Mede 8 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

Martialla and I got up early to hit the market before we left town.  I was able to find a jeweler who took a few gemstones off my hands, unload some unwanted loot, and traded in the awful belt I’ve been wearing for a much nicer one.  It still had a terrible silver buckle but I’ve learned when it comes to magic you can’t be picky about fashion.  Martialla and I met back up for a quick breakfast and then hit the long road “home” on our magically enhanced super-horses.  Of course we had one detour to make on the way – since the Colonel and all his goons are here in town what better time to stop off at his house?  I was willing to let bygones be bygones, he tried to steal my horse, I stole his, but then he had to keep pushing me. 

Traveling at our high rate of speed it only took a few hours to get there and I tell you this, CiaránManor looks even worse in the daylight.  What I couldn’t tell during my nighttime visit is that in addition to being made to look like a military fortification it’s also designed to appear like a crouching beast.  Despite all Colonel Ciarán’s other faults I’d have to say that having a terrible sense of design is the worst.  I took the appearance of the Colonel himself while Martialla disguised herself as the now dead fellow with the horned helmet.  After allowing the servants and retainers to fawn over us for a while I demanded to be taken to the treasury to deposit funds I he received for bringing the horse thieves to justice. One of the sycophants slunk forward.

“My Lord, I can handle that for you.”

“I said take me there, don’t make me ask again.”

Minutes later Martialla and I were happily ransacking the treasury when a man in an expensive dark blue doublet who was perfectly groomed and generally impeccable looking appeared in the doorway.  His voice was confident and quiet.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

I flipped my hand at him dismissively “That’s none of your concern, don’t bother me.”

“Who are you?”

I pulled myself up to full illusionary height “Are you saying you don’t recognize your master cur!”

The man stared at me for a moment and then nodded “Oh, I see, illusions.  Guards!”

Martialla quickly attacked with a spell but the man said a magic word and held his hand out like you would when you were about to flick something and her magic was quashed, causing her to release an involuntary yelp of surprise. 

“Oh shit.”

The man did some further arcane gestures finishing with a high pitched noise and then coalescing beside him was the young redhead that I had seen here before with the Colonel.  She was several days dead and had a massive bloody wound in her chest, clearly visible above the tatters of her tattered blue and green dress.  The worse part, other than everything, was her tongue, which was blood red and lolled out of her mouth a legitimate two feet – lashing about like an angry serpent.

“Oh shit!”

I went for my crossbow while the man cast another spell and then said “I suggest that you sit here and wait patiently for the guards to take you into custody”.  I could feel his magic tugging at my mind but it wasn’t table to take hold.  Unfortunately I saw Martialla obediently sit cross legged on the floor.  Instead I grabbed my Token and planted it into the ground – a sixty foot oak springing into existence and smashing through the ceiling with terrific force.  This at last broke the composure of the man in dark blue who staggered back in horror.  He recovered quickly though and at his shout the undead maiden charged at me like a feral beast.

Climbing is not my forte but I tell you even having to wriggle through the new hole in the roof I was up that sucker and on the roof in two seconds flat – I think these slippers are actually magic in addition to being fabulous.  I could hear the undead beast shrieking like a banshee as it tried to get up the tree after me so crossed the roof and dropped down into the courtyard, making my way back inside to the hallway and catching the Colonel’s minion unawares with a crossbow bolt to the ribs.  With a gasp he spun around and cast another spell – once again I could feel it trying to influence my thoughts but I was able to slide my mind away from what felt like the reaching hand of his magic inside my skull.  I shot him again and he howled with pain, the undead beast scrambling out into the hallway and charging at me.  I ran back down the hallway where guards were coming at me, but I used the Slippers to go up the wall and onto the ceiling to avoid them.  Looks totally cool but is wildly disorienting, I nearly fell on my ass going over the doorway and up onto the roof again, but I made it.

I made my way to the other side of the tree and shimmed down to the grounds outside the manor, using my Walking Stick to shatter a window with a light touch, clambering through and coming out on the other side of the hallway.  I popped around the corner and nailed the Colonel’s minion with my crossbow again but he didn’t go down, he didn’t even look that hurt – this guy is really starting to annoy me.  In retaliation he held out a gem, which dissolved in his hand, and then blasted me with a giant ball of flame.  I was able to duck back around the corner to avoid some of it but I was still burned something fierce.  I fled and climbed back onto the roof, finding a chimney which I destroyed with my Walking Stick, leaving a shaft down into the building.  I dropped in and took on the appearance of one of the Colonel’s guards and stood still watching the hallway. 

Once I saw Dark Blue pass by I went back to the treasury where two guards were manacling Martialla, as I hoped once she was in their custody the spell ended and she was herself again.  I took on Dark Blue’s appearance and came into the room.

“Don’t worry about her, I’ve got her under control, go out with the others and help find the second intruder – and don’t forget that she can take forms.  The code word is Thunder, kill anyone who doesn’t know it.”

They ran off and I used my Walking Stick to destroy her manacles and we made our way through the house, Martialla turning us invisible for a dash across the courtyard to where our horses were waiting.  The undead maiden appeared while we ran, sniffed the air for a moment and then charged directly at us.  I vaulted onto Calastar but Martialla was struggling to get mounted in her panic so I wheeled around and galloped at the undead monster intending to ride it down.  The thing nimbly dodged out of the way but it gave Martialla time to get seated and we made a break for it.  That thing was fast, if not for the horseshoes of speed I think it would have caught up to us.  As we rode off I saw the man in the dark blue doublet on the roof with several soldiers watching us coolly – no anger, no shouting, no swearing, just watching us. A few miles later we slowed to a walk.

