One year ago today I woke up in a dirty alley (as opposed to a clean alley) in Graltontown. It took me a long time to wake up fully. For a good while my body was limp like a shirt on a clothes line. My mind was foggy worse than any hangover in the recorded history of the universe. At first I had no clue where I was or what was going on. It certainly didn’t cross my mind initially that I wasn’t in Paladore anymore, let alone that I was in an armpit like Graltontown. But I started to catch on to what had happened. For obvious reasons the Duke’s wife and I weren’t the best of friends, but as long as we ignored one another everything was fine. Out of sight out of mind right? Their marriage wasn’t a love match by any stretch so why not allow the Duke his whims? Within reason of course. But something had happened that pushed that boundary too far. In retrospect he Duke had been more shameless than usual in parading around with me on his arm in the months preceding my exile. Maybe he was trying to upset her, maybe he was just getting careless, maybe it was one of any number of other reasons. Regardless of why, he went too far and his ladywife complained enough that he felt he had to get rid of me.
He could have sent me off to one his other holdings. He could have given me to one of his cronies. He could have just said “hit the road kid”. He could have killed me. He could have cast me out into the streets of Paladore. He could have set me up with a nice retirement. He could have done many things. But what he did do was drug me and toss me away like garbage. Was this supposed to be a mercy? He couldn’t bring himself to kill me? Or was it a cruel joke? One final laugh at the expense of good old Ela? Either way he had to have assumed that I would die shortly after being abandoned. Or at worse that I would end up a corner girl and be dead within a few years either from too much pipeweed, suicide, or some other nasty end. So if it was kindness that stayed his hand it was a curious kind of kindness indeed – but I know better than anyone that the righteous Duke isn’t much of one for kindness.
I can admit now that along with the anger I felt, and there was a lot of anger, I also initially felt despair. My immediate thought, that the Duke was going to pay and pay dearly, no matter what by any means needed, was bravado. At first. It was the crying of a child who has been denied what they were promised – sound and fury only. But it didn’t take long for it to become very real. Without a doubt it’s the most genuine and true feeling that I have ever had. At that moment I could have turned away very easily. In fact most of who I am was screaming for me to do that – turn away, look away, don’t seek out what is likely to be your own destruction. Run, run far away and never look back. There’s a large part of me that begged me to do that. And I could have done it, I could have listened to that voice. And everything would have been fine. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I had to follow this path, that I had no choice. I take responsibility for myself and what I am doing. I know who I am and what I am doing.
There’s no such thing as redemption, no such thing as second chances. I’ve already been where we go when we die. We’re shadows dressed in costumes of skin and bone. Nothing you can see is going to last for long. I don’t believe in destiny or fate or karma or whatever you want to call it – our lives are not written in the stars, we’re not stones thrown at our birth traveling to a destination with no altering the flight. But despite all that, when I woke up in that alley, my path became horrifying clear. And nothing, nothing, will stop me until I face him. Nothing. I will drown this world in blood if I have to. I will tear down civilization itself if I have to. I’ve said this before, when I say that I will do anything to have my revenge I mean anything. Nothing that I can ever do to the Duke will be bad enough to satisfy me. But I’m going to give it my best shot. I mean someday I will when I stop being distracted by whatever I’m doing now.
Turns out that Aubesh doesn’t know any of Generous’ other girls, for some reason she’s not tight with his crew, so there wasn’t much to do today other than wait for the appointed time they would check in a Gentlemen Jack’s. It gave me time to reflect on the last year and all the awful things that I saw and did. I got really good at mundane disguises. And guys, I mean really good. It took time but the end result was flawless. I could disguise myself as a specific person, as a different gender, as someone much older – you name it, I could do it and look perfect. Then I learned how to do it instantaneously with magic and that skill became completely useless and all that time I spent learning it was a massive waste. Which is magic in a nutshell. I learned how to shoot a crossbow pretty well, and then shot a bunch of people, most of whom died. But they were all bad so it’s fine. I spoke to several worgs and only one of them tried to eat me. That’s pretty good. I rode a pegasus which was fucking amazing. I started cursing. I got sick and very nearly died. Twice. I made my first friend. I made probably a million enemies, conservatively estimating. I got lost many times. Turned into a cat. Was cursed several times. Got super rich. Some kind of old lady vampire put me in a cage and I was almost killed by her demon dog. Thinking back on it it was really quite a year. I wouldn’t recommend drugging yourself and having someone toss you in the street somewhere far away with nothing but the clothes on your back but it’s certainly a way to shake things up in your life.
