I wonder what most people would do to receive their heart’s desire. What would they risk? Their lives? Their souls? Their sanity? Certainly any of those things in someone else. I wonder how many people would be disappointed after they got it. I suppose that’s how the old fairy stories go, getting what you want always seems to end up ruining everything. The lesson they’re trying to teach is give up your dreams and accept your fate because those stories, like most stories, are propaganda to keep people living their miserable lives without jumping off a cliff, or even worse, thinking they deserve better. You can’t have a pyramid with a base and it’s best for the base not to really think about how crummy it is to be a base.
Wishes usually backfire in stories too and they tell you that the lesson where is that you can’t get anything without working for it, but this too is bullshit because plenty of rich assholes did nothing to get their riches other than be born – and while I’m no midwife so I don’t know for sure, I think that the child does very little of the work in your average birth. Midwife, that’s a weird word. Sounds like something you’d say if you walked in on someone – “I should have knocked, the sight of Olgus midwife is going to haunt me for a while.” This line of thought was disrupted by Stella coming down the stairs.
“Is someone down here? I thought I heard voices.”
I looked around but Tom had disappeared mysteriously, or is it mysterious if that’s what I expected to happen? Anyway, he was gone.
“Not anymore, but I have a mission. A mission to save the world.”
“Well maybe not the whole world but part of it, or at least some cats.”
“Is this something I can help with?”
“Can you shrink yourself?”
“Then no. You just work on getting me back to my human form. Did I see Cladarielle going upstairs last night?”
“Yeah, she stayed here, I guess after being kidnapped she wasn’t in the mood to spend the night in her house alone. Plus she was a little drunk. I can’t say as I blame her, there’s nothing better than a couple drinks after a harrowing ordeal.”
“You don’t have to tell me.”
Since the fate of all catkind, or at least a couple cats, was on the line I decided there was no time to waste. I woke up Cladarielle and asked her if she knew of a good potioninist in town. She did and so next I went to the room of Neddly, the nervous Halfling. He was already up, watching the sun rise through the window while sitting in some kind of odd split-legged crouch. It was then I realized that despite being an adventurer I never saw him wearing armor or carrying a weapon.
He looked over his shoulder at me “What?”
“Tell you’re a mage of some kind.”
“No, the arcane arts aren’t among those that I’ve mastered. I was born into the service of a wealthy family, but from an early age I could feel that a special sort of power lay within me, and sought out those who could help me call it forth and master it. My mentor taught me the way of the warrior, fighting with the open hand style, but more importantly he opened my mind to the possibilities that lay all around me. Life is more than the matter we can see, life is spiritual journey, one that . . .”
“Ugh. Do you know any other smallfolk around here who are fighters? A gnome with a crossbow or something?”
“I’m sure you mean no offense, I am a fighter, my hands can split stones and . . .”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you can leap to the heavens and run up walls other shit like that. You’ll have to do, come on, I need your help.”
Riding in the backpack of my new tiny martial artist friend Cladarielle took us across town to Tynara’s Perfumery, Cosmetics & Personal Hygiene. When I asked about it Cladarielle insisted that Tynara was a potion maker of skill as well but the demand for potions being what it is that wasn’t her main business. I’ve use scents only with a light touch and even in my normal body find places like this a little overwhelming to the senses. To a cat nose it was quite cloying. I had a bit of a hard time concentrating but there really wasn’t any need for me to do anything, Neddly and Cladarielle were able to procure a potion of shrinking for a shockingly reasonable price. Now that I have some experience with buying magic goods I realize how strange the whole thing is – stuff you’d think would be cheap costs a fortune and other things that seem like they would take a lot of magic are relatively inexpensive. The magic economy is an odd beast.
Thusly armed we were off to the old church of Adariel that Tom had mentioned as the sight of the cat necromancer’s evil lair. And by old I mean old old. The church predates the city, having been built over a century ago as a roadside shrine. A community sprung up around it which turned into a city and these days it’s no longer a functioning place of worship – just an old building they keep around for the sake of nostalgia. We searched around for a bit and found a hole in the foundation where there were a plethora of cat and rat tracks going in and out.
“I guess this is it. Ned, if you would, its potion time.”
“Please call me Neddly.”
“Just drink the thing will you.”
The wee fighting monk drank the potion and contracted into an even wee-er fighting monk. It was more shrinkage than I expected really, I don’t know if he was even six inches high. I was expecting something more along the lines of a good sized ragdoll not a writing quill. As I’ve said many times magic is crazy. Before we went in Cladarielle cast some spells on us, wards against evil or something, at least she said she did – for all I know she could have been faking the whole thing. With that we entered into the dire tunnel of the zombie rats. Well not tunnel, it was more like a crack running along the foundation of the building, but you know what I mean.
Do you know what the funny thing is about a tiny Halfling karate kicking zombie rats is? Everything. The funniest thing is how deadly serious it is – we literally could die here. After Neddly smashed his way through a dozen or so rotting rat-beasts we came into an area that maybe used to be a tomb under the church? It was hard to tell, it seemed basically the size of a corridor but it had clearly been something at one point. Regardless of what it had been, it was now home to a series of thick glass globes strung together with thin copper wire glowing with a putrid energy. They looked similar to the vials that I took out of the forest observatory of the homicidal wizard. I looked to Neddly.
“How the heck did a cat do this?”
We would find out in the next “room”. The copper wire lead through a small (well not for a cat) hole and into another similar sized depression that had the same globes being strung together, only here we saw what was stringing them together – animated hands crawling about like deformed spiders. Where did a cat find so many severed hands? That’s a question for the ages if ever there was one. It makes a lot more sense for a cat necromancer than a human one though because the cat literally needs a hand. The other thing about this “room” was that it was freezing cold – I could see my cat breath and there were icicles forming on the seams of the foundation above.
