After securing the keep I returned to the caravan and invited Homar and his lot to carry off anything of value that they could. They were reluctant at first but eventually got with the program after I assured them it’s what the Baroness wanted. It’s probably even true. Maybe. After that assurance they descended on the place like locusts, stripping everything of worth – which wasn’t much on account of its military installation but there were plenty of provisions and enough arms and armor for a small army which they were only too happy to liberate. Apparently they gained enough on the right side of the ledger (or is it the left side, what am I an accountant?) to make up for losing a day of travel because they decided to stay and take a chance to sleep in beds while they could before continuing their way west.
The merchant sponsors and I enjoyed a simple meal in the officer’s dining room and afterwards Homar and I eyeballed each other across the table and a bottle of sherry.
“I wouldn’t quite say this makes up for that stunt of yours, that was dirty pool – even for the Baroness’s cousin.”
“I wasn’t trying to make up for anything, I did what I needed to – you should appreciate that. Red in the account book, or is it black? I always get those mixed up.”
“Finance is complicated. Things start out simple enough – I will give you this cow for those two goats – but before long it’s ‘if you give me those two goats right now, I’ll give you twelve of these particular kind of seashell, and then another six of them next week, and you can give them to my cousin for a cow plus a sack of monkey heads’ and then you need people who keep track of these things for a living.”
“Sure, the monkey head principal. I suppose I better talk to that scout who was trying to get me in a compromising position before we part ways.”
When a group of armed men grab you and drag you away even if you fight at first usually people realize it’s pointless and stop struggling – either because they’ve given up or because they want to conserve their strength for when it might help them. This fellow was not subscribe to that popular theory – he was kicking and screaming and carrying on the entire way as they dragged him into the small dining area. They went to do that move where the goons throw the guy they’re dragging in front of the person they’re being dragged to see but this fellow didn’t get with the program – he tried to lunge across the table at me and they had to grab him again and pull him down. It was quite a kerfuffle. The place settings were all akimbo they were! He shouted abuse at me for a while before needing to stop for breath. Wild-eyed doesn’t even begin to describe him and he looked like he had been dragged face-down for about a month.
“I understand you wanted to see me.”
He screamed up towards the heavens “Faithless whore!”
“”You’re half right at least, three quarters maybe.”
He spat at me in some guttural language for a few moments before returning to the common tongue “I want your blood, and I want your soul.”
“I have bad news on both counts, you don’t seem like you’re in a position to get any blood from me and what’s even worse I don’t think souls are really a thing. Not the way we think about them anyway. I was dead once, it wasn’t exactly what they told us.”
He turned his head up towards the ceiling again “Kralten! Lord of Hate! Lord of Spite! Revenge! Revenge!”
“Oh, you’re one of those Kralten people. Did you join the caravan to try and get me or were you just there and saw a chance? How did you hear about me?”
He had nothing fruitful to say, just kept ranting about his dark lord and my impending doom in various languages. Once it became apparent talking was a waste of time I had the caravan guards throw him off the walls of the keep – he kept shouting all the way down. Afterwards I stood on the balcony/battlement of the master bedroom with Belking looking out over the setting sun.
“Well, we did it.”
“You did it you mean. All I did was run away and murder two people who were defenseless.”
“I’ve always found that the best time murder someone. Your running away helped me bring the keep back into hands of the Baron and thereby the King – you did what you could. What would have been the point of staying here and dying?”
“I wasn’t well treated here, by the other soldiers or the commander, I’m an old man in a young man’s profession. That’s why I engaged in smuggling, to make them like me, but all that did is make them just talk shit about me behind my back instead of to my face. Despite all that though I feel somehow I should have stayed and died with them.”
“Why are you still a foot solider at your age? Shouldn’t you be a lieutenant or something at least by now?”
After a long moment he shrugged “Things just never turned out for me.”
“I suppose that’s true of most people.”
There was nothing else much to say, after a moment he walked away – not the shuffle of an old man, but the steady gait of an old warhorse. I was left to search the room and see what I could find out about what Tesseria was doing here. I often say that anyone who has to write down their schemes isn’t smart enough to be scheming but that doesn’t make it any less annoying when I encounter someone who is smart enough not to write things down. There was nothing in her effects that gave any indication of what her game was. The most interesting thing I discovered is that she was a priestess of Kozilek, the Butcher of Truth, the Great Distortion. I’m not a religious type, I don’t have a patron God, but Kozilek is the one that I would come closest to aligning with.
Kozilek has few adherents, there are no known legitimate texts about his worship, no Kozilek dogma of which I’m aware – one wonders what a priestess dedicated to such a God would do with their time, aside from seducing military commanders and capturing forts of course. I was toying with her holy symbol when I heard a voice plain as day – it sounded like someone was standing right next to me.
“Did you find it?”
“Yes” I said to empty air.
“How long will it take to repair?”
“I’m not sure yet.”
“Chelloa is behind scheduled so Greenshield is going to help her, assuming she gets back on track will you be ready by the deadline?”
“Excellent, I knew I could count on you, I’ll be in touch when I have news.”
Funds: 1020 platinum, 11,154 gold, 6 silver
Inventory: Noble’s Traveling Outfit, Animated Riding Coat, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Light Crossbow, Fake Signet Ring, Map, 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, Chime of Opening (5 charges), Holy Symbol of Kozilek
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