My new friends the dwarf with bare legs (there’s a mystery novel title for you) didn’t know who either of the parties fighting were or why they would be fighting over rocks but what she did know is that recently something had crashed at the foot of the mountains and a few weeks later is when those aforementioned started showing up. She couldn’t prove it for a certainty but she was pretty sure that what they were looking for were pieces of the “something” that had fallen.
Ela why do you keep saying something instead of meteor? What else would fall out of the sky besides a meteor? I said the same thing to the bare-legged dwarf but she insisted that it was not a meteor. She claimed that it was something made of crafted metal. According to her it looked something like an armored transport, or more realistically what you’d think an armored transport would look like after smashing into the ground from a great height. If you’re never seen one an armored transport is principally a big metal carriage that has four legs that move it (they just provide the propulsion it still has wheels) instead of horses. Plus it has a bunch of spikes and blades and shit too just in case you didn’t get the message to stay away.
Seems like the kind of thing that would be useful in battle but I’ve only ever seen them used by the Church of Odobenine to move large piles of gold and other valuables around. Probably they’re too valuable to waste on something as petty as war. I asked the dwarf what made her think that one of those things would fall out of the sky and she replied reasonable that she never said it did, just that’s what it looked like to her. Plus she pointed out something that I well know – the world is crazy – an armored transport falling out of the sky wouldn’t all that out of place. Maybe a dragon picked it up and then dropped it to get the money inside. Maybe it was going up the mountain and some giants hurled it over the side. Maybe some wizard tried to teleport it and the spell went wrong. Maybe a hundred other things you can’t even think of until you hear about them.
She was making so many good points that I was inclined to like her until she disappeared back into whatever dwarf-hole she crawled out of and left me to get captured. I should have told her that I’m an honorary dwarf princess – maybe she wouldn’t have ditched me then. The gang that captured me was a delightful representation of multiculturalism and diversity. Leading the way was a greyish looking mountain woman with bare feet (ouch) and a halter of sorts instead of a proper shirt and a tangle of braids. Flanking her (and me in short order) were a shaven head Kostelos man also without proper footwear and also shirtless and an Ulpinese man in chainmail with long girlish blonde hair. They came roaring in like they were read to hack me to bits, but were puzzled when they got a good look at me.
The mountainfolk held her axe out like an auction paddle “Who goes there?!”
I reached out to shake the axe like an offered hand “Mareese Eskrima, good to meet you, what brings you out this way? Looking for mountain daisies? And what do you have against shoes if I you don’t mind me asking? I’m wearing sturdy boots and my feet hurt like anything.”
This response only made them more puzzled “What are you doing here?”
“I’m traveling to Bryny, I’ve just come from Gib’s Tor, I took a little trip up into the foothills to investigate a tomb. I’m researching the culture of an ancient kingdom and the rumor was one of their rulers was buried up there. Turned out to be nothing unfortunately. I’m heading back to Ardint but with all the trouble in Three Rivers I was concerned about taking a river vessel south so I figured I could cut over to Bryny and purchase a good horse to take me down overland.” I made a show of gulping “I couldn’t help but notice that one of your friends here is from Ulpine . . . which seems . . . odd, what with the war on and all.”
The Kostelos man scoffed but the Ulpine fellow got a slightly pained expression on his face “We’re not part of that war.”
I raised an eyebrow “I didn’t know what it was possible to opt out of a war between nations. If more people knew about that that would go a long way towards the goal of fostering world peace.”
The Kostelos man spat and spoke in his own tongue (translated) “The war we fight is far more important than any worldly concerns, we fight for the existence of the world!”
I gazed at him and responded in Kostelos “Hasn’t anyone told you that spitting is very rude?” I could tell that his companions didn’t understand what either of us had said “How does this work when you have an inclusive group like this? Do you all learn the King’s Speech? That’s kind of funny if everyone learns a new language isn’t it?”
The Ulpine man looked surprised “You speak Kostelos?”
I smiled slightly “I am a scholar.”
The hill woman made like she was going to hook me with the back of her axe to pull me forward “Come on, Abolere will have to decide what to do with you.”
I dodged away from the ax-head “Would you mind not waving that thing around like that? Axes tend to be sharp you know. If you want me to come with you can accomplish that with words. I am curious though what might happen if I refuse to come with you.”
The Kostelos sneered “Don’t.”
I didn’t and they led me down into the gully (is that the right word? Valley? Defile? Whatever) where the fighting had taken place and where their compatriots were stripping the gear off the dead and gathering up the fallen rocks – rocks worth killing over for some reason. The Ulpine man made a show of taking me by the arm, I think to keep the other two from shoving or manhandling me unnecessarily. I murmured a thank you to him and he was so surprised he almost tripped and fell into the rocks.
Abolere turned out to be a not that old looking man who nonetheless had a beard and hair that were completely white. He had on study armor and looked fairly utilitarian overall except for the fact that he was wearing a purple sash type thing across his upper body. It almost looked like a bandage for someone with a massive chest wound other than the fact that it was outside his armor and also purple. It must be a magic item of some kind, I can’t imagine why else this man would be wearing something like this. A Zulisport prostitute? Sure. Whatever kind of mountain ranger guy is? I don’t think so.
I didn’t get far with Abolere though, while everyone was busy robbing the dead, clearing away the dead, picking up rocks, or setting up camp nearby there was one figure swaddled in a heavy cloak that was sitting (sagging really) on the ground by Abolere. My captors had just started to explain what was going on when the figure slowly turned its head. It was such a deliberate and creepy movement that it scarcely seemed human – when the hood finally came around I half expected it to be a crazy bug monster or some other horrifying thing. Instead it was just a woman. A markedly pale faced woman who was slick with sweat. She looked like she was very ill. When she saw me her eyes widened alarmingly.
Her shaking hand stabbed out to point at me “You!”
I looked around “Me?”
She tried to get to her feet but failed, clearly exhausted “It’s you! You did this! You took off the ring! You took off the ring! The ring! The ring!” With a second effort she levered herself up, where Abolere, alarmed put his arm under her to keep her from falling again “It’s her, she’s the one! The one from my dreams! She took off the ring! She’s the cause of this all!”
I looked at Abolere “Uhh . . . . does she always do this?”
Funds: 6642 gold
Inventory: Bag of Holding, +2 Distance Light Crossbow, traveling outfit, Ring of Invisibility, potion case, potions (Protection from Evil, Cure Moderate Wounds x2) 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