Montresor 3 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

I’ll spare you rehashing my thoughts on tattoos for a third (fourth? Fifth?) time and just say that I’m displeased but not as displeased as I would have once been.  This tattoo they put on me is extensive but it can mostly be covered up by clothing and it’s not like I do a lot of naked gallivanting these days so it’s unlikely anyone will see it.  I’m still not happy that my glorious body has been debased by the crude ink of religious (or anti-religious?) fanatics but as the old philosophers ask – if a perfect body is besmirched under a robe is it really besmirched?  Yes, but you know what they’re getting at.  The good news is that in addition to taking the place of the Whiterock family ring in keeping away one of the infinite world-ending threats from beyond the stars, these tattoos seem to be protecting me from the nightmare hag as well.  I slept like a baby for the first time in a long time last night.  Maybe she was just taking the night off though, we’ll find out soon enough.  You know how I’ve come to appreciate a good night’s sleep.

Did you ever read that novel about the professor who was a tattooist?  I believe the twist at the end was that the professor was a devil in human guise, although I’m not sure why that was necessary – the story was messed up enough on its own.  The gag was that the professor devil would kill people and grab their souls and then turn he would turn that soul into ink.  Then he would tattoo that soul-ink into other people and they would become living tattoos.  One of the tattoo-people was a crime boss that had his goons keep the person he was tattooed on tied up and gagged all the time so he could keep on being a crime boss without being interrupted by the person he was on.  The author spent a lot of time talking about that guy’s bondage.  It was pretty fucked up.  Unless you like that kind of thing.  No, even then.  Point is I’ll be keeping an eye on this new unwanted “body art” of mine just in case.

At long last I reached Bryny today, which is less of a town and more of a meeting point where people put up tents.  There was one little building complex with a wall around it and that was it as far as permanent structures.  I knew that Bryny was a trading post, but what I didn’t know until now is that one of its main purposes is the trading of horses.  I should have figured that out though since the area to the west is renowned for horse breeding.  There were a couple hundred people there and probably a couple thousand horses.  It was really something.  I got a fantastic deal on fine mare with a smooth naturally ambling gait, a compact and well-muscled build, and a good disposition.  I would have paid five times as much in Paladore for a horse like this.  Pays to go to the source I guess. 

Not only that but as LONG last I got a magic means of feeding her as well.  Horses are all well and good but they need a lot of food and contrary to belief they cannot just eat grass after you’re done riding them.  Try that out and see how that works out for you.  Actually don’t because the horse will die and you’re the one that should die.  Actually that’s not a bad idea, if I ever get a wish from a demon or the several hand of an old God or something I think I’ll wish for this – if a horse is ever mistreated it should transform into one of the flesh-eating cattle of Akerbeltz.  But you know the horse version.  That’s a wish that doesn’t even need to be twisted to evil because it already kills people, but for a good reason.  Everyone wins.

I’m no writer but if I was one thing I would write is a story about one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ malevolent wish-fulfillers who’s supposed to twist everything people wish for into a nightmare from which they cry “I didn’t mean it!” but they’re just not very good at it.  Someone wishes to be rich and instead of having their beloved husbanded murdered by a nobleman who pays them off all they can think of is to change the person’s name to Richard.    They’re not stupid really they’re just not very creative.  Maybe the shocking end is that someone wishes for him to be better at his job and then he does become good at being evil and sadistic with his wish-twisting.  Be careful what you wish for!

After doing some trading I found a drinking tent and settled in to do some gambling and carousing.  There is an obscene amount of money changing hands at this tiny little non-village at the edge of nowhere.  You’ve got all these half nomadic horse breeders coming into town to sell of an entire herd, which is some serious money, and what are they going to with it?  They don’t really give a shit about money.  So they gamble. 

I’ve not seen this level of action since leaving the Duke’s court – and that was a very different experience.  One rich man wagering a small fortune over cards with another rich man takes about half a year as they both make pussified speeches and wave their hankies and whatnot – it’s a production.  Here it’s a free-wheeling affair where a man who only owns one pair of pants, which they’re not even taking good care of, will lose more money than all the villagers in a small town put together will ever see in their lives in eight seconds and then laugh about it while calling for more whiskey.  I don’t normally go for these low-down rowdy kinds of country jamborees, that was always more Martialla’s domain, but this was exhilarating.  For the first time in a long time I had fun. 

