The scouts led us back to a small military encampment a few miles outside of town from which several other military style camps could be seen. I could see also the former camp of the Alliance of Barons (Baron’s Alliance? I forget which) which was one third burned up tents, one third churned up ground, and one third ruined farmhouse. Once the honored holy woman was safely installed under the care of the unit’s healer, medics I guess they call them in the army because they need a different name for everything lest you forget you’re in the army, I asked what exactly was going on but no one seemed inclined to tell me.
It’s interesting how differently you get treated based purely on your clothing – dress extravagantly and people answer your questions, dress plainly and you get ignored most of the time. Eventually I pestered them enough to be directed to a brusque sergeant who told me, in barely politer terms, that I could either wait with my friend or get the Hells out of his camp. When I mentioned that I was famished I was pointed to the supply area where I found a bald fellow as round as a boulder with a massive droopy white mustachio that went past his collarbone. He was stirring a massive rusty iron pot with the handle of a spear. He eyeballed me suspiciously as I approached.
“I didn’t know we had camp followers now.”
I forced a phony laugh “Ah, fake laugh hiding real pain. The dude said I could have something to eat. Do you have anything?”
He grinned like a maniac and held out the butt of his spear, dripping with some kind of pinkish slurry “Here, have a lick.”
I laughed again “Oh man, I am going to get such a migraine tonight from not stabbing you in your fat guts.”
He joined me in fake laughing “I’ve broken farts bigger than you girl.”
As we laughed and laughed I reached into my Haversack and tossed a handful of coins at his feet. His eyes instantly turned from menacing to avarice. Avariciousness? Avaricity? Whatever, he wanted the money.
“I want something good.”
As if by magic, before all the coins had even stopped rattling around on the hard ground, a fellow basically somersaulted out of nearby tent as he pulled on his military jacket and slapped on his hat. He came to his feet breathlessly, not a bad looking fellow aside from his hedge-like eyebrows and unshaven stubble. The Walrus snorted and went back to his unhygienic stirring as the newcomer swept up all the coins with one arm – which was pretty impressive. His attempt to turn the sweep into a bow was less impressive, but it’s the thought that counts. He had the oily voice of a market huckster.
“Sergeant Major Rideout ma’am, at your service – folks call me Quarters.”
I raised an eyebrow slightly “Because you’re the Quartermaster?”
His laugh was even more fake than mine had been “You’re a smart one isn’t you? I tell that right off the jump.” He made a move to put a guiding hand on the small of my back the way men do sometimes and I batted it away, which didn’t bother him in the least “Come, let’s get you something decent to eat, not the hogslop this old goat brews up.”
He took me around to a tent that was set up against the back of the tent he had rolled out of – the two being mated together in a way that I am certain is not military standard. I figured a man like this would have a decent stash, but I was surprised when he brought out a steamed partridge, salted crayfish and even a halfway decent fig pie along with some high quality gin. I don’t care much for gin, but quality is quality.
“If you had some brandy, rum, freshly-squeezed orange juice, lemon juice, and some almond syrup to add to this gin it would be almost drinkable.”
He laughed and yakked on for a while about the trouble with getting good supplies during wartime and then proceeded to flounder for several minutes while he tried to come up with a way to say “where did you get that money?” without making it sound like he wanted to know or give offense.
“Good Gods man you’re going to sprain your tongue if you beat around the bush anymore. You tell me what’s going on in the city and I’ll tell you where I got the money.”
Quarters talked at length about what was going on in Beresford, fifty percent of which was total bullshit, but the things that appeared to be true were that Baron Redmynd had restored some order the city with the help of the Royal army and some kind of new minions of the Queen herself. The Bride’s Rebellion was still smoldering and Mayor Haldmeer has been deposed, bringing back into power – and by power I mean being Redmynd’s puppet – a former mayor who had themselves been deposed by Haldmeer. This was all just until Baron Juost showed up though, for it seems whatever kind of coup the Baron Alliance of Barons was up to was abandoned for the time being and they were trying to make nice with Juost.
“What’s did the mayor do to get himself deposed?”
Quarters laughed, legitimately “Oh, I suppose they’ll figure out what to charge him with later. Or maybe they won’t even bother, maybe he’s going to just disappear.”
“I don’t know how to feel about that.”
“You were acquainted with his mayorship?”
“Our paths crossed a time or two. So is it safe to enter the city now?” He held up his hand and fluttered it in the universal gesture for ‘kinda’. “I bet a crafty young buck like you probably knows how I could get into the city safely.”
He grinned like a goblin in a nursery “I might could, but I believe first you were going to tell me where you found that coin.”
“You know I was going to make up a story about finding it in a jelly jar hidden in a farm a few miles away, it was going to be a whole thing – it would have been a pretty good story too, sent you out on a wild adventure for nothing. But the fact is that I’m just fabulously wealthy. I’m just traveling incognito.”
He started to say something, clearly thinking that I was joking, but I took one of the petite diamonds out of my Haversack and flicked it his way. He snatched it out of the air and his eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw what it was. His ears turned beet-red the way some men’s do when they’re supremely aroused.
His voice was a whisper “Is this real?”
“It’s as real the nose on your face. Now, how are you going to get a fabulously wealthy and charming lass like myself into the city safe and sound?”
That would have to wait until nightfall as is tradition, it’s poor form to sneak into a town during the daylight, so I spent the few hours until sundown watching Quartermaster Rideout do very little work and a lot of insulting his underlings and gambling. In particular he had an assistant with short spikey hair that looked like she was merely a teenager that seemed to perpetually be the object of his contempt and ire despite the fact that she seemed to be doing all his actual work. Or maybe because of that fact, Quarters clearly wasn’t a man who appreciates hard work. He mentioned at least three times that she had been conscripted into the army because of her thievery and how low this made her.
I smiled, looking around at this tent full of misappropriated goods “I know what you mean, there’s nothing more despicable than someone who doesn’t know how to steal the right way.”
I joined in a few of his card games, but he quickly banned me once it because obvious I was much better at cheating than he was so I spent the bulk of the late afternoon relaxing and occasionally petting a stray bi-colored forest cat that wandered around the camp. Once it started getting dark I found the tent where they had installed her holiness and ducked in. Even though we had only been here a few hours she looked much better – still wan and pathetic but no longer like each breath might be her last.
“You’re looking . . . well.”
She sighed wearily “What do you want Ela?
“Yes, you are welcome for me saving your life, oh sorry, I thought you said thank you. I’m going into town, are you going to tell me what I need to know to get my stuff back from the Church of Greed like you said you would?”
She nodded slightly “I will, unlike you I keep my word.”
“That’s good to know since you swore you were going to murder me this morning.”
She gazed at me coolly “Yes, I did.”
She told me a string of numbers to remember and a passphrase and that was it – I left and probably won’t see her again until she tries to kill me. You know, the usual farewell for me. A few hours after dark Rideout and I rode out of the camp and were met in copse of trees by none other than Imma Shadowrun, I’d recognize those ornate riding boots and incongruous diamond pendant anywhere – not to mention her haystack of a hairstyle. She clearly didn’t remember me, but then she only saw me once for about ten seconds so I guess I can excuse that. She was accompanied by some shady types and they traded various goods and sacks with Quarters before he informed them they were to sneak me into the city. Although maybe sneak isn’t the right word since that conjures images of secret tunnels and codewords and hidden staircases and the like – all this trip needed to be successful was a guardsman that had been bribed and we were in.
Once we hit the city streets Shadowrun and her people left to do whatever it is smugglers do without saying a word and I was on my own. It felt good to just have a cobblestone street under my heels again. Just walking around Beresford in the night made we feel at home. We were in the northern part of the southwest part of town which seemed to be mostly unscathed from the rioting and fighting. I found the first inn I could that had any open rooms, I didn’t catch the name but the sign seemed to be a weasel wearing lady’s undergarments, and paid the clearly inflated prices they were charging for a simple room. It was worth being gouged though to finally be in an urban area sleeping in a bed again.
Funds: 53,762 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, tiny diamonds (27) 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, 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