While Martialla started preparations for crafting some magic elixirs I poked around the ruins of the Old Empire castle a bit. Part of me was hoping to still find a medusa lurking about. No such luck however. Never having had the luxury of a formal education I don’t know much about the Old Empire. For that matter I don’t know a ton about the New Empire either other than we use its calendar. I suppose once a another empire gets up and running we’ll have to change calendars again – which has to be a real pain in the balls for historians. Plus then what are we going to call the New Empire? The Second Empire? That’s lame. Plus who would want their empire to be called the Third Empire? That tells people right off the bat that there were already two other empires.
I wandered back to camp as the sun was going down and I saw that our efforts in going off-road had been fruitless – the bounty hunters were back and they brought friends. In addition to the older fellow in the blue greatcoat and the lady with the fancy cloak there was another woman with a long black braid and a hideous half-orc wearing some kind of weird armor. It looked like it was made from loose strips of metal, I found it very off-putting. I think we can all agree that visual appeal is the most important thing about battle armor. How else do you explain breastplates with tits? You can’t.
Otacvio was down on the ground with a couple crossbow bolts in him and blood flowing out of him, Martialla was nowhere to be seen, Hardra, Tudos and Altos were kneeling with their hands behind their heads looking terrified. Braids was covering them with a crossbow while the other three examined the coach as if there was a secret panel or something that I could be hiding in. Which I guess there is – you could hide a whole squad of folks in the extra dimensional storage bins. For a little while anyway. I suppose that’s why necromancers love skeletons so much – soldiers that don’t need to breathe are much easier to haul around. Plus they don’t whine all the time.
“You lot don’t fool around do you? I’m curious which of you Hardra offered to sleep with in order to get out of this jam, the old dude or the half-orc. I mean you put a bag over the halfbreed’s head and you’re good to go there.”
The older fellow was still operating as the mouthpiece “Nice try heading off the trail but we found you.”
“What’s the point of saying that, you’re right here, I know you found us – mentioning it is a waste of time. How did you find me in the first place? Why can everyone find me so easily?”
“Of course. So what’s the play here, I come with you or you kill the hostages?”
“And what if I don’t care about the hostages?”
He sighed “Don’t make this more difficult than it needs to be.”
“Why not? You’re trying to take me prisoner, why wouldn’t I make that as difficult as possible? You say a lot of stupid things you know that?”
“Surrender yourself and no one gets hurt!”
“Counter offer, fuck you. Actually wait, cancel that – unfuck you. What’s the bounty on me anyway? Maybe I can pay you off like the greedy worms you are.”
“Unthinkable! Once we take a contract we would never consider taking a bribe.”
“Really? What about you Braids? Or you Uggo? I never met a half-orc that wouldn’t take a bribe.”
The half-orc growled “Then you haven’t met enough half-orcs.”
“Or too many, alright then, I guess we back to my original offer – fuck you. Kill the hostages and I’ll just scamper away, I can turn invisible you know so it will be pretty easy.”
Greycloak answered “You don’t seem like much of an outdoors type, without your servants I doubt it will be hard to track you down.”
“That’s a very astute observation, and well said, you should be the leader rather than this stammering old fool.”
“Who says I’m not?”
“Good for you, it’s always good to see women making strides in the violence industry. Alright then, I hereby surrender to you body and soul.” I dropped my dagger to the ground dramatically and held my arms out “Let my friends go, I’m the one you want.”
The half-orc and the older fellow came towards me while Braids kept her crossbow trained on the captives and Greycloak scanned the area. The half-orc took out a pair of manacles while the old fella gestured at me with his hand crossbow.
“I know you’ve got a crossbow hidden on you with magic too – out with it.”
I reached into my Bag and dropped the crossbow – while simultaneously palming the Gem of Brightness.
“You’re the boss. Are you sure I can’t bribe you?”
He waved his tiny crossbow at the half-orc “Shylditch, hook her up.”
As he came towards me I put the Gem right in his face and triggered the blinding flash. Did you know that half-orcs can see in the dark but that bright light cause them pain? I didn’t. I never heard search a scream. Well, maybe once. As I was hoping Martialla has been lurking around invisible and appeared, knocking Braids on her ass with a blast of magic.
I emitted a ray of light at the Bluecoat as well but he dodged out of the way – it’s actually pretty hard to aim a little beam of light at someone’s eyeballs when they’re expecting it. Greycloak responded not by shooting with her bow, but rather by casting a damn spell. I hate when spellcasters looks like normal people. There’s a reason they’re supposed to wear stupid robes and conical hats – so you know who to wail on first. A cloud of golden particles exploded in my face, stabbing at my eyes like sand – sand that’s also emitting pulses of blinding light. It was an enthusiastically awful experience.
