Remember when I saved the entire Kingdom yesterday? That turned out not to be such a good idea because later that night (or early this morning I guess) a mob caught the captain of the bug-ship and so when Martialla and I were trying to leave this morning the streets were clogged with people gathering to watch the poor bastard get strung up. It took us hours to reach the coach house and I was convinced that they would have left without us. They didn’t but my relief quickly turned to outrage when I found out that we weren’t the only ones on it. I offered the coachman a hefty bribe to ditch the other passengers but he wouldn’t go for it. They said the other passengers had bought their tickets first – as if that was supposed to mean something. The streets were still packed with people so it was another hour before we could leave, and then it took us forever to get out of Preen since the coachmen weren’t willing to start running people over despite my command that they do so.
The two other passengers were both women so at least we don’t have to watch our backs with them (you know the way I mean). The one sitting across from me was broad shouldered and had powerful legs. Her hair was blue-blonde somehow and she was wearing a black uniform that I didn’t recognize. She had a messenger bag clutched to her side but I can’t imagine what kind of messenger would travel by luxury coach. The woman across from Martialla was smaller, thin, with greying hair despite not appearing to be out of her thirties at worse. She was wearing the colorless frock of a servant girl but again, what kind of servant girl travels by luxury coach? The best thing that I can say for them is kept quiet – the worst thing I can say for them is that they were there. The ride would have been tolerable if it was just Martialla and I, but having two strangers swaying back and forth staring at you doesn’t help anything.
I feel compelled at this point to mention that a luxury coach is still pretty crappy – on account of it’s a coach, there’s really only so much they can do. Unless you’re going to make some kind of land-ship to drag around like that monstrosity that Homar and his fellows were carting around on. That coach that the baroness gave me was truly comfortable but it was magicked up the wazoo beyond anything I’d ever seen before, and I know from decadence – I still think about it sometimes. My point is that even though this was a luxury coach and we were on a good road it was still a bone-rattling and colossally boring ride. I grew to hate the two other passengers in short order – if they weren’t there we could at least stretch out our legs and/or lay down. Plus we’d probably be drinking which always helps.
Normally the coach stops at Cataola, which is the halfway point to Obsis and mostly exists because it’s the halfway point to Obsis but would have been good enough because it’s designed to be a stopping point. Since we got such a late start because of the hanging in Preen we probably would have stopped in Sirasee which would have angered me greatly because Sirasee is basically just three buildings, none of which are an inn. But that didn’t happen either because in the afternoon we were flagged down by a group of men by a broken down medicine wagon. When we started to slow down I shouted at the coachmen not to stop. I even went so far as to hang out the window and yell up at them in case they weren’t obeying because couldn’t hear me, but it did no good. What kind of luxury coach is this when the employees ignore everything the passenger says?
When the five men by the medicine wagon drew their weapons and killed the two coachmen it was so predictable that I could barely even muster the energy to enjoy being right. After slaughtering the coachmen the coach tilted slightly as an older fellow with a floppy black hat climbed on the side and stuck his head through the window. Looking at the four of us inside he grinned.
“Well isn’t this a pretty sight. Too bad we’re in a hurry, otherwise we could have ourselves a nice time together. As it is we’re going to have to ask you ladies to disembark.”
Martialla and I exchanged a glance “And if we don’t?”
Black hat seemed startled that anyone responded at all “It would be better if you did.”
The four of us climbed out of the coach to much leering and lascivious elbowing but quickly the men moved to wrestle a large chest from the medicine wagon into the coach. Whatever it was it was clearly very heavy. Once they managed to haul it into place they quickly started grabbing their possessions from the medicine wagon and seemed intent on taking off shortly when the blue-blonde in the uniform stopped them.
“Pardon me, could you please lets us take down our luggage? I have medicine in my bag that . . .”
“I wouldn’t worry about your medicine. They’re not going anywhere.”
Black Hat was climbing into the driver’s seat as a saggy-faced fellow wearing riding boots sneered at that comment and came forward to grab at me. “Oh we’re going, but maybe we do have a little time to . . .”
