Montalan 22 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 3

“That’s your plan?!  That’s a terrible plan, that’s so bad that you can’t even call it a plan!”

“It’s better than a lot of the plans that you’ve come up with for us!”

“None of my plans ever ended with our skin being made into ogre-garters!”

“No, they just end up with ME being branded a murderer and becoming a forest outlaw!  I hate the forest!  And ogres don’t even wear garters!”

“You don’t know that!  You’re not an expert in ogres!”

“More than you are!”

Martialla’s plan was for us to disguise ourselves as the two ogrekin we killed (which would easily do) and infiltrate the group attacking the dam.  What’s the next step of the plan you ask reasonable?  Winging it apparently.  Never mind that fact that even disguised I’m the only one of the two of us that could sound like an ogrekin.  She had suggested that we go and tell the rest of the clan that they needed help chasing down Buttons, but that’s laughably stupid.  First of all they’re probably just kick the shit out of us for failing – I don’t feel like there’s a lot of pride, fellowship, and common loyalty shared by gross human-eating monsters.  And secondly even if they did come with us what does that accomplish?  Eventually they’re just going to come back to continue attacking the dam.  I took a deep breath and made an effort to calm myself.

“Look, I’m sorry I yelled, but that plan seems a tad suicidal for my liking.”

Martialla looked stunned “Did you just apologize?  What has happened to you?”

“You’ve heard me apologize many times before.”

“Never sincerely.”

“That’s a fair point.  Let’s just pretend that I’ve grown as a person and move past it.” I pointed at the giantess “I’ve actually run into her before, she’s not as stupid as she looks.  Setting aside jokes about how it would be impossible to be as stupid as she looks I don’t want to tangle with her again unless I have to.  I mean what’s our motivation here Martialla?  It’s shitty luck for the dumb water elfs sure, but why is that our problem?”  I jerked my head at our tagalong and his many-buttoned coat “This guy is just trying to save his trading partners, this is not some high minded mission of mercy.  Let’s not go overboard here okay?  We came and took a look and it’s nothing we can handle.  So let’s just move on.  Why risk our lives for this jerk?”

Martialla sighed “I suppose you’re right.  It just seems like you’re the one who makes all the decisions, maybe I was pushing this one a little too hard because it was my idea.”

“Hey, I get it, no one likes to feel like they’re the junior partner.  And rest assured Martialla, I don’t think about you that way at all.  I may joke about you being my sidekick but I’m just busting your balls, you know that.” I reached for her “Come on now let’s hug it out.”

She laughed and playfully shoved me away “Get off of me Ela!”

I winked “Hey, you can’t blame a gal for trying right?”

Buttons look utterly confused “What’s going on?  Are you guys going to help me or . . .”

I clapped him on the back sociably “I’m afraid not my friend, it’s just too much for us to take on right now you know?  But I tell you what, if you take those fancy buttons into town and sell them you can probably scrounge up enough money to hire some adventurers – this is the kind of shit they eat up.  A clan of ogres attacking some weird kind of elf village?  That’s what they’re all about.  That should get you fixed up in no time at all.”

“There’s no time to do that!  They’re ripping down the dam now!  My friends sacrificed themselves so I could get away and get help!”

I patted him on the back consolingly “They had to know what was probably not going to work.  I mean who are you going to find to help you in the middle of a forest?  Plus they’re all dead so sounds like so it really doesn’t matter right?”

Martialla held up a finger “What about this?  If all the ogres are here their lair should be empty right?  Let’s go there while it’s undefended, maybe some of your friends are still alive and we can rescue them.”

He shook his head violently “No, we need to stop them now!  The elfs will be killed!”

I scowled “What is your deal with these Gods damned elfs?”

“I’ve been trading with them . . .”

“And?”

He looked like a trapped animal but eventually his he sighed “They’ve been giving me Turnbill crafted weapons.”

I couldn’t help but snicker “So you’re just in it for the money?” He stood shame-faced but said nothing “That’s interesting though, very interesting.”

Martialla frowned “What’s a Turnbill?”

“Jheronimus Takan Turnbill was a master weaponsmith in the time of the Old Empire.  The old Old Empire if you know what I mean.  Collectors pay a lot of money for his swords and whatnot now, not enough to risk our lives over for sure, but the reason I even know this at all is because your and my favorite of all the dukes of the land – one mister Eaglevane – owns two Turnbill blades of a set of three forged for some general of the Old Empire, and getting the last one is one of the few things that might lure that smarmy toad away from the comforts and security of Paladore.  Which would be helpful.  For me.”

“So now we are going to help?”

“Maybe.” I turned to Buttons “Let’s hear a little more about what’s going on here.  Are the ogres trying to drain the lake because they want the Turnbill relics?”

He shook his head “No, they just hate the sea elfs and want to kill them.”

“Did something kick this off?  If they hate the elfs why is this happening now?  Did something change?”

“I have no idea, I just came out here to trade and they grabbed us.”

“You mentioned some kind of stupid water faerie that set up this little pond for the elfs to live in.  Sounds like someone that could help us out, what do you know about her?  How can we contact her and get her in on this action?”

“I don’t know anything about it, that’s just what the elfs told me happened.”

“Well what the Hells do you know!”

He shied away like I was going to hit him (which I guess I have done) and Martialla held up a restraining hand “I say we visit their lair anyway, if any of your friends are alive maybe they can help us.”

I nodded “Plus if there’s no one to rescue we can set it on fire.”

“As a distraction?”

“Yeah, sure.”

 Buttons gestured at the ogrekin picking away at the dam “There’s no time, look!”

