I couldn’t swear to it but I’m convinced that Josta hasn’t bathed since coming here. She seems morally opposed to personal cleanliness. I’d suspect she was a vampire aside from the fact that I see her during the daylight hours constantly. What other kind of creature is afraid of water? Witches? Is that a thing? I feel like I saw a witch melt once and most of the witches I’ve met were pretty dirty so maybe water is their enemy. Hmm, have to look into that. The point is that Josta, for all that he’s a good egg, carries with her something of a graveyard smell. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about – it’s not the smell of earth but it is an earthy aroma with some decay and flower-scent mixed in. What does this have to do with anything? I started awake in the dead of night for no reason I could discern and that fragrance was heavy in the air. My initial thought was that Josta was standing in my room for some reason.
But as my eyes adjusted I saw that it wasn’t her. The smell seemed to grow stronger as I was able to make out more features of the intruder. He was plainly dressed and his hands were bound in front of him but the real showstopper was his head lolling to the side as his neck was plainly broken. What little moonlight trickled in illuminated the skin of this face that was whiter than the sheets I was sleeping on (we really need a maid). What was even more troubling than the angle of his head though were his eyes – they weren’t coal black, they appeared to be actual coals.
“I assume you’re the fellow that got hung a couple hours ago. You’re looking well all things considered.”
I was prepared for his voice to sound hollow or far away or in some manner “ghostly” but it was just normal. Maybe the ghost sound comes over time and he’s too new for that right now.
“I’m told that you’re the reason I died.”
I slid back to prop myself up against the wall a little so I could see him better “Seems unlikely, seeing as how I’m neither judge, jury, nor executioner. Is that right? Do you say neither with three things? Or does that imply two items? Should it be either? That doesn’t sound right.”
“You committed the crime for which I was hung.”
“I doubt it, why were you hung?”
“For killing the Master of Chains, for loosing the dread minotaur, for all the people killed in the riot.”
“If I was the one who did that why were you hung? There must be another reason you were hung right? Even if that reason is just that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think you need to find out the real reason you died. Only then can you be at peace. Speaking of, do you realize where you are right now? This is actually called the Rest Inn Peace, the owner is a gravedigger you see, it’s quite amusing when you think about it.”
“Are you the guilty one or not?”
“You don’t know? Let’s take it from the top, you said that someone told you that I was the reason you died. Who told you that?”
A slight frown came over his weird sideways face like he was trying to remember – have you ever seen a sideways frown? I have now.
“Let me guess, pretty brunette, princess curls, blue ribbons, long gloves, elegant dress?”
His side-scowl deepened “Yes.”
I gestured “You see there’s your problem. I’m just guessing here but I would wager what happened is that she’s the one that turned the watch onto you as the perpetrator and then told you that I was the one to blame, and then she used her demon powers to bar your spirit from the afterlife in the hopes that you would do her dirty work for her after they executed you. It’s quite a stratagem, I almost admire the heartless bitch.”
“Oh yes, she’s a wench of the Lord of the Thirteen! A whore of darkness! Demon concubine she is!”
“Why would I believe that?”
“Because I’m telling the truth of course. You can tell the truth from a pack of lies can’t you? Had you ever met this woman before? Did she have any reason to speak to you? And did she offer any proof? Did she indicate to you at all why she would even know this information if it were true? Clearly she was manipulating you, what else makes sense?”
“I . . . at the time . . . it’s fuzzy. I can’t remember why I believed her.”
“Your mind was overthrown by her wicked powers. Not only that but she probably came to you at a time when you were especially vulnerable.”
“She told me right before I was taken out to be hanged, as I sat in my cell contemplating my life.”
I whistled “Now that’s what I call vulnerable. She’s trying to get at you, she’s trying to turn you into her pawn from beyond the grave. Don’t succumb to her evil. I don’t know how you pass on to the next life but if you throw in with her you will be damned. Damned for all eternity. If you kill me now you hand victory to the spawn of the Hells.”
“I’m not here to kill you.”
“Really? Why are you here then?”
“I come as a harbinger, to warn you. There is still time for you, tonight you will be visited by three spirits – haunted in fact.”
I lay back down and turned on my side “Oh fuck off with that!”
For some strange reason though I didn’t sleep very well after this ghostly intrusion, go figure right? I kept waking up and never really feeling deeply asleep – you know that feeling where you’re technically asleep but you’re aware you’re asleep so it’s kind of like you’re awake? It wasn’t very restful. As a result I didn’t get up until late in the morning which threw my whole schedule off. I had intended to hit the market to sell of the junk I pulled out of the woodsmen’s guild house turned criminal flophouse but it was late afternoon by the time I was ready to head out so I just stay at the RIP and shot the shit with Josta and Kalisha. Kalisha is doing better but her mind is all over the place, she’d tell me half of one thing about the Duke and his dirty dealings and then move onto something else, seemingly without realizing it. I told her to start writing it all down hoping that would help her clear her mind and then I could sift through it at my leisure.
“So Josta how are you liking the innkeeper life?”
“I think I’m going to need to find a hobby, a life of idleness doesn’t suit me.”
“Really? You seem like a champion idler to me.”
“For a while maybe, I’ve been involved in hard physical work since I can remember – it was nice to do nothing for a few weeks – but I think about through with that. I’m going need something to do other than just sitting back and letting the money roll in.”
“You could help out.”
“Nah, domestic work doesn’t sound very fun, I need to be outside in the fresh air.”
“You could sign on with a caravan, they’re always looking for help – on account of all the getting killed by bandits and bugbears and bugbear bandits.”
“Too dangerous. Plus I don’t really like leaving the city.”
“An outdoor job in the city that’s not too dangerous huh? Lamplighter maybe? That’s a tricky requirement set.”
“I’m sure I’ll come up with something.”
After that it was time to pretty myself up for my night with Old Scatch. The entire theater crew seems to spend money pretty extravagantly so I was curious what his dwelling would be – turned out to be a real shithole. It was a shack built on top of a two story building that I guarantee you was not in the architectural diagram. You had to get to the damn thing with a ladder. Have you ever climbed a ladder wearing a dress? It’s a fucking nightmare. The first floor didn’t look like a butcher’s or a slaughterhouse but it stank of blood nevertheless. The second floor was a residence, I know this because the ladder is right next to a window where a guy was leaning on the sill feeding a bird in a cage. Keeping a bird in a cage is bad enough, keeping that cage next to a window is a real asshole move. I almost “accidentally” kicked the guy in his bald head as I went by on the ladder but ultimately decided against it.
Once I was enshacked Old Scatch jabbered on excitedly for a while and then thankfully (even though it meant another ladder trip) we retired to the Macourek Theater for the main event. Even better we were met there by mush-mouth Wexley and another one of the actresses they called Butterfly. All the women in the group seem to have cutesy nicknames but most of the men just have name names. That probably means something. I was glad to see them because it indicated to me that Wexley was the next in the food chain and reduced the chances of Old Scatch trying to get a piece while we were high – men are like that you know. After some more chit-chat we went into one of the strange seemingly pointless rooms in the theater and they brought out the bloodbrush extract. They droned on about how great it was for nearly an hour and once it was time to get busy they made a real ceremony out of it. Mystical, quasi-religious, arcane, call it what you want mostly it was annoying.
Now most of you are probably aware that it’s wildly tedious to be around people who are high when you’re not high yourself, but what you probably don’t know is that being around people who are high when you’re not high and pretending to be high is seventeen times worse. But I knew going in that palming the goods and acting along with these fools was going to be a rough night. The things I do for . . . why am I doing this again? Oh right because I need to do the thing to do the other thing to do the first thing and so on and so on. Some day I’ll make progress on something. I just have to. Once they were good and doped up I probed them a little bit about Lypara Emprenzo but they had nothing but gushing praise for her, mostly about how she saved the theater by getting Crawdore to buy it but they threw in some general drooling over her looks as well.
As the night wore on eventually they call drugged themselves into a stupor and after taking another quick look around the place I took my leave. I can’t believe I haven’t found anything here yet – the place is huge, there must be something interesting to find. I need to just keep checking whenever I can.
Funds: 40,788 gold
Inventory: Noble’s outfit, 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, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper), Masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring, Muleback Cords, Workman’s Everytool, Heavyload Belt, Ax of Clearing, bloodbrush extract
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