Montalan 9 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

We started to come across farms and homesteads on our travels today and at my eminently useful suggestion the sirs approached some of these countryfolk to see where we were.  Turns out we weren’t heading towards Preen as much as they thought, we were headed more in the direction of the Grumare homesteads – which is where Rudo said that he was leading us when really he wasn’t.  It’s definitely a comfort to know that I’m not the only one who has issues finding their way around in the wilderness.  You’re probably think that I would also be comforted by the fact that we would be bypassing Preen, seeing as how it would make more sense to head for Owlwick given our current position.  And I would be if that’s what we were doing.  However, Sir Krajeo decreed that instead we would backtrack (sort of) and head for Preen anyway.  When I suggested to him that it made no sense to head away (sort of) from our ultimate destination he dismissed my concerns.  When I asked why he wanted to visit Preen so urgently he responded to me only with equivocation. 

“Well then, I guess this is where we part ways then.  I had hoped that you would help me rescue Baron Juost but I see no sense in following your course.  I thank you for what protection and aid you have rendered in passing through the Baku Woods.  Mister Chaucier, Mister Nasso, Chaplain, shall we direct ourselves to the northeast?”

Chaucier’s countenance became pained in that annoying way when someone wants you to know for their own selfish reason that they’re conflicted.  Like they think it lets them off the hook. “Actually My Lady we think it’s best that we stay together.  With all the Kostelos at the manor we think Sir Krajeo and his fellow knights are our best bet for a positive outcome on that quest.”

“So I go on alone then?  So be it.”

Sir Krajeo was scarcely even looking at me when he spoke “We can’t in good conscious allow you to continue on alone, you’ll be coming with us to Preen.”

“Since when it is your provenance to allow or disallow me to do anything?”

It took a while for those words to sink in, as if I had been speaking in a foreign language – when they did pierce that skull he did finally swing his head around to look at me “Surely you don’t want to travel on without protection.”

“I don’t want to no, but I will, it’s not a big deal.  I can protect myself well enough.  If you want to go to Preen, go to Preen, have a grand old time – make sure you visit Gaddeye’s pub, they make a great highball there.”

He frowned “You’re not thinking sensibly, you’ll come with us, it’s decided.”

I couldn’t help but laugh shortly “Decided?  Is that so?  I’m fairly certain that I decided to go one way and you decided to go another, which is different from us staying together – it’s the opposite in fact.  I know that’s a difficult concept for your sort so I won’t hold your confusion against you.”

He was frozen in place for a moment as if he was witnessing something impossible – like a pig doing a backflip.  Sir Wrythley decided to render his opinion at this point.

“She’s clearly hysterical.” He turned to his squire “Just bring her along will you?”

The squire made a move to take the reins of my horse and I stopped him with a look “You touch those and I will put my bootheel right through your eye you poxy maltworm.”

The squire reeled back as if he had been kicked in the chest and Sir Krajeo gasped like a vestal virgin walking into a men’s bathhouse.  Sir Wrythley’s face twisted into an ugly scowl – which was something since he’s already quite ugly.

I gestured to Sir Krajeo “You.  Don’t decide anything for me.  I know that you’re used to people falling all over themselves to obey you, since you’re a knight and all, but you forget yourself.  I am not yours to command.”

“You are in my care, you will do what I say.”

“So we come to it at all.  What’s the deal?  Have you been playing me untrue this whole time?  Are you some minion of Razmiran?  Is that why you’re so ardent to drag me to Preen?  How much are you getting for this kidnapping?  I’d hate be sold cheaply, it’s so depressing how little people will sell their convictions for sometimes.”

“Madam!  You . . .”

“Don’t take umbrage with me good sir knight, it’s no more than the truth.  Your oaths don’t seem to mean much.  You abandoned your oath to fight with the Baron readily enough.  Then you dispatched with your oath to see those children safely home as soon as you swore it.”

His face flushed with anger “You’re the one that . . .”

“So it comes as no surprise me to me that you now foreswear your oath to help me and help the Baron.  You are a false knight sir, I knew that from the first when I met you and you were here instead of fighting the enemies of the Kingdom on the battlefield as it the knight’s charge.  You are the worst kind of knight, you enjoy the privileges but you think nothing of your duties.  I’d say that you’re no more than a hollow suit of armor, but a hollow suit of armor while useless would also be harmless – you on the other hand cause harm, you are naught up a bully and a tyrant.”

