Martialla and I hit the streets early this morning to try and dig up some information on the musician with the seven stringed mandolin since that was the only lead that we had. And by lead I mean tenuous rumor. Several people we tracked down had heard of him but didn’t have any details. The one name we kept hearing in terms of finding anything out about the music scene was Ginstershan. Switching gears we started asking around about this Ginstershan character and were met with a flood of information – everyone seemed to know about Ginstershan – and be owed money by him. He was known to be a decent playwright, a gambler, a rambler, a bounder, and a cad. Some people saw him as a womanizer, others more accurately pegged him as a wannabe womanizer. After listening to a few stories I knew what was up with Ginstershan, he’s the kind of fellow you find hanging around high society from time to time – either a very minor noble or just a fancy liar whose game is not to advance themselves but just to rub elbows with the beautiful people.
No one we talked to had any idea where he lived and I knew from experience that tracking down this sort of social non-climber gadfly would be a long drawn out process – when you’re constantly borrowing money and trying to score with married ladies without being subtle about it the first thing you learn is how to hide. If you’re still alive that is. The good news is that while no one knew where he was everyone knew where he was going to be – at Prince Fall’s Prince’s Ball. Prince Fall was of course the heir apparent a few heirs back who did fall (ironic? No) and broke his bloody neck. Not sure why these Bowcrag people think this event needs to be commemorated but who knows why people out in the boondocks do anything? The tale they tell is that the Price was out riding and got thrown from his horse but I happen to be privy to the fact that he was actually so drunk he fell off his own balcony onto a washerwoman. She died too but no one is going to throw a fancy party for her.
This is of course an invitation only affair but the day I can’t finagle an invitation to a formal event is the day that I bludgeon someone who was invited to death and take their place. In short order I found one Elias Burrowfound, an unimpressive clerk or trader or some other kind of money-grubber who was overjoyed at the prospect of escorting two fetching ladies to the ball. When I told Martialla that it was time to do some dress shopping she was the opposite of overjoyed. Underjoyed? Overdepressed?
“Why can’t I just use my disguise magic?”
I tutted like an old greybeard “No, that simply won’t do, when you attend this kind of high society function you need the real thing, it makes you feel like you belong.”
“But I don’t belong.”
“That’s when you need to feel like you do most of all.”
We ended up at the Golden Thread – an establishment that in addition to a wide array of garments on hand has no fewer than eight seamstresses on staff just waiting with baited breath to work on a custom job. I picked out a green and silver number with clean lines and no frills – simple yet stunning. I had it tailored to fit of course, a process with I oversaw personally – as you may recall I’m not slouch when it comes to needlework. I got set of gorgeous ivory hair-combs as well along with a mildly silly silk hat that is the height of fashion currently (in Bowcrag). Total price tag three thousand – an amount that overcame Martialla’s boredom with revulsion.
“Three thousand gold for a dress? That is obscene! I’ve seen you con people out a silver piece and you’re throwing away three thousand gold?”
“Throwing away? Have you seen this hem? This is quality work.”
Martialla insisted on getting something “practical” which meant an adequate but uninspired number that I swear to you was made of magically preserved and layered leaves. Thankfully it didn’t look like a leaf-dress it looked normal. She was trying to explain to me its magical powers but I wasn’t interested. She continued to make disgusted noises as we walked back to our rooms with our boxes.
“I just can’t wrap my mind around this. You can buy a house for three thousand gold. Two houses if you don’t care how nice they are. You could buy a tenement for that much!”
“Why would I want to own a tenement?”
“That’s not the point, the point is . . .”
“If it makes you feel better we’re going to go back and rob the place.”
“We are. That place has to be rolling in money and the owner seemed like the type of fool to keep it hidden in the floorboards or something foolish like that. I have a pretty good sense of who to rob. It’s a gift.”
“Oh, I suppose that’s okay then.”
“Okay, it’s more than okay! Taking people’s stuff relieves them of the burden of ownership. You see Martialla, owning things results in a lack of freedom, because you tie yourself your possessions, and when you do that you avoid change and anything new. If you lose something to which you are attached, you feel bad and become unhappy. But you’ve been set free to experience news things. You must let go of the things you think you own because they in fact own you. If you steal something from someone you’ve helped them, they should be thanking you really.”
“Do you really believe that?”
“Of course I do, why else would poor people be so happy all the time? Look at that beggar across the street – the one with the pus and the fleas. Doesn’t he look happy?”
“Not in the least.”
“Trust me, he knows what he’s doing.”
Back at the inn it was time to make ourselves pretty, I tried to give Martialla some friendly pointers since she seemed a little amateurish when it came to cosmetics but she didn’t seem to appreciate my expertise. Said expertise failed me when it came to covering up Greatcoat’s magical brand – no matter what I did it was still visible. I wonder if that means he’s still alive or if magic outlives the caster. Martialla saw my troubles and came over.
