Throughout the late afternoon and into the night yesterday more disordered former swine-minions returned to human form wandered up to the tree-home of the slain hags. Rather than taking off immediately we stayed and even went out looking for more of them. This seemed like a good idea at the time. I should have known better. There wasn’t a morsel of food to be found in the hag’s abode – nothing that would be considered food by those who aren’t utterly depraved anyway. Even though it would only be two or three days to Bowcrag the idea of a march without provisions or shelter quickly turned their joy at being freed from their curse and hag-slavery to muttering and grumbling. Martialla was smart enough only to eat when she was alone, but Anflite and Filtan were the opposite of whatever the soul of discretion is.
It was an overcast day but I believe it was before noon when there was an altercation between the sisters and some of the rescued folk. I was able to stop things before the sisters started cleaving in heads with their orc-axes but in the process some of the rations were spilled on the ground and the men that were causing the ruckus fell on them like starving chickens pecking at grain, eating it off the ground like beasts. I don’t know if there’s still some hag-magic rattling around in their heads, or if they were assholes before, or if being transmuted and enslaved by a hag traumatizes you (a combination of all three most likely) but I looked around at the thirtysome odd sets of sullen eyes and regretted gathering up these victimized souls.
Drake and Lathal were scavenging for anything edible as we traveled, which slowed us down considerably, they gathered up enough roots and berries and the like for maybe a dozen people. In a way this was worse than if they hadn’t bothered – a third of a meal is just enough to make your appetite stronger rather than abating it. To make matters worse as Lathal was handing out her portion there was another incident. I never found out if it was someone trying to grab more food or trying to grab Lathal but Drake came to her defense and several more men jumped in on the side of their friend and I had to break things up again.
I don’t think we covered much more than ten miles today. There was additional complaining when Anflite and Filtan set up my tent – there was a sentiment among the refugees that perhaps there should be some kind of sharing arrangement set up. I told them in no uncertain terms that if they weren’t happy with the rescue I was providing them they were more than welcome to strike out on their own. A few did just that but for the most part they stayed an angry proto-mob glaring at me. After dark I went to Drake and Lathal and told them to sneak away under the cover of night – there was no reason for them to hang around and deal with this mess. They were reluctant, after all I had done for them they didn’t want to abandon me, but I was able to convince them. In the morning they were gone, although they apparently had spent all night gathering up what food they could find in the woods and left it in the middle of camp.
This kind gesture resulted in a couple men brawling over semi-edible weeds and nauseating berries while the rest dashed in and grabbed at the pile like squawking birds. I didn’t bother to break this one up – every time you exert influence it gets weaker. Each time I stop these animals from killing someone it’s going to get harder to do it the next time. During the ruckus three half-elf women and an older man came to me and said that they were surveyors like Corwyn who had been caught up in the hag’s web. They said that they were disgusted by the actions of their fellows and wanted to make sure that I knew that I had their support. They were convincing enough that Martialla and I lent them some of our weapons in the hopes that they could help us maintain order.
Travel on the second day was even slower as the group spread out to try and find food like Lathal and Drake had. One man didn’t come back. No one said that they had seen him but I could tell just by the look on his face that a fellow with a red beard had killed him for whatever he had found. I doubt we made it more than six miles. That night the four surveyors came and told me that some of the few women in the group were offering sex for food – my initial reaction was “so what?” because that’s their choice but the surveyors informed me that they didn’t think any of the men taking them up on this offer had any food.
I almost let it happen. If that makes me a monster then I’m a monster – I thought that it would help keep things from completely unraveling. But in the end I couldn’t allow it. I came out of my tent backed up by Martialla and the sisters and rounded up those men who were in the process of trying to make a deal. I asked them to show me the food they were planning to barter with. One man did have a pocketful of leaves or something and he was let go – the other four were not. I asked the women what they thought should be done with them but they seemed willing to forget the incident.
“You’re far too forgiving.”
I nodded and Filtan split the third man’s head open with her orc-ax. The other three were banished from the group – if they were seen again they would be killed on sight.
“I will not tolerate this kind of behavior. Anyone who wants to work out a trade that’s your business, but nobody is going to take advantage of anyone on my watch. It’s important that you understand this. I know that you probably thought that you could get away with whatever you want because I’m a woman, but now you know better than that right? You have your lives thanks to me, and going without food for a couple days is not the end of the Gods damned world. We’d probably be there by now if you weren’t dragging your fucking feet looking for grubs to shove in your greedy faces.”
