Mathanaya 8 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

Emerging from the Broken Oar Martialla and I found signs that the wounded swamp cat had been prowling around outside while we were cavorting drunkenly inside.  Just the kind of thing you need to make yourself feel like it’s going to be a great day.  Because that coward Jopha had abandoned us and we didn’t feel confident in our ability to retrace our steps to Gibson we decided to head east to Bowcrag – we just need to follow the muddy channel where the river used to be and we’ll get there right?  As we traveled the ground seemed to randomly get less peaty and more swampy and then back again – at times almost being solid.  It was another miserable day tromping through the wilderness. 

“Remind me again why we came out here.”

“You wanted to kill the people that killed Hardra.”

“Oh right.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Have you ever been this far east?  Are we even in Cymrile County anymore?”

“I don’t know.  We might be getting near the border of Vieland.”

“What?  Isn’t the border hundreds of miles away?”

“Not as of the last war, you know the one before the one going on now – we, and by we I mean the King and people like that, seized a swath of land from Vieland but there’s two bulges along the coast that still belong to Vieland.”

“We’re not anywhere near the coast are we?”

“No, but they’re big bulges.  If you know what I mean.  Besides which the land has just recently changed hand so who knows what the people think – maybe they’re on the lookout for a couple Kingdom ladies like ourselves to ravage – you know, to get back at the King.  Or the Queen I guess since the King is dead now.”

“Yes I’m sure she’d be devastated to hear about our ravishing.”

“That’s how wars are fought right?  I’m sure the kings and high priests and court wizards and so forth sit around in their throne rooms and read lists of all the peasants killed and weep over each one.  Otherwise what would be the point of killing them?”

“I always assumed it was something to do with the Gods, they need a war every now and then a something to watch from the Heavens.”

“That too.”

Eventually our slogging led us to a small stream that we followed south, that turned into a slightly larger stream – a creek it could even be called.  Following that took us to a small village by the name of Long Avon, named after its founder for reasons I’ll leave to your imagination.  Normally it couldn’t have been home to more than fifty people, but there were a lot more there because there was a festival on.  A fellow who was visiting from nearby Grimslan clued us in to what was going on – the Long Avoners had captured a vampire that was going to be burned at the stake, which is more than enough reason for a festival.  There were painted poles decorated with flowers and long ribbons, wandering minstrels singing, dancers dancing , prancers pranncing, vendors selling dubious wares, and general merriment – all the things you need for a good vampire burning. 

The semi-main event was an over nine foot tall “statue” made out of flash paper of varying colors that people called “the Sorceress” – the resultant lightshow of it being set aflame would signal that it was time for the vampire to burn shortly afterwards.  Right next to it was the vampire attached to his stake in the traditional arms chained over the head format which has to be Hells on the shoulders.  Seemed like a pretty average looking fellow – aside from his brawny arms.  His hair was nothing to speak of but I found myself envying it nevertheless.  I really need to find a wigmaker. 

“Do you see something wrong with this scene?”

“Well, since you ask, I’m no vampirologist but aren’t they supposed to die in sunlight?  Aside from being chained to a stake this guy seems fine despite the sun blazing away.”

“Exactly.  Do you suppose there’s something stupid happening in every village at all times or are we just the unluckiest people in the world?”

“Don’t look at me, I never encountered this kind of thing until I started following you around.”

I went to poke the “vampire” and asking him what was going on, but was blocked by a chunky fellow in mismatched and rusty armor with an antique halberd.  He told us not to bother the prisoner.  My initial instinct was to slap him in his corpulent face, but it’s time to return to form.  Instead of resorting to violence or childish name-calling I turned on the charm.  It was a simple matter to convince the guardsman to let us talk to the prisoner and a good reminder that this is the kind of thing I should be doing more of.  Unfortunately the prisoner had nothing much to say, you’d think if you were tied to a stake you’d want to chat just out of boredom but he refused to engage. 

