The vines with which we climbed out of the underground temple had been summoned by some lady friends of Sir Galfrus – dryads, or naiads, or wood nymphs, or something like that; broads with barky skin and leafy hair. They also summoned us up quite a repast of fruits and nuts and the like with their nature magic. The only thing that could have been better was some booze, it feels like forever since I’ve had a proper drink, but since they also healed my wounds (more or less) with their soothing mystic words I can’t fault them too much. They also seemed to be doing a lot of swaying – swaying must be a lot more important to casting spells then I would have anticipated. It would have been nice if they summoned us up some beds to sleep in as well but I suppose nobody’s perfect.
In the morning they were gone but Sir Galfrus stayed to so his goodbye with a deep bow.
“My lady it has been an honor.”
I returned with a courtesy of my own “The honor sir knight has been all mine.”
I hadn’t been in the mood to answer questions last night, what with the bleeding to death and all, so I was deluged with them this morning. Erza was of no help even though he knew the whole story. I explained to these folks that they were the spawn of a faerie beastess and she was planning on sacrificing them as part of some kind of magic ritual to expand her own power. I postulated that like Erza they probably had magic in them if they could learn how to use it or harness it or whatever it is one does with magic. They took the news surprisingly well.
In addition to the farmer’s wife (who was nothing special to look at trust me) and Erza the other rescuees included Nardner a fellow with a ridiculous number of belt pouches (one is too many really) Mertlers, a scholar from Dunwich who had a silver torc that was gaudy as all get out, Lady Quivira who’s fine clothes and equally fine gold holy symbol of Adariel annoyed me, Elidad a self-professed artist with way too many cheap rings and a fox tattoo on her shoulder, and a merchant named Homar.
“Alright folks, here’s the deal, I’m going to head north until I hit the road and then make my way back to the Juost estate. If any of you want to come with me you’re welcome to do so, if you want to head back to wherever you were kidnapped from that’s fine too. But it’s probably safer if we stick together. Erza here can summon a pack of wolves to protect us and he has other spectacular powers as well. He’s an odd duck but he’s a good man to have on your side.”
Belt Pouches raised his hand like I was his tutor “Who’s Erza?”
“He’s this fellow right here . . .” At this point I realized that Erza was gone. Crazy bastard. “Alright, well, I’ll also be able to protect you . . . with my . . . . skills. I rescued you right? That must mean I’m quite the capable individual.”
Mertlers raised his hand in kind of an awkward fist pump “We’re with you!”
“Right. Anyway, let’s go if we’re going.”
We headed north, well northwest really since I wanted to skirt the woods. Remember when I set out on this journey and I was admonishing my traveling companions for being afraid of the forest rather than where the people are which is where the real danger is I was saying? I should take my own advice. Late in the afternoon, after many boring and tiring hours of walking we were approached by an ill-looking band. Leading them was a hatchet-faced woman with an overly large archery bracer and a powerful looking bow to match and a mud-spattered woman with a bundle of mangy furs on her back. Trailing along with them were four younger fellows who looked to be kin of some kind to the first two. When they spotted my crossbow they took up their bows with a ragged, yet to us overpowering, show of force.
Muddy shouted out “Your money or your life!”
“Seriously? Do you see what I’m wearing? What makes you think we have any money?”
Hatchet-Face gestured with her pointy chin “Fancy-pants there has a gold necklace. And that gaunt fella has a hunk of silver around his neck as well. Who knows what other treasures you may be hiding? We’ll be having that crossbow as well.”
Lady Quivira was scandalized to her very core “Is she talking about me? I’m not wearing pants, I would never. Not ever. Never ever.”
Because that’s what we need to be worrying about right now.
“Counter proposal, you could rob us and maybe hock this stuff for a little coin, you could do that. Or you could safely escort us to Arbeven where you will be handsomely rewarded by Lord Quivira and the Baron himself.”
Muddy spat as some kind of conversational place holder “Kint do that, we’ve got a price on our heads.”
“Trapping without permission.”
“Who cares, the Lord’s wife was kidnapped and you’re bringing her back safe and sound – all of that will be forgiven. Right Lady?” She nodded so vigorously I thought her neck might crack “See, there you have it. It’s a good plan. I like this plan. Say yes to this plan.”
One of the boys came forward a few steps and grabbed himself “How about you sweeten the deal honey?”
“How about put a crossbow bolt through your fucking eye you toad-spotted flax-wench? If brains were grain, you wouldn’t have enough to feed your avoirdupois slattern of a sister. Yeah, go on, you look at me with that hard look you mosquito-buggering excrement-swallower, we both know you aren’t going to do shit without your mommy’s say-so.”
Hatchet-face was giving me quite a hard look herself “That’s quite a mouth you have there.”
“I have my moments. Do we have a deal here? Are you going to take us off for a few days’ worth of hard living money or are you going to make the smart choice and get a full pardon as well as a reward that’s going to make you into respectable folk if you choose to become so?”
Surprisingly they made the smart choice. As we all fell in together, suspicious gazes all around, the fellow I was heckling came over to me. I had my hand on my dagger but he sniffled and wiped away a few tears.
“You didn’t need to have said that about my sister.”
I patted him on the shoulder (and them quickly wiped it on my pants) “Oh, I didn’t mean anything by it son, it was just tough talk.”
“Why is you dressed like that? Are you a fool? Never heard of a lady-fool.”
“Me neither, once again men get all the good gigs. We had a fool back at court. Harotte they called him. That guy got away with everything. Anything he did or said was okay because it was ‘just a joke’. He could make fun of the Duke right to his face and everyone would just laugh. I lost count of the number of noble ladies he chased around with his cock and no one said a thing. He acted a fool and thereby was allowed to do whatever he wanted. So who was the real fool?”
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