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.
“You were on the list.”
Funds: 15,267 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 (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