I have to imagine that the list of people who aren’t confined to or work in a working asylum but have spent the night in one is pretty short. As per usual I’m in a very elite and exclusive group. Spooky teenage girls and the boys that want to nail them probably daydream that spending the night in a nuthouse is some uncanny experience with creepy paintings where the eyes move and ghostly screams in the night and things of that nature, but it was perfectly ordinary. Honestly it was better than half the inns I’ve stayed at in the last year. I have to say this place is extraordinarily well run. Based on the stories I’ve heard about these kind of places I was expecting it to be, well, a madhouse.
Even so I didn’t sleep well. Hardra didn’t say anything when they brought her out – she just stared at me. She recognized me for sure, but beyond that I don’t know what she was thinking. There wasn’t hatred in those eyes, but nothing like joy either – nothing that I could understand. I think if a dog heard another dog speak like a person it would look at that other dog like Hardra looked at me. In was a kind of incomprehension that was streaked with the utter conviction that this should not be happening and in fact was impossible and therefore if it was happening that it should be stopped. Even when I told Hardra that she could leave this place with us she didn’t react at all. Just stared. The old man had the nurses take her away and told us that we could talk to her again in the morning. So I had all night to think about it.
This morning before I went to see Hardra I mentioned to Martialla that one of the guards was a soldier that I knew from back at court. I told her about how the nurse had looked like a vocal coach that I knew too and I was starting to wonder if it actually was her.
She frowned “Okay, so what?”
“Don’t you think that’s odd? Winters was a captain, and he was from a good family, how the Hells could he get stuck out here on this shit duty? And the singing instructor, what are the chances of them both being here?”
She shrugged “I don’t know, a hundred percent?”
“Maybe someone has cast a spell on us to trap us on a fantasy realm they can control. But they’re too lazy to create a bunch of people from whole cloth so they’re ransacking my mind to populate said realm. Have you seen anyone here you recognize?”
“Yes, the head doctor is my father.”
“Don’t . . .” I bit back an angry retort with a sigh “Just tell me will you?”
“No, aside from you and Hardra – who looks nothing like I remember by the way so that didn’t come from my memory – I don’t recognize anyone here. If you think this a dream and you want me to punch you in the stomach to wake you up just give me the signal.”
“I’m telling you Martialla, if I see a third person here I know there’s something weird going on.”
“We’re in an insane asylum Ela, of course there’s something weird going on.”
When they did take me to speak with Hardra they took me a tiny room with a bed, a chair, and a holy book of some kind – I guess the idea is to pray the crazy away. She was sitting on the bed with her hands folded and if I had taken a seat on the chair our knees would have been touching, that’s how small the room was. I was worried they were going to lock us in there, but they didn’t, so I stayed in the doorway. I was just about to speak when she beat me to the punch – although she remained staring at the wall.
“You did this. Somehow I knew, I knew that it was you.”
“It wasn’t worth it, none of it is worth it. Something is broken inside of me.”
“There’s something broken inside of everyone, you’ll get over it.”
She turned to look at me for the first time, her eyes full of anguish “There was nothing. There was nothing. No Heavens, no Hells, no judgement, no nothing. I didn’t see my dead friends or family. I wasn’t cast into a pit of eternal torture. There were no angels. There were no demons. There was nothing. I was just gone. And now I’m back.”
“Well . . . . uh . . . . I mean we know there’s an afterlife so . . . . if you’re, uh, into that kind of thing I wouldn’t worry about it. Who knows how magic works? Maybe all that was wiped away by the spell that brought you back to life.”
“Do we? Do we know that there’s an afterlife? Do we know it?”
“Look, Hardra . . .”
He face twisted in anger “No you look! Why did you did it? Why did you bring me back? I didn’t ask for this! Am I even the same person? What I am?! Some empty shell walking around? A zombie?!”
“I don’t know what you’re going through, I . . .
She clenched her fists “Yes, you don’t know! You can’t know. You weren’t there. It happened to me! Nothing feels right anymore! I don’t even know what I’m doing sometimes! Where are my thoughts coming from? Why did you do it? Why?!”
“I felt responsible, I felt I owed it to you.”
The look on her face became one of utter disgust “You felt guilty? How is that possible? You’re the worst person I’ve ever met in my life. You do bad things and you get away with it so you do something worse and you get away with that too! And it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. Are you even human? What are you? Why do you do these things?! I used to sit and think about you, I would think to myself ‘what kind of person could do such things?’ But now I understand. There’s just nothing inside you. Nothing at all. You’re sad and empty. You feel nothing because you’ve got nothing. You’ve got nothing to love, care for, or fight for. You exist to destroy. And you get away with it! I don’t understand how! How, how are you allowed to be?!”
I held a hand up “Alright, enough of this self-pity bullshit. You don’t want to be alive? Then kill yourself. It’s pretty easy. Otherwise get the fuck over it.”
She turned her head back to the wall “That’s some great advice there, either kill yourself or just stop being crazy. Exactly the kind of inspiring words I would expect from you.”
