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.”
“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
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.