Muthuselan 8 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

Cats have pretty sharp ears in case you didn’t know.  This enhanced hearing is responsible for me knowing that Josta and the half-elf bard, Rubast, hooked up last night.  At least that’s my interpretation of hearing her voice repeatedly saying “Harder damn you!” and his recurrent reply of “I’m doing the best that I can!”  It was amusing at first but quickly became irritating – kind of like life itself.  Humorous fornication aside, the thing cats are even better at that hearing is not being heard – which is why I was caught by surprise when I came down into the common room this morning to see a large ginger moggie with bright green eyes sitting by the bar.  I actually found being in the presence of another cat much more intimidating than being around people, despite my fear of being stepped on.  I guess I think that with a person I can slip away if they really try to hurt me but another cat?  They’re just as quick and slippery.

“How did you get in here?”

I suppose being a talking cat myself I shouldn’t have been shocked by a response but I was.  The difference being that his mouth was moving so he was actually talking with his actual cat mouth.  His voice was friendly and welcoming but also one that was full of mischief. 

“I turn up all kinds of places from time to time.”

“Are you a person that got turned into a cat like me or are you something else?  Are you a shapeshifting demon?  Because you have to tell me if you are.”

“What am I?  You can call me Tom.”

“That’s a little on the nose isn’t it?”

“Most people aren’t very clever, you have to make it easy for them.  There’s no time to explain the details of this visit my dear, I need your help is the long and short of it, are you in or are you out?”

“I’m out.”

“Okay, maybe there’s a little time to explain.  A necromancer by the name of Grivodon managed to get himself trapped in the body of a cat.”

“And how did he manage that?”

“As you’re aware magic is a fickle and tricky thing, say one wrong word, move one finger in the wrong way, use a carrion crawler tentacle for a focus instead of a chuul tentacle, and you’ve been turned inside out and then you explode.  Magic is a harsh taskmaster, he’s lucky that all that happened is he turned into a cat.”

“This seems pretty decisively in the category of things that are not my problem, what’s the pitch?”

“I’m getting to that.  Grivodon isn’t the type to let the lack of opposable thumbs stop him from being a wet blanket.  He started out simply, catching rats – it’s what we do best after all, besides looking fabulous.  Killing enough rats allowed him rekindle a spark of the insidious powers of undeath that once he commanded so effortlessly.  There’s not much life-force in a rat, but you take enough rats and you’re back in business – necromancers are a strange and determined bunch, by hook and by crook he’s managed to regain some of his dark arcanicity.”

“That’s not a word.”

“It is now.”

“Get to the point.”

“Some more time as a cat would do you a world of good, you’re far too impatient, you need to relax and let things come as they will.”

“I’ll take that under advisement.”

“The point is that Grivodon is building an army of zombie-rats and other more foul and dire things from the depths and you need to stop him.”

“Why?”

“Have you seen what happens when people think cats spread disease?  It’s a nightmare.  Can you imagine the slaughter that would result if they find out that a cat is really building a zombie army to kill them?  It would be a massacre.  I need you to nip this in the bud.  For all of cat kind, which I am sort of in charge of.”

“No, I mean why do I need to stop him.”

 “You’re the only talking cat in the area.  I don’t know if you know this but it’s actually pretty rare.”

“Why does it need to be a cat at all?  Stopping a little kitty dark wizard seems like something that could easily be accomplished by a person.  Or a dog.  Or even a well-trained badger.”

“You can’t train badgers.”

“Maybe you can’t.”

“Badgers notwithstanding you’re the one that needs to do this because Grivodon has gone underground – and I mean that literally.  He’s operating out of a series of passageways under an old church and there’s no way for anyone bigger than a cat to get down there and move around where you’re going to need to go.  Not without a lot of excavating anyway, which would tip him off, not to mention there’s no time.”

“Couldn’t you find a mighty warrior and give them a potion of shrinking? Or a piece of magic shrink cake?  Then send the tiny warrior on an adorable tiny quest to save the world.  It’s like my grandma always said, if you need a cyclops don’t waste your time looking for a guy with one eye – find someone you like with two eyes and then gouge one of them out.”

“Is a potion of shrinking a real thing?”

“I mean , I assume so, what with magic and all.”

 “I’ll consider that for the future but right this moment I don’t happen to have a shrinking potion.”

“What’s in it for me?  Can you turn me back into a person?”

“No but I can do something even better, that’s the best part, if you do this thing for me I’ll grant you what you desire most in all the world.  I’ll give you back your virginity.”

Have you ever heard the expression rolling with laughter?  Probably you have.  Have you ever seen anyone actually roll on the ground because they were laughing so hard?  No, you have not.  Or if you did they were doing it as a joke, they weren’t really laughing so hard they couldn’t help by roll on the ground.  I tell you now, honestly and true, I laughed so hard that I lost control of my cat-climbs and collapsed to the ground.  And I rolled from side to side I did, gales of helpless laughter crashing over me like waves crashing down on a tiny rowboat in an angry sea.  My little cat body shook so hard with laughter I was sincerely worried I was going to hurt myself. 

Have you ever seen the look on a cat’s face when it gets wet when it doesn’t want to get wet?  I think that’s where the expression sourpuss comes from.  That’s what Tom looked like as I uncontrollably chortled and tittered.  He got a mean look on his face at one point as the laughter stretched out and I was worried that he might attack me, but I literally could not help myself – I was helpless with laughter.  Eventually I managed to get control of myself and managed to sit up, cat style.  If cats could cry my eyes would be watering like you wouldn’t believe.

“Oh man, if you’re some kind of trickster spirit you just nailed the joke of the millennium.”

“Okay, obviously I miscalculated a little there, what is your heart’s desire?”

“My heart’s desire is revenge, but I wouldn’t want someone else to do it for me, that wouldn’t be right.  That one I need to do myself, no one can give me that.  And you say that you can’t turn me back into a person?”  He shook his head. “Those are pretty much my heart’s desires right now.  I tell you what Tom, how about I do this for you in return for a heart’s desire to be named later?”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage 

Behind the curtain: I stole this idea from Cats & Catacombs by Steamforged Games.  Check it out if you want.  Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you. 

