The good news is with a town (village? Hamlet? Homlet? Gromlet?) the size of Gib’s Tor I had no problem finding the “house with the green door”. Although house is a little grandiose term for what it is. Shack on the other hand is somewhat too thin. What’s between a house and a shack? A cottage? That seems like it should be out in the countryside. A bungalow? That seems like it should be on the beach. I’ll call it a houselet. I was at the houselet bright and early (and coldly, it’s chilly near the mountains) but not early enough to be the first visitor. My first tip off that someone had been there before me was that my guide was dead on the floor in a sticky pool of blood. My second clue is that the guy that killed him was sitting in a chair in the corner. At least I assume it was the guy who did the killing since he had a blade held loosely in his hand that looked like it had been dripping blood onto the floor for a while. I’m no master of arms but I think you’re supposed to clean your blade off after you use it, blood causes rust I hear.
He was wearing a stylish red and black leather number, leather of course being the required apparel for assassins, and was sporting incongruously juvenile looking tousled hair and a thick chin-beard. The reason he was holding his blade so loosely is because he was asleep. He must have killed the guide and then sat down to wait for me to show up so he could kill me too and nodded off. Probably because of poor timing – showing up too early. Also there was a bottle of Cliff Face Rum on the mantle that didn’t do any favors for staying awake I would wager.
I activated my Ring for invisibility, just in case, and then carefully and slowly took the bottle off the mantle and moved it to safety in my Bag. It’s important to have priorities. They I shot the assassin in the head from maybe a foot away. I was expected the crossbow bolt to go right through his skill at that range but it barely even went in eight inches (if you know what I mean). I think I need a better crossbow. People often say they want to die in their sleep, I bet this isn’t what they’re thinking of when they said that.
I searched the houselet to see if my deceased guide had drawn a map to the tomb for some reason, like maybe he was forgetful, but there was nothing of interest. There was barely anything of disinterest for that matter. Also I saw no sign of any sick wife that was supposedly the reason he was working for a dream-traveling blood hag.
I lay down on the bed for a while to see if the hag was going to contact me however she was contacting this guy but also to drink some rum. There were no further instructions but the rum was pretty good. Eventually with a sigh I got up and headed to the outskirts of “town” where the goat-yurts were. I figure that if anyone else knows where the tomb might be it’s the mountain people. Unfortunately they didn’t seem to speak the King’s Tongue, Kostelos, or Northern. Or maybe they were just stonewalling me, that’s a common tactic for these outsider types when they don’t want to talk to us normals. I was standing by the goat-town trying to decide what to do next and I figured a little rum would help me think when I heard a voice.
“They speak their own language.”
The source of the voice was a short woman with a wild mop of orange hair leaning against one of the nearby buildings not made out of goatskin. She had on a long dirty white work shirt that was tucked in only on one side and had a corset on over it. She was wearing a belt but nevertheless had a sheathed sword just in her hand like she forgot (or couldn’t afford) the little thing that attaches the sheath to the belt. In her other hand she had a foaming tankard. She had a vivid scar (much uglier than mine) running from the side of her nose to her right ear and that nose was turning black at the tip – which if you’re not familiar is the sign of a perna addict. Perna of course being a drug made from black lotus extract (you know the deadly poison) and pearl dust and some other stuff that forms a paste you snort up your nose. Do it enough and your nose literally rots off your face. And that’s why the term “noseless” has come to mean hopelessly hooked – as in “Grilliup has really lost his nose over that girl at Krony’s Old Time Harlotry and Café.”
“Eh, I think they understand more than they let on, they’re just playing possum.”
She took a drink, leaving foam on her mouth “Why would they do that?”
I shrugged “Why does anyone do anything? Why are you holding your sword instead of attaching it to your belt?”
She nodded slightly and drained her mug, then hooking it onto her belt where the sword would go and holding her hand out with a flourish.
She patted the tankard tenderly “Swords are a copper a dozen but this is my baby, need to take care of her. My shirt is untucked so I can scratch my stomach – I got a rash you see – everything I do is for a reason. I’m very deliberate.”
“Why is your corset on the outside? Also why would you even wear a corset with a loose shirt? That defeats the entire purpose of crushing your ribs to look slender and mash your tits up.”
She frowned “Corset? What are you . . .” she looked down and then scowled “well shit, where did that come from?”
“That’s a pretty impressive level of inebriation, corsetry isn’t the kind of thing you can forget normally. Can you speak this language you mention? I need a guide into the mountains.”
“I can, I’m half Daga myself.”
“What’s the other half?”
She grabbed her tankard off her belt which filled up with beer again all on its own “Oh, who can remember, there’s so many of them.”
I sighed “I used to have a magic flask like that that never ran out of booze.”
She winked “Hardcore drunk huh?” She put her hand to her mouth in a faux whisper “Me too.”
“Of course not, I can stop any time I want. You want to do some translating for me? Like I said I need to go into the mountains and I assume these are the people to get me there.”
She blew out a long breath and then idly scratched her scabby stomach “I don’t know, I have a lot on my plate right now.”
I took out the bottle of rum and looked at how much was left “There’s a . . . quarter of a bottle of Cliff Face in it for you.”
She licked her lips, seemingly involuntarily “Hmm . . . that’s good stuff. I’ll do it, but I warn you the Daga don’t like me much on account of I’m half Kostelos.”
“Do they not get along?”
“Does anyone get along?”
Even though there were only a couple dozen goat-tents it seemed like it took forever for us to find the particular mountain people she was looking for. Despite my obvious disinterest she explained that there are four clans (NOT tribes) of mountainfolk. The dire wolf tribe is the most “civilized” and comes to trade ore and timber with the slightly less backwards folks of Gib’s Tor – which is probably why this place exists at all. Some other group named after a mountain snake actually live at the base of mountain and are often mistaken for Kostelos, they’re true nomads that follow the herds of whatever herds around here. They hate civilized folk and attack them whenever they can. A third group named after some star or other lives up in the mountains and comes down only to raid and murder. Another group named after a different kind of mountain snake live high up in the mountains and never come down, they avoid everyone as much as possible.
“What are these people doing here if they’re so reclusive and warlike?”
“These are all dire wolf clansfolk here.”
“Then why did you even mention the other ones?”
“Just making conversation.”
When she found who she was looking for it was a big slab of a man who looked like a small mountain himself. His shaggy hair and beard were as orange as hers so I assume it’s a relation of some kind – the fact that they started shouting violently at each other seconds into their conversation seems like confirmation of that. Big shaggy’s fingers were twisted and mutilated like they’d been broken and healed poorly many times over. Maybe that’s just what your hands look like when you climb rocks all the time. Eventually he stomped back into his goat-hut, which was roughly the same size as him so maybe it’s actually a cloak, and “slammed” the flap down.
“That seemed like it went well.”
She took a long drink from her mug “You know how it is in negotiations, they always reject your first offer.”
“I feel like you should know where I want to go. That’s seems important.”
“I thought you wanted to go into the mountains.”
“I do, but I have a specific destination in mind.”
“Oh.” She thought about it for a moment and then took another long drink “Yeah, I should probably know that.”
Funds: 6919 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 x4, Oil of Fire Trap, Rage, Invisibility x2) Blessed Robes, Vampire Hunter’s Cloak, +1 Mithril Holy Undead Bane Sword-Cane, shadow essence
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