I don’t know if it’s because we’re camping in a ruin or because of the violent encounter that day or because or something else entirely, but I had disturbing dreams all night long. Maybe I would even call them visions. A procession of various stern looking dwarfs (is there any other kind?) were lecturing me about taking up arms against “my own people”. I was continuously telling them that I was no dwarf but they kept telling me a graunchar or a ruthar or something, I guess I am an honorary member of a dwarf clan because of all that nonsense south of Carmin. This better just be a dream – if I’m going to get harangued by dwarfen spirits every time I cross a dwarf that’s going to be annoying. I don’t deal with a lot of dwarfs but still. I don’t need ghosts chapping my hide all the time. I have enough problems.
Martialla was up early mixing up her potions or concoctions, whatever you want to call them. Watching her made me wonder why there isn’t more magical alcohol – if you’re going to make a magic liquid that you have to drink why not make it taste good? For that matter why isn’t there more magical food? I suppose it’s what Martialla said before – how many magicians are going to also bother to learn distilling or cooking? She asked me if I wanted to help her, which we both knew the answer to, but she conscripted Tudos and Altos as soon as they were up. Hardra she had out collecting mold or lichens or whatever you mix into a magic potion to give it some legs. When Otacvio finally roused himself it became apparent that he had pissed himself during the night.
“You’re an embarrassment you know that?”
He nodded. “I do. In my defense I did get up to piss, I just forgot to take my trousers down.”
“Do you have some sad story that explains all this or are you just an asshole? Did all your friends die fighting a hodag and you have survivor’s guilt? Did you father not love you enough?”
He shrugged “No sad violins for me, this is just the way it is. I remember I started drinking when I was pretty young. It got bad when I was in the army though. I wasn’t a natural at killing and looting and raping and setting shit on fire – I needed to get pretty liquored up to hang with the rest of the guys.”
“Well they say service brings out the best in people. Get yourself cleaned up, I don’t want to breathe in your piss stink all day.”
He wandered off while the rest of the crew continued working on the magic slime. It was pretty early in the day when the first batch was done. They kept working while I took the salve and applied it to the first “statue” I had seen – the woman swinging her sword. Have you ever rubbed a liniment onto stone before? I can tell you, it’s an odd sensation. I was expecting the magic to happen all at once when I applied the whole batch but it wasn’t like that at all – parts of her body started to “thaw” as I was rubbing the solution on. It was passionately off-putting. It’s a good thing I started with the legs and worked my way up – I couldn’t handle it if the face had “come alive” while I was still working on the rest.
Once the work was complete she stumbled slightly and looked around as if coming out of a deep deep sleep – which in a way I suppose she was. Despite the fact that she had a sword in hand, and therefore you could reasonably expect her to be a fighting type she had a bare midriff and bare legs – which doesn’t strike me as very smart in a fight. Worst of all though she had one of those O-ring metal belts that I hate. Clearly this isn’t a woman who makes good choices, which is probably how she ended up getting petrified by evil dwarfs in the first place.
“Welcome back! What year do you think it is?”
She blinked, confused “Eight eight-seven, by the New Imperial Calendar.”
“That’s disappointing, I was hoping that you had been petrified for a long time. I found a lady who had been frozen in ice for decades once and revived her – it was really something.”
This seemed to confuse her even more “My name is Gisa, folks call me Goose.”
“People can be so cruel.”
“No, it’s like a nickname.”
“I’m sure it is.”
Sadly, I was to be thwarted in my quest for a living time capsule. Gisa explained that five of the other “statues” were her fellow treasure hunters who had run afoul of the dwarfs and that the other two were local villagers whose disappearance had led them here in the first place. They had all been petrified only a few months at most. What a disappointment. We returned to the clearing where Martialla and the crew were continuing to stir up magical mixtures.
“I’ve been thinking, if you could get a medusa on staff this would be a good way to lower the cost of keeping an army around. Keep most of your soldiers petrified when you don’t need them stick them in a basement or something, and then unpetrify them when you do need them. That has to drastically reduce your overhead. Plus it keeps them in fighting shape – no off time to get fat and lazy and gouty.”
“Who would agree to something like that? That sounds awful.”
“Well I think the thing about people with armies is they don’t really need anyone to agree with what they’re doing. I don’t know how things worked back in your day.”
“I was only stone for a few weeks.”
“But now king’s pretty much do whatever they want, you see Gisa, what happens is . . .”
I was interrupted at this point by a fully nude Otacvio running dripping wet into the clearing yelling like a maniac. I’ve seen plenty of nude men in my day, more than enough really, but lately I’ve been seeing naked men running about and it’s something else altogether. Say what you will about lady parts, at least they don’t slap about like some kind of awful boneless tail when you have to make a run for it. I don’t even know how they do it, seems like it would be distracting and uncomfortable. I assumed at first this was just drunken tomfoolery, but a moment later following hot on his feels were several Water Vines slithering after him like snakes. No joke, he was being attacked by vines.
Gisa sprang into action, literally I mean – she jumped into battle like a hopping bunny. I guess she needs to show so much skin to stay aerodynamic. She started chopping the vines to pieces as they tried to wrap about and strangle her. It was quite a thing to see. Otacvio grabbed up his sword and joined the fray – not even bothering to cover himself with his free hand. I guess that would throw off his balance maybe. I tell you this if I was a nude bloke in a fight I’d definitely have one hand over my manhood. But what do I know about it really?
Between the two of them they were able to slay their leafy opponents. I was convinced that there was a wizard or some kind of faerie that was using magic to makes the vines attack but Gisa and Otacvio insisted that’s just a thing – people call them Assassin Vines apparently. Even the plants are trying to kill everyone.
“This is just getting stupid. What possible reason would there be for a plant to kill someone? They can’t eat so what’s the point?”
“I believe the idea is that they crush an animal or something and use its rotting corpse as fertilizer.”
As I often do when learning about the existence of a new horribly deadly monster I couldn’t help but throw up my hands.
“Of course they do that, why wouldn’t they!”
Once all the excitement was over and everyone had their clothes back on we continued throughout the day unstonifying Gisa’s companions and the unlucky townfolk. Since I found the experience so unpleasant I had Altos do the salve spreading on the rest of the petrified folk. He like it a little too well on the women but he paid for it with the men. If that isn’t apt example of how life works I don’t know what is – there’s always a few unwanted dicks standing in way of you having a good time. It was late in the day when the whole operation was completed so we escorted the two villagers back to their small, well, village. Even Hardra and Tudos had never heard of it. It was called Gibson’s and the leader was a fellow called, you guessed it, Gibson.
He was an obnoxious jackass but they had a rum drink flavored with some kind of dried citrus peel that was delightful. With the return of their missing friends an impromptu festival broke out with loads of low quality food, more good booze, and enough peasanty dancing and singing to choke a mongoose. There was a bit of a snag when one of the unpetrified people found out that her husband had remarried in the time she was gone but I was able to use my fake authority to annul the second marriage and fix everything. People get all worked up about these things but as long as everyone believes you’re in charge what difference does it make really?
Gisa and her treasure hunters told me they owed me a “quest” for saving them from their stony fate, which sounds suspiciously like adventurer talk to me. I tried to tell them I didn’t have much use for treasure hunters but they refused to be put off. I told them they could follow us as long as they could keep up and had their own supplies – there’s no harm in having a few more violent drifters around right?
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