  Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin

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

Graltontown Buildings – Mill 

Montresor 16, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

Much to my annoyance Francis came bursting in at daybreak, and he said that he thinks that the rest of his friends are holed up in an abandoned hillfort to the northwest – I didn’t quite follow what he was saying, the fort was flooded either because of a dam being built or a dam being broken, it was very early and what he was saying was boring.  I assured him they were as good as saved and went back to sleep.  A few hours later have a complete breakfast I rounded up the Five Heroes from the various flophouses and gin-joints they had passed out in and we were off.  To adventure!

Pegwhistle quickly proved to be a quite a little chore.  Halflings can tend to be garrulous which can be a bit of a yawn but this fellow took the cake – barely two feet high and yet he talked enough for fifty men, including more sleazy come-ons directed at me that you can count.  I doubt he would have even noticed if I said “yes” – he was just making noise.  His companions seemed inured to his jabbering but I was gritting my teeth pretty hard within a couple hours.

When Helgun sent him to scout ahead I could have kissed him.  Although he said “step lightly” which bugged me.  Did he think that the sneaky-sneaky scout wasn’t going to step lightly unless he told him to?  What was the point of saying that?  It reminded me a few years back when two fellows of my acquaintance were about to get into some trouble and the one fellow said “Sharpen your knives my friend” to which he said “My knives are always sharp” and it turned into a huge argument and they almost killed each other right then and there.

Lightdancer and Lumbfoot had hovered in my area the whole trip but hadn’t said much of anything – I suppose being serene priestesses is a laconic profession – until the elf-maid asked me to remind her of my name.

“Ezlebeth.  Ezlebeth Pankration.”

“And how did you find out about this?”

“My brother Bezzakiah is one of those missing.”

The Halfling started to ask something as well but at that moment nine men in ragged clothing burst out of hiding and charged towards us shouting war-cries.  Helgan and Bonder met them head-on with sword and axe while Lightdancer and Lumbfoot supported them with glowing – I assume that was magic of some kind.  Glowing seems to be an important part of magic.  After a moment Pegwhistle joined the fray as well, throwing adorable tiny daggers with deadly (and mysterious) accuracy.  The fight was won without more than a few scrapes and bruises and one of the men lay dying – he giggled like a madman.

“You’re just grist for the mill.  More grist for mill!  Our bodies are his food, our eyes his sweet candy!  I serve none but Korrok!!”

And with a fountain of blood from the mouth he expired.  Nothing horrifying about that at all.  I had never heard of Korrok but the Five huddled up and spoke in grave voices – they went on and on they did, the punchline is Korrok is bad news.  Which seems pretty obvious given what just happened but hey, they’re the professionals here so who I am to question?

Lightdancer and Lumbfoot spent a long time praying and doing some kind of cleansing magic before we continued on to the ruined hillfort.  You could tell that the land had once been flooded for some period of time but it seemed dry now.  The timber-walls were tumbled and split open with rot as were the interior buildings for the most part.  Towards the center there were a couple barrack-style structures that were in semi-decent shape and were clearly inhabited.  I was just about to ask the possibility of talking our way in when with a dozen men charged out of the buildings at us shrieking like carnivorous apes.  Man, I haven’t had a good ape meat dish in months.  That would really hit the spot.

Things were a little more serious this time – I had to help out with a wolf from my Bag of Tricks and a couple Magic Stones to keep things from getting out of hand.  During the fight emerged from the most intact hut a woman with hands and feet mutated in massive claws and another woman with pure white skin that seemed to be flaking off like chalk as she moved – nestled in her ivory bosom was a large ruby that scintillated with wicked light.  They were accompanied by half a dozen small bestial-men with sharp horns and teeth.  They seemed to care not for their companions fighting to the death below them.

Once the Brave Five has dispatched the last of the attackers the pale lady spoke with the voice of a crowd –

“Have you come to witness the Glory of Korrok?”

“Yes actually, I was wondering . . .”

Bonder interjected “We’ve come for naught but your death demon-woman!”

So much for diplomacy.  The clawed woman and her beast-friends attacked like savage fiends and to no one’s surprise the white lady attacked with foul magics.  It looked like a heck of a fight from my position behind one of the crumbling huts.  At one point a beastman spotted me and charged but Pegwhistle downed it with a flurry of thrown daggers and dropped me a sassy wink – which allowed the clawed woman to disembowel him from the blindside.  Have you ever see a Halfling’s entrails fall out of their body?  I have now.  He was fine though, Lightdancer healed him.  Meanwhile I can’t find a healer who can cure a simple disease.  How does that make any sense?

The white lady seemed to be doing a pretty good job of immolating Helgun and Bonder so I figured a few shots from my crossbow wouldn’t hurt anything – er, I mean except the person I was shooting of course.  I managed to put two bolts in her and they seemed to cause her an inordinate amount of pain, causing large chunks of her flesh fell off like crumbling stone.  It was quite something.

The Brave Heroes won the day and I slipped the gemstone into my Bag while they tended to their wounds.  Since the bulk of the Workshop now lay dead on the soggy ground I guess I’m going to need to come up with another plan.  I should have expected an outcome like this, it’s what adventurers do after all.  Lightdancer approached me quietly.

“I see the disappointment on your face Ezlebeth, is your brother among the fallen?”  I nodded solemnly  “So it is ever with Korrok the Corrupter, Korrok the Vile.  You have my condolences.”

