Moreavan 1 Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

I invited Maudi and Sir Vario to join me at the Quiriva’s for a delightful late breakfast.  Buttermilk Pancake Layer Cake With Malted Pecan Buttercream, Oysters Benedict, Shredded Oxtail and Red Pepper Hash, Candy Apple Lacquered Quail, and the most refreshing Watermelon Rosemary Lemon Liqueur this side of anywhere.  Tt was the best meal I’ve had in months, not that there’s been very stiff competition.  Sitting back on the patio of a luxurious (for a nothing town like Arbeven) mansion, after having had a full night sleep in a comfortable bed, with a cocktail in one hand and a full stomach –that was the most satisfied I’ve felt in a good long while.  For a while I forgot all about the Duke.  For half a second I even considered what the mysterious agent of the crown had said to me – give up on revenge and stay here, live a life of luxury.  Do whatever I want. 

But just for half a second.

I thanked Lord and Lady Quiriva expansively for once again putting me up and giving me some proper clothes as befits my fake standing, but honestly it was nothing in the face of the fact that I had saved the good lady’s wife.  Not to mention as the Baroness’s cousin they’re my subordinates anyway.  But there’s no harm in being gracious.  Usually. 

Maudi was overjoyed while simultaneously hilariously ill at ease.  He swung wildly between trying to maintain his aura of “aloof mage” and fawning over the Quirivas like the inveterate social climber he clearly is – I get the impression that he had been angling to get in good with the Quirivas for years.  Sir Vario was less than delighted – probably because he had to keep his contempt for all things that aren’t Sir Vario (or his horse) in check for the most part.  After the Lord and Lady had excused themselves to pursue the important daily tasks of the idle rich I explained to Maudi what I wanted from him as my reward.  He was rather perplexed at first but eventually he warmed to the idea.

“I should be able to do something like that my lady.  Very interesting.”

“Before you scuttle off there oh great and powerful wizard, what do you make of this map?” I handed him the map I had acquired.  “Doesn’t mean much to me but I assume it’s a fake.  I got it from a fellow who’s a known huckster and flimflammer, and as I’ve learned recently the old selling a fake map to adventurers bit works shockingly well.”

He gazed at the map intently “Where did you get this?”

I scowled “I literally just told you.”

“Remarkable . . .”

“Are you even listening to me?”

“Yes . . . I mean no, I mean yes!” He shook his head like a wet dog. “This looks to be a map to the house of Ather.”

“What’s that, some sort of drug-den?”

“No . . . no!  Ather was a wizard.  My mentor knew him well.  Baron Juost was not the original master of these lands.  Do you know the tale of how he came to rule these lands?”

“Oh Gods, is this going to be a whole thing?”

“Years ago . . .”

“It’s a whole thing,”

“ . . . this land was ruled by Marshal Wesel.  His son Travar aspired to learn The Arts and so he was apprenticed to Ather.  Travar was cruel and vindictive and only wanted to learn the dark magic so that he could dominate and humiliate his rivals – including his brother.  Ather tried to teach him the ways of responsible magic and the path of the good mage but it was no use, the boy had a heart full of sin.  When Athar refused to teach him anymore Travar had his allies attack and kill him.  My mentor tried to intervene he was nearly killed as well.  Marshal Wesel and his older son Rikka gathered their soldiers to arrest Travar and his followers and in the confrontation Rikka was killed – an act for which Marshal Wesel executed his own son – leaving him with no heirs.  Marshal Wesel re-married but he and his second wife produced no offspring, when he died the land was given to Baron Juost to manage.”

“You could have just said it was some old dead wizard’s house.  Why would there be a map to it?”

“The location of Ather’s house was known to few – it’s reputed that he had collection of very powerful magical books.”

“Oooh, tantalizing.” I threw back the last of my delicious liqueur “How long will it take you to make my coat?”

“What?  Oh, six days. Probably.”

“Great, Sir Vario, you want to go check out some old dead man’s house in the woods?”

“Why would I want to do that?”