One curious thing is that amongst the hustle and bustle I saw a wolf, a big wolf, walking on its hind legs go up to the bar and order itself a drink.  It wasn’t a werewolf or a barghest or anything like that, it was just a big wolf walking around upright like that was a normal thing to do.  And no one else seemed to think it was strange either.  Normally I’m pretty good at keeping my composure and hiding my feelings, Hells pretty good, I’m great at it!  But I couldn’t help but staring a little bit.  And the big wolf sitting on a stool like a person holding a tankard in its paw noticed me looking and fucking grinned at me – and then winked!  It finished it’s beer, flipped a coin to the bartender, and then walked out like a person.  I asked one of the men at my table slowing losing a lot of money to me about it.

He frowned and looked towards the door “What?  Oh, that’s just Barry.”

I don’t really ever want to come here again, but I kind of love this place. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 13,432 gold

XP: 1,277,751

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, +1 Mithril Holy Undead Bane Sword-Cane, Cerulean Sign Tattoo, Satchel of Plentiful Feed, Horseshoes of Surety, Teremana (light warhorse), Wind Fan

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

Out of character interlude – magic item

Two in one week? what a rip-off! I’m the worst. For a refund of your money please send me your bank routing and account number along with your SSN and mother’s maiden name. You may see a small withdrawal from your account, followed by a large withdrawal – this is part of the refund process. Do not be alarmed.

Ela’s Cerulean Sign Tattoo

The Cerulean Sign grants a +3 resistance bonus on all Will saving throws made against effects that originate from aberrations.  Grants a +3 luck bonus to Armor Class and on all saving throws against attacks from aberrations, this bonus doubles against evil aberrations.  The bearer of the Sign is immune to any attempts to possess or exercise mental control over the target.

The bearer of the Sign can banish a Great Old One (no save), but doing so causes the tattoo to utterly consume their life-force, killing them instantly.  There is a 50% chance that a wish, miracle, or true resurrection spell can restore the being that invoked this power to life. Check once for each destroyed creature. If the check fails, the creature cannot be brought back to life by mortal magic.  No other form of resurrection magic has any chance of working. 

Montresor 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 3

Turns out that my hosts are a group that like to call themselves the Word of Hadar and claim to be an ancient sect of counter-reformists against the Church.  I know this because they ranted about it at length.  Apparently the modern church (I assume Adariel but they weren’t clear) staged a coup of some kind way back in olden times and something something with the king of this or that or some other blah blah blah assassination yada yada yada.  Whatever they were winging on about they certainly are enthusiastic about it.  Since seventy percent of them seem to be pagan barbarians I’m not sure how their theology works out – I’m sure it’s very complicated and all makes total sense.  The import thing to know about them is that they’re true believers and everyone else is wrong and they’re heroes and everyone else is bad.  

Oh, and also they’re the only ones keeping the entire universe from being destroyed.  Which honestly has to be exhausting.  All that responsibility on your shoulders?  Whoo boy.  Remember that shadow-beast that was causing all those problems out at the Whiterock cabin?  Sure you do, it was a whole thing.  Turns out there’s a lot of those things, like an infinite number of them, that live beyond the borders of reality (apparently reality has borders) that would like nothing more than to slip through cracks in . . . something . . . and come through to destroy our world.  Or corrupt it in some way.  Or corrupt it and then destroy it. 

They pontificated at length about how these things from beyonder don’t really exist in the way we understand it so that magic doesn’t work on them – except when it does, in which case it’s the only thing that can stop them.  Maybe you need to learn special magic?  These creatures manifest in a limitless variety of forms – from ravenous horrors that consume everything they see, to hyper-intelligent malign entities that feed off the negative emotions.  One thing they all common is their predisposition for causing pain to all living things.  But don’t worry, these Word of Hadar people keep them away with their heroism and specialness.  Aren’t we lucky? 

The woman who was haranguing me is called Heinmarkt (sounds like I surname but I heard her called nothing else) and the reason she looks like she’s deathly ill is because she is.  I was told that she’s a mighty wizardess and a killer of many unnamable horrors but she’s dying of a wasting disease that one of these abominations inflicted her with.  If you ask me that calls into question her status as a powerful doer of magic – if you can’t cure yourself of one measly wasting disease called down by elder evils what kind of mage are you really?  Anyway, even though she’s deathly ill (literally) they dragged her ass out here because of how important this mission is.

And what is that mission you ask?  Well as the dying lady with no first name tells it I caused this all by taking off the Whiterock family ring.  I explained to her that I didn’t take it off, it was taken from me on account of every four to six months all my shit it stolen either by the legal authorities or by some murderous cult or other but she still seemed intent on blaming me for some reason.  Once the ring was off the Whiterock creature (which they called alternatively the Faceless Butcher or the Faceless Devourer – point is it ain’t got no face) was free to start doing , you know, weird creature stuff that resulted in it calling down from the heavens a servitor creature.  All the metal shit around here from the not-meteor was the shell of that creature.  But don’t worry, it wasn’t killed, the shell is made to smash apart – it just protects it from the fall.  She went on to shriek at me that the creature had been sent here to kill me specifically.