Bonder was searching over the bodies “I thought I saw a massive gem in the pale one’s tits – where did that get to?”

“Didn’t you see?  When she was slain it burst in a flash of light and turned to dust.”

Pegwhistle said that he had seen that as well and then dropped me another wink.  It probably would have been more effective without the rent in his shirt that was still befouled with his own organ-meat.

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 7,580 gold

XP: 44,738

Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (rust), Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, Resplendent Diplomat’s Palette, Secure Paypack, Skeleton Key, Brooch of Shielding, Pouch of Magic Stones, Masterful Grey Gloves, Black Marketers’ Bag, Biting Bracelet (Endless Ammunition), Boots of Escape, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer, Ring of Animal Friendship, +1 Falchion, +1 Greatclub, +2 Commanding Light Crossbow, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, mysterious Korrok gemstone

Signet ring, noble’s outfit, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Domiel family ring, walking stick, masterwork playing cards, spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, diamonds (14), silver crown

Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Spider Climb, Potion of Eagle’s Splendor

Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace, mithril hair clasps (3)

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee

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

Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and one team of Soldiers)

Graltontown Buildings – Mill 

Montresor 15, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

Today’s first order of business was scoping out the three Mendev moneylenders in town that Vory had told me about.  People have this impression that with all the money they have on hand that moneylenders are fortified to the hilt, but they’re less well protected than you might think.  In a large part they rely on their importance to the community and their connections to dissuade people from causing them problems.  Which isn’t to say they’re an easy score by any means, just that it’s not like trying to break into a Temple-Vault of Odobenine.  The three Mendev outfits were nothing special – a few guards, a lockbox, the usual.  Their front company for the operation was called Goodwill Lending.  Hilarious.

Next on the agenda was setting eyes on one Francis Fast-Fingers, the only remaining member of the Workshop that seems to be out and about on a semi-regular basis.  He was called Fast-Fingers not for his ability to lift a purse or tease a lock but rather for his lecherous ways.  Sounds like a real sweetheart, one wonders where all the gentlemen thieves in the romance novels are. 

We caught up to him as he exited a gambling hall near the Labyrinth and he immediately started running – not sure what set him off.  Thankfully he didn’t duck into the Labyrinth, we’d never had caught him in there, but rather tried to cut between two buildings and found himself outflanked by my boys.  He went so far as to try and scramble up the side of the building but Oney grabbed him and pulled him down.

“Where are you off to Francis?”

He squinted at me for a moment “I thought you was something else.  My peepers aren’t what they used to be.”

“Well none of us is getting any younger are we Francis?  I need to talk to your people but from what I hear you’ve been scarce around town as of late – what’s the story?”

“I have no people.  I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in this cruel world of ours.”

“Of course.  You look like a tough enough guy, you could probably withstand a halfway decent beating, so why don’t we start off being friends and see where that goes?  Is there a good place around here to get a drink?”

The first place he took us to was a rancid pit that served only grog – clearly Francis was not one to splurge on his drink, one of these quantity over quality types.   I diverted him instead to a nearby dwarfen taproom but he spit at the idea – I guess there’s some issue here with the dwarf clans.  Finally we settled on an inn with a decent bar – Francis swilling Gold Lane Bock while I sipped my Dwarfen Firewine.

Francis wasn’t very forthcoming at first but I happen to be pretty good at getting people to open up.  The drink helped as well.  I get the feeling that he wanted to get drunk enough to tell me what he told me.  Some people need a boost.  His story, told in fits and starts with nonsensical side-tracks – was that after retrieving the gem their leader had started acting strangely and became a recluse.  This behavior spread through the gang and most of their members seem to be involved in some arcane nonsense with the gem outside of town – leaving just the dregs to try and carry on in Malgareth.  Those that are left are terrified not only of what is happening with the gem but also that one of the other gangs will figure out how weak they are and take them out.

“Hmm, well that’s no good.  I need a reliable source of counterfeit coins.  Why can’t anything ever go smoothly?”

“What are you going to do?”

“Save the day of course.  That gem clearly has some mystical mojo going on and has overthrown the minds of all the decent members of your gang.  Do you know where they’ve gone or can you find out?”  He nodded like an eager puppy – one that nods.  “Good, I’ll find you tomorrow.”  He ran off like a lad chasing a butterfly.  

Eormon looked to me “So it’s a trip out of town then boss?”

“Not for you lot.  I need you to stay here and keep an eye on the Mendev moneylenders.”

“Surely it’s too dangerous to go alone.”

“Surely it is, that’s why I’m going to need to find some adventurers.”

I hate adventurers.  Everyone does.  I mean sure if you’re the mayor of a town and your daughter has been kidnapped by goblins – it happens more than you’d think – you need them, but no one likes them.  They’re murders first of all, and unlike assassins they don’t even both to hide it.  And what galls me is that they get away with it.  It’s almost like they’ve been given some special license that no one else knows about to kill and loot.  And they’re blowhards as well.  You ever talk to an adventurer for five minutes without them going on and on about their “deeds”?  No, you have not.  But the worst part is the condescension.  They’re literally vagrants and they seem to think everyone else looks up to them?  I don’t think so.

