Upon arriving at the Quiriva’s manor house last night I found that there was a reply to my note to the Baroness. After very briefly expressing her happiness at my being alive and gratitude for resolving the kidnapping she asked for me to check into another situation. With the Sky Thunder tribe running rough-shod over the area a keep on the south edge of the lower Irontimber Forest was re-occupied by some of the Baron’s troops. Said troops were promptly attacked and destroyed – per the Baroness’s letter she said it was the work of Ulpine soldiers but that can’t be the case, if hostile forces were operating this deep into the kingdom the whole county would be in enemy hands. When I went to find a woman who may have merely run away from her husband the Baroness was very concerned about sending me out into the world – now she wants me to assault a fortress alone? How quickly people learn to take you for granted.
I debated telling Lord and Lady Quiriva about this because they seem like the panicky types, but in the end I figured they may be able to help, even if it’s just with coin. They were even more anxious than I anticipated but I assured them I would deal with it. Confidence is key when you have no clue what you’re going to do about something.
Sadly the Halfling caravan was no longer in town, but I was able to unload some of my loot on Homar. On the one hand the fact that he’s still hanging around a burg like this would indicate he’s not much of a trader, but then again he did have the money to buy magic armor so he must be doing pretty well. I was worried that he was going to be fawning over me, on account of me saving his life and all, but he didn’t even mention it. Which annoyed me. He could have at least mentioned it. I don’t need a life-debt or anything but come on fella, I saved your life. He did give me a good price though.
As we were chatting Homar mentioned he was still in town because he and four other merchants are heading south together. Since I’m heading that same way I said that I would be joining them. After all when has traveling with a caravan ever ended poorly for me?
After that was all squared away I went to see Maudi. He said that my coat would be ready tomorrow. I asked him if he could communicate with the Baroness via magic but of course he couldn’t because magic is useless. You go to school for years forsaking everything fun about life and you can’t communicate with someone thirty miles away? Talk about wasting your time. Back in the capital there was a bar where sometimes after getting good and drunk the patrons would grab a couple students from the Arcane College and make them fight. It was kind of funny in a cruel way. The kicker, it was a city watch bar.
With nothing much else to do I did some gambling with the merchants and their array of caravan people. The merchants were set up in rooms at the only inn in town and their drovers and laborers and such had created a small shanty-town behind it. It was quite a number of people, I was surprised by the extent of the operation. I made the rounds drinking and carousing with the crews as well as going back and forth between two tables inside the inn where the thin and worried looking innkeeper bickered with his overly made-up wife. It was mostly uninteresting games like knucklebones, cho-han, and bluff – but I did have an amusing episode where thanks to my belt I was able to take a gold off a burly fellow who was wagering on arm-wrestling.
Things got a little more interesting after lunch (bought for me by an enamored merchant apprentice) when a woman in a hooded black fothery dress of fine make and material got into the mix. She clearly had a few friend and more than a few admirers in the group. After a little glad-handing and back-patting she got a game of hazard going with a couple of the higher-brow types. She was quick with the fingers and not half bad at die setting but she wasn’t good enough that I couldn’t spot her. In the course of an hour she amassed quite a pile of coins and then produced a deck of cards and switched to playing Dwile.
If I have a favorite game, which I don’t because that’s how you get foolish about these sorts of thing, it would be Dwile. Games of pure chance don’t appeal to me, nor do games that rely wholly on bluffing – I like a game where the skill of the player is important. Or at least the skill of the cheater. Dwile is such a game. She had a lovely deck of cards as well, not as nice as the set that I lost, but pretty good. I watched her for another hour as she played. She did a little fancy dealing but mostly she was just a talented player. When you’re a woman in the company of men you can only win so much if you’re a stranger. If you’ve become a “mascot” of sorts you can win more. If you truly become accepted as an equal there’s almost no limit. She knew just how much to win without making her male competitors sulky.
I asked to join the table and was graciously invited to sit. It’s a funny thing, neither one of us ever seemed to lose any hands where we had bet much money, but no one seemed to notice how much we were winning either. Various men would rotate in with a purse full of coins and then rotate out again with empty pockets – usually with a kiss on the cheek from my black-clad friend. Several hours later we were alone at the table waiting for any additional challengers.
“What’s with the get up?”
“I was married quite young to my one true love. He was killed in a robbery gone bad. I have sworn to wear mourning colors until his murderer is brought to justice.”
“That’s not a bad act.”
“Even moreso for being true. I haven’t seen you around here before.”
“I move around a lot, I’m a big hero you see – I’m always rescuing people and saving the day and things like that. It involves a lot of travel.”
“I thought that might be the case. Something about your eyes just says ‘hero’ to me. I tend to move about a bit myself.”
“What’s your name?”
I smiled slightly “Liespeak? Isn’t that a little on the button?”
“That’s my name, true and sure. The interesting thing is my departed husband was the most honest man you’d ever meet.”
“One of his ancestors must not have been.”
At this point two very well dressed fellows approached the table and asked if we would be interested in joining them for a game of contract whist – which is played in teams of course. Sason and I shared a quick glance and we both smiled.
“Gentlemen we would be delighted.”
Funds: 1020 platinum, 11,154 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, False Papers, Bag of Concealment, Belt of Giant Strength +4, Vest of Resistance +1, Ring of Sustenance, Gem of Brightness, Potion of Invisibility, Silver Chain set with Moonstones, Gold and Emerald Ring (2), Glove of Vampiric Touch, Platinum and Silver Holy Symbol of Kralten, Thunder (Heavy Warhorse)
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