I got up early and checked on my room. Even though I was keeping nothing there I could tell that someone had searched it. And the fact that I could tell means either they wanted me to know they had been there or it’s not something they normally do. Not sure which would be more alarming. When I went down to the stables for my morning ride two tribesmen were there to escort me – for my safety the stablemaster said, claiming that Vieland troops had been seen not forty miles south of the keep. I thanked him profusely for seeing to my safety while thinking of a way to ditch my two shadows.
As we rode out they were talking to each other in their native tongue and I could more or less understand it. Maybe the moorland tribes are Kostelos as well or are related to them? I really should learn more about these primitive screwheads. There’s definitely an advantage to not letting folk know you can understand what they’re saying but I didn’t see that there was time to slow-play this. After a few miles I told them that it was good to hear the tongue of honest folk again.
You could have knocked them over with the proverbial feather. I adjusted my Cap and showed them my “true appearance” – of a Red Bone maiden. They recognized me as one of their “forest cousins” – saying they knew something was amiss because I rode far too well for a city-dweller woman. Clearly they don’t know how popular equestrian is with the aristocracy. I asked them what they were doing so far south and they were only too happy to tell me how their tribe had taken in a handful of survivors from the Skin-Takers and one of them by the name of Kartak had the chief’s ear and they left because of all the honorless things they were doing. I’m pretty sure by “left” they really meant were exiled or fled in the night to avoid death.
“And you’re trying to regain your honor by attacking defenseless villagers and consorting with orcs?”
They were clearly shamed by my words and made some small excuses about being on hard times and having to do what they could to get by. I told them I wanted to meet with their leader and they rode off immediately. They didn’t even ask who I was or what I was doing. Typical. This allowed me to meet up with Erist and friends – turns out that Dario did know Eva Marie but he claimed to have no notion that she was there and I believed him. I told them that I thought things were coming to a head with Lord Grace and asked that they use their magic to fly into my room under the cover of night.
After adjusting my disguise back to moderately successful merchantwoman I returned to the keep where my two new tribal friends took me to see their boss. His room in the keep stank to high heaven and was defaced with crude tribal paintings on the walls – some kind of wards against evil spirits I believe. He was a bruiser of a man, for all their war-like ways the Kostelos tend to be on the small side but this fellow was massive. He reminded me of a granite grave-marker with arms and legs. He had clearly been hit in the mouth with a mace or a morning star at some point based on the wreckage of his lower face.
They introduced me to him as a shaman, which made sense from their point of view since they had seen me use illusion magic, but then went on to say that I had been sent by the Lodge Forest Kostelos to parlay with them. Where did they get that from? Wish fulfillment I suppose. Might as well go with it.
I put it to the leader, Grig, about working with orcs and the attack on Fellstone and after a bit of bluster about being called out by a woman admitted that he was not happy with his service to Lord Grace. He said that the attack on Fellstone was to get the historical documents but that he didn’t know why. I told him that Grace was going down and that if he wanted to regain his manhood he had to back my play. He bristled, saying he had given his word to Grace but I countered by saying that word given to a liar means nothing – service to him was attacking defenseless women and children and orcish skullduggery? If that’s what he pledged himself to he may as well kill himself now and preserve whatever shred of dignity he had.
My first match of the day was forgettable – some sourpuss dwarf – but the second was a good deal more “interesting”. My opponent was the tattooed lady herself – and the judge was bull-neck. This happens to be the first time the judge was armed as well. What a fun twist! She suggested that we play for a thousand gold a round and as we began gave me a cold stare –
“You went on quite a lengthy ride this morning.”
“It was such a lovely morning that I lost track of time a bit – you know how that goes.”
“Of course. Your two escorts rode back in a hurry without you, quite a hurry – it was almost as if the Lord of the Thirteen himself was after them.”
“Who knows what sets those primitives off, probably they saw the wrong color bird and got scared. Between you and me they give me the creeps. Can’t you find proper men at arms out here?”
“Weren’t you concerned about being alone out there with Vieland soldiers in the area?”
“Oh, not at all, I feel very safe here under Lord Grace’s protection.”
She pursed her lips “Yes, very safe.”
She was a good player, very good. But I’m better – at cheating anyway. I took all three rounds and she and the “judge” left without incident. I suppose they assumed they could just get the money back later after they kill me.
That night every time the wind moved the curtains on my window I thought I was Erist, Dario and Delian coming as planned – it was well after midnight before they turned up, leaving me on pins and needles for hours.
“What took you so long?!”
“We wanted to make sure we weren’t spotted. So what’s going on? Why did Grace attack Fellstone.”
“I have no clue, but we’ll ask him tomorrow.”
“That wasn’t exactly the deal.”
“Yeah well, life is full of disappointments – maybe if you pray hard enough you’ll get a vision from your god that will explain it all. Otherwise tomorrow we ask. Nicely of course. So nicely.”
Funds: 12,012 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 (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), Oil of Animate Dead, Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds (2), spinel and peridot holy symbol of Kralten, platinum necklace, Pouch of Magic Stones, flask of acid (2), alchemist’s fire (2), giant wasp venom (10), oil of taggit (2), alchemist’s kit, formula book
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