Muthuselan 3 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

You might have thought since I had a magic ring for many months that took away my need to sleep that I would be used to a chaotic sleep schedule but you’d be wrong about that.  Even though that ring was very helpful I never really got used to not needing to sleep.  Even with magic involved I’m not sure that the human mind is supposed to operate all the time.  Last night I slept a bit here and there but mostly I wandered around the inn turning things over and over in my mind.  One good thing about being a cat, they’re pretty good at nighttime wandering.  Shortly before dawn I decided to do something that I hardly ever do.  Pray. 

I remember one of the few times I got in trouble as a kid at the Duke’s court.  It was my turn to say the dinner prayer and I started with “Please, everyone brow your heads and pretend to be serious.”  I did learn a valuable lesson that day about not rocking the boat.  For some strange reason people don’t like it when you mock their beliefs – it’s weird.  Being a cat and all I couldn’t achieve the traditional praying stance on account of I don’t have hands and I can’t really kneel but I doubt that matters.  How could it?  Pray this way and you get saved from the gorgon, pray with one knee out of place though and you die.  That can’t be the way it works.

“Dear guardian angel, I don’t know your name because you never introduced yourself – which is pretty rude now that I think about it.  Anyway, dear bear-angel, you know who you are, I’m given to understand that you watch over me all the time and help me in some vague unspecified way.  It would really be swell if you appeared before me now and turned me back into person.  Things aren’t really going great and this thing where I have to rely on other people is seriously for the birds.  I know you were worried about me going down a bad path when last we talked, I can assure you that this is not helping.

I’m pretty sure that I just got turned into a cat by a magic person and it didn’t have anything to do with you, but on the other hand this seems like the kind of thing that might happen in a religious story.  The strong, independent, charismatic, beautiful woman with a winning attitude and a smile that could melt an iceberg gets turned into a beast so she can learn a lesson about needing help from others.  If that’s what’s going on please knock it off.  I don’t want to tell you how to do your job but this isn’t the way to go because you see bear-angel I have no problem letting people help me, that’s fine, I love for people to do my work for me – my problem is trust. 

I don’t trust many people, or rather I trust them to do whatever is in their best interest but you know what I mean.  Forcing me to count other people doesn’t make me trust them, it does the opposite – it makes me resent them.  Which isn’t fair, but if things were fair you wouldn’t have turned me into a cat by witch-proxy in the first place, which I am not saying that you did but if you did then I am saying that.  Trust is about making informed decisions.  Despite what people like to think trust can’t be given or earned, it exists or it doesn’t and nothing can change that.

You see bear-angel I don’t know how things work in . . . wherever you are, but down here you need to protect yourself because no one else is looking out for you, they have their own problems – and if they can solve those problems by stomping on you why wouldn’t they?  Actually now that I think about it, if this is some kind of lesson learning transmogification I throw a challenge out to you – turn yourself into a human and see how you do down here.  Put yourself in an alley in a dirt-town like I found myself on Montalan 29th last year with nothing but the clothes on your back and see how that goes.  If you can sail through that without doing any of the things that I did that worried you then I really will have something to think about.  That would really be a reason for me to rethink my entire approach to life.  But I think what’s going to happen is that you’re going to see . . .”

“Who are you talking to?”

I was startled to see Josta the gravedigger coming down the stairs – somehow it looked like she still had dirt in her hair.  I’d hate to see what the sheets in that bed look like.

“You know there’s a bathtub downstairs don’t you?”

“I don’t like being overly clean, its unhealthsome.  Who were you talking to?”

“I was using my cat powers to communicate with my fellow witches.”

She went behind the counter to draw herself a beer “You are a witch?  I thought that witches had cats as familiars to bargain with the wicked spirits of the Thirteen Hells on their behalf for magic powers.”

“No, that’s a common mistake though so I won’t hold it against you.  Witches do have cats that teach them magic, but those cats are actually more experienced witches who have turned themselves into cats so they can pass on their knowledge to the next generation of witches.  It’s a mentorship thing.  There’s no school for witches you know.”

“How does someone bargain with the demons of Hell for power then?”

“Visit a bank.  How’s the innkeeping going?”

She took a long drink of her beer “I’m taking it slowly, I’m going to ease into this, there’s nothing more dangerous than rushing into a new business venture before you’re ready.  I’m thinking maybe a soft opening sometime next month.”

“You’re going to run out of booze eventually.”

“Maybe, at some point a guy should show up to deliver more booze right?  Then I’ll learn how that works.”

“Can I trust you?”

“To do what?”

“Hold some money for me and not steal it all.  I can’t trust Scarlet and her lot of obvious reasons.”

“For obvious reasons.  Yeah, you can trust me not to steal all your money, I always keep my theft within reason – there’s nothing I hate more than a greedy thief.  I’m a simple woman really, I don’t need anything fancy, what would I do with a pile of gold anyway?”

“Pay someone to clean the dirt out from under your fingernails?”

“Nah, you need that there to protect against papercuts.  Where’s this money going to come from and what do you need it for.”

“If and when I find out where Cladarielle is I’m going to need to hire some muscle I figure, or someone to act on my behalf.  As for where it’s going to come from I just have a talent for turning up funds for these kind of things.”

Eventually Scarlet, Bru, and Fiestia wandered down as well and tried to make themselves some breakfast.  Turns out that none of them can cook with a damn.  Josta was content to watch them with amusement – I don’t think I’ve seen her eat anything, she must live on beer alone.  After they were done burning and wasting a bunch of food they didn’t seem to know what to do with themselves, which is understandable, career changes can be hard.  I asked them if they wanted to help me out with a few errands they were only too happy to have someone throw them a lifeline. 

First we went to Gorum’s house and cleared the place out – books may take some time to sell but we can store them at the inn while we work on that and there’s no reason to let a good shack go to waste.  Next I taught them the subtle art of renting a place you don’t own to someone and pocketing the cash.  Afterwards we repeated the process at Gorum’s bookstore/depository.  It took much longer to clear out but as we were digging through the piles to get it ready for its new “owner” we came across an ornamental silver sword.  I’m no expert on these things but it didn’t look dwarfen made to me.  I wonder what the story behind that is.  After that it was a quick trip to see Egg the fence to liquidate the sword and discuss the best way to move the books.

After that it was back to the inn where Josta was still standing behind the bar looking like maybe she hadn’t moved much at all.