Once I got bored of intimate self-reflection I went over to Martialla’s room to kill time, maybe play some cards or just chat but she was banging some guy (where does she find the time to meet anyone?) so I went to a stable and rented a horse for an afternoon ride. Petro was a fine looking steed but he was a too ornery and finicky for my taste. If there’s one thing I don’t care for it’s a horse that has its own ideas. Still it was nice to go for a ride, seems like ages since I’ve been able to do that. Once I got back Martialla was done with her dalliance and we had a long luxurious dinner since we had to nowhere to be until late. Once it was appropriately late we staked out Gentlemen Jack’s and waiting for Generous’ ladies to show up. The first one we tried to grab actually wasn’t a prostitute at all. Boy was there egg on our faces. In our defense though you should have seen the way she was dressed. There were no mistakes the second time though, Martialla used her magic to put our target to sleep and then I assumed her appearance to go in and pass along her hard earned coin to Generous – and to pass on the information that one of “my” tricks was a Black Sheep who was bragging about taking out Dulphistos’s apprentices. This almost turned ugly because Generous had forbade his crew from fraternizing with the Black Sheep, but I figured out that was just for appearances, the G man making it known that he’s a bad scary man but also being glad for the intel.
We let the next couple pass by unmolested and then repeated the process with the fifth girl to come by (sixth if you count the one we accosted by mistake). Generous was nice enough to ask if “I” had heard anything about the Black Sheep and Dulphistos’s apprentices so I let him draw it out of me and feel like he was a genius. After that we carted our two new friends to Adelis’ for safekeeping and then made our way back to the Song and Dance. I can see now why serial killers are always targeting prostitutes – it’s so easy. I mean that and the whole sociopathic sadistic sexual thing. After a hard night of kidnapping and lying Martialla and I took to the veranda with some dwarfen fire ale to enjoy the moonlight. Not normally my kind of drink but I’ve found that oddly the beverage intended to get you all riled up has a calming effect on me and acts as a sleep aid. Maybe it works differently on different species.
I offered my glass up to Martialla “Here’s to a job well done.”
She touched her glass to mine “I’ll drink to that I guess.”
“Clearly this isn’t what I expected to be doing with my life, how about you my old friend? What did you think you’d be doing?”
“You’re asking about my life? Are you confused? Did you forget that I’m not you? I can’t see any other reason that you’d be interested.”
I could see her grin in the gloom “No, I didn’t expect to be snatching whores off the street at all, not even for a good cause. Well not a good cause maybe, but a neutral one at least. I figured I’d just eke out a life moving from town to town like everyone else. When my niece was killed the entire trajectory of my life changed radically.”
“Were you two close?”
“No, which sounds strange maybe. That I’d set off on a two year quest for revenge on account of a relative that I didn’t know well, but my sister deserved better. We were close once and her daughter dying broke her. Seeing that nearly broke me. In a sick way it’s made my life much better, following you and taking up your scraps has earned me more money than I ever could imagine. And my power with my magic has grown to be more than I ever thought it could. Who would have guessed that the key to becoming a mighty sorcereress was killing?”
“I would have. You know, I do owe you quite a bit of money, all joking aside. Not that you shouldn’t have your vengeance as well, but she could be brought back. Before I wouldn’t have believed it, but now . . . now I know that it can happen.”
Martialla was quiet for a while “The thought has crossed my mind. You hold onto the money for now. Once the whoreson who killed her is well and truly fucked then we’ll talk.”
“Now that sounds like a plan.”
Funds: 28,040 platinum, 53,601 gold
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