“What is your problem? When did you become my nemesis? I brought you back to LIFE. How about a little gratitude?”
She laid down on the bed, curled up in a ball “Go away Ela.”
“You want to stay here and rot with these lunatics? Fine. I’m going to Juost Manor to save the Baroness. Remember her? I have no idea what you thought of her but she’s currently fucked right now. The least you can do is tell me what you know about it, if anything. The timeline isn’t clear to me , was the Baron back when you rose from the dead? I need intel.” When she didn’t say anything I kicked her in the ass “I’m talking to you!”
She spun on the bed “Hey!”
I kicked her again as she grabbed at my foot “Good, there is some life left in you, I was starting to wonder if I got ripped off and you were just a pathetic depressed lump. So you got a raw deal, so the fuck what? You got a second chance! A literal second chance! You want to throw that away fine, but that makes you the dumbest woman that has ever lived. Get with the program! You want this to break you or do you want to fight? Most of the world has it worse than you and they manage to keep going you entitled bitch.”
“How could anyone have it worse than me?! I was dead!”
“And now you’re not. What are you going to do with that? You hate me so much do you? Well I don’t give up Hardra. I wanted to bring you back so I fucking did it. I brought you back, me, I did that because I decided to do it. What are you going to do? You want to sit here like a whiny baby or do you want to grow up and be an adult?”
“I want to beat your face in. I want to smash you in the face until its mush. I want you to be ugly.”
I shrugged off my greatcoat “Let’s do it then. I can’t imagine that you’re much of a fighter, but then neither am I so it’s a fair fight. You want a piece of me you whiny whore I’m game.”
This is not how I envisioned my day going. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, people have no sense of gratitude. I honestly wonder why I bother. Hardra stood up, I think to lay into me again rather than to fight but I slapped her as I hard as I could. Which really isn’t a good idea, I think I sprained my wrist. She did go down to the floor, although I think that was more out of the shock of being hit more than the force of the blow – I would imagine that the chaperone to a Baroness doesn’t get struck a lot. Well, depending on the Baroness. Also sometimes I forget that I’m wearing a magic strength belt – it was probably a heck of a slap. Whatever the case it got the ball rolling. She charged at me and we tumbled into the hallway in a tangle of limbs.
Unless you count the time mother Hurk beat the shit out of me I’ve never been in a fist-fight before. I suppose there’s no reason I should be but I did have a whole three days of training with Hlebinksy in the fighting arts. He’s dead now I hear, I should have brought him back instead – I think he at least would have appreciated it. Plus, while it’s not exactly the same thing, I have been in (sadly) numerous serious kill you weapons fights so I at least knew the theory of trying not to get hit and hitting back. Hardra clearly did not. I’m confident that I could have beat the crap out of her but I didn’t see how that would be helpful so it was more of a mock-fight from my point of view. I let her get in a few good hits before the staff came and restrained us – they’re really good at that on account of they spend their days grabbing crazies.
Dr. Sugarcane (if that is her real name) came running up “What on earth are you doing?”
I grinned at her with my bloody mouth “Therapy.”
A few minutes later we were in the infirmary getting fussed at by a nurse who thankfully did not look familiar at all.
“Do you feel better now?”
“What was going on at the Manor when you returned from the dead? Was the Baron back? Were the Kostelos already there?”
“I don’t know. All I did for the first few days and scream and cry. And after that . . . I was overwhelmed with desires . . . of a sexual nature. My behavior was inappropriate. I was kicked out of the manor. After that I was . . . . I was . . . . . eventually those religious people grabbed me and stuck me in here. It’s all fuzzy, I don’t really remember.”
“So you don’t know anything.” She shook her head “Do you know what happened to Tudos?”
“I . . . I remember him being there. Sometimes. I think he was trying to help me. I don’t . . . I don’t know what happened to him.”
“Maybe you should find him. Give yourself a goal, something to work towards. That time the bounty hunters came for me why did you think they were after you?”
“My name isn’t really Hardra, its Veda. I came to the Baroness under false pretenses. I knew the woman who was supposed to show up wasn’t going to make it so I took her place. I crafted a new life for myself. Veda was wanted for falsification of royal documents, disruption of trade, and the transportation of foreign nationals.”
“You were a criminal?”
“No, I just tried to do the right thing.”
“There’s your problem.”
I ripped off the bandage the nurse had put on my forehead and took a drink from my Flask for healing – all the cuts and bruises and marks that Harda had put on me disappearing instantly. She watched with wide eyes.
She shook her head “Something terrible needs to happen to you.”
I dropped her a sassy wink “It already did.”
Funds: 53,040 platinum, 8,000 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 Extravagant Necklace, +1 Adamantine Dwarf Waraxe
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, dwarf journal
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, Colonel Tarl Ciarán’s wizard soldier, Victor, Beharri, Cebuano, Mayor Eryn, Chimera Trading Company