But when you need swift and blinding violence with very few questions asks they’re first on deck.  And the good thing is they aren’t hard to find.  Anyone sitting in the corner of a tavern with a cloak trying to look cryptic drinking ale?  Adventurer.  Who the Hells wears a cloak anyway?  I found a likely group at a charming little place called the Strangled Goblin.  Enigmatic disappearances?  A magical gemstone?  Mention of the Countess herself?  A stranger telling them things in a bar without any explanation of why?  They couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Five mighty heroes they were – Helgan van Tankerstrum the mysterious warrior with a mysterious past whose mysterious greatsword is the terror of his enemies; “Lightdancer” the elf-maiden priestess of Adariel who’s mysterious healing gifts bring succor to the downtrodden and outcast; Bonder Greysmith, the hard-fighting, hard-drinking, ugly, ugly son of a bitch dwarf who’s mysterious exile from his clan has forced him to mysteriously travel the land in search of mystery; Pegwhistle Proudfoot the stealthy mysterious Halfling scoundrel with a mysterious heart of gold; Lumbfoot Sheepskin the non-stealthy non-mysterious Halfling priestess of Adariel.

“Where’s your wizard?  Don’t you guys always have a wizard?”

Bonder let loose with a thunderous fart “That’s what I think of wizards lassie!  We don’t need no stinking wizards!”

No wizard and they have an elf, a dwarf, and two Halflings?  What is this amateur hour?  Everyone knows you need at least half your party to be humans.  Oh well, I’ll have to make due.  Good free help is so hard to find.

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 7,580 gold

XP: 44,738

Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (rust), Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, Resplendent Diplomat’s Palette, Secure Paypack, Skeleton Key, Brooch of Shielding, Pouch of Magic Stones, Masterful Grey Gloves, Black Marketers’ Bag, Biting Bracelet (Endless Ammunition), Boots of Escape, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer, Ring of Animal Friendship, +1 Falchion, +1 Greatclub, +2 Commanding Light Crossbow, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2  

Signet ring, noble’s outfit, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Domiel family ring, walking stick, masterwork playing cards, spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, diamonds (14), silver crown

Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Spider Climb, Potion of Eagle’s Splendor

Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace, mithril hair clasps (3)

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee

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

Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and one team of Soldiers)

Graltontown Buildings – Mill 

Montresor 14, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

Now that all the nonsense is out of the way it’s time to get down to the business at hand – the Mendevs.  Their control of coin minting made them one of the wealthiest families in the outlying territories, but their lack of a noble title and their refusal to work with the guilds keeps them from being a true power player.  After the “framing” of Eorman’s father and mother she and her brother took over the business but they didn’t last long in the face of pressure from the Mendevs and suspiciously well equipped “bandit” attacks on their caravans.  What they don’t know is that the Mendevs also have a stranglehold on moneylending in the area – through intermediaries of course. 

I had learned two things from my friend with the gold chains in Heathgrove – the top of the heap in the criminal world in Malgareth is an outfit that calls itself The Workshop, whose main activity beyond smuggling and fencing is turning out counterfeit coins.  And that the Workshop was supposed to deliver a gemstone to Councilor Rseikharhl, a close confidant of the Countess herself – which they didn’t.  With of course the obvious fact that you don’t hire smugglers to bring you a gem if everything is on the up and up. 

The first order of business is to figure out why the Workshop didn’t deliver the gem as expected – seems like it would take more than simple avarice to risk the wrath of the Countess.  My crew and I hit the streets to gather information but we couldn’t dig up much other than the fact that around the time the Workshop should have been ready to make the exchange a good portion of them seem to have vanished – and those that are left have been very circumspect and a bit squirrely.  I set half my crew to looking for one of the remaining folk in the Workshop that we can have a chat with. 

Now you’re probably wondering – if the Workshop is top dog and Bala Ged’s crew is in the margins who’s coming in at the second spot in the criminal underworld games?  That would be the Brotherhood of the Spider – and as it turns out a bunch of their people just got killed the other day in Hillside.  I wonder how that could have happened.  They’ve added a veneer of mystical nonsense to their criminal enterprise, to scare people one assumes.  The other half of my crew and I were off to meet with Vory Mishka – who’s reputed to be a lieutenant with the Brotherhood.  We left our goons outside and sat down for high tea at a very reputable and elegant establishment. After some feeling out chit-chat we got down to it –

“I’d like to hit all the Mendev moneylenders in town.”

“That’s going to bring a lot of heat from the guard.”

“Of course, those nothing rich people hate more than when the money they steal is stolen in turn – but that’s why I’ll be doing the hitting, you just need to tell me who they are.”

“And what happens to you?”

“I’ve a wanderer’s soul, I’ll be on the next town.”

“What did the Mendev family do to you?”

“Halkran Mendev is my father.  I was conceived out of wedlock you see and as a result I was sold to foreign slavers.  Now I’m back for revenge.”

“That’s quite a tale.”

“I know, very gripping.  There’s even a part where I was a pirate for a while.”

“You don’t seem like the pirate queen type.”

“Well I’m still workshopping it.”

“What’s our cut?”

“Fifteen percent is the standard finder’s fee.”

“Fifty percent sounds better.”

“Oof, that’s quite a bite out of the pie but you’ve negotiated me into a corner here so I’ll take it.”

“So you don’t care about the money, you just want to hurt the Mendevs.”

“I wouldn’t say I don’t care at all, but it’s not my primary objective – you know, what with the revenge on the father who didn’t acknowledge me and sold me into slavery.”

“Yes of course.”

A deal was struck and we shared a divine raspberry confection infused with elfen honey.  A fine day’s work indeed. 