That night in the tent Martialla and I had a long discussion about taking the women and the surveyors and striking out on our own – leaving the rest behind. We probably would have done it if we had figured out a way to do it without them noticing, but we didn’t want to provoke a violent confrontation. I was hoping in the morning that a few men would have deserted the party, but they were all still there – staring at me with their flat expressions.
On the third day I declared that we would not be waiting for any foragers and would be moving at a normal pace. We came across a giant moorsnake sunning itself that was sluggish enough that the men were able to rush it and bash its head in – carrying it along with us over the shoulders of six men like they were mountaineers roped together. Later in the day the sisters spotted an elk, my aim has been so terrible lately I gave my crossbow to Martialla and despite her protestations that she wasn’t much of a shot she was able to bring it down. A couple of men ran like hunting dogs to retrieve the carcass and that night there was enough snake and elk meat to tamp down the anger a bit. Despite this fact in the morning two men were gone. No one had seen them leave. I knew that redbeard had killed them.
We pushed hard on the fourth day and made it to Bowcrag by the early afternoon – twenty one men and eight women walked into the city with me. A few of them immediately disappeared into the city streets but the rest decided this was the time to cause even more trouble for me. What were they supposed to do with no money in strange city? I told them that I didn’t care but one fellow scored a valid point.
“Why bother rescuing us if you’re going to leave to die here in the streets?”
With the whole annoying rabble-mob trailing with us we went to see the man that had hired the surveyors – Bearult. He was a massive man, I swear he was two yards around the waist if he was an inch, wearing a fine purple overcoat with ermine trim that could have doubled as a small tent. He had an unneeded walking stick with a massive sapphire on the end which he gestured with often. I could tell from the outset what kind of man he was – born rich, so rich that you can screw up and it doesn’t matter, you can ruin relationships, choose wrongly and it has no impact on your life. Doesn’t know when he’s wrong because it never mattered – has no sense of his own shortcomings because no one has ever told him about them.
He was brash, bold, and often quite funny in the awful way that bullies can be genuinely amusing. Completely and unquestioningly self-confident, so sure of self that his certainty radiates an aura that makes other people believe it too – much to this detriment. He offered to take in some of the refugees but I knew how that would turn out (not that they didn’t deserve it) so instead I talked him into giving me a reward for rescuing his workers, which I distributed to the mob.
“There you go, thirteen gold a piece – if you can’t make it with that it’s not my problem. You are officially on your own.”
Despite those words I did help some of them ones that had been less awful, and all of the women, find aid at local temples and helped them secure lodging and find some leads on getting home on the cheap, things like that. There was one man I wanted to have a special word with. I had Martialla turn me invisible and I walked right up to redbeard with my crossbow ready – he was nonplussed when I appeared.
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t pull this trigger.”
He shrugged “You want to pull the trigger, pull the trigger.”
“That’s not terribly convincing.”
“It wasn’t meant to be, you don’t seem like the type to be swayed by anyone, if you’re going to kill me you’re going to kill me. You want an excuse? I did what I thought I had to. I don’t like hurting people, I don’t want to hurt people, but I will. If I have to.”
That night Martialla and I were sharing a private bath – a deluxe number with magically heated stones, magically wafting agreeable scents and magically emitting pleasing music – while enjoying some Hardroot cider.
“Well, you cured the werewolf. Congratulations. And now we work on bringing Hardra back to life? At what point is the Baroness going to send someone after you? We’ve been gone a while. Wasn’t there a cotillion or a debutante ball or some other fancy rich people thing you were supposed to attend after seeing all the nobles? How are we doing on the timeline?”
“No idea, I think I still have her instructions somewhere, I should probably check those out.”
“Probably. Do you have any idea on how you’re going to bring back our favorite slutish chaperone?”
“Well, as long as there’s plan.”
Hair regrowth progress : .03%
Curses – Marksman’s Malady, Unnerve Beasts, Melancholy
Funds: 8,576 gold
Inventory: Wig of Alluring Charisma +4, 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, 852 Garnets, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow, Deck of Curses (two cards used), Blue Dragoncloth Dress, severed hag head (2) Cauldron of Flying, Ring of Urban Grace, Gloves of Swimming and Climbing, +2 Chain Shirt, +1 Longsword, gold necklace with jade pendant, Feather Token (tree) 2, white squirrel fur slippers, +2 Fey Bane Bastard Sword, +1 Human Bane Dagger, +1 Spell Storing Longspear, Hand of the Mage
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