Mathanaya 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

Martialla had wisely brought back some potions from Ironhold to speed the recovery of Lady Nightdove and her minions.  I’m annoyed that I didn’t think of that.  This meant another day of negotiations, which apparently I am a requirement for.  Of?  Whatever.  Honestly this time I didn’t really do much but any time I tried to sneak away they dragged me back into the conversation – I feel like I was acting as a security blanket.  In the end a deal was struck between the Nightdove house and the hillpeople and the Heller’s Hillians and everyone involved for the betterment and peace and prosperity of all parties in perpetuity throughout the universe and so on and etcetera and yada yada yada.  I’m sure the whole thing will last about six weeks before the government learns about it and takes over everything.  You can make a lot of money in six weeks though if you’re shrewd and willing to take risks.  Which I don’t think includes this lot but that’s not my problem.

It was late in the afternoon by the time that was all wrapped up but I was eager to get on the road to Wrybry, or more accurately I was eager to get out of this nothing town.  To go to another nothing town, but hey progress is progress.  Even with a late start mounted on our trusty super-steeds we made it probably halfway in just the few hours we traveled.  Ordinarily I keep a normal sleep schedule even though I don’t need rest with my Ring, but tonight I felt restless and while Martialla as sleeping soundly in my splendid pavilion I was sitting wide awake and wishing I had a book to read.  After counting all my coins and being impressed at the small fortune I’ve amassed I was working on a pretty decent house of cards when I heard the unmistakable sound of furtive skulking outside the walls of the tent.   

Rather than going out the front tent flap like a sucker I slipped under the back “wall” and did some skulking of my own.  Peering around the side of my pavilion I saw two saucy wannabe horse-thieves messing about with our mounts.  Using my Beastspeech I asked Calaster if he wouldn’t mind kicking one of the fellows creeping about and he was only too happy to comply.  After executing an immaculate capriole one of the stealers in the night collapsed to the ground with a sad wet thud.  His friend was quite dismayed.

“My Gods, you’ve killed Gyliam!”

I came out of hiding with crossbow in hands “I would image that getting kicked by a horse is a common occurrence in your line of work.”

“Ye Gods woman, where did you come from?  What is that?  Is that a crossbow?  A woman shouldn’t be brandishing no crossbow I reckon.”

I fired and put a bolt through the material on the shoulder of his tunic.  He clearly thought that this was some dazzling display of marksmanship (markswomanship?) but in truth it was a pure accident – I was trying to shoot him in the chest.

“Is there a reason I shouldn’t kill you?”

“Can you reload before I rush you?”

“I already did.”

“Well then, there’s lots of reason that you shouldn’t shoot me.  For one poor Gyliam’s wife Narki is a widow now, I’ll have to take care of her along with my own poor wife Pandria.”

“Those names sound made-up.”

“All names are made-up.  But in addition to being the sole breadwinner for two families now the other thing you need to consider is that I’ve changed, honestly I have, this was going to be my last job and the only reason I took it is because some rich feller hired us to do it.  I got a straight job lined up you see, tomorrow I’m going to start work as a miller.  I just wanted a little buffer money you see, because it takes time to get a trade up and going don’t you know?”

“Someone hired you to steal our horses?”

“Well not yours in specific, just any good steeds that come through here.  Colonel Tarl Ciarán is mad for good horses and with the war on most of them has been taken for the cavalry.  He’s offering good money, well good money for someone like me anyways, for anyone who brings in a nice piece of horseflesh.  No questions asked.  You get the idea?  It was Gyliam’s idea really.  I only agreed because . . . ”

“Alright, take me to him.”

“Who?  The Colonel?!  That’s not a good idea miss . . .” I aimed the crossbow at him “. . . or maybe now that I think about it, yes I’m positive, I think that’s a capital idea!  Let’s be off shall we!”

He kept up constant nervous chatter as he led me into the night which was annoying enough that I almost shot him just for that.  I managed to restrain myself though and we reached CiaránManor.  It was hard to tell much about the place in the dark but it looked like it had been designed to vaguely resemble a castle – a classic jerk move for retired military types.  You want to live in a castle then live in a castle, don’t build an ugly fake castle.  I hate that.  I told my guide he was free to go and he was gone before I even finished the sentence, which I have to admit was impressive. 

