Myam 29 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

I drank the last of my healing potions and then chased it with a heavy pull from my Flask.  Why do potions have to be made from boring old water anyway?  Who decided that?  Who’s in charge of magic?  Who said that you can’t you make a potion out of distilled spirits?  A question for the ages.  While the menials were carrying away the bodies to be buried (or maybe just to chuck them) the younger one with the unruly hair and pouty girlish lips, who I think said his name was Chaucier, was surveying the battlefield – such as it was.

“That was quite a skirmish.  I’ve never been in a fight quite like that.”

The other one, the older one with the short red hair and the weird blocky armor, I think he said his name was Nasso, spoke up “It’s strange to think this since they were fighting against us, but I wish that our men had accounted better for themselves.  I find myself disappointed in my own survival, they had us two to one and they couldn’t manage one casualty among us?”

I hurled the last empty healing flask into the trees “If you makes you feel any better I don’t think that was their best effort, I think they were confused as to what exactly they should be doing, soldiers are a simplistic lot – when the chain of command gets confused their morale drops precipitously.  They’re trained not to think overly much.”

Blocky raised an eyebrow “You’re an expert on the morale of fighting men?”

Girl Lips shook his head angrily “We should have tried to take them alive, you’re correct in saying that they didn’t really know what they were doing.”

“Your pal Hlebinksy told me if you’re going to fight someone you should go for the kill, fighting is too dangerous a business to muck about.  Why take it easy on someone when they’re trying to take you out?  How is that old so and so doing?”

Blocky grunted sourly “Not getting any older.  He’s dead.”

“Yes, I would imagine that there’s a significant amount of turnover at the manor right now.  Have you seen a plain looking blonde woman with a big chin hanging around recently?  And if so any idea what happened to her?” They both shook their heads “So exactly what has been going on?  Were you with the Baron for the fighting?  How did the Sky Thunders turn this thing on its head?  And what are we going to do about it?”

Girl Lips gave me a strange look “We?”

“Of course we, I can’t leave my sweet cousin and her husband in the clutches of these maniacs can I?”

Blocky was carefully cleaning the blood off his long blade “So you want to assault the castle just the three of us?”

“Let’s call that plan B.  Actually let’s call that plan B and call plan A getting someone else to storm the place.  Coming up with a better idea will be plan A.  And castle is a little grandiose for the Juost holdfast if you ask me.  I’m no military type like you fine fellows but I would accept merely calling it a fortified position.  Maybe I can challenge Kartak to a duel as plan A, I’ve had good luck with that in the past.”

Blocky gave me an appraising look “I had heard you were an odd one, I didn’t realize just how odd though.”

“Enough flattery, what happened out there in the hills, did you lose and the Baron bargained  away his holdings for his life or what the Hells is going on?  Can someone please give me some information?”

The two soldiers didn’t have a lot of information to give, they had ridden out with Baron Juost to confront the barbarian raiders but it turned out that they barbarian raiders weren’t terribly interested in a fighting a battle, being the poltroons that they are, and just avoided the Baron and his men and continued their raiding.  They said that the Baron was eventually able to set up a trap for the Sky Thunders and there was a brief encounter but they slipped away in short order without many dead on either side.  Sounds like they were riding up and down the outskirts of the mountains not accomplishing much of anything and then all of a sudden some Kostelos people were with them and the Baron was saying they were going back to Alleene together as fast friends.

Stenton was similarly unhelpful, he didn’t even remember that much, saying that his thoughts had clearly been under some form of magic manipulation.  All he could really say is that upon returning to the manor the Baron hadn’t called upon him for sage advice like back in the good old days and that he spent all his time sequestered with the Kostelos, in particular a loathsome old Kostelos woman.  What they were doing no one seemed to know.  They said that Kartak was at the manor but they didn’t think he was overly involved, they laid the blame for whatever has befallen the Baron on at the feet of the two other Kostelos women, both of which they described as “remarkable alluring” but mentioned that one of them had a deep mannish voice that they found very unattractive.

“Yes, I’m sure that the barbarian woman that’s taken over your barony is very concerned over your thoughts of how attractive you think her voice is.”

Blocky looked hurt by that remark “I didn’t mean anything like that, I was just giving information.”

“Whatever.  How many of these Kostelos are hanging around?  And what’s the general mood of the Baron’s men?  Are they smart enough like you to know that things are going sideways or are they just normal soldiers?”

Blocky looked even more hurt by that “Hey, that’s not . . .”

Girl Lips talked over him “There’s far too many Kostelos to fight just the two of us.”

“Three of us.”

“TWO of us.  As for the Baron’s men I’m now realizing how few of them are about the castle . . .”

“Fortification.”

“CASTLE, these days.  Going over it in my head I think that many of them have been sent out on various missions away from the Alleene.  The six of us may have been the last of the Baron’s men that were even there now that I think about it.”

“And you didn’t think that this was strange?”

“Of course I did, but what was I to do about it?”

“I don’t know, use your head for something other than holding a helmet?” I waved away his protests “Yes, yes, the chain of command.  So what do we do?  Head to Cathars?  That’s the county seat right?”

Stenton’s look was grave “And tell them what?  What proof do we have of anything?”

“I don’t know, accuse the Baron of worshipping demons or something, that should get some inquisitors up there real quick and they should be able to ferret out whatever’s going on right?”  Their shocked gasps told me they weren’t enamored with this idea “Well fine, we’re still a few days away anyway, let’s just keep going and I’ll figure out something along the way.”

Girl Lips grimaced “Well about that . . .”

“Don’t tell me Tamad was the only one who knew the way?  Good Gods.  Rudo!” He came jogging up like this was military academy “You’re a forester right?  Do you know which way to get us out of here come morning?”

“I can get you to Gumare.”

“Where the fuck is Gumare?”

“It’s on the tail end of Locust Run, from there you can take the river north to Preen and then get on the road to Alleene.”

“Well why didn’t you just say that?  Anyway, there you go, Rudo can lead us out of here.”

Stenton’s grave look turned to a hopeless one “And then what?”

“I’ll figure something out, that’s what I just said, don’t you people listen at all?”

Blocky rubbed his chin “That’s not much of a plan.”

“Well I don’t hear any great amount of ideas coming from you.  There’s no use in sitting here debating, I say we keep going towards Alleene and figure things out.  Maybe we can recruit some more help in Preen, although maybe it’s for the best if we skip Preen, there’s some powerful people there that may have it out for me.”

Blocky nodded “You do seems to have a talent for getting on people’s nerves.”

“Don’t be rude.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 23,045 platinum, 19,788 gold

XP: 712,901

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Badge of Last Resort, Stone of Good Luck, Tankard of the Drunken Hero,  Censer of Dreams, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Deck of Curses (four cards used), Ring of Urban Grace,  Bewitching Gown, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering, Token of Summoning, Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Better Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet, Red’s Riding Hood   

Courtier’s Outfit, noble’s outfit (5) collegium ring,  pocketed scarf, wrist sheath, signet ring (2) assortment of fake signet rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), garnets (700), severed hag head, gold necklace with jade pendant, ivory combs, tax collector’s badge, gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, silver and gold brooch, silver necklace with ruby pendant, glass vials of something awful (8), disguise kit, covenant ring , tiny diamonds (27), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring

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