This morning Martialla skulked off to do whatever it is she does, if I was being charitable I’d assume she’s checking in with our boots on the ground. But probably she’s just carousing. With nothing on my agenda I was left to rattle around my room and not think about my withered arm. Perhaps I should have been practicing covering it up with an illusion – a one armed woman is going to be pretty conspicuous – but I didn’t feel like it so I didn’t. Truth be told I didn’t do much of anything until Martialla came back for lunch. I told her that she needed to look her best for our meeting with Banderess Vichada, which perplexed her. Why bother getting dressed up for an alchemist? I told her that based on the invitation I knew that this wasn’t going to be your standard mutagen chugging vivisectionist freak. I wouldn’t have bet that there was a refined and elegant alchemist out there but that letter was so sophisticated in both form and function it indicated otherwise. It’s good to know that I can be pleasantly surprised from time to time. Figuring that I wouldn’t have many chances to show it off I decided to wear my Saryah Phidaner dress and went all out making myself up – I didn’t want to muck about one armed so I had Martialla help me despite her grumbling. I almost would have been better off doing it myself even one handed. The woman is hopeless with a beauty regimen.
I was looking very fine indeed and while Martialla is a persistent disaster when it comes to fashion I did my best to make her at least presentable. I had arranged a carriage to take us for the nice part of Preen (inasmuch as the term applies) for our afternoon meeting with Vicahda. What I expect from an alchemist’s hovel – I think they call them “laboratories” but hovel is more apt – is a large ill-made shack that smells liked rotting vegetables, which has clearly been blown up and rebuilt three to seven times, and has several stove-pipe like chimneys sticking out of it at odd angles disgorging strange colored smoke. Inside you’ll find things like open grates with grey slime clinging to them, burned, stained and partially dissolved wooden dummies, shelves of mummified flesh, and piles of broken pottery. I assumed, again based on the invitation, that this would be something else altogether but I wasn’t prepared for the full superiority of the house we approached. Since my exile from court I’ve seen some nice properties, I’ve seen some expensively properties that looked like crap, but this is one of the few that wouldn’t have been out of place in Paladore by the Duke’s palace. It projected power without being over-aggressive, it was luxurious without being gauche, as far as architecture goes it was class all the way.
We were met by a footman who was prim and proper without being snooty and were shown in by a maid who was appropriately demure and submissive without being servile. The sitting room was perfect and our hostess was quite the picture herself. Her reddish-blonde hair was too short and she was showing too much cleavage to be entirely acceptable in respectful company, but otherwise her style was impeccable. Her choker was a Chiara piece that I would have loved to have myself. The only real misstep in the whole presentation is that along with the tea (which was wonderful) her servants brought in honeyed oat cakes and spinecone fruit, which while delicious, is far too common for to be served in this setting.
Banderess Vichada didn’t introduce herself as anything else than Banderess Vichada, but she carries herself with the air of authority customary to people of status. I gave her several opportunities to reveal herself as titled nobility, however minor, but no such information was forthcoming. She’s clearly had access to the finest schooling in the Kingdom and there’s no other explanation for her education that I can think of other then being a member of the aristocracy. There must be quite a story there. She was well-spoken and a bit a bit pedantic for my taste but not so much as to annoy me over the course of one afternoon. She was absolutely enamored with my gown – as she should be. After the small talk hit the appropriate mark I explained to her my current predicament. Right away she said that it would be no issue at all to correct. I was overjoyed until she continued.
“The process is simple. All I need to do is attach a hydraulic confabulator and a modified chloric fluid matrix amplifier, inject you with psuedodorafine, make sure your etheric levels are above twenty percent and your arm will be good as new. Once that’s all in place the last thing we need is a lightning strike to power the machine.”
My face fell for a moment until I saw the mischievous twinkle in her eyes “You’re having me on aren’t you?”
Her laugh was a delight “My apologies, that wasn’t very charitable of me, but I could tell that you’re apprehensive about the alchemical arts and I couldn’t resist ribbing you a little.”
“I have to admit, the other alchemists I’ve met have been less . . . respectable.”