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 7,580 gold

XP: 44,738

Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (rust), Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, Resplendent Diplomat’s Palette, Secure Paypack, Skeleton Key, Brooch of Shielding, Pouch of Magic Stones, Masterful Grey Gloves, Black Marketers’ Bag, Biting Bracelet (Endless Ammunition), Boots of Escape, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer, Ring of Animal Friendship, +1 Falchion, +1 Greatclub, +2 Commanding Light Crossbow, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2  

Signet ring, noble’s outfit, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Domiel family ring, walking stick, masterwork playing cards, spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, diamonds (14), silver crown

Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Spider Climb, Potion of Eagle’s Splendor

Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace, mithril hair clasps (3)

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee

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

Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and one team of Soldiers)

Graltontown Buildings – Mill 

Montresor 13, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

Sleeping in feels absurdly amazing.  I know I’ve said this before but if there’s one thing I will never take from granted again it’s a good night’s sleep.   I barely got up before lunch and I don’t feel bad about that in the slightest.  After a hearty lunch-breakfast and a nice Northern Icewine I sent half my crew to Bee’s to make sure everything was set up with our friend the half-orc barkeep while I took the other half with me see Rattlesnake Jack. 

We barged in on him playing grabass with one of his dancers – I love a good barge in – and I tossed the wizards staff at him. 

“Here’s your stinkin’ magic stick.  Now, I believe there’s the matter of a very generous payment?”

He took his sweet time counting out two hundred gold coins one by one, trying to get a rise out of me, but I didn’t mind in the least.  I sat with a smile on my face while this mud puddle of a human being made a big show out of how little money he was handing over – I wanted my squad to stand there and fume with anger since this was all their doing.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on them, they screwed up, but at least they took the initiative. That’s something right?  After he was done with his big production Jack sat back and cocked his hat like he had just bearded a dragon.  My grandmother saw a bearded dragon one time.  It’s a pretty funny story.

“Mr. Snake, it’s been a true pleasure doing business with you.  You know your place here would really be something if you did a little renovation and got some attractive women in here instead of these half-orcish sows and drowned yourself in a barrel of horse piss.”

Never let it be said that I don’t offer good advice.  After that we met up with the rest of the crew at Bee’s and learned that the meet was on for that night – Grotharar and his Unwanted buddies would be there expecting to recruit some new playmates into their little hate group.  With nothing much else to do the rest of the day I paid a visit to Bhuul the wizard.  Wizard’s usually attend to their own schedule but he didn’t keep me waiting long – he had white hair and a long white beard, his whole look screamed “wizard”.  He wasn’t even that old.  I wonder if in magic school on day one they teach you how to magic your hair white. 

I let him know that I had recovered his staff and turned it over to Rattlesnake Jack and that it was stolen at the behest of his rival wizard and I threw in there as well that the dancer from Jack’s that he was so infatuated with couldn’t care less about him and it was a love con. 

I winked “But probably your magic already told you all these things.”

He stared at me for a long while and then had his gross little homunculus-servant bring us some very mediocre tea and some very nice lemon cookies so we could have us a chat.  A few hours later he asked me why I was telling him all this. 

“Oh, I’m just the helpful type.”

I thanked him an excused myself back to Bee’s where my crew was set up in the store-room off the main common area.  I helped myself to a bottle of ten year old brandy and ducked down behind the bar.  A while later (I lost track of time a bit) I heard Grothrar and his buddies come in and start talking to the half-orcs about their organization and its many benefits – like racial motivated violence.  I stood up behind the bar. 

“Can I join?  I’m a full blooded human, but I hate everyone so it kind of works.”

The four half-elves sprang to their feet while the half-orcs quietly made themselves scarce.  I assume the one who spoke was Grotharar himself.

“Who the Hells are you?!”

“The other day you killed a couple folks.  Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things I suppose, people die every day.  But these were MY people.  If you were the honorable sort you’d send your friend away so they wouldn’t die also, but I suspect that you aren’t.  What with your secret murder society and all.”

“You?  What are you going to do?”

Right then my crew came out into the common room with their weapons drawn.  “Good work guys, you really got the timing down on that one.  Very dramatic.”

I chucked a wolverine into the fray from my Bag of Tricks and then ducked back behind the bar with my bottle.  Sounded like quite a melee indeed.  I’ve been involved in far too much violence lately.  Sounded like Grotharar and his friend were able combatants but as my grandma always used to say two against one is monkey’s fun.  Monkey’s Fun was the name of a low class establishment she worked in when she was younger you see.  Anyway, ten against four is pretty hard odds.  In the end all four half-elves were dead and I distributed my potions of healing to my wounded goons.  Not that I’m getting sentimental about the hired help, but it’s good to show them that loyalty goes both ways. 

After taking a few choice items for myself I gave the rest of the loot to the half-orcs – it was only for since they would get rid of the bodies and they had a lot of blood to clean up.  Once it was all over we paid a late night visit to Grotharar’s second in command Bala Ged.  Using my Skeleton Key we stole into his house unawares and dumped his floozy out of bed to the floor – nothing like making an entrance.

“Good news Bala Ged, Grotharar is dead, which makes you the leader of your little gang now.  Congratulations!”

He stared at me in terror as the woman got up off the floor “Actually, I’m Bala Ged.”

“So sorry my dear, I just assumed the criminal gangboss would be a man.”

“That’s somewhat ironic don’t you think?”

“I don’t take your meaning.”

