Making my way back to Bowcrag was easy enough – when you’re in the vicinity of a city you just follow your nose. I did manage to get turned around a couple times, but give me a break it was dark out. As a fun bonus after I got maybe ten yards away from the camp where the bounty hunters and the Shadow Hounds were hacking each other to bits, I felt a hot flare on my forehead where Greatcoat had touched me. That certainly can’t be good. I assumed that it was some way for him to track me down, but as soon as I got into the city a stray dog came charging at me snapping and snarling. I’m usually pretty good with animals but this cur wasn’t having it. I activated my Beastspeech and asked him what his problem was and he proceeded to curse me out. I’ve now been berated by a dog – add that to the list. I passed by a stable and the horses started getting antsy and kicking at their stalls as well. He must have but some kind of beast curse on me. Jerk.
I started asking around after Martialla – it really makes thing easier when someone asks you what someone looks like and you can take on that person’s appearance to show them. And it’s always fun to startle people as well. What was less fun is when a rat ran out of an alley and tried to bite me on the back of the leg – good thing I have a sensible pair of boots. I tried to stomp the little bastard but it skittered away – much to the amusement of early morning onlookers. I tracked Martialla to a fine inn called Reigat’s and sweet talked my way past the staff and into her room. It’s definitely the nicest inn-room I’ve been in since my exile – tiled mosaic floor, real mattress, fine linens, but the main event was the bathtub, which on command magically filled with nicely warmed and rose-scented water.
I availed myself of this immediately. I feel like I have weeks’ worth of grime to wash off, I can’t remember the last time I had a nice relaxing soak. It’s curious how sitting in a vat of your own watery scum can be a journey to unique and scented self-discovery. Some things just can’t be explained. At the sound of my sloshing around I heard Martialla’s sleepy voice coming from somewhere under a mound of high quality sheets.
“What took you so long?”
“I stopped to save some orphans from a verbeek, ungrateful little bastards they were too. Sometimes I don’t know why I bother being a big damn hero.”
“I thought it was verbeeg.”
“Whatever. Did you do any work yesterday or did you waste time whoring and gambling?”
“I think I found your werewolf guy, but I managed to find time for whoring as well – you know how it is.”
“Of course. A guy huh? I don’t know how I feel about that, I don’t trust male healers. Or is he a scholar? Conversely I wouldn’t trust a female scholar of course because what woman in her right mind would read books?”
“He’s neither, he’s a chirurgeon.”
“Are you joking? That’s the worst option. What’s he going to suggest as a cure? Trepanation? Is he going to break out the fleams? Should I start boiling some water to pour in the ears?”
“You wanted a werewolf guy, it’s him, I don’t know what to tell you.”
I continued grousing but she had fallen back asleep, or maybe she was just ignoring me. After a nice long steep in the bath the staff brought breakfast to the room – stewed sausage, buckwheat biscuits, pinenut bread, and some delectable light brandy. I noticed that Martialla kept glancing at my forehead.
“What’s that mark?”
“I don’t know, the bounty hunter did some kind of magic, you tell me.”
She concentrated for a moment “Its magic alright.”
“It’s also not terribly appealing.”
“I’ve got no hair and a brand on the forehead, I’m a real catch. Good thing I haven’t just been coasting by on my looks. How can you afford this place?”
“Didn’t I tell you, I’m one of the wealthiest women in the kingdom – I’m doing that thing where you pretend to be poor and wander around to see how the other half lives.”
“Whoever came up with that notion must have been poor. A king going out amongst his subjects in disguise? That’s a failure in concept because the king doesn’t care what the people think. And even if he did he wouldn’t go among them. Can you even imagine?”
“I shudder to think. It’s only one night, there’s no harm in treating yourself once in a while.”
“Of course there is, but if we only did things that didn’t harm us what kind of life would that be?”
After breakfast we hit the markets to do some buying and selling. I was able to find a buyer for a couple of my gemstones, unload the dresses, and pick up a few other odds and ends. Then we went to see the chirurgeon. I was expecting some horrid little blood-spattered shack where the twisted “doctor” hacked off limbs and maimed peasants, stitched up monstrosities laying on tables and clouds of black flies and the like. But instead it was a normal looking house in a minorly upscale part of town. The chirurgeon’s wife was a delight – serving us some kind of peach drink and scones before retiring to let us talk business. The chirurgeon himself was normal enough looking in a white and red robe, aside from his mohawk, although I’m not one to talk about hairstyles at the moment.
He was a soft spoken gentleman and seemed to know what he was talking about. He gave us several options. One was for the infected to swallow wolfsbane – which only has a chance to work and happens to be poisonous always. A powerful divine spellcaster can break the curse, but only when the infected is in their animal form – and again it only has a chance of working. Other options – the kiss of a dryad, the blessing of a unicorn, or – and this is my favorite – we could decapitate a hag and use her head in a ritual to summon a spirit wolf. We thanked him for his time, politely declined an invitation to stay for lunch and took our leave. We were heading out of town to the camp where Halath and Drake were waiting when I heard from behind us a shouting.
Turning I saw Greatcoat, although he had lost this blue greatcoat and looked much the worse for wear, bruises, blood, bandages, the whole deal. Seeing the murderous look in his eyes bystanders scattered away from him – and me, the object of his ire.
“Good Gods, you don’t give up do you?”
He clutched in each hand one of this diminutive throwing daggers. “You’re coming with me. Now.”
“Don’t make me kill you. You can’t get me, I’m ungettable. Just give up. You can’t win them all.”
“My god demands it!”
“Your god is stupid then. You’re throwing your life away for what? Just stop. You act like you’re somehow being forced to do this. You have the choice to just walk away.”
“The law . . .”
“The institution of a code of laws is an important moment in the history of every society, and it’s also the moment at when justice ceases. The law is based on consistency, not justice. The law is about maintaining order, the law exist in large part to keep people in their places. The law maintains peace, but it doesn’t help the hungry get food, or the sick get healing, or the needy get help – it maintains the status quo. The law tramples people into the dirt all the time. And that’s what you want to die for? If you were trying to serve justice I could maybe see that being a worthy cause, but the law? The law? What are you trying to accomplish with that? If this is what your god wants for you then find a new god.”
He charged at me with a maniac scream of rage and Martialla knocked him flat with her magic, sending him rolling down the street a few times where he lay still. We continued on our way out of town.
“I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I’m surprised that you can deliver a speech like that with a straight face.”
“Why’s that? I believe every word of what I just said. Just because I happen to be a murderer and a liar doesn’t mean I don’t have a point.”
“I stand corrected.”
Hair regrowth progress : .0165%
Curses – Marksman’s Malady, Unnerve Beasts
Funds: 9,176 gold
Inventory: Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Pocketed Scarf, Wrist Sheath, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Ring of Protection +2, Assortment of Fake Signet Rings, Bag of Concealment, Belt of Giant Strength +4, Versatile Vest, Ring of Sustenance, Silver Chain set with Moonstones, Gold and Emerald Ring (2), Platinum and Silver Holy Symbol of Kralten, Black Marketers’ Bag, 868 Garnets, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow
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