“Scarlet would you please give my portion of the day’s proceeds to Josta?”

“Why don’t I just hold onto them for you?”

“Because if you do that Josta will take you by the hair and punch you in the armpit until your tit explodes.”

Scarlet looked to the thin woman behind the bar “Will you?”

She shrugged “I guess, I told the cat I would hold the money for her.”

Scarlet looked her over “You don’t seem so dangerous.”

Josta set her mug down “Looks can be deceiving.  Have you ever dug a grave?  It takes a lot of work.  It may not look like it but I’m strong.  I’m pretty sure I could snatch the life out of you if I had a mind to do so.  I don’t think your line of work is one that results in a high degree of physical fitness.”

When Scarlet handed over the money Josta couldn’t help but be impressed.

“This is more money than I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“I told you I have a knack for these things.”

“There’s probably enough here that I could buy another tavern.”

“This is an inn not a tavern and that’s not even close, that’s maybe a tenth of what you’d need – unless you wanted to buy a real shithole.  You could maybe get a crummy tavern for five times that amount if the buyer really wanted to sell and you’re good at negotiation, which you are not.”

She whistled “That’s a load of money.  If that’s how expensive things are why is everyone so poor?”

“I don’t even know how to start to answer that.”

I was really hoping that Captain Maple would show up this morning with some information but as usual my hopes were dashed.  I guess he has to work his shift and then go out looking for details about Cladarielle?  In which case it won’t be until late when he comes by.  With nothing else to do I taught Scarlet and her friends how to play Red Queen.  I couldn’t play myself of course because I can’t hold the cards but it was actually somewhat interesting just to observe and teach/watch.  After a few practice hands Josta joined in as well which surprised me – she didn’t seem like they type.  They picked it up pretty quickly and we were such a good time several hours went by without us really noticing. 

Bru when out to buy and bring back some aurochs pie with garden greens and we sat around the table eating and swapping tales.  If we’re being honest most stories told by ladies of that sort are basically the same but they each had a few laughers.  After that we got back to the cards and inevitably they started wagering but no one really lost much and they were all good natured about it.  It was dark when the door started to open but it was not our friend the watch captain, it was a broad-faced woman with straw-hair wearing ornate riding boots and what looked to be a diamond pendant. Flanking here were two large hairy-knuckle types each holding a crate on their shoulder like it was no big thing.

She looked at us at our table playing cards for a moment before speaking “Who the Hells are you?  Where’s Kichwa?”

“Kichwa had to leave town unexpectedly, we’re watching the place for her.  We’re happy to keep whatever kind of agreement you had with Kichwa.”

She quickly accepted that a cat was talking to her “The agreement is that she keeps her mouth shut and does what I say.”

“Easy enough, we can do that.  I feel I would be remiss though if I didn’t mention that there was a murder here a few days ago and the course of investigating that murder two members of the city watch found a secret storage area downstairs and the name Imma Shadowrun was mentioned as being involved with it.”

Without another word the woman and her two goons turned and left. 

“I forgot to mention this place was part of some smuggling ring.  Whose turn is it to deal?”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: 300 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 

Muthuselan 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

Here’s a philosophical question for you – if a pimp gets electrocuted and no one cares did it make a sound?  There’s a part of me that thinks out of all the murders I’ve committed (justifiably in self-defense obviously) I should feel the best about this one.  One less pimp ion the world right?  I could feel like this was for a purpose. I could feel good about myself for what I did. Like I did something constructive with my life or like I accomplished something.  But in the end what does it really matter?  You can’t kill your way to a better world, unless you kill everyone, and that’s more a draw than a win really.  Pimps are just the pustule, they’re not the disease. 

Anyway, enough pimp talk, Scarlet and her pals Fiestia (ugly corset) and Bru (washerwoman) after they got over their initial shock of witnessing a horrible death and then the more perverse shock of actually experiencing freedom (of a sort, I mean only rich people are truly free and lot of them choose not to be) got to work helping me out.  Cladarielle isn’t as famous as her husband, of course, but she’s known around town so they didn’t think it would be hard to track her down.  They tossed around a couple ideas but the one that was by a wide margin the most promising was contacting a watch captain by the name of Sharn Maple.  He was a regular of Bru’s but she was worried that he would be angry if they approached him to ask for them. 

“Yeah, that’s why he’s going to help us.”

She frowned “How’s that?”

“He’d be angry because he doesn’t want people to know that you know him, and the best way to get rid of you is to help you as soon as possible.  Well or kill you, but that seems like an overreaction.”

“But if I do that I might lose him as a customer!”

“So what, you guys work at an inn now.  Although might I suggest that you now have a pretty solid basis for a blackmailing business as well.”

Scarlet raised an eyebrow “Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Yes, but nothing ventured eh? Okay Bru, here’s what you do – send the guy a note saying you’re knocked up and you need money to get out of town.  You don’t say outright that if you don’t get the money people will find out about the whole sordid mess but you hint at it.”

“I can’t write.”

“No worries, I’ll write for you.”

Scarlet looked dubious “Can you hold a pen in your paw?”

“What?  Oh right.  Sorry I forgot I was a cat for a moment.  Can any of you write?” They shook their head. “Alright then, I know a place we can go to figure this out.”

We headed over to Gorum’s shop.  I expected that he might be there but apparently he loves Kichwa even more than his books because there was no sign of him – they must have run from the inn and just kept running.  It’s good to know that true love exists.  Granted it’s easier when you don’t really know the person you’re in love with, let’s see how they’re doing in six months.  For that matter as long as dwarves live do they even believe in monogamy?  I’m not sure I even want to know. 

Fiestia was able to tease open the lock but for some reason she did a whole innocent act before admitting that she could.  Who was she trying to fool?  Once inside I found a book that was one tutors use to teach kids that had a couple pages with big block letters and I was able to point out the letters for Scarlet to copy with the plentiful ink and paper in the place to write out the message.  It was tedious and took a long time but she actually did pretty well considering.  The writing was somewhat childish looking, but what can do you?

“Next we find a courier and the trap is set.”

Scarlet spoke for the group “What are we going to pay him with?  We don’t have any money.”

“Bullshit.”

“Okay, we don’t have any money we’re going to spend on this.”

“That I can accept.  Let’s go over to Gorum’s house and see how much of a hurry he left in.”