Here’s the deal folks, I know that if you’re chosen for sentry duty it’s because you’re not the top of the class, but that  being said if you are on sentry duty and someone comes up to you looking just like you don’t get confused and flustered and just stand there – it doesn’t matter what’s going on, it’s not good.  Just ram your spear into your double, you really can’t go wrong.  For that matter when you’re on guard duty that should be your default response to anyone.  That’s the whole reason you’re there.  Whatever noise you heard, that’s a distraction.  Whatever story someone is telling you, it’s a lie.  No one is going to interact with you other than to try and pull the wool over your eyes.

Anyway, after pulling the wool over the eyes of the dumb guard I went to check out the stables.  I give this to Colonel Ciarán his plan seems to be working.  He had several very fine steeds indeed.  As I was checking out the goods a pair of wary stableboys confronted me with a pitchfork.

“Who are you?”

“I’m your fairy godmother, I’m here to grant you each one wish.”

“You don’t look like a fairy.”

“How about now?”

I covered myself with the illusion of a fey eye-taker and they screamed and ran off.  At least they offered me more challenge than the man who was actually on watch.  Making my way towards the house two massive hounds came galloping my way but before they could rip me to shreds I used my Beastspeech to make friends with them.  They admitted they had never actually torn a trespasser to pieces, they were all bark and no bite.  They led me to the servant’s entrance where they said they weren’t allowed inside but I told them it was fine this one time and left them ravenously attacking a ham while I helped myself to the wine cellar.     

I heard a great commotion up in the kitchens as some unknown number of servants tried to wrangle the two dogs, coming up the stairs from the wine cellar just in time to get a good look at the butler.  Taking his form I made my way upstairs where a distinguished older gentlemen with the scraps of salt and pepper hair was coming down the hallway in a dressing gown with an young redhead in white and blue striped pajamas hanging on his arm.

“Maru what in blazes is going on down there!”

“Nothing to worry about sir, just a small dragon in the kitchens.”

“A dragon!”

“A very small one sir.  We have it under control.  It spit flame right up one of the maid’s behinds, forgive my language, but we’ve got it mostly subdued.”

“I better see what this is all about.”

He kissed the redhead and sent her back to the bedroom and we headed for the kitchens together.  Here’s another tip, never let anyone go behind you down a flight of stairs.  All it took was one little shove and he was crashing ass over teakettle down in a heap.  He was banged up, but still came up to his feet full of bluster.  Clearly in his day he was more the blood and guts type Colonel than the sit and look at maps kind.

“What the meaning of this man!”

I leveled my crossbow at him “Horse thievery is a hanging offense you know.  I’ve never quite understood why, you can steal a lot more valuable things without being killed for it.  Hell you can kidnap people and not hang for it if you’re crafty.  I guess people just like horses.”

“Who are you?”

I dropped one disguise for another – random young nobleman “One of those horses in your stable is mine.  I could have summoned the sheriff and seen you swing with the sunrise, but I am a man of honor.  I wanted to give you a chance to explain yourself.”

“Preposterous!  You can’t threaten me . . .”

“That light brown mare in the third stall?  I had my wizard put an arcane mark on her, for just such an occasion as this.  Not to mention I have the two men you hired to steal her back at my camp just itching to testify against you.  You should have paid them more.  It’s not a good idea to cheap out on the people that can ruin you.”

“What do you want?”

“Besides my horse back and all the others you’ve stolen?  You tell me.”

He sneered “So its extortion is it?”

“Extortion is such an ugly word.  I prefer justice.”

Before I left I snuck into the bedchamber where the redhead was nervously clutching a slim dagger and hiding in the closet.  I thought she should know that the good Colonel had offered her up as payment for his debt.  Because I believe in the truth. 

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .048%

Funds: 817 platinum, 69,176 gold

XP: 266,361

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) 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, Ring of Urban Grace,  gold necklace with jade pendant, Feather Token (tree) , white squirrel fur slippers, +1 Human Bane Dagger, ivory combs, Bewitching Gown, masterwork lute, Grappling Scarf, Wyvern Skin Robe (Robe of Arcane Heritage), receipt, Bag of Holding, tax collector’s badge, seven string mandolin, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Calastar (Superior Riding horse, Horseshoes of Speed, Endless Feedbag), Wine (expensive) 10, riding horse (4) Ornate wooden chest, +2 chainmail, 3 tourmalines, well made tapestries (7)

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