I was about seventy percent sure that oily bastard mayor was going to screw me but I went through with the plan anyway because it was worth it for the thirty percent chance that I might be wrong. Sadly as you all know I’m scarcely ever wrong. The first part of the plan went off without a hitch, I went back to Lord Oeracea’s and cat loitered on the front steps until I saw my shadowy friend lurking across the way being nonchalant. I set him up real good and the city watch swooped in and grabbed him, whisking him off to be tortured for the crime loving his country so much that he was brave enough to come into our country and conspire against us. As they marched away it quickly became apparent though that the mayor had made no arrangements regarding me.
It took me several hours to get to the mayoral compound on my little cat legs and a couple more to sneak inside. Once I finally made my way into the mayor’s office he was sitting behind a big desk shuffling papers around – as all important men do. I don’t understand these things because I am a simple woman, but being a man of substance and gravitas involves a lot of paper shuffling. I jumped into one of the mildly uncomfortable chairs that sat facing the desk.
“What kind of ride are you sending me for here? The full deal or are you just not going to try to help me?”
“I understand that the circus is in town in a few weeks, I’m sure a talking cat would be quite an attraction for them.”
“I see. Any particular reason why you’re screw me over that you’d care to share?”
He stopped his paper shuffling for a moment to gaze at me “Too much to do, that’s all it is. Helping you would take a time and resources and there’s nothing for me to gain in doing it – you already gave me your only valuable chip. It’s unfortunate but you have no worth to me so why would I waste any capital helping you? You should learn to negotiate more carefully.”
“You could at least let me hang out in your house where it’s safe until I come up with a solution on my own.”
“I could but I won’t, I have a distinct feeling that you would cause a lot of trouble, even as you are. Your reward for helping me out is your life. To be safe I should have you killed, it would be quite easy, but I grant you your life. You should probably thank me.”
“Thank you your honor.”
“That was nice, you almost sounded sincere. Now please leave, I’ll be giving orders to have any cat on the grounds shot soon.”
“Can you at least tell me who has all my stuff? Do the Bluecoats have it or the city watch?”
“I’m sure I haven’t the faintest idea, run along now little kitty.”
So, options. Arien and Togra have probably moved on to their next merchant destination. Bywan is probably the most likely to help me and the most capable but I have no idea where he is and trying to gather information as a cat seems problematic. So the best bet initially is going to be Murdane. He’s a scholar so if there’s a school of some sort, he should be there right? Or failing that he should be hanging around leeching off Lord Wesel, and a Lord should be easier to find. Just to check I tried talking to a few people on the street but they reacted universally in the negative. Don’t these people know that magic exists? Why are they so skittish? Maybe that’s why they’re so skittish.
Next I tried my Beastspeech but the only other animals that didn’t try to eat me or think I was going to eat them were other cats and they were wildly unhelpful. Have you ever tried to explain what a school is to a cat? I was getting nowhere slowly. With nothing else to do I started wandering the streets looking for some kind of university and trying to avoid getting stepped on. At one point some kids chased me throwing rocks. Why do little boys like hurting animals? Fucking sociopath assholes. You have no idea how close I am to annihilating them with my Storm tattoo. No idea.
I was getting very frustrated and more than a little frightened when I saw a little shop that appeared to be bookstore/scribe/printer/whatever. I couldn’t tell you what the sign said because here’s something you’re unlikely to find out for yourself, while cats have fantastic night vision during the day their visual acuity isn’t anywhere near as sharp as that of a person when it comes to fine details. The lettering on the sign to the shop just looked like a blob to me. I had to wait a few minutes for someone to open the door to come out so I could run in.
I’ve only been in a few scribe/book stores but the rule seems to be that they must be untidy and cramped. Not dirty, but hugely disorganized with stacks of papers and odd curios sitting here and there and everywhere. This one was no different. The proprietor was an especially tall and skinny dwarf, you know, for a dwarf. He was erotically fingering a book that I believe he had just bought from whomever just left. With a mighty bound I leaped up onto his counter.
“Are you smart or are you just a guy that sells books?”
He tumbled over backwards off the stool he had been perched on but there was so much junk packed into the place that he just hit a pile of heavy boxes and bounced off, staying more or less upright. It’s hard to read dwarfen facial expressions for normal people, they’re a stoic folk and the beards don’t help, but this dwarf was undeniably terrified.
“No, no! Not again!”
I tiled my head, cat style “Again? This has happened to you before?”
He grasped desperately at some kind of talisman around his neck “Back succubus! Back! Leave my soul be!”
