I hope Jonah got clear of that mess yesterday without too much trouble. But also I don’t really care you know? It’s like when you see a yak crossing a river frequented by dracodolphins, you’re cheering for the yak to make it across but if it gets slaughtered by a dragon-porpoise hybrid you just shrug go about your day. You know what I mean? I think you do. I suppose either way Jonah’s career as a proxy duelist is over, which I think we can all agree is for the best. He wasn’t cut out for that line of work. The worst thing about that grand melee is that I lost my crossbow in the press. Seems like every time I get a nice shooter something happens to it. I guess that could be the one good thing about magic, no one can take it from you. All they can do is break your hands and rip out your tongue so you can’t cast spells.
I found the road today and was mildly taken aback to arrive in Ardint instead of Tybhurst. I guess I got a little off course. No big surprise there eh? I arrived there just as the markets were closing down (a place like Ardint has no night markets) and was able to get a replacement crossbow and a nice bracelet as well. Not bad for a quick shopping trip in a place like this. I was surprised to find that the place wasn’t swarming with soldiers, since the last time I had been here I alerted them to a Vielander plot to infiltrate the Lodge Woods and conquer the entire region with the help of dirty traitors. Maybe the soldiers all in the forest slaughtering Vielanders gloriously. I didn’t even hear much chatter about the sacking of Malgareth. For a town basically on the front lines the Ardintites don’t seem to be taking the war too seriously.
After my hasty trip to the market I found the only decent inn in town – I believe it used to be student housing for the third rate university they have here so it was much larger and kind of an odd layout for a hostelry. They had done some renovations to create a common room and when I walked in who did I see sitting at a table but the Missplitters – Peronell and his wife, who probably has a name. Remember how bent out of shape I used to get about women being called just Miss Their Husband’s Name? And now here I am doing the same thing. Shame on me. It’s undoubtedly the worst thing I’ve ever done.
Since things didn’t work out for them in Three Rivers (you know because of me) they must be fleeing to Heathgrove to throw themselves at the mercy of Psyhundt and his hairy chest. Peronell looked much the same, being a shabby wizard or alchemist or whatever kind of potion making schlep he is but his wife was dressed in common traveler’s garb. Gone was the magenta lace and tulle gown and the crystal wine glass and she didn’t look happy about that fact. I on the other hand took great amusement in that fact.
When I spotted them I immediately took on a difference appearance but it was too late – they had both swung around and made me the moment I walked in. I’ll give this to Peronell he’s a decisive fellow – he instantly ordered his drug addict goons and slovenly bodyguards to grab me. They surged forward as I dashed out the door, swapped appearances again, and circled back around. While they thugs were searching the area I walked right past them back into the converted dormitory. I had forgotten how annoying this Peronell guy is though, even disguised he clearly knew who I was and did some sort of magic shenanigans at me – two things happened. One I felt like I was punched in the chest, getting knocked against the wall and to the floor. Two, my disguise melted away and somehow my ability to generate another was blocked. Although since his goons only ever saw me in a different disguise anyway I’m not sure what good that did.
The ladywife Missplitter overturned a table and ducked before it for cover with shrieking in a most unladylike way for the remaining thug to “kill that little bitch”. Which I take exception to, I am not little. Said goon leapt into action at his mistress’s command and started whirling about a length of chain covered with barbs. I’ve heard about these things but I’ve never seen one before. Seems like a nonsensical weapon even for a gladiatorial performance, and those people use fucking nets. A sword has a sheath, an axe you kind of just strap on your back, a spear you just hold but that’s fine because it’s like a walking stick – how the Hells do you even transport an eleven foot length of spiked chain? Where do you put it? And how do you “draw” it? Seems like it would get tangled up ALL the time.
Notwithstanding how do you even learn to use the damn thing? Seems like the first time you swung it you’d rip your own face off and then maybe decide to get a real weapon. This fellow, wearing a chainmail and leather number and possessing an oddly bestial face, had it all figured out however it happens. He flicked that thing out like a dancer’s ribbon and caught me around the lower leg. As he dragged me towards him the spikes dug into my ankle so far I could feel them touching bone. I believe I said something like “Ah, my fucking ankle!” I say things like that in combat far more often than witty quips. I should work on that. Winning is one thing, but poise counts too.
Peronell came over and stood directly over me like a jerk to cast a spell – didn’t seem to do anything. That would have been a perfect time for a wisecrack about impotence but there’s just no time you know? Instead I called upon the magic of my Stole and blasted him in the face with some razor shards courtesy of the refrain from “A Kiss At the End of the World”. He fell back with a bloody face and his goon snapped the chain entangling me like a dockworker trying to shake out a knot and got the chain around my throat as well. You know what’s worse than being strangled with a chain? Being strangled with a chain that has GODS DAMN SPIKES!!!
I managed to get a hand up on the front of my throat to prevent a spines from going through my jugular (and whatever else important is in there) but they were still digging into the back and sides of my neck. I didn’t care for that at all. I expressed this displeasure by retrieving my Belt Sword and stabbing the chain wielder through the groin. Which is what he gets for wearing a chain shirt instead of the full deal. A groinful of rapier dampened his enthusiasm for chain swinging and I managed to wriggle loose. I was gulping down some healing potion when the Missus clobbered me with a chair. Looking up at her I’m not sure I’ve ever seen more hatred in a person’s eyes. I guess that I of all people should know what kind of ire is stirred up when you’re dragged out of a life of luxury and prominence and thrown down to wallow in the mud with everyone else.
She swung at me again but I rolled out of the way and got a hold of her – she wasn’t much of a fighter she was just enthusiastic about bashing my skull in. I got the tip of my sword under her chin as Peronell was regaining his wits, clutching at his horrendously bleeding eye with one hand.
“Alright, everybody be cool or the dame gets it.”
I halfway (maybe three-quarters) expected him not to care about the fate of his wife, but he seemed very concerned. Peronell took a step back and waved off his goons as some of them came running back into the common room. The chain wielding man remained bleeding and crying on the ground. I’ve been stabbed a good many places at this point, but never the crotch. I’m grateful for that.
Peronell’s one eye glared at me “What are we going to do here?”
“How about we call this one a draw? Your wife and I are going to slowly back out of here while you and your men stay here and once I’m clear I’ll let her go. Sounds good right? We can conclude out business a later date. Assuming that Psyhundt doesn’t skin you alive in the meantime.”
“What guarantee . . .”
“Do you have that I’ll let her go? Let’s not get into that whole thing, you have no choice.”
It looked to me like he was starting to cast a spell but just then several watchmen burst onto the scene and started shouting for people to drop their weapons and such. Their leader was quite a statuesque fellow. He looked like the watch captain from a romance novel, in real life they tend to look more like human bulldogs. Or disapproving tutors. But this fellow was handsome as you like. After quickly taking a measure of the situation he looked me in the eye. His voice was strong and commanding, the kind that could make you weak in the knees if you let it.
“What’s going on here?”
“Would you believe that we’re rehearsing a play?