Montalan 22 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

Mr. Buttons claims that his name is Holloway Giswain Cumberland the Third, which falls into the category of names so awful that you’re have to have a real set of balls to be passing it off as a fake one.  Although on the other hand a con artist I knew passed himself off as Lord Gordin Gordin for years before someone split his head open with an axe (which was unrelated).  Buttons claims additionally to have been captured by the “ogrekin” as he called them and that he had escaped when his fellow captives sacrificed himself to create a diversion so that he could get away.  Those two charming mutant fellows that had attacked Martialla and me were actually out chasing him when our paths crossed, much to their misfortune (and ours).  Or so he claimed.  He made that move to grab at my clothing or hands the way people do sometimes when they’re really panicked but I knocked him on the head with my Walking Stick and he pulled up short with a surprised look.

“Back up there chief, I don’t need you grabbing at me with your grimy little rat fingers.”

“What?!  I . . .” He shook his head as if trying to shake off a haze “You have to help me, you have to . . .”

“You don’t look like you’ve been tortured to me.”

Bafflement crawled across his face like an inch-worm “You have to help . . . wait . . . what?”

“Does he look very tortured to you Martialla?” She shook her head. “You look like someone who got out of bed quickly to me, not someone who just escaped from a marauding band of pain worshipping torture monsters.  Did they just capture you five minutes ago?  I don’t see a mark on you.  Look at Martialla, have you been tortured today Martialla?”

She shook her head again “No I have not.”

“Exactly, and look at her.  She looks like crap.”

“Hey!”

“No offense, and she looks like that because one of the ogre things chasing YOU gutted her like a filthy stinking slimy fish.  And here you are looking fresh as a daisy.  How do you explain that?”

His eyes darted back and forth between the two of us “I . . . . who are . . . . what do . . . . there’s no time!  We have to . . .”

I gestured to myself and Martialla “We don’t have to do anything.  Whatever you’re up to that’s your business.  I don’t believe for one second that you were in the clutches of those reprobates.  Well maybe one second, but not two seconds no way.”

He gestured wildly “I was their prisoner!  They did . . . things to me!  They’re animals!  We have to save the village, they’re going to destroy the dam!  The flood will kill them all!”

I scowled “Dam?  Village?  What are you even talking about?  We’re in the middle of the woods. There’s nothing like that around here.  Martialla, you’ve been in these trees for weeks now, are there even any rivers through here?  Let alone a dam?  Let alone a village?”

She thought about it for a moment “I mean, maybe.  I mostly keep to the edges.  I don’t really know what goes on here in the middle.”

“What?!  Then how are you leading us to Alleene?  Do you know where we are right now?!”

She looked around “No, not really, but you can’t ever honestly know exactly where you are in the woods.”

“YOU can’t.  Damn it Martialla you lack of navigational skills as screwed me again!”

Her lips tightened angrily “You see, you see Ela, this is what I’m talking about.  We’ve been back together for a few days and you’re yelling at me for something that isn’t my fault again.  You got lost in your own suite back at the palace and now you’re lambasting me for not being able to orienteer my way through the damn woods!”

“Hey, I was drunk when I got lost that time!  I told you that in confidence.  Also please d don’t say ‘back together’ like that, it makes it sound like we’re a couple or something.”

“You should be so lucky.”

“No YOU should be so lucky!”

Buttons rushed at me again and I had to draw back my Walking Stick like I was going to club him “Stay off me man, don’t think I won’t crack your skull open.”

“We’ve got to do something!  The dam!”

“There’s no dam you lunatic, all that lives in this forest are monsters and fey folk and a couple of bandits.” I turned to Martialla “Say, when you started banditing here weren’t there also some bandits?  Did you ever run into them?  Do bandits bandit other bandits?”

“Of course bandits go after each other sometimes, you know the old saying – there’s exactly as much honor amongst thieves as amongst everyone else.”

“Amongst?  Calm down there lady, what are you going to say next?  Erstwhile?”

Martialla’s retort was lost as Buttons rudely jumped into the eyeline between us “There is a dam!  There’s a village and if they unleash the waters everyone will be killed!”