“Isn’t that robbery?”

“Yes.  You lot are awfully uptight for prostitutes, crime is crime don’t get bogged down in the details.”

“Ex-prostitutes you mean, we work at an inn now.”

“Of course that’s what I meant.”

Gorum’s shack was untouched as far as I could tell.  He and Kichwa must have literally left town together as soon as they were out of the inn.  Or maybe a bugbear ate them.  Doesn’t matter which I suppose.  There were a lot more books, which probably can be sold but that’s not really quick cash.  More promisingly we found a leather cutlery case with steel knives inside, a silver decanter, and a brass jar.  Scarlet “happened” to know a fence called Egg who we went to see next in his basement lair at 83 Grimalkin Lane.  I was expecting him to be bald because of the name but he had a full hair of hair – he wasn’t a bad looking fellow for a weasely asshole fence – so I have no idea why they call him Egg.

Scarlet bargained with the guy for what seemed like a year over these simple items and I wanted to get angry about it, but I remember what it’s like to live or die on every coin – because I was doing it less than a year ago.  You should bargain as long as you can – words cost nothing and they can get you gold.  It’s like magic only anyone can do it.  Eventually the goods and coin were exchanged and as a bonus Egg had a short guy with a horse-face (not literally, although I saw a guy once that was cursed by a witch to have a horse head) that was willing to carrying the message for us.  It was getting on to the dinner hour so we went to a restaurant nearby to await the reply.  I had to hide under the table and eat off a plate on the floor.  I didn’t care for that.  Egg’s messenger returned with instructions to meet the Captain by the Statue of the Maker in an hour.

“Hells no, send the guy back a note saying we’ll meet him at the inn.”

“Why?”

“When you’re putting the squeeze on someone you don’t want to let them dictate the location of the meet.  If this guy does want to slit your throat and toss your body in an alley for the dogs you don’t want to let him set up an ambush.  We’ll meet him on our home territory.”

“We only moved to the inn yesterday, how much of an advantage could it be?”

“Sure but you know what I mean.”

Rather than messing about with a another note we just had the courier take him the message verbally.  When we got back to the inn Josta was puttering around not doing much of anything with a mug of beer in her hand. 

“I was wondering where you girls had gotten to.  I see the magic cat is back.”

“With a vengeance.  We’re going to use your place to meet with a watch captain we’re blackmailing.  Do you have a crossbow?”

“No, but it he gets out of line I’ll bash him with my shovel.”

“Good enough.”

The watch captain was a tall fellow that had one of those weird baby faces – not that he looked young exactly, he looked like a middle aged man with a baby face.  I found it unsettling.  He had clearly been quite the physical presence in years gone by but he was putting on a little weight and was at the point where he was either going to realize that he can’t live like he used to or begin the long slow slide into slovenly portliness.  He was equal parts shocked by a talking cat and relieved that he hadn’t impregnated a sex worker.

“Don’t get too excited though, because we’re still extorting you – I need to know where Cladarielle Staelish is and/or what happened to her.  She didn’t come home last night and I don’t think that’s her usually shtick.”

His eyes widened “Bywan Staelish’s wife is missing?”

“Yes, and you’re going to find her – aren’t you lucky?!  Think how impressed and happy he’ll be that you saved his wife.  I mean he’s this hero right and you saved his wife, what does that make you?”

His eyes gleamed “A big damn hero.”

“You can say that again, twice if you like.”

“What am I saving her from?”

“That’s what you need to find out my friend.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

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 

Muthuselan 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

The night came and went and come morning Cladarielle still hadn’t returned home.  As someone who regularly goes out on a basic errand and ends up “missing” for several days that maybe shouldn’t alarm me but I have a bad feeling about this.  You may be thinking to yourself “Ela, you have a bad feeling about everything”.  Yeah, I do, and when’s the last time I was wrong?  I spent the night wandering around the house looking for a way that I could get out.  I should have told Cladarielle to leave a window cracked just in case.  From now on the first thing I’ve going to do when I end up in a new place is find how I can get out of there on my own and if theirs is no way something needs to be done about it. 

I know that I’m starting to repeat myself, but this feeling of helplessness is really starting to wear on me.  I can endure a lot mentally, Gods know that I have, but this pervasive sense of being powerless could grind me down over a long enough timeline.  I had found no way out of the house when the sun came up and I contemplated blasting a way out with my Storm tattoo, but then I would be defenseless for the rest of the day.  And of course there’s the possibility that everything is fine and I would be wrecking the house of the one person helping me for no reason.  In the end I decided to do what cats do best – sit in the window sill and watch the world outside. I even managed to doze off for a while.

When I woke up there was a little girl on the other side of the glass looking in at me in that way little girls do when they see something fluffy and adorable.  Well, some little girls anyway.  Doing my best to be as cute as possible I threw my voice to her.

“Well hello there.”

I’ve seen some truly astonished looks in my day but adults can’t hold a candle to children when it comes to facial expressions of surprise and joy.  Or any other ones really.  I guess they haven’t learned to hide their emotions yet.  She held up her rag doll and looked at it in wonder.  I suppose that’s maybe more plausible than a talking cat or equally as plausible at the very least.  I’ve always hated those things, the button eyes really creep me out.  Can you prove those buttons didn’t come from the trousers of a psychotic killer?  No, you cannot. 

“Yes, it’s me, your doll, I’ve come to life because I need your help.”

I could barely hear her through the window glass “If you came to life why aren’t you moving?”

“I can’t move, I can only speak to you – and only you can hear me because you’re so special.  You are the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times.”

“I am?”

“Yes, and I need you to do something for me. That door to your right, see it?  I need you to open that door.”

She scowled “That doesn’t sound very important.”

“I assure you that it is.  You see that door is a magic door and you’re the only one who can open it because you’re the prettiest and the smartest and horses that don’t like anyone else will let you pet them.”

“Why is it magic?”

“A witch cast a spell on it.”

“Why?”

“To trap a beautiful princess who is actually your big sister and will show you how to put on make-up and seem more gown up.”

“Really?’

“Yes.”

“Wow.  Why did the witch do that?”

“Jealously.  She didn’t like that the princess was prettier and better liked than her.  And also she’s really good at jacks.  The witch hated how good she was.”

“How good?”

“She never forgets to go queens before kings.”

“Whoa.  Can she teach me too?”

