Yesterday’s swimming and beast-drowning reminded me of one of my grandmother’s favorite bits of wisdom – you can’t swim for someone else. You can carry them for a little while but if they can’t swim on their own and you try to hand oto them all that happens is you both end up drowning. I carried Martialla for a little while when we first met, but she could definitely swim on her own after that. So why did she stick around? If we had gone after Beltian Kruin right away she would have needed my help but not now. After all the shit we went through now she’s fully capable of melting that skinny pigfucker to slag without even breaking a sweat. While I’ve been slogging up this damn river she may have done it already. He could be dead, which would cause a problem with my list. But she stayed around because it’s always more fun to execute a degenerated piece of shit with your best buddy.
I’m mildly disgusted with myself for mooning over her like a jilted lover but this isn’t anything I’ve experienced before. I never had a friend so I never lost a friend. I don’t know how to do it. In my weakest of moments I think that maybe she’s just mad at me right now and we’ll cross paths again some day and then we’ll be friend again. That feeling makes me more than mildly disgusted with myself because that’s like a child mewling for their parents to fix everything for them. I did what I did and what happened happened, there’s no sense in being moody and emotional about it. And yet, here I am doing just that. Perhaps I haven’t hardened myself as much as I think. I should work on that.
Another thing I need to work on is picking up the Gods damned pace getting to Gib’s Tor. When I was sleeping last night I could tell that whatever dream shenanigans are going on my side is starting to lose their grip. By my side of course I mean the horrible nightmare creature that wants to prolong my suffering instead of killing me now. You know that. I’ve only been headed upriver a few days now but it seems like forever. I get this sentiment whenever I have to walk a long ways in the middle of fucking nowhere. Why couldn’t the ancient empress had the good graces to die and have put her mortal remains in a more convenient location for me? Just once I would like to be sent scaring off after some wild goose that happens to but just across town. Just once.
Of course since I wanted to move quickly today it started raining. Hard enough that I found some scabby hackberry trees to sit under and feel sorry for myself instead of forging ahead. I wish I had some booze because nothing goes better with self-pity than alcohol. I can’t even remember the last time I had a drink. Now there’s a revolting development. So instead I enjoyed the lovely view of the new terrain that pops up after you cut down a forest. Obnoxious little nettle bushes, heath, poppies, and other ugly crap like that. There’s some kind of rule in nature that the tough hardy plants and animals are all unpleasant looking, makes you wonder how the fragile beautiful stuff makes it through. Luckily for me I’m both tough and dazzlingly lovely. Lucky for you too.
The brown prickly landscape wasn’t improved at all by the rain turning everything to mud. As the rain kept falling I saw hundreds of locust looking things crawling out of the wet earth to start scampering around. Truly nature is a disgusting miracle. As I sat there getting wetter, madder, and thirstier I realized that I was staring at something in the mud. It was too straight to be anything natural but it was buried enough that I couldn’t tell exactly what it was. I glared at it for a good hour before I decided to get even more soaked my leaving the dubious comfort of my gnarly trees to see what it was. I feel like I have spent entirely too much time lately in wet clothing. Maybe that’s to be expected while traveling along a river but it’s still putting me in a dour mood.
What I dug out of what was more of a slimy pile of rotten debris than mud was the remains of a fan – with the silk gone leaving just the wooden handle/case with a couple metal spines jutting out of it. It almost looked like a weapon, something you’d snap open to stab someone in the face with. That’s not a bad idea, whenever I get somewhere civilized again I should have a thing like this made that appears to be a collapsed fan but is actually a knife. I’m surprised there’s not already something like that. Although I suppose the makers of tricky hidden murder tools don’t usually craft them with women in mind. Which is a real shame because women’s apparel has so many places to hide killing tools. You could work a short blade into a corset easily enough. For that matter if you made a magic corset that could fly onto a man that would probably kill them on the spot. They’re fragile you know.
I saw a scrap of cloth in the mud that I thought might be part of the fan, I don’t know why I grabbed it because it’s not like it could be fixed, but I did. It was not part of the fan, what it was was the sleeve of a dress – I know this on account of the hand that slurked out of the gunk when I pulled on the material. At this juncture I’ve probably seen more dead bodies than a veteran soldier mustering out of the service after twenty years. I have absolutely made more dead bodies than even the most bloodthirsty of army grunts. I knew a fellow in Paladore that had fought in three major battles and had gone up the ladder in five sieges and he thought that he had probably killed thirty men. I passed that mark in my first six months of exile I’d wager. My point is that I’m not the kind to be rattled by a corpse.
Maybe it was just my mood, or maybe it was finding someone dead in all this slop, but for some reason this one really caught a hold of my insides and gave them a good squeeze. I didn’t jump or scream or run away or anything, it just made me depressed. I went back to my not-very-dry tree stand and sat down and just stared at that hand from across the way. Here was a woman that had a life. Hopes? Maybe. Dreams. Maybe. Fears and anxieties? For certain. Pain and hardship? Definitely. But maybe some good times too. Someone had raised her up and kept her alive and put a lot of effort into making her a person and what became of it? This definitely isn’t a grave – they don’t bury people face down in three inches of dirt – so probably someone killed her. Or she just fell down because she was too tired or too hungry or too sad to go any further. And that was it. All that time and effort and resources come to nothing.
It’s almost enough to make you reconsider a life dedicated to revenge. To give up your dreams of carnage and just resolve to live a life worth living – a life where you grab whatever happiness you can and let the past be the past. Let go of your anger and become free to pursue whatever you want to do with your life. Make things better if you want. Help people if you want. Be selfish and drunk if you want. Do whatever you want to do. Almost.
The longer I stared at that hand sticking up out of the ground the more it annoyed me. I mean she didn’t even have a ring for me to loot. Is that inconsiderate or what?
Funds: 6922 gold
Inventory: Bag of Holding, +2 Distance Light Crossbow, traveling outfit, Ring of Invisibility, potion case, potions (Cure Light Wounds x3, Enlarge Person, Protection from Evil, Cure Moderate Wounds x2, Oil of Fire Trap, Rage) Blessed Robes, Vampire Hunter’s Cloak, +1 Mithril Holy Undead Bane Sword-Cane
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, maker of the manacles, Calvados Eure, Law Offices of Lampblack and Brimstone, Peronell Missplitter, Nightmare Hag