Damrow agreed to desert his band of muleteers and head south with us to Three Rivers – the day I can’t convince a priest of poor people to help me destroy a greedy band of plutarchs is the day that I commit ritual suicide to save face, only to come back more powerful than ever as an unquiet spirit. When Damrow and I caught back up to the caravan it turned out that he and Martialla were already peripherally acquainted. Somewhere in her sad tale of fathers being eaten by trolls, maternal abandonment, and teenage naval service they had crossed paths in Lagart. They were both cautiously cordial to each other – the way people are when they meet an old acquaintance and they’re trying to remember what dirt that person might have on them. As if anyone would care about their petty secrets.
The next morning, since Cathars the glittering jewel of the second worst county in the Kingdom, was looming we three brave friends ditched the caravan and went on ahead rather than sticking around for the several weeks it seemed it would take them to cross the last eleven miles. Martialla and I said out thank-yous and goodbyes to Diarmaid Hücresel who was somehow still alive – we both would have lost money on that bet. Although she’s not in Cathars yet – there’s still time for her to be disremembered by bandits or mongrelmen or mongelmen bandits. I also took a moment to speak with the half-elf quartet that defeated the many dangers that assailed the caravan along the way (except the wizard, who was the most dangerous of course, I defeated that danger for free). Honest and competent adventurers? I didn’t think that was possible. I had to let them know with them before leaving that I thought they were okay in my book. Sort of okay.
Despite all my crisscrossing of this Gods forsaken county I’ve never been to Cathars before – somehow all my travels have taken me north or east. It is in kind of an odd position, usually the county seat is more centrally located. I suppose maybe it was before Ulpine and Vieland stole all the territory to the south in one of their many immoral and unprovoked attacks against us, dastards that they are. As I had been warned might be the case was city was being flooded with both merchants and revelers from the south road, from the mighty Umberlee, and even a goodly amount coming west from the Shoddy Hills. There were more travelers entering the city than in nine-tenths of the communities I’ve been to lately. It was quite a mass of humanity moving about. Or a humassity if you will. Oh, you won’t? Fine, be like that.
From what I saw on the way into town even with the influx of visitors Cathars is a nice orderly boring place – exactly what you’d expect for the capital of a dirtwater county like Cymrile. What you couldn’t miss is that there were paintings and murals of the Queen everywhere. They were of all styles and widely varying levels of quality but they were ubiquitous nevertheless. Many of them were rather small, probably the size of the Queen’s actual face, but almost every building had one of them. And there were a handful here and there that were true works of art. I didn’t get a chance to go into many buildings but I saw that many of them had actual portraits of the Queen inside as well. When the king died without an heir of age (yet) few people were excited about having a woman on the throne – predictions of doom and rapid collapse of the Kingdom were common. But it seems like with the recent military victory the Queen has won the loyalty of at least the people of Cathars. They seemed to be quite smitten with her.
I didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy the festivities though because shortly after we arrived in town I was arrested. The quality of the city watch varies widely from city to city, even some of the most prosperous communities have a constabulary that looks slovenly at best – appearing like half-starved dogs in borrowed armor. I suppose it just depends on the largess and attitude of the local lord or mayor or whoever’s in charge in giving them money. I have no idea if they’re actually an effective (although since they nabbed me so quickly I have some evidence) law enforcement body, but they certainly look the part – very spit and polish.
A group of ten guardsmen approached us looking very snazzy in rich red and pale champagne pink tabards over fine chainmail (mithril even maybe) with a substantial looking badge/amulet around their neck that combined the seal of the Kingdom, the county, Cathars, and unfortunately Vultar as well. They calmly and firmly informed me that I was being placed under arrest for “obstruction of commerce or the movement of articles or commodities in commerce”, vagrancy, consorting with fey creatures, and transportation of dangerous magical goods. They informed me that they were prepared to use deadly force if I resisted but were very reasonable about it. Martialla and Damrow continued walking like nothing was happening.
Damrow looked back at me, surrounded by law enforcement officers “Shouldn’t we do something?”
I heard Martialla’s voice disappearing into the crowd “She’s fine, this happens all the time.”
I surrendered myself without incident and was led to what looked like a guard barracks rather than a jail. I was turned over to another crew of professional looking ladies and lads in red and blue who meticulously recorded of everything that I had on me as I turned it over to them to be tagged and hidden away where I couldn’t use it to menace anyone. When I told the grizzled bearded fellow leading the operation that I couldn’t take my Ring off because if I did it would unleash an eldritch horror to run amok he was nonplussed. He dispatched a smart-looking female courier and a moment later a bald headed watch wizard in an elegant blue robe came in to inspect the ring, cast a few spells, and then run something that looked like a riding crop over it that I think was actually a wand. He went over to Grizzled Beard and signed some papers and that was it. GB looked me in the eye steadfastly.
“According to our expert that ring poses no threat, but I am to inform you that if it has capabilities beyond what he was able to determine and if you use any of those capabilities you will face additional charges. Do you understand?”
I nodded “Seems reasonable.”
