Another day on the road. Even though this coach is absolutely fabulous I’m starting to hate it. What’s the old expression? Familiarity breeds contempt? I assume someone married said that. You spend enough time sitting next to or across from someone and you start to resent everything about them – the way they cross their legs, the way they move their lips without saying anything, the way they breathe even. It was enough to make me think about riding up front for a while but it was a cold and drizzly morning and I wanted no part of that. So I stayed and wallowed in Otacvio’s wine-stink. Where does that man keep his supplies? How can he be drunk all the time without entire wagon train of his own just carrying booze?
I was almost happy when I heard a voice outside commanding us to stop “in the name of the law”. Almost. I exited the coach and saw two people blocking the road – and small distinguished looking older gentlemen in a blue greatcoat with a hand crossbow and a maiden holding a longbow in a fur-trimmed grey cloak with a large silver pin.
“Good morning friends, what can we do for you this fine dawn?
The older fellow glanced at his young companion who nodded slightly and then looked me full in the face for a moment before taking a folded parchment out of a pouch and opening it up.
“You are hereby bound by law under the auspices of Law Office of Glilcus and Stolo. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to beg for mercy. You have the right to request judgment by combat. Please come with us now.”
“Since when does a law firm arrest people?”
“We have our orders ma’am, please come along quietly.”
“Yeah I don’t think so. Are you trying to arrest me or what is going on here? Who are you?”
“Look, just come with us, we don’t want any trouble.”
“Wow, what a convincing argument, still no. Otacvio get out here!”
Martialla came out followed a moment later by Otacvio, shrugging on his breastplate and holding his swordbelt. The older fellow who had done all the talking got a hard look on his face.
“It’s going to be like that huh?”
“How about you tell me what’s going on and then we can decide what it’s going to be like. You’re the ones who came up on us with weapons in hand. You’re highwaymen for all I know. Er, highwaypeople I mean.”
They both seemed inappropriately offended by that remark.
“Madam, we are not highwaymen! We are officers of the court!”
“Meaning what? Speak plainly. Are you a sheriff or a road warden? We’re not in a city so you can’t be city watch. If you’re trying to arrest me what am I being accused of?”
The woman finally spoke “We’re recovery agents ma’am.”
I snorted “Oh, you mean you’re bounty hunters? I thought you said you were law officers. Get the Hells out of the road before I have you run over.”
The old man bristled “We are law officers!”
“You’re hired goons. You kidnap people for money. Maybe some of them are criminals, I doubt you know or care. This law office wants me and you’re their muscle for hire. Well I’m not going, so what then? You kill me? And then you get paid. Sounds like assassination to me. Everyone back inside, we’re moving on, Tudos, if they don’t move trample them. It’s fine, they’re not real people.”
I moved to get back in the coach and he pointed his hand crossbow at me while his companion drew an arrow from her quiver.
“You gonna shoot me old man? You want to turn this into a bloodbath?”
He shook his head “Just come with us.”
“Does that ever work for you? Where did you learn how to negotiate?”
I climbed aboard, a prickling sensation running up my spine for a moment as I had the awful flashing vision of being shot in the back. A moment later Martialla and Otacvio carefully backed in as well and we were off – although Tudos went to the trouble of going around the two sellswords instead of running them down like I said. I suppose it’s safer for the horses that way. Hardra looked white as a ghost.
“What was that all about?”
“Who knows? There’s always something trying to ruin my day, it’s my lot in life.”
Martialla looked solemn “I’ve heard about Glilcus and Stolo, they’re no one to be trifled with.”
I threw my hands up “Of course, of fucking course, just once I’d like an enemy that is someone to be trifled with.”
“Those sort probably don’t last long.”
“Don’t be reasonable with me.”
Once I was done being angry I realized that the most likely reason Hardra was so terrified is that she thought the bounty hunters were after her. I wonder what she did. No one saw them tailing us, but I’m sure they are, there’s no reason for them to give up so easily – we’re following the road so it’s not like we’re hard to track. We had stopped at mid-day to stretch our legs, eat, and care for the horses when I asked Tudos if he knew any other trails we could take or cross-country routes to throw off our assumed pursuers.
“I wouldn’t recommend it ordinarily My Lady, but this gig is a real beauty – I think she can take it.”
“Why do men always think of ships and coaches and the like as being female?”
“I couldn’t say My Lady.”
“I think you could.”
We ditched the road and headed across the hills – even with the enhanced suspension it was a bit of a rough ride. Otacvio looked like he was going to puke his guts out but he managed to keep himself in check – possibly because I was threatening him quite viciously at the time. If you puke on me there’s going to be a problem. It’s one of the many reasons motherhood is not for me. A few hours later after passing through a wooded area I saw out the window a tumbled down guardhouse of some sort. I nudged Hardra.
“What’s that about?”
“I believe we’re in the area of an old Imperial castle ruin My Lady.”
“Do you mean an old castle of the Empire or a castle of the Old Empire?”
“The Old Empire My Lady.”
I was only mildly interested as we passed by a few more tumbled down piles of rocks – then then I saw a “statue” of a woman swinging a sword in an awkward position. Here’s something to remember – no one makes statues like that, especially ones with looks of terror on their face. I knocked on the wall of the carriage to indicate we were stopping.
“Alright people, look like lively, we’ve got a medusa in the area.”
Otacvio frowned “If there’s a medusa why are we stopping?”
“For the safety of the realm of course. And also because there’s a really great skin cream that’s made from the blood of medusa, it’s fantastic, I’m telling you.”
“Isn’t medusa blood poisonous?”
“Beauty ain’t for sissies pal.”
As we gathered outside the coach in and about the ruins we could see six other “statues” which obviously were the petrified victims of the medusa.
“Alright, Martialla, Otacvio and I will creep around and find the medusa and kill her. You three stay here. Tudos and Altos cover up the horses heads so they don’t get turned to stone – then you all stay in the coach and don’t look at anything until I get back.”
Otacvio glanced about worriedly “How are we supposed to not get turned to stone?”
“Use your peripherals, it will be fine. Let’s go!”
He didn’t feel better when I drank my potion and Martialla cast her spell, the both of us turning invisible and leaving him “alone”. We crept around the ruins until I spotted a central building of some kind that had been turned from a ruin into less of a ruin by some kind of stone-magic. If that’s not a sure sign of a medusa I don’t know what is. Which, as it turns out, I don’t. Sadly there was no medusa, just some crazy dwarves that worship some kind of earth elemental demon entity. It was barely even worth killing them, but I suppose it does make everyone safer. Martialla found a wand or something that made her happy so it wasn’t a complete loss.
“I was kind of hoping once we killed the source the people would turn back into not stone.”
Otacvio was busy looting the dusty little bearded buggers “That would have been convenient.”
“Oh well, there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
Martialla was examining a scroll she found “Actually I can probably mix up a salve that should turn them back.”
“Yeah, it’s not too hard. It might take a day or two but it’s doable.”
“Well then, let’s set up here for a while.”
Otacvio looked up in surprise “We’re going to do it?”
“Of course, why wouldn’t we?”
“You just don’t seem like . . .”
“I don’t seem like what?”
“I just meant . . . I don’t know what I meant.”
Funds: 995 platinum, 219 gold
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, 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