Emerging from the Wesel family crypt (or whatever) with magic stick in hand I saw that the sun was starting to go down – I had been in there for hours. Many annoying hours. I really don’t know how the tomb raiders and grave robbers do it – there’s nothing interesting about crawling around a freezing cold burial mound looking for stuff. Although I guess when you get down to it it’s a better job than a lot of others. Waiting for me was Hellerhad who was looking less like a wizard all the time on account of me taking all his wizard stuff from him. I should probably figure out what it does, he claims not to be able to do magic anymore but it was doing something magical for sure – most likely he just has items that can do the magic for him. Even though he’s literally a million times my size he wasn’t alone, he was standing a safe distance behind some hired goons. I suppose that’s a compliment of sorts.
Goon number one was massively obese and just massive generally. He was a few inches shorter than Hellerhad but was twice as wide. He was dressed rather flamboyantly for such a huge fellow – a gut-plate seemed to be his only real armor other than shin-guards, the rest was just fancy silk and swooshy sashes. His colossal frame was covered with scars and his hair was neatly piled up in a coil on top of his head. The only thing that didn’t look elaborate about him was the weighty battle axe he gripped in one hand – it was definitely more of functional chic than anything else he had. The second goon was a forester of some kind decked out in grey hunting leather that may have been armor. It’s hard to tell with that kind of stuff. The final goon was an honest to goodness elf, not one of these halvsies you usually run into. He looked terrible for an elf. They’re a comely people you know, but this fellow was gaunt and his face was lined like an old man – his hair had even fallen out and I’ve never known an elf that’s lost their hair. I don’t know if that means he’s old even for an elf or if some pestilence is upon him but I would wager the latter.
“Evening sir wizard. How did you recruit these contract killers so quickly? And what exactly did you contract them with? I know you don’t have any money since I took it all. These kind of quality cut-throats don’t come cheap.”
“After our last meeting I knew that I would run into you again so sought them out and I had them on retainer. When you came back I summoned them, I knew that you would be causing me some kind of trouble no matter if you were in chains.”
“You’re smarter than you look.”
“I’d pretty much have to be would I?
“Isn’t that my line?” I gestured to the man-mountain “I know you, I met you in Heathgrove.”
He squinted at me for a moment “Oh yeah, how’s the soul trading business going?”
“That was just a one-time deal, I got myself in a tight spot and I had to do some dancing to get out.”
He grinned “Given the current situation it seems like getting into tight spots is a habit for you.”
“There’s a double entendre in there somewhere but I can’t lay my finger on it at the moment, I’ll let you know if it comes to me later. How did the tournament turn out for you? I got distracted by personal business and missed the finals.”
“I’m alive, I call that a good engagement in the pit-fighting world.”
Hellerhad scowled “Enough of this talk! Hand over the Wesel Staff and you won’t be harmed.”
I smirked “If you wanted me to marry you so badly you could have just asked me Hellerhad, there’s no reason to go through all of this. I know it can be scary to put yourself out there in matters of the heart, but it truly is a nothing ventured nothing gained scenario.”
He spat sourly “That bit of idiocy was all the Baron’s doing, I’d sooner share a bed with a viper that you woman!”
“What exactly did I do to you that was so awful? I’ve done a lot of bad shit to a lot of people, and I can understand them coming after me – but you? All I did was ask for your help. What was so terrible about that? Why do I deserve this treatment from you?”
“You ruined everything! I was out! And then you came along . . .” He took a moment to gather himself and catch his breath “It doesn’t matter now. All that matters is that staying by the Baron’s side is my only choice now. Give me the staff or I’ll have these men take it from you. I don’t want you to be hurt, really I don’t, just hand over the staff and let’s make the best of this situation. Maybe we can help each other. Once we’re married and I have the Baron’s ear I’m sure he’d take that necklace off you just if I asked him to.”
“You think so? Even without your magic you think that the Baron will rely on you like that?”
He sneered “The Baron is a fool, he’ll rely on me like a dog relies on its master for food. He’ll be begging at my hand like a whipped cur. The man can’t do anything for himself. Without counselors he’s completely helpless and I’m the only one he has left. He won’t even notice that I’m no longer a spellcaster.”
“It’s about time, I was starting to wonder if you weren’t here.”
This I said as the Baron and a half dozen of his men appeared out of nowhere beside Martialla and Belzegara, who had been cloaking them with their magic and whatever it is Belzegara calls what she does with her “tricks” (which are totally not magic). Their task had been to trail Hellerhad all unobtrusive like and if it seemed like he was going to try and jump me after I came out of the tomb to do just what they did – sneak the Baron in invisibly so he could witness the event. Hellerhad taking shit about the Baron behind his back and admitting that he couldn’t do any magic was just a bonus.
