Myam 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) – Part 2

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to speak to animals?  I can tell you from experience that it’s pretty disappointing.  How many people have you talked to that had anything at all to say that was even slightly interesting?  Not many right, now take into account that even the dullest human is smarter than any animal that ever lived and you’ll realize what I’m talking about.  I’ll grant that some of the really intelligent horses can give the very stupidest of people a run for the money brainpower-wise but it’s a draw at best.  The point is that most animals have nothing much to say, how could they?  Their lives are pretty straightforward.  Although I’ve never encountered a monkey since I learned the trick of speaking to animals, that might be your best bet when it comes to finding a decent conversation in the animal kingdom.  Despite this fact, when a crow landed on the windowsill I decided to activate my Beastspeech – they’re supposed to be pretty clever and what else did I have to do?

“Hey bird.”

“Hey yourself human.”

“What’s the news?”

“Good day out there today.  Lots of juicy eyeballs for the taking.  Delicious, delicious eyeballs.  Don’t let anyone tell you that slaughterhouse refuse or grain is the best eating, eyeballs are where it’s at let me tell you.  I mean grain is good, but then you have to deal with that terrifying man who stands out there guarding it all day.  How does he do that?  Doesn’t he need to take a break?  But he never leaves the grain unguarded, never.  He’s always out there, always.  It’s uncanny.”

“That’s fake brother.”

“WHAT?!?!  What do you mean?!  Explain!”

“It’s just a bunch of straw in the shape of a person with clothing on it, they call it a scarecrow.”

“That is SICK.  A scarecrow?  What is wrong with you people?”

“How much time have you got?  Thanks for the update on the eyeballs but I was hoping you could tell me more about what’s going on out there.”

“What do you mean?”

“With the riots.”

It cocked its bird-head quizzically “I don’t know what that means.”

“You know, violence, people running around and breaking shit and setting things on fire and killing one another.”

“Oh.  Isn’t that what you’re always doing?”

“Sure, but it’s a matter of degrees.  You must have noticed there was more shouting and fighting and so forth lately.”

“Hmm, can’t say as I have.  Seems the same to me.”

“That can’t be true, what about all the fires, that’s not normal.”

“Humans make fire all the time.  Every house is on fire every day.”

“They’re not ON fire, they just have fire in them.”

“I’m pretty sure if you have fire inside you you’re on fire.”

“No, it’s under control usually, this is fire that is out of control.  I mean someone still lit the fire so it’s on purpose but the other person didn’t want them to do it.  So . . . it’s different.”

“What person?”

“Forget that part, it’s like the difference between using a tool and a forest fire.”

“Ah, so they were hit by lightning.”

“No, there was no lightning, someone started the fire like they would normally only . . . well forget it, just trust me things are different than usual.”

“Alright, no worm off my beak.”

“Do you want to carry a message for me?”

“No.”

“But I’ll give you food if you do.”

“Why would I care about that?  There’s food everywhere, I just you about the eyeballs.  Are you slow or something?”

I thought about shooting him as he flew away but taking umbrage to (from? of?) an insult from a bird was a bridge too far.  I heard Corune asking me who I was talking to but I told her that I was just chatting with a crow and she should go back to sleep.  After clearing out last night the streets were alive again today.  It was more of an organized chaos now though.  Yesterday people were just running around like crazy for the most part – now they were taking advantage of the situation.  Scores were being settled.  Long simmering feuds were bubbling to the surface.  Looting was more organized and there was a lot less mindless smashing.  Most disturbing of all though was the groups moving through the streets wearing black armbands and face-masks that were clearly torn from cloth of an elaborate black dress.  The first small group that I saw pass by with these accessories didn’t really register with me, but once I saw a few more bands of armed men with the same black trappings I dawned on me what I saw seeing.  One fellow was even carrying a makeshift standard that had a crude drawing of woman wearing a funerary gown on it.  Although confusingly “the Bride” was scrawled above it. 

You could have knocked me other with a crow feather when I saw that.  That was eight months and hundreds of miles ago.  How could that protest in Graltontown have traveled to Beresford?  And why?  After seeing that I turned the idea over and over and over in my mind and it still made to sense to me.  I suppose to the people who weren’t in on the joke a phony protest is no different from a real protest.  I was also seeing a lot more groups of guardsmen, brute squads, the personal men at arms of various nobles, and most puzzling of all The King’s Own, or Queen’s Own I guess.  How did they get here so quickly?  Unless there just happened to be an element of the Royal army nearby there’s no way they could be here so fast, and I think I would have known if there was.  So where did they come from?

