In case you’re ever in the area, the beds are the Curious Whatever Inn are clean at the least – nothing much else to say about them. I’ll spare you my customary gushing but there’s really nothing like a few days on the road to remind you how wonderful a decent bed is. It’s like the old adage about hunger being the best sauce. It’s not true because honey mustard is the best sauce, but you get the point. When I came downstairs the depressed and dispossessed golden knight was nowhere to be seen, nor was the cerulean eyed innkeeper. Taking their place was a big fella with a rat nest beard wearing a chainmail hauberk I believe it’s called. It was a knee-length number with three-quarter length sleeves – the kind of thing that only a crazy person would wear unless they were in the middle of a battle. It had to weigh fifty pounds and all that weight is on the shoulders. I suppose the good news is that adventurers die long before they get old enough to have to worry about spinal curvature.
Blue eyes must have been about though because the table Chainmail was sitting at was covered with egg dishes and stacks of roasted meats and the like – and I mean that literally, there were more than a dozen serving platters on the table. He had a fork in each hand and was attacking the food like he was charging the gap in a castle wall- viciously and without regard to his own safety. A good twenty percent of the food was ending up on the floor, much to the delight of a smug looking rat the size of my foot underneath the table having a feast. Another twenty percent was getting caught in the wire-trap of his beard. Is there any sight more revolting than a man with egg in his facial hair? Yes there is, many sights are worse, but it’s still bad.
“Well hello handsome, you must be the hero everyone’s been talking about, if I had known you were going to be here I would have done something with my hair.”
“You should have, your head looks like the shaved ass of a carnivorous ape!” He laughed outrageously, shooting eggs and food debris in a sixty degree cone a good three feet from his mouth.
I laughed demurely and waved my hand coquettishly at his insult “Oh you, you’re terrible!”
“That I am, any my enemies would know it if any of them were alive! Not get your boney ass back to that kitchen and bring me some beer!” He belched thunderously and then grinned at me like this was some great accomplishment.
I went into the kitchen where I found the innkeeper leaning against the wall with a book in hand. He looked up and pointed to the beer barrel.
“Charming fellow, where are his friends?”
“I never see any of them here besides him. I know that the woman goes to the sawmill sometimes but I never see the other one – I think he stays in the fort all the time. Rumor is he’s working on something up there.”
“What does the woman do at the sawmill?”
“I have no idea.”
“So what you’re saying is that were I to go out there and cut this guy’s throat right now none of his pals are going to be around the corner to attack me?”
“I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t recommend trying – he’s not as stupid as he looks, I think he’d break you in half before you got anywhere near his throat.”
“I’m pretty sneaky but I take your point. What about that chandelier out there? How do I bring that down on him?”
“I’d prefer that you didn’t break my chandelier, those things are expensive. And I think everyone in the village would prefer that you not antagonize these people at all. Things are bad enough as they are.”
“I’m not going to antagonize them, I’m going to murder them – it’s different. How would you feel about a little poisoning?”
He raised an eyebrow but before he could respond Chainmail was bellowing for his beer so I dipped two large tankards and carried them out to him. I sat down at the table to endure his abuse and listen to his boastful ravings while trying to stay out of the food-spraying zone. When I was able to get in a word in edgewise I told him about the caravan and how it had been attacked twice already and how I was ever so afraid that it would be attacked again and how I’d be ever so grateful if he and his brave companions would accompany us the rest of the way to Cathars.
He grunted around a mouthful of sausages “What’s the pay?”
“Sadly we can’t offer you any money, but if you kill the wizard and track him back to his tower it’s sure to be filled with all manner of valuables.” He emitted a less enthusiast grunt “Look, here’s the deal, I don’t mean to tell you your business but you’re wasting your time here. These people have no money. Waiting around here isn’t accomplishing anything, they can’t pay you. It’s time to cut your losses and move on to something more lucrative. If you want to drag Lord Highandmighty into the town square and beat him to death for stiffing you so you don’t lose face that would be fine. Can’t have people thinking your’e soft. But just sitting around here waiting for money that’s never going to come doesn’t make sense.”
