Sophoniba arrived at the wizard’s house of horrors a few hours later, which is impossibly fast. She was nonplussed by the terrors at hand – I suppose any woman that takes it upon herself to trap and decapitate a cannibal in the woods has to have some hard bark on her. She took the lone survivor into her care and we helped her take the woman outside where she used a scroll to summon a wagon and a team of horses to take her away. Have you ever seen a bird look sad and anxious? I have now. Our feathered friend perched on the side of the wagon looking defeated. I have no idea if birds like the feel of the human hand, especially talking birds, but I touched it gently in a way I thought would be reassuring.
“You did your mistress proud, she’s going to be fine.”
It looked up at me with its tiny eyes filled with anguish “I’m too small to protect her.”
“You protected her the best way you could, you found us. No one is so small that they can’t make a difference so long as you don’t give up.”
“Why do things like this have to happen?”
I’m not ashamed to say I wiped away a tear “I don’t know, I really don’t.”
Before they left we asked Sophoniba what we should do with the glass vials but she didn’t have any idea, other than to suggest that destroying them was probably a bad idea. Once they were on their way back to Sophoniba’s cabin Martialla and set the wizard’s lair ablaze. The bird flitted back to me and gave me a ribbon as a token of the lady’s favor, I’m not much of one for ribbons but it’s nice enough. I wonder if that means I’m a knight now. Martialla and I stayed and watched until we were sure the thing was going to burn to the ground. Then we kept heading southeast. That’s really the most outlandish part of these situations. Something insane and awful and violent happens and then when it’s over you just keep on going. Nothing has been solved, nothing has been changed, you just keep going. As dreadful and terrible as it was once it’s over it might as well just be an entry in a journal. Life goes on.
We reached the river and were wondering how long we would have to wait for a boat to come by when we saw that there was a boat on the shoreline – a large flat bottom raft type deal that was being loaded with barrels. The men loading it looked like three bothers from a fairy tale of some kind, one was huge and muscular carrying two barrels at a time over the shoulders, one was shrimpy and weedy struggling to roll a barrel on his own, and one was in between and seemed to be overseeing the operation. I could tell just by looking at them what sorts they were – these are the kind of country boys who head to the city and raise some hell every now and then but would never stay there. The kind that folk like to see when they arrive but after a few months are wondering when they’re going to leave and stop raising up a ruckus.
Some country folk get all flustered and apprehensive when dealing with big city types and treat them like they’re the Queen Herself, some of them are kind of judgy and bristly, thinking that the only honest and good people are out in the fields – but then there’s the third type, which these boys were, who just don’t care. People are people and they afford everyone the respect they deserve and the niceties they give to everyone. We went down and chatted with them, finding out that they’re loading moonshine to take down to Eronigh and sell, then they pick up work digging peat or working a cut for a few months before wandering their way back up north and doing whatever work they can find along the way. They were only too happy to offer us a ride.
I’m definitely not one to partake in shine often but I needed a drink for sure – and their stuff isn’t half bad considering that at best moonshine tastes like swallowing a bag of dirty nails. Once were out in the river Martialla and I helped ourselves but the boys mostly obtained – since they were trying to keep the boat from cashing and so forth. We were both pretty far gone by the time they pushed the raft over to shore to make camp for the night. Not long afterwards Martialla and the not too big not too small brother retired over a hill and behind some bushes to keep the good times rolling. The bantam brother had disappeared somewhere leaving me around the fire with the big fella.
“I’m sorry, what did you say your name was again?”
“Folks call me Pine.”
“Cuz you’re tall as a tree I suppose. Tell me something will you? Big man like you, does that make people avoid getting into fights with you or does it make more people try to start shit with you because they want to take down the big man?”
I nodded, and the world kept nodding on its own for a while even after I stopped “Probably. I would normally never ask something like this, but I admit this to you – I’ve been drinking a little – in all these fights have you ever killed anyone?”
“A couple times.”
“How did it make you feel?”
He sighed “It’s a shame that things like that happen but if you start fighting with people that’s going to happen sometimes. I don’t want it and I don’t like it but it is what it is. It’s a tough world sometimes and if I don’t protect myself and my brothers and whoever else needs it what good does that do? If you do evil you get what you got coming.”
I gestured vaguely “You see, see, there? That’s what I’m talking, talking about. You’re a big rough dude and you could be a monster and fuck up all kinds of shit and do horrible things, but you don’t – you’re just a big damn stuffed bear. You’re not going to be killing people for money, or just for fun, or doing vile shit to women. Why are you like this and other men like you are something else? There has to be a reason.”
He shrugged “I guess we were just raised right. Our papa was not a bad man but when he was our age he was mixed up in a life of bloody business and that kind of thing, he did some dark deeds, but he always told us that our momma cured him of all that. I think if that if you have love in your life you’re probably going to turn out okay. Pa was tough on us, but he loved us, maybe that’s all that matters.”
“Maybe. Seems like plenty of people with love in their lives turn out to be shitheels anyway.”
“You’re kind of a dark lady aren’t you?”
“Buddy you have no idea.”
Hair regrowth progress : .0795%
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, 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, Knave’s Robes +4, Nymph’s Favor
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, glass vials of something awful (8)
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