“Nevermind.  So Grotharar is dead eh?  Thanks for telling me I suppose, and why is it that you’re here?”

“I thought a little appreciation might be in order.  You know, for the effort.”

“You want a reward of some kind for killing my boss?”

“Isn’t that what everyone dreams of?” I glanced at my crew “Not you guys of course, but people with bad bosses.”

We were able to make a deal.  Grotharar had been stockpiling weapons for his envisioned uprising, weapons that Bala Ged didn’t have any use for – ergo they’d be coming back to Graltonton with me when we leave.  A bit thin if you ask me, but as I’ve said many times people have no sense of gratitude anymore. 

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 7,580 gold

XP: 44,738

Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (rust), Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, Resplendent Diplomat’s Palette, Secure Paypack, Skeleton Key, Brooch of Shielding, Pouch of Magic Stones, Masterful Grey Gloves, Black Marketers’ Bag, Biting Bracelet (Endless Ammunition), Boots of Escape, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer, Ring of Animal Friendship, +1 Falchion, +1 Greatclub, +2 Commanding Light Crossbow, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2  

Signet ring, noble’s outfit, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Domiel family ring, walking stick, masterwork playing cards, spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, diamonds (14), silver crown

Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Spider Climb, Potion of Eagle’s Splendor

Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace, mithril hair clasps (3)

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee

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

Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and one team of Soldiers)

Graltontown Buildings – Mill 

Montresor 12, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

This morning at the Saber Berny and Oney informed me that last night around nine o’clock our friend the mage got a visit from a young woman who handed him a small packet in return for a handful of coins.  Sounds like a drug deal to me.  Not only that but Oney had taken the initiative to follow the girl, although she had disappeared into a part of town known as the Labyrinth – on account of the fact that like many slums it was basically a maze.  Nevertheless I made sure to praise his quick thinking – and by quick thinking I mean very basic common sense. 

Generally speaking there are two kinds of drug dealers – the cut your throat for a silver kind and the ones who realize that screwing over your own customers isn’t necessarily a great idea if they want to stay in business.  Strangely there seem to be a lot more of the first kind than the second.  I suppose if you’re smart enough to understand the concept of customer loyalty you probably don’t get mixed up with the drug trade. 

Going into the Labyrinth isn’t something I was excited about so I had my people stake out the common thoroughfares to pick her up coming out – poor people can be a but clannish when it comes to outsiders.  It was easy enough to tail her to a bar simply named “Bee’s” and we burst in just as she was making a deal with a half-orc behind the bar.  I love a good burst in.  One wall was lined with crates and there was a gaming table pushed to one side.

“Oh no, it’s the watch!”

The half-orc reached for a blade but seeing that he was outnumbered gave the girl a bitter look and dropped it.  Her name was Red, and as it turns out she’s the first kind of drug dealer – I’m a pretty good judge of character and she had no issue with adding a little something extra to the mage’s Keif order that night.  A few more goons came into the bar as we were finishing up the deal but the half-orc waved them off.  

“Say boys. As long as you’re here what can you tell me about Grotharar?”

I didn’t expect much but it never hurts to ask right?  Turns out though that they did have one interesting tidbit about our local half-half crimeboss.  In addition to his crew he was also trying to get together a “secret society” of half-elves and half-orcs that he called “The Unwanted” which as you could probably guess was a hate group he wanted to use to “strike back” at the society that rejected them.  So far most people laughed him off and his group consisted just of a half-elf by the name of Quinna and this two moronic cousins. 

I asked the half-orc and his friends if they’d be willing to get in touch with Gotharar and tell him they had changed their minds about joining his little support group.  They were understandably suspicious.

“Why?”

“He murdered a couple of my friends.  So I was thinking about slitting his throat for him.”

Their grins told me what esteem this fellow had garnered with his fellow half-breeds.  Have you ever noticed that there are no half-dwarfs?  I wonder why that is.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that humans will have sex with anything.  I mean a half-dragon?  How does that even work?  I’m pretty sure a freak show they brought to court one time had a half-lizardman.  Why?  Just why?

I took several hours to make sure my Heresia disguise was flawless and from there on out things went smoothly.  Christops was delighted and surprised when “Heresia” showed up on his doorstep late at night and quickly dismissed his guards so “they” could have some private time.  What a great fool.  Once he was sleep I poured some oil of taggit down his gullet to make sure he stayed that way and I opened the trap door which lead to an actual staircase down into the “vault”.  This is a man who invest in his enterprise.

I didn’t expect that the staff would still be down there but indeed it was, along with a few other items I helped myself too.  An angry mage didn’t teleport in and incinerate me so Red must have kept her word.  I do like a turncoat that stays bribed at least long enough to betray you later.  My Skeleton Key came in handy opening a chest that had several gems in in as well as a silver tiara.  After grabbing the loot is was as simple as heading back up the stairs, shutting the trap door and leaving. 

Heresia doesn’t seem like the type to stay for breakfast – got to stay in character.

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 7,580 gold

XP: 41,808

Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (rust), Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, Resplendent Diplomat’s Palette, Secure Paypack, Skeleton Key, Brooch of Shielding, Pouch of Magic Stones, Masterful Grey Gloves, Black Marketers’ Bag, Biting Bracelet (Endless Ammunition), Boots of Escape, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer, Ring of Animal Friendship, +1 Falchion, +1 Greatclub, +2 Commanding Light Crossbow   

Signet ring, noble’s outfit, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Domiel family ring, walking stick, masterwork playing cards, spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, diamonds (14), silver crown

Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds (2), Potion of Cure Light Wounds (3), Potion of Spider Climb

Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace, mithril hair clasps (3)

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee

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

Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and one team of Soldiers)

Graltontown Buildings – Mill 

Behind the curtain – Ela hit level seven making her Expert 2/Rogue 5 (Phantom Thief) I probably should retrain the expert levels but I don’t like retraining conceptually.  It seems like cheating somehow.  I mentioned before I thought her BAB was too high but she’s level seven and hasn’t even cracked 20 hit points yet so that clearly puts her in the non-combatant category which I like.  I chose Disguise as the next skill for the archetype bonus. I took Extra Rogue Talent for the feat and Mockingbird, vigilante social talent, allowed with the archetype as well.

Montresor 11, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

Last night I ascertained from my people that the “vault” is not so much a vault as it is the basement of Christops van Os’s house.  You know, clearly the kind of place you need to approach from the sewers and try to bust through from below.  I told my crew to stay put while I hit the streets of Malgareth to see what we are dealing with. 

Christops is one of three van Os brothers that work together in their fence/contraband operation and they do indeed have an alliance with Grotharar.  Grotharar and his crew are one of three “gangs” that controls the underworld in Malgareth and they’re solidly in the number three spot.  There’s no overboss or anything of that sort to worry about. 

I was able to learn from a thief had had tried to sneak into the “vault” that the van Os have a wizard on the payroll that monitors it remotely – which is presumably how Grotharar knew who to retaliate against.  With that knowledge I was able to uncover that this wizard and the one whose staff had been stolen were rivals of some sort, so one assumes he’s the one who commissioned the staff to be stolen in the first place – in which case it’s probably not even in the vault.

After a quick lunch of giving my hirelings the stinkeye I took Heresia and Althith with me to scope out Christop’s house in the guise of a group of down on their luck young women singing for a few coins – not much of a stretch really.  Three months since my exile and I’m still singing on street corners. 

We attracted quite a crowd, so much so that Cristops and a couple thugs came out of the house to see what all the commotion was about.  Cristops is a foreigner of some kind – he may be Krebish, I’m not quite sure.  Doesn’t look so impressive, but then I suppose he’s a fence not a bullyboy.  He came over to talk to us, he seemed quite taken with Heresia – probably because I’m in disguise – and it was a simple matter to get us into the house for some wine and a mid-afternoon snack. 

Pretty standard house, nothing much in the way of security that I saw besides the four thugs who had a table set up in the front room where they were, as all guards have since the beginning of time, playing cards.  I wonder how long the first guard ever was on duty before they started slacking.  I excused myself to the restroom after a while and snooped around – there was a trapdoor in the bedroom that I have to assume leads to the “vault”. 

After a few hours of merry-making we took our leave.  So that’s our way in – easy enough, next up was to figure out what to do about the mage overwatch.  The good news is it’s usually easy to find wizards – they rarely keep a low profile.  The bad news is when you try to keep an eye on them sometimes you turn into a frog.  That’s what you have goons for though.  I gathered my crew together and told them they needed to set up the mage’s house and that this was their chance to redeem themselves.  I was not shy about pointing out how I accomplished more in one day then they had with their sewer-crawling. 

Their motivation was almost palpable.  I just hope they don’t get too fired up about it and end up frogs.  

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 7,580 gold

XP: 34,408

Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (rust), Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, Resplendent Diplomat’s Palette, Secure Paypack, Skeleton Key, Brooch of Shielding, Pouch of Magic Stones, Masterful Grey Gloves, Black Marketers’ Bag, Biting Bracelet (Endless Ammunition), Boots of Escape, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer

Signet ring, noble’s outfit, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Domiel family ring, walking stick, masterwork playing cards, spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, oil of taggit (2)

Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds (2), Potion of Cure Light Wounds (3), Potion of Spider Climb

Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace, mithril hair clasps (3)

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee

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

Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and one team of Soldiers)

Graltontown Buildings – Mill 

Montresor 10, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

I hate spending the night outdoors.  I should have waited to kill Erist until after he set up a camp – hindsight.  After the second time his tent collapsed on me I just gave up and slept in the heap – I’m pretty sure a deer stepped on me in the night.  Since I was getting no sleep anyway I got up early and headed into Malgareth as the sun came up – leaving all that disgusting camping gear behind. 

Back in the olden days Malgareth was a military outpost, but as the boundaries have shifted it stopped being of military importance a long time ago – the fortifications are now crumbling and partially scavenged for building materials.  For all that it looks like a disintegrating ruin though it’s a respectable place, if I’m remembering correctly the mayor is a friend of the Countess.

Before seeing what disasters my hired folk have gotten into without me the first order of business is getting rid of some of this junk I’ve acquired over the last little while.  It took some doing but I was able to find a nobleman who was interested in Achila’s gear – he hadn’t yet heard of what happened in Heathgrove and I didn’t feel the need to tell him why her stuff was available.  I wager he should have been able to figure it out – why else would the tools of the trade for a gladiator be available for sale?  I kept the hair clasps because they’re quite fetching even though they’re not quite my style. I even found a printer interested in Sir Humperdinck’s book. 

Even though I like the succubi carving I picked up from Piltis I was going to sell it, but then when it came time to hand it over for some reason I just couldn’t . . . . I’m sure it’s nothing.  Once I had my selling all squared away I picked up a few items of use before shopping for some new clothes – wearing peasant rags doesn’t really matter because I’m using my cap and ring most of the time but I still like to be wearing something decent.

Malgareth may be a upstanding place but you’re always going to find pickpockets at a marketplace – one tried to make a lift off me but failed.  It could have been a dicey situation but I managed to shoot him in the back five times as he tried to run off.  The watch response time was very admirable.  When they asked what happened I told them the thief had been attacked by a giant wasp.  There’s a part of me that’s disappointed that they believed me. A small part.

I spent a few hours looking for my crew until I realized the man in the stocks who had called my name several times was Wine. 

“Things are going that well huh?”

Turns out he was just there for public drunkenness and was able to point me where the rest of my hirelings were staying – an inn with the odd name of the Madam’s Saber.  I’m sure there’s some kind of story behind that. 

“Thank you.  Well Wine I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is I’m not going to get you out of here.  The good news is you’re fired so it’s not my problem anyway.  Cheers!”

I’m going to need to see about rounding up a few more goons – with Ancin and Reda gone as well they’re starting to get a little thin if I ever need to rough someone up seriously.  I managed to find the Madam’s Saber incongruously located in a residential area.  Looks more like a small school than an inn – ivy on the walls and everything.  I’ve never been sure why vines tearing your walls up is considered classy but it did look quite nice. 

Heresia and Althith were the only ones there and they told me what Wine hadn’t – they had run afoul of some local crew and Edul and Eberald had been killed in a skirmish.  Drunken idiot, I wish I could fire him again.  I asked them what had happened.  They looked at each other for a moment before Heresia answered –

“We didn’t know how long you’d be so we asked ourselves – what would Ela do?”

“Oh no.”

“So we figured what you would do is get some kind of scheme cooking . . .”

“Oh no.”

They had taken on a job to break into a fence’s vault and steal some item back that had recently been stolen itself.  They failed and in the course of said failure drew the attention of a gang in the employee of a half-elf they claimed was called Grotharar but they must be wrong because no one would ever be named that.  I asked them were everyone else was and they said they were out trying to find out information about Grotharar and his crew.  I’m out of it for a few days and everyone gets delusions of grandeur.   

“Alright you two, while we wait for everyone else to get back – IF they come back – you’re going to take me to see this benefactor of yours.”

They took me to a dance hall – you know the kind I mean – which was closed of course as it was daytime, but I was able to talk my way into seeing the owner easily enough.  A squirrely looking fellow with a nicely trimmed beard wearing a poncho and a wide-brimmed black hat.  For some reason he goes by the moniker of Rattlesnake Jack. He tried to take my hand and kiss it as we came into his messy office.

“I don’t remember seeing you before my dear, and I know I would remember you.”

I didn’t allow him to touch me but I did refrain from spitting in his lazy eye which I think is admirable on my part “No time for pleasantries friend.  It seems my employees have gotten themselves into a little bit of hot water working for you without my knowledge.  Let’s see what can figure out about this predicament.” 

Old Jack had one of his girls working a local wizard and said wizard had his staff stolen – you know wizards and their staffs.  So he had turned to the only lowlife type he knew, Jack, who found out that the staff was being held in the vault of a fence by the name of van Os – he hired my people to break into the vault. 

“So where does Grotharar fit into this?” Turns out that actually is his name. 

Jack shrugged “He must be working for van Os?”

“What kind of juice does he have?  Is this a name you run away from or someone you strike back at?”

He shrugged again “I don’t know.”

I wanted to smack that stupid hat off his head “So what good are you?  What kind of pimp doesn’t know the lay of the land in his own town?”

His eyes burned with rage “I am not a PIMP, this is a legitimate establishment!”

“Sure, fine, whatever.  I’m going to figure this out, if we have to go up against these Grotharar people what kind of muscle do you have?”

He shrugged yet again – he was clearly doing it to annoy me “I have a few guys, but why would I lend them to you?  I paid for YOU to do the work.”

“And how much was that pay?”

“Two hundred, AFTER the job is done.”

“Two hundred platinum?”

He shook his head with a greasy smile “Gold.”

I glared at Heresia “You took this job for two hundred GOLD?”

She at least had the good graces to look sheepish “That’s a lot of money to some people . . .”

“Alright let’s get the Hells out of here.  Rattlesnake it was a true pleasure to meet you, I hope this rat-nests doesn’t burn down in the night with you in it, we’ll be in touch.”

Back at the Saber Althith told me how they tried to break into the vault through the sewers where they came across a shrine to the Lord of the Thirteen and when they took the coins off it they were attacked by a swarm of imps.

“There are so many things wrong with that.”

“Jack said . . .”

“Say no more.”

They ran from the imps but they weren’t able to get into the vault from the sewers and the next day they were attacked by Grotharar and his men as they were trying to surveil the vault to come up with another plan of attack.

I should have been out gathering information but instead I sat at the Saber and stewed until the rest of my crew came back.  They were so happy to see me that I didn’t have the heart to scream at them – after all I was the one who left them alone without instructions.  You can’t expect people like them not to get in trouble when left unsupervised. 

Their joy only marginally improved my sour mood.  Tomorrow we get to work. 

