I’m no expert on comparative religion, but in my experience two gods split the lion’s share of religious ecstasy – Adariel the just and kind lady of community and goodness and charity and Odobenine the greedy lord of greedy greed. The common folk tend to lean towards Adariel while the aristocracy tends to favor Odobenine – which seems understandable. My point is that even though Duke Eagelvane was not at all a religious man there were a few priests knocking about his court. One of these Odobeninians cornered me one time and was telling me all about how there’s a different demon for each of the ten lethal sins. The one he was most interested in was the succubus, because for some reason that seems to be the one all the men like. He delighted in pointing out that the succubus is NOT the demon of lust as people commonly assume but rather the demon of vanity. This he claimed is why the succubus is an exclusively female demonform because while lust afflicts men vanity is the providence of women. I believe he passed out drunk in a fountain one night and drowned if I remember correctly.
Why do I bring this up? You may recall that for a while I was carrying a small ivory sculpture of two entwined succubi, looking back on it now it unmistakably was magic and was exerting some kind of subtle influence on my mind. I’m not sure what would have happened to me had it not been stolen, nothing good I’m sure. Lypara Emprenzo looked exactly like those succubi, you know, only without the horns and wings and fangs. Coincidence? Very unlikely. Maybe whoever carved it knew or saw Lypara and based it on her. It’s possible. But what I think is that Lypara is actually a succubus and the subject of that carving. And what kind of shapechanging demon would take on a form that was exactly similar to her actual form? A prideful one. So maybe that drowned priest wasn’t totally full of shit is the point.
Vablis was up annoyingly early and wanted to head over to the theater but I assured her that theater folk aren’t early risers and went back to bed. When I did get up she was itching to go and not in the good excited way more in the troubling nervous way. I’m starting to realize that she may not be the smooth operator that I thought, she may be more of a desperate woman out of her element. Probably like I was at the beginning of this “journey” but I like to think I hid it better. I should have spent some time reassuring her and making her feel relaxed but I wasn’t in the mood. Why am I always the one who has to keep everyone else from losing their head? Doesn’t seem fair.
The inn was still the home of frenzied activity as Stinty and his men continued with their renovations. I got sick of Valbis asking me when we were going to go every few minutes and told her to go read the papers the mayor had given me. I stood on the overlook with Josta watching Archum and the rest of Stinty’s crew work themselves into a lather, literally. There’s something very satisfying about doing nothing while watching other people work. Makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Around mid-day Vablis and I headed to theater.
Macourek Theater is a massive building for a city the size of Bereford, one of the largest in town I would wager. It looked like it had been through some significant upgrades somewhat recently but there were still some signs of dilapidation about the edges – someone had spent a chunk of money fixing it up but hadn’t quite finished the job. Not yet anyway. The layout was odd for a playhouse, there had been some remodeling on the inside as well but still there were a lot of rooms that seemed to serve no purpose. Unless I miss my mark I think in times past this was a tenement building or something of the like. We were met in the lobby area by a tall grey-haired man in some sort of red fluffy jumpsuit. That’s the problem with theaters types, you can never be sure if they’re wearing a costume or if they’re dressed like they are because they’re insane. He said that they weren’t taking auditions currently, but between myself and Vablis he had no chance of keeping us out. We’re winsome as fuck we were.
We interrupted practice for an upcoming show of Dead in Infinity which is a dreadful play that continues to be performed for reasons that elude me. There’s an odd phenomena where sometimes something that sucks becomes a “classic” and then just continues on even though nobody likes it. The players almost looked relieved to have a distraction from going over the tired dialog and nonsensical turns of plot in Dead for us to showcase our skills. We each sang a solo, we sang a couple duets, Vablis played her pipe, I demonstrated a little sleight of hand, and even though we hadn’t discussed it before Vablis went rogue and also danced a little. Her steps were pedestrian but her cleavage was on point. The assembled fops and dilettantes were very impressed and came close to fawning over us as they assured us that they would find us work soon.
It was during this fawning period that Crawdore Van Saar came in with Lypara Emprenzo on his arm, accompanied by a gaggle of sycophants. I recognized her immediately as the same “woman” on the carving. I halfway expected her to sprout wings and fly after me to suck my soul, but she merely played the part of the demure yet sluttish paramour of the theater owner. Upon hearing about our audition Crawdore insisted that we perform for him as well, which we did, but I couldn’t help but stare at Lypara. I’ve unfortunately been in close proximity for a demon a few times now (add that to the list) but somehow it was much worse with a demon in disguise. With a slavering red-skinned monster you know what to expect, but with one hidding in the form of a pretty brunette with blue ribbons in her hair? Who the Hells knows what’s going to happen? Eventually after much flattery and fame-whoring and facile chit-chat we were able to extricate ourselves and head back to the inn.
“Well, that was easy. I thought this was going to be a whole big long thing.”
Valbis frowned “What do you mean?”
“Lypara Emprenzo is a bloodsucking shapeshifting demonspawn from the pits of Hells, obviously she killed the mayor’s brother when she figured out he was sniffing around. Case closed.”
“How do you know that?”
“Trust me, I know these things.”
After depositing her back with Josta and Stinty I headed to the mayor’s compound. I was so pleased to have this wrapped up nice and neat without any fuss that I wasn’t even annoyed that he kept me waiting for over three hours. When I was escorted into his office I almost skipped I was so happy with the way things turned out.
He was messing about this some papers as important men must to show you how important they are “What is it? I have a meeting in a few minutes.”
“Lypara Emprenzo killed your brother. She’s a succubus in human form and she drained the life out of him like sucking the juice out of a mango. Who do I need to see about getting my possessions back? Do you have a ticket or something that I give to a guy for my stuff? I don’t want to accidentally get someone else’s stuff.”
“Then how does it work? You just summon the guy or what?”
“I mean no my brother isn’t dead.”
“Trust me on this, she got him, she got him good, he’s dead. She demon-sucked the life out of him and left him a dried up husk of a man – literally.”
“No, the divinations of the priests indicated that he’s still alive.”
“So what? Fortune tellers and charlatans they are. I can get you ten mediums here tomorrow that will tell you whatever you want to hear.”
“My brother is alive. Don’t come back here without real information. I’m not interested in your speculation. Get out of my office. I don’t like having my time wasted.”
Funds: 61,244 gold
Inventory: Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Field Scrivener’s Desk, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Surcoat of the Night Wind, Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, Ring of Invisibility, sunrod (4) Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, dreamtime tea (2) Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style
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