“Absolutely, she’d love nothing more than to do that, and also to do your chores for you.”

“Really?”

“Yes really, can we move this along a little, the princess has places to be.”

The girl eagerly ran over to the door of the Staelish house but she stopped herself from reaching for the knob.  I saw she saying something to the doll but now that she was away from the window even with cat ears I couldn’t make it out.  I threw my voice in her direction again.

“You have to speak up, these doll ears don’t hear so good.”

She shouted her little lungs out “Isn’t it wrong to go into someone’s house without asking?”

“You’re not going in, you’re just opening the door, besides that rule doesn’t apply when witches and spells are involved.”

“Okay!”

I had a moment of true panic when she struggled with the knob, thinking that maybe the door was locked, but she was able to get it open.  Who doesn’t lock their doors?  I guess it’s a good thing this is a nice neighborhood.  She tried to grab me as I ran out but she’d have better luck jumping to the moon.

“Hey kitty you’re supposed to be out here!”

“It’s fine, don’t worry about the cat.  Now the last thing you need to do is shut the door very gently, not all the way, just enough so that it looks closed but that a very small creature could push it open still.”

“Like a rabbit?”

“Sure.”

With exaggerated care she closed the door – the kind of exaggeration that you can only find in children.  Or drunk morons. 

“Thanks kid, the magic is over now so I won’t be talking to you anymore but you’re the best, remember that.”

“Wait, where’s my sister princess?”

“She had some errands to run, she’ll swing by tonight to see you.  Bye now.”

I hate walking through the streets like this.  I absolutely hate it.  It’s hard to see where you’re going when you’re this low to the ground – everything and everyone blocks your line of sight.  I’m not super tall but tall enough that I’m used to having a good eyeline.  Plus one person steps on you and your dead.  And don’t even get me started on dogs.  I wouldn’t have thought that any experience could sour me on pooches, but this has opened a tiny crack.  Why must dogs bark their heads off at me one hundred percent of the time?  Do you know how fucking loud a dog bark is to cat ears?

It took me hours to get back to the tavern, the scene of the crime if you will.  There was no longer a dead merchant hanging out the top window, which I saw as a welcome development.  The door was closed but I was able to make my way on the roof of the building nearby and window jump into the room where Lieutenant Ferros had met his maker.  Or maybe not his maker but some God or other probably.  His body was gone as well and I could see my friend the gravedigger sleeping in the large bed.  I would have woken her up but I heard voices coming from downstairs and decided to investigate that first.  Cat peeking down the stairs I saw Scarlet two other women of a similar mien sitting around a table in their underclothes. I padded down to the common room.

“What are you doing?”

The two other women were as startled as you’d expect by a talking cat but Scarlet was nonplussed “Well if it isn’t the cat detective.  Did you crack the case?”

“Of course, the butler did it.  Why are you sitting around in your smallclothes?”

“We’re doing laundry.”

“Looks like you’re just sitting around.”

“There’s a magic tub downstairs that does all the work, you just have to toss the clothes in.”

“I don’t know how I feel about that, without menial tasks to keep them busy what’s going to become of the lower classes?”

“I shudder to think.  Did you come here for a reason or just to visit the scene of your detectiving triumph.”

“I came looking for help actually.  I thought that the gravedigger might lend me a hand because I gave her this inn, but maybe you lot can help me.”

“Why would we do that?”

“When you bailed the law dogs wanted to go after you, I told them not to bother.”

“Because of you I got my sweetdream confiscated.”

“Not because of me, that was the law dogs.  But there’s plenty of money to be had here – the dwarf had some weapons and armor in her room and the merchant had all kinds of good stuff.  I doubt the digger knows how to liquidate that stuff but I’m sure that you ladies do, or know someone that can.  Er, does.  Whatever, you know what I mean.”

“What do you need help with?”

“I need to find a friend of mine.  She was out last night and she never came back.  I’m concerned that something may have befallen her.”

“How sweet, I wish someone cared that much about me – something befalls me regularly.”

“I know the feeling.  Are you going to help me?”

Scarlet thought about it for a moment “That’s pretty thin.  I’m sure Josta was going to have us help her sell that stuff anyway. What else do you have to offer?” 

“Let me ask you a question, what do you girls plan to do?”

One of other women, in a hideous black and red corset spoke up “Do?  Do about what?”

“About this place.  Josta is going to need help running it, this is your chance to earn a living on your feet.”

Scarlet shook her head “Roche would never allow it.”

“Your pimp?” She nodded “What if he wasn’t in the picture anymore?”

Scarlet laughed “You get rid of Roche and we’ll find you the crown price Himself!”

“Done.  Take me to wherever he is.”

The third one, who looked more like a washerwoman than a pleasure girl snorted “What are you going to do?  Cat magic?”

“Yeah.”

They clearly thought I was joking but they carried me (humiliating) a few blocks over to the kind of waterbug infested taproom where you’d expect to find a low quality panderer.  They didn’t think it was a joke anymore when I annihilated him with a stroke of lightening.  Interestingly enough I would say the smell of burning pimp actually improved the ambiance there.    

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

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 

Muthuselan 1 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

Certain types, you know the ones I mean, are always droning on about shifting your perspective and seeing things from another point of view.  I wonder how long they’d be singing that tune if they got turned into an animal for a couple days.  Some of them would probably love it.  Fucking weirdos.  You want to know something weird about being a cat?  I have a feeling that you do.  As a cat even when you you’re not cold you want to be warmer.  I don’t know what it is but pretty much all the time you want more heat.  I’ve heard about lions living in deserts and I didn’t really believe it until now – seems like it would be way too hot with all that fur, even though they’re not super furry.  But cats must just run hotter than other mammals.  I wonder if there some animals that like it colder.  It occurs to me now that turning people into animals would really be a great way to advance science.  So many questions would be answered. 

My point is this, I did sleep in bed with Cladarielle last night but it wasn’t in a weird way.  After the fire burned down I just wanted more warmth.  She did not pet me.  I would have bitten her so hard if she had tried.  But she didn’t so it was fine.  I just want to make that clear. 

The Staelish house isn’t a mansion or anything like that, but it is nice enough that it seems strange to me that there are no servants about.  Cladarielle is just here by herself, making her own food and drawing her own water and all that.  They clearly have money, as I’ve learned being a wandering killer pays surprisingly well, but they have no staff.  I couldn’t figure it so I asked Cladarielle about it while she was making herself breakfast and she seemed to think it was a strange thing to ask.  She didn’t even really answer me.  She did tell me though that she had a dream that today I was going to be returned to my human form.

