On this part of the Compass River little settlements and farms and communities are common. Since we’ve been traveling quickly we haven’t been interacting with any of them, but today when we stopped for a few minutes of rest and to change horses we were in the vicinity of a hamlet called Thornbrook. Just as we were about to mount up again several breathless men from the village ran up to us – and were almost skewered for their trouble. Pro tip – don’t come charging at a group of soldiers. They didn’t even seem to notice almost being killed where they stood.
“Thank the Gods you’re here, we were starting to think that no one was coming! You need to hurry!”
Some military leaders would have ignored them and traveled on. Some would have trampled them while they did it. Captain Charum was neither of these types of leaders. She was trying explain that she had no idea what they were talking about but it was just confusing the situation – she may be fine when dealing with military sorts, but otherwise conversation is not really her strong suite. I stepped in to smooth the path a bit. I’m quite disarming you know.
The gist of it was that some manservant or other had been sent home to Thornbrook from the service of the local lord on account of said lord was thinking about going over to Vieland and said servant expressed their concerns about this course of action. This is a bit surprising if you ask me, if I was thinking about committing high treason and someone knew about it I doubt I’d be content with sacking them. The lord was going to be meeting with some representatives from Vieland and of course this was all coming to a head RIGHT NOW. I saw a look in the Captain’s eyes that filled me with trepidation.
“You’re not actually thinking about doing anything about this are you? We’re literally hours away from Malgareth. I think . . .”
“I know this will come as a surprise to you Ela, but what you think isn’t an important part of my decision making process.”
“First of all ouch, second of all, we have bigger fish to fry here right? Whatever is going on here its small potatoes – once we get to Malgareth . . .”
“Ela you’re not in command here, I am.”
“I know that, I’m just saying . . .”
She rode off to confer with some of her men and I was left there fuming by the villagers who clearly were disturbed by this turn of events. I glared at them for a moment before turning back to see several of the soldiers dismounting and taking off their extraneous gear – it’s called ‘weapons and armor’ it’s what you do right before you go into battle. I spurred my mount over.
“You cannot be serious. We’re almost there! We . . .”
“Be quiet! You cannot question me in front of my men. You just can’t, I won’t allow it. I will give you five minutes to speak your mind but if you do so keep a civil tongue in your mouth.”
We quickly trotted a short distance away, before I could talk she cut me off with a hint of anger – the first emotion I had seen her display at all.
“You not in control here Ela, I get the sense that’s a foreign experience to you. Whatever you’re going to say I’ve thought of it already. I got where I am by considering all the angles, you’re not going to tell me anything I don’t know. Taking down Królewna & Bonifacja could take years, if anything comes of it at all – the war could be over before them. This is happening right here and right now, and the fact that Vieland spies are operating basically in the shadow of Malgareth is disturbing to say the least – something is very wrong here. This is the priority because I say it is.”
“So you’re going to attack?”
“We’re soldiers, fighting is what we do.”
“And what? Maybe you capture someone maybe you don’t? And then maybe after six months of wasting away in some shithole they tell you a few things? If this is the chance then don’t waste it – let’s find out what’s really going on here.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“Give me your fastest horse and tell me where this lord is.”
I’ll say this, it was quite a countryside mansion for a baronet. There was a water feature the size of a small village and the kennels were nicer than some roadside inns I’ve seen. For someone in the process of betraying their country security was shockingly lax. I suppose people never think they’re going to be found out no matter how sloppy they are. I took the appearance of the gardener to get into the kitchen, a serving girl to get into the dining hall, and then the butler to get into the library where the stuffed shirt snob was reading the History of the Northern Wars Vol.3.
“Oh good, Snively, I was just about to call for you. It seems that . . .”
I used my Tattoo to transform one of my hands into a lion’s paw and batted him across the head, sending him spilling to the ground and the book flying. The look on his face was so outrageous it wasn’t even comical.
“My word! Most inappropriate man! You can’t be manifesting a lion’s paw like that if you wish to retain MY employment!”
I paw-smashed him a few more times until he was out cold. I have to say, I kind of get why cats play with mice now. I stuffed him in the firewood closet and assumed his appearance, picking up the book and resuming his position. That was the worst thing about the operation – to say that book was dull doesn’t do it justice, it never had an edge to begin with.
Eventually the real butler came in to remind me of my appointment to commit sedition. The folk I met with seemed more like merchants than spies, but I suppose that’s the idea eh? I learned that Palestone and Banfil had both been captured by Vieland forces and that they had built a military establishment at the divergence of the Needle – which explains why there’s so much action around there parts. They said that Vieland considered this area to be lightly defended and capturing it would allow them a backdoor route to strike at the heartlands.
They started to get suspicious when I pushed a little too hard about what other Vieland agents might be out there stirring up trouble which caused them to seize me and put a dagger to my throat. I escaped with my Boots and the Captain and her men got to storm the place – everyone loves a good storm. As you can imagine this caused quite a ruckus with the staff. A good spy will kill themselves before they allow themselves to get caught – which is why there’s so few good spies. These boys were just hired instigators on the Vieland payroll so they gave themselves up once it was clear there was no other way. They were taken prisoner as was the baronet himself. He was quite put out.
After we pushed hard and made it to Malgareth under a full moon.
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