Mantelderith 20 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

There’s a very popular book that a Shireling wrote a book about various things that he learned spending eight years walking through the Kingdom – he did this on purpose for some reason.  Maybe his wife was a real bitch.  There were some tales about man (and Halfling) eating forest cats, hard drinking wild men of the hills, slavering gnolls, diseased orcish warbands and the like but for the most part it was a collection of ruminations on walking around and travel itself.  I didn’t read all of it but I found what I did read to be dreadfully dull.  Give me Courtship of the Flower Demon over a dreary travelogue any day – that’s a story that has some teeth (literally). 

Now that I’ve spent the better part of a year walking about some of the Kingdom myself I find this book even more ridiculous.  I’ve done enough walking from place to place to know that there’s nothing special or sacred about it.  The author was famous for saying that we should “treat every road as a classroom and every journey as a teacher”.  What a bunch of bullshit.  I can’t dismiss that I have learned many things on the road but they’re all horrible.  A better expression would be “treat every road as a classroom for a class you don’t want to take and every journey as a teacher who’s going to take you into the backroom and touch you inappropriately”. 

As far as I can tell (racistly perhaps) Shirefolk come in two flavors – dedicated homebodies who eat seventeen meals a day and wanderlusty rascals.  The first one makes sense, the second does not.  Especially when you consider that the main feature of travel is shitty food.  I’ve talked about trail rations before – they’re literally just edible garbage.  And that crap that people who claim to be “survivalists” scrounge up along the way is even worse.  You can’t survive on that shit (ironically?), a few days of that and you’re deader than Baron Juost – who’s the deadest dead guy I’ve ever seen.  And even on the rare occasion that someone in your party manages to hunt something edible it’s still just a half-scorched half-raw hunk of bloody gristle that you’re trying to choke down.  You can’t cook shit over a campfire.  And most of the time what they come back with isn’t even considered food.  Have you ever eaten a newt?  Or the head of a turtle?  I have and it’s awful.

Despite all that though, here I am on the road again.  There’s nothing for it.   If you want to go somehere you have to go there.   Not only that, I’m on the road to Graltontown of all places.  When Belzegara and Rakhaj heard that’s where I was heading they decided to seek their fortunes elsewhere.  I can’t say as that I blame them.  Graltontown isn’t any place to make a living.  I told them I would have business for them in Three Rivers along the way but they didn’t go for it so I gave them some gold for what they had done on my behalf and we parted ways on good company.  I suppose it’s for the best, we would have needed a wagon train to keep Rakhaj from withering away to nothing.  That’s not a fat joke, it’s just a fact.

I got up early this morning and put on a fine dress to attend Kartak’s hanging.  Attendance was surprisingly light.  Usually people turn out in droves for a good old fashioned public execution – and for the execution of a man who killed the local lord?  That’s usually pretty big doings.  I think people are just tired of all the turmoil around here lately, they just want things to quiet down.  Which they won’t, the Baroness is going to be up to her ass in alligators pretty soon.  I told her that she should show her face at the hanging just to reassure people that a steady hand was on the tiller (that’s the expression right?) but she disregarded my words.  I don’t think she’s adjusting to her new reality very well.  I feel a tiny bit guilty about leaving her n her own, I think she’s going to get to be trouble, but as I told her – I have my own issues to worry about.

Aside from me there were just a handful of looky-loos and cluster of members from a local Kostelos hate group of some kind.  Their forced joviality was really grinding on me.  If the Baroness was smart she’d snuggle up to them.  Given what happened this is a good time to cash in on Kostelos bashing as  way to unify people but I doubt she would even if she didn’t have moral objections to accepting help from racist assholes.  She’s an odd one is the Baroness.  After Kartak was hung until dead he was slated for a pauper’s grave but I instructed his remains to be burned instead.  I already have at least one undead creature seeking revenge on my from beyond the grave (and probably several more that I don’t know about), I wasn’t going to take any chances. 