“Do you believe in that?  Dreams telling the future?”

“I don’t see why not, there’s magic that can tell the future, and I have magic in my blood so why couldn’t I have a dream that tells me what’s going to happen?”

“Is there dream magic?”

She nodded, nibbling on a piece of bread “Yes.  There’s are spells that allow you to communicate with people through their dreams, there’s spells that allow you to travel through dreams and end up somewhere else in the real world, there’s spells that let you haunt your enemies with nightmares, there’s spells of all sorts, although not many people learn them.  Some magic users even think that dreams are real in a way, that they take place on another dimension that’s inhabited by creatures that live there.  Some nightmares are just nightmares, others are creatures of the dark dreaming.”

“Well that’s a new horrible thing to learn.”

She shrugged “I don’t know if it’s true, it’s just what some people think.”

“I met a creature once that I can believe is a living nightmare.”

“Sadly the Gods seem to have created a lot of creatures like that.”

“Do you believe in the Gods?”

“How could I not?”

“You know what I mean, obviously the Gods exist because they give their followers magic but what are they really?  What’s the difference between an evil God and a Lord of the Thirteen?  Is there any reason for us to worship them other than extortion?”

“I’m no theologian, I can’t answer any of your questions.  I can’t say that I’m a devout follower of any god but I pray to Adariel sometimes.”

“Why?”

“The same reason you say thank you when someone helps you of gives you something.”

“I’ve never really understood that either.”

“You’ve thanked me several times.”

“That’s different.”

She smiled “Of course.  You’ve never had a dream come true?  Or tell you something?  Even if we forget about magic and foretelling the future and all that I think that sometimes dreams can tell you things that your conscious mind is too busy worrying about to notice.  Have you ever known someone who was clearly making a mistake and you couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see it?  I think your mind sometimes can cut through that clutter and lay things bare for you.”

“What’s the point, doesn’t seem like anyone listens.”

“Maybe some do.  Maybe that’s why some people seem doomed to fail at every turn and others always seem to come out ahead.”

“That’s a better explanation than some I’ve heard.  I had a dream once that an angel visited me.  Or maybe an angel did visit me in a dream.  Or in real life.  It’s not clear to me exactly what happened there.”

“What did it say to you?”

“It said that it was my guardian, although mostly all it did was bust my balls.”

“You don’t have balls.”

“You don’t know what I have.  One thing he told me is that my problem is that I’m such a good liar that I don’t know when I’m fooling myself.  What he didn’t take into consideration though is that I’m also really good at detecting lies.”

She raised an eyebrow “Really good?”

“Well, I mean I’m okay.”

After she finished with her breakfast she got dressed for another day of pounding the streets and trying to find someone or some information to help me out.  It was strange again to see a woman of this class getting ready by herself and also not spending a lot of time on her make-up and hair and dress.  After she was gone I was left to wander about the house and get more and more anxious – I hate do nothing and relying on others.  In case I haven’t mentioned that a hundred times already.  I slept a good deal of the day, cat style, but there was still plenty of time to make myself crazy.  I got slightly worried when it was a few hours past sunset and she wasn’t back.  She had been out all day – and I know how exhausting it can be to run around town talking to people for hours.

Even well after midnight she didn’t come back.     

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

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 

Mede 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 6

I assumed that I would ride in the coach but instead I was sitting up in the driver’s seat with Leffy while he picked up some other folks.  I’m not sure if they were going to somewhere on Paddock Street themselves or if Leffy was taking them for a ride.  He kept glancing down at me looking nervous.  I suppose having a talking black cat at your side is the kind of thing that could make you nervous.  Dogs are almost universally loved, cats people look at with a measure of reserve and it’s easy to see why.  Dogs are like your big dumb cousin Laerl – they may get their head stuck in a pickle jar but if anyone messes with you he’s there to freak out about it.  Even the little ones are like your big dumb cousin.  They want you to love them so desperately that you can’t help but feel for them.

Cats on the other hand are opportunists.  Have you ever seen a dog that was ashamed?  I have.  You’ll never see a cat look like that.  Partially because they don’t reveal much but also because shame is not their way.  The morals of humans, our code, it doesn’t mean anything to them.  They’re the ultimate visitor, even then they’re with you they’re not really with you.  When you look in the eyes of a dog you know what’s up, when you look into the eyes of a cat all you see is your own reflection.  They’re not giving up anything without it being earned.  My point is that I can understand why people are more ambivalent about cats – they’re too much like people. 

When we rolled to a stop in front of Cladarielle Staelish’s  house it was well dark, but thankfully there were lights coming from inside. Leffy put up the reins and clambered off the coach to the street somewhat awkwardly.

“Is there anything else I can do for you . . . uh . . . ma’am?”

I hopped down next to him “Yes, if you could please knock on the door for me.”

Cladarielle opened the door after a moment and upon spying me smiled slightly.  She passed some coins to Leffy and invited me in.  It was nice to be inside where it was warm, there’s a chill in the air tonight and all this fur doesn’t keep you as warm as you’d think. 

“I was hoping that I would hear from you, I went to Gorum’s bookstore and it was closed, I wasn’t sure how to get in touch with you.”

“Things went a little sideways for me today, as per usual.”

“Well you know what they say about black cats.”

“Don’t remind me.  Could I impose on you for something to eat?  I’m quite hungry.”

She brought me a tray of deliciously spiced ham.  Even as a cat shoving my face into something and just having at it is something I don’t enjoy in the slightest.  Hopefully it’s not something I’ll have to get used to.  In the front room where she put down the ham she had a bewildering array of metal objects of various sizes and shapes spread out over a low table.  There must have been hundreds of them, if not thousands.  She had a glass of wine on the table as well, whatever she was doing it looked like she had been at it for a while.

“What’s all this?”

“I’m trying to teach myself how to construct clockworks.”

“All of this is what’s inside a clock?”

“No, the mechanism that makes the arms of a clock move can be used for other things – although you still have to use magic as well.  But it’s much less expensive than using pure magic.  I think this is going to be a revolutionary technology – once you can make an engine with a bit of magic and a lot of mundane materials everything is going to change.  Right now only rich people can have magic conveniences, once we get this figured out they’ll be fore everyone.”