I don’t like being manhandled. I suppose no one does. But I really don’t like it. I got quite a bit of satisfaction out of giving Saggy a bicep-full of snakebite from my Stick when he grabbed at me. He jerked away screaming as Martialla used her magic to transform herself into a creature half again her height and many times her bulk with shaggy white fur, jagged yellow teeth and massive paw/hands. With a terrifying roar she rushed forwards and ripped one of the fellow’s arms off through the window of the coach. It was really something. I give them this, Black Hat and his two friends didn’t hesitate – they had their weapons back out and came at us hard. These are clearly men used to some heavy action, the kind that don’t get rattled by snake attacks to the face and shocking dismemberment.
I swung my snake-Stick at Black Hat as he came towards me but he blocked it with his sword and then neatly disarmed me. I really need to get a back-up weapon. Remember when I had that bag that summoned animals to maul people for me? That was great. I managed to duck out of the way of his strike and then dove for cover under the Medicine wagon. Black Hat didn’t even bother to come after me, he immediately turned to help his two pals take on Martialla in her beast-form, I assume because he considered her to be more of a threat. Which is insulting. Accurate, but insulting. I’ve heard Martialla bragging about her spell that transforms her into a monster and seeing it now it is impressive but I see that it’s also kind of a problem. As far as I can tell once she’s monsterfied herself she can’t cast any more spells. So it’s just a fight by tooth and claw – which is fine, but shaggy fur don’t stop no swords you know? She was already bloodied when Black Hat came over and stuck her with his blade as well – eliciting another roar, the pain kind this time though.
The bandits (or whatever they are) had unhitched the horses from the medicine wagon so I quickly mounted up (I’m great at riding bareback you know) and pranced my way over to the melee where I induced the wagon-horse to rear up and stomp down on one of the men harrying beast-Martialla, flatting him pretty good. In response Black Hat turned his sword at a funny angle and decapitated the poor thing. Which is crazy. You know how thick a horse’s neck is? I’ve seen strong men with double-handed greatswords that couldn’t pull off that feat. I was quite startled by this turn of events but being the expert rider that I am I managed to jump clear without being trapped or crushed under the bulk of the instantly slain horse.
I retreated as Black Hat came for me and behind them with a furious roar beast-Martialla yanked the chest, which had taken four struggling men to carry out of the coach, and hurled it at her last opponent – caving in his chest with a grotesque snap crackle and pop. I did my best falling to my knees and begging for mercy act which slowed Black Hat enough for Martialla to revert to her normal form, slashed to ribbons but not hurt enough to stop her from calling on her magic. Black Hat slumped over like a narcoleptic, his blade falling out of his hand as he swooned like a maiden. I helped myself to said blade and jammed it through his chest, which woke him up for a moment, but only for a moment. I gave Martialla a healing draught from my Flask and we surveyed the carnage – the snakebitten man still shaking and convulsing on the ground.
I took a drink from the Flask “I told them not to stop.”
“What happened to the other two?”
“As soon as the fighting started they grabbed their luggage and ran. I don’t suppose they got too far but regardless it saves me the trouble of telling them to get lost.”
She ducked her chin at the chest, sending a little blood flying off her face “What do you think is in there?”
“Gold I reckon.”
I was wrong about that, it wasn’t gold, it was platinum. A lot of platinum. The two of us could barely budge the thing, but Martialla turned back into a furry beast and muscled it back into the coach. We checked out the medicine wagon as well, the thieves had tossed most of the stuff out – I guess so they could move faster which is probably why they broke an axle in the first place – but I did find a hidden compartment with a few odds and ends, most interestingly a holy symbol of Kozilek.
“So these guys stole the money, then they stole this wagon to carry it, then this wagon broke down they tried to steal our coach?”
Martialla shrugged “Who knows? Can you drive this thing? I’m feeling faint, either way I need to sit in the back for a while.”
“Probably all the blood loss. Get some whiskey in you, that thickens up the blood. I’m sure I can drive this thing, how hard could it be?”
I tied the spare horse from the medicine wagon to the coach and climbed into the driver’s seat as Martialla crawled into the back – she was bleeding all over the place which fine because the intertio was soaked with blood on account of the de-arming anyway. Turns out driving a coach without any experience is actually pretty hard. It took me a good hour to figure out how to do it at all (I’m sure it would have been faster without Martialla’s grousing from the back) and I was still trying to get the hang of it when a dozen men in horseback back thundering up. I saw they were wearing the colors and symbol of one Mister Tarl Ciarán, retired Colonel, rich bastard, probable wife-murderer, and total asshole. They cut in front of the coach and it’s a good thing that the horses know what to do because I’m not sure I could have stopped them.
