Montalan 27 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 4

I’ll hand it to Dross, Tarver, and their unknown blonde pal in this sense.  They were clearly expecting an easy outing to kidnap some dizzy dames to take back to their sex dungeon.  But upon encountering resistance – namely me shooting Dross in the ribs – they didn’t fold up their tent and bail, they raised up on their hind legs to fight.  I’m not sure if that kind of courage is to be admired but it’s not what I expect from spellcasters so it’s something.  Although, they are just apprentices, maybe they don’t teach you the appropriate level of wizardly cowardice until to graduate to being a full . . . whatever, non-apprentice?  While the apprentices three were still shocked by our resistance to their opening salvo Martialla cast a spell of her own but I saw no visual indication of it doing anything. Dross was the first to recover and he reacted by pulling out a canvas bag and setting it on the ground, which seemed very strange until I saw two shambling corpses climbing out of it.

Activating my Amulet for metal skin I charged forward with my Crossbow Blade, bypassing the dead things as they staggered out of their bag and stabbing down into the collarbone of a startled Dross as he was still halfway crouching from setting the bag down.  This seemed to be an even more startling turn of events for Tarver who turned invisible with a yelp of surprise.  Martialla cast another spell of her own which again didn’t seem to do anything but it must have interfered with Blondie’s spell because he did some frantic hand waving and eldritch word yelling and then looked confused and afraid when nothing happened.  The two dead bodies walking started muscling in on me and in the melee I grabbed for Dross’s beard to steady myself and it came off in my hands!  That fucking forked monstrosity was a false beard!  What sort of lunatic wears a false beard?!  Especially one like that?!  I suppose in the wizard community it’s possible there’s a lot of peer pressure and beard shaming.

Dross rolled/fell/staggered backwards clutching at his wounds as his two zombies grappled with me but he had enough fortitude to call upon his magic and conjure up a wide pit beneath my feet.  If his dead minions didn’t have a hold of me I probably could have jumped out of the way but as it was all three of us tumbled a good twenty feet down – although my metal skin mostly absorbed the impact on me (don’t ask me how) it didn’t do any favors to the zombie that I landed on, which exploded like a ripe melon.  A ripe melon full of rotting meat.  I grabbed the other zombie by the hair/scalp/skull and bashed it to redeath against the wall of the shaft and then made to scamper up the wall before remembering that I left my Slippers with Vetovia.  Grumbling, I took out my Badge and transformed it into a rope and grapping hook.  I hurled the hook up and over the edge of the pit lip hoping to catch something and was surprised when I heard someone cry out and then a muffled thud as I put my enhanced weight on the rope.  Pulling harder I saw Blondie come failing into my line of sight and then falling over the side with the hook around his leg.  He clutched desperately at the edge but with my metallic transformation I have to weigh more than three hundred pounds and his arms quickly gave out – sending him plummeting basically on top of me. 

You know what wizards aren’t good at?  Fist fights with a metal woman at the bottom of a pit.  Terrified, Blondie was trying to weave his magic but it turns out that’s pretty hard when someone is on top of you slamming a metal fist into your mouth.  I stopped punching when he stopped moving.  Listening carefully I didn’t hear the sounds of anything much going on up above.  After a moment I saw Martialla’s head poke over the edge.

“Are you done fooling around down there?  I’ve won the battle up here so it’s safe to come up now.”

“Help me with this hook.”

“If I had a gold coin for every time I heard that.”

“What?”

“It’s a joke.”

“Are you sure?”

Martialla affixed the grappling hook to something but even so I had a pretty difficult time trying to get up.  I mean have you ever tried to climb a free standing rope against a wall?  It’s fucking hard.  You try climbing out of a twenty five foot pit and then come talk to me.  In the end I had to swallow my pride and ask Martialla to get me out.

“How am I supposed to do that?”

“Can’t you magic me out?”

“You’re too heavy for that.”

“Excuse me?!”

“Have you ever seen me ‘magic’ anything bigger than an apple?”

“Fine, wake up Aubesh and then you guys can haul me out of here with the rope.”

“Ugh, that sounds like a pain.  How about this, I can climb down there and . . .”