Thankfully as we were trying to get the vampire to open us his wife came running over to us – she was quite a beauty for a country girl.  Curly wheat-blonde hair, milky white skin, soft pink lips – in another few years country life would leave her a wreck, but for now she was really something to write home about.  Sadly she didn’t have much information either, she just insisted her husband wasn’t a vampire and begged us to save him.  All she was able to do was direct us to the mayor – one Navomi Noik, who was pretty much an “after” portrait of the vampire’s wife Imma, a rough looking country lady who looked like she had risen to the position of mayor based on her ability to take a punch. She all but admitted that since Drake (the vampire) had come to town a few months ago livestock had started drying mysteriously and he was the scapegoat.

“What kind of livestock do you raise around here?”

“Coypu, they’re a sort of big semi-aquatic rat.”

“What would anyone want that for?”

“Their meat is . . . edible, and you can make clothing out of their pelts, sort of.”

“Why are you accusing this guy of being a vampire?  He’s out in the sunlight.”

“It was the best I could do.  All signs point to a witch, but everyone knows that only women can be witches so I had to come up with something.”

“That’s flawless logic.  When I tried to talk to the guy he wouldn’t say anything, has he denied this vampire accusation?”

“No, which makes my job much easier.”

“How long do we have to find the real reason your super valuable rats are dying?”

“Drake is the real reason of course.  He’ll be burned the day after tomorrow though if that’s what you mean.”

We went back to speak with Imma, but were blocked at the door to her hovel by her tall, stern, cadaverous father accusing us of her getting her “riled up” and complaining of her delicate constitution.  I was able to persuade him to let us in however and after an excruciating tangent about his wife’s death and how he was a self-made man we finally got to speak with the lovely Imma.  Despite her emotional pleas for her husband’s life it didn’t sound like she even knew him that well – saying that he had been rather cold and distant the entirety of their only months long marriage.  The father explained that he had arranged the marriage, which is what brought Drake to the village, but talking to these two was getting us nowhere slowly.  We went back to the horse’s mouth, where my new friend the rusty guardsman was only too happy to let us try and talk to the prisoner again.

“Here’s what I’m thinking.  The reason you’re not shouting your innocence to the Heavens is because you’re protecting whoever is actually responsible for the death of these swamp rats.  I’m sure that seems unspeakably noble to you, but here’s the problem – after they burn you to death and the rats keep disappearing what do you think is going to happen?  Eventually they’re going to find whoever you’re protecting and kill them too.  And then you died for nothing.  So how about you let us in on whatever’s going on and we’ll see if we can help you.”

He was a tough nut to crack, but cracking nuts is my specialty, if you know what I mean.  There’s no vampire of course, that would be preposterous, a werewolf is killing the watery rodents.  Drake has a twin sister who got the Bite of the Moon and is slowly losing her battle against her murderous instincts.  People were starting to get suspicious in their old village so Drake did the only sensible thing he could do – arrange a marriage to someone in a different village and then hide his sister in the woods alone, occasionally going out to visit her and try to control her desire to feast on people like so many sheep with prayer and inspirational beatings. 

“Since you’re chained to a post and hours away from death this probably doesn’t need to be said, but that wasn’t a very good plan.”

It took even more time to convince him to tell us where this sister of his is hiding out.  Despite what Martialla said yesterday I think the real issue is that stabbing someone is fast and it’s done.  Trying to get people to do what’s in their own best interest takes forever.  I don’t understand why people persist in not doing what I say without question, it’s quite vexing.

“Alright Drake, you hang here, were on the case.”

Martialla shook her head “Really?  A pun?” 

“That was unintentional, you know I would never do such a thing.”

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .012%

Curses – Marksman’s Malady

Funds: 900 platinum, 4251 gold

XP: 243,161

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, 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, bolt of silk, Pirate’s Eyepatch, dress (fancy, revealing) 2, dress (fancy) 6

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

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