We arrived in Beresford today and with some polite goodbyes our makeshift band broke apart. Arien and Togra flittered off to do their merchanting, Murdane and his scholars rushed off to probably set up another disastrous expedition, and stalwart Bywan bid me a gallant farewell to check on some friends of his he worried were mixed up in whatever was going on at the fort that lead to him being captured and tortured. He was very gallant towards me last night and this morning on the road, but I’m afraid that I didn’t return his good humor very well. I wasn’t anxious for Martialla of course, but it dampened my spirits to see her so diminished. From the outset I’ve only ever seen her as cunning and astute, seeing her just sit there like a doll with empty eyes is chilling.
Lord Oeracea gallantly escorted us to his manor house, where his reappearance caused much consternation with the staff. But the good, happy kind of consternation. They clearly thought that he was never returning – and what’s a servant without a master to serve? While he was dealing with the swooning of his staff Bixton and I were largely left alone to install Martialla in one of the guest quarters. While we waited for all the hub-bub to die down I helped myself to a carafe of wine, I couldn’t identify the vintage but it was quite good. While I looked out the window moodily Bixton was looking at me with curiosity.
“Mistress, there’s something I’ve wanted to ask you about.”
“Is it why mistress means both a woman in a position of authority and a woman having an extramarital sexual relationship? Because I never understood that one myself.”
“No, my question stems from the fact I’ve noticed that you tell the occasional falsehood.”
“My master and trainers always told me that nothing good is ever built on a lie.”
“I’m still waiting for the question.”
“Um, that is, I mean to say . . . uh . . .”
“Look, I know what you’re driving at so I’ll spare you here but you need to learn how to express yourself better. Nothing good can be built on a lie? I’ll call horseshit on that. Everything good is built on a lie because everything is built on the lie that we know what the fuck is going on. Civilization, society, this wine, this chair, everything you see here – it’s all a house of cards kid. It’s a sweet lie that we use to sooth ourselves, to keep ourselves from going insane. Anything and everything can be taken away from you for no reason, there’s no justice, there’s no larger purpose, it’s all just a bunch of stuff that’s happening and we all just pretend that it isn’t because that fact is too horrible to think about.”
“Why would they tell me that then?”
“Because they want you to tell the truth kid, that gives them the advantage.”
“I don’t think that everything in life is about getting the advantage over others.”
“Not now maybe, but you’re young still, you will one day kid, trust me on that. Or don’t, what the Hells do I care?”
After a couple hours Lord Oeracea appeared in our room with a valet or a manservant of some kind. I was eager to hit the streets to start sniffing around for a healer that can help Martialla but Lord Oeracea very annoyingly but reasonably said that he had people for that sort of thing and we should be hearing from them later that evening. In the meantime he bade me to make myself at home and join him for dinner in a few hours. I left Bixton to look after Martialla and took some time to quiet my thoughts. I don’t believe in meditation or conscious breathing or nonsense like that, but sometimes you need a discreet moment to gather your wits. After shoring up my composure I took advantage of the facilities at hand to make myself look ravishing for Oeracea.
Dinner was a jovial affair, Oeracea’s household was clearly overjoyed at his return. I did my best to hold up my end of the evening but my heart wasn’t really in it. My tolerance for this kind of empty headed affair has grown very low over the last year. During a moment of mental distraction one of the other ladies in attendance was keen eyed enough to notice that I was wearing a wig and make a comment about how wonderful it was.
“Yes, I came upon this fashion not by my own choice at all but I think soon all the ladies will be wearing one. It makes things so much easier, takes hours off my mourning routine it does.”
One of the fat bearded gentlemen around the table cleared his throat in the way those types do “A wig you say? How did you come about that?”
“Oh, I’m sure my story would bore august personages such as yourselves, but if you must know it all began in the coastal city of Churnos.”
I wove quite a tale of adventure and excitement on the high seas, with scalawag pirates and bold kidnappings and ancient ghost mariners, lost cities and hidden islands – all of it culminating with me cutting off my ankle-length locks and giving them to a glorious angel who then used my magical hair to bind a demon horror from the depths of the sea to a black rock in the middle of the desolate ocean forever, saving all the good and honest people from his wickedness. It was a pretty good story for something I was coming up with off the cuff with no real motivation. Everyone had stopped what they were doing and listened with rapt attention. Lord Oeracea broke the silence.
“Normally I would assume that you were spinning a yarn for our amusement, being a woman and all, but since you just rescued me from the clutches of a demented mage I have to ask – is that a true story?”
I took a long drink of my bourbon “What is the truth other than a lie agreed upon?”
This seemed to confuse everyone for a moment until one fellow started chuckling like it was a delightful joke and everyone else joined in so they wouldn’t look stupid. After a dessert of almond pastries we met with Lord Oeracea’s agents who said that they had found a scroll that could restore Martialla and that the high priest of Adariel would be willing to use it for a small (large) donation.
“That’s it? We just buy the scroll and then pay some gold to a church? I don’t have to steal a giant’s cock ring or slay a hyrda that’s eaten a hundred ships or something like that? What’s the catch?”
Lord Oeracea was shocked by my language but his agent, a worldlier looking fellow, betrayed a slight smile.
“No catch, but it will cost close to three thousand gold, that’s no small amount.”
Lord Oeracea frowned “Well, I suppose if I dip into . . .”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.”
His eyes widened “You do?!”
“Sure as sugar. Wandering the kingdom from catastrophe to catastrophe is far more lucrative than you can imagine.”
“Yes, well I suppose your cousin the Baroness gave you extensive funds for expenses and such.”
“Sure, if that makes you feel better.”
Hair regrowth progress : .0915%
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