“It doesn’t have very good aim them.”

She didn’t care for that comment “The Whiterock manifestation knew were you were going to be – it set into motion it’s minion arrival here weeks before you ever decided to come this way.  It knows what you’re going to do before you ever think about it!”

“But didn’t this thing crash here weeks ago?  That’s even worse aim.”

She cared for that even less “You have no idea the power of the entities we’re dealing with here!  You should be . . .”

I held up my hand to forestall any more hysterical lecturing about ancient, powerful, evil entities with power that rivals, or surpasses that of the Gods themselves, such that they could destroy an entire world with a sneeze “Fine, whatever, so who were those other people you were killing?  Minions of this Whiterock thing?”

Abolere took up the narrative “No, those men were the Circle of the Pure.  Nearly five hundred years ago, an aging dwarf inquisitor of Vultur was exploring these very mountains.  After spending a century bringing justice to the wretched scum of the world, he sought transcendent decontamination in the cold, desolate beauty of the natural mountains. As he was exploring deep within these hills he found something far stranger than cold rock, he found . . .”

“Good Gods, never mind!  I don’t want to hear anymore longwinded bullshit about your secret societies of space rock gathering, I get it you’re all very extraordinary, I’m really impressed.  But let me ask you this, if any of this is true why aren’t the Gods doing anything about it?

Heinmarkt barked a bitter laugh “Before the coming of man Eltara the Silent God tried to stand in the way of Ityak-Ortheel, commonly called the Elf Eater, and was blasted from existence!  Her Godly essence was absorbed Shothrogast the Voice of Hargat and gave birth to the twin abominations of . . .”

I held my hands up “Sorry, sorry, that one was my fault, I should have expected something like that.  Bottom line it for me folks, is the world screwed because the ring was taken from me?  It’s probably still in Three Rivers if you want to get it and bring it to me.  That would really be nice actually, make sure you get my other stuff too.  Most of it I don’t really care about but I had a sword, a robe, and another ring that were all magic as well.  Last time I saw them . . .”

Heinmarkt was literally spitting mad “You FOOL!!!  You should never be in a situation where the ring can be taken from you!  Never!  The fate of the world depends on it!  You should never travel anywhere, never even go outside!  You should be sequestered deep under the earth in a secret locale in the care of an order of monks, levitated off the ground perpetually with your hands bound in cloth so that . . .”

I sighed “Well the ring is gone, so is the world going to be fucking destroyed or what?”

She blinked “What?  No.”

“No?

“No.”

“Okay so we need me to help you find and kill this new monster?

Abolere shook his head “No, we’ve already slain the minion of the Butcher.

I gestured impatiently “So what is it that you people need from me?  What are we doing here?  Why are you strong-arming me into listening to this bullshit?”

“The Whiterock wizard barely even knew what he was doing! He had no idea the power he was meddling with.  The magic in that ring was only just strong enough to contain the evil and hedge it out of our world – we know the proper way to handle this.  We have studied the ancient texts and . . .”

I motioned for her to hurry things along “What do you need from me?”

“The Cerulean Sign must be inscribed on your body.”

“What like a tattoo?’ She nodded “Why the Hells didn’t you just say that?!  You’ve been screaming at me for hours about Himham and Blizblaz and King Blunrst shit that happened hundreds of years ago.  Next time just lead with ‘hey we need to give you a tattoo or the world will explode’ what the fuck is wrong with you people?”  I started undressing “Get your ink guy up here and let’s do this.”

Abolere looked startled “Uh, it’s not necessary, or wise, for you to disrobe.”

“I made my choice, now let’s get this show on the Gods damn road!”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 6642 gold

XP: 1,277,751

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

Out of character interlude – the 2000 year old man

As of yesterday’s post, excluding out of character bits, the Ela narrative has surpassed 2000 pages. That’s a lot of words for one thing. Some would say an insane amount. Seems like a good time to take stock. Also I’m too lazy to write anything “good”.

I remember back in the 90s when I was basically doing this same thing – writing about a solo campaign – and Word would stop after 200 pages or so. That was all it could handle. I had to start a new document several times. So we’ve really progressed as a people – now obsessive weirdos can write thousands of pages about their pretend adventures.