“There may be magic books or something.  I’m just looking to kill time.  Do you have anything better to do?  The map is probably a fake, but if it’s not I’m sure the place is going to be infested with zombies or severed hands crawling around or animated suits of armor or some damn thing.  You can hit them with your sword.”

“Morningstar.”

“Whatever.  I once knew a prostitute who called herself Morningstar – I always wondered what that was about.  Anyway, are you in or are you out?”

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 240 platinum, 7 gold, 6 silver

XP: 138,228

Inventory: Noble’s Traveling Outfit, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Light Crossbow, Fake Signet Ring, Map, False Papers, carnelians (2), Bag of Concealment,  Belt of Giant Strength +4, Vest of Resistance +1, Ring of Protection +1

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, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers

Behind the Scenes : I posted a new map a few days ago and forgot to mention it. 

Mindeleava 30, Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

I slept surprisingly well for sitting in a muddy hole in the ground – not great, but fine.  The wizard was right where I left him – stuck down the ravine with his dead horse and smashed wagon. 

“Has your magic recharged?  Can you magic yourself out of there now?”

“Alas madam, I cannot.  Why does that make you smile?”

“Oh, I was just thinking of something else.”

I pulled a new rope of my secret pocket and once again tied it around a tree but he still had trouble making it up, partially because it was still muddy but partially because rope-climbing isn’t something they focus on in wizard school.  Ordinarily the idea of trying to haul him up would have never crossed my mind, but with my new Belt, which aesthetically is horrid, it seemed like it might worth a try.  I instructed the great and powerful wizard to make a loop with the end of the rope for his feet and to hang on – which seems like the kind of thing a wizard should be able to figure out on their own but I won’t bring that up – and I strained at the rope like a common stevedore.  A few exhausting minutes later and my new thin yet paunchy friend was dragged over the lip of the ledge.

One percent of me was proud that I was able to do it, even assisted by magic, ninety-nine percent of me was ashamed that I was reduced to this kind of manual labor.  What would the city fathers say?

“My Gods you’re a woman!”

“Couldn’t you tell by my voice?”

“I guess I didn’t think about it.”

“And you say you’re a wizard?  Master of the arcane arts and all that?”

He thanked me profusely and the immediately started asking for favors.

“Maudi did you say your name was?  You know how some people once they save a person’s life they feel like they have to take care of that person?  Like they saved the person’s life so they want to make sure that person is able to make it?  I knew a guy who made a living off that – he’d pretend to be super sick and let people nurse him back to health and they’d give him money.  Anyway, I’m not that kind of person.”

He literally gasped “I thought women were supposed to be nurturing and caring!”

I smiled “I’m going to guess that you haven’t dealt with a lot of women.  Am I right?”

“Can you at least escort me home to Arbeven?”

“You’re the wizard!  Can’t you call down lightening or turn people into salamanders or something?”

He tutted like an old woman “Violence is no proper use of magic madam.  I am a gentlemen crafter of magical objects, not some down and dirty evoker diving into tombs and robbing graves and blasting apart ghouls!”

“What’s in it for me?”

He snorted derisively “Oh yes, what’s in it for you, the eternal cry of those obsessed with commerce.”

“Didn’t you just say you craft magic stuff, which I assume you then sell for money?”

He sputtered and stammered and tutted until he had fussed himself out.  For saving his life and for getting him home safely he offered me an array of potions but I told him that I had a more interesting idea that we would discuss once he was safe home snug as a bug in a rug.  Since the trail ahead was washed out we had to back-track and find another way.  I admit I had no idea where I was going but there was another trail, a much better trail, which I had missed in the rain and the gloom of yesterday.  Walking along I quickly ascertained that Maudi was the type of fellow who liked to do as little as possible and had a fondness for comforts and luxury – which I can relate to but didn’t make him any less annoying of a companion.