Eventually one of these groups of masks and armband sorts run into a cadre of guardsmen and the personal troops of Lord Gotiach.  As the two groups confronted one another the black masks started chanting “Whickter and Whilhye, Wickter and Whilhye” in a rhythmic manner and waving their mismatched weapons.  The guardsmen shouted at them to lay down their arms and disperse but Lord Gotiach’s men weren’t in the mood to negotiate.  In their defense I don’t think the black armbands were entertaining at all the idea of not committing violence.  They charged into the fight with a battlecry of “For Rago and the Bride!” which was chilling.  It looked like the rebels were going to be subdued pretty easily – that’s what usually happens when unarmored men with clubs and old spears try to fight professionals but out of nowhere (literally) there appeared a man in a garish silver and green robe that included a face-covering hood.  There was a symbol on his chest that looked like a griffon only the bird-section was a lowly vulture instead of a noble lion, clutched in its vulture claw was a trident that only had two prongs.  A bident?

The man in the fancy robe cast a spell and many of the guardsmen dropped their weapons and ran in abject terror.  He cast another spell and the revolutionaries were clearly influenced to attack like madmen, losing any sense of personal safety or regard for their own lives and hurling themselves at their enemies like Northern berserkers.  One of Lord Gotiach’s men was shouting orders and organizing the battle for his side and fancy robe cast another spell that engulfed him in greasy black smoke that looked thick enough to stand on.  He fell to the ground choking and in fact the smoke was staining his clothing black so it must have been some kind of mist.  After this the mysterious vulture-griffon spellcaster disappeared but he had more than evened the odds.  After a brief ugly skirmish the forces of the lawful authorities were routed and ran for their lives with their ragtag attackers hounding them and howling like demons of the Hells.  Almost immediately a group of men and Halflings showed up to quickly and efficiently loot the bodies – and I mean everything, they stripped the dead (and dying) men nude before they moved off as rapidly as they appeared.

I was still trying to make sense of what I had seen in the late morning when we had visitors.  A wagon pulled by two mules turned up with half a dozen men following along.  They went into the first floor of the rug-shop and started passing out and loading the rugs into the wagon.  A fellow with baggy pants and tattoos covering both arms came around to the side where he could address me in the window.  Despite being hairless as an ox (oxen don’t have hair right?) he would have been a handsome fellow if not for the gouge/scar across the front of his lips and on through to the nose.  I don’t know if whoever gave him that was striking to kill or to disfigure only but if there we going for the latter they succeed to the utmost. It rendered what would have once been a disarming smile hideous to behold.

“We’re not going to get any trouble out of you are we pretty lady?”

“Not at all, please help yourself to whatever you like, make yourself at home.”

“What happened here?  Looks like a trebuchet sent a stone through the roof but I don’t see any stone around.”

“It was actually a giant ball of ice, it melted this morning, that way there’s no evidence.”

“Smart.  How are you doing for supplies?  You got food up there?”

“Yes actually, we have enough suckling pig and dark rum to feast an entire household for weeks.  Also the entire treasury of the county is up here and one hundred and one comely virgins – each one more sexually permissive and flexible than the last.”

He chuckled “Fine, fine, no harm in asking eh?  We could come up there and check.”

“You could, but then I’d have to shoot you, and that would probably create a rift in our burgeoning friendship.  I don’t think either of you want that.  You look prepared so I think that it’s safe to assume you came for the rugs and you’re getting them, no reason to get greedy right?  Just stick to the plan.”

He held up his hands “When you’re right you’re right.”

“What’s happening out there?  Are they getting this thing under control?”

“Hard to say at this point, we’re early in the day so it’s not even clear who ‘they’ are.  The fact that we’re here is good indication that we’re still in the thick of things not being exactly under control no matter how you slice it.  Do you have any idea what set this firework off?”

“I think that was me inadvertently.”

He smiled “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, I’m afraid that might be the case.  I went to the market yesterday morning and a gust of wind blew up the hem of my dress and exposed my chemise for a moment.  Everyone in the market just lost their minds.  Things spiraled out of control from there.”

“Everyone?  Even the women?”

“Especially the women.”

He whistled “Yeah, that would do it.”  He glanced to his side “Looks like we’re wrapping things up down here.  Now, as a way of thanking us for not coming upstairs to poke around it would be gracious of you to reward us with a little something.  Just a token of thanks of some kind, for the effort.”

“You know I would love to do just that, but the sad fact is that there’s nothing up here, nothing at all.  Nothing that would interest a fine fellow like yourself anyway.”

“Now you see, with the way you’re dressed I can’t help but think that you’re overlooking something.  I feel like one of those rings would fit the bill nicely.”

I retrieved my crossbow “I could definitely send you down a crossbow bolt if you want that.  Be careful though because it’s going to be coming a little fast.”

He chuckled again and then winked “I’ll see you around doll.”

He bowed and then jumped backwards into a sitting position on the now run-laden cart just as it came around the corner with the rest of his crew.  He waved the entire time they were in sight as the cart rattled away, his repugnant split-lipped grin on his face.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 50,874 gold, 2000 silver

XP: 523,101

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, Ring of Disguise, +1 Mithril Shirt

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 

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