Muthuselan 7 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

One thing I don’t care for in literature is when the writer has their character talk about their dreams – or just writes the dream itself like it’s happening and then pulls the rug out from under you like a jerk.  It’s hard enough to care about a real dream let alone one removed a step back from actuality.  The point is that I had a dream last night wherein I woke up and was a person again without explanation.  I won’t bore you with details but the gist of it is that I kept asking questions about how I got returned to my true form and in doing so unraveled the whole thing and ended up as car again.  What’s the lesson there supposed to be?  Don’t question things?  Nice try subconscious. 

That mourning the booze deliveryman showed up with his booze wagon.  He was not that old but his hair was completely snow white.  On his wagon where there should have been a seat instead he had another barrel strapped and he was riding a third horse leading the other two.  Seems like an illogical and awkward set-up.  I got to observe first hand Josta stumble her way through the very simple transaction of taking in barrels of beer and handing over money.  I think she may have become a gravedigger because she doesn’t know how to interact with people at all.  I guess she’s going to learn.  Once that “excitement” was over Josta immediately cracked open one of the barrels and went to work.

“Do you think you might considering opening this place now?”

After a moment she shook her head “No, seems too soon, I’m still getting my feet wet.”

“Is that where all the beer goes?  I think you should consider my idea of hiring some folks to run this place – you got a decent amount of money from the stuff left behind here but you’ll drink it all away fast enough.  You should get some revenue coming in.”

“Actually I was thinking about selling the place.  Based on what you said before I should be able to get three grand, that should set me up for a good while.”

“It’s not a bad idea, but then you’d need someone to forge a deed for you.  Or find the real deed and have them make some alterations there.  And you’d need to find a buyer.  I still think your best move is to hire some staff and just sit back and let the money come in.”

“Seems like a lot of work?”

“How?  The staff does all the work.”

She just shrugged in that annoying way of hers.  With nothing much else to do we went up to Kichwa’s old room to see if we could find a deed anywhere.  If nothing else Josta needs to hire a maid to keep up the rooms – her standard of cleanliness is pretty low and this place has a magic washtub in the basement.  It literally couldn’t be easier.  Unless you hired a maid.  Is there a male version of a maid?  I’ve never heard of such a thing.  While we were searching I heard with my keen cat ears someone coming in the door downstairs.  Leaving Josta to her rooting around I cat-padded to the stairs and took a peek. 

Standing in the common area looking around purposefully was a no-nonsense looking woman with a narrow face, sharp eyes, and tousled shortish chestnut colored hair.   I guess she wasn’t all no-nonsense because he boots had pretty silly buckles on them, so maybe a little nonsense.  Hiding around the corner I threw my voice down to her.

“Sorry, but we’re closed at the moment.  Renovations you see.  There’s been a chance in ownership and we’re getting ready for the grand reopening.”

She glanced around, searching for the source of the disembodied voice I would assume.  “That’s okay, I’m not here to drink or rent a room.  Or whatever the trade of this place is now.  I’m looking for someone.”

“They’re not here.”

She smiled slightly “But I didn’t even say who I was looking for.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, do you want to tell me who you’re looking for and then I can tell you that there aren’t here?”

She gave up a tiny chuckle “I think I’ve found her.  Ela, my name is Stella Roseblack and Baron Juost sent me to help you.”

“Baron?  Not Baroness?”

“The man himself, back from his triumph over the barbarous tribesmen of the foothills.”

“So then Calastria must have gotten through with my message.”

“I don’t know anyone by that name.  A woman called Martialla was there explaining your situation and she had Duke Lodvocka’s boy in tow.  That’s why I’m here, I actually work for the Duke not Baron Juost – I’m on loan.”

“Well if this is a trap it’s a good one.”

I came to the top of the steps and curled my tail around my legs, her eyes flickered to me for a moment and they reasonably slid away assuming I was just the innkeeper’s pet.

“Nope, it’s me, I’m a cat now.”

She was slightly alarmed but only slightly “Your friend didn’t mention that as one of your problems.”

“It’s new.  Why isn’t Martialla here with you?”

“The Baron has her working on other matters.  How are you doing that with your voice?”

“I’m a woman of many talents.  Or I am when I’m a woman anyway, right now I’m just a cat of a few talents.”

She pursed her lips “And here I was expecting just a legal battle to fight.  No wonder if took me three days to find you.  This is going to be a little more complicated.”

“How did you find me?”

“In the end?  Magic.”

“Of fucking course.  What exactly are you commissioned to help me with?  Is there room on the list to ward me against magic findings?  People seem to track me using magic with startling regularity and generally they’re not coming to help me.”

I came downstairs to talk to my “savior” and after a while Josta came down as well – without comment she returned to her usual spot behind the bar and started in with her new job of lifting a tankard to her mouth.  Stella claimed to be a troubleshooter of sorts for Duke Lodvocka but she assured me that she was the problem solving kind not the problem disappearing kind. 

“I should be able to quash the bounty that Glilcus and Stolo have out for you, have the local authorities charged you with murder?”

“No, but I did piss off the mayor.”

“How’d you do that?”

“I captured a cell of Ulpine terrorists that were plotting against the Crown.”

“How did that piss him off?”

“He’s an asshole.  Will the Vultur people give up at this point even if the law office rescinds the bounty?  They seem like the tenacious sorts.  And by tenacious I mean obsessive to the point of self-destruction.”

“I’ll deal with them.  Assuming you didn’t anger the mayor enough to incentivize him to do something drastic I think we’re going to be in good shape.  If we can figure out a way to turn you back into a person.  That’s somewhat of a challenge.”

“Believe me, I know.”

“What . . .”

She was interrupted by the door flying open dramatically and who should breeze in but the Five Torches – and with them was Cladarielle Staelish, wearing a tattered shift and looking a little ragged but none the worse for wear. The dragonman threw his arms up in the air was if he were a triumphant gladiator standing before a crowd of thousands.