“I’ll take your word for it.  How’s it going?”

“Slowly.  I never had a formal education so engineering isn’t really something I know a lot about.”

“You didn’t go to wizard school?  My friend Martialla is like that.  So some people have to learn magic and some can just do it?  That doesn’t seem fair.”

“It’s not.  But it evens out a little because wizards can do a lot more than sorcerers – it’s like the difference between someone who sculpts statues and someone who builds a massive stone bridge.  They’re similar in their way but quite different results.”

“I seem to keep running to magic people doing horrible things – often to women – experiments I think they call them.  Which one are they?”

“Wizards for sure.  I talked to Rangan, one of the seekers from the church of Vultur, they do have your possessions.”

“I guess it’s good to know where they are.  What’s their position on me?”

“Technically you’re a fugitive in their eyes, but tracking down a house cat isn’t really in their wheelhouse.  They’re still in town and honestly I think they’re just hoping you turn up again on your own.  Their relationship with the local authorities has turned pretty frosty.”

“Yeah, what’s that about?”

“I don’t know.  They said that you killed one of their brethren.”

“I did.  He attacked me a couple times, trying to kidnap me, and the last time I fought him off I guess he died.  I don’t understand how I did anything wrong though, it was self-defense.  They don’t actually have the authority to arrest anyone do they?”

“It’s complicated.”

“I am really tired of that answer.”

“Sorry, but it’s true, I don’t know the half of it.  I did the best I could to ask then about it, but aside from confirming that is has something to do with Królewna & Bonifacja I couldn’t get anything out of them about it.  I thought that the seekers of Vultur were a straight-forward organization but they clearly have secrets of their own.”

“If I turn myself into them can they break this magic?”

“Would you if they could?”

“Maybe, it depends on what other options I have.”

“I’ll ask and make sure but I doubt it, their magic is focused more on finding people and placing curses on people rather than abating the curses of others.”

“Yeah, they cursed me pretty good once.  For a while there I seemed to be weighed down with curses like a nobleman is weighed down by bastard children.  Do I have any other options at this point?”

“As I mentioned before you could wait for a friend of mine, but it would be a while.  Right now in town the only lead I have is an unsavory one.  There’s a gang called the Lucky Bones, one of their members calls himself a shaper, he’s not exactly a mage but he has . . . abilities.  And this isn’t just street rumors, I know of a few cases where he’s changed people physically.  He might be able to undo what’s been done to you.”

“I don’t really have a lot to bargain with at this point and street scum aren’t known for their altruism.”

“True.  It’s only been a day though, I’ll continue doing some research on what might be able to help your situation.”

“Thank you, I truely appreciate it.  While I’m already imposing on you can I do it some more and ask if you can give me a place to stay?  Since Gorum has run off I’m left without much of anything right now.”

“Of course, you’re welcome in my home any time.”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

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  

Mede 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 5

Without much of a by your leave the three watchmen, well one watchman, one watchwoman, and one watchboy left the inn.  They didn’t even haul away either of the dead bodies.  I guess their job is to explain the bodies not get rid of the, but now what happens if some other watch people come by and see corpses laying around?  Are we just supposed to say “no it’s okay, some other people already investigated this” and they just go away?  They never talk about that in the Annebelle Spaulding books, what happens to the body after she unmasks the murderer?  It’s usually the vicar.  What the Hells is a vicar anyway? 

After they were gone Rindol, looking disgusted as ever, made like he was going to leave as well.  I tried to whistle to get his attention but cats don’t really have lips so it didn’t work so well.  In the end I had to jump down and get in front of him.

“Hey, wait a minute, before you run off I need you to hail me a coach over to Cladarielle Staelish’s house on Paddock Street.”

“A cat in a coach?  Preposterous!”

“Yes, what will the city fathers think?  Don’t bust my chops just do it Rindol.”

“Why should I?”

“Because I saved your life in the woods.  Remember that?  I was just fooling around when I said I knew about that because I’m a witch.  I know I look different now but surely you remember my voice – I’m her, it’s me.  I just got turned into a cat.  The least you can do is help me out here.  Your life has to be worth that much.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.  And even if I did I have no money for a coach.”

“Yes, I remember your friend Murdane lecturing me often about how you scholarly types don’t need money.  I’m not exactly sure how you get by still, but that’s not the matter at hand.  There’s a dead merchant upstairs who had a bunch of money.  There’s some money in the lieutenant’s room as well.  Plus unless she grabbed it before she ran off Kichwa has to have some coin stashed around here as well.”

His face puckered like he smell something sour “What are you suggesting?!”

“You said that you didn’t have any money, I just told you there’s a bunch of money here no one is using.  What I’m implying seems pretty clear.”

“Madam, I am no thief.”  

I sighed, which came out as more of a little hiss “Look Rindol, I don’t want to be a bitch about this but here’s the deal.  I saved your life.  I am asking you in return to do a very reasonable thing.  If you refuse to do this when I get turned back into a person, and I assure you that I will, I will make it a special mission of mine to find you and fuck you up.  I can’t tell you exactly what I’m going to do because I don’t know, but I’ll come up with something good.  Take this as a threat or a promise or a guarantee or whatever you want to call it, but Rindol it’s going to happen.  Unless you help me right now.  This is not a big deal Rindol, you can just do this thing and everything will be fine okay?”

Apparently it wasn’t okay because he left.  And just to be an asshole he shut the door firmly behind him so that I couldn’t get out.  I could jump down from the window on the second floor and in theory that should be fine because I’m a cat but it just doesn’t seem right.  As a human I could have done it, but when I’m this small it seems like a mile down.  Plus I feel so light that I can’t imagine landing safely – I feel like I’d fly apart.  A customer has to come by at some point and open the door right? 

While I waited I explored the rest of the place more thoroughly, in Kichwa’s room I found some armor and a sword that looked like they hadn’t been used in years.  I guess she must have been a soldier or something, not a good one I have to assume based on how skittish she was.  I found a journal as well but with my cat eyes I wasn’t able to read it.  I wonder who owns this place now.  Probably since no one is here to pay taxes it will become the property of the city to be auctioned off but I bet anyone could just come in here and start running it and everyone would just go along with it.  Possession is nine tenths and all that. 