“Aw Gods my eyes! The bow chick is magic!”
I staggered around blindly, which I have to assume is what the half-orc was also doing – it was probably funny to anyone who could see and was not in imminent danger of being killed. I heard the sadly familiar “thunk-thunk-thunk” of someone being stabbed and then I felt a piercing pain in my lower back – REALLY lower back.
“You shot me in the ass! What is wrong with you?!”
Thankfully the glitterdust attack only lasted for a few seconds, after a moment I could make out the half-orc still blinded, Martialla standing over the lady with the braid who appeared to have been stabbed all to shit. Bluecoat was reloading his ludicrous crossbow and Greycloak was gearing up for another spell. Judging her to be the bigger threat, at least until the half-orc can see again, I rushed and grabbed her with my Glove – draining some of her life. She was disappointingly nonplussed by this. She finished her spell and Martialla was entangled by a massive spiderweb. Add that to the nightmare journal. Despite being encased in goo Martialla managed to shoot some magic bolts of her own which were also disappointing – this broad with the cloak is tough. Bluecoat shot me in the arm with another quill pen sized bolt.
“Ow! Are these things poisoned or what are you trying to accomplish?”
I whistled for my coat to fly off and batter my spellcasting nemesis as I grabbed a silver short blade out of the scabbard of the downed women with the braids and sprung at her in what was only a mildly awful attack. Swinging swords isn’t really my thing. Although stabbing people in the back while a coat is flying around their head is – and this time she felt it. It’s like I always say, there’s no substitute for good steel in your hand. Okay, I never said that before but I’m going to start.
I stabbed her again as she worked her magic but despite that she managed to complete her spell – blasting my coat with a frightening plume of fire. How the heck am I going to repair that thing? I’m a good seamstress but is that even going to work? Worry about that later I suppose. Martialla blasted her with another magic volley and she fell to the ground gasping and asking for quarter. Bluecoat switched to a throwing knife and sunk it into my chest like a real jerk. But you know it was one of those little tiny throwing ones so it wasn’t much different from his hilariously small crossbow bolts. Don’t get me wrong, it hurt, but it was just a little prick. And I’m used to those.
“Ouch! What is it with you? Can’t you get a man’s weapon? Give it up, your one lady is dead, the other surrendered – it’s just you now, call it quits.”
That’s when the half-orc came roaring back into the scene – and I mean that literally. I’ve never heard a half-orc’s battle roar before. It’s really quite something. The old man smiled and was about to say something when Martilla, still wrapped up tighter than something in a something something cast another spell. The half-orc suddenly looked calmer and somewhat confused. It’s an expression I’ve come to recognize – and enchanted fool suddenly wondering why he’s fighting his friends. Mind magic. It’s a real pisser. The old man’s smile faded.
“As I was saying, I think it’s time for you to retire from the battlefield in good order or what have you.”
Turns out neither Otacvio nor the woman with the braid were dead dead, just really badly wounded. And the old fellow turned out to be a priest of some obscure legal god or another and he was able to heal them both enough to keep them from croaking. I’m not sure I would have had him bother with Otacvio had he asked but he didn’t. I suppose that’s why he uses such puny weapons – lots of gods seem to have improbably strong opinions about their most devout followers using crummy weapons. I suppose it’s like a needy woman who has you do stupid things to prove your love.
The agreement we reached is they would go to Coalmoth before setting out after us again – which, depending on how fast they travel should give us a week or so headstart. Or more I guess since we’ll be traveling in opposite directions for a few days. Normally I wouldn’t trust anyone to keep their word about that sort of thing, but he was very serious about it on account of this dumb deity. I think he’ll actually do it.
After all the excitement and crying from Hardra and Altos was over Martialla (the webs went away on their own after a minute) got back to her preparations and Otacvio was doing a piss-poor job of binding his wounds as Tudos started setting up camp.
“So what happened there bodyguard?”
“Hey, give me a break, it was four against one in an ambush.”
“How drunk were you?”
“Just the right amount for fighting, but they got the drop on me, there’s nothing anyone could have done. I was a pincushion before I knew what was happening.”
“How are you still alive in this line of work?”
“Sticks and stones My Lady, sticks and stones.”
“That wasn’t a cutting remark, it’s a serious question – how are you still alive?”
He took out a flask and took a long swig “A bit of luck, a bit of skill, you know how life goes.”
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