“Well that didn’t pan out.”

“Is your ego satisfied?”

“Nope.”

About an hour later as we were getting back towards the road I noticed Martialla frowning up a the sky.

“What’s wrong, we got a storm coming in?”

“No, I think there are griffons up there.”

“Griffons?  I thought they lived in mountains.  There are griffons around here?”

“Looks like, and they love to eat horses.”

“How do you know all these things about monsters?”

“I minored in monstrology.  Keep your eyes on the sky, if they start coming lower see if you can drive them off with your crossbow.”

“What about you?”

“None of my spells will reach that far.”

I did keep my eyes on the sky and they did come lower and I did shoot at them to try and drive them off but it didn’t work.  Maybe it would have if they were wild griffons but these had riders – riders wearing the livery of the Colonel.  I’m really starting to hate this guy.  Even with magic horseshoes we knew we couldn’t outrun them so we headed towards a small copse of trees.  Before we made it a dark shadow fell over Martialla and the lion-eagle dove into her and her mount, sending them crashing to the ground in an awful cartwheeling heap.  I remember being at an equestrian event back at court and I didn’t see exactly what happened but a horse missed a jump and ended up landing badly – it was one of the worst things I’ve seen in my life.  This was many factors more horrible than that.  Martialla’s steed, an affectionate grey stallion called Silverjack, was struggling to get up when the griffon start eating it alive.  I don’t care if you hate horses, that’s an abomination.  

The other griffon rider came screaming down at me but I was able to make it into the woods with a leap over a fallen tree and it had to pull up.  As it circled for a moment I saw out in the field that Martialla, who had taken a hard rolling hit, come to her feet as the griffon-rider jumped down off his hideously feasting mount and drew a sword.  The two of them were skirmishing as the other rider landed outside of the woods, he and his mount looking equally fearsome as they assessed the situation.

“You going to come in here and get me?”

“I don’t think so, dismounting gives out the advantage and I don’t think I can bring Swiftwing in there.  I think I’ll go help kill your friend and then we can wait you out together.”

“I could get away in the meantime.”

“Maybe but you wouldn’t get far, we’d pick you up again.  There’s not a lot of concealment out here.”

“It’s too bad you don’t have a longbow, you should shoot me down from there.”

“It’s hard ride a griffon carrying a lot of stuff.”

“I’m sure.”

Since I wasn’t riding a griffon I retrieved my crossbow and started shooting at him.  His mount leapt into the air and flew out of range quickly but I was able to tag him a few times.  As he banked up in the sky I galloped back into the field and trampled the other rider as he was crossing blades with (and getting the better of) Martialla.  Getting run down tends to turn the tide of any swordfight.  Martialla dashed forward and stabbed him through the small of the back several times before he could get back to his feet.  The second griffon rider was climbing for another dive so Martilla jumped awkwardly onto Calastar with me and we dashed back into the woods – Martialla almost taking another tumble trying to hang on. Once we were in the trees she slid off and stumbled back on a bad ankle. The other griffon continued tearing into Silverjack  with its beak, who was now thankfully dead, with appalling ripping noises.

Martialla leaned against a tree with her foot off the ground “I think we’re at a stalemate here.”

“Not really, more of the Colonel’s men are probably on their way – they must be able to see that guy flying around for miles.”

“So what do we do?”

I sighed “We create a distraction and then you turn us invisible and we slink away.”

I’ve done many things that some people would call reprehensible.  Things some people would call evil.  Things some people would say have damned me to the Thirteen Hells.  Some of these things I regret.  Most I don’t.  But until today I never did anything, anything, that made me feel ashamed.  I used my Beastspeech to tell Calastar that he needed to make a run for it – that the griffons would chase him but if he ran fast enough that he could get away.  That he would be saving our lives and then we’d meet up later.  It wasn’t hard to trick him, he’s an animal after all, an animal that wants to help us, that wants to serve us.  As faithful and reliable of a steed as you could ever want.  And I took advantage of that to save my own life.  It was repulsive and it broke my heart but that didn’t stop me from doing.  I love horses, they may be the only thing I truly love, but you can’t risk your life for an animal.  It just doesn’t make any sense.

Later when we made camp Martialla tried awkwardly to comfort me.  Her words, although the exact same thing I was thinking – I did what I had to do – had no impact on me.  That night I drank two bottles of wine and cried while Martialla slept. 

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .075% 

Funds: 1817 platinum, 70,829 gold

XP: 306,651

Inventory:  Wig of Alluring Charisma +4, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Ring of Sustenance, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow, Deck of Curses (two cards used), Ring of Urban Grace, +1 Human Bane Dagger, Bewitching Gown, Grappling Scarf,  Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Ela’s Walking Stick (Rod of Ruin/Agile Alpenstock) Bag of Concealment, Bag of Holding, Black Marketers’ Bag, Handy Haversack, white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering

Pocketed Scarf, wrist sheath, assortment of Fake Signet Rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), 842 garnets, severed hag head, gold necklace with jade pendant, ivory combs, receipt, tax collector’s badge, Wine (expensive) 2 bottles, Gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, 5 gold trade bars, 3 diamond in amber coins , silver and gold brooch, silver necklace with ruby pendant

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, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán