Myam 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) – Part 4

There was a part of me that didn’t want to get up.  A part that told me to stay there, close my eyes and let go, let whatever was going to happen next happen and just accept it.  Put my fate in the hands of the Gods.  No more struggle.  No more strife.  Let things unfold and assent to the results.  But you don’t listen to that part of yourself.  You block out the seductive voice in your mind that says that it cannot be done, that you’ve done enough, that it’s time to rest.  Because there is only one sin that cannot be forgiven, and that is giving up.  I’ve done a lot of things people would consider damning but the only thing I could ever do that would disappoint me is stopping.  There is no line between perseverance and insanity, don’t ever let anyone tell you that there is.  Life is a meaningless struggle, and that’s fine, you do it anyway.  If you’re going to do something you do it.  The end.  So I counted to four and then I hauled myself to my feet and went over to see what the dead man had on him.   As I grabbed him by a handful of clothing to flip him over I looked at Corune.

“You’re a legal expert, in a time of civil unrest isn’t there some manner of suspension of law when it comes to doing what you have to in order to survive?  Or is this still theft and you’re going to arrest me and confine me to the closet?”

She looked dazed “There is no closet.”

I couldn’t help but laugh, somewhat deliriously “Good point.” I gestured to Aska “Is she alright?”

She looked after at the unconscious form next to her without really seeming to see her “I don’t know.”

“Can’t you use magic to heal her?”

She shook her head slowly “No.”

“You dedicate yourself to your stupid law God and he doesn’t even give you magic?  Seriously, what are you doing with your life?”

This seemed to bring her into focus a little “Can you say two sentences without insulting my faith?”

“I’m sure that I could but what’s my motivation?  Face it honey you lost the God lottery when you got saddled with Vultur.”

Aside from his weird sword/tool the deadman had hit of Zerk and Scour on him, which explains a lot, there aren’t many men that can take a crossbow to the face and not even blink with a chemical enhancement.   He had a few other odds and end on him but most critically of all he had a coil of rope.  If you had told me that someday I would be over the moon about getting my hands on a length of rope I would have thought you were off your rocker.  I dumped about a gallon of sake on Aska but it didn’t wake her up so I put Corune to knotting the rope while I stood watch out the window.  At one point a dozen knights rode by and I called out to them but they weren’t interested in distressed damsels today.  I thought about using my Beastspeech to call out to one of their horses just to see what they would do but ultimately decided that was a terrible idea.  Knights have a terrible sense of humor, I think it’s part of their vows.

Corune did a piss poor job with the rope but honestly I can’t say that I would have done any better so I didn’t chastise her.  There was an exposed wall-beam that seems sturdy so we attached the rope to that and I floundered my way down through the hole to loot the rest of the bodies.  There’s no reason to expect them to have any food on them but I was still disappointed when I found none.  After gathering weapons and tossing them up to Corune I started handing up broken furniture and other wreckage that she threw into the stairwell to help block it off.  After that I tried to hack through what was left of the loom to remove that as a way to climb in but it was ineffective.  The bits that were left were thicker than my waist, even with an ax it would have taken hours to take it apart.  I had found a bag of caltrops on one of the raiders and Corune had the idea to hammer them into the main part of the loom under the hole that I had been climbing on, which I have to admit was a canny notion.  Once I was done she tossed the rope out the window.  I thought it would be easier to climb up against the wall but it wasn’t, still I managed to drag myself up, soaked through with sweat by the time I made it up. Not only that but in the melee I must have twisted the wrong way because my knee was throbbing something awful.  I couple long pulls from the Flask helped tamp down the pain.

Corune looked at me coolly “Don’t you think you should cool it with that?”

“No, but I do think you should shut about it.  Last time I checked booze isn’t illegal even when society isn’t falling apart.”

“It should be.”

“That sounds dangerously like an independent thought.  Is that allowed in your order?  The law is the law isn’t it?  And you enforce it, unquestioningly, unthinkingly, un . . . some other un-word that fits there.  Unabashedly?  No, that doesn’t sound right. ”

“You don’t know anything about my order.”

“So tell me.  Give me a crash course.  We’ve got nothing but time.”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Good chat, very informative.  No fooling, how did you end up with this as your life?”

“I am immune to your mockery.”

