This time we did run to Dulphistos’ compound. There’s an old saying that you can’t outrun the anger of a wizard but there’s no harm in trying right? I was pretty out of breath by the time we got there. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. Probably I should be smoking more. Martialla turned us both invisible again and we went over the wall like last time, but this time something a little different happened. Namely that as we crested the outer wall a little streak of light came out of the window, speeding towards and blossoming into a ball of fire. A fireball I’ll call it. You can use that term if you want. Martialla flipped back down the wall and out of the way agilely and I was blasted off the wall and to the ground in a smoldering heap somewhat less agilely. I rolled to the bottomn of the wall by Martialla safely out of sight of the window. Barring magic. Which is certainly what was going on.
I batted out a couple flames on my clothing “Well we tried, let’s get out of here.”
She favored me with a grim smile “You’re the one that wanted to come here, well we’re here and we’re going in. I’ll keep him busy here, you circle around and find a way to come at him from behind. I know you’re usually the one being taken from behind but you should be able to reverse engineer it.”
“Me?! You’re the one who . . .”
“Just go, and hurry up Ela, this whole thing is going to go really bad in a minute or so.”
“It’s already bad!”
I ran in a crouch (silliness since the wall was ten feet high) around to the east side and used my Walking Stick to weaken he wall and then kick my way through – it feels good to smash through a stone wall even if it’s been magically weakened. I dashed across the lawn (getting a stitch in my side from all this running) and smashed in a window with my Walking Stick (you know, just with hitting not with magic) and found myself in a huge room of indeterminate usage. There were a couple large tapestries, maybe it was just for displaying them. Oh and the place was wrecked and there was a dead guy lying on the floor. No sure what that’s about. The door hung open and I made my way into the hall at the end of which was a staircase leading up. As soon as my foot touched the bottom stair there was a loud buzzing noise and the dwarf from last night appeared at the top of the steps – instead of wearing a stupid nightshirt though she was wearing a very fine chair shirt and you know, pants and whatnot.
“If you still don’t want to get involved this would be a good time to move aside.”
She responded with arcane gestures and words and suddenly the floorboards beneath me buckled and a grasping black tentacle sprung out of the ground and slapped me like I owed it money. I have to assume the two things were related. The groping tentacle tried to wrap around me and squeeze the life out of me but I managed to slither and stagger away from it – more tentacles broke through the floor reaching for me, but I continued backpedaling until they stopped appeared.
I glared over the field of waving tentacles at the dwarf standing at the top of the stairs “No fair! Everyone knows that wizards can’t cast spells in armor.”
She smiled smugly “Maybe you don’t want to be involved in this”
“Maybe you should shut up!”
With that witty rejoinder (is that the right word?) I shot her with my crossbow but it didn’t seem to hurt her too much. Clearly I need to get a dwarf-slaying crossbow as well. Still getting shot is no picnic and she ducked back around the corner. Taking a wide berth about the tentacle-field I made my way into the next room and used my Stick to break through the wall to the staircase – carefully and quietly crawling through the hole and onto the stairs where I stealthily made my way to the top on hands and feet. Using my vocal abilities I made my voice issue forth from the bottom of the staircase where I had been before.
“Okay look, I’ve put my crossbow down, I don’t want to fight. I think we can cut a deal here. You said you’re just in it for the money right? Well . . .”
The dwarf peeped around the corner, expecting me to be downstairs, and I sprang up to catch her under the shoulder and throw my hip into her – tossing her over and down the stairs to fall into her own tentacle zone. A couple of the tentacles grabbed her and started to crush but they disappeared as quickly as they hand sprung up. I shot at her with my crossbow and she ran back into the hallway out of sight. At the top of the stairs I turned just in time to see a tall man with a bloody smashed nose and ridiculously large gold earrings running at me with his shield extended to smash me to the ground. Which is what he did. I’ve never been gored by a bull (yet, it will probably happen with my luck) but I imagine this is what it feels like. I was hammered to the ground and most, nay, ALL the wind was driven out of me. I managed to barely get my crossbow up to block his sword-stroke coming down at me and the damn thing smashed to pieces.
