What’s the worst way you’ve ever woken up? Barking dog? Hang-over? In bed with someone gross? House collapsed on you? The Massacre at Eagle Eye Peak comes to mind as a pretty bad one but technically those people never woke up so that doesn’t count I guess. I have a new contender. There I was in my dumb cot in my dumb tent in this dumb refugee/prisoner camp sound asleep when the next thing I knew I was knocked to the ground with a slashing pain in my side. And what do I see standing over me? A Gods damned boar, snorting and bristly and tusky, you know a boar. It charged at me again, slashing the cot to pieces as I used it as a shield of sorts. Then the dogs came at me. That’s a little bit worse than the time you woke up because the roof was leaking right?
While I was wondering where the Hells my bodyguards were I grabbed for my Walking Stick but one of the slavering attack dogs grabbed it like we were playing fetch and ripped it away from me – meanwhile his friends where biting and snapping at me like crazy. My only goal was not to get pulled down, as long as I’m on my feet I have a chance, if they drag me down I’m dead. What a way to go – killed by a pig and a pack of damn dogs. I was able to grab my Flask and took a mouthful of Growth tonic, springing up to giant size, well not giant, but ogre at least, and once again knocking the tent down with sudden enlargement. The tent collapsing turned out pretty well though because I was able to get the cloth at the edges and pull it together like a net of sorts, trapping most of the dogs. The boar came charging at me again, but with my increased size I was able to boot it away like a woodchuck – sending it flying and crashing into another tent.
It was at this point that a tiny little demon bastard appeared. It wasn’t much bigger than a rabbit but it had horrible bug-eyes and buzzing insect wings to go along with relatively large black curving horns and general demon-ness. The nasty little creature hocked a wad of phlegm that I swear was bigger than its head right in my face, which was bad enough as is but also it stank like the middens of a thousand stables. This distracted me enough for the only free hound to clamp onto my knee like a chicken bone. Have you ever been bit on the knee? It fucking hurts. I could feel my kneecap sliding around underneath the savage pressure of its jaws. Wiping the demon-snot away with one hand I grabbed the dog with the other and squeezed it. It’s yelping and crying was horrible but I was too pissed off to care, I threw the carcass at the flying asshole but it flitted out of the way and held out its hand, summoning another gross little demon with a ray of putrid yellow slime.
This one was bloated and piggish but upright like a hideous man with huge floppy donkey-like ears. It was covered in its own drool and slime and looked like it wished it was dead. I know I did. It stumbled towards me with claws out but its true assault was the stench that it projected – even worse than the foul spittle of the first one. I gagged as it slashed at me with its freaky spider-leg looking talons but one slap with my ogre-hand caused it to explode in burning green acid-tar, a fleck of which went in my fucking MOUTH! As I was trying to spit away the searing pain on my tongue the flying demon hit me with a centipede the size of a galley oar. Are you understanding what I’m telling you? It hit me with a giant squirming centipede like it was a massive club! The thing can’t weight ten pounds, how was it even strong enough to swing the damn thing? The centipede head stabbed into me with its fangs and its head snapped off, leaving it lodged and biting in my flesh. I screamed in inarticulate rage as the little monster started flying away, disappearing as it turned invisible.
Of course by this point the guards and various other people in camp were all running over. One them was screaming about how I had killed their dogs on account of during my staggering around I guess I stomped on the ones trapped under the tent. I would have killed the screamer too only by this point I had reverted to my normal size and the crowd was able to hold me back as I lunged at the dog owner. Eventually I calmed down enough to gather my possessions from the wreckage of the tent but as I was doing so some of the soldiers came over to me and said that I needed to come with them.
“Fuck you, I’m not going anywhere.”
At a gesture the soldiers rushed me and in short order had me bound. My struggling against them did about as much good as that of a fish caught in a net (or a dog in a tent). As they led me away I saw someone in the crowd making off with my magic boots. They carried me bodily to the southeast section of the camp and tossed me into a large round tent. Have you ever been thrown to the ground with your arms bound behind you? It sucks. Baron Berlixwhouse was there looking as sallow and unpleasant as ever along with two other fancy boys that I hadn’t seen yet. The two of them grabbed me by the arms and hauled me up to my feet as Berlixwhouse took out a fabulously lacquered darkwood box reverently. The box was full of live wasps, which I was afraid were going to be tossed on me, but instead he took out a little wooden implement and started mashing them into a paste. Once they were thoroughly pulped into paste he put that slime on one of those curvy knifes that demon people seem to love and came my way.
“Now hold on a minute, we can talk about this. You’re upset about Lypara but you’re not seeing the big picture. This is an opportunity for you to take over. You don’t have to take her directions anymore, you can . . .”
He clearly wasn’t interested in listening. I started kicking at him but the two men holding me pushed me down into a sort of painful kneel as Berlixwhouse came forward with his bug-guts knife.
“Don’t you fucking touch me you freak, don’t . . . “
He tore open the bodice of my dress and very carefully carved into my chest, it felt like the delicate slice of a razor. I stopped struggling because I didn’t want to drive the point of the dagger in deeper, but I should have because as soon as he was done his two friends let go and I was lifted into the air by some manner of invisible force. I was flipped upside down, hanging at an awkward angle against the roof of the tent and then I felt like my body was being twisted by a pair of massive hands – like a giant was wringing the neck of a chicken. I’ve felt pain before, even agony, but this was indescribable – it was like my bones were breaking from the inside. I was barely cognizant as Baron Redmynd and some different orange-clad soldiers ran in with weapons drawn. The force disappeared as the fighting started and I was dropped on the back of my head and shoulders. If I hadn’t managed to tuck my chin I would have broken my neck and been dead. Just like that.
I rolled and crawled and squirmed out under the tent canvas, getting stepped on and kicked as the men were fighting to the death above me. Once outside I managed to get to my knees but with my arms trapped kept falling over when I tried to get to my feet. There was fighting in other parts of the camp and there was chaos everywhere, people running and screaming and just flat out panicking. As I was struggling to get up again I saw, of all people Writha Corune looking around wildly. I called out to her and she ran over and knelt beside me.
“Help me up!”
As she was trying to undo the cords binding me she was clearly frazzled “What’s going on?”
“I think the Alliance of Barons is fraying a bit around the edges.”
Corune was able to get the bounds off me and we ran for the edge of the camp trying to avoid any knots of people fighting, or actually just people in general. In the “alley” between tents though we found ourselves trapped between wildly panicking horse behind us and one of the soldiers in front of us. He got that sneer/leer on his face that let me know, know for certain, that he was going to say “well look what we have here” but he didn’t get the chance because I hurled dagger at his face. Lucky for him dagger throwing isn’t really my thing, unlucky for him the hilt hit him right in the teeth. Have you heard the sound of metal smashing into tooth at a high rate of speed? It’s not great. The blade glided back into my hand as we ran past the man who was doubled over with his hands on his bloody mouth. Corune looked horrified.
“How do you always manage to have a weapon?”
“My grandmother told me ‘always be prepared’ it was like her motto.”
We jumped over the little wooden wall-let that marked the confines of the camp and by turns ran and skulked our way essentially in a random direction. A few hours later, still early in the morning we found ourselves in a wooded hillock watching the camp – which was on fire by now of course, there’s always fires – fall apart. As accompaniment fighting had started up in the city as well, but not just in the “riot” quarter this time, along the border too. The people in the shanties outside of town had rushed the northern edge and more men were called into try and hold them back. Why would anyone want to force their way INTO a town under martial law? No clue. I was standing drinking freely and frequently from my Flask while Corune sat on the ground with her knees drawn up and her arms around them. She scowled at me.
“Doesn’t that thing ever run out?”
“No, it’s magic, you saw that a few days ago. You have a pretty bad memory for a law . . . whatever you are. You are a real peach you know that, I save your life and you chap my ass over a little booze? You are something lady.”
“I saved your life!”
“That’s not how I remember it. So what do you see down there law lady? Doesn’t look like Vultur is doing too good of a job. I mean what’s your deal anyway? Do you think that people want order? Look, look at what’s going on down there. This is what people want. Anarchy. You’re swimming against a strong tide.”
“You’re wrong, it’s civilization that corrupts the natural good inside people. At least the civilization that people like you create. The first person who planted a flag and said ‘I own this’ and found a bunch of other people dumb enough to buy into it, that person is the real corrupter – not all the demons in the Thirteen Hells. Crime, wars, and murders, horrors and misfortunes, they’re all the result of people trying to own things. Once you try to own something morality is undone. If you forget that the fruits of the world belong to us all, and the world itself belongs to nobody you’ve already lost.”
“Those people aren’t dumb, they’re just doing what comes natural. People want to have stuff, and more importantly they want to make sure other people don’t have as much. There’s nothing you can do about that. It’s human nature. And dwarf nature too I think. Also Halfling nature. Elf nature is a little trickier, who knows what their pointed eared freaks wants?”
She shook her head “I don’t want to talk about this with you.”
I gestured with my flask “What the Hells else do we have to do?”
Funds: 53,775 gold
Inventory: Courtier’s Outfit, Noble’s outfit (5), Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, sunrod (2) Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring, Ring of Disguise, Ring of Jumping, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper), map, Badge of Last Resort, Healer’s Satchel, 28 tiny diamonds, +1 Returning Dagger, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, Ring of Protection +2, Saryah Phidaner gown, Crown of Conquest, signet ring, Stone of Good Luck
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, Essa