Moreavan 21 Year 887 (New Imperial Calendar)

Usually Martialla and I sit together and leave Otacvio and the randy chaperone to ride backwards – one thing you need to know about me, I don’t ride backwards.  But today Martialla switched things up and I was left elbowing the sleeping drunk off me instead – which really hampered my ability to glare at Hardra.  Just when you get a good glare going a drunk moron slumps over on you and you have to shove him off and then you have to start up your glare all over again.  Do you have any idea how annoying that is?  No, how could you?  Regardless I think she got the point.  When we stopped for lunch I was sitting alone in the coach drinking a nice pomegranate wine when Hardra clambered in and sat across from me.

“My Lady, I have to ask, what is it that has you so out of sorts?”

“You don’t have to ask.”

“Well I am.”

“I have enough problems without you slinging it around like a two copper whore.”

“Why do you care?  We both know what this is.  It’s not like you really need chaperone, I’m just here because the Baroness doesn’t really know how the world works.  Or maybe she does and has to pretend otherwise.  Regardless, why does it matter to you what I do?”

“I have a feeling you’re going to tell me.”

“At first I thought you were jealous, that you were one of those pretty types who never gets any action – it’s more common than you think – but I discarded that notion.  I think instead that you have issues dealing with people in a genuine way.  I think you’re charming when you want to be, that you can win over just about anyone you want, but that’s all artifice.  I think you’re on guard all the time and that must be exhausting.  I think you like to control any situation you’re in but you’re smart enough to know that the world doesn’t revolve around you so there’s a conflict there inherently.”

“Wow, what a keen personal observation.  Here’s an alternate theory – if I walk in on you having sex again on my mission I’m going to beat eight kinds of hell out of you.”

“I doubt it.”

“What did you say?”

“I never met a fancy lady like you who could throw a punch worth a damn.  If you attacked me I doubt it would amount to much.  I’ve got like eighty pounds on you.”

“And that’s something to be proud of?”

“Really?  A crack about weight?  Is that where we’re at?”

“Look, I don’t know what your story is and I don’t want to know what your story is – but I need you to be on mission.  I don’t need a chaperone, but I need the people with me on this fool’s errand not to louse things up for me.  If you want to screw everyone south of the mountains on your own time that’s great, I wish you luck, but what we’re doing here is dangerous – I’m not sure you realize that.  I don’t want you making things harder for me, I want you to keep a low profile and keep your ears open.  And it just so happens that doing that will also help you stay alive – but honestly it’s hard for me to get excited about that.”

“That’s fair.”

As I mentioned Baron Contos has extensive landholdings and we crossed into his territory long before we were in sight of this ancestral home.  He intercepted us as we came near a small settlement called Coalmoth near the ruined Fort Tindersmith.  After the traditional exchange of pleasantries he invited us to treat with him in a brick cabin the crossroads in town.  A pleasant cottage with a red tile roof and nicely trimmed hedges.  The collection of alcohol in the place was truly a wonder. I’ve seen better of course, but only a handful of times.  He even had one of my absolute favorites, which is a bit hard to find, an elfen light ale flavored with lavender and lilac – the real deal, not that knock off crap you find from time to time.  This was the genuine article.   

We had a plain meal with the Baron and some of the local “dignitaries” and then he pledged his loyalty to the Juosts before the Gods and all the assembled witnesses.  He was a soft-spoken man and seemed cautious – I didn’t feel like he had anything to hide exactly more like he was smart enough to just be cagey about everything.  He knew quite a bit about gems and precious metals and was very interested in my rings and silver chain – the ornamental one, not the one the Juosts have magically sealed on me like a collar on an unruly dog.  The Baron wasn’t big on small talk so only a few hours after he met us on the road he was gone, leaving us to stay the night in the red-brick lodge.

Martialla and I were sitting in the study in front of a roaring fire enjoying some peach flavored liquor that some call Blushing Bride.  Others have a more lewd name for it.  Lewder?  More lewd.

Martialla gave me an arch look “So, what do you think?”

“I think not meeting us in his home makes me suspicious.  But then I’m suspicious of just about everything.   Can you use magic to do some kind of augury or divination?”

“Sure.”

“How often does that work out?”

“Half the time maybe.”

“So basically like guessing.”

“Depends on who’s doing the guessing.”

“How did a level headed respectable woman like you end up in magic school?”

“I never went to any magic school.”

“Then how do you?” I wiggled by fingers in what is probably a deadly insult in the magic world.

“I got the magic inside me, it just comes out.”

“Huh, how does that work?”

“I’m not sure anyone knows how it works.  Some people have dragon blood in their lineage, some people get gifted by fey tricksters, some make deals with devils, there’s all kinds of ways it can happen – I don’t know what my deal is, I guess I was just destined for greatness.”  

“Like revenge murdering Graltontown assholes?”

“Seems to be working out pretty well for you.”

“That comment shows a severe lack of insight on your part my good friend.  Anyway, I suppose all I can do is tell the Baroness how it all went down, if she wants to find it suspicious she can.  My gut feeling is that he’s the kind of slightly absentminded man who didn’t realize what he was doing could be construed as hiding something.  I think he’s smart but not totally wise to the ways of other people.”

“That’s not all we could do, we could go to his house or castle or mansion or whatever anyway and snoop around.  Take people’s appearances, steal stuff, lie, cheat, get into all kinds of shenanigans.  Leave in a hurry, probably with Hardra pulling her dress up as she runs for the coach with you screaming insults at her.”

“There are still a lot of names on the list, plenty of time for tomfoolery like that in the future”

____________________________________________________________

Funds: 995 platinum

XP: 162,028

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, Hellerhad the Wizard