“Please answer yes or no, do you understand that if the ring you are wearing is used in any capacity to create a magical effect that you will be subject to further criminal penalties?”
“Yes, I understand. What would happen if I said no?”
“The ring would be removed and I would have to do a lot more paperwork.”
After I turned over all my stuff I was taken to a small room where under the supervision of two burly women – one of them wielding a mace – I changed into plain grey dress and my clothing was itemized and stored away as well. After that I was led to a hallway by four guards who were then joined by another watch wizard in equally as extravagant red and blue robes. There was no door to my cell – the wizard said some words and the stone opened up like it was runningwater. I was instructed to step inside and the wall sealed up behind me – turning back into plain hard unforgiving stone. The cell was large as cells goes, probably twelve by twelve and was magically illuminated and meticulously clean.
There was an actual bed rather than a cot or just a pile of straw although it was rather short, my feet will hang off the end, and the pillow was just a lump sewn into the mattress. I guess pillows are very dangerous in the hands of criminals. There was a small desk bolted to the wall with a chair attached to it and several religious texts sitting on top. There was even a small cubby type deal with several identical grey dresses in it and a large washbasin type deal where you could clean yourself up a bit. As far as prison cells go it was one of the better ones I’ve been in.
In a way it was kind of nice not to have anything to worry about and have a moment to think. In another much more significant way it sucked a dick. Last time I was arrested I had to get turned into a cat to escape. Or was that the time before? All I want is horribly murderous revenge on those who displease me. Is that too much to ask? With nothing else to do I wadded up one of the extra dresses and lay down on the bed, falling asleep for a couple hours. If pressed I bet most people would assume that pillows came after beds but probably pillows were invented first right? As soon as people were making sacks out of animal hides someone probably thought “hey, I can fill this with leaves or something and put my head on it” and then afterwards someone thought “hey, I can make a big sack with lots of stuff in it and lay on it”. That’s probably how that went down. I wasn’t assailed by the various dream entities that are after me so the prison must be warded against even that kind of contact – which shows a lot of foresight. I was awoken by the prodding of a gentle but persistent voice.
I lifted my head blearily “Whatis?”
The voice seemed to be coming from nowhere “Sorry to wake you but we need to talk.”
I sat up on the bed and looked around “Are you a ghost?”
A short laugh “No, I’m your lawyer Calvados Eure, I’m an associated at Lampblack and Brimstone.”
“First of all that is a ridiculous name and I think it’s made up, secondly where are you, and thirdly how did you become my lawyer?”
“All names are made up. I am in another room, they have some magic rigged up here so I can see and hear you – and I can speak to you with a little silver cone thing.”
I made an obscene gesture “You can see me huh? Good thing I’m not naked.”
“The wardens assure me that they never observe prisoners without first warning them.”
“Except that’s what just happened, you were watching me sleep like a pervert.”
“Er, well yes, but I’m here to help you. Your friend Martialla retained my services.”
“Alright bodiless pervert how are you going to help me?”
“Well as it turns out there’s not a lot I can do. Tomorrow you will be transported to Three Rivers and once you’re there you’ll be turned over to Glilcus and Stolo. I can represent you there but honestly that probably won’t mean much, there’s not a lot of justice in Three Rivers for people that have crossed the consortium.”
“You’re a lawyer? Explain to me how a law firm can arrest me.”
“Glilcus and Stolo have been contracted by the government of Three Rivers to provide law enforcement services. They serve as the city watch there.”
“Isn’t that insane?”
“If it makes you feel better you can think of them less as a law firm and more of a paramilitary organization.”
“How can they arrest me outside of Three Rivers?”
“Who’s going to stop them? The Lumber Consortium has a lot of money and therefore a lot of influence in this part of the Kingdom. The city watch here is a very professional organization and is reputed widely for being incorruptible – which is mostly true, but here they are acting as stalking horses for the consortium. Probably because the mayor is a member.”
“The mayor of the county capital is beholden to a private company?”
“More or less, yeah.”
“In other words bite the pillow and take my fucking. How much are you getting paid for this sagacious legal counsel?”
“No charge, since there’s really nothing I can do.”
“Can you get a message to Duke Lodvocka before I’m murdered by legal sanction in Three Rivers?”
“Unlikely. Why do you ask?”
“He owes me a favor. I figure a Duke has to have enough juice to keep me out of the hands of a regional timber felling conglomerate, even if it’s not in his region. If you can get word to him in time I think that’s my best chance of not being sawed in half or however these timber people kill their political rivals.”
“Well now, that’s certainly interesting. Why does Duke Lodvocka owe you a favor?”
“I saved his son.”
“That’d do it alright. That changes things, you’ve just become a much better client, much better than a client who’s actually innocent. There are ways to communicate magically but they’re expensive. There’s no other way to get word to the Duke in time for it to do you any good.”
“I never spare any expense when it comes to saving my life, I’m just funny that way. I don’t have access to my funds right now, but tell Martialla to front you the coin and I’ll square things up with her later.”
“I’ll get on this right away, time is of essence obviously, I’ll be in touch soon.”
Funds: 47,040 platinum, 12,880 gold
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