NOTE – Re-writing this old post to close a plot hole that I’m sure has been tormenting you all for over a year now.
Uncharacteristically for me I woke early today. It’s hard to sleep late when your body is practically vibrating with nervous energy. Actually nervous isn’t the right world, and neither is anticipation really – is there a word for a feeling you get when you’re about to experience something new that you know is going to be dangerous but you’d interested anyway? Is there is what’s what it was. I never thought I’d be anywhere near a battle in my life – watching one far away sure, but near a battle, like on the ground? I would have lost money on that bet. In addition to thinking that I would never be near a battle I also hoped that I never would. Who in their right mind would want to be in a battle, those things are dangerous. Nobody, that’s who. And before you say that you know lots of people that love to fight please note that I said someone in their right mind. I don’t dispute that a lot of people either because of brainwashing or insanity are ready to fight and die at the drop of a hat.
Before I set out to meet up with my brave adventuring companions and charge into danger I figured I should give notice to the only God that I really care about. That’s a thing that you’re supposed to do before you head into battle right? Some manner of last obeisance to the Gods to make sure if you die your soul is going to be taken care of?
In the old days worship of Kozilek was forbidden. By necessity one assumes – you can’t have someone in your tribe who you can’t count on right? But even then there were people that didn’t feel like the rules applied to them. After all if you make a statue of a God and then tell everyone “now don’t look at this one” some people HAVE to do just that. There’s a kind of strength to be found in disarray. I have to assume that the tribal leaders looked the other way on that a bit – when you’re going to fight another bunch of savages over a lake of a date tree or whatever there’s no harm in having someone on your side that doesn’t have any problem not fighting fair.
In these modern times a lot of people claim that Kozilek isn’t even a proper God, that Kozilek is just a powerful being from outside of space and time that provides divine powers to its followers. If you can explain to me how that’s different from a God please let me know, but while the distinction if lost on me it’s important to some people. God or not worship of Kozilek isn’t forbidden anymore but it’s not something that anyone would admit to, it’s more like being really into visiting brothels – the people that do it are into it but they don’t go around advertising it. Anyone who declared themselves to be a priest of Kozilek would be considered unstable and irrational – and they probably would be. I mean it’s not like there’s temples of Kozilek where you go to services every week, that wouldn’t make a lot of sense. What kind of trickster god would have people sitting in rows listening to sermons? But there are people out there that pay homage to the Cypher Lord, it’s more of a personal faith. It’s not a wearing robes and lighting candles and scared meal kind of a thing, it’s more of a do whatever you want and think “this one’s for you Kozilek, you want to help me out please do.”
Worshippers of Kozilek are considered to be fringe lunatics nursing grudges against the society that they couldn’t function in, which is mostly accurate, so I’m clearly not one of them – but Kozilek is the God that I can at least identify with somewhat. I would sum up Kozilek’s Godly advice like this –
My life is my path, and none will sway me from it.
If you want something take it, but you know, but subtle about it, don’t be a goon – show some artistry about how you go about it, if you do it right no one will even notice.
There’s no such thing as getting even – if someone wrongs you repay that slight on their head at least tenfold, more if you can swing it.
Be the instrument of your own justice. If someone messes with you take matters into your own hands, aint nobody in this life going to do it for you.
Those are simple to the point tenants that I can get behind. Or in front of, however that works. There being no temple at which to pay my respects I wandered around town just taking in the morning and silently I gave thanks to the Butcher of Truth, the Great Distortion, the Confusion of Panic, the Trap of Enigmas , the Harrower of Thought, for helping to make me cunning. I asked him to watch over me on this day. I’m not sure what it means to have a trickster God watching over you, it may not even be what you want, but I’m a sucker for tradition.
After fulfilling my very important religious obligations I met up with my companions at the edge of town, my friend with the eye-patch looking like he was coming off a night of hard drinking and low down dirty carousing. His gaze lingered on me hungrily. I felt like I needed to bathe again just at the “touch” of his vision. What a way to start a day.
We set out into the woods at a fair clip but I could tell they were showing me some consideration with their pace. Obviously I am well versed in pretending to be interested in the stories of men, but I had my fill of their war-tales pretty quickly. Yes it was winter and you had no boots, yes you were starving and ate rats, yes your friend had his legs hacked off by some doc sawbones, blah, blah, blah. It’s all well-worn territory narratively speaking, and there’s nothing quite as boring as someone else’s misery. Luckily this lot wasn’t very good at picking up on social cues and they construed my uninterested silence as rapt attention.