“Behold!  We have returned!”

“I can see that.”

“Barkeep some ale for me and my friends!  It’s a celebration!  I tell you plain my good ladycat it was a fearsome fight but the Five Torches were up to the task and Bywan Staelish’s wife is returned safe and sound!”

I looked to Cladarielle “Is that true?  Are you safe and sound?”

She nodded “I could use a shot and a bath but overall safe and sound is right.”

I told Cladarielle there happened to be a very nice magical bathtub downstairs and as she retired to cleanse herself Pesh (as I learned his name was) downed a baker’s dozen of stiff drinks and told the tale of he and his friend’s mighty battle against the Lucky Bones.  The half-elf and the dwarf chimed in with corrections and cutting remarks respectively but the elf and the Halfling just stood there looking surly and nervous correspondingly – those two aren’t much for celebrations I don’t think.  Pesh also managed to make some frisky remarks to Stella as he wove his story but he barely even allowed time for her to respond before continuing with his rambling and outlandish discourse – which is for the best because she didn’t seem to relish being hit on by a scaly braggart.

“You managed to save the maiden and none of you died?  What’s the catch?  Are you wanted by the guard now?”

He grinned, or at least showed his razor-teeth “Far from it madam, we worked with the city watch to effect this rescue.  They helped us find the malefactors and then we did the rough stuff – the city watch is well equipped for pick pockets and the like but they need the help pf specialists when dealing with more exotic threats like the Lucky Bones.  Their leader was in fact a bearded demon in disguise.  He gave us quite a run for our money but in the end Keif was able to send him back to the damnedable void that spawned him isn’t that right?”

The elf may have nodded slightly, his arm crossed in a surly manner.

“So what went wrong?  You’re adventurers, you must have create an even worse problem in solving this one.”

His laughter was truly booming, I almost cat-jumped straight into the air “Nay fair feline, you’ll find none of that malfeasance with the Five Torches.” He slammed his fist on the table. “We stand together and we deliver!  Isn’t that right Neddly?”

The Halfling nodded timidly and managed a smile.  Pesh laughed again and honestly some items behind the bar rattled.  I’m sure they did something that’s going to come back to bite me in the ass, but there’s no point in trying to suss that out now.  I had Josta pay them their “unwanted” reward and they turned that money right back round, enjoying their revels, mostly Pesh.  After a while Cladarielle came back up to sit down at the table with Stella and myself.

“Did you see any clothes down there?  You can borrow them if you want to get out of that shift.”

“I did but they all seemed a little whory.”

“That’s probably because they were left here by whores.”

“That would explain it.”

“So, I take it that the Lucky Bones won’t be helping me out.”

“No, I would imagine not since they’re all either dead, in jail, or banished back to the fiery pits of hell.  They didn’t seem like the helpful type anyway.”

“I’m sorry that this happened to you trying to help me out.”

“Think nothing of it, it’s the most excitement I’ve had in years.  I’ve gotten rusty, back in the day I wouldn’t have been overwhelmed by punks like that.  Honestly though I think they grabbed me on a whim and then panicked once they realized who I was.  For the group with disguised demon in charge they were we kind of milksops.  They didn’t even torture me.”

“Well regardless I am sorry.  This is Stella Roseblack, the Baron sent her to help me out so you’re off the hook – you’ve had enough trouble.”

She shook her head resolutely “Not by a half I haven’t.  I said I was going to help you and I meant it.  I’m sure if the three of us put our heads together we can come up with a plan.”

All this good fortune in one day?  Something bad is going to happen.  And soon.  It has to.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage 

Muthuselan 6 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

The question has been asked since time immemorial – what do you do with a drunken sailor?  Less commonly asked but much more perplexing is what do you do with a cat that has the mind of a human lady?  And exceptionally fantastic human ladyat that ?  The fact is that there’s any number of time honored methods of dealing with a drunken sailor where so far as I know no one has weighed in on the other issue yet.  There’s probably a monk contemplating it somewhere because they’re like that but what good does some bald jerk sitting on a mountain peak do me?  Josta ran out of conversation early and I was so bored I started wondering where Fiestia was.  I knew that Scarlet and Bru had probably gotten themselves killed trying to help out the guy with the smashed genitals but I had no clue where Fiestia had gotten to. 

Probably she found a brothel to work in.  It’s a funny thing.  A pipehead going back to the pipe makes sense, they’re addicted.  A wife going back to her drunken abusive husbands makes sense, where else is she going to go?  But sometimes when someone gets free they go right back into their prison like a bird flying back into the cage.  Why?  Because freedom can be a terrifying thing.  The familiar, even when the familiar is awful, holds a certain amount of comfort – it’s known.  The unknown?  Well that could be even worse right?  The devil you know and all that.  Logically you’d think that Fiestia’s pimp getting killed (in a justified and righteous way by someone nice) and her getting a new chance at life would be a great thing.  But, and I don’t know her background, if hooking was the only life she’s ever known suddenly being left to decide for herself?  That can be a lot.  She probably wanted to get loose at a time, but once you have it the experience can be a lot of handle.

It’s like the old fable of the fox and the wolf.  The wolf is bigger and stronger than the fox and he makes the fox do all the work.  The fox doesn’t like that so he, being a crafty fox, engineers the wolf’s death at the hands of a farmer.  But then there’s no one to stop a badger from kicking the fox out of his den because he’s not strong enough to fight a badger.  And then he’s unprotected out in the world and a pack of dogs gets his scent and comes after him.  And as he’s running for his life the fox wonders – is freedom worth the danger?  People have been struggling with that one for a while now.  Everyone hates when the tax collector for the King, or Queen now I guess, comes around but they run to the guard when someone robs them.  They don’t want to deal with dangerous thieves, they want someone else to do it for them.  But you can’t have it both ways.  It’s a real pickle.