“The dwarf is working on something up at the castle, can’t leave til he’s done.”
“Well the thing is we’re leaving today, maybe you should talk to your friends and let them know about this opportunity.”
“I got a better idea, maybe you should go fuck yourself!” He grinned, showing about the same amount of food as teeth.
I ducked my head submissively “Sorry to have bothered you.”
When I got up from the table the innkeeper was standing in the kitchen door and pointing over behind the bar where the rope holding the chandelier was tied up. He disappeared back into the kitchen as I walked behind the bar. I tried to untie the knot until I realized that with the weight of the chandelier pulling on it that wasn’t going to work. I retrieved my trust wire saw from my secret pocket and before I could get all the way through it the rope did that thing where is started to unravel itself and then broke. The chandelier came crashing down, but not all the way down – there must have been a knot in the rope to keep it from falling to the floor. It jerked to a stop canted at an awkward angle on account of the edge had clipped Chainmail on the back of the skull. He went down like a ton of bricks (or some other less hackneyed metaphor) but his chair stayed upright and the chandelier set suspended from the rope at an angle on it. Must have settled on the back of the chair just right.
Trading my saw for a dagger I sallied forth and cut the ugly brute’s throat. But then a most curious thing happened – he didn’t die. I’m an experienced enough cutthroat to know that people don’t expire right away when you slash the windpipe, but by curious I mean this – an amulet pinned his armored crumbled into dust and the wound on his throat closed up. Instead of dying like a dog he was healed and getting to his feet to fight like a lion. I amplified my voice to call upstairs but I want to be clear that I was NOT screaming.
“Martialla if you’re up there I could use your help right about now.”
As he was getting to his feet he managed to get tangled up (is that the right word, encumbered maybe?) by the chandelier – maybe because he was groggy from getting a chandelier to the noggin, maybe because he was piss-ass drunk at an hour after sunup, maybe both. I took that opportunity to draw my sword and stab at him a couple times but it was deflected by his mail. I know that’s a bit of poetic justice given what I was saying before but just because it worked out doesn’t make people that walk around in armor less crazy. We’re trying to have a society here, you can’t be clanking around in mail at breakfast.
With a roar he finally shoved the chandelier out of the way and with almost the same movement hurled the table with the effort it would take me to discus a tiny teacup. I tried to duck dodge out of the way but I was bowled over nonetheless. Suddenly my dirty bearded opponent had a massive double-handed axe in his hand. Where the Hells did that come from? Luckily before he could split me in half the chandelier swung back and hit him right on the side of the knee, staggering him. I dashed forward with my blade in a classic thrust and he parried with his axe. Did you know that someone could parry with an axe? I didn’t. I mean it’s an axe! My blade was coming at him swift and true and he turned the axe like a spear and caught the edge of my sword with the top part of his axe thingy – I assume that has a name. You know, that curvy part at the top. It was really something to see, but he wasn’t done yet. He caught my blade and rolled it to the side and into a counterstrike smooth as you like. I’ve never see anything like it. The man like look like a shithouse mole but he moved that decapitator like an artist with a paintbrush.
The good news is his strike didn’t come down on my meager flesh, the bad news is that his axe came crashing down on my sword and snapped it like a twig. You know how when you grab two ends of a twig and bend it sometimes instead of breaking in half if breaks at two points and a third bit from the middle goes flying? It was like that. If anyone had been there I’m sure they would have said that he sliced my sword in half, but that’s wrong – it broke into three pieces from the force of the blow. Get it right people. When the sword was sundered it flared with magical light and I happened to be looking right at it. Everything went not black but white – which is a strange sensation. Stare at the sun for a while and then you’ll know how I was feeling.
Hoping that the axeman was similarly blinded I dropped to the floor and started crawling towards what I hoped was the wall. I could hear him bellowing and blundering around so either he was also blinded or he was just that drunk and stupid. I found the wall by bashing my head into it and started feeling along towards what I hoped would be either the door or the stairs. Instead after a few seconds of crawling what I felt was a boot. I froze with my hand still out stretched and tried to be as silent and still as possible. I could hear him snorting and wheezing like an old dying mule and even down low the stench coming off him was magnificent – somewhere in the proceedings I’m pretty sure he shit himself.
I cast my voice in the area of what I thought was the bar but if nothing else was away from me “I’m over here you great blind idiot!”
Now when someone is hiding from you and all of a sudden appears and shouts “Here I am!” there’s no way that’s not a trap. I don’t understand why anyone falls for it – but they do. Time and time again. He stomped away from me towards the sound of the voice and stumbled and slammed into something – a table or chair it sounded like. By this point I my vision as recovering enough that I could see some dark blurry shapes in the general white blur of eyesight. I used my voice to lead him around further until I could see well enough to come up behind him and favor him with a kick to the groin. He spun around like he hadn’t felt and thing and swung his axe wildly – I felt the blade hit my hair as I sidestepped. I pulled a lit lantern out of my Greatcoat and smashed him in the head with that. Unlike the kick to the dick he certainly reacted to having his face impaled with glass shards and then set on fire. That reaction was that he didn’t like it.
Have you ever heard those old tales about the horseman with the blazing skull head that chases you down old country roads to kill you? He looked something like that as he laid about with his axe. Insert your own joke here regarding the phrase “running around like your head is on fire”. The good news for me is that it seemed to be pretty hard to attack accurately with your eyeballs melting. I dove behind the bar as he laid around with his axe in every direction. After a moment the roaring stopped and I peeked out – but he wasn’t dead. Instead he had extinguished the flames with a bucket of dirty water and was standing glaring at me with his one remaining bloody and scorched eyeball.
I found a mace behind the counter and threw that at him as hard as I have ever thrown anything at anyone. It hit him in the chest and stuck there in his blackened armor. As he tried to come around the bar I dodged out the other side and hurled a chair at him – he smashed it to bits with his axe. I made for the stairs but he cut me off and I swerved into the kitchen instead, grabbing a butcher knife and diving out the window. Hitting the ground outside at a run I came around into the common room again through the backdoor just as he was in the doorway to the kitchen (I think he got fouled up with his axe in the doorframe) and up from behind where I slashed him across the throat again. I hopped back, waiting to see what would happen, but the second time was the charm. He stood for a long moment in the doorway and then collapsed to his knees, dropping his axe and holding his throat. He crawled forward, his hands slick with blood and finally dropped to the ground and lay still. Just to make sure I grabbed his axe and managed to raise it up and sink it down into his back with a crunch – which was probably the chainmail but could have been bone as well.
I leaned against the bar and took a long breath, looking at the blood and carnage around me. A moment later a woman appeared in the doorway who was wearing a very tight green undershirt and naught much else. Her face looked like that of a tavern brawler – nose misaligned from constant breaks, missing bits of ear, and dark sports from repeated black eyes – and her muscles looked like they had been carved out of wood.
“Uh . . . hi.”
She flexed her legs slightly at the knees and all of a sudden she was flying through the air with her foot out in a flashing kick – I had a moment before she hit me to notice that her form was impeccable. I’m no expert on these whacky empty hand fighting types but if you’re going to do a leaping kick that’s the way I think you’re supposed to do it. I tried to get up but there was a part of my brain telling me instead “Lie down now, rest, and we’ll talk about this when you regain your senses.” Seemed like a good idea to listen just then.
Funds: 47,040 platinum, 25,750 gold
Inventory: 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, Brooch of Shielding, Headband of Subtle Misdirection, Antiquarian’s Monocle, Ela’s Stately Greatcoat
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