Morning prayers. Getting dressed and preparing for the day. Discussing the recent betrothals, marriages, poetry, and music over breakfast. Teaching. Mid-morning prayers. Lunch. Supervising the servants. Embroidery and dance practice. Evening prayers. Supper in the main hall. Day over. Process repeat. Over and over and over until death.
That could be my life now. It’s a life that many, most really, women would view as a blessing. Never having to worry about an empty belly. Never sleeping in a dirty alley or holey dirt-shack. Having cooks and servants and handmaids and the whole nine yards. There are a whole lot of people dedicated to making that my life. They’re going to be disappointed.
Back at court one time some old solider was gassing on about warcraft and he said very self-importantly that the weakest part of a castle is not the walls or the gate or the towers or so forth but the men inside. Storming a castle like in the books and tales doesn’t happen much – people have this weird aversion to having boiling oil dumped on their faces – what happens more often than not is someone inside the castle decides to open the door and let the enemy in. Sometimes for money, sometimes because they’re afraid, sometimes for no reason at all. The point is you don’t attack the castle, you attack the people who can open the door.
The surveillance necklace they’ve strapped me with won’t come off of course, it wouldn’t be of much use if it could, but rather than beating my head against the wall trying to figure out a way to get it off the easier path is to have the person with the key take it off on their own. There’s a number of ways to approach that. The Baroness has some steel in her for sure, but I could get inside those walls – my story is a sympathetic one – but it would take a long time. It would be a slow process to win her over and I don’t have time for that. The Chaplain, Stenton, is probably the one who created the necklace – I haven’t seen any other magical sorts around here – but he’s tough to get a read on. Trying to make a move there would be tricky without more information.
The best path to take is to go after the Baron himself. He doesn’t exactly have a wandering eye, but he could be pushed in that direction. There are only two things I know about Baron Juost, that he’s involved in shipping and that he raises dogs – which is my way in. I know a few things about dog breeding and I have a way with animals, things can start innocently enough. In most noble households the kennelmaster is near the bottom of the heap in terms of the servant pecking over – right above whoever has to clean out the kennels, but here the positions has elevated importance. So I’ll start with the master of hounds Quinna and from there it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to the Baron and then freedom.
Should be easy.
In the meantime though there’s no reason I can’t have a little fun. During “leisure” time the ladies were playing Red Queen – it’s interesting to me how fingers that can be so nimble with a needle can be so clumsy with a deck of cards. I took over dealing and after winning a few hands I asked them if they have ever played Illusionist – a standard bluffing/betting game. They hadn’t of course but were quite taken with it when I told them the rules. After a few hands I explained to them that the game is really for gambling which sent them into a right state. It’s a testament to how the other half lives that the idea of gambling was so elicit and intriguing to them. I was curious if the Baroness would step in and put a stop to it, but aside from a slightly raised eyebrow she didn’t react any different from the others.
They had no coin of course, it wouldn’t be proper for a lady to sully her pretty little hands with something as grotesque as money, but many a hair-pin of precious metal, comb of jade, ivory button or the like changed hands. They were abysmal players of course, but I made sure they all won from time to time – to highly irritating giggles of delight. In the end everything was returned to the original owners of course, it’s all just for fun after all. After that since we were being “naughty” one of the girls brought out a much worn copy of the Romance of the Cooper and the Hen Handler and read a few passages to much blushing and fanning of faces.
I couldn’t help but smirk – these little flowers would faint dead away if they heard some of the things I’ve gotten up to over the years – and at that point the Baroness stepped in to put an end to the tomfoolery. She shot me a subtle look that said “watch yourself” and I smiled back at her to let her know that we were on the same page.
For sure and true.
Inventory: Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion)
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
Behind the curtain – Started day one of retraining an Expert level to a Rogue level. Narratively I figure that is represented by standard Ela shenanigans. Technically it should cost some money for “supplies” and so forth but it’s hard to imagine what they would be really.