I kept needling Corune from time to time but she wasn’t taking the bait so we spent the bulk of the day yesterday in silence standing/sitting on the hill watching Beresford explode in an orgy of violence and hurt feelings. I’d like to believe that she wasn’t chatty because she was experiencing some kind of crisis of faith or that she was rethinking in some way her dedication to her stupid God, but probably she was just cataloging all the legal infractions she was seeing in a mental list so she could snitch about them later. Don’t get me wrong, I love snitching as much as the next gal, but only when I happen across something good – making an effort to learn things to snitch? That’s low.
There’s an old saying “some people just want to watch the world burn” I can tell you this – it’s boring as fuck. Those people must be really dull if that’s what they want to watch. I got so bored I wandered around the little wooded area we were sort of hiding in. Remember that time I was in a place like this down south and I found that mask and the whip? What the Hells was that about? This time all I found was a sleeping rabbit. Did you know that rabbits can snore? The real question is how is its still alive if it didn’t wake up at my approach? Wouldn’t a wolf have eaten it by now? On the other hand though as soon as I started thinking about trying to grab it for something to eat it suddenly started awake and darted off like, well like a rabbit. So maybe it’s a psychic rabbit. I suppose it’s for the best, I have no idea how to skin and cook a rabbit. Or make a fire. So it was a rocky plan from the outset.
As night was falling I started to make myself makeshift bed out of one of my extra outfits – the plain looking one. Corune looked on incredulous.
“Now where did that come from?! It’s like you have a sack with no bottom!”
“Oh. Is there anything in there that I can sleep on?”
“No.” I laid down, doping my best to look as comfortable as possible “I know a gal once they called Bottomless, not because she had no butt mind you, it’s a funny story actually. You see one day these six guys came into the brothel and they only had one . . .”
“Shouldn’t one of us stay on watch?
“Rude, I was in the middle of a story, now you’ll never know about old Bottomless Bevie. You can stay awake if you want, I made friends with psychic rabbit so I’m sure it will warn us if there’s any trouble.”
She threw her hands up in despair “What are you talking about? What are you ever talking about!?”
I rolled away from her to try and sleep “You need to lighten up lady.”
Yesterday I was woken up by being speared by a boar, attacked by a pack of dogs, and vexed by a fustulent flying demon. Today I was woken up by a crying baby. I’m not sure which was worse. Honestly, that is not a joke. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those battle-scared warriors who are indifferent to pain – far from it. I don’t like pain, it hurts me. But when a baby cries, with the loud, sustained, squealing cry, that really stabs at the brain you know? When a baby is crying in that high-pitched, squealing tone that can drive you insane more assuredly than any eldritch secrets that man was never meant to know. It was barely even light out when I sat up in annoyance.
“Are you kidding me? Now I have to deal with this on top of everything else?”
Corune was crouched by a tree looking around wildly “What is it?”
“It’s a damn baby, what do you think?”
Her eyes were wild “It could be anything! It could be a luecrotta, they often mimic the sounds of crying babies to lure in their victims! It could be a camulatz, they can perfectly recreate any sound they’ve heard! It could be a demon bat! It could be a forest fiend! It could be a fey piper. There’s all manner of monsters that use sound lures!”
“Writha, I say this with all kindness, but you are going off the deep end. It’s a baby.”
“You don’t know that, it could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing!
“Do you mean that figuratively or is there actually a creature they call a wolf in sheep’s clothing?”
“Oh yes, upon first glance the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing appears to be a worn tree stump with many of its roots exposed, but it’s not, it’s actually a bizarre cluster of sentient fibrous tendrils that mimic . . .”
“Good Gods, sorry I asked.” I tossed her my dagger, halfway expecting it to fly back into my hand – how does it know when to return? Can it read my mind? – and then pulled out my crossbow “I guess you better come with me to check it out then, for safety.”
“Now where did that come from?”
“I told you I have a rucksack with endless storage capacity.”
“But a crossbow is too big to even fit inside the sack itself!”
“Don’t think too much about it, it’s magic.”
“But . . . but . . . but . . .”
“Are you coming or what?”
Corune was clutching the dagger like it was a living snake that would bite her unless she squeezed it with all her might. I think her resolve really is starting to fray. She seemed pretty resilient before but I suppose that everyone has their breaking point. And I’m not sure what happened to her in the camp. Maybe I should ask. Maybe not, it’s probably not very interesting. We moved deeper into the trees but it was never dense enough that you couldn’t really see what was head of and around you. After a couple minutes we saw that the crying baby was part of a group of several dozen people clustered around the embers of a little fire looking miserable and defeated. How the heck did they have a fire without us seeing it last night? While I was contemplating that when a man wearing one of those helmets that looks like a kettle jumped out at us brandishing a spear.
“Stay back you!”
“Alright, just watch where you’re waving that thing.”
“I’ll kill you, don’t think I won’t!”
“I doubt it, you have a spear and I have a crossbow. I understand that the advantage of a spear is reach, but I think that the crossbow may be ever better on account of it’s a missile weapon and so forth. Besides you’re not even holding that spear the right away around.”
I swear to you before all the Gods and devils and weird bone-monsters in the afterlife that he actually looked down to make sure that he was holding the spear the right way. He actually looked down. This is a true thing that happened. I took that opportunity to step up and grab the end of the spear and I almost pulled it away from him, and I didn’t even pull that hard. He yanked it back with all his might, I let go, and he tumbled backwards, dropping the spear as he rolled ass over teakettle into a tree. As he was trying to get to his feet I came up behind him and kicked him in the dick. I felt like I had too, it was too good of a chance for a dick kick. And because some jerk stole my boots I could feel his squishy balls with my toes. It almost wasn’t worth it. As you all know I hate the feeling of balls on my toes.
A couple people from the group had some to stand fearfully watching this transpire “Is this your only guard? It’s probably best not to even bother if so, a guy waving a spear around that can’t do anything with it is only going to upset people. You’re better off playing the pity angle. Now, does anyone have any shoes for me?”
I have an awful confession to make. My feet are a little bit bigger than is desirable in the circles of the social elite. I have peasant feet is what it is. My feet were made more for stepping through the fields than for mincing about a dance floor. The rest of me? Total physical perfection obviously, but my feet are a little off target. The point is that sometimes I have issues finding footwear that fits just right, but amongst the forest refugees I saw a woman with some sturdy looking walking shoes that were just about the right size for my feet. She didn’t want to give them up at first but once I said that I could trade them unlimited drinking, well not water but rice wine, for the whole lot of them she was convinced. Mostly by the hard looks of the rest of the people in the group, but I don’t feel bad about it – what was I going to do walk around barefoot like a mountain person? No.
I made the mistake of asking them what they had heard before fleeing the city and was subjected to a barrage of wild contradictions and baseless speculation. The only thing everyone could agree on is that the orange and white men at arms I saw in the camp had moved into the city and were fighting with the watch. The Royal army soldiers seemed to be staying out of it and concentrating their efforts on quelling the rebellion of “the Bride”. Beyond that the only fact at hand was that it wasn’t a great time to be in the city. Although it’s not going to be a great time out here either unless you can eat bark. After talking for a while one wall eyed fellow accused me of being a spy.
“A spy? For whom? And why? Why would anyone care about you people? I think spies are the least of your problems.”
A random voice in the crowd agreed “Do you have any food?”
“I certainly don’t.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Me, I’m going back into the city. I have a like fifteen things unresolved there and I don’t want to come back to this place. Ever if I can help it. Beresford isn’t exactly Indlecastle you know. No offense.”
The guard, nursing his swollen genitals, spoke next “Maybe you could stay a while to protect us.”
“Protect you? I can’t protect anyone, not even myself most of the time.”
Corune shook her head “You’re still alive aren’t you?”
I sighed “You’re going to want to keep that dagger aren’t you? You’re going to stay here with these people and protect them from what? There’s nobody out here, and if there is someone out here what are you and MY dagger going to do about it?”
“It’s the right thing to do.”
“No, it isn’t. If your God is so great and invested in your survival and all why doesn’t he help you out? Why do I always have to give you MY stuff?”
She smiled primly “He brings you to me.”
I scowled “I fucking knew you were going to say that.”
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, 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