She pursed her lips tightly “Yes, well, unfortunately there are a lot of those sorts about. I studied at the Royal College for more than fourteen years, I assure you that I won’t be strapping you to a table an injecting you with any glowing green bile. What those tramp potion makers and chirurgeons do isn’t alchemy – not really. I would say that a good parallel would be that Mariacheva Antdallia and some shrieking tavern bawd are technically both singing, but they’re not doing the same thing. I wish there was a different term for what I did so I wouldn’t associated with those fluid-mongers, but alas. There’s a difference between making drugs in some dingy basement and unlocking the secrets of the universe. There’s alchemy and there’s Alchemy.”
“Well said. Would it be rude if I asked why someone of your skill and stature is in a place like Preen?”
She smiled “Only slightly. I was looking for something, but it seems to have left town, so I’ll probably be leaving before long myself. That’s all I care to say about that. I won’t miss this grubby little place. I’ve done everything I could to make it livable but at the end transforming this backwater into a place worthy of folk like us is alchemy beyond even my arts.”
We chatted for a bit longer and then she briefly excused herself, returning with a crystal tincture bottle which she handed to me. I drank the swallow of liquid in the bottle, which wasn’t entirely unpleasant tasting, and just like that my arm was healing. It was that simple. Turns out that magic doesn’t have to be the random chaotic nightmare that most people make it. Sometimes it can just be magic. After that dragon cookies were served along with one hundred year elf whiskey. Elf whiskey is not to my liking but you can’t fault the woman for her taste – even the Duke has trouble finding a vintage this aged. After that a little more small talk she politely excused herself, having another appointment soon. She never even brought up the crass matter of money, leaving that to a manservant that crept in apologetically with a ledger once she was out of the room. For once I was glad to pay my bill. As Martialla and I walked back to the Song and Dance my spirits were soaring. Who knew that so much joy could he had from losing something and then getting it back?
Martialla glanced at me “Well that was surprisingly uncomplicated.”
“Yes, and you didn’t even spill anything on my dress and ruin it either.”
“Well I didn’t want to be murdered. You should probably have that dress enchanted to protect it if it’s really so great.”
“Bite your tongue. I won’t have some dingy wizard pawing at this masterpiece.” I sighed contently and made a bold gesture with my restored arm “Is there anything money can’t do?”
“Which do you like better, the money itself or the things it can buy?”
“Thankfully I don’t have to choose today. I think I strained my voice when I was screaming in horror the other day. I should have had her mix up a concoction for that as well.”
“Are you the one who told me about the opera singer who messed up her voice and tried all kinds of curatives and she turned into a ghoul?”
I shook my head “That’s not what happened, you’re remembering it wrong, she . . . ow!”
I felt a quick pinch in my neck like I had been stung by a hornet. I slapped at what I assumed was an offending insect but felt something hard. Instead I found in my palm a tiny dart with an even tinier little plume of blue feathers.
“What the Hells?”
Martialla glanced at it “I think you just got shot with a blowpipe.”
I scowled “What the fuck is a blowpipe?”
“It’s a tube that you blow into to shoot people with tiny darts like that.”
I scowled harder “Why? What possible harm could it do?”
“Generally they’re used to deliver poison.”
“That’s dumb, I never heard of such a thing. Who would use something like that?”
I glanced around at the people on the street “Did one of you fuckers just shoot me with a blowpipe?!”
Martialla leaned in to look at my neck “Do you feel poisoned?”
I irritably pushed her away “I feel fine. Can your magic neutralize poison?”
“So what good are you?” I started walking again.
“Are you just going to ignore that?”
I shrugged “What’s there to be done about it? I feel fine. Obviously the poison, if there even was one, didn’t work on me because I’m so tough. Probably it was just some asshole shooting darts at beautiful women. There was a guy like that back at court, he used to jab the maids in the ass with a pin. Eventually though he ass-stabbed the wrong lady and someone broke his bloody neck.”
“Do you have any stories from your old life at court that don’t end with a horrible murder?”
“No, not really.”
About twenty seconds later I suddenly felt woozy, really woozy. It was like going from stone cold sober to the end of a night of hard destructive drinking in half a second. I stumbled, and then when I started to fall Martialla grabbed me, keeping me only partially upright as all the strength went out of my legs. I could see her lips moving but I couldn’t hear anything, I saw her eyes turn hard when she spotted someone or something and she let go up me to reach for her sword, then everything went dark.
Funds: 28,040 platinum, 47,560 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, Ela’s Boots
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