At that moment the pit disappeared and suddenly I, along with the two zombie bodies and Blondie, were standing on the street with Martialla.  The magic must have worn off.  It was so abrupt that I almost lost my balance and fell over for no real reason.  About that same time Aubesh was coming around from her slumber.

“ . . . or not.”

Aubesh groggily looked around “What happened?”

“Things took a bit of a turn.  The good news is that you get to learn how to dispose of a body.”

Martialla was knelt down to examine Blondie “Good Gods Ela, did you have to cave his whole face in?  What did you hit him with, an anvil?”

Aubesh looked over and then whipped her head back the other way to start vomiting noisily.  That’s probably just the after effects of the magic though.  Turns out there is one good thing about Preen, it’s really easy to take care of bodies on account of all the channels and waterways.  We hucked them into the mud and they started to disappear instantly.  Not to mention some kind of slimy eel-snake-fish things came swim-crawling out of the muck to start nibbling on them before they were even submerged.

“Remind me not to fall in these canals.”

Aubesh was pretty shaken “What do we do now?”

“Let’s go back inside, a triple shot of rum with some lime juice should calm your nerves.”

“You just killed three people!”

“Yeah, so?”

We went back into the Red Hearts and found our way to a table where a few of the Red Heart Specials – raspberry and cherry rum punch – failed to do much for the shell shocked Aubesh but they were doing me a world of good.  When I was on my sixth one Martialla had to be her usual wet blanket self.

“Gods almighty Ela, slow down, are you trying to get completely wasted?”

“I think I sprained my ankle when I fell in that damn hole.”

“Maybe you should pour the rum directly on your foot then.”

“Maybe I will.”

Aubesh was shaking her head slowly “It doesn’t seem real.  We were just here talking to that man . . . and now he’s gone?  He’s just gone  . . . ?  I don’t . . . it doesn’t . . . . how can you do that?”

I shrugged “It was self-defense.  They attacked us.  What do you think would have happened to you if we didn’t do anything?  Do you think you would have woken up anyplace nice?”

She looked at me intensely, her eyes shining “How can you say it was self-defense when you were talking about kidnapping and killing him?”

“The only reason we were going to do that is because his master is holding a woman against her will.  You think they were blameless in that?  They’re surely helping him and if not at the least they knew about it and did nothing.”

“So what are you saying?  That they deserved to die?”

“I’m saying grow up.”

Aubesh looked utterly disgusted “How can you say that?  How can you live with yourself?”

“I just take it one day at a time.  The matter before us now is what should our next move be.  The problem is we don’t know if Tarver contacted Dulphistos, otherwise maybe we could pretend that they were still alive and that we wanted to work out some kind of trade.”

Martialla pursed her lips “Maybe we could pass ourselves off as a third party of some kind that knows what happened to them.  What was that lady group you dealt with here last time?”

“The Gallows Girls.”

“Right, maybe we pass ourselves off as them and say we know what happened to Tarver and Dross and work it from that angle.”

“Maybe, but we’ll have to make sure they’re even still around – I don’t like the chances of an all-female gang surviving the kind of underworld war that apparently happened when Razmiran skipped town.”

Aubesh’s voice was flat and dull “What about Generous?”

“What about him?  You think we can involve him in this?”

She shook her head sharply “No, I’m supposed to go see him soon, what are you going to do about him?”

I finished the last of my drink and called for another “We’ll worry about that later.  Tonight didn’t go exactly as planned.”

She shook her head more slowly “I can’t not show up, you said that you’d deal with him, that’s the only reason I came.”

“Well you’ll just have to meet with him tonight, later we can . . .”

She clutched at the table like she was afraid of falling “No!  No, I can’t see him!  I can’t face him now.  He’ll know.”

I frowned “Know what?”

She took a big swallow from her drink “I can’t . . . I can’t . . . . I can’t.”

Martialla reached across the table to take her trembling hand and looked me in the eye“You did say that she wouldn’t have to see him again.”

“Fine, so don’t go, stay with us tonight.  He won’t . . .”

Her voice had turned wretched “No, he’ll be looking for me.  If I don’t show up . . . . you don’t know what he does to people.”

“Look, there’s no way that . . .”

“You promised me.  You have to kill him tonight.”

“Oh sure, ten seconds ago you were whining about it and now you want me to kill someone?  Those are some flexible morals you have there girly.”

Martialla frowned “Come on Ela, lay off her.”

Aubesh looked me in the eye fiercely “What does it matter after what you’ve already done?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

She looked slightly afraid of her own words “You’re a killer.  What do you have to lose by killing?”

I snorted and picked up my new drink as it arrived “That’s not what I am, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Martialla took Aubesh to a room at a nearby inn across the bridge and somehow I found myself taking on Aubesh’s appearance and walking into Gentlemen Jack’s.  There was an open kitchen in which a little older fellow was bustling around, and in the front sitting at a table was the man himself.  Generous as I now know he’s called was wearing the same lubricious get-up although it appeared to be newly made – which means that he got that same horrible outfit tailored again in finer detail.  He was paler than I remembered but somehow looked healthier in a way I can’t quite define.  Leaning on the chair next to him was a swagger stick with a serpent’s head on the end, I’m not sure why but I knew that it must be magical.  The two promised goons lounged by the door, forcing you to walk between them to hand over your money to Generous – they too looked like a cut above the gutter scum that he had at his beck and call previously.  Sitting at the next table over with several small sacks of coins was a short wavy-haired man with spectacles and a ledger on the table in front of him.  When I walked in a giant shark-grin split Generous’s face and he held his arms out wide.

“Lily, my favorite, I was starting to wonder if you weren’t going to show up” he gestured with his stick at one of the goons “Beetle here said that he thought you had run off.  You wouldn’t do that do me would you Lily?”

I sat across from him demurely “Of course not, what would I do without you?  You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”

His grin turned even more predatory “You wouldn’t last long without my protection and that’s a fact.  Now what do you have for me tonight sweetheart?”

I reached into my pockets and started dumping out handfuls of gold coins into the table, dozens upon dozens of them clattering onto the table, some of them spinning and others rolling onto the floor.  Generous’s smile disappeared, replaced by a combination of unbridled greed and a fair amount of trepidation.

He rubbed his stick nervously “Where did you get all this?”

“It wasn’t easy, well it was in a way but it wasn’t you know?  What I did is I decided that I would have a sale – I told everyone that today only my price was just a silver.  I had ‘em lined up around the block to have a go at me.  I must have fucked more than a thousand men today.  It was a heck of a promotion if I do say so myself.”

He slid his chair away from the table “Who are you?”

I laughed and returned to my normal speaking voice “Isn’t this what you want?  It looks like you’ve really moved up in the world since the last time I saw you, no more hustling at bridges for you eh?  Generous they call you?  That’s cute.”

He regained a bit of his composure “Things always work out for me, I know which horse to back.  Why are you here?”

I sighed and looked around the room “Oh, when I came to town I thought about looking you up, I have to admit I’m a bit sore about our last meeting.  I decided against it, no reason to go looking for trouble right?” I gestured broadly “But here I am.  I guess I just can’t help myself.”

“You’ll have plenty of trouble if you mess with me.  What happened to Lily?”

“I decided to help you out.  I could tell that she was a thorn in your side.”

“She would have come around eventually.  They always do.”

“Maybe, but an important man such as yourself?  You don’t have time for that kind of headache.  So I took care of her for you.” I gestured at the money I had spilled out “Consider this repayment for the loss of her services.”

“You presume quite a lot.” He gazed at me for a moment “You’re different.  I remember you.  But you’ve changed.”

“Oh well, you know what they say, change is a part of life.  It’s the one constant in the human experience.  Or something.” I stood up and nipped the edge of one of the fallen coins with the tip of my boot – flipping it into the air and catching it to place it on the table “I’m going to be in town for a couple of days.  It would be best if we didn’t bump into each other wouldn’t you agree?”

His words were emphatic but hollow “This is my town, I go where I want.”

“Of course you do dear, of course you do.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 28,040 platinum, 53,663 gold

XP: 805,311

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Amulet of Dreams, Ela’s Traveling Outfit, 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), Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet

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 (26), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring, tiara, masterwork red and black long greatcoat, Turnbill blade of first forging (one of three) 

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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