Mathanaya 10 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

Bowcrag is the city that grew to power after of the diversion of the river that destroyed all the villages I just came through to get here.  Its claim to fame is that some kind of wood they harvest here is coveted for the bowsprits of sailing vessels.  And yet it’s pronounced like bough rather than the thing an archer uses.  Explain that.  The other thing it’s known for, at least in certain circles is being a hub for contraband – which seems like the kind of place that might be good for finding a cure for werewolfism.  Halath and Drake set up a campsite outside of town – doesn’t seem like a good idea to bring the shapeshifting rage monster into a crowded and bustling city.  Imma and her father were intent on coming into town with us but I was able to persuade them to stay behind because I just know if they went into the city someone would try to grab her or the old man would be robbed or some other damn thing that I would have to get involved with.   I strolled into town with Martialla feeling good for the first time in a while. 

“We’ll make the rounds and see if we can find a sage or some other stuffed shirt type that can tell us about werewolves, but first we find a wigmaker and . . .”

I trailed off as I noticed that the street was mysteriously empty, followed quickly by the realization that that there were no side alleys to dodge down.  I sighed as my old bounty hunter friends Blue Greatcoat, Wolfcloak, Braids, and the Half-Orc stepped out from the door of dry goods store and blocked our path.  Behind us was another quartet of fighting types wearing black tabards with some kind of dog sigil on it.

“Every damn time.  Hello again.  I realize that I’ve bested you twice, but do you really need eight people to bring in one woman?  How much are you being paid for this?  You can’t be coming out ahead if you keep hiring more muscle.”

One of the black dog people shouted out “You got that right lady, because we don’t come cheap.”

Greatcoat shook his head “A contract is a contract, and it must be executed no matter the cost, this is a divine mandate.”

“I knew a dancer they called Divine Mandate, she wasn’t cheap either.”

“Enough of your saucy talk!  Surrender in the name of the law!”

“Speaking of the law, where is the city guard? I can’t imagine they allow hired assassins to operate with impunity.”

“We are not assassins, we are the law!”

“You’re hired scum, barely one step above slavers.  But don’t get all shouty and frothing at the mouth about it, I’m surrendering to you – you have me heavily out gooned.  Give me one second to say my goodbyes.”  I turned to Martialla “Well, I guess this is the end of the road for me.  Nice knowing you and good luck and all of that.  You take care of yourself now.”

I held my hand out for a shake but Martialla shook her head “No dice, I’m coming in for a hug.”

I can’t even remember the last time I hugged someone, you know, in a non-erotic type way.  It was nice if you’re into that kind of thing.  It was going on a little long though when Martialla whispered in my ear “This feels right” and started to rub her hands on me a little, I shoved her away and shouted “Get off me!” but we were laughing because it was all in good fun.

One of the black dog people shouted again “Quit playing grab ass and lets’ get a move on!”

“Don’t get your codpiece in an uproar chief, I’m coming.”

Martialla walked through the line of bounty hunters and into the city as I surrendered myself to Greatcoat.  He once again took out some shoddy piece of parchment and read the “charges” against me, which were the Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo paid them to kidnap me.  Which is legal somehow?  I should learn more about the law in my spare time.  After that he did some stupid religion stuff for his dumb god before formally asking me to hand over my weapons.  With mock solemnity I handed over my dagger and my crossbow.  Wolfcloak gave me what I assume was supposed to be a hardass look.

“Don’t forget the glove.”

“But then how am I supposed to check on the maid’s dusting?”

After handing over the life stealing glove Greatcoat made a big deal out of asking me to swear that I wouldn’t try to escape in the name of the Gods, particularly his god of law and contracts.  I raised my left hand, palm out.

“I swear on my honor as a knight.”

One of the black dog people sneered “You’re not a knight!”

I smiled sweetly at him “However did you see through my deception?  You must be ever so clever.”

I was taken around the corner where these was a wagon waiting with two drivers.  It was a sturdy wagon, looked to be very well made, what was most notable about it was the manacles built into the back.

“Good Gods, you hired these guys too?  Ten people on this mission just for little old me?  You must be taking a bath on this job.  Are you sure that I can’t pay you off?”

“Madam, a pact is a sacred trust between . . .”

“What about you dog people?  You seem very bribable.”

“We’re not dogs, we’re the Shadow Hounds!”

“Hounds and dogs are the same thing genius.”

“Are not!”

I was loaded onto the wagon and secured in place with the chains.  Braids and the half-orc jumped in back with me and we slowly made our way out of town where we met up with the rest of the party who were now mounted.  On the way out of the gates they stopped and chatted with the city watchmen for a while – seemed like shop talk.  I guess they are okay with murderous hired muscle rampaging through their city streets.  And yet when I do it people get all upset. That’s justice for you. 

“You’re taking me all the way to Three Rivers?  Isn’t that months away as the slow wagon rolls?  Can you keep me shackled like this the entire time?  Isn’t that in contravention of some treaty or other?  Cruelty to a prisoner or something?  Do I have grounds for a civil case?”

Blue Greatcoat didn’t even spare me a glance “You have rights and they will be honored.  You will be fed and given water, you will get to chance to stretch your legs under supervision, you will have the opportunity to take care of your necessaries.”

“Necessaries?  You mean shitting?  Who’s going to supervise that?”

This time he did look at me, like you might look at a scuttling roach “You are a foul woman.  You may dress as a woman of quality but you are common street trash.”

