I have no idea for how long I was unconscious. Passing out from blood loss is funny that way. It must have been long enough for the magic of my tattoo to replenish itself at least because I was able to activate my nightvision again. And was greeted by the sight of a skeletally thin creature with grey skin sitting on its haunches starting at me. Said skin was stretched over bone with seemingly nothing betwixt, but don’t fret, it appeared to have blood running through veins on the OUTSIDE of its body. At first I thought it was grinning but then I realized that it just didn’t have any lips – which made its dagger-like teeth seem even larger and they were already pretty large.
“Okay, so the bars were there to keep you in, not to keep anyone out. That makes more sense.”
It didn’t so much as talk as noises skittered from its head “You’re wearing a dress made of blood.”
I looked down at my now scarlet gown. It seemed to be stuck to my wounds beyond the point of reason but at least the blood was stanched. “Yeah, I picked it up because it was magic, I’m starting to wonder if that was such a good idea.”
An extra-long slug-like tongue flipped across its teeth “Take it off then.”
I frowned “Was that supposed to be lascivious? You’re some kind of emaciated monster, why would you want to see a human lady nude?”
It did a full body shake that I think was laughter “It was mostly supposed to make you feel uncomfortable, I thought that you might faint dead away.”
“Oh, I can faint with the best of them when it’s called for. So this place is your prison then?” It nodded. “And you’re what . . . a demon?”
“Something like that.”
“And all it takes to keep you here is stone and iron bars?”
“There’s magic too.”
“I’m sure there is. So, are you going to kill me?”
“Probably, eventually, but I haven’t talked to anyone in a long time.”
“I suppose that’s right, I’m told this place is quite old. How about this, I’ll talk to you and in return you kill the lady who’s going to kill me if I try to get out of here.”
“That’s it? Okay? You don’t want to bargain or try and steal my soul or anything?”
“What would I do with your soul?”
“I don’t know, but demons always seem to want souls – I assumed they were like currency or something in the Thirteen Hells.”
“You’re thinking of devils.”
“What’s the difference?”
“The clothes mostly. Devils wear them, demons don’t. Well generally, some of the ones that are assholes wear clothes.”
“You’re demons, aren’t you all assholes?”
“It’s a matter of degrees.”
“What would you like to talk about?”
“Do you feel ashamed of yourself constantly?”
“Why are you here right now?”
“Someone wanted to keep me out of the way but they didn’t want to kill me so they sent me to live with a noble family out here and they have a magic necklace that keeps me from running away and I want to get rid of it so I’m trying to get in good with the baron who’s away right now to fight some barbarians so his wife is in charge and some guy came to her complaining about how his wife was kidnapped so I’m trying to rescue her so I can help out the baroness so she’ll put in a good word with me with the baron.”
“I know. Why are you here?”
“I made a guy immortal. Some other guys didn’t like him so they took me down.”
“You can make people immortal?”
I winked “Ah, performance problems, I hear that happens as you get older. What happened to the immortal guy?”
“The people that trapped me here decapitated him and buried the head. I imagine he’s still there. Immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
“I’ll say. As a demon do you just do evil demon stuff all the time or what’s your day to day like? What does a demon do in their spare time?”
“I mostly was a recruiter. I’d round up other demons to serve more powerful demons.”
“So like a slaver.”
“Essentially. Would you cut part of your body off for my amusement?”
“Really, what part?”
“My hair, some of it anyway.”
A second bone-rattling silent laugh “Very clever.”
“I don’t think you realize how important hair is a woman.”
“I’m sure I don’t. Enough talk, let’s get to the killing.”
“Really? You’ve been here for eons and a minute of conversation sets you right?”
“I’m a simple fellow really.”
“How are we going to work this? There’s a gate between you and her.”
“I’ll just turn invisible and stab her through the bars.”
“Will you or will you say that you’re going to and instead you won’t be there – that seems like the kind of thing a demon would do.”
“There’s only one way for you to find out.”
He did indeed turn invisible, and either he moved so quietly that I couldn’t hear his footfalls at all or as I suggested he wasn’t even following me. Regardless, I walked back to the bars where Ramoisin continued to pace on the other side like a caged beast.
“You’ve got me at a disadvantage, I’m trapped and there’s not much I can do about it. Can we come to some kind of agreement?”
I heard the demon’s whisper right in my ear “Who are you talking to ?”
“The woman on the other side of the bars.”
“I don’t see anything.”
Ramoisin’s eyes darted around “Who are you talking to?!”
“Myself, I’m crazy now due to my long captivity. Can you really not see her or is this some kind of demon joke?”