After a couple hours no one had come in so I started to get worried.  The hardcore alcoholics should have turned up by now.  I sent to the second story window, you know the one with the barbecued merchant hanging out it, and jumped into the sill beside him.  The sun was starting to go down and the streets were starting to get really busy before they emptied out.  I waited for things to thin out a bit and then picked my candidate – a tall scrawny stick-looking woman in dirty clothes with a shovel over her shoulder.  Her black hair was cut scandalously short and was dusted with grime. 

“Hey you, do you want to own a tavern?” 

She stopped and looked around in confusion “Who said that?”

“Up here, next to the dead body, the cat.  Me, I’m talking.”

“Why isn’t your mouth moving?”

“That’s your issue with the situation?  Just come inside.”

She gestured “There’s a sign on the door that says you’re closed.”

I cursed Rindol under my breath “Just come in.”

I jumped out of the window and cat sprinted downstairs – I’m not sure why exactly, I guess I was afraid that she might leave.  I got down into the common room just as she was closing the door and looking around.

“Slow night huh?  Is that why you’re closed so early?  Or is it the other way around?”

“You don’t seem that shocked by a talking cat.”

“I’m used to it, there’s a talking cat down at the graveground.  His mouth moves though so it’s a little different I guess.”

“There is?”

“Yeah.  It’s a black one like you, only his fur isn’t nearly so fine.  It’s on the mangy side of the equation.”

“What does it say to you?”

“Mostly it tells me to burn things.  Sometimes we just chit chat, but mostly it talks about arson.”

“Good Gods.”

She leaned her shovel against the wall, moving behind the bar to pour herself a beer “I don’t do it.  At church they have a cat, the priests say that cats search for devils or signs of their mischief.  So I figure this one is just a little confused.”

“Do you believe that?”

She shrugged and took a long drink of her beer “I guess.”

“Do you want to own this tavern?”

She looked around “It’s pretty nice.  But I don’t know anything about running a tavern.”

“That’s the beauty, you don’t need to – you just own the joint.  You hire a cook to make the food and you hire a maid to take care of the rooms and to get her ass grabbed and you hire a barmaid to serve drinks and to get her ass grabbed and you just sit back and count the money.”

“That sounds pretty good.  What do I got to do to get it?”

“Just get me a coach over to Paddock street, and get rid of a couple bodies.”

She laughed “That should be easy, I’m a gravedigger.”

“You were, now you’re an innkeeper.  As a bonus two of the dead people had some money you can take and some stuff you can sell if you’re so inclined.”

“Sounds like a deal.  My buddy Leffy drives a coach, I’ll go grab him.”

She walked out the door and I was left to wait.  It was honestly one of the more excruciating experiences of my life waiting to see if she was going to come back or just walk away with a crazy story to tell her drinking buddies about a talking cat.  She left her shovel behind which gave me hope – surely if you’re a gravedigger your shovel is your most prized possession.  She wouldn’t leave that behind would she?  If the Duke’s wife really wanted to torment me she should have turned me into an animal.  I’ve never felt this helpless, I can’t even open a door on my own.  A small dog could murder me at any moment.  Part of me is swearing that I never want to feel this way again.  Another part of me is thinking this would a good thing to do to the Duke if I can figure out how.

It was over an hour before the gravedigger came back, walking with her was a broad-shouldered fellow with dun colored hair and a shirt with a wide collar.  He looked more like a blacksmith or a stevedore to me than a coachman – they tend to run on the lean side and this fellow looked strong like a bull.  The gravedigger pointed at me and said that I was the cat she was talking about, before the man could say anything I greeted him and he jumped back as if he had been snakebite, which caused his friend to laugh coarsely.  She continued chuckling as she moved behind the bar to help herself to another beer.

“Afraid of a little pussy huh, Leffy?  I always thought you might be that way the way you and Erac’s cousin carry on!”

Leffy took a few steps backwards towards the door “What are you?”

“I’m her fairy godmother.  I gave her this inn for being good.”

I heard the gravedigger laugh again from behind the bar.    

Leffy had a look of awe on his face “And you want me to drive you to a house on Paddock street?”

“Yes, someone lost a tooth over there and I need to put a copper under their pillow.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

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

Mede 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 4

Have you ever wondered why there aren’t more magical people in the city watch?  I have.  I suppose it comes down a matter of trust.  If Jelician the Watchmage wiggles their nose and says “The dwarf did it” how can you be sure they’re telling the truth?  Unless you get some other wizard to cast a spell on them and then how can you be sure they aren’t shining you on and so and so on.  Still the entire process is based on trusting people either way so it seems like having the magic people on board would be better than the method of just hoping that someone saw it happen.  There probably aren’t enough magic people to go around.  Karta and regrouped upstairs to discuss our lack of progress.

“Is this how investigations normally go?  I feel like we’re not really getting anywhere.”

“We’ve only interviewed half the suspects, something is bound to shake loose.  Although, between you and me investigation isn’t really my thing.”

“Let’s talk about that for a moment.  I happened to see a garrote in your room, that coupled with the facts that your boss had a stab wound, you’re staying at an inn, and you don’t want anyone other watch people involved stacks up to make me think that maybe no one here killed him.  Maybe this is related to whatever secret shit you’re getting up to.”

“That thought crossed my mind.”

“And?”

“And nothing.  I can’t tell you anything about that.”

Before I could reply we heard a commotion coming from downstairs and we ran back down where we found Callon putting the boots to the merchant Weaver while Hilo looked on afraid and uncertain.  Gorum and Kichwa were behind the barring clutching at each other in fright.  Karta bellowed at him to stop and Callon did so reluctantly.  Kichwa, near tears, pointed accusingly. 

“Hey tried to take the key from Gorum!”

Callon spat near the merchant as he tried to get to his feet “He must have wanted to get out of here pretty bad.  I wonder why that would be.”

I jumped up onto the bar “Gorum what happened?”

His voice was shaky “He asked me for the key and when I told him that he couldn’t have it he offered me money.  When I said no again he showed me his blade and said that I should give him the key.”

Callon nodded “I saw him flashing his blade and jumped in.  The kid froze.  You’re gonna get yourself killed out on the street if you don’t toughen up junior.  This is a rough business.”

“Especially when you’re out on the street I imagine.  Okay first of all, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been done already, how about you search everyone for weapons and take them so we don’t have an incident like that again.”

Karta took the merchant by the arm “You want to talk to this one next?”