These are the kind of thoughts I have when I have nothing to do.  Josta wandered her way down in the mourning and took up her standard post behind the bar drinking what little was left.  Things livened up marginally when the Kostelos woman from before – you know the murder day – came calling.  She’s even more laconic than Josta though, so in order to move things along I felt I had to step in.

(translated from Kostelos)

“Is there something we can do for you?”

“Kichwa.”

“She’s gone and I don’t belief that she’s going to be coming back for a while.  My friend Josta and I are looking after the place for now.  You used to bring her food for the kitchen?” She looked like she was about to say something but then just nodded. “Well unfortunately until we hire a chef I don’t think we need your services.  Josta isn’t much of a cook, we’re still getting things settled here.  You’re welcome to stay in one of the rooms upstairs if you want, totally free of charge, I could use the company.”

She shook her head slowly “No.”

“I don’t blame you I suppose, I assume you don’t like to spend too much time in town unless you have to.  May I ask you something?  I know that your people have magic that we city folk don’t, do you know a wise woman or anything like that?  Are you still in touch with your tribe?”

“You ask too many questions.”

“I don’t mean to pry, I was just thinking that maybe you could help me.  I’m not normally a cat you see, I was turned into a cat by a witch.  I seem to run into witch-curses with startling regularity.   

“Uenabo.”

“Pardon me?  I don’t know that word.”

“A kind of dark luck, black magic flows to you like water down a hill.”

“That sounds accurate.  My friend said that there was a wolf shaman in the area, do you know anything about that?  I don’t know one hundred percent what a wolf shaman is but it sounds like a Kostelos thing.  I can’t imagine us cityfolk worshipping a wolf or whatever exactly goes on there.”

She thought about it for a long while before speaking “Maybe.”

“Maybe?  That’s all you got for me?  Look, I realize that you have a strong silent persona you’re working on here but either you know what I’m talking about or you don’t.  I grow weary of your prevarication.”

With that she turned on heel and left.  Some people.  Josta raised an eyebrow.

“What was all that about?”

“Since Scarlet and the girls have been hanging around here she thought you were turning this place into a brothel.  She was looking for a job.  I told her with her look she’d have to be willing to do some pretty disgusting things to make money and she asked that kind of things I meant.  Long story short she wasn’t into it.”

“Should I turn this place into a brothel?”

“No.”

“No?”

“No.”

“That’s all you have to say about it?  Usually you talk for ten minutes any time anyone asks you anything, or even if they don’t.”

“That’s not a fair assessment.  Your perception is warped because getting three words out of you is like getting an honest day’s work out of a rich man.  I talk exactly the right amount.  Anyway, do you really need me to explain why I don’t think exploiting women sexually for money isn’t the right thing to do?”

“I guess not, but I’m surprised to hear that from you.”

“Why?”

She shrugged “Just am.”

“Well, as long as you have a good reason.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: 800 gold (held in trust)

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage 

Muthuselan 5 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

Once the Five Torches had dramatically slouched away I was left with nothing much to do.  I could rail about how much I hate inaction but I’ve done that several times lately so I’ll spare you the repetition.  I decided to pass the time seeing what conversation I could pull out of Josta.  As per usual she was behind the bar, but sadly there was no beer left.  She was reduced to drinking mead.

“I don’t enjoy not having a task to work on myself.  Which is odd because my old job was ninety percent idle time.  Who knew that you could change so quickly?”

“What was your old job?”

“If you had to guess what would you say?”

She looked at me for a moment, which is funny because how could looking at me now tell her anything?

“If I had to guess I’d say you were a rich man’s kept woman.”

“That is shockingly accurate.  If you can guess how I arrived at my current predicament I think you might be a clairvoyant.”

“Hmm.  Well let’s see.  I would guess that the man you were carrying on with got pledged to marry the daughter of some other rich guy.  So he had to ditch you but he had feelings for you still and that made him want to let you down easy.  So he thought a good way to do that would be to bring some other guy around and he told you to start having sex with him instead.  Men are stupid like that, I know from experience.  You didn’t like that plan so you told the new dude, who really wanted to have sex with you on account of your beauty, that you’d only let him if he killed the first guy and brought you his fiancée’s ring as proof.  So he brings you the ring and you blab on him for murder because you want them both to go down, but it was a set up – the first guy gave him the ring and then they both blabbed on you.  And for your crimes you were stripped naked and horsewhipped in the town square.  Humiliated, you sought out the hag-witch of the woods for revenge magic but she turned you into a cat because you didn’t ask with the appropriate humility.  Probably you couldn’t help but sass her a little.”

“Nailed it, you have a gift my friend.  But to get back to my original point, you probably had a lot of downtime in your job – how many people can die each year in a town of this size?  What did you do when nobody died?”

“You’d be surprised, somebody dies about every week and digging a grave is almost an all day job.  And then the next day you have to fill it in.  And it’s not just digging graves, I also have to put the coffins together and maintain the grounds.  On top of that you act as a night watchman of sorts – looking out for graverobbers.  There wasn’t a lot of time for lollygagging.”

“I’ve never liked that expression, sounds like you’re choking on candy.  Did you ever see anything else out there besides graverobbers?”

“Sure, stray dogs from time to time digging around, sometimes if the hunting is real lean a wolf or two.  But there’s nothing much to do about them, no matter how hungry they are they aren’t going to dig down seven feet.  Ignore them and they wander off after a while.”

“I thought it was six feet for a grave.”

“I always go seven, just to make sure.”

“You ever see anything more exotic than wild dogs?  I think you know what I mean.  I watched a grave be dug up one time because her person in it wasn’t dead – or they were rather, but they kept moving anyway.  It was pretty awful.  You ever seen anything like that?”

“You need something stronger than mead for a conversation like that.”

“Come on, I’m bored, give me something.”