“Let me try something.”
She said a few words and weaved a little magic and the mark was gone “You could have done that at any time?!”
“I didn’t think it would work.”
“Am I uncursed?”
“No, I just hid the mark. You are cursed as fuck girl. We should probably do something that about.”
“Sure later, cleanse my aura, all that bullshit.”
When it was time Elias Burrowfound showed up in a decent carriage, but decent isn’t good enough. I told him in NO uncertain terms that I wouldn’t be going anywhere with him until he found me an appropriate conveyance. He looked like he was going to cry but returned a half hour later with a more acceptable carriage – it was only a two horse deal and it was a little cramped, but lovely and had actual silver inlays. I would have preferred gold, but sacrifices must be made.
Even though we were there to work it was nice to have a chance to cavort and carry on – even if only in Bowcrag high society. Martialla didn’t embarrass herself too much and I was understandably the talk of the event, Burrowfound’s stock raised several levels merely by bringing me. My old friend the so-called Black Bard happened to be there and delighted us with a tale of how he ended up in Bowcrag that involved seducing a high priestess, riding on a wyvern, and hiding in a barrel among other anecdotes. Some of it was probably even true. He introduced us to Ginstershan who was able to tell us about the mysterious mandolineer.
Ginstershan was one of those fellows who can’t just tell you something, it has to be a story, and every story has three times as many words as it needs – but he was an engaging fellow so it was only annoying instead of infuriating. The man with the seven string mandolin is known by the name Tanara Aluation and according to Ginstershan had been a gravedigger who wasn’t above a little grave robbing, who took the mandolin from the corpse of a traveling musician called Clancy who was reputed to have the nose of a pig. I would have dismissed this out of hand if I had not just been through a whole ordeal with swinepeople. Tanara then cast away his grave robbing shovel forever and took up the path of the wandering minstrel. Generally people assume either the mandolin itself is magic or he’s possessed/haunted by the spirit of Clancy.
When I expressed my interest in meeting this man of the seven strings Ginstershan was only too happy to explain that while many fools believe his wanderings to be random there is in fact a pattern that he follows strictly – he pulled out a crumpled and stained paper on which he had charted out Tanara’s path. It also appeared to contain part of a scene for a play, a recipe for a home remedy to the pox, and a list of potential blackmail victims. The three of us spent some time charting out our best chance to intercept Tanara. Renwick was the best bet, but on account of it being partially burned and mostly lawless we decided if we pushed hard we could meet him in Heller’s Hills to the north instead.
With our work done we spent the rest of the night dancing and drinking and laughing. It was nice to get a chance to unwind. Martialla unwound so much she seemed to be on the verge of going home with Ginstershan until I reminded her that this was a man very interested in pox remedies. She seemed intent on finding someone else to spend the night with but I reminded her as well that we had a store to rob. When we asked Elias Burrowfound to stop at the Golden Thread he remarked that he didn’t think they were open.
“That’s the idea.”
Martialla was able to make short work of the lock on the front door which attracted the attention of two night watchmen who were excited about their boring jobs being interrupted by two lost and drunk maidens. They couldn’t invite us in fast enough. After some small talk they tried to ply us with cheap booze (night watchmen always have booze on hand) but we told them that simply wouldn’t do – we needed the good stuff. It was almost too easy to convince them to leave their posts “just for a minute” to run and get us some decent wine. Once they were gone we made our way downstairs where Martialla found a magically locked door. She was worried because she couldn’t do anything to open it, but it opened when I said the owner’s name. There’s a universal rule that anyone who spends money on a magic lock also has to be stupid enough to make the password very simple.
Beyond the door was a long hallway that could serve no other purpose than housing traps. At the end was a lever which could serve no other purpose than deactivating traps. Martialla was able to pull the level with her mage’s “far hand” and after a couple rounds of “after you” “no, after you” we stepped into the hallway and were not doused in boiling oil or chomped by giant iron jaws or anything. Around the corner there was another door with a lock that gave Martialla some trouble but eventually she got it open. Behind it was a small office that in addition to boring office stuff had two chests. While I emptied them out Martialla was looking through the papers on the desk.
“There are a lot of unpaid bills here. As well as threatening letters from people with names like ‘the Claw’ and ‘Three Fingers’, should we feel bad about this?”
“You can feel any way you like, that’s one freedom we are allowed – Gods save the King!”
We returned in time to meet the guards and it took us a while to ditch them. By the time we left the store Burrowfound was gone with the carriage and we had to walk back to the inn. Talk about rude.
Hair regrowth progress : .033%
Curses – Marksman’s Malady, Unnerve Beasts, Melancholy
Funds: 747 platinum, 60,621 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) Ring of Urban Grace, gold necklace with jade pendant, Feather Token (tree) 2, white squirrel fur slippers, +1 Human Bane Dagger, ivory combs, Bewitching Gown, masterwork lute, Grappling Scarf
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