“I’m not mocking you just now, I’m honestly curious.  Someone becomes a blacksmith or a cooper or a crier or what have you that makes sense.  But I’d like to know what led to you dedicating your life to Vultur.  I really am sincerely interested, and we really don’t have anything else to do.  You in particular are mystery because you’re a Corune!  How did a member of one of the most powerful noble houses in the Kingdom end up as a glorified bounty hunter?  No offense.  Tell me your story.”

“We should be keeping watch.”

“I can listen and watch at the same time.”

“Writha Corune is not the name I was born with.  My mother was Ulpine but my father was Modenese.  When my mother died I my father took me to live with his people – are you familiar with the Modenese?  They’re savages that live along the southern coast.   After a Modenese tribe loses a battle with another tribe, its common, even expected for the surrendering tribe to be sold into slavery, with the buyer being a mark of respect or disrespect to the defeated foes.  When a Modenese chieftain despises their conquered foes, they sell them to the city-folk, the Ulpine.  I was sold to a slaver who then sold me to a family in Caracalla.  I was treated . . . harshly by them.  The Church of Vultur took me away from them when I was fourteen and trained me as an acolyte.   I was an attendant to a diplomat that traveled to Indlecastle often as part of his duties, when the war broke out – not this one but the last one – Rilga Corune took me into her household.  I married her son Lacobian for . . . reasons that I won’t go into, but it is a marriage in name only, my dedication is to the church and to Vultur.”

“And the family you married into doesn’t care that you’re running around the Kingdom . . . doing whatever it is that you do?”

“It’s better if I’m not there.  I’m sure they probably don’t tell people exactly what I’m doing.”

“If you want to keep that a secret you probably shouldn’t go around telling people your name is Writha Corune, that’s bound to attract attention.”

“It’s my name.  Lying doesn’t come as easily as everyone as it does to you.”

“Oh Gods, get over yourself.”

“You probably think that your lies aren’t damaging but they are.  Society is based on trust and the more you lie the more you erode that trust.  The ability to make free and informed decisions is the cornerstone of moral conduct and if you actively and intentional deceive people you’re taking away their ability to act with freedom.  Lying is a bad act and when you regularly indulge in bad acts you’re corrupting yourself, you make yourself more comfortable with doing other bad things.  Lie enough and stealing doesn’t seem so bad, steal enough and maybe murder is on the table.  Communication is a gift from the Gods, given to us so that we can share our thoughts, so do otherwise . . .”

“Alright enough.  You can’t tell me that lying about your name is going to cause the collapse of society.  What it’s going to do is make your life safer, and help the people that took you in and cared for you when you needed it.  What you’re doing by refusing to just say one thing instead of another isn’t being righteous or devout it’s selfish and stupid.”

“Just because something is expedient doesn’t make it right, if you always take the easy path . . .”

“Don’t waste your breath with that high-minded slippery slope bullshit.  I would wager that my lies have done more good, saved more people than you have riding around shooting poor people with your crossbow with your little friends in blue coats.”

“Now you’re just trying to upset me, and I don’t know why because we’re in this together now.  If you don’t like something, if you don’t understand something you make light of, you respond with insults.  It’s childish.”

“You and your gang of mercenaries would have taken me to Three Rivers to be tortured to death by another gang of rich assholes who paid you to bring me to them, I think I’m entitled to be a little pissed off about that.”

“We had a legal and binding contract to . . .”

“Fuck your contract!  I can write up a contract for you to burn to death right now, that doesn’t make it right!”

“Quit interrupting me!  Your lies have never done anyone any good other than yourself.  What it has done is encourage other people to lie, weakened social cohesion, and yes, if eventually no one can believe anything anyone says then society does collapse!  You walk through life doing whatever you want because people like me are there to fix the damage that you do.  If everyone acted like you we’d still be living in caves!  You are the problem, you are the cancer.  There must be order for the world to exist.”

“And because of your order I have to die.  For what?  What crime did I commit?  That contract of yours that so precious to you, what was it exactly?  What possible law gives a solicitor the right to kidnap me?”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

I laughed bitterly “Any time I bring up something you don’t want to talk about you fall back to that, and I’m the one that’s childish?  When you dragged me in chains to Glilcus and Stolo what did you think they were going to do to me?  Nothing fucking legal I can guarantee you that.”

“You have to keep your word, that’s the one thing you do in life above all others, otherwise what is it all for?  You abuse people and you hurt people and you don’t care.  It’s a game to you.  Life is sacred but you treat it like a joke and I think on some level you know what and you hate yourself for it.  If you had a decent bone in your body you’d take it out on yourself instead of everyone else.  But you don’t.  You’re the worst person I’ve ever met.  And I’ve met the worst humanity has to offer.  I brought in a pimp once who had traumatized his women so badly, controlled them so methodically, abused them so absolutely, that they killed themselves rather than be without him.  I would let him and people like him go a hundred times over if I could bring you in instead.”

“But at the core what’s really going on is that you’re jealous because I’m prettier than you right?”

“I knew there was no reason to talk to you.”

“In all honesty I’m sorry about your hair.  I’ve gotten my ass kicked several times now and it sucks, but bruises fade and wounds heals and the pain goes away.  That hair though was magnificent and that is a real loss.  I know that your whole deal is putting on this stick up the butt façade but with hair like that there has to be some part of you that desires to have one little thing that’s outside of the norm, something that makes people look at you admiringly, something that makes you feel good.  Just for yourself.”

“The only thing that matters is looking presentable.  Excessive pride in one’s appearance is counter-productive to the mission.”

“I see, it’s okay to lie but only to yourself.” For a long while neither of us said anything.  Eventually I jabbed my chin in the direction of Aska’s still unmoving form. “Is she going to wake up?”

“I don’t know. . . . . probably not.  What happened to her?”

“She got knocked around during the fight pretty bad.”

“She would have already been dead if it wasn’t for you.  So would I.  I have to admit this much, you’re quite the killer.”

“That almost sounded like a compliment.”

The sun was starting to dip when the next group came around.  They would have been a hard-looking bunch in normal times but for a time of lawless riot they were just normal looking.  They did have a hook though, they were carrying ladders.  Actually it looked they had taken a single siege ladder, those things are huge you know, and cut it into three smaller sections – much better for assaulting a two story building instead of a thirty foot curtain wall around a fortress.  I was sitting in the window with my crossbow as they rolled up.  Like all these little bands of brute-brothers they had a leader who did all the talking.  I wonder how they decide who the leader is.  Is there a vote?  Does someone just call it?  Or is it the guy with the most memorable appearance?  This one was a thick-set fellow whose arms, legs, and head all seemed to be the same circumference – which is a lot weirder than it sounds.  He was shirtless but was wearing some kind of studded leather vest.  I often mock women for their sexy armor choices but this is probably the least effective protection I’ve ever seen.  I guess it protects you from attacks coming from the rear or targeted at your nipples.

“Sorry boys, we’ve already been hit a bunch of times today, we’re all tapped out – we got nothing for you.”

“You’re up there, that’s enough for me.”

“Not interested.” Corune came to stand behind me with her crossbow visible as well “Neither is my friend.”

“How many people you got up there?”

“Well let’s see, beside the two us there’s, the rest of our crossbow regiment – it’s a new thing they were testing out, all female army units.  What’s the world coming to right?  But with the war on and all you know.  Plus Sir Anders the Decapitator, Sir Jellic the Mutilator, Sir Hellionch the Destroyer, the Impalement Brothers, the Butcher, the Blade, the Bunnykiller, a couple dozen other knights, a few war wizards, a pack of werewolfs, and the entire Skulltaker orc clan.  Oh, and a few adventuring parties – the Order of this and the Fellowship of that, you know how they like to give themselves fancy names.  One of them even has a dark elf!  Can you imagine?”

“Okay, okay, stupid question.”

“All you need to know is that there’s one window and two of us with crossbows right here – that should be plenty for you to scoot along to the next house.”

“You sure you know how to use that thing sweetie?”

“If you look around down there you’ll find a couple corpses that show that I do.  I’ve developed my own system where I aim for the uvula, even if you miss by a couple inches you’re still doing pretty well.”

“Maybe you can shoot, how many bolts can you have left though?”

“Good point.” I started pulling bolts out of my Quiver and tossing them over my shoulder “Here’s one, here’s another, there’s another one, oh look, here’s one, oh man here’s a whole handful of them, and a fistful, and another, does this this ever run dry?  It’s like one of them magic tricks with the scarfs.”

“Maybe we’ll check back in a few days when you’re running a little lower.”

“You do that, and have yourself a good night and you be safe out there boys.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 50,874 gold, 2000 silver

XP: 551,901

Rations – 5 days

Inventory:  Noble’s outfit, Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, sunrod (3) Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, dreamtime tea, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring, Everwake Amulet, Ring of Disguise, javelin, thunderstone, throwing axe, Boots of the Winter Jarl, Ring of Jumping, zerk (3), scour (3), knotted rope, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper)   

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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