“They caught a murderer here in Beresfrod once.  He wasn’t from around here, he was a country boy – wandered the roads out amongst the fields – but he was in town for some reason and someone recognized him.  A family member of one of his victims.  They told the watch that when he was out a-wandering if some family was nice enough to invite him to do a few chores for some food and to stay in their barn for the night or such he’d repay them by sneaking into their house and slashing them apart with a slingblade.  He never asked anyone if he could stay with them or tried to get anyone to talk to him as the story goes, he’d just be out there and if anyone showed him some kindness all on their own that was the last thing they’d do.  The watch grabbed him and made him tell, like they do, about all the families he’d murdered. So then they strung him up by the neck until he was dead, execution you see.  For this many crimes. Some official from the city came to watch it happen and everything, I guess to make sure he was good and dead.  This murderin’ fella showed no regrets about what he done, offered no explanation, just said that it was good they got him because he’d do it more if they turned him loose, had no intention of stopping.”

“And?  After they killed him he came back?”

“If anyone had asked me I’d have told them to burn up the body.  And I don’t just say that because it’s less work for me.  The Gods can’t care too much about the shell, they only care about the soul – so why not burn the body?  Even if only one in a million comes back we know that it happens sometimes so why allow it at all?  No body, no undead menace.  But nobody asked me, why would they?  I’m just a woman with a shovel.”

“So he did come back?”

“Three days later the grave was all dug up and empty.  Folks said that some relatives of the victim came to get the body to destroy it, seems a paltry revenge to me if they did, but I don’t think they did.  I think he came back.  I know what a grave looks like when it’s been dug up proper from above and it didn’t look like that.  No it did not.”

“That was a decent story but it would have been better if the murderer turned out to be your brother or your husband or something.”

“If I had a husband I wouldn’t be digging graves, I’d be pregnant and shaking a wooden ladle at bunch of spoiled little kids.”

“Well you don’t dig graves anymore, you own your own inn.  And you didn’t even have to get married to get it.”

“Do I really own this inn?”

“If you want to.  I don’t see anyone coming around to say otherwise.  I believe the owner is long gone and never coming back.  If anyone asks just tell them that Kichwa sold you the place.  I don’t think those smugglers are coming back, and the watch guy who was harassing her is dead so there’s nothing to worry about there.  Although I read some of her papers and she may have been in debt.  That might be a problem but you can deal with that when it happens.  And if not, hey, at least you got to have fun until then.  Either way you should put aside whatever money you can.  Assuming you ever actually open the place up to the public.”

“I wouldn’t mind running a bar, but having people stay here don’t sound very appealing.”

“It’s your place, do whatever you want.  You can just live upstairs and sell booze down here.  It’s a small for a bar but you can make it an intimate place.”

“Stranger things have happened in the world besides a cat giving me a bar, but this is plenty strange.”

“It’s a funny old world Josta.  All you can do is laugh sometimes.” 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: 800 gold (held in trust)

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage 

Muthuselan 5 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

I’ve been a cat for eleven days now.  Which seems impossible for a lot of reasons but it makes you think.  When I woke up in Graltontown at the time I would have bet pretty heavily that within six months I’d have taken care of Duke Eaglevane.  Or at least be pretty close to it.  And here I am no nearer to having revenge than I was then.  Farther away maybe.  All the hustling, all the lies, all the bloodshed, all the horrible things that have happened.  And for what?  It’s hard to see the path forward sometimes.  But what is there so do but keep walking it?  Nothing. 

Some poet or other said something along the lines of “Your footprints are the only road. There is no road; you make a path as you walk.”  Mostly it’s arty nonsense but the point is that there really is no clear path. You find the path by walking and making the path, by moving forward in spite of not knowing what’s going to happen. You can stand there and look for the path but you’ll never see it because you haven’t made it yet.  If you can see the path ahead of you you’re follow someone else’s path and that may or may not be a good idea but either way you need to realize that’s what it is. 

If you are trying to craft the perfect solution, life will remind you that there is no such thing with a swift kick in the ass.  Trial and error is all we have – move forward, don’t shillyshally and expect an answer to come by standing still. The answers come by taking action, often any action.  But enough philosophical claptrap.  Last night Josta and Fiestia agreed to make the rounds at some drinking-holes and bars to spread the word about “adventurers wanted”.  I wasn’t sure what impact this would really have and was shocked to find in the morning that there was a queue outside the inn.  A day spent interviewing prospective adventurers is pretty close to a living nightmare for me. Josta was looking out the window in awe/fear at the assembly outside “her” place.  She turned to me.

“What should I do?”

“Tell them that there’s a one silver piece cover charge, that should weed out the complete loons.  Then get ready serve some drinks at highly jacked up prices.”

“What if they drink all the booze?”

“That’s a good thing, you’re supposed to be running a business here remember?”

“But then what I am going to drink?”

“You take the money you earn and buy more.  This is pretty simple stuff.  I know your previous job didn’t involve selling anything but you must understand the concept.”

Charging a fee just to come in did get rid of a few people but it seemed to inflame the rest – a quest where you have to pay just to hear about it?  That must be one Hells of a quest!  I have no clue how to decide which insane murder is better than the next so I sat through a couple interviews with these “people” and listened to their ridiculous backstories.  Who knew there were so many people whose parents were killed by orcs that were raised by the church to be righteous warriors?  My next brainstorm really thinned out the herd – no singles, I was looking only for adventuring bands.  Not like music bands, you know what I mean.  One group of singles tried to get together real quick and fool me but their story fell apart pretty quickly.  Group lies are hard to pull off.  It’s interesting to me that all these folks with their wild tales of their origin didn’t seem interested at all why they were talking to a cat.  Not one person asked about that.  I guess interesting isn’t the right word, adventurers are rampaging narcissists so it’s actually completely expected behavior.

It’s well know that the more racially diverse a group of adventurers is the better they are, no one knows why that is but it’s true.  With that in mind I decided to talk to the group that was made up of an elf, a half-elf, a Halfling, a dwarf, and a dragonman.  Er, dragonperson.  Sure they broke the rule by having five members instead of four but they were diverse as fuck.  Plus the dragonguy was wearing real clothes.  I’ve only seen a couple dragonpeople in my life and they were usually running around almost nude – this guy was dressed normal.  Well, not normal, but normal for an adventurer. That’s something that bears further investigation.  The dragonman swept into the area with his companions trailing behind him and spoke in a rich honeyed voice.

