Today it’s part two of operation frame-up. Part one of part two is finding a place from which we can observe Dulphistos’ manor house and wait for him to fly out on a roaring rampage of revenge. Part two is faking the murders of the two snitches we impersonated yesterday by agents of the people we’re framing to real sell the story. The first part turned out to be rather simple. Several buildings are so close to Dulphistos’ compound that they’re almost abutting his wall – which I am confident is not allowed by the Preen building code. If Preen had any building codes. Most of those buildings are abandoned, either because no one wants to live next to a wizard or because said wizard had his goons run them off. Although I suppose in a sense those are the same reason. The building that offered the best viewpoint of the Dulphistos’s compund looked like it had been a watch-house back in the days before Preen was a total shithole and then had been converted to a tenement of sorts once Razmiran showed up to run the place straight into the ground before ultimately being abandoned. I know what you’re thinking, “Ela, wizards aren’t totally dumb, he’s going to notice if you start squatting there”, but don’t worry about it, I’m not stupid. Martialla assures me that she can cloak our presence with her magic.
After that was the simple matter of faking a couple murders. Most of Generous’ girls work in the area around the vice district where I found Aubesh, so we went to that area and Martialla took on the form of one of the women we kidnapped and strolled around a bit before I appeared in the guise of Velké Dářkos and abducted her, smacking her around enough that any watchers would know that this was going to end in murder. The response from “law enforcement” was laudable – a brute squad from whichever gang the Lumber Consortium is using as their strong arm showed up in just a few minutes to shake down potential witnesses and make a nuisance of themselves. Martialla and I made sure to turn up in the guise of honest hardened gamblers to tell them about the horrible scene we had witnessed. Then a couple hours later once the hubbub had died down we returned and did it again with Martialla in the guise of the second woman. This time things didn’t go quite as smoothly. As soon as I showed up looking like Velké a couple guys had blades out and were coming at me almost before I could get my hands on Martialla.
Anyone paying close attention might have thought that for someone being assaulted woman number two was being very cooperative with her attacker, but hopefully no one was who’s that paranoid. We led them down a blind alley where Martialla put them to sleep with a spell and I made sure they weren’t going to wake up again by activating my Amulet and bashing them good – I figure that should simulate Velké’s methods as much as possible. With that done we figured the frame was as good as it was going to get – assuming that all the moving parts work Generous should be telling the Lumber people what’s going down and he should be telling Dulphistos. In retrospect maybe we went one level too far with the whole thing but time will tell now. After that we gathered up some stakeout supplies – molasses fry bread and a case of Stolen Kisses Rum – and headed for our wizard-blind. I stashed our supplies and started looking around for a good watching chair while Martialla took out some scrolls and starting doing magic stuff.
“I’m not looking forward to this, I have a feeling this is going to take a while.”
“Assume we even see him leave. There’s no reason to believe he’s just going to walk out the front door if he even goes himself. He could very well ‘magic’ himself wherever he’s going. Plus wasn’t Tarver bragging about a secret passageway?”
“Do you think he was being literal? I assumed that was an ill-conceived innuendo.”
Her response was forestalled by the appearance out of thin air of some manner of deformed gnome with a red cap and iron-shod boots, swinging a very much not gnome-sized sickle at her. It sliced the scroll in her hands in half and then ripped a bloody line from her sternum to her belly button. I have to admit I found this quite startling. The ugly little man gouged her again with his outsized farm implement before I could react – clobbering him with my Walking Stick. Even though I was attacking someone hald my size this maneuver had about as much effect as a playful paw slap from a kitten. At least it did attract his attention, Martialla staggering away spilling blood in buckets as he whirled on me, raising his sickle to strike. But the blow never came, instead his tiny wrinkled face became strangely smooth with a look of terror and he ran out of the room. I know what you’re thinking “clearly this was no man at all but rather the fey creature know as a redcap – their fear of religious icons is well known and it must have seen your Adariel symbol hanging around your neck”.