I changed that character’s name a lot so I don’t remember it but she was a werehyena Paladin I know that. She was so, so, troubled and tragic she was. I wonder what it is about playing D&D for the first time that makes you want all your characters to be sad emo Vampire the Masquerade rejects. Or maybe that was just me.

At the height of my Ela fixation I had written more than a month ahead, which was nice because I didn’t have to write every day if I didn’t want to and I could still post every day. I’ve been day for day for a while now, and I admit I’m losing some steam. It’s almost like writing about a solo campaign gets old after 19 months.

Part of it may be my other blogs. When I started blog #3 I considered that I should take a break from everyday Ela posts but I didn’t. I probably should though. I’m worried though that if I stop posting every day I’ll trail off altogether. I have a thing about that. But posting every day on ONE blog would be plenty – and by plenty I mean more than anyone wants.

It’s curious to me that blog #3 has 97% less followers than this one but usually has more views. I mean I know most of the followers on this blog are bots, but still. My other blog is an easier read and probably has a broader appeal but I wonder if a lot (speaking relatively of course, a lot being like 10) read it a couple times and never follow.

I guess I really have nothing to say other than I’ve written a lot of about Ela. Officially.

Montresor 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

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

XP: 1,277,751

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

Montresor 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

If my calculations are correct (doubtful) I could have reached Bryny today.  I didn’t get to find out if I was right though because of two things.  First I slipped and broke my leg.  I’ve been trying to stay south of the rocky areas but everything seems to be rocky now so I’ve been trying to stay out of the MOST rocky areas.  I was just walking along minding my own business when I stumbled on some small loose rocks (scree I think they call it) and when I went down my foot got caught up under a very much not small not loose rock and SSSSSSSNAP!!! 

The peculiar thing about it is that it didn’t hurt that much.  There was a quick blast of pain right when it happened but after that my leg just went numb.  Below the knee at first but then the numb feeling started inching up the leg until it was around my hip.  It was a very unusual sensation.  It was numbness and tingling both somehow.  I had a bit of trouble getting my foot back out from under the rock but I was able to wriggle free eventually, I imagine that process would have been quite excruciating if I was able to feel anything.

I drank a couple of healing potions and up and back at it minutes later, but it is not pleasant to think about what would have happened if I hadn’t had them with me (as I often don’t).  Crawling on my hands and knees the rest of the way to Bryny with a broken shin would have been disagreeable.  It was a fun reminder that I really shouldn’t be traveling alone like this, the problem is who can you trust to travel with these days?  If you break your leg who’s going to help you instead of robbing you blind and or eating you alive?  No one I know, and I know a lot of people. 

That was a minor delay, just a few minutes, so I can’t blame not reaching Bryny on that.  But the second thing that happened was more substantial.  Being in rocky hill country like this is off-putting because the lines of sight (I heard someone say line of sights ones – WRONG) vary wildly from yard to yard it seems.  One moment you can see to the horizon and the next you’re boxed in by rock face on all sides.  I was just walking along minding my own business again when all of a sudden I came around (was it a corner?  Do escarpments have corners?  Is escarpment even the right word?) and where before I had seen no one all day suddenly I saw several men in black greatcoats that looked to be searching the area.  But not searching for a person, their eyes were all on the ground like they were looking for a lost wedding ring or a pretty flower or some bullshit like that.

I turned invisible and crouched and slunk my way around to a higher patch were I could get a better look at them.  The greatcoats they were wearing were very thick, it’s chilly here but not that cold, maybe they came over the mountain and they needed them for the high places where it really gets ball-freezing.  They had on stupid red masks – I mean all masks are stupid when you see them out in the world instead of at a costume ball, but these were stupid even for stupid masks.  Every once in a while some cultists or a demon freak or some fringe religious dorks think wearing a mask will look cool (it doesn’t) but those stupid masks are usually well made at least.  They put some effort into them.  These masks on the other hand simply looked like red sacks with eyeholes in them – eyeholes covered by lenses to boot.  I guess they were more like hood than masks since they covered the entire head.  To make matters worse they had on hats over the masks – which is just silly.  That’s like wearing a monocle and spectacles.  It’s just too much stuff on the cranium.

Turning invisible here and there and sneaking around I was able to observe that they were looking for rocks.  Specific rocks I have to assume since there’s rocks everywhere and they weren’t picking them all up, but what they were looking for in a rock I couldn’t figure out.  They just looked like rocks to me.  Every now and then one of them would take off their stupid hat and stupid sack-cloth to wipe their face or drink or what have you and they looked normal enough but they spoke a language I didn’t understand.  I’m going to guess Satander based just on geography but they didn’t look like Satanders to me.  Whoever they were I didn’t like the looks of them at all so I stayed hidden.  The only weapons they had were ludicrously short spears but there was just something about them that was menacing.  This turned out to be a wise decision since later in the day I say one of them point their half-spear at a smallish mountain bear and fry it with a stroke of lightening.

