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