“Of course.” After she was marching the merchant up the stairs I cat whispered to Gorum “If you can talk to the kid, you know, quiet like, and tell him to find me when we can talk in private.  I think he’s the weak link there.”

Weaver is a middle aged fellow balding fellow who is both chubby and fidgety.  He was wearing a garish gold medallion around his neck that made me think of all my gold and jewels and where they were right now.  If I don’t get that stuff back I’m going to be mildly annoyed.  But that’s neither here nor there, well I guess it’s there but you know what I mean.  He had a split lip but otherwise didn’t appear to be too banged up from the rough treatment he had just gotten.

“I’m a member of the guild!  I can’t be treated like this!”

“Obviously you can, I think you mean that you shouldn’t be treated like this.”

“I don’t have anything to do with this, I just wanted to leave!”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but are you stupid?  Did you think threatening a guy in front of a watchman wasn’t going to end with you getting your ass kicked?

“I figured the dwarf would just give up the key and I could slip out, I didn’t really think about what I was doing after he said no.”

“Obviously.  Why are you carrying a blade anyway?”

“My work isn’t always safe, I need to protect myself.”

“What kind of merchant are you exactly?”

“I sell various things to various people.”

I cat grinned “Yes of course, a various merchant.  I think I see what you are now.  That explains why you have a secret pocket in your jacket.  What’s in there right now anyway?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I’m sure, Karta, if you wouldn’t mind.”

Krata made a move towards the merchant who put his hands out imploringly “Wait, no, I have information!  Kichwa is in league with smugglers!  There’s a hidden room in the basement where she stores contraband.  The watch lieutenant must have found out about it and that’s why she killed him.  She works with Imma Shadowrun!”

“How do you know all this?”

“I . . . may have . . . been involved as well.  From time to time.”

“That certainly is interesting.  Now let’s have a look at that jacket.  Do you want to take it off like a gentleman or does Karta need to rip it off your back?  I know that some men like that.”

The jacket didn’t just have a secret pocket, said pocket was extra-dimensional storage like the one I used to have.  I need to remember to get one of those again if and when I ever turn back into a person and need to wear clothes.  Inside was quite the treasure trove, a tidy pile of gold, several gems, a dozen potions, several nice rings, several fake nice looking rings, various maps and letters, and an exquisitely made dagger in an elaborate gold inlayed scabbard that had the word “revenge” etched into the blade.  It looked very much like what you might find in one of my secret stashes. 

“This is quite a nest egg, the various goods business must be very good right now.  Do you have receipts to show were you got all this gold?  You’ve already admitted to being a smuggler, are you a tax cheat as well?”

“I didn’t admit to anything!  I didn’t commit any murder and I’m only trying to help!”

“Indeed.  Karta get the kid up here to watch him and let’s check out that secret room.”

Hilo came up to keep an eye on Weaver and we went back downstairs.

“Kichwa, are you going to make us find the secret room in the basement or do you just want to show it to us?”

Her face fell but after a moment she sighed “I’ll show you, but there’s nothing down there right now.”

The only way down was a narrow ladder, I could have probably made my way down it but I didn’t feel the need – I know they say cats always land on their feet but I’ve only been a cat for a little while now, I may not have the hang of it yet.  Karta went down with her and confirmed there was a secret door that lead to an empty storage room.  When they came back up Kichwa looked absolutely miserable.

“So, Imma Shadowrun?”

She nodded mournfully “I didn’t want to do it, but they didn’t give me a choice.”

“There’s really a lot going on in this one little inn, I wonder if you dig keep enough at any place if you find this kind of intrigue.  You were really getting squeezed huh?  Ferros on one side and these dirty criminals on the other.  Are you sure you didn’t kill Ferros to get loose?”

She started crying “I just wanted him to go away.”

Once again before I could continue with my line of thought there came a hue and cry from up above.  Karta and I ran up into the common room where Callon and the Kostelos woman were locked in a violent struggle.  Karta ran to help him, but there was also a commotion coming from the second floor.  I ran up the stairs to the room where we left Weaver and saw him half-way out the window with Hilo, who had a bloody wound on his head, struggling to hold him by the legs while getting repeatedly kicked in the face.

“Out of the way kid, I got this.”

Hilo looked confused and scared (which seems to be his perpetual expression at this point) but he was used to following orders so he let go.  I summoned the magic of my tattoo and unleashed a dazzling stroke of lightening on the merchant before he could wiggle through the window and drop to the street.  I can’t imagine being electrocuted is ever a good way to go, but you can imagine how being halfway out a window would lead to a really undignified way to get a bolt of lightning.  The kid flopped to the ground in a sitting position, stunned.

“It was me.”

“What?”

“I killed Lieutenant Cole.”

“Why?”

“He found out about Sergeant Skeen and Officer Saetirod.  He was going to tell.  They were going to get into trouble.”

“So you killed him?”

“They were nice to me.  No one has ever been nice to me before . . . and he was a bad person.”

“Are you sure you did this on your own?  Did Callon maybe tell you to do it?  He shook his head numbly , not in a way that said “no” but more like he just couldn’t think about it. “What are you people doing?  What’s the big secret?”

“We’re not the city watch, not really, we’re . . .”

At that moment Karta and Callon came pounding in.

“What was that noise?!  What’s going on up here?”

“Weaver tried to bash the kid and then escape.  I had to fry him.  But he was the murderer.  That’s what he said right Hilo?  He confessed and then he tried to kill you too right?”

 Hilo frowned “What?  I . . .”

“You’ve got a concussion, don’t talk right now.  He can tell you all about it later.  The merchant did it, I heard him say so to Hilo.  I guess we’ll never know why now, but the case is closed.  What was going on downstairs?”

Callon seemed dubious “When we heard a commotion up here the savage went for the stairs.  I grabbed her and she took a swing at me.”

“Well, anyway, I guess things are wrapped up here.  And as a bonus you’ve got a smuggling ring you can bust if you want.  Point is it’s time for me to be on my merry way.  Let’s go downstairs and get that door open huh? 

Turns out we were behind the curve on that one.  When we got downstairs the front door was open and the only one still there was Rindol.  He was sitting at table looking surly.

“When is dinner going to be served?  I’m hungry!” 

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Behind the curtain: TWO new maps added to the maps section. Look and enjoy and then tell ten fifteen friends about it.