“But Ela, a crossbow isn’t meant to parry a sword of course it broke! Don’t get mad about that.” The damn thing is magic, it should have held up better. Why do you always stand up for the things that annoy me? What’s your angle? I managed to grab the bayonet Blade in time to block the second attack and it was knocked out of my hand to ricochet off the wall and almost hit Mister Shield in the face. He flinched back and that gave me the chance to get a hold of my Walking Stick, turn the head into a real live serpent and thrust it at him from my position on the floor. He clearly wasn’t expecting trouble because he had hastily donned his armor and there were a few pieces missing – most saliently at this moment the codpiece. The point is the fight was over for him. I think he would have thanked me for jamming the Blade into his face if he could. But he couldn’t. On account of he was dead.
Moving down the hallway I saw a bedchamber beyond where I could see a robed figure at the window doing magic stuff. Based on the layout of the house this should be Dulphistos, or least whoever was shooting fire at us from the window. At his side was a well-dressed dandy with a fine pair of boots (although they looked to be women’s boots to me) a shimmering gold-cloth half-cape, and one of those stupid hats with a feather in it. I disguised myself as the guy I had killed just as he turned around.
“What’s going on back there Edrick?”
Having no idea what the guy’s voice sounded like I just smiled and made a gesture that I felt communicated “I just won a fight and am awesome” as I walked towards him.
He frowned “Where’s your shield? And what is that you’re holding?” His frown deepened “Is that a crossbow blade?”
Before I could get into striking range he came at me with a handaxe. What kind of weapon is that for a fop like this? I think we can all agree that the rapier is the standard weapon for clotheshorses and duded up hotspurs. There was no hesitation in his attack at all so either he was sure that I was not really his friend (or at least co-worker) of he’s a cold-blooded piece of business who didn’t care if he accidentally chopped pieces off his cohort. I activated my Amulet for metal skin and his ax bounced off harmlessly. He banged into me a few more times, searching for a weak spot, but there was none to be found.
“You’re a mercenary right? Beat it, this job’s gone south.”
Dulphistos, of whoever it is in the brown robe whirled around and called into being a bolt of acid that hurtled down the hallway. I assume that it was supposed to be aimed at me, but it hit Mr. Ladyboots square in the back – ruining his fancy cape and you know, also burning the shit out of him. Clutching at his back Ladyboots ran past me screaming as I barged my way forward and charged the wizard. A second blast of acid issued forth before I could get my hands on him and splattered all over me. I felt no pain but I could see the metallic skin warping and corroding as the acid ate away at it. I have a feeling once his wears off there’s going to be plenty of pain. I grabbed him, figuring that as a puny wizard I would be able to wrestle him into submission, but he was stubborn enough that our wrangling was inconclusive. At least until Martialla climbed in the window and stabbed him in the back several times. I like my chance in a grappling contest against almost any man who’s been impaled. I shoved him to the floor where he lay dying. On account of having been stabbed in the back several times. I helped myself to a healing draught from my Flask, hoping that would repair metal as well.
“That’s him right? That’s Dulphistos?”
Martialla leaned over to get a better look “I think so.”
I nodded and amplified my voice to booming proportions “Attention mercenaries. The guy paying you is dead. There is no further need for you to fight us. Please leave in an orderly fashion in the next five minutes.”
“You think that’s going to work?”
“Couldn’t hurt. So now we wait five minutes and then loot?”
Martialla looked around appraisingly “I don’t know if that’s a great idea, there are probably traps all over the place, you know how paranoid wizards are. Besides which, don’t think you think everyone else is going to take all the good stuff in the next five minutes?”
“Maybe they’ll trigger all the traps. Plus you’re magic, can’t you . . .” I made a vague “magicky” gesture.
“For someone who hates magic so much you sure don’t mind using it for your own ends.”
“I don’t hate magic, I just think it’s stupid and dangerously uncontrollable and anyone who spends their time on it is a moron. No offense.”