“Good day to you talking cat, what manner of job do you have for the Five Torches this day?”

“Cladarielle Staelish has gone missing, it’s possible that she’s run afoul of the Lucky Bones.”

The half-elf made some kind of sissy noise of distress “Bywan’s Staelish’s wife has disappeared?”

“Yes, although I believe she has an identity outside of being married to Bywan.  I’ll have to check on that but I’ll get back to you.”

The dragonman frowned, I think, it’s hard to tell with a face like that. “Is Bywan looking for her also?”

“He’s out of town on another matter.”

The dwarf grunted “What’s the pay?”

Before I could answer the dragonman struck a dramatic pose “We need no payment to find the wife of a local hero!  Bywan Staelish has done much for Beresford, it would be churlish of the Five Torches indeed to expect gold for rescuing his ladywife.”

The Halfling was wringing his hands nervously “We’ve had run-ins with the Lucky Bones before, what makes you think Bywan Staelish’s wife fell into their hands?  I don’t think that he ever had any dealings with them.”

“She was last seen at the Blossom in the company of a fellow called Crentist, who I’ve told is an associate of the Lucky Bones.”

The half-elf nodded “He is indeed.”

The dragonman scratched his chin.  Or muzzle maybe.  Whatever dragonpeople have he scratched it.  “The Blossom you say?  Most curious.”

“What is that place?”

“It’s a tea room.  Of sorts.  It’s something of a neutral ground for the criminal element.  It’s an odd place because it’s not the kind of dive you expect to find low down dirty thieves, it’s a high class establishment.  Sort of.  It’s like a fancy brothel only it’s not a brothel.  If that makes any sense.”

 “None really, but you’re hired.  I like your price.”

The dwarf grumbled and the dragonman spoke again “We’ll do this a public service of course, but if we do find her of course we wouldn’t say no a monetary reward.  For the effort you know.  A reward for finding a missing person is pretty commonplace, I’m not asking for one mind you, I’m just saying that if one were to be offered . . .”

“Eight hundred gold.”

The elf scoffed and the dwarf looked dismayed, but the dragonman smiled – which is a curious site indeed.  “Excellent.  Then we shall be off!”

“I was debating whether I should come with you or not.”

For the first time the dragonman seemed off-balance “For what reason?”

“Just to make sure that everything goes smoothly.”

“Madam . . . cat, this is likely to be a dangerous expedition.  I’m not sure what use you . . . I mean to say, what I mean is that even the Five Torches might not be able to ensure your safety.  I mean . . . such as you are.  Ahem.”

“Yes, that’s my concern as well.  But don’t wizards go on quests with their stupid familiars?  Owls and ravens and lizards and shit?  How do they keep them alive?  Seems like it would be pretty easy for a gnoll to squish a fox.”

“I couldn’t say madam, we don’t have any arcane spellcasters in our band.”

“I knew I liked you guys for a reason.”

The half-elf held up his hand like he was in school “I’m an arcane spellcaster.”

The elf sneered at him “You’re a troubadour Gareth, shut up.”

The Halfling stepped forward “I could carry you in my backpack, but if we got in a fight it does seem like it would be pretty dangerous.”

“That sounds awful.  I guess I’m going to have to trust you.  You won’t let me down will you?”

The dragonman looked like he wanted to dramatically take off a big floppy hat but he wasn’t wearing one.  “Never madam!  For the Five Torches word is unbreakable bond.  When we say that we’ll do a thing that thing is as good as done.”

Gareth smiled “Would you like to know why we’re called the Five Torches?  It’s quite a tale.” 

“No.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: 800 gold (held in trust)

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage 

Muthuselan 4 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

When I was fourteen I was riding one day along the Orchard Trail, my horse got spooked by a snake and I was thrown.  When I hit the ground I broke my ankle.  My horse ran off so I had to walk three and a half miles back to the Duke’s estate.  It took me almost four hours and in the process I wandered into a patch of poison ivy and before I realized what had happened I rubbed it into my eye.  Did I cry like an infant almost the entire time?  Yes, yes I did.  But the point is that I did it.  Why I am bringing this up?  I understand that I can’t really understand the pain involved in getting slammed in the dick and I understand that Scrua got kicked so hard it lifted him off the ground and I understand that probably something in there is broken.  But even so that guy was a real baby walking back to the inn. It was only a couple blocks, in the city, on streets, and he still acted like it was a death march.  Get your shit together man.

Once we did finally get back to the inn Bru and Scarlet were doting on him instantly.  That’s another thing that I don’t understand – he’s a good looking man (despite his clothing) but seeing him “injured” doesn’t make him more attractive it makes him less so.  There’s nothing desirable about needing help – handle your own broken junk, that phrasing sounded weird but you know what I mean.  Helping a bird with a broken wing I understand, it’s a bird, it can’t help itself – but people?  If they can’t help themselves you’re not doing them a favor by coddling them.  If you can’t make it on your own you’re not going to make it and people trying to stall that just makes it worse when the end comes.  I jumped onto one of the chairs at the table where Bru and Scarlet were fawning over the sweating and pale Scrua. 

“Before we discuss a fee for finding this Velya character I believe there’s the matter of my five hundred.  Please give the money to the woman behind the counter and then we can talk.”

Bru scowled at me “He’s in no condition for that!”

“Nothing happened to his hands.  Or do you want to reach into his pocket for him?”

Scrau gasped like he was in tremendous pain but he was clearly faking it for sympathy “I don’t have the money on me, when I can I’ll have to go get it for you.”

“Pathetic.  You ladies fancy a card game while we wait?”

Have you heard the expression “withering gaze”?  I could almost literally feel my fur wilt as Bru and Scarlet turned their scornful gaze on me.  Never let it be said that I can’t take a hint.  I went over to the bar and leapt up on a stool to chat with Josta, who as usual was standing behind the bar drinking from a tankard.

“Where’s Fiestia?”

“She left, some errand or other.”

“To do what?”

She shrugged “Couldn’t say, I don’t feel it’s my business to keep track of their comings and goings.”

“You’re going to make a great boss.”

The afternoon passed slowly and boringly.  Bru and Scarlet took Scrua upstairs so they could wait on him more appropriately and Josta isn’t really much of a conversationalist.  It was late in the afternoon, I was dozing on the stairs in a sunny spot when Captain Maple finally returned.  Even though this is the most important thing in the world to me right now I was very tempted to just open one eye and then go back to sleep cat-style. I need to get back to being human as soon as possible, my mind is starting to slip.  I forced myself to get up.

“What’s the news?”

“I’m going to be quick, I don’t want to be seen here.”

“You could have been even quicker if you had bypassed saying that and just told me what you found out.”

“Was Cladarielle doing something with the Lucky Bones gang?”

“She mentioned them when she was telling me who might be able to help me, again you could just tell me what’s going on instead of asking me question if you really wanted to get out of here quickly.”

“I think they grabbed her.  I was able to follow her trail on the day she disappeared to a place called Blossom, she was last seen in the company of a man called Crentist who is a known associate of the Lucky Bones.  After that the trail disappears.”

“Alright, so what are you going to do about it?”

“Why would I do anything?”

“You see that badge on your chest?  I believe that means you’re a captain in the watch.  Captain is a rank in the hierarchy of a military or quasi-military organization.  The city watch is one such organization and is charged with . . .”

“Don’t sass me cat!”

“Do your fucking job then.  Last I knew a citizen disappearing is the kind of thing that the watch investigates.  And this is a prominent citizen not some gross poor person, the law actually applies to someone like her.”

“What am I supposed to put on the paperwork?  I was blackmailed by a whore and a talking cat?”

“Who cares, out whatever you want.  Say a snitch told you about it.  Say you witnessed it yourself.  Say some anonymous citizens filed a complaint.  That’s not a real obstacle, that’s something you’re leaning on because you don’t want to do your job.”

“I did my part, I gound out what there is to find out, if you or Bru ever contact me again I will not be happy.”

“You might be surprised to find out that your happiness means very little to me.  Or maybe you wouldn’t, you see like a sharp enough fellow to have figured that one out on your own.”

He left in a huff, just as Fiestia was coming back – he blundered into her and almost sent her sprawling to the floor.  She looked like she was about to make a sharp comment about him colliding with her but the look on his face disabused her of that notion quickly.  She held the door for him as he marched out angrily and then looked over to me.

“What was that about?”

“He came here looking for you, he said he wanted to marry you and take you away to live in his mansion and command his army of servants.  But since you weren’t here he got angry and then left.”

She scowled “Has anyone ever told you that you have a real sour personality?”

“Yes, frequently.”

Eventually Scrua came back down to the common room with Bru and Scarlet helping him and the three of them went and got my money.  He wanted me to help him find out who Velya was but he had no more money so I told him to take a hike.  Bru and Scarlet were outraged and swore that they would help him.  I wish them good luck.  After they were gone I was sitting at the bar lapping from a bowl of rum that Josta poured for me.

“You should probably slow down, you only weigh like eight pounds.”

“If you’re going to make a living serving alcohol you need to get used to letting people overindulge.”

“Why didn’t you tell the book guy that you’d help him in return for him selling all those books you have stashed everywhere?”

“Because I didn’t think of it!  Why didn’t you say that before?!”

She shrugged “I figured you knew what you were doing.”

“You shrug a lot you know that?  It’s very annoying.  Shrugs have always been poor manners, or at least that is what I was taught. When asked a question, you should give a proper verbal answer.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.  So what are you going to do now?”

“Something I don’t want to do.  A prominent citizen has been kidnapped by wicked men.  I’ve got some money and I’m a mysterious patron at an inn.  If I wasn’t a cat I’d get a mysterious cloak and sit in the shadowy corner drinking mysteriously and not talking to anyone.”

“Adventurers?”

I couldn’t stop myself from hissing “Adventurers.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: 800 gold (held in trust)

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage 

Muthuselan 4 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

After our visit from the smuggler last night my fellow inn-dwellers became very distressed.  Makes no sense to me, there weren’t even any threats of terrible violence.  I didn’t expect a gravedigger and three former streetwalkers to be so skittish.  The point is they were no fun after that, they just drank moodily for a while without saying anything and then went to bed.  I assured them that if anyone tried to come in during the night I would able to hear them with my keen feline ears but in all honestly I was pretty soundly asleep most of the night.  But no one got killed so it worked right?

Before the sun was even up I did hear someone knocking softly on the door.  I threw my voice to whoever this early riser was.

“Sorry, we’re closed.”

“I’m looking for a detective.”

“This is an inn, there’s no detectives here.  Is that right?  There are no detectives here I mean.”

“Can you let me in so we can talk?”

“We are talking.  And no I can’t, not just because we’re closed but also because I can’t reach the doorknob and I don’t have hands.”

“You must be the one I’m looking for then.”

“Pardon?”

“I was told there was a cat detective here that solved a murder.  I need your help.”

“Seriously?  You want to hire me? I can’t even open doors.  Also that just happened, word really gets around, it is pretty interesting I suppose.”

“Even without being able to open doors you solved a case, I need you to do it again.  A rare book seller was found dead in his bathtub and I can’t figure out what happened, the door was locked so no one could have gotten in to kill him.”

“The person locked the door afterwards, or the water was poisoned somehow, or magic, or a thousand other things.  I did solve one murder, sort of, but I’m not a detective.”

“I can give you five hundred gold.”

I sighed “Fine, hold on a second.”

I went upstairs into Bru’s room.  Why her room?  She was the only one whose door was open enough for me to push in.  Let that be a lesson I guess?  I jumped on the bed and pawed at her but she didn’t seem like she wanted to get up.

“Hey, hey, come downstairs and open the door for me.”

