I didn’t consciously make the decision, as soon as the goon saw Sperry I had pulled the trigger and there was a bolt through his neck. It was just that fast. Before you cloud blink a man was dead, well dying, but you know. That is the decision I would have made if I had thought about it, but I don’t find that very comforting. Killing another person isn’t the kind of thing that should become unconscious or automatic. Is this what it’s come to for me? I suppose in a way it’s inevitable. You live this way long enough and you’re going to develop certain instincts, if you don’t you end up like him. Dead. As he started to topple I rushed forward and grabbed to try and keep him from hitting the ground with a thud but it didn’t really work out – he was heavy and I didn’t get a good grip. The dead man slammed into the floor hard enough to alert his friends below.
One of the male voices below called out “What the Hells was that?!”
I took on his appearance and moved to the window laughing “One of these dizzy dames just fainted, she was overwhelmed by the presence of a real man.”
Some of the goons down below laughed as well, until Green Tabard silenced them with a hard look “Get down here Lage we need to get on his tail.”
I did my best to grip the rope with my legs as I climbed out the window but I still almost immediately lost my grasp and fell to the ground, being forced to cling desperately to the rope in a very unskillful looking manner. This elicited another round of laughter and another sharp order from the woman in the green tabard to quit fooling around and get down there. I tried to climb down as smoothly as I could but you can’t fake something like that, I’m sure it looked awkward as all Hells. Once I was finally down on the ground Cut-Face yelled up to unhook the grapple and after a moment the rugmaker slowly came into view shaking like a leaf. With tremblingly fingers she managed to get the hook off the window and send it down with a clatter. Green Tabard smirked.
“So your friend passed out huh? Not as cool of a customer as she thought huh?” The rugmaker nodded, looking like she might faint for real at any moment “Sorry for the inconvenience, you ladies have a good night now.”
With a wave her arm Green Tabard sent her men to searching around. I tried to look like I knew what I was doing as I wandering around and pick at various items laying in the street. After a few minutes one of the men said that he thought he had some tracks and the group came together to examine them and do whatever trackers do. After a few moments the woman in the green tabard ordered us to head down the street to the south. As I moved out with the squadron one of the other goons fell in beside me with a puzzled look.
“What the Hells was that, you were climbing like a girl.”
“Just kidding around.”
“Since when did you become such a jokester?”
One of the other men yelled from the front of the group “Lage what are you doing back there damn it, get up front!”
I jogged up to the front of the group and did my best to try and look professional, which must have been piss-poor based on the funny gazes I was getting. I have no clue where this group was going or what they were doing, I kept falling back in the line and eventually they got tired of shouting for me to move up front. I lagged farther and farther behind the band until I was far enough away that I felt safe to disappear around a building, turning invisible and running into the night for a long as I could until my wind and my invisibility gave out. My instinct was to head for the RIP, the closest thing I have to “home” right now, but instead I found myself trying to retrace my steps back to the rug-makers. It soon became clear that I was hopelessly lost – not surprising since it’s the dead of night in a town I don’t know the streets of anyway.
Since there appeared not to be a riot anymore I was assuming that martial law was in effect but I didn’t see any guardsmen or soldiers tromping through the streets, all I saw was other furtive figures like myself. Any time one of these shadows and I saw one other we both moved the other way, but the longer I’m out here the greater my chances of bumping into a shadow that’s going to move towards me rather than away. I was debating whether to find a building and hole up or keep on the move when I saw some torchlight – which trigged a new debate, investigate or stay far away. Clearly the smart move would have been to stay away, who’s going to be out in the middle of the night after a riot that you’d want to meet? No one, that’s who. So obviously I took a peek around the corner to see what was going on. I couldn’t tell you why.
In the middle of a wide road there was a merrily bonfire burning that looked like it was made up of items pulled out of the nearby buildings. But this wasn’t a bonfire just for the sake of burning up people’s livelihoods and prize possessions, no this bonfire was for illumination. After all why bother stringing people up on the side of a building if you can’t see the terror in their eyes? Three blue-coated Vulturian priests, or justicars, or lawbringers, or whatever they call themselves were hanging against the front of a leather goods store, suspended by the hands from ropes hanging over the roof. Aside from the horror of the scene it was odd to see people only two feet off the ground with twenty some off feet of rope above them. Two of them were clearly dead, coats stained dark with blood, their faces blank and their muscle slack. But the third one, the one on the far end, was still alive enough to groan when the men collected around her would lash out with a makeshift club or a punch.
I recognized her as the woman who interrogated me in the Tower of Woe what has to been six weeks ago now. Gods, where does the time go? Her hair, which I had been so envious of at the time had been crudely hacked away, or sawed probably, leaving only short clumps. It must have taken her years to grow it that long. Probably not her main concern right now, but still, I know wherefrom I speak. It hasn’t even been twenty-four hours since the donnybrook this morning and this is where we’re at? Fake law enforcement people are being strung up and murdered? How does this happen so quickly? Lypara must have been planning this for some time and she just chose now to spring this event – nothing else makes sense.
Or maybe that’s just want I want to believe. Maybe the veneer of civilized society is so thin that all it takes is a couple hours for people to make the journey from annoying but normal to reavling their true monstrous natures. Or maybe there are some people, the minority I hope, who are like leashed attacks dogs – they’re just waiting for something like this and then they’re off to the races. Chomping at the bit as it were. People who have plans, who have lists, who spring into action the second the rule of law loosens. I know I have a list but that’s different. Trust me.
I took on the appearance of a random tough guy, tough enough that you wouldn’t want to mess with him casually but not so tough as to invite challenge from types who’d do that sort of thing, and came around the corner.
“What have we got cooking here lads?”
One of the men turned to me with a raised club and an angry shout “None of your business, fuck off!”
“Fine have it your way.”
I tapped my Walking Stick on the ground to turn the head into a serpent and lashed out at him. There’s nothing that ruins a good night of torturing law-clerics like getting bitten in the eye by a deadly venomous snake. He fell to the ground shrieking like I’ve never heard before. Or maybe I have, it sounded something like the wailing of a newborn baby. I took out my crossbow and started firing at the rest of his pals, hoping that the poison would do its working and trying to make sure I hit everyone once rather than going for the kill. Some of them tried to fight, but bring able to turn invisible is a pretty significant advantage when it comes to sniping – in case you weren’t sure of that. Most of them ran, or tried to anyway, the poison got them before they got too far. When I stayed visible a couple fellows took up their cudgels and came at me. I got knocked around a bit before I was able to Stick-Snake and dagger them to their final reward but it was nothing that my Flask couldn’t handle.
I took another pull off the Flask for good measure and then went back to the first fellow who was so friendly. He was listlessly trying to roll over but he wasn’t having much success, snake venom will do that do you. His eye and most of the right side of his face had turned completely black and looked dusty and cracked – and it wasn’t even two minutes later. Remind me to never to get bitten on the face by a deadly viper. Since he was still alive I did the nice thing and rolled him into the bonfire. The flames gave him enough wherewithal to try and struggle a bit but it’s pretty hard to put yourself out when you’re on fire even when you have all your strength. I took another few drinks from the Flask and headed over to the human marionette.
“Your shoulders must be killing you. I’ve heard that you can suffocate if you stay like that long enough.”
She tried to say something but I couldn’t make out what it was. I started off trying to saw through the rope with my dagger but that was going nowhere fast so then I tried to untie the knots, but with her weight pulling down on the rope that was pretty hard too. I looked around for a crate or something I could stick under her to take the pressure off the knot but I didn’t see anything so in the end I had to go into the store. It hadn’t been looted so much as just wrecked – there were leather goods ripped up and various leatherworking supplies all over the place. I saw some kind of sturdy knife that I assumed would be good for cutting a rope if it can cut through leather and when I bent down to pick it up I saw eyes reflected in the darkness from under a counter. I popped one of my sunrods and tossed it down in that general direction, revealing a woman who looked like she was covered with soot clutching a small hammer, her eyes wild like those of a trapped animal.
“I’m not here to mess with you, I’m trying to cut down a lady tied to your store, where are the stairs?”
It looked like it took all her effort to speak “This isn’t my store, I don’t know where the stairs are.”
I took another pull off the Flask “Boy did you pick the wrong place to hide. Come on out of there and help me.”
She was shaky as a newborn (or very elderly) goat but to her credit she slowly slid out from her hiding place and cringed her way out front with me. She grabbed my former interrogator by the legs, or thighs I guess really but that sounds weird, and held her up as I cut through the rope with the leather-knife. She kept her eyes squeezed shut the entire time like that would protect her. I suppose she couldn’t help herself. Once the rope was severed the woman in the bluecoat slumped forward over the sooty hammer girl and I helped grab her and lower her to the ground. She was cognizant enough to let me bring the Flask to her lips, which caused her to sputter and choke. Her voice was weak as a reed.
“Is that alcohol?”
“It’s all I’ve got. Sorry if that violates some stricture or code, I’m sure your unflinchingly rigid God of laws and rules will forgive you.” I stood up and dusted off my pants “Well, time to hit the old dusty trail, you two be careful out here alright? There’s bad people about.”
Sooty Hammer looked up at me like a little baby bird might look at her momma “You’re leaving?”
“You’re actually safer on your own. The two of us trying to drag her through the streets? That’s going to attract too much attention, on your own you can hope to maybe pass unnoticed. You’re covered with soot or soil or ash or something, that will help you blend into the shadows. You see here’s the thing, this lady and I had a real issue – she and her friends kidnapped me and locked me in a tower, it was a whole to do. So me saving her like this? That was really big of me. Like sainthood level stuff, but I did it you know? I’m done. It’s just too much to ask her to keep saving her more. By all rights I should have left here to be tortured to death. Total honesty, a few months ago I would have been the one doing the torturing, well not me, I would have gotten someone else to do it for me but you understand what I’m saying. You know, for revenge. But I’ve grown as a person. Revenge is a wonderful thing, but you have to be judicious – you have to temper your rage with compassion as well. It’s really quite something when you think about it, how much I’ve grown.”
She looked at me with the blankest expression ever in the history of time probably “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
I sighed “Help me get her up.”
Funds: 50,874 gold
Inventory: Noble’s outfit, Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Field Scrivener’s Desk, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, Ring of Invisibility, sunrod (3) 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, Everwake Amulet
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