While we were waiting Martialla took Dulphistos’ staff, which I assume is full of magicalness. I wonder why wizards collectively chose staves as their implement of choice. Probably because they’re weak and feeble and actually need them to limp around. Watching out the window we saw a couple goons run off with silver candlesticks and rugs and the like and after a few minutes we started looking around ourselves. As Martialla had predicted most of the good stuff was done, if there’s one thing mercenaries are good for its quickly and efficiently looting a place. We did find a locked door, which seemed promising, but after Martialla finagled it open it was just another frilly bedroom like the one in which we found Cathadela. We entered and picked at the knickknacks and cosmetics.
“So what’s this? A lady apprentice? How many damn apprentices does one man need?”
Martialla shrugged “More clearly since he’s dead now.”
“Are they meant to be protection?”
“I have to assume so. Protection, gophers, sycophants, assistants, they probably fill a number of roles. Why else would you take them on?”
I was about to say something else when suddenly I felt a stabbing pain in my foot and I felt to the floor – mostly because I had been stabbed in the foot. I saw a red-haired woman in a ridiculous carnation pink dress under the bed with a dagger in her hand, her freckled face terrified and her eyes wild.
“Ow, fuck! What the Hells is wrong with you?! You put a hole in my boot! I just got these, do you know how much these cost?!”
Martialla had her rapier in hand, flicking it intently “Come out of there.”
The woman crawled slowly out from under the bed and placed the bloody dagger on the sheets with a trembling hand and sat there looking miserable.
“Stand up Gods damn it, you’re not the one who got stabbed in the foot!” She was shaking like a leaf as she rose to her feet “What were you doing under there?”
Despite her spineless quivering her voice was strong “I heard fighting, I didn’t know what else do to.”
I winced as I pulled off my boot to examine my mangled foot “Why did you stab me?! The point of hiding is NOT to be found right?! You were successfully hiding!”
“I don’t know. I panicked. I just happened.”
“You’re lucking I’m the forbearing type.”
Martialla looked down at me “You are?”
“Shut up you.”
Her name was Marigold or Daisy or some other dumb flower name like that. Turns out that Cathadela wasn’t the only one being held her against her will. What is it with wizards and their sex slaves? She led us to another locked door where a fellow was in the process of breaking it down with a small marble statue of some manner.
“Hey, bugger off!” I reached for my crossbow only to remember it was smashed to smithereens and then gestured at Martialla “Or else she’ll shoot . . . magic . . . light at you.”
For some reason he didn’t believe that awesome threat and he charged us instead – forcing Martialla to shoot magic light and him and knock him on his ass, at which point he fled. In that room was another cowering ginger, this Dulphistos character sure had a type. I can’t blame them for being scared I guess but I would have liked for them to show a little backbone. When you’re being rescued have a little dignity right? I think the second woman said her name was Lidia.
“What are you going to do with us?”
I frowned slightly “Nothing. The wizard and most of his apprentices are dead, go do whatever it is you did before you came here. Go down the stairs and out the door and into the city.”
“Is it safe?”
“I mean, no? But that’s life right? Were you safe before?”
They dogged our heels as we continued through the complex and I saw no reason to chase them off. Well, some reasons, but not enough to counteract the reasons not to chase them off. We saw a few people still looting but they ran off at the sight of us – which is more gratifying that I’d like to admit. Down in the basement level was the typical mage workshop with bubbling shit and weird metals and the like. It was guarded by a couple zombies and an animated statue of Dulphistos (what a narcissist) but they weren’t terribly dangerous. Martialla took all kinds of magical crap but there wasn’t much that interested me – aside from a sack full of emeralds. You see this is what I mean with wizards, what kind of person just leaves a sack of precious stones sitting in the corner? Madness. I tossed a couple to Daffodil and Lidia for their trouble and gave the rest to Martialla since I owed her anyway. Despite my proven trustworthiness she still seemed surprised. Some people you know? After leaving our two hangers on looked about uncertainly.
“I don’t mean to be rude ladies, I understand that you probably want to stick with us for safety, but that’s not a good idea, we tend to attract a lot of non-safety to our area.”
At that moment a group of street-toughs appeared to surround us – the lead tough stepping forward.
“We’re here to take you to the mayor.”
“See what I mean?”
Funds: 28,040 platinum, 47,550 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, 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