As we traveled today there was a noticeable change in the plant life – the trees became more spread apart and spindlier and uglier, although they also got taller. The ground cover became brushier and there was a lot more of it. Jopha said that we were heading towards Blackroot Fens. He guessed that the tracks of our quarry would lead us to the abandoned village of Latifero. Latifero had once been a small up and coming community on the shore of some river or other but the river had been damned – like they built a damn not like a demon did some unspeakable to it – and that was all she wrote for Latifero. Jopha said that if we headed northeast there was no way we could miss it.
Why was he telling us this instead of leading us like he was supposed to? Because the coward quit on us. He claimed that he couldn’t track them anymore in the peaty soil and that even if he could it was safe to assume they were going to Latifero but he clearly just didn’t want to go any further. I considered trying to sway him to solider on but I figured a reluctant guide would be more trouble than it was worth. He gave us several days’ worth of disgusting provisions and dashed off like a crafty jackrabbit never to be seen again. Or maybe I will see him again, how would I know?
A few hours later as we made our way through the increasingly depressing woodlands we heard a fellow calling out to us from up a mostly leafless tree. He was standing on a thick branch and leading on the trunk as casually as a merchant in the city square. His enunciation was heavily Kostelos, so I responded in the tongue of those backwards primitives. He wasn’t terribly impressed.
“Your accent is atrocious.”
“I was told I spoke very well.”
“Whoever said that was probably trying to flatter you.”
“Your vernacular sounds a little strange to me as well, I’m sure I’m speaking flawless just in a different dialect.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“Why are you up a tree?”
“There were some harpies after me so I climbed up here.”
“Can’t harpies fly?
“I didn’t say it worked.”
The man stepped off the branch as clam as you like and fell a good eighteen or so to the ground, landing on his feet seemingly unharmed. It didn’t even look like he made an impression on the soft clayish ground. He was wearing a jaunty white and blue striped vest that had seen better days, but the rest of this outfit – leggings, short and such – were pure barbarian buckskin numbers. He did have a good pair of sturdy “city” boots though. If he hadn’t been covered with primitive tattoos and scarification he would have been a handsome fellow. But he was. So he wasn’t.
Since Martialla couldn’t understand our savage grunting speech we switched back to the proper tongue. He claimed to be some manner of surveyor for a merchant company out of Bowcrag but when I asked what he was looking for he just shrugged. I couldn’t tell if he was mildly stupid or one of those types who just kind of floats through life without every really knowing or caring what’s going on. He may have been high as well – he was chewing some kind of root and I know the Kostelos love their narcotics.
Since he was wandering about the area I asked him if he knew where our quarry might be and he confirmed that a bandit group operated out of Latifero. They called themselves the Forsaken Kin because you can’t be a bandit without a whacky appellation. Someday I’m going to explain to one of these groups that when you’re breaking the law the idea is for no one to know who you are – not for you to advertise with catchy names and flashy gimmicks.
He said that they inhabited many buildings in Latifero but that mostly they squatted in an old tavern called the Broken Oar. He was cagey about how many of them there might be, sounds like their membership fluctuates, but he said he didn’t think there were enough of them to attack even a small village. According to him they were led by a man called Craul.
“Crawl like a baby?”
“No, with a U.”
“I hate him already. You’ve been suspiciously helpful, what are you after?”
“I’m just a helpful fellow. Although, if you can break curses that would help me out.”
I glanced at Martialla and she shook her head “Sorry, sounds like we can’t. Is this one of these true love’s first kiss type deals? Because Martialla will give it a shot if that might help.”
He shook his head “Nah, it’s a little more complicated.”
Martialla smiled “Your loss partner, I’m a pretty good kisser.”
We chatted for a few minutes before our treefriend continued on his way to survey whatever he was surveying and Martialla and I continued on our way to Latifero.
“So which cliché do you think we’re going to encounter with these Forsaken Kin people – will they have pet gators or use strange swamp magic?”
“It’s not really that swampy around here, I’m going to go with inbred mutants.”
“Dang, why didn’t I think of that? I mean Forsaken Kin? That name screams mutant.”
We continued on until nightfall and then made camp. Sort of. Jopha had left us some other supplies – including a flint and tinder, and we were able to get a fire going. Sort of. I was expecting it to be eerie here at night, haunting even, but it was actually pretty calm. No wild cacophony of chirping insects, no weird animal cries in the distance, no ominous winds. The effect was somewhat ruined through when we spotted lurking at the edge of the firelight a wolflike mongrel creature with mattered hair and malnourished frame clad in ragged scraps of dirty cloth. It was kind of a pathetic looking creature, but still seemed menacing.
“What the heck is that, a werewolf?”
“I think it’s a skunk-ape.”
“What’s a skunk-ape?”
“It’s like an ape only it stinks like a skunk.”
“Gee, thanks. I don’t smell anything bad besides you, plus it looks more wolfish than apey to me. And it has clothes on, sort of, do skunk-apes wear clothes?”
“I mean, probably.”
“You don’t know. I don’t have any silver, shoot it with magic and kill it.”
“Why? It doesn’t seem to be threatening us. It looks like it just wants to be by the fire.”
It did want to be by the fire. It had a muskrat or a river otter or something that it had mauled and wanted to cook over the flame. It couldn’t speak every well, but it could talk. I asked him (it was definitely a him, know what I mean?) what he was and he said “Orl” but I think that was his name. I asked him where he came from and he said “here”. I guess he’s not a werewolf but I have no idea what he is. As he was eating his critter, which was not cooked so much as just warmed up, with blood streaming down his face and splattering everywhere in a disgusting spectacle I told him what we were doing there.
A look of both anger and fear came over his simple wolfy face and he ripped a chunk of gristle off the haunch he was gnawing on and threw it into the darkness with a snarl/curse. I couldn’t entirely make out what he was saying, I think he had a mate that was killed by the bandits maybe, but he didn’t like them one bit whatever the case was. I asked him if he could help us find the Kin and get the drop on them and he eagerly agreed.
“When we get to these folks I need to know, are you a peaceful creature or a savage one?”
In response he open a pouch on his makeshift belt and took out a battered old hatched with a broken handle – but it was clearly sharpened to a deadly edge and appeared to have bloodstains on the wood.
“There’s a good lad.”
Hair regrowth progress : .009%
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, Forsaken Kin