The man in the hood let me out of the warehouse office but the streets were haunted by feral dogs and devils rats and other things I’d rather not encounter so I climbed up into the rafters and slept in what clearly had been the nest of a street urchin. I can think of no more ignominious end to my life than being mauled by a raccoon dog in the middle of the night. Actually I can think of many more ignominious ends than that but you know what I mean. In the morning once all the dangerous animals were safe in their holes (where do feral dogs go during the day?) and all the dangerous people were beginning to stir I made my way (after a few wrong turns) back to Lord Oeracea’s mansion.
I got bored waiting for someone to open a door so I climbed a tree and jumped in an open window on the second floor, startling one of the maids. When I told her it was alright she screamed and ran out of the room. How is it possible that the entire household doesn’t know there’s a talking cat in the mix now? That seems like the kind of thing that would get around quickly. Menial love to gossip you know and a talking cat is a lot more interested than seeing a certain person at a certain market at a certain time of day rather than the time they’re normally there. A few minutes after the screaming maid disappeared Lady Oeracea came into the room and she didn’t seem thrilled to see me.
“I was hoping not to see you again, haven’t you caused my husband enough trouble?”
“What trouble did I cause your husband? He wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for me, how about a little gratitude?”
None was forthcoming. People, I tell you. I thought she scurried off to fetch her husband, but after a few minutes I realized that she had just left. The nerve. Eventually I found Lord Oeracea having breakfast and when he saw me he didn’t seem all that delighted by my return either. I jumped up onto the table and helped myself to some rich creamy butter.
“I’m detecting some frost in the air today My Lord.”
He set is fork down and regarded me coolly “I’m sorry, but it is starting to become a strain. Magic and plots and lawyers and battles breaking out in my home? It’s a lot of bare. My ladywife is somewhat high-strung and it’s taken a toll.”
“Sure, sure, I’m the one who’s been attacked and turned into an animal but I’m sure that it’s been very hard on her to have her bridge schedule with the girls interrupted.”
“That’s not exactly fair, we’re not used to this kind of . . . strangeness.”
“Regardless, in case you were wondering the man from the tower waltzed right in here and grabbed me – stuffed me in a sack he did – but it’s all for the best anyway because we worked out a deal. He needs some information I have and I’m going to give it to them in return for getting my human form back. After that I shall consider your debt to be repaid and I’ll be out of your hair. I do apologize for all the trouble, it seems to follow me wherever I go. Lucky for you though right? If I hadn’t stumbled onto you out there in the woods you’d still be a mind-slave to those cultists.”
“Um, yes, quite. I’m not sure the exchange you suggesting is going to be so easy though.”
“Of course it isn’t. Why not?”
Turns out that there had been some manner of disagreement between the priests of Vultur and the city authorities over the treatment of the captive. I guess the Vultur people weren’t lying , they really don’t condone torture – the city watch on the other than has dedicated torturers on staff. This led to something of a jurisdictional kerfuffle. The mayor for some reason was siding with the Bluecoats and the Captain of the Watch was crying foul. According to the rumors the Vultur people had gone so far as to try and sneak her out of the city.
“Pardon my cat-tongue, but are you fucking kidding me? These azure assholes have been pursuing me across the land by the dozens based on nothing and they’re willing to go to bat for this woman who they KNOW has broken the law? How can that make any sense? Where is she being held?”
“I don’t know.”
“Can you find out?”
“I can try, but they’re talking about calling in the county authorities on this – I don’t think this is going to be resolved any time soon. And I want to be done with this as soon as possible. You can’t be here indefinitely causing my household to be in an uproar.”
I gave some very serious thought to putting this ingrate on the list. I save his life and this is how he treats me? In the end though I declined to do so. I tell you this much, it’s very unsatisfying. No one ever talks about the constant bitter disappointment that comes experience personal growth. It’s a good thing cats don’t get migraines otherwise I would have such a headache from not pledging the destruction of this thankless wretch. I wandered around the household moodily, one of the Lord’s brats tried to pet me and I clawed him pretty good – that made me feel better momentarily – until late afternoon when I was informed that the captive was being held currently in an Odobenine debtor’s prison as something of a compromise.
After being told this though I realized that it didn’t matter where she was being held, what mattered is who was deciding her fate. I asked Oeracea to get me an audience with the mayor and he didn’t exactly scoff but he came close. I told him that if he did that would square us which is the only reason he got off his ungrateful ass and made the arrangements. Which is why if you happened to be in the vicinity of the mayor’s house a few hours after the dinner period you would have seen a very elegant coach roll up and stop, nothing strange about that – the mayor surely entertain important guests regularly . But then you would have seen the gilded door of that coach open up and what you would have seen is a gorgeous long-haired black cat jump out of the coach and walk up the stairs where it was granted entrance into the mayor’s estate.
The mayor had a schnozz that you could hang a coat on and his hair was greasy but he had a shrewd look about the eyes – sometimes you can just tell by looking at someone that they’re an operator and this guy was one of those. If he thought that it was all odd that he would be sitting at his dining room table with a glass of sherry holding a meeting with a talking cat he didn’t betray that thought at all.
“I’m sure you’re a busy man, matter of state, or city I guess, and all that, so I’ll get right to the point. I believe the prisoner you’re holding has the ability to turn me back to my rightful form, and her compatriot who’s still at large is willing to trade this for some information I have. I would like to propose a sting operation of some manner where I get turned back into a person and then you take him into custody and everyone’s happy.”
“Aside from the murder charges hanging over you.”
“Are there any charges against me in Beresford? Has your administration accused me of anything or is that a private matter between myself and the church of Vultur?”
“It’s not quite that simple.”
“So I keep being told. Setting that aside for now though, no matter what my status is legally I want my status physically to be resolved so I put this plan forward murder charges notwithstanding.”
“I’m afraid that’s impossible.”
“Because she’s dead. She killed herself in custody. She was bound and gagged, as you would expect for a spellcaster, but it seems that she bit her tongue off and drowned herself in her own blood. What kind of person would be so concerned about being captured that they would go to those lengths, subject themselves to that kind of horrible death to avoid it?”
“I can think of several.”
“I can only think of one, a foreign agent for a power we currently happen to be at war with.”
“Well there’s an easy way to find that out.”
“The same plan I just mentioned. I can give you the fourth man of this little terrorist cell or whatever you think it was, then you torture him or whatever it is you people do and figure out what’s going on. Bring in that enchantress we used the other night that impersonated me to impersonate the dead witch to seal the deal. When he comes out of hiding you grab him and then the threat to the Kingdom is nipped in the bud and you’re a big hero.”
“And what do you want?”
“The same thing, I want this magic on me broken.”
“The only two people in town who could do it are dead.”
“You don’t know they were the only two. But in any event I’m sure someone of your resources and stature can find someone who can undo what’s going on here if you put your mind to it. I get the feeling that if you decide on something there’s very little chance that it’s not going to come to pass. You give me your word that you’re going to help me and I’ll give you the operative that’s on the loose in your town right now plotting and scheming – who knows what manner of horrible things he could be dreaming up right now to inflict on your poor citizens?”
“That’s a fair trade. I agree to these terms. Do we shake on it with your little paw then?”
“Don’t be a jackanapes Mister Mayor.”
Hair regrowth progress : NA
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