I will admit to being a bit winded when we came to a stop, I haven’t really lived a life that has me in condition to do a lot of marching around. I showed them the spot where the woodsman met his grisly fate and they fanned out to look for tracks or other signs of the beast. It was clear these men knew their business but to the untrained eye it seemed we wandered randomly, the method of what they were doing was lost on me entirely. I realized quickly that this was unlikely to be a one day excursion, if we found the worg at all it could take days or weeks. This was unexpected and dismaying.
At some point during the day eye-patch mentioned that we were being shadowed by the tribal folks of the forest. Who can say why? For all I know this great wolf was their sacred beast and they all took turns being married to it for a season. I hate these primitive types, if your society can’t make a pleasant wine what’s the point of it? I mean why even both right?
As night came on they built a rough camp and stirred up some awful oaty gruel-like mixture that I was nonetheless glad to have, I was famished after a hard day of traipsing around the forest. I was semi-hypnotized staring into the flame when all of a sudden my four companions leapt to their feet, grabbing their spears and bows. Off in the distance skulked the beast. My heart fluttered in my chest but long tense minutes passed without anything happening, it was too far away to attack and came no closer.
Wanting to bring this confrontation to a head I did something very foolish, I convinced them to let me approach the beast saying I would bait it closer. I’ve never been so frightened as when I stepped out of the campfire light into the shadows towards the low form of the worg.
The monster demanded to know what I was doing and I whispered that I had brought him “treats” as I had promised. He declared they were too big and strong but I was able to appeal to his ego, seems as though males of all species are vulnerable to that ploy. He paced about quite a bit, working himself up to it, but with my coaxing he finally slipped away into the night to prepare his attack.
When the great beast burst into the camp a moment later, all Hells broke loose. In a flash the worg had borne one of the men to the ground and ripped his throat out. It was over for that fellow in half a second. Just like that. No chance to fight back, just alive one moment and the next not. Makes you think. With a mighty leap the word knocked over the leader and tore into him with his jaws. Somehow he seemed even more massive than ever in that wild rush, must be a trick of the light. Patch fired with his bow and missed as the other man charged forward with his spear, trying to help his boss who struggled on the ground with the worg.
The sound of the howl the worg unleashed when Patch scored with one of his arrows was ear-splittingly horrific. I turned away from the awful scene, not half a minute later though, all was quiet. Two men lay dead, Patch was terribly wounded, the leader of the little band was all over with blood but seemed steady on his feet. The worg laying dying so near the fire that its fur smoldered.
While the leader was distracted I palmed my stiletto and came up on Patch with a strip of clothe as if to bind his wounds. He had a look of grateful appreciation on his face until I stabbed him through the liver. He fell to the ground silently without a sound. The sole survivor (other than me) sat at the edge of the firelight for a long time, it seemed best not to bother him. I picked up the spear of one of the fallen men, just to see what it felt like to have a real weapon in my hands. So crude and rough – graceless.
“Your brother is avenged . . . . at a heavy price” he said to me finally. He had a far-away look in his eyes that made me uneasy but we worked together to bury the bodies, the most back-breaking effort I have made in twenty years, and then fell into an exhausted sleep.
Funds: 75 gold, 25 Silver
Inventory: Peasant outfit (with hidden pockets) , Signet Ring , Stiletto , Map case, quill pen, red riding cloak, candlerod (5) , dreamer’s star tea (4 servings) , poison ring, awful pendant, disguise kit (8 uses) , Fashionable Accessories, hollow heeled boot, poison locket
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler , Alice Kinsey , “Patch”
Rumors : Murderous servants (25%) , exiled noblewoman (10%)
Behind the curtain: I used the vagabond stats from the Game Mastery guide for the 4 ex-soldiers, that worg was a real terror though, without a bow critical at the end I think the whole crew would have gone down. I debated if Ela should get any XP since she all she did was hire people to fight for her – although thematically if you got XP like that it that would explain why mayors and lords and such are always hiring adventurers to do their dirty work, would also explain how they tend to be mid-level sorts. In the end I decided to award her half XP like a cohort for this encounter since she was there and cohorts don’t always do a lot during combat.