As the star witnesses against Królewna & Bonifacja, Ollie, Haya, Elgin and Davarro were kept under heavy guard. The Vieland operatives were kept under even heavier guard. The rest of the Królewna & Bonifacja crew from the outpost was put to work helping to build the fort – which is mildly hypocritical since forced labor is about one hop away from slavery. But they’re criminals so who cares what happens to them right? My day was spent idle as Captain Charum and her staff took detailed statements from all the soldiers and civilians that had run afoul of Królewna & Bonifacja little operation. You can say one thing for the army – they’re thorough. By the end of the day several books worth of paperwork had been generated.
With nothing much to do, I stood at the edge of the camp and watch the construction of the fort for a while. There used to be construction going on all the time in the capital. It’s really something when you stop and think about it. One day there’s nothing and then there’s something. Dozens or hundreds of people all working towards the same goal, making the same thing become reality. And yet as soon as the thing they’re building is finished that lesson flies right out of their heads and it’s back to everyone for themselves. Everyone understands that you can’t build a bridge alone, but for some reason they can’t seem to understand that you can’t build a society alone either. Another joke by the Gods at our expense I suppose.
After an hour or so I got bored and started wandering around the camp. When they’re not soldiering or making preparations for soldiering or resting after a long bout of soldiering the only thing soldiers seem interested in is gambling. Which would be fine if the games they played were at all thought-provoking but they rarely seem to progress beyond who can roll a higher number. I stopped and watched a group of officers for a few minutes – they didn’t say anything to me but they kept looking my way. Finally I approached.
“Good morning lads. Fancy a bit of game do you? Would you be interested in something with a little more meat on the old bones as folk say?”
After a bit of kibitzing, the standard soldierly complaining, awkwardness over being address by a woman and so forth they were game. I produced my deck of cards from my pocket and quickly spilled them all over the ground by “accident”. I’ve never understood why some cardsharps feel the need to show off their flashy card-handling skills when they’re trying to sucker in some marks – it’s counterproductive. If you’re going to try and fasthand someone why would you show them how good you are at it? It makes no sense. After the officers graciously helped pick up the cards I had a seat at their barrel-table.
“I’ll deal. Each of you will get two cards – you don’t look at the cards – then you roll the dice and you make a wager as to whether the total value of the three dice rolled is lesser than, equal to or greater than the face value of the two cards the dealer – which is me remember – dealt you, but which you have not looked at. You can double your stake to reroll all, that’s all three, of your dice. Or you can triple your bet to only reroll two dice or quadruple your bet if you only want to reroll one. Aces are low if you don’t reroll any dice but they become high if you reroll an odd number of dice. Unless you’re betting that your cards are lower than the dice, then it’s the reverse. Simple, right? We’ll do a practice hand to make sure everyone understands.”
I was a little rusty with my fingerwork but it hardly mattered – the game itself was confusing them mightily, I barely had to cheat. I’m sure had I been a man they would have accused me of double-dealing at some point, but clearly a woman would never be capable of that kind of chicanery. Once I had relieved them of their wages I dropped a sassy wink and suggested that we could play for clothing, as a joke of course, but before things could proceed Captain Charum’s aide came to fetch me. Her tent was so tightly organized it somehow made my teeth hurt. She looked up from a pile of papers she was signing or reading or some such.
“You haven’t been corrupting my officers have you?”
“Of course not, an officer in the King’s army is uncorruptible – not that I would try, being the loyal servant of the King that I am.”
She explained the plan in exhausting detail. Marsh and his people were being absorbed in the fort-building operating until that can all be hammered out – I imagine that being missing in action and then turning up again takes quite a while for the military bureaucracy to figure out. The bulk of the freed slave civilians were going to be ferried to Ridy Run for the time being. The Captain and fifteen men would be escorting myself, Ollie, Haya, Elgin, Davarro and the Vieland spies to Fort Obrinth and from there to Malgareth.
Once there we kick over the hornet’s nest. And since I wasn’t interested in getting stung more than I needed to I talked to Eila and Prudence about accompanying me as bodyguards. They agreed but it was clear this was just until something more interesting came along – although they probably aren’t anticipating how “interesting” my life is sometimes.
Funds: 41,258 gold
Inventory: Ring of Many Garments, Bag of Tricks (tan), 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, +2 Commanding Light Crossbow, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, Handy Haversack, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion)
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, antitoxin (9), smelling salts (3), sunrods (3), thieves’ tools, tindertwigs (6), various and sundry inebriants and intoxicants
Silver ring, gold bracelet, gold and pearl pendant, gold ring, platinum necklace (2), 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