Funds: 7,577 gold

XP: 34,408

Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (rust), Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, Resplendent Diplomat’s Palette, Secure Paypack, Skeleton Key, Brooch of Shielding, Pouch of Magic Stones, Masterful Grey Gloves, Black Marketers’ Bag, Biting Bracelet (Endless Ammunition), Boots of Escape, Bracers of the Glib Entertainer

Signet ring, noble’s outfit, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Domiel family ring, walking stick, masterwork playing cards, spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, oil of taggit (2)

Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds (2), Potion of Cure Light Wounds (3), Potion of Spider Climb

Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace, mithril hair clasps (3)

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee

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

Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and one team of Soldiers)

Graltontown Buildings – Mill 

Behind the curtain – Technically there should have been all kinds of rolls for what Ela could sell and what was available but what fun is that? 

Montresor 9, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

I figured that Erist might stay behind to help the good folks of Hillside – seeing as they were an entire village of drug addicts – which would have been fine with me at this point since we were so close to Malgarth.  He surprised me and we headed out together, but not before giving me a very earnest speech about how we had started as strangers, enemies even, but now had been forged by battle into friends – the usual macho bullshit about shedding blood together and all that.  I had to fight pretty hard to not roll my eyes when he gave me that old chestnut “It has been an honor”.  Did he think we had been drafted into the service at some point?  Men.  I bet he’s going to make a move on me today, you just see if he doesn’t. 

Malgareth came into sight only a few hours after we set out – we should be there well before nightfall.  After walking in silence Erist asked, out of the blue –

“Ela, have you ever been in love?”

“What brought that on?”

“Just trying to understand you.  When you and your friends attacked me on the road outside of Graltontown I assumed you were just a blackguard, or whatever the female equivalent is.  Now?  I don’t know what you are.”

“You and me both.”

After a long moment “So?  Have you ever been in love?”

“What makes you think I’d tell you anything about that?”

“No harm in asking.”

A few hours later we stopped for lunch.  I tossed away an apple core as I leaned on a thin tree, Erist shaking a pebble out of his boot.

“When I was thirteen I went skinny dipping once.  When I came out of the water Valenz Dwans had my clothes and wouldn’t give them back.  I had to walk naked back to palace and he made sure that all the other kids knew and were there to see me.  He was the great-grandson of the king’s brother in law so no one messed with him.  There was this boy that worked in the kitchens – Garen.  We used to go on long walks out in the gardens and gaze at the stars and hold hands.  One time we kissed.  When he heard about what had happened he challenged Valenz to a fight by the stables.  Nothing like this had ever happened before because, as I said he was the king’s brother in law’s great grandson – even most adults kissed his ass. 

All the kids were there at the appointed time, no one thought that Garen would actually show up – or if did that he would dare to lay a finger on Valenz.  But he did.  Garen beat the snot out of that short-pants wearing little monster.  A couple other kids had to literally carry him away – he was a bloody mess.  Right after that Garen started crying because he knew that he was going to be in serious trouble.  But he couldn’t let Valenz get away with what he had done to me.  I put my arm around him and told him everything would be okay. 

But weeks went by and nothing happened.  Valenz never said anything about what had happened and neither did anyone else.  This incident with the clothes wasn’t a first by any means – he had terrorized everyone for years.  For some reason he didn’t try to get Garen or any of the rest of us in trouble.  I’ll never understand why.  Not long after that Valenz left Duke Eaglevane’s court.  A few months later, I was fourteen by this time, I went out walking with Garen and we did more than kiss.  He told me that he loved me and I told him that I loved him too.

When we got back to the palace I ran to the Lady’s Maid in tears and told her that Garen had forced himself on me.  His parents both worked there – his father as a groom and his mother as a cook.  They were fired on the spot.  Garen was horsewhipped by the master of the grounds within an inch of this life.  No one in the city would hire them after that, what happened to them after they left town I don’t know.”

The mixture of horror and disgust on Erist’s face is one I’ve rarely seen before. 

“Why would you do that?”

“I’m not a damsel in distress, no one saves me.  I save me.”

Erist started to say something else but suddenly was overcome with a coughing fit – a bad coughing fit.

“I’d pound you on the back but I don’t think that helps much with bloodroot poison.  Word to the wise, for all the good it will do now, if someone has never offered to help with the food before and then does out of the blue – probably best to decline that offer.  Although I’m pretty crafty so likely it wouldn’t have mattered even if you did.”

He was a gamer, I’ll give him that.  He couldn’t cast spells because of the choking but he went for his staff.  He managed to kill the first wolverine from my Bag of Tricks but not the second – it probably didn’t help that I was pelting him with Magic Stones, alchemist’s fire, and acid as well.  As he lay in the dirt dying he managed to choke out a word.

“Why?”

“You were on the list.”

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 15,267 gold

XP: 34,008

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 (2), succubi carving, Disguise kit (6 uses), Domiel family ring, walking stick, aquamarine, masterwork playing cards , +2 Studded Leather Armor, +2 Light Steel Shield, +1 Keen Shortspear, hematite armbands (2), mithril hair clasps (3), Sir Humperdinck memoir, Mazzmus’ Wand (unidentified), Brooch of Shielding, Potion of Invisibility (3), Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds (2), spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, platinum necklace, Pouch of Magic Stones, giant wasp venom (10), oil of taggit (2), alchemist’s kit, formula book, Potion of Cure Light Wounds (3), Potion of Spider Climb, masterwork short sword, Handy Haversack, silver ring,  gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant

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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee

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

Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and two teams of Soldiers)

Graltontown Buildings – Mill