He assumed I was a peasant, which is understandable, but I would have liked for a keen eyed wizard to noticed my clothes while comprehensively soiled with mud and blood were highly extravagant.  I’m starting to wonder if all this talk about wizards and their wisdom is just good publicity.   When we reached the edge of the forest late in the afternoon I we spotted an armored man with a lance in the distance on a truly spectacular looking steed – and I know from horses.  I moved halfway into the trees and whispered to Maudi.

“Best we stay hidden until he passes, you never know . . .”

But he had already stepped out of the treeline bellowing and waving his arms.  The horseman pranced over to us with the skill of an expert rider and an even more expertly trained mount.  He would have been every bit the dashingly handsome cavalryman if not for both corners of his mouth being twisted – it was like a harelip but on both sides of the mouth, whatever you call that.  You know how sometimes you can tell an asshole just by looking at them?  Yeah.

Maudi started towards him, but I grabbed him back – that warhorse looked like a kicker.

“Sir, do you have any food?”

“Beggars is it?  Away with you before I have Thunder trampled you into the dirt!”

I hate when I’m right.  “Well how about that, I didn’t know it was possible to train a jackass to ride a horse.”

“You shouldn’t address your betters in such a tone marm!”

“Show me one and I won’t.”

He smiled, I suppose you’d call it a humorless smile. “That’s quite a tongue you have there.  Is it so nimble in other activities?”

“It’s hard to imagine a set of circumstances where you’d ever find that out.”

“I can think of a few.  That’s quite a lot of blood you have on your rags there, did you . . .”

“I’m going to stop you right there champ, because I feel like you’re going to make some kind of comment related to my ‘monthlies’ or something along those lines.  And I’m not going to say that that can’t be funny, but it rarely is – and I doubt you have the wit to carry it off.  The point is that I have a crossbow here and I’m pretty good with it and if you say something like that I’m going shoot you through the neck.”

“Are you threatening me?!”

“Yes, that seemed pretty clear to me.  Maudi, did you think it was clear that I was threatening him?”

Maudi have moved a good thirty feet away and was holding his hands up. “I don’t know this woman.”

I nodded. “That’s true, he’s just some moron who fell into a crevasse and I saved his life.  Look, I realize that you’re in a bit of a bind here, I faced up to you but there’s really nothing you can do about it.  You can’t exactly challenge me to a fight but clearly I’m not the kind of woman you can shut up with casual male violence either.  So how about we just go our separate ways and we don’t worry about anything anyone said here?  Everyone wins.”

He started at me for a good long while. “Oh no, I couldn’t possible do that, these are dangerous pathways.  I shall escort you to safety.”

“No need you brave so and so, we’re only going to Arbeven which is mere hours away.”

He gestured expansively “After you.  Would you like to ride behind me?”

I waved for Maudi to get moving “No thank you, I’ve found that the horse tends to get confused when the better rider doesn’t have the reins – they have a sense for those sort of things.”

I have to admit this, once you get past the fact that he thinks he’s better than everyone, his constant snide remarks, and his whining about his father, Sir Vario was actually a pretty good traveling companion.  His stories were both funny and engaging, and he was only bragging a little which I never would have guessed – I had him pegged as a world class braggart.  People surprise you sometimes.

When we reached Arbeven Maudi all but ran away towards what was a pretty nice two story home.  Sir Vario looked down at me.

“And where shall I escort you dear woman?”

“To the Quiriva compound.”

He raised an eyebrow “Will you be welcome there?”

“Most assuredly.  I rescued Lady Quiriva just the other day, besides I am the Baroness’s cousin.”

Maudi who had just reached his door and was still within earshot whipped around and near tripped himself. “You’re what!?”

Sir Vario laughed loudly – quite a nice laugh for such a vile man.

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 240 platinum, 7 gold, 6 silver

XP: 138,228

Inventory: Muddy Blood-Spattered Noble’s Traveling Outfit, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Light Crossbow, Fake Signet Ring, Map, False Papers, carnelians (2), Bag of Concealment,  Belt of Giant Strength +4, Vest of Resistance +1, Ring of Protection +1

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, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers