Montalan 22 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

Men by and large are a strange lot.  There’s a few things that you can reliable expect from them but beyond that anything goes – you never know how they’re going to react or what they’re going to do.  They’re ruled by emotion you see and therefore you can never really understand them.  They nurse their grudges and their slights into actions and words that are incomprehensible to any outside observer.  It’s frustrating and more than that it’s frightening.   Sometimes they can resist their urges, resorting to taking out their whims on animals or those who accept or even desire their predation for one reason or other.  But to what degree can you consent to someone that can rob you of your free will on a casual whim and a few well-placed words? Sure, you could resist, you could say no, but there’s no physical or social pressure by which they must abide.  That’s a real problem because it makes them fickle, or flighty if you prefer.

Why do I bring this up?  To explain why I once knew someone that collected weapons.  Men do weird things like that.  He wasn’t a warrior, he wasn’t into violence – loving violence, that makes some kind of sense, there’s a rush to that sort of thing for the baser sorts – he just loved weapons.  It was inexplicable.  He had an entire wing of his mansion that was just for his weapons, he didn’t use them for anything he just collected them and fawn over them.  I’m sure he did some weird erotic shit with them too but it’s hard to imagine what they would even be that wouldn’t kill you in the process.  He had more than one servant whose job was just to polish and do whatever else maintenance is required to keep weapons looking nice.  He had another guy on the payroll whose job was just to wander around and buy weapons for him – not even ones that we that good necessarily, some of them just had “historical value” like the sword such and such had at the battle of whatever when some other person was killed.  I hope most of them were fake, if I had that job I would have just bought some sword from the market scuffed it up a little and spent the rest of the money on drugs and hookers.  The point is that he had hundreds of weapons, from the mundane to the bizarre, and he loved to show them off no matter how disinterested you were.

And why did I bring that up?  In his collection I saw something called an “ogre hook” which is a pretty uninspired name.  Imagine if someone called spears “human pointy sticks”.  That person would be laughed at and punched.  An ogre hook is a shitty piece of metal that has been bent or hammered into a hook shape sort of.   You’d assume it was a hunk of garbage if it wasn’t being used to try and disembowel you.  As you might suspect based on the name they’re “crafted” by ogres, usually from metal torn from their victims’ weapons and armor, the hook shape is preferred as a means to trip and catch people trying to run away from them. As the owner of the collection would have us believe despite (because of?) their pitiable workmanship, the rarity and peril involved in getting ogre hooks make them quite valuable. 

That’s what’s going on out in the world, there’s just ogres out there digging into people’s flesh with rusty hooks.  Keep that in mind next time you ever consider going anywhere.  Think about that for a second.  Have you ever seen a fisherman use a gaff?  It’s a sharp hook with a handle that is used to stab a large fish and then lift the fish out of a net (or whatever) into the boat. I’m told that the best way to do that is to stab the hook through the spine.  That’s what we’re talking about only for people instead of fish.  Can you even imagine being such a creature where SO many people you want to mutilate and eat are getting away from you that you “invent” a hook to catch them?

Ela, what does this have to do with anything?  Stay with me because I am going somewhere with this I promise you.  Martialla and I were traveling through the woods heading for Alleene (more or less, probably) when out of nowhere (well somewhere I guess but I didn’t see where) two fleshy deformed hulks ran at us full-speed brandishing ogre hooks.  I just wanted you to know why I knew what an ogre hook was.  Also why upon seeing those hooks we ran at first sight.  As you all know I’ve seen my share of horrible, horrible things at thing point, but there’s just something about someone waving around what is essentially a human meat hook that just plain rattles you.  There are plenty of people that do evil things over and over and are just numb to it all.  And that’s bad.  But then there are things in the world like these two freaks truly do not care at all about anything that sentient beings should care about, and that’s fucking disturbing.  Beings that carry hooks.

They looked more ogre-ish than actually ogre, like they were some kind of stunted mutant ogre offspring, which would explain their deformity.  Made me wonder if my old friend Crookjaw was really an ogre or whatever these things are.  Half ogres aren’t possible right?  I mean how would that even work?  I know that it could work one way maybe but what kind of debased maniac could even perform to knock up an ogress?  Neither here nor there I suppose.   

Martialla shouted as she ran into the woods “Where’s the rally point?!”

“Anywhere but here!”

