For some strange reason being kidnapped by bizarre hybrid fey beasts really had Stinty on edge – we walked in the dark through the forest for hours before he realized that I was following him and he was just walking without pay attention to where we were going. Once we got started back in the right direction the sun was coming up by the time we got back to the campsite. And then I had to spend a good hour talking him down – he was so jittery it seemed like he was going to fly apart. I have a lot of tools in my bag of tricks, but the one that I dislike using the most is gently reassuring someone that everything is going to be okay. It’s not hard, staying calm yourself is the lion’s share of calming someone else down. Speak in short simple sentences, give them a lot of (undeserved) praise, ask them what they need, say things like “You can do this”, “stay with me”, “what you are feeling is frightening, but it is not dangerous” – crap like that. So it[‘s easy but it sucks because it takes time and all you want to do is to tell the person to get the fuck over it and be an adult. But that’s counterproductive.
Once Stinty was “okay” I was going to lay down for some sleep, but instead it was time to head to the secondary location. This annoyed me because if he had been thinking we would have just gone straight there and then I would be asleep right now but I couldn’t say anything because they could get him all riled up again. So instead of sweet, sweet sleep we were stomping through the forest again – it was good four hours before we got to the second campsite where Stella was waiting for us. The relief on her face was obvious as we slogged towards her.
“Thank Gods, I was starting to think something had happened to you two.”
“I wasn’t expecting to see you until tonight.”
She blinked in surprise “I thought you were going to be here last night.”
“Well whatever, sounds like we had a miscommunication there. Tell Stinty the plan, I’m going to sleep – we had a rough night.”
“What? No, we need to go now – everything’s ready in town, we’re going to be late as it is.”
“Late for what? If you have the decoy why do you even need us at all? Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to stay out here while the broad with the mismatched eyes kills the guy?”
“You said that you wanted to be there, that you wanted to be part of it!”
“Oh right, I did say that. Ugh . . . . . fuck. Let’s go then I guess. Did you at least bring horses?”
Stella gestured “Look around, do you see any trails here? It wouldn’t be much of a hideout if there was a road for horses.”
I yawned, mouth gaping open like a commoner “Don’t be reasonable with me.”
And so sleepless, we set off again – with Stella herding us along at what seemed like an unreasonable pace. What’s the rush? Is the assassin going to leave down before he tries to kill me? She kept going on and on about how important timing was but that makes no sense – the killer is waiting on us, it doesn’t matter when I show up. If I hadn’t been so tired I would have eviscerated her argument’s ass off but I was so I didn’t. I don’t know how Stinty was able to keep up better than me with his little legs but he did, which only served to irritate me further. It was late afternoon when we moseyed into Beresford. It seems like I’ve been here forever. Why did I even come to this stinking burg anyway? What am I doing here? I was so caught up in my negative thoughts that I realized Stella had been talking for a while.
“ . . . and then what we’re going to do” she stopped in mid-sentence on account of the arrow that slammed into her chest. He stared down at it, and touched it with her hand as if trying to make sure it was real. “I . . . I’ve been shot.”
I knocked her to the ground as another arrow flew by and then scrambled into an alley to get out of the line of fire. I saw no sign of Stinty, he must already be in hiding, but what I did see is an archer on a rooftop, looked like a woman with one foot up on the eave as she drew back an very impressive looking longbow. I grabbed my dagger and watched helplessly as Stella was trying to crawl for cover and the archer coolly shot her in the back several more times. Stella stopped moving and it looked like the archer was going to continue shooting at her fallen body so I dashed across the street to draw her aim, if only for a second. I dove behind a trough but it I was trying to hide behind it the short way and they didn’t work very well – I was hit in the leg and gazed on the scalp. I heard Stinty shout “make yourself fucking small!” and then saw a stick of some kind trailing big plumes of smoke come flying end over end and land on the roof where the archer had taken up their position.
Stinty ran out of wherever he had been hiding and under the cover of smoke, I helped him drag Stella’s limp form into the alley. He was about to say something when I saw a disruption in the swirling smoke along the roof of the adjacent building and suddenly there was an arrow protruding from his shoulder – or at least the vanes were – the rest of the arrow was buried in his body. I’ve never seen an arrow go so deeply into someone. Stinty fell sideways, slamming his head on the ground with a sickening thud as above the archer’s invisibility dissipated and she took aim at me. I threw my dagger at her, not even coming close, and then flared my cloak out to try and conceal myself as I ran for all the good it would do. But the shot never came. Suddenly the archer was hit by a crossbow bolt – right through the eye. She stood for a moment and then pitched over the side, bouncing off the opposite wall with her legs and landing in a heap.
I looked and saw Sergeyevna Kostornaia and three men standing on a roof a several blocks away. She was holding her crossbow upright and had a smug smile on her face as her cronies patted her on the back and told her how great she was. I headed their way.
“That was your fucking plan?! What happened to the decoy? What happened to controlling the situation? Why were your men up there with you instead of down here?! What the fuck were you doing?!”
