Patterns rule our lives. There’s a pattern to what we do, what we eat, where we go, what we say. People with mental problems don’t have a pattern, or rather they probably do but it’s one that we can’t understand, and that’s why people are so frightened of them. As long as there’s a routine, a design, people can adjust to anything – no matter how horrible. But break that pattern and they tend to go off the deep end. And that’s all fine as long as you’re living the pattern and not thinking about it. When you think about it that’s when things start to get weird.
Here I am again slogging through a wet forest, slipping in mud, get tangled in branches, and my ears. They are so cold. I now retroactively hate any man I’ve met with a shaved head – why would anyone do this to themselves? I thought fingers and toes were the worst but no, it’s the ears. Fucking bald fucks, I hate them all. And what’s at the end of this journey? A warm bed? A roaring fire? Fine liquor? A hot meal? Sparkling conversation? Contentment? Happiness? Justification? No. None of that. Violence. And blood. Sometimes I wonder if there is nothing else, if all the rest of it is pretend, if we’re just monkeys playing dress up fantasizing we’re anything other than backbiting animals.
I think the problem is that I haven’t been drinking enough lately. I feel like it’s been weeks since I had a drink. I’m starting to daydream about it. I was just about to talk to a wine-seller when Martialla distracted me with all her talk about slavery. If it wasn’t for her I could be taking a sip of Dreamcaster Red right now to warm me up. What is her deal anyway? Why has she attached herself to me like a barnacle? What’s her angle? What does she want from me? Is she the world’s most misguided social climber? I’m going nowhere. She has to be dumb as Hells not to realize that. Wine denying whore. I started starring at the back of her head as we stumbled up a leaf-covered hillside and imagining driving my dagger into it.
And this so-called tracker, what’s his story? Leading two women out into the woods like this. He’s probably some kind of reprobate. A smuggler and a poacher for sure – why else would be out here in this Hellscape? And that’s just for starters. He probably brings his victims out here for whatever kind of sexual perversions he inflicts on the wretches before he tortures them to death. I’ll have to keep my eye on him, wait for him to make his move, because Gods forbid that I do anything about it before he tries to cut my tits off. Because then I’m just an overacting emotional woman.
Sometimes I hate being a woman. Everything I do scrutinized, everything I say questioned – when I can manage to get a word in edgewise. I can’t decide which is worse, they eye-raping I used to get constantly before my hair got burned off or the looks of derision and disgust that I get now. I might as well be a three headed orc the way they look at me now. Filthy animals, always watching me, judging me, waiting to pounce on anything I say or do.
What’s the point of this? What’s the point of anything?
“Are you okay?”
It took me a moment to realize that Martialla had turned back and asked me something – she looked concerned. I grunted a response.
“You look like you’re freezing. Your lips are blue.”
“That’s the fashion these days.”
Martialla looked at the tracker “Maybe we should stop and take a little rest. Build up a fire maybe, warm ourselves up a bit.”
I wanted to bark at her that we had no time for dawdling, that we needed to keep pushing forward, but the words wouldn’t come. I just stood there until Martialla took me by the hand and lead me over a dry spot where the tracker had a fire going in about thirty seconds flat. I stared at the flames with envy.
“Remember that time we tried to get a fire going for hours and never could?”
“I do, we’re not really the outdoors type.”
“You can say that again.”
“I know that you don’t need to sleep but maybe it wouldn’t hurt if you laid down for a while and got some rest.”
I snorted “You want me to put my head in your lap like a damn baby? Are you going to stroke my hair and sing songs to me?’
“If you want.”
I waved her off angrily but the next thing I knew I was waking up on Martialla’s bedroll by a small by merrily burning fire. I did feel better than I had trudging about that morning until I realized that Martialla and the tracker were gone. This was their plan all along! Abandon me here to die. Just like the Duke’s wife did in Graltontown. Only this time it’s probably going to work. That was the Duke’s wife’s mistake – leaving me in a city, if you can even call Graltontown that – I know how to operate in a city. You can’t take me down in a city. But these two did it right. Take me out in the middle of the wilderness where my skills are useless and leave me to get eaten by a man-bear or just starve to death. Sneaky fuckers. I almost admire them.
I was plotting my revenge when Martialla and the tracker came back holding some weird orange colored roots. I told them we should get going but Martialla said that a few more minutes couldn’t hurt. The tracker set up a pot over the fire which he filled with water and brought to a boil with the roots in it along with some other stuff they tossed in. As they were stirring the mixture I’m pretty sure Martialla did some magic – for that matter I think the tracker did too! Is everyone magic but me? Martialla poured some of the now reddish liquid into a tin cup and handed it to me.
“Jopha says that this should make you feel better.”
Apparently that’s the trackers name. Jopha. What kind of name is that? Probably that’s not even his real name. I grumbled, but I did take the probably poisoned beverage and took a sip. It was slightly bitter but it didn’t have much taste at all. It did make me feel good though. It wasn’t like warmness went through my body, it was more like everything unclenched – like my muscles had all been held in tension for a long time and I wasn’t able to relax until just now. It’s hard to describe exactly, I just felt better. Jopha wandered off again and Martialla leaned against a tree across the fire from me.
“You hide it well but you’re pretty frayed right now aren’t you? You should stop to smell the daisies once in a while.”
“Isn’t the expression smell the roses?”
“I never cared for roses. I don’t know your whole story, but I know more of it than anyone else – you’ve been through a lot. A lot a lot. Have you ever thought about taking a break from this revenge business?”
“I would if some catastrophe didn’t befall me every five minutes.”
“No. I can’t. My position doesn’t get stronger, it get weaker. And my enemies aren’t standing still, they’re out there making themselves tougher, harder for me to get at. It’s a race, one that I started way behind and every second I don’t try to catch up is a second that I get even farther behind. And I was already impossibly far behind to begin with.”
“That sounds like a hard course to travel. Have you heard that living well is the best revenge?”
“Of course, that’s why the third act of every opera is about someone living well.”
Hair regrowth progress : .0075%
Funds: 900 platinum, 4251 gold
Inventory: Pathfinder’s Gear (white) Pocketed Scarf, Wrist Sheath, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Light Crossbow, Assortment of Fake Signet Rings, 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
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, Gibson attackers