He was so flabbergasted that he could do little other than stare and move his mouth like a fish out of water.

“I can tell you’re searching your mind for what the appropriate response is when a knight is insulted by a lady.  You can’t challenge me of course, that wouldn’t be fitting.  And I have no husband or father or chaperone – other than yourself – to challenge in my stead.  It’s a unique situation, I grant you that.  Probably if you wanted to stretch your purported code of honor what you’d want to do is the challenge the Baron – but since you’re not heading to the manor that’s out the window huh?  So what are you going to do?  Give me a good thrashing perhaps?  That’s for commoners, you can’t lay your hands on a lady of my standing.  It’s a real dilemma.”

“You are no lady!”

“I’ve been told that a time or two, yet here we are.  Being the violent murderer that you are, I see your hand twitching for your sword.  I say go for it.  Cut me down for insulting you, or for having the audacity to contradict you, or just for having a dissimilar opinion, those are all acceptable reasons for warriors to kill one another right?  Or for warriors to kill others, and my others I mean their lesser, which of course means poor people.  Prove me right, take up your sword and cut me down where I sit, silence me and prove me right all with one stroke – show all these people that a tallowcatch yaldson you truly are.  Go ahead, I want you to do it.  I want you to kill me.  Whatever death holds will be worth it to expose you for what you really are.”

Chaplain Stenton, pale faced, rode closer to us “I think what we need to do . . .”

“Shut up, this doesn’t concern you.”

Sir Krajeo’s eyes bulged dangerously towards falling out of his skill “You cannot speak like that to a man of the cloth!”

“And yet it seems I can because I just did.  What are you going to do about?  Give me a spanking?  I’m sure everyone would enjoy that.  Take me over your knee and give me a good smack on the ass.  There’s really only one thing you can do – leave.  Go your way and let me go mine.  Pretend this never happened.  Or just tell everyone that I went crazy.  Your sorts think women are crazy anyway so that will be easy to sell.  Tell people whatever you want.  Or don’t say anything, I doubt anyone here is going to snitch on you regardless.  Forget about the whole thing.”

At this point one of the other knights, Sir Damareil – a quiet man who hadn’t said much the entire trip so far – barged his horse between us and reached for me.  I’m not sure what he was trying to do.  It looked like he was thinking about grabbing me by the waist and lifting me entirely out of the saddle – which would have been nigh impossible but I can’t rule it out.  I shifted my steed adroitly out of his reach and urged my mount into a quick turn.  Catching him wrong-footed I dealt him a blow with my Walking Stick that rang loudly off his helm – not to damage him but to send the helmet askew.  While his vision was obscured I touched the girth of his saddle with my Stick and activated it to instantly rot the leather away.  All it took was a little push on the back to send him crashing to the ground with a tremendous clatter, his saddle falling atop him.  The entire thing took maybe five seconds. 

“Shall we call that a joust?  I’d say that I’ve earned my passage by winning wouldn’t you?  Good travels and safety my friends, may we meet again soon.”

I turned my horse and rode off calmly and deliberately and no one followed.  Of course no sooner was I out of sight of them then I saw a pack of beasts streaking towards me – it was almost as if they had been stalking me out of sight and were just waiting for me to leave the safety of the ground.  They were clearly some kind of canine but they were thick and blocky like boars and their black fur was shaggy like that of an unshorn sheep, except on their faces, which were naked dark skin only.  The lack of hair on their muzzle made their heads look somewhat skull-like.  They neither bayed not barked nor made any noise, they just charged over the hill and towards me with wicked speed and a clear murderous intent.  My horse was faster, but only just, and it was obvious that this pack of beasts had the stamina to run my poor mount into the ground.  This is how when the sun set, a handful of hours after leaving my guards, I found myself sitting in a tree while shaggy pig-dogs devoured my dead horse like ravenous ghouls and then stood patiently waiting for me.  Watching me silently with eyes that betrayed far too much intelligence.  

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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), 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, 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