“I’m a country girl actually.  You know what that say, you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t stop her from milking the bulls.  Not to mention which, if I was street trash I would certainly be uncommon street trash by definition.  I mean look at this necklace, its worth more than your wife’s pussy.”

“You will keep a civil tongue in your head or you will be muzzled.”

“Is that legal?  I’d like see the precedent on that.  And that wasn’t an insult, it was just my professional opinion, I know a few things about the trade – you know the one I mean – and even though I’ve never met your wife I imagine that . . .”

“You will be silent!”

The two ladies and the half-orc didn’t like me goading their boss in the least, but the Shadow Hounds were snickering up their sleeves at the stodgy fellow – clearly this was a marriage of convenience, which is a recipe for adultery.  I’ll say this for a day on the road chained in the back of a wagon, it’s better than walking.  When we stopped for the day I was indeed given leave to “exercise” accompanied by Wolfcloak and Braids.  Braids had nothing to say, probably because Martialla stabbed her nearly to death at our last meeting, but Wolfcloak was a little more receptive.  I was able to convince her, since I was caught with no way of escape, to tell me how they found me yet again.

“We paid a wizard in Allene to look into the future and tell us where you’d be, then we went there and waited.”

“There are no wizards in Allene.”

“There’s one at least, huge man without a hair on his head, didn’t look like any wizard I’ve ever seen before.  I think he knew you.”

“Fuck me.  Last time we met during our casual combat banter you implied that you might be the leader of this operation rather than the other guy.  How do you feel about losing money on this job?”

She shrugged “We’ll make it up on another.  Plus his church does subsidize us to some degree.  I don’t really care about the money, for me it’s all about the hunt.”

“How much hunt is there in paying a wizard to find me for you?  I used to love fox hunting, but just for the riding and the dogs, the fox was usually so drugged it didn’t know what was happening – not a lot of sport in that.  This seems like that to me.”

For some reason after that she didn’t want to talk anymore.  After my fifteen minutes of “liberty” Greatcoat took out another wrinkled parchment and spent an eternity casting a spell from it – I don’t know what happened but I felt a flash of heat on my forehead once he was finally done.  I also don’t know if whatever he did usually takes that long or if he’s just really bad at magic.  Afterwards I was placed in my sleeping shackles – just the hands with no chain, instead they connected to rope that was attached to an iron spike that was driven into the ground.  Deep into the ground. 

The original four bounty hunters retired to their tents fairly early on, but the Shadow Hounds stayed up around the fire passing around a wineskin.  And then another.  And another.  And another.  I’m no comedian by any means, but I know a few jokes – especially the ribald kind.  For some reason, in the old days of my former profession, men thought I wanted to hear that kind of thing.  I started telling them and the Shadow Hounds roared with laughter.  The more they drank the funnier I got.  They were making so much noise that eventually Greatcoat came out to tell them to keep it down, but they paid him no mind and he retreated to his tent to sulk.

Eventually three of the Shadow Hounds turned in as well, but one was left to watch the dangerous prisoner.  Which he did.  He stared at me motionless like a lunatic.  He was staring right at me when he reached into his pack and brought out a cloth, which he carefully unwrapped – revealing of all things, a piece of lemon cake.

“I love lemon cake.”

He cradled the cake protectively “Good for you.”

“I’d do just about anything just for one bite.”

He laughed “You’re captured.”

“My legs aren’t shackled.”

“So?”

“So, you’re a man, and I’m a woman.”

“I don’t follow you.”

“Oi.  Sex, I’m taking about sex, give me a bite of cake and I’ll have sex with you.”

“You will?”

“Yes, that’s what I just said.”

“Do you have a wig?”

“No, don’t look at my head, just look at the rest of me.”

“Okay.”

He started coming over with the cake in his hand “Put that down, we can worry about that afterwards.” 

“Oh, okay.”

After carefully wrapping the cake back up he started to climb on top of me “Hold up there a second, you have to take your pants off first bud.  And my hands are shackled so you’ll have to do mine too.”

“Oh right, sorry.”

Once he was getting his act together with the pants I used my vocal talents to throw my voice into Greatcoat’s tent – making it sound like a scream was coming from outside, I think you know the kind of scream I mean.  He came out and saw a pantless Shadow Hound struggling to get my pants off.  He didn’t exactly run, I don’t know how I would describe it, but he was over there in a flash – grabbing the Shadow Hound by the hair and yanking him back and down to the ground in a maneuver that I’m surprised didn’t break his neck.  He started reading the downed man the riot act and calling for his fellow bounty hunters. 

Soon enough everyone was out of their tents and there was a lot of shouting and pushing – I have a feeling the drink was making the Shadow Hounds particularly confused and belligerent.  I almost felt bad when Shadow Hound #4 was protesting that “she wanted it” and I started sobbing and curled up into a protective ball.  Almost.  The look of betrayal and confusion on his face was pathetically heartbreaking.  Things really escalated when Braids slapped to the ground the lemon cake that the Shadow Hound kept trying to show everyone.  Its funny how something like that can lead to bloodshed.  I guess a spark isn’t dangerous on its own right?

Once they were embroiled in a full-fledged fight to the finish I trigged my tattoo to form a lion paw.  I didn’t know if this was going to work for sure but I knew it was going to hurt like hell either way.  I almost bailed out because it seemed like the expansion of my small wrist into a large paw might sever my hand instead but just before I did the manacles popped open. 

The last thing I saw as I slipped out of the camp was part of the cake sitting on the ground.  It still looked pretty good until I realized it was getting soaked in a puddle of blood.

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .015%

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),  Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2,  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), 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, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo