I dragged Corune back into the wheelbarrow – even through her clothing her skin felt ice cold. If I didn’t see her breathing I would have sworn she was dead already. Before setting off I poked around in the pockets of the three dead geezers to see if they had anything edible but all I found was a flask of grain alcohol. Normally I would turn my nose up at that but I’m starting to get pretty sick of rice wine, besides its grain right, so drinking it is as good as eating bread. Right? I threw back a goodly amount of the flask and started dragging Corune’s worthless hide over the difficult terrain back to the road without the ancient barrow falling apart in the process. By the time I managed to get to the road the sun was up and it had all the earmarks of being a scorching hot day – because why wouldn’t it be unseasonably warm right after a night that was the coldest in fifteen years?
Not wanting to sweat through my good clothes (which weren’t in that great of shape at this point anyway but you know) I decided to change into my commoner clothing. So of course halfway through the process I heard a voice.
“Now that’s a right pretty picture.”
I turned towards the voice and saw a smirking fellow with a mop of curly black hair that worked with some bushy sideburns to frame his eminently punchable face. He was a good head shorter than me at least and was wearing respectable clothing aside from the fact that he had a row of knives on each leg and more in his belt and on top of that several pieces of jewelry and adornment that were also shaped like knives. Add to this a blue sash and a red cape and you know what kind of fellow we’re dealing with.
“I’ll be with you in a moment.”
He smarmed smarmily “Don’t hurry on my account.”
“Hasn’t anyone else told you it’s not polite to sneak up on a lady?”
“Certainly, but it’s ever so much fun.”
“Fair enough, most of what we’re told in our lives is designed to keep us from having fun. What’s the old saying?”
He chuckled “There is no pleasure in having nothing to do, the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.”
“No, I was actually thinking of another saying ‘ow, there’s a crossbow bolt in my chest’.”
He frowned “What?”
Having finished dressing I pulled out my crossbow and fired at him. I give him this – he’s got some good reflexes, he dove out of the way and to the dirt as the bolt flew past. That takes some real speed so duck out of the way after the shot, especially at that range. The key to dodging is normally anticipating and moving before but this fellow was able to get out of the way even taken unawares. He flipped the cape away from his face, which had flown over his head during the dive, and looked up at me incredulously.
“Are you insane?!”
“I don’t think so, but I was told specifically just a few hours ago that I am, so the jury’s still out I guess.”
I was reloading as I talked and fired again at his prone form, he tried to roll out of the way but I still managed to hit him in the leg – causing him to yelp like a frightened nanny goat. The pain was nothing compared to the outrage in his voice though as she grabbed at his pant leg.
“How could you, this is Satander Silk!”
“No it isn’t, it’s fake.”
“But it’s a good fake!”
He yelped as I fired again, managing to knock the bolt mostly aside with his cape in what I have to admit was a pretty fancy maneuver. He scrambled for the wheelbarrowing, putting it between us and hunkering down out of sight – well sort of out of sight, I simply went to one knee and shot under the barrow. The bolt deflected off the wheel and instead of hitting him in the side came in at a weird angle right through the top of his foot. He moaned like a woman at her husband’s hanging.
“That was esparga leather!”
“That’s made up.”
“It is not!”
“Trust me, I know all about fashion and I’ve never heard of it.”
He started to retort but I had reached into my secret pocket and produced a silk rope with a grappling hook and swung it around the barrow, hooking him on the leg and giving it a yank – sending him stumbling to the ground. I put my crossbow away and came around the barrow as he was struggling to disengage himself from the rope and get up at the same time and not doing the a great job of either. I turned my Walking Stick head into a snake and let it strike him on the arm. He hopped backwards, turned a fall into a roll and came up with a short blade in hand – not a knife amusingly.
“What is wrong with you?! I was just having a bit of fun.”
“Oh, you know how us women folk are illogical and flighty and unpredictable and emotional – who knows why we do anything? You know what I’ve noticed, men have a special power where they can act like a total dick, and then when the woman gets upset they’re able to turn it around and make it seem like she’s the one behaving badly for reacting to what he did. It’s pretty impressive I have to say. I know a few tricks myself but that is one that is really something. Is that something that you’re born with or do your fathers teach you when you’re old enough to shave?”
He warily made a move to half-way put his blade away “Are you going to shoot at me more?”
I tapped my Walking Stick to de-snakify it “No, I already hit you a couple times, and the snake got you so you’re already plenty poisoned, I don’t see the point in shooting you anymore.”
“Yeah. What are you doing out here anyway? Just wandering around looking for women getting dressed? You’ve got about a minute to live if you want to tell me your story.”
“Do you have the antidote?!
“Sure.” He came forward desperately and I whipped out my dagger “Back off chief.”
He licked his lips like he was trying to decide his chances of overpowering me “How much for the antidote?”
“Hmm, let’s see, how about everything you have.”
His eyes bugged out “Everything?!”
I nodded “Yeah, that seems fair. I mean you’re going to be dead in a few seconds otherwise right? So then I get all your stuff anyway. You seem to be balking through, which I find confusing. Is your life worth less than the stuff you have on you right now? That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because if you die you won’t have it anymore anyway. Although I guess some Odobenine worshipers believe . . .”
“Fine I’ll give you all my stuff for the antidote.”
“Will you? I don’t see you doing it.”
As he started dumping out all this possessions on the road before me I saw that he was starting to struggle. The arm where he had been bitten was clearly in a lot of pain and he was sweating buckets in very short order. His face, especially the lips, took on a very slack loose look. As he tossed out more and more things he got that look like someone who’s trying not to vomit. I’ve been poisoned a few times but I never felt like I was going to throw up. Then again I’ve only been bitten by snakes three times so what to do know?
“You doing okay over there?”
His voice was shaky “I’m having trouble seeing . . .”
“Yeah, that will happen.”
He started swaying like he might keel over “The p-pain . . .”
“You better hurry up if you want that antivenom.”
“Th-th-that’s all . . .”
“I don’t see how, you’ve still got your clothing. I believe we agreed on everything.”
“B-b-but . . .”
“Everything. That’s another strange thing I’ve noticed, people have a very different definitions when it comes to absolutes. When I say everything I mean everything, I don’t know what you mean. Get those clothes off.”
I gathered up his possessions, making them my possessions, as he struggled and fumbled to take his clothing off with one hand, the other arm hanging uselessly at his side. Eventually he collapsed face first into the dirt half nude in a most undignified position. I crouched down next to him as he labored to breath.
“Well my friend you didn’t quite make it, but I have good news – I fibbed a little bit just then, there is no antidote – so you didn’t fail. You can take some comfort in that, this was going to be the end either way so you don’t need to be sad, you never had a chance. That probably means something in the afterlife, let me know if you get a chance.”
His eyes rolled back in his head and he started spasming sharply “Wh-wh-why?”
I stood up and dusted off my hands “Oh, just having a bit of fun you know.”
I’m not sure if he was dead or just unconscious when I stripped his clothes off. With that done I grabbed the wheelbarrow and started heading down the road to Beresford.
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, 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, Onyx (55), Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Altar of Adariel, Cauldron of Brewing, Censer of Dreams, Bowl of Conjuring Water Elementals, Companion Mirror, darkwood lute, +3 buckler, celestial shirt, +1 Frost Demonbane Shortsword, potions of cure moderate wounds (5), potion of invisibility, +2 mithral chain shirt, masterwork buckler, +2 falcata, ring of protection +2, 120 gp, ring of sustenance , bottle of elfen absinthe, assorted jewelry, male noble’s outfit, signet ring, dust of tracelessness, scroll of knock; +1 hand crossbow, cloak of resistance +1, ring of protection +1, masterwork thieves’ tools
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