“I don’t see anyone, I did hear a voice.”
Ramoisin cast about wildly “Where is that voice coming from!”
“Good Gods what is this some kind of awful comedy routine?” I pointed “Stab right there.”
After a moment Ramoisin shrieked and suddenly dropped to the ground – seemingly pinned in place by an unseen force. Black blood flowed from her like oil in a seemingly endless supply. Redgar appeared and seemed to be more substantial and larger than before – in fact he seemed to expand and become more and more material as Ramoisin’s life slowly faded away. It was one of the most damnable things I have ever seen.
His smile seemed to be a full two feet wide “Delightffffffffful . . .”
The demon was in my ear again “Now what voice is that?”
“There’s another guy over there.”
“You want me to stab him too?”
I pointed but this time Redgar’s hand shot out faster than the eye could follow and seemed to catch something. After a moment the demon appeared, invisibility fading, wielding a massive barbed spear – the end of which Redgar had caught and was holding at bay without much effort. The demon looked around wildly as the fey creature stared a hole in him.
“I ssssee you . . .”
The demon wrenched his spear away with a great struggle and stomped off muttering about “soulless fey”. I guess that old logger was right. The dead form of Ramoisin seemed sadly insignificant on the stone floor – like a wet cloth wrung out that didn’t bounce back to its normal shape.
“Well. That was . . . something. Ah, so I’m going to slip through these bars again and set all those people free, how do you feel about that?’
But the presence of Redgar was gone. Slipping through the bars was much harder this time – maybe adrenaline also makes you skinnier. For one awful moment I felt like I was stuck but with a desperate heave I managed to push my way through – getting pretty badly scraped up in the process. Expecting Redgar to leap out at me at every turn, I made my way back to the “cells” where the farmer’s wife and Erza and the others were, finding – thankfully – that the magic barriers were gone.
I went back to the room of clothes and picked through them, choking back a bit of bile as I did so, to find some that would fit me and didn’t look awful. Not very awful anyway. Throwing the clothes over my shoulder I went back to the cells and woke up the seven captives. I had forgotten that they wouldn’t be able to see a thing down here in the darkness. It took some doing to calm them all down and explain to them who I was and what was going on. It took even longer to lead them all, one by one, taking them by the hand back to the shaft – where at least there was a circle of light for them to focus on. I called up.
“Sir Galfrus are you up there?”
“Of course my lady, I obliged myself to stand vigil for three days and nights.”
“Great. There’s a bunch of us down here and I lost my rope. Can you get us out of here?”
“Of course my lady, I shall return presently.”
I looked around at the seven people huddled together in the darkness, looking terrified – even Erza seemed pretty shaken.
“So . . . . anyone read and good books lately?”
A short while later I saw several long vines come slithering down the side of the shaft like snakes – moving of their own volition. As they reached out towards the ground I touched one and gave it a little tug at which point they twined around each other to form something between a knotted rope and a ladder. As I was trying to figure out the logistics of blind rope climbing tiny blue flowers on the vines opened up and started glowing with a soft, warm light as blue as the delicate petals. It was so beautiful my breath caught for a moment. I cleared my throat.
“Up we go folks, no use standing around in this dusty tomb anymore.”
The eight of us climbed up the vine rope/ladder. I went last and embarrassingly I had the most trouble getting up. I’ve never really climbed before – it’s harder than it looks. When I was about halfway up I slipped and for a moment thought I was going to plunge into the darkness but the vines themselves tenderly held me. Galfrus called down asking if I needed help but I gritted my teeth and hauled myself the rest of the way up. It was a stupid thing to do, I’ll blame it on the blood loss.
“Sir Galfrus you are a prince among men. Er, fairy people, you know what I mean.”
“My lady you’re injured!”
“Things got a little exciting down there.”
Galfrus beamed as if he was proud of me “But you survived and made it out.”
“Yes, I’m quite the warrior, keep it under your hat though – I don’t want people to treat me any differently. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to pass out, but before I do that I have one other thing I need to do.”
I stripped off the Fey Dress, a painful process as it dug into my sticky wounds like a leech, and tossed it to the ground. I can only imagine what the people I just dragged out of that death-hole thought as I stood there naked and covered with blood.
“Somebody burn that will you?”
Inventory: Mismatched Outfit, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Light Crossbow
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 Sheepskin
Behind the Curtain – Ela hit level ten, taking another level of Rogue (Phantom Thief) not much changed, one new rogue talent, Umbral Gear. For the sake of flavor instead of turning shadows into tools I’m going to play that as she has an extradimensional space with some items stored in it. Doesn’t quite make sense but whatever.