Montalan 3 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

How far away from someone do you need to be for a crossbow to work?  Obviously if you have it pressed right up against them it’s not going to work very well is it?  I’m no engineer but it seems like it needs some room to get the momentum of the bolt going for it to do any damage.  But on the other hand if all the force in the arms is transferred to the bolt what difference does it make?  Shouldn’t it punch through anyway?  Is a foot away far enough?  Two feet?  Just to be on the safe side when I was standing over Rudo I was standing at full height – it’s probably more intimidating to have the point of the bolt right in their face but it’s less effective if you have to fire isn’t it?  Regardless I guess he’ll get the message.  My original idea was just to wait for him to wake up but I gave up in that quickly because crossbows are heavy so I gave him a little kick to wake him up.  Based on the look of shock in his eyes at seeing the crossbow pointed at him he must not have ever considered the mechanics of the minimum crossbow distance either.

“You thought you could fool did me?  I’m on to you.  What’s the plan huh?  It’s the lumber consortium right?  Somehow you’re in communication with them and they’re setting up an ambush but they need time to put it all together so you’re leading us around out here in the woods until they give you the word.  Is that it?  Probably you put yourself in that cage knowing that I would rescue you.  The whole scene was probably staged.  You took advantage of my charitable nature.  Am I close?  Speak up, you have nothing to lose now, you’re going to die anyway, so you might as well tell me.  Where’s it going to go down?  What forces are they bringing?  I grant you this sir, that look of terror in your eyes is very convincing, but why don’t you answer me?  Because you’re trying to think of a lie!  You can’t fool me!  I see right through you!  The only thing stopping me from putting a bolt through your head right now is the information you’ve got so you better spill it real quick.  Otherwise you’re useless get it?  Who are you working for?  Where are you leading us?  I’ll shoot you right now and not think twice about it, believe me on that.”

I had started off talking quietly enough, but I inadvertently had gotten a little loud and I saw Nasso and Chaucier looming in the periphery of my vision, approaching me cautiously like you would a crazy person wielding a crossbow – as if that was the case.

Nasso held his hands out and talked in that faux calming way people do that is actually very provocative “What are you doing Ela?”

“He’s been leading us WEST, I know it, I want to know why.  He’s an agent for someone, probably the lumber consortium.  They put him out here so I would find him and he could infiltrate our ranks.  They knew, they knew what I would do.”

“Why would a lumber consortium be out to get you?”

I chuckled mirthlessly “Oh, we’ve had our issues we have.  That’s just the most likely suspect though, it could be anyone really.    All sorts of people want a piece of me, they want me dead.  He’ll tell us though, no reason to speculate.” Chaucier started edging towards me. “Get back you!  I haven’t ruled out that you’re working against me either.”

Chaucier stopped but didn’t back up “Think about what you’re saying Ela, that doesn’t make sense.  We helped you fight against Kamad and our own men.”

“Oh no?  It makes perfect sense, what better way to gain my trust?  The more I think about it the more it makes sense.  Kamad was a disposable lackey, a pawn sacrificed so that you two could get on my good side.  And four soldiers?  Well soldiers are made to die right?  Who cares about that?”

Nasso was carefully picking closing as well “So you think we’re working for the lumber people too or is Rudo helping us?”

“I don’t know, but it’s what I’m going to find out.”

Rudo finally found his voice “How could I be leading you into an ambush?  How could I be in contact with anyone?”

I nearly ran him through with the Blade on the crossbow right then “MAGIC of course!  Always magic!  Sorcerers and seers and wizards alchemists all plotting against me with their ungodly powers.  They think that can do anything they want to people like me, normal people, GOOD people.  When the lumber consortium had me as their prisoner they had a mind mage come in and scan me, they learned everything about me, they looked into my thoughts and they took it all.  I was studied by their pet mages.  Then, they took everything about me and they did a spell where they created a perfect copy of me. The recreated me and that me told them every thought I could possibly ever have.   Which they then used to perform divinations to determine everything I was going do in the next twenty years.  So you see, Rudo here knows my entire history before the thought of the thing I’m going to do ever even occurs to me.  He knows everything I’m ever going do before I know it myself.  All through the wonders of magic!  That’s how he knew where I’d be.” 

Chaucier reached out hesitantly “If that was true though wouldn’t he have known that this was going to happen and have prepared for it?”

“Don’t patronize me!  No he couldn’t have known that, because I bested them!  They thought they plumbed the depths of my mind but they didn’t know just how deep it went!  You can’t read my mind fools, I’ve got memories hidden so deeply I can barely remember them myself!  You can’t anticipate what I’m going to do!”

The next voice I heard was that of our newest add-on, the body-shifted pit fighter who calls himself Duel “Well that’s certainly true.”

My head whipped around to see her leaning against a tree digging at her belly button with one finger while slurping from a wineskin with the other hand “Good Gods woman, show some comportment!”

She rolled her eyes and switched to digging in her ear “Yeah, I’m the one who’s acting poorly.”

“Stop doing that, it’s disgusting, you’re making us all look bad!”

She stopped digging and flicked something to the forest floor, which she followed up my spitting “Look, first of all I told you already I’m not a woman, I just look like one temporarily.  Secondly of all you need to settle your tea kettle lady, you’re flying off the handle over nothing.  You need a drink is what you need, loosen you up, you’ve got a major stick up your butt.”

I spun and loosed my crossbow at the foul woman but she dodged out of the way with a mannish yelp and my bolt thudded into the tree.  Rudo scrambled away as Chaucier and Nasso rushed at me.  I activated my Amulet for mental skin but that didn’t turn out to be all that helpful in a wrestling match.  I got a couple good shots, drawing blood, but they had me pinned to the ground in short order. 

“What now?  You kill me?  Prove me right?  It was Kartak all along right?  You killed your own men at his command just to trick me right?!  Go on, do your master’s bidding you cowards!”

Duel shook her head “She’s hysterical, you know how women get, dunk her in the creek – that should bring her out of it.  Or maybe a good hard slap.”

“I’ll kill you!”

Her mouth dropped like her feelings were gravely injured “Me?  What did I say?”

Chaucier and Nasso clearly had no idea what to do so they just continued holding me down for a few minutes while everyone else stood there equally clueless.  Eventually Chaplain Stenton came over to “talk me down” and I made a show of appearing like he was doing so.  After I was “calmed down” they let me up and told them that when I forget to use my Censer I have terrible nightmares that lack of sleep sometimes makes me act a little crazy.  I apologized profusely and begged everyone’s forgiveness and asked that they help me make sure that I never forget to use my Censer.  Rudo in turn apologized and admitted that we weren’t going directly north.

“You said that you wanted to avoid Preen and I thought it would be better if we came out of the woods near the Hairpin Run rather than by the Locust.  I wasn’t trying to deceive you I promise you that My Lady.  I owe you my life, I would never betray you.”

There was a lot more lip flapping and endless apologizing back and forth from all directions, except from Duel of course, and by the time everything was “settled” it was mid-day and “we” decided that instead of traveling that day to just stay put and rest.  I nearly bashed Chaucier in the face when he said that it was because someone was “overtired” and looked right at me.  It was one of the more vexing experiences of my recent life – which has been full of vexation as you all know by now.  But that was just the beginning.  Later when I went down the creek to freshen up a bit Duel appeared out of nowhere – for a clumsy oaf trapped in the wrong body she can be surprisingly stealthy.

“Get the Hells away from me.”

She leaned against a tree and took another drink, this time from some manner of dirty jug “That was bullshit, I saw you light your little drug machine before you went to sleep.”

“It’s not drugs, its magic incense!”

She grinned awfully and winked “Yeah, ‘magic’, I got it, mum’s the word.  Look I don’t care, if you want to ge high or if you want to to skewer that guy with a crossbow, go ahead do whatever you please, I just need to ask you a question.”

“I’m not interested in your question.”

“It will only take a second, there’s no one else I can ask . . . . it’s about lady stuff.”

I stood up and moved close to her, looking her right in the eye “I want to say this clearly so you don’t misunderstand me.  If you say one more word about whatever you want to ask about or anything relating to anything like that I will get on my horse and trample you to death.  And I mean that literally.  You will be killed by the hooves of a horsing crushing you into the ground.  That is what will happen if you continue down this path.  Is that clear?  I want that to be clear.”

“Sure, I just mean that when things are happening . . .”

“No.  Not.  Another.  Word.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 23,045 platinum, 19,788 gold

XP: 725,701

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Badge of Last Resort, 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, Ring of Urban Grace,  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

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   

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