I’ve never actually heard anyone talk about a rally point before, but I understand contextually what it means.  But isn’t the idea that you set the rally point BEFORE you need it?  Yelling where you’re going to meet up while you’re being attacked doesn’t do any good now does it?  I could give Martialla the benefit of the doubt and assume that she assumed that these things wouldn’t understand our speech but that was quickly proven inaccurate as I realized the jabbering and shouting the creature chasing me was doing was actually language muffled by his distorted jaw.  I couldn’t catch it all what he was saying, but I made out enough words to understand that if he got a hold of me I would be subjected for a variety of anatomically impossible acts.  I scrambled up a tree with my Slippers and unfortunately got a better look at my pursuer.  He had about an extra third of a head that was a massy growth of some kind and one of his legs was twisted like it had several extra joints – which didn’t appear to slow him down at all.  His “clothing” was an upsetting bloody patchwork of normal sized human garments sewn together at random, some of which seemed to be sewn into his flesh.

He circled the tree bashing at it mindlessly with his hook “Come down now!  Come down!”

“No thank you.”  He growled incoherently “Why don’t you come up and get me big man?”

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen worse climbing technique, he didn’t use his legs at all, he just hauled himself up the trunk of the tree with a hugging style that was as slow and awkward was it was impressive.  He may not be an actual ogre but he has to be as strong as one. As he was climbing I used my Flask to dump gallon after gallon of rice wine on his head as he was trying to climb (I took a drink or two for myself as well).  The slipperiness impeded him somewhat but the rage-strength at being doused made up for it so it was no net effect.  Once he got closer I turned my Badge into a whip and started flicking it at his face as he was climbing.  With his arms around the tree trunk where was little he could do to defend himself and I lashed him badly several times.  As he drew within arm’s length I shimmied out towards the end of the tree-branch and retrieved a tinderwing from my Vest which I lit and then threw at his eyes.

“You call that climbing you weakling?”

With a final furious roar he heaved himself up onto the tree branch, which promptly broke under his extra weight.  Potatohead as I’ll call him, fell to the ground like a rock, slamming into the dirt with a wince-inducing thud.  I on the other hand used my new Cape to safely transport myself to the forest floor as lightly as a feather.  I took that opportunity to stab the stunned and disoriented fiend through the back of the knee on his weird floppy leg.  With a kick to the rapier hilt I thrusted it all the way through down to the cross guard.  Still, he crawled after me with one arm and one good leg,  lashing out with his hook fruitlessly as I peppered him with crossbow bolts.  Eventually I had to scamper up another tree to avoid his reach, even hobbled as he was, but by that point his shoulders and head were sprouting crossbow bolts like the world’s ugliest porcupine and he was breathing raggedly.  Still though given what I assume is unnatural fortitude it would have taken a long time for him to die, assuming he wouldn’t just get up and wander off despite his wounds, so I careful climbed down the other side of the tree and then crept up slowly to cautiously and heroically stab him through the back of the neck with my Blade. 

After wandering around the woods for half an hour or so I heard Martialla calling my name and we found one another.  Based on the rippedness of her unfashionable clothing and the obscene amount of blood slicking her from knee to collarbone it looks like she may have gotten ogre-hooked right across the belly.

“You look awful.  How did you get wounded so badly when you can turn invisible?”

Her response was labored “Just lucky I guess. “ She grunted sourly “You look fine . . . as usual.”

“It’s not my fault I’m a great warrior.”

She laughed and then grimaced and grabbed at her stomach “That is the truest thing you’ve ever said.  You haven’t done anything to become a great warrior.”

My response was interrupted by another fellow crashing out the forest at us – only this was not a deformed ogre-beast, it was just a normal fellow.  A normal fellow who was disheveled and looked like he was running from the Lord of the Thirteen Hells Himself but still a normal fellow.  For some reason what jumped out at me was the excessive number of buttons on his flapping dark greatcoat.  I suppose that’s why it was open, who has time for all those button?  He stumbled and slid to a stop and stared at us for a moment while gulping and trying to catch his breath.

“You have to help . . . . the dam . . . . they’re going to destroy . . . .”

I looked at Martialla “Oi.  I hate this forest.  I really do.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 23,045 platinum, 52,143 gold

XP: 763,911

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, 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, Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Better Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet, unknown gauntlets, mysterious staff, tooth-sword, Cape of the Mountebank, Sandals of Sprinting, +1 Agile Rapier  

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, tiara, masterwork red and black long greatcoat, lots of luxury goods 

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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