It looked she was about to say something when all of a sudden she was pin cushioned with arrows across the upper chest and neck. With looks of horror her men tried to hold her up and tend to her, but they were being pelted with arrows as well and looked panicked – except for one man wearing a bearskin of some kind who roared with anger and started leaping across from rooftop to rooftop. Before I could process this turn of events a masked man in black robes appeared on a rooftop between me and the building Kostornaia was on with a nasty looking crossbow – shooting me directly in the sternum with enough force to knock me backwards and off my feet. I crawled back into the alley as he reloaded, taking cover behind the lifeless form of the first assassin. The rooftop crowssbowman sent a few shots into the back of the first assassin and then gave up to move to a better firing position. I quickly rifled through the first assassin’s bag and found a potion which I drank blindly – and I found myself turning invisible. I grabbed an arrow from her quiver and ran, having no idea how long I was going to be unseen.
As the crossbowman moved around the edge of another building scanning for me I found a horse tied up, saddled and ready to go. I mounted up and then stood up on the saddle, using the horse to leap and catch the edge of the roof – I’m not ashamed to admit it was a real struggle to pull myself up. Still invisible I came up behind the crossbowman as he scanned the streets below and jammed the arrow into his neck – it must have been enchanted because his neck exploded like it had been hit by a ballista, showering me with gore. Falling down in surprise, I narrowly missed being skewered by a barrage of arrows. Sliding to the edge of the building for cover I saw the original assassin who started this whole mess turning invisible – still partially blurry as he jumped to an adjacent roof.
“Why is everyone else in the world so much better at jumping and climbing than me?” I said to no one. “And where is the fucking city watch?! Why don’t they ever show up when I need them?”
I slithered careful to the body of assassin #2 and drank whatever potions he had – which healed my wounds but really I was hoping for more invisibility. I dragged his heavy awkward looking crossbow into my hands and then activated my scrivener’s desk, hiding behind it and grabbing the vials of ink. I heard a voice shouting from some distance away.
“Is that a writing desk?”
“Well how odd.”
“Any chance I could bribe you?”
“Sure, come out in the open and we’ll talk about it.”
Assuming that the assassin was moving into position to fire at me enfilade (maybe, I’m not one hundred percent sure what that word means) I draped my cloak on the desk to hopefully make it look like I was hiding under there. I doubt it would have worked at all if not for the fact that I kept talking and threw up voice to make it sound like it was coming from under the desk as I crab-crawled into cover between it and the low wall of the roof. A barrage of arrows shredded the cloak and slammed into the desk and I spied the archer on the very next building in the process of turning invisible again – I dashed up and hurled two pots of ink at him. My aim wasn’t great, but enough spattered on him that I could tell where he was. He fired another volley of arrows as I dove behind the other side of the desk.
“Very clever. If all your friend weren’t dead already you’d probably have the advantage now.”
“How many arrows do you carry around? Haven’t you shot like a hundred by now? When are you going to run out?”
“Never. I have a magic quiver that never runs out.”
“I used to have a crossbow like that.”
“What happened to it?”
“The watch took it.”
I threw my voice so it was coming from directly behind him “Tell me about it.”
At the sound of a voice behind him the archer spun around and fired at nothing and I popped up from behind the desk and shot him in the back before dropping back down. I couldn’t see him well on account of he was just an ink-spattered outline but it didn’t seem like that one shot bothered him too much.
“Nice. How do you do that with your voice?”
“I’m a mermaid that drank a potion to turn into a human.”
“To pursue your true love?”
“To pursue revenge on the pelican that ate my family.”
“What’s your next trick?”
“Trying to figure out how to reload this fucking crossbow. What the Hells is this thing? There’s like levers on here and shit. I thought the whole idea of a crossbow was that it was supposed to be simple to use, unlike a longbow.”
“Well you know how people are, they only thing they like more than simplifying something is making it more complicate.”
“Do you normally talk this much when you’re trying to kill someone?”
“No, but this hasn’t been a normal job. When that desk appeared I had to know who you were. You’re a tough nut to crack, but I think you’re about out of time.”
“Eventually the watch has to show up right?”
“Not this time I’m afraid.”
He was right, I was pretty much out of tricks. One thought kept going through my mind, if only I could turn invisible again – and then all of a sudden I was. Turns out that wedding coat they gave me was more than just stylish, it had some magic in it as well. I carefully walked to the edge of the building expecting to be shot down like a dog, but I saw the ink-outline moving methodically back and forth as if scanning for an opening. I made a terrifying jump to a very close building and pulled a short blade out of my secret pocket. From that building I made it to where the archer was and approaching with maximum caution, I came up from behind and slashed him across the back of the neck – then giving him a shove. I have no doubt without having taken a vicious blow to the back of the neck he would have agilely flipped to the ground and landed like a cat, but as is, he tumbled headlong into the ground with a hideous crack. I pulled a rope and hook from my pocket and awkwardly slid down the side of the building where I stabbed him a half dozen more times to be sure. It was at this point that I saw a few city watchmen peeking around as if checking to see if the coast was clear.
“Good response time guys! Real bang-up work!”
Funds: 79 gold
Inventory: Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Field Scrivener’s Desk, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Surcoat of the Night Wind
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