I definitely didn’t want to encounter them after seeing that surprised bear get melted.  Azul didn’t say anything about black-clad lightening spear people crawling over the mountains, which makes me question his efficacy as a border guard.  Since I didn’t want to risk bumping into them I watched them collect rocks all day, the idea being once they made camp and were all snung in their beds I could slip away in the night without any risk of an encounter. 

Instead what happened was this.  As dusk was coming on (earlier here since the mountains block out the sun sooner) the men in black started to cluster together and jabber in whatever language they were speaking.  Once they all got together there were probably three dozen of them or there abouts.  But before they could make a camp or go back to a camp or whatever they were going to do,  some other people started springing up out of the rocks like they had been hidden in the cracks.  Looked like a mixture of hillfolk, Kostelos, and Ulpinese.  After springing out they did what springing people often do – they attacked, raining down on the men in black with slings, bows, and crossbows (respectively).  Lighting spears are pretty great, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about fighting it’s that a good ambush is worth a lot. 

One of them empty had fighting people told me one time that “a true master needs no second blow”.  I thought he was bring a pretentious prick and bragging that he could explode people’s heads with one punch, but I think what he was really saying was something like “attack people from behind and punch them in the spine”.  Getting the drop on someone is half the battle.  The other half is actually battling them, but as long as you’re decent at that the first half goes a long way.

A quick fierce battle broke out that had me ducking into a hole to avoid random lightening and arrows and such.  When I peeked back out it looked like there were a good score of dead people on the ground from both sides and the men in black had fled the scene – leaving behind several bags of rocks to eagerly be seized by the coalition of victors.

“What the fuck is going on here?”

“I was just about to ask you the same thing.”

I whirled around, half out of my hole, to see a white-haired young (so you know probably only eighty or ninety) looking dwarf standing behind me wearing ridiculous short pants like a dandy and long black gloves that matched her boots. 

“Who the fuck are you?!”

She smiled “I was just about to ask you the same thing.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 6642 gold

XP: 1,277,751

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

Montresor 1 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

The month of Montresor is named in honor of Adariel (it makes sense in Old Imperial) and the two important holy days of that religion take place in the month.  On the fourth and the twentieth I believe but don’t quote me on that.  Seeing as today is the first of Montresor I got to thinking about Azul’s say story and him saying that he had lost his faith on account of everyone he knew and loved being massacred by barbarians.  You can’t deny the existence of the Gods (well some people do but that’s a whole other thing) and you can’t deny their power, so what does it mean to lose your faith?  I suppose what it means is more in the terms of someone breaking faith with you – not honoring their end of the bargain. 

The problem with that is that the Gods don’t promise much of anything for our piety.  Even Adariel, the virginal kind of prissy queen of niceness and happiness and light Herself doesn’t say things will be fine if you worship her – she knows better than that.  As they say rain falls on the just and unjust alike.  What the Gods offer is usually some kind of afterlife, which makes you wonder why anyone who devoutly believes doesn’t kill themselves the moment they get in a tough spot.  This world sucks, if you’re sure you go someplace awesome after death what are you hanging around here for?

So it’s not really fair when people lose their faith in the Gods because of a horrible tragedy.  The Gods never said you wouldn’t be stomped into the mud hard and then stomped some more, that’s just what you wanted from them.  No promises were made on their end.  Poor, poor Gods, being irrationally blamed just because they could make things better but never do. 

Azul saying he’s lost this faith in Adariel is like what happened with me and Martialla.  And no, I don’t have delusions of divinity (although many a man has and will prayed over me) what I mean is that our faith was broken.  She no longer believed in me, not in the sense of believing in my existing as a thing in the world, but no longer believing that she could count on me.  I would say that her expectations were as unreasonable as Azul’s but who’s to say?

As you all know I’ve barely a religious bone in my body (bishop joke here) but I understand why some people cling to the idea.  If you’re powerless what else are you going to do?  If you’re born poor and miserable and have no chance to do anything by live poor and miserable and die poor and miserable what other succor do you have by the sweet embrace of religion?  It’s easy to say that people should work make their lives better, to strike back at those that oppress them, but realistically what can most people do?  Nothing.  The wheel keeps on turning you know? You can numb yourself with booze or religion or violence.  A lot of people take a little bit of all three.