That’s a decent theory, but sadly wrong. I would find out later that this man and his fellows, because there were more of them, were not Recaps at all but rather actual gnomes that either think they are recaps or want so desperately for other people to think that they are redcaps that they even mimic an actual redcap’s fear of holy iconography. So there, not to smart are you? I moved towards Martialla to check on her, but I only made it a step before a creaky door flew open and wildly rushing in was a spindly grey skinned woman that had to be over seven feet tall for all that I doubt she weight more than a hundred pounds. Her hoary skin was cracked and shot through with black veins and what little wispy hair she had hung over a face that featured empty eye sockets, a toothless mouth, and a gaping whistling hole where a nose should be. I was told later that this was yet another hag. It seems like I can’t go a month without being vexed by a hag. I wonder if one of the curses that first hag put on me was to attract other hags like a drunk woman at closing time attracts sexual predators.
This violently failing monstrosity grabbed me by the shoulder. I’ve come to expect even the most decrepit and frail looking hag to be monstrously strong. Based on that I expected her hand to close on my shoulder like a vise, tearing muscle and cracking bone with brute strength. But that’s not what happened. That’s not what happened at all. I barely felt her touch, which was curiously light, before the flesh of my shoulder and arm started running like water. It was like a wax candle being tossed into a roaring fire. I’m not ashamed to say that I screamed in abject and helpless terror. I am a little ashamed to say that at that moment I would have wished anyone in the world to have been in my place other than myself, up to and including Martialla. There’s nothing and no one I wouldn’t have betrayed in that moment not to have experienced that. I was suddenly struck by a sharp pain in my throat and I felt to the ground heavily cradling my malformed limb with my good arm.
I’m not sure what would have happened if Martialla hadn’t been able to regain her composure. Actually that’s not true, I know exactly what would have happened, I would have died. That withered eyeless beast would have killed me. Slowly and tortuously. Martialla called on her magic and blasted the hag with a stream of fire – her already cracked flesh burning like dry paper. The hag’s mouth opened wide in a silent scream (turns out they’re also tongueless) and she responded to the attack with a massive cone of freezing death but Martialla was able to dive out of the way – stabbing back at her with twins rays of flame. The hag made a twisting motion with her hand like gathering up a fistful of loose thread and Martialla charged forward with her rapier. I would learn later that’s because the hag at rendered her temporarily mute to prevent her from casting spells. Her sword though did little to no damage to the hag, which responded by tearing further bloody rents into Martialla’s body with her ugly claws. At this point I finally managed to stop sobbing, dragged myself up and knocked the hag in the back of the legs with my Walking Stick. With her off balance Martialla and I both tried to bare her to the ground but in addition to being able to stretch flesh like taffy she was also obscenely strong like your “standard” hag and she hurled us both back easily.
Martilla pulled out a dagger in her off-hand to attack with both blades while I tried to work around to flank the hag, striking with all my might. Our efforts to engage the thing physically were fruitless, our attacks barely seem to harm her and she was able to batter us without much trouble. I was start to think about a way to escape when either Martialla was able to overcome the hag’s abetment or the effect wore off and she burned her with another furious bolt of flame. Even this didn’t slay the creature but she finally fled, tarry grey blood falling out of her bubblinh flesh. Martialla staggered after her for another attack but the thing turned invisible and disappeared. I managed to give Martialla a healing drought from my Flask to stop her bleeding before I started weeping uncontrollably again at the sight of my gnarled arm. I would find out later that this is what the hags call “shaping”. Usually they use this ability to offer people beauty and youthful appearance, resculpting them into more pleasing forms in return for foul deeds. But in a pinch it works equally as well in combat. I pride myself on staying level headed in almost any situation but I was beside myself in this instance. Instantly my thoughts went to Malgareth and the disfigurement I suffered as the result of the beating I took there.
I looked at Martialla desperately as she helped me out of the building and down the street back “home” “We can fix this right? Some magic spell or other.”
But I could tell from her voice that she wasn’t sure.
Funds: 28,040 platinum, 53,590 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, eyeless hag