I don’t make use of it as much as I should, animals are largely uninteresting as conversationalists, but thanks to my Beastspeech I’ve gotten pretty blasé about talking to animals. I sometimes forget how much it startles and amazes other people. After a few hours on the road (well, trail) a doe came bounding out of the woods and leapt effortlessly atop one of the wagons – balancing somewhat precariously on a shifting stack of whatever they had under those tarpaulins.
“Run for your lives humans, it’s a wolf!”
The warning of the talking deer of course had the opposite effect, instead of running everyone was frozen in place staring at her when the snarling beast came vaulting after. It wasn’t actually a wolf, it was a worg, but since the differences are so subtle I’ll give her a break on that one. An animal being able to talk doesn’t mean that they’re smart after all. Being confronted with a dozen people and pack animals gave the worg little pause at first, but when Togra and Bixton charged at it with weapons in hand it danced back and settled for snarling from fifteen yards away.
“Hold on, everyone calm down, let’s talk about this like rational beings.”
Remember that time I was confident about my ability to sweet-talk a worg because of past experience and then I nearly got my head bitten off? I do. I approached no closer than fourteen yards to treat with the massive beast, which was much more lightly colored than any worg I’ve seen so far. It wasn’t quite a sandy brown but it was far closer to that than a more wolfy gray.
“Hello there friend, I see that you’re chasing a deer, if you’re after food we have plenty – and you don’t have to kill it or anything.”
It spoke more clearly and understandably than any other worg I’ve met to date while still being, you know, a talking beast.
“I seek no food! I hunt on behalf of my master.”
“What’s your name and what is that of your master.”
“I am called Steel-Bite and I serve Hrólfr the Lord of The Woods and Master of All!”
“Well he certainly sounds impressive, I can see why you would submit to such a powerful master instead of being the alpha yourself.”
“Don’t try to anger me woman!”
“I wouldn’t dream of it. What does your master want with a talking deer?”
“She will die under his knife, a sacrifice to Beluiri the Burning Goat of the Woods.”
“Oi, another one of these huh?” I turned to Martialla “We have to get out of these dang magic woods. Does he know that this isn’t a normal deer?”
“Of course, he’s the one that made her like that, what would be the point of sacrificing a dumb animal?”
“Double oi. Well Steel-Bite, I have some good news and some bad news for you my friend, the bad news is that you can’t have this deer. The good news is that if you take us to your master we’ll explain the whole thing so you won’t get in any trouble.”
While Martialla, Togra, and Arien the Explorer were getting ready to follow me into certain danger and possible death I talked to the deer and confirmed that she had gained sentience just this very day – what a nice welcome to the world eh? Congratulations you’re gifted with consciousness, now here comes the weird wavy sacrificial dagger for your heart. Since she had no name I decided to call her Hyacinth, because that seems like a good name for a deer.
“You don’t need to worry about that wolf my dear, we’re going to take care of him, I don’t know what it is a sapient deer does with their life but you’re free to go and do it – watch out for hunters though. And other wolves. Everything really, your position on the food chain isn’t ideal. Before we go though can you tell me how you escaped?”
“Two kind men helped get me free and showed me where to run away.”
“What happened to them?”
“Some other men came and knocked them down with metal sticks, there was blood everywhere on the ground.”
“That sounds about right.”
I left Bixton “in charge” while we headed maybe in the direction of the woodland fortress of the mad wizard following after his worgish minion. As we crunched through the undergrowth Martialla sidled up to me.
“A few weeks ago didn’t you swear off exactly this kind of thing? And a few weeks before that? And probably several other times? It’s no skin off my knee, if things go badly I can probably turn invisible and get away. For someone who claims not to be a warrior and often discusses the use of force as the refuge of the dim-witted you seem to run towards combat an awful lot.”
“What am I supposed to do? Let this guy keep killing intelligent animals?”
“Yeah. Seems like something you’d do.”
“It really does doesn’t it?”
“Would you like to hear my theory?”
“I would love to hear your theory.”
“I think there’s a part of you, a part of you deep down inside, a part that you aren’t even aware of, that wants to end all this. You’ve built up this towering fortress of willpower and inner strength that drives you forwards no matter what, that will never give up, but underneath all that there’s a tiny little crack that wants it to be over. And I don’t even think it comes from the ordeal of being kicked out of Duke Eaglevane’s court, I think it started before that. I don’t know what your background is and I would never ask, but I know you were a little girl on a farm once and then somehow you ended up as the Duke’s consort. You mention your grandmother often but never your parents. However you got to the Duke’s court I doubt it was a happy road. You would never kill yourself or allow yourself to be killed consciously but I think there’s a slithering little snake in your mind that whispers to you and encourages you to seek out situations like this – eventually you’re going to get yourself into trouble that you can’t get away from.”
“That’s pretty good.”
“Thanks, I thought so.
“You may be right, I may be crazy, but there’s no way to know really. What I can tell you is this, even if you’re right, that I’ve lost everything, that I’ve been been dishonored and wronged beyond endurance, and now as a result of that abuse I’m somehow haring off to get myself killed it’s not that simple. Ha! Seeking out death? What a luxury. Some of us can only dream of the sheer indulgence of surrendering to a sweet, sweet death! Unfortunately, I’ve got a to-do list as long as Earl Colinent ‘Two Swords’ cock to deal with first.”
“Did he have a long cock?”
“Yes, that’s why they called him Two Swords. Not everyone to whom life has become a burden can kill themselves or even allow themselves to die. Sometimes there’s a task or an obligation that must be discharged before they can ever have peace. It might be some grand quest only they can complete, or it might simply be something simple but only they can do it. Sometimes you must reluctantly fight to survive even though they don’t want to. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
“Like your promise to help me kill Dirt-Tooth?”
“I was thinking more my promises to myself, but sure. Speaking of, I know that you said that you couldn’t get Dirt-Tooth on your own when we first met, but you seem a lot more magical now, and a lot more stabby. Do you still really need my help with that particular murder?”
“Maybe, maybe not, but what I’ve learned is it’s better to do these things with a friend.”
“Don’t get ally mushy on me lady.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Hair regrowth progress : .09%
Funds: 1817 platinum, 70,604 gold
Inventory: Wig of Alluring Charisma +4, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm) 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