I was curious if any of my new friends had been gored to death or maimed by a minotaur (or the panicked mob) in an event that was a complete accident and no one’s fault so I went to the Macourek Theater early (for theater folk) but found no one there. The door wasn’t locked so that gave me a chance to snoop around but I didn’t find anything of interest. I came upon the gaggle of actors as few blocks away having a luxurious (where does their money come from?) patio breakfast and recounting their various ordeals at the bull baiting. When they saw me coming they let forth a hue and cry that is suitable only for thespians. They must come here often because none of the other patrons batted an eye at their antics. After expressing their relief that I was still alive in the most self-centered ways possible, it’s tricky but they have the art down, they asked me how I had made it out and I spun a tale daring leaps and cunning tricks that had them all on the edge of their seat. The key to dealing with theater people is to make your lies as outlandish as possible – the standard rules of deceit about keeping things simple don’t work well with people who are already removed from reality. Throw in a few long evil twins though and they’re happy as clams in mud.
According to the troupe after the rampage at the venue the minotaur had mauled a couple members of the watch until some helpful adventurers took it upon themselves to slay the creature. Everyone (mostly the ladies) was all agog about a devastatingly handsome and dashing cavalier that heroically skewered the monster in the back with his lance while it was devouring a tobacconist. Adventuring parties must be like fleas, you can’t see them but they’re everywhere. There was also a lot of talk about the mysterious man in black who had purchased all the Shirelings and then disappeared. Did he have anything to do with the murder of the Master of Chains and the resulting calamity? I wish the authorities well in their search.
The troupe was all gung-ho about continuing to rehearse their awful play, the show must go on after all, but I was able to beg off by saying that I was still traumatized by my tribulations last night. They spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get me to come along and I realized that it’s because they’re used to dealing with each other – and amongst these sorts “no” means “beg me to come and kiss my ass or I will freak out on you”. It makes disengaging with them tricky because they’re not used to an honest decline. Eventually I was able to extricate myself though and make my way back to Josta’s Inn, which semi-miraculously looked about ready to open. That Stinty is an industrious fellow I tell you what.
Vablis told me last night that Rindol was all horned up about helping her with her demon problem – so much so they he didn’t even ask why she had a demon problem. Which is typical of those intellectual types, when they get excited about a challenge they often forget little details like why they’re doing it in the first place. I assume that’s how alchemist’s fire was invented, someone was really into the task of making fire that wouldn’t be put out without stopping to think WHY someone wanted fire that was really hard to put out. And a million burned corpses later here we are. Anyway, Valbis had scheduled lunch with him at his house and I tagged along as her older sister Mètre . When we got there his place was already covered with papers and drawings and he started rambling without introduction or small talk.
“The frame you see needs to be a great wooden beam which forms a circle. The beam must be three feet on all sides, and the circle should be at least thirty feet in diameter. The craftsman must cut a groove in the top surface of this beam, one inch wide and two inches deep. Eight pillars, four feet tall by three feet square must be . . .”
“Pardon me good sir, but what sort of object are you talking about constructing?”
He blinked as if noticing me for the first time and then looked over at Vablis “Oh, pardon my manners, good to meet you Miss?”
Vablis curtsied neatly, she’s clearly trained even if she wasn’t the King’s mistress and gestured “Mr. Rindol, this is my sister Mètre, remember I told you about her yesterday?”
I gave him my hand to kiss “Yes, yes, of course, told me all about you she did.” He cleared his throat. “I assume you’re aware of the situation Miss Vablis, I mean the old Miss Vablis, I mean the older Miss Vablis, I mean . . . Mètre. What I have designed here is a magic device that will trap a demon and hold it in place. There’s groove for holy water you see, and an iron spike, and Adariel’s holy flame – all things that demons abhor.”
I put my hand on his arm as I leaned over to look at some of his scribbles “Very impressive that you could design such a thing.”
“Well to give credit where due, the concept design is something that I found in a book but I made quite a few improvements, yes, quite a few.”
Vablis smiled and took him by the other arm “Rindol is ever so smart isn’t he?”
“Oh yes, I hardly even know what I’m looking at here!” Vablis and I laughed prettily. “Excuse a silly girlish question Mr. Rindol, but how do you get the demon in the cage to trap it?”
He smiled indulgently “That’s the best part, when it’s completed you place an object that belongs to the demon on the spike and it’s instantly summoned into the device and trapped there.”
“Oh how delightful. Do you think it will take to build?”
He seemed confused “Build? Well now, I’m not a carpenter you know, I say . . . if you hired some men, to put it together, under my strict supervision perhaps it would take a month?”
“A month?! Unacceptable.”
Vablis glared at me and kind of petted Rindol’s arm “Sister, don’t be rude.”
“Yes, of course you’re right, thank you sister. My abject apologies Mr. Rindol, I didn’t mean to speak out of turn, it’s just the idea of this fiend out there doing God’s knows what filled me with terror.”
“Hmm, fiend you say?”
“Yes, you know, the demon. That goes in the trap.”
Vablis tugged on his arm slightly “You remember, I told you yesterday, about the demon at the theater.”
He nodded “Of course, of course. You have to understand though that I am a man of letters so I was thinking about this purely from an intellectual standpoint, need to shift my mindset here to practical application. Of course if there is a danger in question a month is far too long, far too long indeed. If you hired more men, the right men, it could possibly be done in a week – with a commensurate increase in cost of course.”
“How much are we talking?”
“Probably somewhere around fifteen thousand.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?!”
“Madam such language is not appropriate for a lady!”
Vablis acted scandalized “Sister, how could you?! Where did you hear such language as that?!”
After much apologizing and assuaging it was finally time for lunch – or at least it was for Vablis and Rindol. My illusion was going to be wearing off before too long and I didn’t care for the repast he had set out which seemed to be black bread and some kind of pudding, so it was time for me to leave. But there was one last thing before I left.
“Mr. Rindol, since the public good is at stake here is there any way you can think of to get the funds we need?”
He seemed uncomfortable “Well . . . Lord Wesel usually funds our efforts but . . .”
“Wonderful! When do you think we could speak to him?”
“That sum . . . quite a bit more . . . it’s usually Murdane . . . does all the organization . . . . usually the one . . .”
I smiled brightly “Do you think we could meet Lord Wesel tomorrow?”
After leaving Rindol’s house I spent some time making the rounds to see where some skilled craftsmen might be found for this demon-box project as well as scoping out the local churches – seems like they should be interested in demon slaying. Or at least demon trapping. And while I was at it I spread some rumors about the Man in Black, just to keep in practice. It was nightfall by the time I returned to the inn where I found Vablis sitting at one of the tables drinking some kind of pinkish soup.
“Did they finally get a cook in here?”
“Yeah, he’s not half bad either.”
“Nothing like at the King’s table though eh?”
She gave me a hard look “No, nothing like that.”
“Lighten up, you need to learn to look at these things philosophically.”
“Easy for you to say. Can I ask you why we’re so worried about this demon? How does that help us find the mayor’s brother?”
“Well mostly I don’t want to get killed by a demon while we’re finding him. But once she’s out of the way I figure we can grab one of these others and kick them in the dick until they tell us what’s up.”
“That’s your plan?”
“I’ve learned that it pays to keep things simple. Complex plans just go awry. There’s nothing much that can go wrong with a good old fashioned dick kick.”
Vablis snorted “I’m sure you’ll find a way.”
Funds: 55,273 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