Speaking of violence, it occurred to me that if there’s such a thing as heroes Azul is probably one of them.  Someone who goes to war and kills a lot of people is reckoned a hero.  Kill a dragon or a gorgon or a minotaur (I’ve done all three, just saying) or something that like and you’re a hero.  Sometimes people make some false noise about the real heroes not being violent narcissistic sociopaths and how our songs and stories should be about mothers raising children and people giving food to the poor but that’s just posturing.  Our stories are all about violence because that’s what we want to hear about.  Some guy working hard to provide for his family?  Snooze.  No one is going to watch that play or read that book.  Some guy ripping the dick off an orc with his bare hands because his family was killed in an orc raid?  Now that’s got legs!

We’re drawn to violence instinctually.  Some people dress it up with justice or righteousness or what have you, but it’s the violence that stirs us.  Bandits ride into down and the marshal turns out with his posse to fight them?  That really grabs you by the giblets and gives you a charge.  We want the marshal to win and the bad guys to get “what’s coming” of course but it’s the violence that we really want.  I think real heroes, if they exist are like Azul – sad mostly broken people who are doing something they don’t want to do because they know it’s right. 

Azul offered to escort me to Bryny with his men but I turned him down.  I can’t really say why.  It’s not logical because this is a dangerous area, why wouldn’t I want a part of armed guides?  Not only that but I am really curious about Azul’s men (and one mannish looking woman) and why they’re out here with him.  Are they emotionally shattered death-seekers like him or why are there doing this dangerous lonely thing which offers to rewards?  I’d really like to know what their motivations are.  Maybe they’re outcasts who have nowhere else to go. 

But despite all that I told him to continue on his way, that I would be fine on my own.  I think I just want to be alone for a while, which is strange because just the other day I was pining to be around people.  I hope that I’m not turning into one of those people who always wants whatever they don’t have.  Some people are just never happy you know?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 6642 gold

XP: 1,277,751

Inventory: Bag of Holding, +2 Distance Light Crossbow, traveling outfit, Ring of Invisibility, potion case, potions (Protection from Evil, Cure Moderate Wounds x4) 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

Macendamandel 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

My life since exile from court has been many things.  Revealing.  Brutalizing.   Disheartening.  Freeing.  Terrifying.  Character building.  Character destroying.  Damnedable.  Many things.  But one thing it hasn’t been is surprising.  I’m met a lot of horrible people doing horrible things.  I’ve met a lot of stupid people doing stupid things.  I’ve meet greedy people doing greedy things.  I’ve dined off the finest porcelain plates with silver cutlery and I’ve literally eaten dirt (it had sugar melted into it in my defense).  I’ve killed and I’ve been almost killed myself.  I’ve done unspeakable things and had things done to me that were just as appalling.  I’ve done good.  I’ve been generous and I’ve been petty to the verge of mental illness.  I’ve been sick almost to death.  I’ve gained and lost several fortunes.  I’ve changed the course of people’s lives and that of the entire Kingdom.  But all of that has been fairly by the book when you think about it.

All that adventure, all that excitement, that’s just life.  The same scenes being played out across the world and throughout time.  There are always heroes and villains and there’s always hardship and triumph.  What that does though is it makes you forget is how bizarre life really is.  It’s been famously said that real life is stranger than fiction because writers have to stick to what people will believe.  Your life has not such restrictions.  There are some things people just don’t want to hear no matter how real they are. 

When you read a book you can be affected by it but you’re immune to it at the same time.  It’s not real so whatever happens, however shocking, doesn’t impact us that much.  But you can’t escape reality (well you can with drugs and booze but only for a while).  When significant changes happen in the really real world we’re hardly ever prepared for it because we get hypnotized by the sameness of everything.  Things people think are chaotic really aren’t.

Think about a soldier on the battlefield.  They often talk about how confusing and jumbled up everything is “it was chaos” they’re say.  But it’s pretty straight forward, a bunch of people are going to die and many of those that live will be pretty fucked up in the head for having lived.  It’s been done thousands if not millions of times before.  It always happens the same.  There are no surprises there, who dies is just details.   It’s not like you get to the battlefield and then suddenly everyone drops their pants and starts fucking.  That would be a real surprise.  That would be chaos.   