The Baron, predictably, was not pleased. Once we were all back at the Manor he was dreaming up all kinds of cruel punishments for Hellerhad but I convinced him to go with banishment just like we had agreed to before. Although he said that Hellerhad would be banished not just from the Barony but from the whole Kingdom. I’m not sure he can actually do that, but whatever. Since apparently I had already unintentionally ruined his life and now had taken all his stuff and gotten him exiled that seems like sufficient revenge. I really am becoming a soft touch in my old age. Not old age, young age, but you know what I mean. I guess I’m maturing as a person. The hired goons were run off, but before they were given the boot I caught up with gladiator of Heathgrove in the courtyard.
“Do you walk everywhere? Surely there’s no horse that can hold you.”
“I used to have an elephant to ride from place to place.”
“No, but it sounded good.”
“Last time I saw you you were being flocked by attendants and servants and moderate quality male prostitutes – have you maybe fallen on some hardish times?”
He grimaced slightly “You’re not off your mark. The bloodsport business has been a little slow lately. And truth be told I’m not the fighter I once was. I had plans to win the tournament in Heathgrove and parlay that into another contest that would have given me the money that would have allowed me to retire.” He sighed “It didn’t work out. I always told myself I wouldn’t be one of those fighters who hangs on too long and ends up dead without ever having known a peaceful day. Turns out those poor bastards don’t have much of a choice, it’s not our kind have any other marketable skills.”
“You should have learned a trade.”
“I did, but the killing trade isn’t one with a good pension. I thought that beating up a woman and taking a magic staff would be an easy gig. A way to get myself back on my feet – financially speaking”
“Depends on the woman obviously. What did Hellerhad promise you for this job?”
“He said that once he had the Baron’s ear we’d be handsomely rewarded.”
“And you went for that?”
He shrugged “Seemed like it was worth trying.”
“Well I hate to see a good man get the shaft like that, would you accept it if I gave you some funds to help you through these rough times?”
“Am I good man?”
He clucked his tongue “I can’t really say no but I don’t feel good about accepting money for nothing.”
“Really? That’s my favorite way to get money. If it would make you feel better hang around for a couple days, I may have need of your talents for something else I’ve got working.”
“Stay at the Manor?”
“Yeah, it will be fine for a while – there’s going to be a feast tomorrow. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
He snorted “Is that a comment on my weight?”
“Everyone enjoys a feast, but also yeah, kinda. What’s your name anyway, never did catch in in Heathgrove.”
“People call me Rakhaj Ivezh”
“Why do people call you corpsemaker in Kostelos? I mean I get the corpse part but you don’t look Kostelos to me.”
He smiled faintly “Oh, it’s an old story, I’ll maybe tell you it some day.
After getting the big man squared away I had myself a nightcap with Martialla and Belzegara and a bottle of Black Pony Scotch. The liquor situation here at the Manor is really in bad shape. Those Kostelos drank most of the good stuff and left nothing but fermented milk behind. I hope The Baron gets someone on that duty soon. Who does that? Is there a like a wine steward for other kinds of booze? Or does that fall under the authority of the head cook? There’s so much about running a noble estate that I don’t know. For helping with Hellerhad I paid Belzegara the money she would have made from Martialla’s bounty and gave her the same deal as the Rakhaj – hang around for a bit and I might have some work for you. Once she took her leave I explained to Martialla why that was. She said that the next full moon was Macendamandel third. Assuming she knows what she’s talking about that means I have eighteen days to bring whichever Wesel that was back from the dead.
“Since it took me months and months to bring Hardra back I feel like I’m a tiny bit of trouble here.”
“Yeah, but you weren’t concentrating on it the entire time – it was more like a hobby. Plus now you know how to do it, that’s the hard part, figuring out out the formula. I’m sure now that you’re an expert the second time will go much quicker. More quickly I mean.”
“Sure, should be easy to find a demon I can make a deal with right? They’re just hanging from the trees.”
“Does it have to be a demon to bring someone back do you think? Maybe you could try an angel.”
“I’m pretty sure I could find a million demons before I found any sign of a single angel.”
“Prove me wrong Martialla, prove me wrong.”
Funds: 53,040 platinum, 21,660 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 Elegant Boots, Ela’s Extravagant Necklace, Ring of Counterspells, Brooch of Shielding, Cloak of the Hedge Wizard (Abjuration), Headband of Subtle Misdirection, Antiquarian’s Monocle, Unbalanced Scales, +1 Glorious Undead Bane Short Sword
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