Martialla and I arranged to travel with the Hücresel Merchant Company, which as far as I can tell the entire “company” consists of a solitary woman and her daughter.  For some strange reason they decided that relocating from Alleene to Cathars would be a good idea right about now.  Some merchants see crisis as an opportunity, Diarmaid Hücresel is not one of these merchants.  So we wouldn’t be walking, we’d be sitting on a wagon filled with boxes of whatever these people sell – at least until the inevitable attack where they’d be killed and or carried away to be sex slaves.  If there’s a sage or wise man out there’s whose studied caravans and can tell me what percentage of them actually make it to their destination I’d legitimately be curious about that.  It must be a lot because commerce exists, but seems like I haven’t seen one yet.

Aside from a dozen or so porters and drovers and outriders the Hücresel Merchant Company had retained the services of two half-elfs that we either siblings or one of those weird couples that act like they’re siblings.  They seemed like they were unattached adventurers since as everyone knows you need four people to go on an adventure.  Usually this happens when some of the group is wiped out by demons or goblins or demon goblins and the survivors sign on for caravan duty until they can meet up with some other orphaned adventurers and merge to form a new group to immediately abandon their posts to go looking for The Three Rings of Count Modrune or some other damned thing.  Once everything was squared away the caravan lurched off down the road to Arbeven.  Sitting on a stack of boxes wasn’t terribly comfortable but it was nice to be up high where you had a good vantage point to see where the unavoidable attack would come from.  After a few minutes Martialla glanced over at me.

“The more things change huh?”

“What?”

“I’m just saying that here we are again.”

“What does that have to do with thing changing, if anything they’re the same.”

“I know, that’s the expression, the more things change the more they stay the same.”

I scowled “That doesn’t make any sense, things can’t stay the same more – their either the same or they’re not.  I don’t want you saying things that don’t make any sense and embarrassing me.”

“It’s a widely used expression!  It’s like when you get a new boss down at the docks, things technically have changed but they’re still the same because your still have to work for some asshole and work is still the world.  Meet the new boss, same as the old boss right?”

“Done a lot of dockwork have you?”

“That’s not the point!  The point is . . .” She moaned and pulled out a wineskin “Forget it, you want a drink?

“I smiled, now that’s something that makes perfect sense.  Say more things like that.”

She grinned and handed me over the wineskin, but when I pulled out the stopper I heard a tiny female voice calling for help.  I frowned and looked over at Martialla.

“Is this a joke?  Is this like a trick magic wineskin?”

She shook her head “No, I just grabbed it the manor.”

I sighed “You have no idea how much I want to just put the lid back on this thing and throw it in the ditch.”

“I have some idea.”

I peered into the wineskin as if I could see in there “Who’s in my wine and what do you want?”

The tiny voice was clear but sounded drunken “Oh thank Goodness!  I thought I was a goner.  I was trapped in a wine cask by an evil wizard and somehow ended up in here!  I’m dying, I need your help!”

“Sure, you just need me to pour this all out or what?”

“No!  That would kill me.  I need you to find my pond and return me to my home!  I’m fading fast, I feel like I have only hours to live!”

“You sound like you’re wasted.”

“I am in wine.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’m a nixie.”

Martialla nodded “Nixies a fey water creatures that . . .”

I waved her down irritably “Yeah, yeah, I get it magic fuckery.  Does it have to be your pond or can it be any pond?”

“Well it would be ideal if you could return me to my pond, but any body of water you find will keep me alive.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”  I put the stopper back in the wineskin “You see, this is what I’m talking about – if it’s not one thing it’s another.”

“What is?”

“You know ‘it’.  I mean that’s an expression everyone knows, unlike that thing about changing making things the same.”

“That’s not what I said, what I said that the more things change the more they stay the same and everyone knows that expression!  One thing and another isn’t an expression, it’s barely a sentence.”

“First of all that’s not what I said.  Second of all . . .”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 53,040 platinum, 20,000 gold

XP: 1,147,551

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

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