At Indlecastle I saw a play (based on a real thing that happened I believe) wherein a man decided he was done with his wife and wanted her to go away so he could bang a younger lady.  He didn’t have the balls to kill her though.  So what he did was have a buddy of his hide in a secret room and sing a song every day, at first very quietly.  And the wife would be like “Honey do you hear that?” and he would say “no, I don’t hear anything”.  As time went by the hidden singer would sing a little louder and a little louder and the husband continues to deny hearing anything.  The wife grows more and more anxious and paranoid and starts to lose her mind.  Eventually she’s acting so strangely that her husband is able to send her to the looney-bin and shack up with his hot piece of side action.  That’s actually when the play gets good because in the asylum she meets Mr. Smiles (who may or may not actually exist) a serial killer who teachers her how to live again.  And how to escape and slaughter her husband, dress up as him, and torment his mistress.   

I bring this up to illustrate the point that anything you can’t understand will drive you mad.  So we create patterns and we think that there’s order.  But there’s not really, it just seems like it.  Our mind cannot comprehend too much of a thing, and it tries its level best to keep us sane but sometimes reality is more vicious than any fiction.  What does this pseudo-intellectual nonsense have to do with anything?  It’s just my preamble to saying that I ran into my husband today and it was very surprising.  A true surprise. 

Since there’s a mountain on my left for once there’s no real chance of me getting lost.  As long as I stay out of the rocks I’m heading east and therefore towards Bryny.  Literally nothing happened yesterday, I just walked and walked and walked and then walked some more.  Today figured to be the same until I saw a ragged band heading west.  One was mounted on a weary looking little mountain horse and the other four were on foot.  They were all under arms and armor though so I did the smart thing and turned invisible and hid to wait for them to pass.  As they got closer I saw the mounted man was a solid looking fellow who looked even wearier than the horse bearing him.  He was wearing patchwork armor and helmless I saw that he was mostly bald with a completely grey mustache.  He was probably only in his forties but he had the face of a man who had lived several hard lifetimes.  There didn’t seem to be much life left in him at all.

The real shock came when I realized who it was though – Azul.  You know my husband.  “Ela you’ve never mentioned you were married!”  Well I’m not sure we really are, the guy that performed the ceremony wasn’t a priest of any God with legal standing to bind to people in the Kingdom, the whole thing was a joke.  I’ve mentioned before that rich people can indulge their whims, so they do.  And that leads to a wild escalation of those whims.  If you can have anything you want you start having some strange wants.  The Duke set up this whole play scenario where I had a sham wedding to Azul to indulge some fantasy of his.  If we’re being honest, and I feel like we are, I had forgotten the whole thing until the moment I realized who I was looking at.  It was barely even a joke, easily forgotten.

I was so surprised though that I involuntarily said his name – being invisible that really had Azul and his four ruffians/men-at-arms on high alert.  They had weapons out in a flash and were looking around wildly.  I came out of hiding and became visible, which seemed to make them more skittish rather than less.

“Azul?  Is that really you?  You look awful.”

He narrowed his eyes, sword in hand “You have the advantage of me madam.”

I smirked “I know it’s been a couple of years but don’t you recognize your own wife?”

He frowned in a way that looked almost pained “Wife?  I . . . . Ela?” I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone more incredulous.

I dropped him a sassy wink “In the flesh.  What happened to you?  Not to beat a dead horse, which it looks like you’re about to be sitting on, but you look awful – truly.”

He chuckled and gestured for his equally confused men to stand down their weapons “You don’t varnish your opinion anymore do you?”

“One of the few advantages of being kicked out of court and left for dead.”

“What happened to me?  Just life.  Just life.  You on the other hand are more lovely than ever, being away from court suits you – you’ve got some color in your cheeks now.  You need to eat though, you’re skinny as a rail.”

I laughed “Well bless you for a liar, I didn’t know you had it in you, I look terrible right now.  I didn’t know knights were allowed to lie, even to flatter a maiden.”

“Well, I’m no longer a knight, so I can be a little more flexible.”

“Do tell, my fall from grace was utterly predicable, your position seemed more secure.”

He shook his head slightly “I never had any grace to fall from.  I was joke at Paladore, I was a knight but they wouldn’t even call me Sir, they called me Master instead.  There wasn’t a true knight in that entire rotten city that I ever encountered – just pampered lordlings more interested in assaulting laundry women than the enemies of their Kingdom.  Their vows meant nothing.” He signed “And I realized that neither did mine.  My family had been in service to the Duke for generations, but he was not worthy of my loyalty.  I resigned.”

“I didn’t know knights could do that.”