I sighed “Even if I believed that there was a dam, which I do not, what sort of morons would build a village in the dry bed of a river?  I’m no engineer but people built dams to create ponds right?  Not to build a town right in the path of where flowing water should go.  It makes no sense to do that.”

He shook his head wildly “No, the village isn’t in the path, it’s in . . .”

Martialla interjected reasonably “If the village is in the path of the waters just evacuate the village.”

His histrionics became even more overstated “No, no, that’s what I’m trying to tell you!  The village is IN the water.  If they break the dam the water will flow out and they’ll all be killed.  They live IN the water.”

I gestured to Martialla “We’re going now, good luck to you crazy man.” He grabbed at my Cape and I tried to shove him off but he clung to my garment “Get your hands off of me!”

“They’re water elfs!  They’ll die if we don’t stop the ogres from wrecking the dam.  They can’t survive on land!”

I finally managed to pry his hands off my clothing “Water elfs?  Even if that was a thing that existed why would they be here?  We’re hundreds of miles away from the ocean.”

“They were exiled!  The king of Paladria died and his brother sized power, the Pillarists tried to stop him and ensure that the rightful heir . . .”

I made to kick at him but Martialla held up a restraining hand “We may as well see what he’s talking about, otherwise he’s just going to keep raving about it.  Unless you want to kill him to shut him up.”

I stared at the wild-eyed unkempt man for a good long while “Alright, let’s go.”

Maybe half an hour later Buttons lead us to, what, a glade?  Is that what a forest clearing is called?  Anyway, the trees thinned out on account of there was a forest stream that had been dammed to form a decent sized pond.  Even so I would have judged the entire story to be bullshit if not for the fact that maybe a dozen of the so-called ogrekin (if they can so be called) were up to their nuts (and what have you) in mud pulling away at the dam.  Watching them from the “shore” and shouting encouragement in the form of profane insults were four actual ogres.  Three of them were the savage mounds of guts and flab that you’d expect but one of them looked like a block of solid muscle and was wearing actual armor that looked like it had been made for him.  Where the Hells did that come from?  One of the ogres was all muddy like they had tried to go at the dam only to find they were too heavy to make it through the mud.  But that wasn’t all, standing over them all (literally) was my old friend the giantess from outside of Newberry Hill.  She was just as horrid as ever but her hair is still radiant and vibrant as you like – it’s such an odd juxtaposition that it almost knocks you on your ass just seeing it.

“That’s it?  It looks like a beaver dam.”

Buttons nodded vigorously “It is, when the exiles first came here the water nymph Cryseria spoke to Wishapoosh the lord of the beavers and he . . .”

“Shut up.  So you’d have us believe that there’s some manner of water elfs living in that pond?  It’s not that big, how many elfs could there be in there?  Also why can’t they defend themselves?  Aren’t elfs full of magical powers?  Why can’t they summon a big blast of water that looks like charging horses for some reason to knock the ogres away and drown them?”

Martialla piped up “Well that would knock down the dam for one.  Besides not all elfs can do magic.”

Buttons seemed to be calming down from his earlier hysterics “They’re sick.  Living in this place is not good for them.  Their power is diminished to nothing.  They’re helpless, we need to save them.”

“Why do you care what happens to them?”

“They’re my friends and trading partners.  That’s why I was out here.”

“That sounds like a long and boring story.  What could elfs in a forest pond possible have to trade?  Wait, don’t answer that, I don’t care.  What do you want us to do about it?”

He gestured vaguely “Can’t you go down there and . . .” He made the traditional finger across the throat gesture for croaking someone.

“You want us to fucking fight them?!  The three of us against all of them?”

He cleared his throat “Well the two of you anyway, I’m not much of a fighter.”

“Okay , you clearly are insane.  There’s no way the two of us can fight all of them!  Even if we wanted to.  Which we do not.”

“You already killed two of them.”

“Yeah, TWO, and that’s because we had to kill them to save our own lives.  We didn’t seek them out, we’re not warriors.  Its tough luck for the water elfs that they’re all going to die but there’s nothing we can do about it.  Sounds like their lives kind of sucked anyway, so is it really that big of a loss?”

Martialla smiled “No, there is something we can do, I have a plan.”

“No there isn’t.”

Her grin widened “Oh but there is.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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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