There’s really nothing like a good hang-over to make you want to get up and get on the road. Between Martialla with her bad ankle and me being half in the bag we made quite the pair. Due to our hectic escape yesterday I’m not even sure what road we’re on, but it heads south so it must be fine. Shouldn’t there be signs or something on roads? How does anyone know where they’re going? I suppose if you put up signs people would just rip them down and shit on them. Savages. Sometimes back in the old days a soldiering type would talk about how exercise is the perfect cure for a hangover, something about sweating it out. Like most of what people say I can tell you that it’s nonsense. It just makes you feel more miserable.
The good news is though that it fades away – Martialla isn’t so lucky with her bum ankle. By late morning I was feeling mostly human again but she was clearly laboring – sweating generously and looking pale, not to mention muttering curses under her breath with almost every step. When we stopped for a moment to rest she crumpled forward onto hands and knees unabashedly.
“You really took a tumble didn’t you?”
“I think my fucking ankle is broken.”
“What do you want to do? Keep walking and grind it to dust or wait to see if anyone comes by?”
“The anyone in this case is likely to be more of the Colonel’s men so we should keep moving.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“How about we give the walking stick to the person whose limping!”
I also had my Scarf wrap around the mutilated ankle, I have no idea how that works but I’ve heard about people wrapping ankles. It seemed to help a bit but Martialla was still laboring and after a while she was wheezing like an old man trying to go up a flight of stairs. Late in the afternoon we heard the sounds of hoofbeats coming our way and moments later a young woman mounted on a spirited dappled stallion appeared. She had her hair shorn close to the scalp and was wearing the uniform of the messenger corps. I still have trouble adjusting to seeing women in uniform, when the war is over I wonder how all this is going to play out. Once someone gets a taste of freedom it seems unlikely that they’re going to go back to the old ways.
She stopped to help, re-wrapping Martialla’s ankle in what I assume is a more appropriate fashion, and then much to my surprise offered to give her a ride on her horse. She said that we weren’t far from the home of a local wise woman of some sort who’s skilled in the healing arts – or at least what passes for healing arts in the countryside.
“Don’t you have messages to deliver?”
“Nothing that can’t wait, we’re not exactly near the frontlines here.”
I like a government employee who doesn’t take their job too seriously. We helped, any by helped I mean levered, Martialla up into the saddle and then our new friend Shay Seacort took her horse by the reins to lead it. I know this his totally my personifying the horse but it seemed like it kept looking over its shoulder as if to say “who the Hells is this on me?”
“How is the war against those dastardly Vielanders and Ulpinites going?”
“Who knows? It’s all propaganda, even the guys coming back from the fighting don’t really know what’s going on. How could they? They march here and there and then get in a bloody battle and who even knows who won? It’s all a big muddle and then at the end some rich people get some more land or something.”
“I see you’re a true patriot like myself.”
“Gods save the King.”
I was surprised to find out that even as young as she was Shay had been widowed already. Her husband had been a successful milliner and then a successful officer in the military right up until he successfully died in some battle or other. Shay was obligated to take up the rest of his term of service while her father in law looked after her three children. I noticed that she had a stripe tattooed on her forearm that some military types get after they’ve been “blooded”. When I asked her about it she explained that she had killed three men that had tried to grab her when she was out delivering messages and later gotten drunk enough that the tattoo seemed like good idea.
“I suppose that counts.”
“I’m not sure how official these things are anyway.”
“I have to say, for a war being on there seem to be an awful lot of dangerous men still hanging about causing trouble. Why can’t we round them all up and send them to the front?”
“If you want to give it a try I’m sure the Queen would appreciate it.”
“I’m positive I could form my own battalion at the very least, but then I’ve have to think of an entertaining name and probably all the good ones are taken. It’s probably not worth the headache of trying to think of a good name.”
After a few hours Shay led us down a path into the woods where in a clearing was a large cabin that aside from having moss growing on the roof in large quantities looked very nice. I was expecting either a haggard old crone or a plump middle aged widwife type but the “wise woman” was neither – she appeared even younger than Shay. She was very pale and also had dark hair cut very short. They almost looked like they could be sisters. After the introductions were made Shay was quickly on the road again while I helped get Martialla onto a trundle bed where Sophoniba basted her food with her special blend of herbs and spices and mud and other gross nature things. The smell was ironically much like that of a gangrenous limb. Afterwards she was making some kind of stew while I relaxed with the last of the wine.
“So what’s your story? Why do you live out here?”
“The world disgusts me. People are treacherous, crude and cruel; and the natural world is no better. When you’ve seen as much of the world as I have there’s really nothing left to feel but loathing.”
“Fair enough, why are you helping us then?”
“That’s no reason not to be considerate.”
“Did you build this place yourself or how did you get something this well made this far from anyone?”
“I’m not sure who built this place. I killed the guy who used to live here and then moved in. He was a cannibal, used to kidnap people and keep them in cages – there’s a trap door under that rug – he’d fatten them up and then eat them. Once I figured out what he was up to I snared him a bear trap and then cut his head off with an ax.”
“Good for you, way to be proactive. Is this place isn’t haunted, that sounds like exactly the recipe for a haunting.”
“It is. Mostly it’s his victims knocking around but every now and then he shows up looking for his head. It’s more annoying than anything.”
“What happened to it?”
“The head? How would I know? I just killed the guy, I didn’t mess about with his corpse.”
“Are you really doing this out of the kindness of your heart or in return are you going to ask us to slay a forest drake or something that’s tearing up your vegetable garden?”
“Can you get rid of ghosts?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Then I’m just doing it out of the kindness of my heart.”
Hair regrowth progress : .0765%
Funds: 1817 platinum, 70,829 gold
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, 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