Turn out I’m not as lazy as I thought, trust me, I’m as surprised as you are. Tudos and one of Gisa’s thugs knew enough about carpentry that they thought they could repair the bridge so we stayed and worked on repairing it. And by we I mean everyone else but me. I know what you’re thinking ‘if you didn’t do any work that still sounds pretty lazy’ which is accurate, but I thought I was so lazy that I wouldn’t even make someone else do it. So there.
The rough hand types dragged the pirate’s keelboat out of the river and onto the shore as far as they could and started tearing it to pieces – looked like hard work. Real hard work. One foppish fellow of Gisa’s dressed all in black kept trying to say that he could help more by playing music instead of ripping up boards but no one was having it and he was set to work like all the rest. I’ve scarcely seen someone look more miserable in all my life – and I’ve seen people tortured to death. During a break in the work he was fussing over his hands getting bistlered and I whistled him over to the carriage were I was enjoying some spring apple wine and candied raisins.
“You’re a musician?”
He beamed “Yes My Lady. I am accomplished in the lute, the harp, the lyre, the crumhorn, the sackbut . . .”
“You made those last two up.”
“And more than accomplished with the flute and the mandolin. I’m not a bad singer either My Lady, if I do say so myself.”
“They call me the Black Bard My Lady, you’ve probably heard of me.”
“Can’t say as I have. Isn’t one of your other companions called the White Bear? And wasn’t one of them nicknamed something something the Blue? Do you have a whole color theme going on?”
“Uh no My Lady, it’s merely a coincidence.”
“Why does a band of treasure hunters need a flutist?”
“I’m not just a musician my lady, I’m something of a jack of many trades.”
“I’ve been known to do a bit of fencing, I dabble in magic from time to time, I speak twelve languages, I can decipher many other scripts as well, I’m highly versed in research and cartography, I’ve got a silver tongue and a platinum voice, and I can step softly when there’s a need for that, I’m quick with a joke and not a bad hand at gambling to boot. I have a knack for finding things and people as well. I’m just an all-around useful fellow to have around. Between you and me Goose would be utterly lost without me.”
“I’m sure. I met a lady recently who is wearing all black until the husband’s killer is found – what’s your backstory?”
“It just looks cool.”
“Grab your mandolin champ, I’d like to hear a little something.”
He ran off as eager as eager can be, returning shortly with a mandolin that looked like it had started out as a masterpiece but had seen better days – I suppose a life of treasure hunting isn’t conducive to instrument maintenance. I’m pretty sure it had been used as a club at one point based on the head-shaped dent in it. Even so he managed to get a good sound of it – which spoke highly of this skill. He played the Littlest Flower well enough but his singing was mediocre.
“Do you know the Fall After Pride?”
“Of course my lady.”
He played himself in but when he was about to sing I jumped in and he wisely differed to me – it’s a much better song in my register anyway. I was a little rusty but it was good enough that the small throng was quite shocked. I think this every time I do it, I should sing more, but I never do. There’s just no time. Once I was warmed up we did Darling My Kisses, Goodbye Amusement, and Belong To You. The Black Bard seemed overjoyed and we got a little round of applause which was nice. He was less happy when I told him break time was over and it was back to the grind. I think he thought his talents would get him out of any more real work. As they started carrying scrap lumber to the bridge to start on the repairs I saw Otacvio eyeballing me.
“Nothing My Lady.”
I snorted. “Don’t nothing me, you think I’m a bitch and you’re wondering how someone like that can sing so pleasantly.”
“Well, you said it.”
“I got news for you buddy, most of the really great singers I’ve met – the really great ones? Fucking psychopaths. Legitimately. Their talent feeds their darker side and everyone just kisses their ass instead of telling them how fucked up they are so it just gets worse and worse. I’ve never met a one of them who had any clue how the world works outside of their bubble of fame.”
“How does the world work?”
“I’ll tell you later, now pick up your wood.”
A few hours later we saw why the bridge was in such poor shape. I have to admit, I was surprised, I really thought those pirates had smashed it up as part of a money making scheme. Lurking in the water was a creature that seemed half crab and half crocodile with a good measure of pike or gar or some other monster fish thrown in as well. Not to mention the spines. It was hard to say for sure because the water can mess with your perception somewhat but it seemed as big as the coach I was lounging in. Gisa shouted a warning and everyone rushed off the bridge to the shore to grab weapons and/or hide in terror. I came down to the river edge to get a good look.
“You don’t see that every day. What is it?”
No one knew, not even the Black Bard – jack of trades my sweet ass. It clearly was perturbed by the presence of the bridge though, and didn’t seem to like us being there too well either. I retrieved my crossbow and looked at Gisa’s men with bows.
“Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s get this thing going.”
Gisa glanced at me without taking her eyes fully off the beast “What are you suggesting?”
“That we kill it of course. You’re the ones who’ve been busting your humps to fix this bridge, you want that thing to tear it apart again?”
“We don’t even know how dangerous it is though.”
“Looks pretty dang dangerous to me, but it’s probably not very fast on land, if things go south I’m sure we can hoof it. Plus it probably has treasure that you can hunt.”
“Why would it have . . .”
I was already taking my shot. When it surged out of the river at us is displaced so much water it bowled us over like a wave, there must have been some magic involved there, there’s no way that make sense hydrologically. For some strange reason the beast was fixated on me and ignored everyone else. This is not what I like to happen in a fight. It got me in one of its massive crab-claws and would have fed me into its gaping crocodile maw if two of Gisa’s men hadn’t pried me out. I activated my tattoo and lion-jumped on top of the coach to try and get out of its reach. It kept after me, which gave everyone else a good chance to attack it from the sides and behind. The battle was fierce but brief. And also terrifying. I’ll admit I was pretty jittery for a while there afterwards. Once I finally came down off the roof of the carriage the Black Bard was able to heal my crab-smashed ribs with some magic words.
“You really are a man of many talents.”
He swept off his floppy black hat with black feather and bowed “At your service My Lady.”
“What God are you a servant of?
“None My Lady, I’m not really the religious type.”
“Really? I didn’t know that was possible. I thought healing was reserved only for those who enslaved themselves to the Higher Powers.
“Not entirely My Lady.”
“Now that’s interesting.”
I let him sit with me for a while – ostensibly to make sure I was okay as he said. But after that I sent him back to work with the others. No reason to let him think he’s going to get special treatment after all. After the bridge was as well repaired as well as we could make it, one of Gisa’s men dove into the water and actually did find some treasure. There was quite a bit of material strew across the river bottom – either there were people on the bridge when the monster attacked it or maybe the pirates did dump some people over the side. They pulled up some gold and some other odds and ends that seemed to make them happy.
Not a bad day’s work all in all.
Funds: 995 platinum, 159 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