Martialla took a good look at the scene below “I’m no structural engineer but it’s going to take them hours to make a dent in that thing just grabbing at it like they are, maybe days – it will be fine for a while.  Ela’s right, we can’t take them on alone, we need allies.  Unless you have a better idea let’s check out this lair.”

I shrugged “Works for me.  What kind of lair are we talking about?  I assume ogres live in caves.”

Buttons was looking glumly at the dam below “No, it’s an old ranger fort.”

“What?  There’s rangers here?  Enough to necessitate a fort to accommodate them all?”

He looked at me forlornly “Not anymore.”

The fort wasn’t too far away and it turned out to be a real piece of garbage.  Being in the care of creatures that don’t have much interesting in maintenance or renovation for three generations doesn’t do much for the integrity of a building.  On the other hand they appear to be very proficient in hanging dead bodies on the walls and smearing them with excrement.  Some massive ugly hounds charged out at us to defend their home, along with one ogrekin with a clubfoot but we were able to dispatch them easily enough.  None of Button’s friends were still alive though and I didn’t see there being any real chance of anything worthwhile being inside that mound of fetid trash and body parts so the trip was pretty well pointless. 

“I feel like I got tetanus just from looking at that place.”

Martialla nudged one of the dead dogs with her foot “So what now?”

I sighed “I guess we go back and take them out.”

“And you said my plan was stupid?  How are we going to do that?”

“Carefully.”

We returned to the scene of the un-dammening, where despite Martialla’s proclamation it appeared that the ogrekin were making pretty good progress in undamming the stream.  I had Martialla turn me invisible and I crept around using my Walking Stick to cautiously and strategically weaken some of the larger trees in the area.  Once I had things configured to my liking all it took was a little push to send a river birch that had to be close to seventy feet tall toppling over right onto the giantess.  You may remember that I pulled this same maneuver on a Kostelos renegade assassin and she caught the damn thing instead of being crushed.  That was a Hells of a thing to see.  This time my target did no such thing because she was caught completely unawares – it fell directly onto her and the tree broke in half right over her head.  I’ll repeat that, the tree broke in half over her head.  It didn’t really seem to bother her much either.  I would say it had about as much effect as when you slap at a mosquito on your neck and hot yourself little harder than you intended – it smarts but it’s no big deal. 

I had intended to knock over more trees and then use my invisibility and vocal powers to try and convince them that it was the work of an angry forest spirit and hopefully scare them away but I was so flabbergasted but what I saw that I just stood there gaping.  But here’s a new thing that I learned.  There’s these creatures that people call deadfall scorpions.  They’re over twenty feet long even without the tail and they have coloration looks like thick sheets of moss and other forest debris that allows them to blend in with the woodland floor.  They’re called deadfall scorpions because despite their massive size they can compact themselves down to hide inside deadfalls created by old trees – a maneuver which some label as “disturbingly stealthy”.  But also sometimes what they do is crawl into the hollows of dead trees that haven’t fallen over yet – like the one I pushed over on the giantess.  One moment she and the ogres were laughing about a tree breaking on her skull and the next moment a very large and very angry scorpion comes charging out of the tree-trunk and attacks her.  I think we were all pretty surprised by that. 

If you’re never seen a giant wrestle for their life with a scorpion the size of a small cottage it’s really something.  I don’t know if I would recommend it exactly but if you get the chance to see it you probably should go just for the novelty of it.  I mean how many chances are you going to get to see something like that?  At first this made the ogres laugh even more, but once they saw their boss/matriarch/whatever was in real trouble they started bellowing profane threats and charged to her rescue.  Martialla appeared and put one of them to sleep with her magic while I finally snapped out of my reverie and knocked a second one down with another treefall.  I started firing with my crossbow and Martialla with her magical blasts of molten metal and in the end only the armored ogre made it to help the giantess.  I dropped the third tree on the ogrekin in the muck and then we concentrated our fire on them as the armored hulk and the giantess tore the scorpion apart.  Once it was all over she looked like she had fallen into well full of broken jagged pieces of metal – she was all kinds of bloody – but her armored friend looked fine as the two of them squared off with the two of us.

“Hey, remember me?”

Her massive face screwed up in concentration, then turned to outrage “You throw rope on me!  You steal my dinner!”

“Yeah, and you can’t sing for shit either.”

With a shout of rage that literally shook the trees she came lumbering around the muddy ground towards us with her armored pal.  I drank from my Flask and Tankard to grow to ogre size (still being dwarfed by the giantess) and activated my Amulet for metal-skin while Martialla cast a spell to transform into a bugbear.  If the giantess hadn’t already been torn up something fierce by the scorpion the two of them would have rolled over us anyway even enhanced as we were, but she was so we took her down (that means killed) with only a couple more blows.  Her armored friend turned out to by a much tougher nut to crack.  Neither one of us could land a telling blow on him with all that steel protecting him and he was battering us badly with his mace (which was also a real weapon and not a tree branch like you normally see from ogres) but in the end we managed to work together to tackle/trip/throw him down the bank into the mire below.  Without all that armor he probably could have clambered out.  As it was we saw him slowly sink into the mud and disappear.

Martialla returned to her normal form “Ugh, what a way to go.”

I shrunk and de-metalized as well “Better horrible suffocation for him than being bashed to death for us.”

Martialla nodded and Buttons came running up, excited as can be. 

“You did it!  I can’t believe it!”

“Yes well, we’re really quite something.  You see . . .”

I was interrupted at this point by a resounding crack and the sight of the dam springing a major leak – and then giving away complety after a moment.  Turns out that last tree falling really did a number on the weak spot the ogrekin were creating.  In short order the entire dam was largely obliterated.   

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 23,045 platinum, 52,143 gold

XP: 789,511

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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