I know what you’re thinking. Tario is the only one aside from Martialla who knows that I was the one who stole the gems, so why not kill him? You people are cold hearted sons of bitches you know that? I have a code and that code has served me well. When you’re in on a scheme with someone you watch their back, you don’t betray them when it becomes convenient. That’s what they want. You know. THEY. The three of us didn’t waste any time – we got mounts (purchased in disguise) and headed out of town directly after we left Razmiran’s leafy pleasure dome. No reason to hang about.
In theory no one should be looking for us, but there’s no harm in being careful so instead of taking the road to Obsis we headed north towards the woods. We rode hard and once the forest was in sight we turned to the east and traveled throughout the night. Once the horses were done in we stripped off their tack and left them to their own devices – continuing on foot. As the sun was coming up I felt none the worse for wear thanks to my Ring but Martialla was flagging and Tario was in pretty rough shape.
I shook my head in disappointed as Tario came huffing and puffing to catch up with us “That’s the problem with you city crooks, you never have to run more than a few blocks so you don’t have any wind.”
He tried to retort but wasn’t able to catch his breath.
I put my hand to my ear “What was that? I didn’t quite catch that Tario. Repeat?”
He managed a lewd gesture at which I laughed and Martialla managed a tired little grin.
“Well, unless you want to go to Obsis for some reason there’s no reason for us to stick together anyway. How about we whack up this money and you can fall down dead or whatever’s going on here and Martialla and I can be on our merry way?”
He was able to gasp “How much?”
“I believe the standard finder’s fee is fifteen percent. Which seems more than generous to me since I fronted all the money, came up with the plan and did all the work. More than generous really. You did the legwork and for that fifteen seems fine.”
Tario was about to say something but I reached into the Bag and dropped a handful of garnets in front of him. And then another. And another. And another. You’ve heard people use the expression of someone’s eyes getting so wide they looked they would pop out of their heads? I had serious concerns that Tario was going to blind himself as he saw that pile of rosy gemstones spill out before him. He dove after them like a mother trying to catch a dropped infant and started stuffing the stones into his pockets, his shirt, down his pants, into his boots – everywhere but in his ears, and I wouldn’t even swear to that. He may have even swallowed a few.
“Well my boy, you’re rich now. Sort of. You can’t really buy things with gemstones. And no jeweler will be able to buy them all at their face value – not the kind of jeweler that would meet with someone like you anyway. And if I were Razmiran I’d have all my men out looking for anyone trying to unload a bunch of gemstones. Not to mention the fact . . .”
Tario sat on his knees gazing at two fistfuls of gems like a dying man in the desert looking at a cool pitcher of water “Shut up, just shut up, let me enjoy this for a moment.”
“What is your plan anyway? You’ve been thinking about this score for a while, I have to assume you indulging in some fantasized about what you’d do afterwards.”
Tario climbed to his feet “Not really no, it was more like a dream than a plan.”
“That’s why they call me the dream maker.”
“I thought that was because of the thing you did with Lord Fallrhump.”
“Tario! Not in front of Martialla!”
He laughed. “The first thing I need to do is find out where my brother’s at. He was supposed to meet me in Preen long before you turned up.”
“You have a brother? Does that mean you know who your parents are? That’s a shock.”
“Hilarious. I thought Vario could help with the jewels maybe but he must have gotten delayed. Or maybe he just flaked on the whole thing.”
“Vario? Would be a good looking guy if his mouth wasn’t all twisted on the sides? Loves his horse a little too much?”
Tario blinked “You know him?”
“Just met him a few days ago on the north side of the woods. He’s a real asshole, but he’s my kind of asshole.”
“That sounds like my brother alright.”
“Wait a minute though, he was complaining constantly about this father having too many kids so he wasn’t going to inherent a title or lands or anything. You’re not some nobleman’s brat are you? You seem like pure street rat to me.”
“Vario and Tario huh? Do you happen to also have a brother named Dario? A HALF-ELFEN brother?”
“Like I said, it’s complicated.”
“Is it? It sounds like your dad just liked getting his wick lit, and as a result has kids all over the place of various socio-economic levels and ethnicities, which is pretty simple really.”
Tario scowled “Did he say anything about going to Preen?”
I shook my head “No, he was in Arbeven being a general pain in the ass and then he headed off to the west to join up with some knights going to fight with the Baron against the hill barbarians.”
“Typical. More money for me I guess.”
“Indeed. Well my friend, it’s been nice working with you but we need to hit the old dusty trail. Don’t be a stranger.”
“We’ve been traveling for hours how can you still be going?”
“Oh, there’s no trick to it, I’m just a perfect physical specimen of the female form.”
Tario collapsed onto his back with a satisfied grin (how many times have I seen that before?) while Martialla and I continued making our way east. We did stop a few hours later so Martialla could get some rest and catch a drink out of a small stream and clean up a bit – she was sweating like a goblin in a dwarf-hall.
“How are you able to keep going like this?”
I held up my hand with the Ring “Magic. Why else would I be wearing this gaudy piece of shit? You’re magic, can you tell me why magic people can’t make items that don’t look like chintzy garbage?”
“Learning magic takes a lot of time and effort, who’s going to also learn jewelrycrafting? Or sewing? Or blacksmithing? How many people are great at even one thing let alone several?”
“That’s a fair point. I’m great at lots of things but there’s no reason to hold everyone else to my high standard. It’s just not fair.”
“Of course. So, I’ve been wondering, am I going to be getting any of them gems? I was involved in the plan and I will be just as dead if Razmiran finds out and sends his assassins after me.”
“I thought you were just in in for the revenge.”
“There’s not a lot of money in revenge.”
“Tell me about it. I’m sure you deserve a couple stones, I’ll think on. I tell you what, I’ll give you ten right now if you can tell me what this is.” I took the crystal necklace out of my Bag.
She stared at it intently for several seconds “Its magic. Pretty powerful.”
“But what does it do?”
Martialla shrugged “I don’t know, what do I look like, a wizard?”
“But you’re magic!”
“There’s all kinds of magic, you can change your appearance, that’s magic and you don’t know what it does. You didn’t even know for sure it was magic.”
“That’s different. So how do I find out what it does?”
“I don’t know, put it on, see what happens.”
“That’s great fucking advice! It might be cursed. Useless, all you magic types are bloody useless!”
“You’re magic too.”
I pointed at her angrily “I am NOT magic.”
She laughed “Whatever you say.”
After a couple hours rest we got moving again and reached Obsis late in the afternoon. My joy at reaching a settlement in daylight for once was quickly quashed by what a nothing town Obsis is – I’m surprised they even have a mayor to be humiliated by now one-handed duelist. There is one small inn in town, but it was booked because they’re having a rutabaga festival or some other damn thing and the innkeeper was annoyingly not willing to turn out one of his current paying customers for the promise of more money from a beautiful young maiden. What a moron.
The only lodging we could get was on the second floor of the dance hall – which of course had some sort of vegetable themed hootenanny going on. To make matters worse all I could find to eat was a beetroot sandwich and some ham and egg stew. I’m richer than I’ve ever been and I’m sitting in the rafters of a dance hall choking down beetroot while a bunch of slack-jawed yokels manhandle each other to the off-tune wailing of a fiddle.
Some folk have no luck at all.
Funds: 995 platinum
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, 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, Holy Symbol of Kozilek, Ruby (2), Black Marketers’ Bag, 879 Garnets, crystal necklace
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