If you thought a tiny Halfling monk fighting a bunch of rat-zombies was odd you haven’t seen that same monk fighting a swarm of hands. Life is undesirably weird at times and this is one of those times. Neddly looked like he was having some issues with the hands so I tried to help out, but here’s the thing, scratching with your claws doesn’t do much – you have to bite to do real damage and the thing you’re biting into is frozen rotting flesh. No thank you. He was able to win out in the end. Following the wire we jumped down into what clearly was a tomb that looked to be where the zombies were made – or maybe it was just where he stores the dead rats. The point is there was a pile of dead rats and some empty glass globe waiting to be filled with . . . whatever goes in them.
Heading into the adjacent tomb though is where things got weird. The room was dominated by a large contraction that looked for all the world like some kind of nightmare octopus made of glass and copper and wires. The “body” was a huge glass sphere filled with some kind of bubbling viscous black sludge that had streaks of glowing yellow in it. The articlulated copper “arms” spiraled out, each ending in a mass of the copper wire and a larger glass globe where the energy from the other globes seemed to be converted to drips of vile liquid. As if that wasn’t grotesque enough if you looked carefully you could see small figures moving around inside the liquid in the central reservoir. I couldn’t make out what they looked like, which is probably a good thing.
“What the shit?”
Neddly looked closely at the monstrous apparatus. “We need to be very careful with this, who knows that kind of . . .”
That’s when the thing started to move of its own volition and I blasted it with a bolt of lightning. People may question that decision, but I stand by it – they weren’t there, they don’t know what it was like. Besides which the church wasn’t even being used anymore and no one got hurt when it blew up. No one important anyway. And yes, maybe some of the surrounding buildings were infected with necromantic sludge but that was going to happen anyway! No one ever looks at the big picture when you blow up a church.
After outrunning the fireball, well not fireball but ball of green weird arcane death, through the “tunnels” we managed to scream for Cladarielle to run for safety around a corner like we were doing. The blast was earthshaking – literally. But strangely it was mostly quiet. I was expecting my cat ears to be ringing like the dickens, but it was nothing like a normal explosion. If it wasn’t for the flying debris and the feeling of the earth lurching under our feet you wouldn’t have known that a church blew up at all. As Cladarielle got to her feet and was brushing wreckage out of her hair she turned to me.
“How did it go?”
“Well . . .”
At that moment there was another shower of debris as the rubble pile flew upwards. This wasn’t a secondary explosion however, it was the emergence of a . . . thing. I realize that in order to be a necromancer you probably have to be pretty fucked up to begin with, but seriously , why on earth would anyone make a thing that consists of hundreds, thousands maybe, of dead rats smashed together into a vaguely humanoid form that’s over ten feet tall? Arms and legs? Maybe I could see that. But why, WHY, would you make a “head” out of a bunch of dead rats? I guess so it can roar, which did as it came stomping out of the wreckage. Which just raises further questions – who do you roar with a mouth made up of dead rats? And why?
I have no doubt that his rat hulk could have easily stomped Neddly and I to death and then rampaged through the city, but Cladarielle was there and she was able to hammer it to bits fairly easily with her magic. Her husband must really be something if she can do that but he’s the one that get all the credit from their old days of fighting menaces to the city. During that exciting battle, there was another one on a much smaller scale – I spotted a mangy white and black cat trying to slink away and when I pointed it out to Neddly he ran over and wrestled it to submission. Seeing a tiny Halfling wrestling with a profanely cursing cat was the least insane of the many things I saw today. Once the battle was over Neddly brought him over to us by the scruff of the neck.
“Grivodon I presume?”
“You may have destroyed my work but you’ll never stop me! I’ll return stronger than ever!”
“I’ll take that as yes. Cladarielle, go ahead.”
She frowned slightly “Go ahead what?”
“What? I can’t . . . can’t kill a cat!”
“He’s not a cat, he’s a dark wizard in the body of a cat. What are you going to do? Turn him over to the guard? Build a little kitty prison for him? Just throttle him and get it over with.”
She looked on helplessly “I can’t hurt him, he’s just a harmless little furball.”
“He’s not harmless, he’s a wicked master of the vile arts. He just blew up a church. What about you Ned, don’t just hold him, beat him to death will you?”
Nedlly shook his head as well “I can’t do it.”
“You two are babies. This man is a murderer and he needs to be put down. Well it shouldn’t be hard to find someone around here that’ll kill a cat, there are people that get off on that shit. I can probably throw a stone and hit one.”
Cladarielle and Neddly looked like they were going to protest, but at that moment Tom came from around a corner and said that he would handle Grivodon.
“That’s fine by me, as long as you recognize that I held up my side of the deal.”
“That you did.” He glanced at the smoking crater and the gathering crowd of on-lookers. “You could learn a thing or two about subtly though. Have you decided what gift you want in return for this great deed of yours?”
“I have. When I get turned back into a person, and I will you mark my words on that, I want to retain a little bit of my catness. I don’t know what exactly, a little sneakiness, a little luck, a little something. Some nimbleness, some speed, some grace, just something to remind me of this time in a good way.”
He smiled and nodded “That sounds like just the thing.”
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, Rindol the Sage
Behind the Curtain – As I mentioned yesterday this idea was stolen/borrowed from Cats & Catacombs by Steamforged Press. Also I realized that I missed out on taking a feat for Ela at some point. Rectifying that I took Extra Rogue talent yet again and Glib Façade for the talent.