She rolled over sleepily “Why should I?”

“Because if you don’t I’ll scratch that pretty face of yours up real good.”

For the record she doesn’t have a pretty face, it’s just okay.  When she opened the door standing on the other side was a handsome fellow with wavy dark hair and a slightly shaggy goatee – he would have been somewhat more handsome if he hadn’t been dressed foppishly but what can you do.  He bowed slightly to Bru who was clearly smitten.

“Good morning ma’am, sorry to disturb you.”

She smiled shyly and all but fanned herself with her hand “It’s no trouble at all.”

“Calm down woman, thanks for opening the door, now beat it – we have business to discuss.”

His name, he claimed, as Ulin Scrua but if that isn’t a fake name I don’t know what is.  He said that he was a frequent patron of the dead bookseller Cweat Holloh and had become worried when Cweat didn’t show up for a meeting where he was going to buy some old book he droned on about for a while.  He went to Cweat’s house and upon finding the door locked and getting no response he broke it down – or so he said, he didn’t look study enough to kick down a door to me – where he found him dead in the tub.

“And so you came looking for a talking cat?  How does that make sense?  Why didn’t you report this murder to the watch?  That seems like the logical thing to do.”

“Well . . . Cweat was a seller of rare books . . . but he also made forgeries sometimes.”

“If he’s dead what does it matter?  He doesn’t have a reputation to maintain.”

“Well . . . I may have been involved . . . somewhat . . . as well.”

“Don’t you make books by copying them?  How is a forgery of a book different from the real thing?”

“Oh, there’s a number of reasons they’re very different.  You see . . .”

“Forget I asked.  Alright let’s go check out this dead guy.  He’s probably all bloated and gross from being in the water all this time.  Five hundred isn’t even enough really.”

“It’s all I have.”

“You’re spending all the money you have to hire a cat to solve the murder of a guy you don’t even really know?”

“Well when you say it like that it sounds weird.”

This early in the morning there weren’t a lot of people out on the streets which made me feel a lot better about walking around – I’m still convinced that I’m going to get stepped on out here.  What a moronic way to die.  There were a few people out and about though – specifically one who I saw come around a corner and point a crossbow at Scrua.  He was yammering on about some book and didn’t notice – I jumped up and dug my claws into his backside.

“Get down you idiot!”

He sort of lurched and ducked involuntarily and the crossbow bolt missed him by the hairs of his chinny chin chin.  The assailant reloaded his crossbow and Scrua was smart enough to duck behind a marble planter for cover.  The man with the crossbow had a green cloth over his face and an odd white tunic with lace up sleeves.  He started walking closer cautiously with his crossbow at the ready. 

“Poke your head up and then instantly drop back down – see if you can get him to fire and waste the shot then you can attack while he reloads.”

Scrua’s eyes went wide “What?!”

“Is that a real sword on your hip or some fancy pants bullshit?”

He looked at the hilt like it was a venomous snake “What?  This?  Yes . . . I mean it’s a real sword.  I’ve never used it, it’s just part of the outfit . . .”

“Wonderful.  Take it out, make sure you don’t poke yourself in the eye.  I’m going to distract the guy, when his back is turned you run out and stab him in the back.”

“Wh-what?  Like you want me to kill him?  Couldn’t I just hit him with the flat?”

“You can try I guess, it’s a court blade so the edge probably isn’t very sharp anyway, but it’s pretty hard to club someone with the wide part of the sword and I don’t think you had much chance of success anyway.”

I threw my voice behind the advancing assassin and he spun around, giving Scrua the chance to spring into action and attack from the rear.  Which he did, he hit the man in the back with the flat of the sword – he didn’t even go for the head – it sounded like giving someone a sharp slap with a leather glove and probably hurt about as much as well.  The man with the green mask swung back around and kicked Scrau so hard in the groin that he flew back half a foot and his legs went flying out from under him just form the force.  I hope he already has children or doesn’t want them.

The thug dropped the crossbow, which for the record really bugs me – take better care of your crossbow buddy, have a little pride – and took an ugly mace from his belt.  You may be thinking “aren’t all maces ugly” but no, they’re not, I’ve seen some maces in my day that were akin to works of art.  I scampered around behind him to the discarded crossbow as he made ready to cave in Scrua’s head.  I managed to nudge the crossbow into position and hit the trigger with my nose.  Amazingly it was a hit – going through Mr. Green’s knee from behind and poking out the front.  It was somewhat nauseating to see. Both men were down and in extreme pain, but the killer pulled out a knife and started crawling towards Scrua – this is one determined murderer.  I ran back over to Scrua.

“I know you just took a hard one to the bags but you need to rally right now man because you’re about to get stabbed.”

Scrua’s groping hand managed to find his slim blade and with a great effort he managed to poke it towards the slowly crawling assassin.  His second poke hit the man in the cheek and glanced off to slice off part of his ear.  His third poke went through the back of the man’s hand and caused him to drop his dagger.  I threw my voice in his direction again.

“Who hired you?”

“Where are you?”

“I’m invisible.  I’m standing over you right now with a vial of acid – if you don’t tell me what I want to know I’m going to empty the whole thing on you.”

“Velya, Velya hired me, don’t burn me!”

“Well there you go Scrua, Velya killed your business associate.”

“How do you know that?”

“She probably hired this guy to stake out the house and see if anyone came snooping around and if they did to take them out too.  Is there another reason Veyla would want you dead?”

“I don’t even know who that is.  Oh, I think I’m going to be sick.”

And he was.  Its odd how being in extreme pain can make you feel nauseated.  I’m not sure how that makes any sense.  What does that help?  The human body has some real issues.  I sat and watched while the hired killer slowly crawled away and Scrua slowly managed to get to his feet.  Even then it was a good fifteen minutes before he could walk.   

“We can still go to the crime scene if you want but Velya did it so I don’t see the point.”

“Who’s Veyla?”

“I don’t know.  How about we go back to the inn and you can pay me my money and we can talk about that?”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: 300 gold (held in trust)

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage