With nothing else to do this morning, they didn’t even bring any food down to me today, I took out the magic scrivener’s kit that I stole from Rindol. I had some vague notion of writing down some of my experiences since I woke up in that alley in Graltontown – an alluring courtesan left for dead who survives and seeks revenge? That’s a tale that would interest people, if well written. But I’ve never really had the discipline for writing so I ended up instead with fifty sheets of crude doodles, many of them pornographic, which I eventually crumpled into balls that I threw into the corner one by one, trying to get them into a single pile. I don’t know if it’s possible to die of boredom that was certainly put to the test this morning. By the time Stinty came down I was so happy to see anyone that I could have kissed him.
“What’s the good word Mr. Stinty?”
“Stella sent us a message, she wants to meet.”
I hopped off the bed “Great, let’s go.”
He shook his head “It’s not that easy.” He handed me a small piece of parchment “Here use this.”
I looked at the sheet, which was covered in crabbed spidery writing “Use it for what?”
He made a vague gesture “You know.”
“I have no idea.”
He seemed needlessly exasperated “I know you’re not a wizard but you sorts always know how to use scrolls at least.”
“You sorts? Am I a certain sort?”
“You know what I mean.”
“I have no idea what you mean.”
He grabbed the paper out of my hand and shook it “Are you telling me you can’t read this?”
“Looks like a bunch of crazy jumbles to me.”
He stared at me for a moment “Okay. I guess what we do then is have everyone leave one at a time and then have you leave as well disguised as one of us and hope that our friend doesn’t have enough people to follow us all.”
“That sounds very dangerous.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
“Yeah, take the scroll to Stella and have her use it to come here. She’s magic.”
He frowned slightly “Yeah, why didn’t I think of that?”
I had the urge to reach down and ruffle his hair but I resisted because I have to believe that Halflings hate that shit – everyone would be much better off probably if they didn’t look so much like human children. I think. It would avoid impulses like that which only serve to make things awkward between the two races. A few minutes later with a pop and a rush of air and a bright flash of light Stella appeared right there in the room with me. The good news is that she had a change of clothes for me, the bad news is that she had new bed sheets as well.
I took the clothing and sheets from her “I suppose this means I’m going to be here for a while?”
“Actually we’re leaving right now, but yeah, you’ll probably be back.”
After I got changed Stella took out another strip of paper and read the crazy magic words on it – I’ve never actually been nearby a spellcaster casting a spell when there wasn’t a terrible deadly fight going on. Having a chance to actually hear the language of magic without being under threat of death it sounds a little like the dragontongue. Is it a real language? Can you speak “magic” to someone? Or is it just a bunch of weird trigger words? Regardless, with a nauseating lurch one moment I was in a basement and the next I was in a tower – it actually looked a lot like the Tower of Woe where I had been imprisoned. Until I got turned into a cat. Which is an underutilized method of escaping imprisonment. After the instant magic transporting it took me a moment to regain my balance – even though there was no forward momentum it felt like I had been shoved.
The room was sparsely furnished but there was a chair in which sat a dark-haired half-elf with heterochromatic eyes wearing a gaudy emerald necklace. She was wearing tight black leather, as is apparently mandated by regulation for lady fighters, and she had an odd looking crossbow similar to the one I saw on the caravaneer on the way into town. She was chewing on a toothpick in a way that managed to annoy me instantly. She was leaning back in the chair with her feet up on a very narrow window.
Stella motioned “Ela, this is Sergeyevna Kostornaia.”
The woman did some weird licking thing with her tongue that flipped the toothpick around “They call me the eye taker.”
“I’m sure they do.”
Stella continued as Kostornaia seemed to be deciding if she should be offended “Sergeyevna and her crew are experts in counter sniper work.”
I looked at her in her freaky eyes “So you’re an assassin that kills other assassins.”
She took out her toothpick and twirled it around in her fingers before popping it back in her mouth “That’s about the size of it.”
Stella seemed strangely anxious “She killed Karlock One-Eye before he could assassinate Duke Gharnkorse.”
“I don’t know who that is but I assume that’s an impressive feat. Let me guess you shot him right through his one eye just as he was about to shoot the Duke? So the world’s premiere anti-assassination squad just happens to be in Beresford when I need them?”
Kostornaia let her chair fall to all four feet with a clatter “No, we teleported in just for you, aren’t you lucky?” She stood and I was further annoyed to see that she was about an inch taller than me “We’re getting paid a lot of money for this so let’s get down to the plan. We send out a decoy, when your guy takes the bait I kill him.” She tucked the toothpick behind her ear under her hair “And that’s the plan.”
“What do I do?”
“Nothing, just stay hid.”
“You know normally that’s exactly the kind of plan I would love, but for some reason this time I’d like to be involved.”
She smiled, I’ve seen warmer smiles on paintings. Of crocodiles. She pointed at me in a way that seemed oddly personal.
“You know, I just had a feeling about you, I thought that you might say something like that. We’ll find something for you, just don’t get in our way when the action starts. It’s going to take us a few days to get everything in place.”
“Wonderful” I turned to Stella “Can I get a book to read or something?”
The answer to that turned out to be no. Also since the original plan was for me to teleport here they only had two scrolls so there was no way to magically whisk me back to my basement hole. I asked Stella why I should go back at all, given that we were assuming that the assassin knew I was there surely I would be safer somewhere else. She rejected that notion though saying that at least there I had protection. Apparently she only has one safehouse in Beresford. And here I thought she was a professional. In the end we merely walked back – her invisible and me in disguise – since we never came out it seemed safe enough to assume that the sniper wouldn’t suspect anyone coming in. Relatively speaking. It was nerve-wracking making that walk, feeling like there were eyes boring into me the entire time, but I didn’t get shot in the head. So it worked out.
Funds: 79 gold
Inventory: Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, spidersilk cloak, Field Scrivener’s Desk
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: Ela has no ranks in Use Magic Device. I’ve debated that many times but it seems more fun if she can’t just buy and use tons of items all the time. For the same reason she’s never taken Minor Magic or Major Magic, even though that’s one of the cool things about Phantom Thief. “Playing” a sub-optimal character is a lot more fun when you’re not really playing.