“I’m not a succubus, I’m just a lady that turned into a cat.”
“That’s exactly what a succubus would say! Lies! Lies!”
“Well we’re at a bit of an impasse here because you’re right, I would lie about being a succubus if I was a succubus – although, I’m no demonologist, but I’ve never heard of a succubus turning into a cat to try and trick someone, isn’t their whole deal turning into sexy ladies so they can bite your balls off or whatever they do?”
He started weeping gently “Leave me alone demonspawn, haven’t I suffered enough?”
“Look, I just thought that because you sell books you might know if there’s a library around here because I’m looking for a scholar and I thought he might hang around there. I’m not here to do anything to you.”
“If you really aren’t a demon prove it.”
“How would I do that? Oh wait, here’s something, I’m a dwarf princess or some kind of royalty. I was adopted into a dwarf clan over by Carmin, I had to say an oath and they put some runes on me and everything. I think they called me rauthar or maybe they said eaulakia, I don’t speak dwarfish so I don’t know exactly what they said.”
“Stoneblessed? Why would they grant you such an honor?”
“I took a spear from some Korrok cultists and gave it to them, it was an heirloom of their clan, lost for generations. Lost for human generations anyway, I guess to dwarves it was just a generation – you guys live for hundreds of years right?”
“The Unnamed One!?!?!”
“That’s what they kept calling him too, but he has a name, it’s Korrok. I get that you’re afraid to say his name but shouldn’t you call him He Who Shall Not Be Named or something more like that? He’s not unnamed you just don’t want to use his name.”
He seemed even more shaken than before “How can I know if this is the truth?”
“I don’t know man, can’t you ask some rocks or do some dwarf magic or something to know your own kind?”
“I . . . I need to pray on this.”
“Great, can you get me something to nosh on, I’m starving.”
He gave me a bowl of dates and then went into a little back room. Who gives a cat dates? I suppose when you live in a mineshaft you don’t learn much about cats. What do dwarfs have as pets? Moles? No wonder they’re so crabby. Have you ever see those gross fingernails that moles have? Disgusting. I wonder who he’s praying to, I’ve heard that dwarfs have their own pantheon of gods. Although one priest I talked to said that they were really all the same gods and the dwarfs just gave them different names. I think he was burned for heresy if I remember correctly. I investigated the shop for a while until he came back – books smell much more interesting as a cat. I never found their smell remarkable at all before, now it’s downright fascinating.
“I have decided that I believe you, and I will help you.”
“Great, first order of business get me a nice piece of veal or something.”
The dwarf told me his name was Gorum Gimblecern and he had a shack not far from his store – I guess being a book dealer doesn’t pay so well. I don’t think he spends much time there normally though, I feel like this kind of guy usually sleeps in his store. We had a little heart to heart while he ate his rock soup with mud sauce or whatever it is that dwarfs eat.
“Why are you here instead of living in a hole in the ground with your clan? You don’t seem like the kind of violent lunatic that usually gets exiled from a dwarf clan.”
“I’m not an exile, or if I am it’s the voluntary kind, I didn’t really fit in back in home – my people are really only interested in history, and that is largely oral – they don’t make a lot of books.”
“You must really love books to live in this dump.”
“That I do. Now how are we going to help you out of your current predicament?”
“Do you know any powerful magic users?”
“Well then I think we’re back to trying to find a fellow by the name of Murdane. He’s a scholar so I assume he runs in the kind of circles where people might now things about undoing magic transformations. I know that he’s got Lord Wesel as a patron but that’s pretty much it. Is there a university or the like here?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
“So there probably isn’t, otherwise I’d have to assume that professors from there would be coming to you to buy rare books.”
“I don’t have many rare books, and those I do I don’t really sell. If we’re being honest I’m more of a book collector than a book seller. I have a hard time parting with my books, I mostly make money from scribing.”
“Hence the shack. Regardless it shouldn’t be hard to find out. The only other person I know in town is Bywan and I don’t . . .”
“You know him?”
“Everyone knows him! He’s famous. Twenty five years ago he unmasked the Lord Mayor as the leader of the Stag Cult, he saved the city from the Bog Witches and their army of bile zombies, he fought the Six Swordmasters of the Scar to a draw, and many other adventures! I have several books about him. They’re mostly fictionalized but there’s some truth in there.”
“Do you know where he lives?”
“Hmm, somewhere over on Paddock Street I believe. It shouldn’t be too hard to find him.”
“Excellent, we’ll start there then.”
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, Mayor Baras Haldmeer