“Thank the Gods you’ve come, we were attacked by bandits!”
A fellow with a heavy dark beard and his hair in stupid braids answered “Those weren’t bandits ma’am, they’re deserters and they have stolen Royal property. How long ago did you see them?”
“Less than two hours, if you continue down this road five miles or so you should find their bodies.”
His eye raised “Bodies?”
I nodded, biting my lip “Yes good sir, it was a terrible fight. Our guards managed to defeat them but they were mortally wounded themselves.” I shook my head sadly “There was nothing we could do for them but pray that Adariel takes them to her holy bosom.”
“Did they have a chest with them?”
“Not that I saw, but they had a huckster wagon, there could have been a chest in there.”
“You didn’t look?”
I shook my head emphatically “No, we were terrified, we just got away from there as quickly as we could.”
“Do you mind if we check your coach?”
“Certainly not, my friend is in the back and she’s been badly wounded if there’s anything you can do for her.”
He grunted noncommittally and ordered one of his men to check it out, he kept his eyes on me in a much less than friendly fashion. I was assuming that Martialla was smart enough to turn the chest invisible and I must have been right because I heard the report back that there was nothing.
“Please my friend is in poor shape, if you have a healer . . .”
Braids turned and rode away “Balus, Waroth, kill these two and burn the coach. Make sure you bury them away from the road, if you can see the road when you start digging you too close! Afterwards catch up with us. Everyone else with me!”
Most of them rode off as the fellow that had checked out the coach drew is his sword and his companion that was still mounted unlimbered a spear or a lance or something like that, measuring me up. I begged them piteously not to hurt us, first saying that we would never tell anyone what we saw, but then moving on to promising them every explicit and degraded sex act imaginable but in a way that made it clear that I had no real idea what I was talking about. That’s the key. No man is impressed by a slattern offering up her dubious favors, but when a good honest Gods fearing woman is begging you to turn her into a sexual plaything for a few more minutes of life that’s where you can really get them interested. That’s what the men want. It’s the saint and the whore all wrapped up in domination and control of the weaker sex – what could be more appealing?
The lancer glanced back at his friend “Should we?”
He looked in the coach at Martialla “This one’s all bloody. Do you want to share that one up there?”
The lancer considered it for a moment “Nah, better just kill them.”
“You two are some hard bastards you know that? I was going to start begging again to buy more time but I don’t think it would work, I just hope your friends away far enough away already.”
The lancer’s head whipped around at the sound of his buddy screaming, which is what tends to happen when Martialla conjures molten metal onto someone’s face. I grabbed a hold of the mounted one’s spear-lance and kicked him in the face from my elevated position but sadly it didn’t seem to bother him too much. I saw Martialla slam another motel metal orb into the footman as the horseman and I wrestled over his spear-lance. In the end he reversed direction and sent me tumbling to the ground. Have you ever fallen off a coach? It hurts. I’m not proud of it, but I used the snake-head on my Walking Stick to bite his horse on the leg. While he struggled to gain control of his panicked mount Martialla came out of the coach to stick her rapier into the other fellow a couple times and then toss it to me. Just as the lancer was getting his steed under control I sliced away his saddle girth and he dropped heavily to the ground – his maddened horse kicking him in the face as it fled the scene.
As he struggled to his feet I lifted up whatever that little flappy thing is on the back armor of mounted fighters and stabbed him in the kidney. Or in that area anyway. It was unnecessary because he was done for, but Martialla came forward and roasted him alive with her fire spell anyway. She was pretty pissed.
“It takes a while to dig a grave, we probably have a couple hours lead before they wonder what happened. Is it enough?”
Martialla was panting slightly “You want to leave all this money behind?”
“No, but there’s no use in dying over it.”
Martialla looked down the road “Let’s give it a try.”
Funds: 28,040 platinum, 59,605 gold
Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Ela’s Dazzling Garment, Belt of Physical Might +4, Ring of Urban Grace, Black Marketers’ Bag (5), Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Extraordinary Walking Stick, Ela’s Elegant Boots, Ela’s Marvelous 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), darkwood and platinum music box, silver bracelet set with bloodstones, platinum ring set with fire opal, silver and moonstone bracelet, holy symbol of Kozilek
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, Baron Saltwheel, Baron Harmenkar