“I was called an oathbreaker and a liar and a betrayer of the church – which is all true.  But I knew that forsaking my vows was the right thing.  Sometimes there is no easy path.  I dedicated my life to Adariel in earnest, doing real good in the world, helping people.  I found more happiness in simple service to others than I ever did before.  I lived in a small town in these mountains, I assumed that I would remain there until the end of my days, doing the work of the Great Lady, the Mother of Us All.  One night a storm came.  The storm rained down sleet and hail and thunder crashed so loud I couldn’t hear the screaming.  Dozens were dead and half the town was on fire before I realized that the mountain tribes were attacking during the storm.  I found my sword and my shield, I hadn’t touched them in years, and I fought.  But it was pointless, my home was already destroyed.  For some time after I was overcome with hopelessness and despair, I have lost my faith in Adariel, but I can still do go in the world.  My friends and I patrol these foothills to try and help anyone else that might run afoul of the highlanders.”

“That’s very noble of you.”

“That word doesn’t mean anything to me anymore.  I try to help, I can do nothing else.  But enough of my tale, you’re being here is even more incredible than mine – a fighting man can end up anywhere in the world.  I never thought to see you again, but if I had I never would have thought to find you walking alone in such a desolate dangerous area.  What are you doing here?”

I smiled “Oh, just stretching the old legs, having a bit of a stroll.  Nothing important really.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 6642 gold

XP: 1,277,751

Inventory: Bag of Holding, +2 Distance Light Crossbow, traveling outfit, Ring of Invisibility, potion case, potions (Protection from Evil, Cure Moderate Wounds x4) 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

Montalan 15 Year 883 (New Imperial Calendar) [it’s a flashback people!]

It’s curious that you can sit across the table from someone hundreds of times (as well as doing other things with them) and never truly take a good look at them.  It’s as if your mind gets  quick glance and then files it away as “Oh, I know this guy” and doesn’t bother to really register what they look like.  This morning as the Duke yawned his way through breakfast in his preposterously feminine dressing gown I really took a look at him – I mean really.

He’s not a bad looking fellow.  He’s no lady killer either, if he wasn’t the third richest and most powerful man in the kingdom there wouldn’t be legions of maidens swooning over him, but he’s attractive enough in his way.  He would be much better looking if he was a little less soft and had a little more color to him, but when you’re born live and die in the lap of luxury it’s hard to stay trim and tan.  But compared to a lot of his fellow nobles – flabby pasty phlebitis-ridden gouty in-bred hunchbacks – he’s the absolute picture of manly ruggedness.  By comparison.

His one eye is slightly lazy but not so much so that it detracts from him appearance overall.  He’s probably a couple inches shorter than me but somehow gives the impression of being taller than he is – something about his carriage or maybe just his demeanor.  He has the easy air of authority and relaxed command that many of his peers never manage to master.  That probably makes him seem more physically impressive than he literally is.  Only someone born to power can cultivate that aura, but not everyone born to power has it. 

He does have surprisingly strong and muscular looking legs for someone who’s never known a hard day’s work (or any other kind of day’s work) and his style is always impeccable – I’ve never see his beard look shaggy or unkempt and his clothing is always of the finest quality and well worn.  Some men can never look good no matter how much they spend on their wardrobe, the Duke knows how to make fine clothing look even better.  And best of all he never wears any jewelry – I cannot stand a man with ornaments, never could.  If you’re going to drape yourself in jewels just go all the way and put on your wife’s party dress and sashay your pretty little self around the town square.  You can make good money doing that in some parts of the city you know. As I was examining him the Duke looked over, fighting his way through another lawn, and gave me that little grin I hate.  The kind where he seems like a delinquent juvenile – I thank the Gods this is as close as he comes to any sort of perverse mother stuff with me.

He talked through a second yawn, another coming hot on the heels of the first – it’s exhausting being idle “It turns out that you really are married my little songbird.”

I chuckled obligingly “Of course I am Your Grace, and yet you took the bride to bed on her wedding night.”

His little grin turned into a bigger grin “No, I mean you’re actually married, that fake priest wasn’t a priest of a real God but he was a priest of some kind.  A rural God the people out in the counties sacrifice corn to, probably has bull horns on his head!” He laughed himself into a coughing fit that had to be stopped by some hundred gold champagne mixed with juice from the Southern Isle “Trust that moron Hanrahan to find a fake priest that is actually a holy man.  Can you beat it?”

I threw my head back slightly (still demure) with a compulsory laugh “Oh Your Grace, how delightful!”

It wasn’t delightful at all.  My mind was working a mile a minute trying to figure out if it was a real mistake or the kind of mistake you make when you’re going to run a game on someone.  Hanrahan is a moron so if he did it on purpose he wasn’t behind it – someone had to put him up to it.  What would anyone have to gain by seeing me married to a minor knight like Master Azul Chagarshah?  Is he heir to anything of value?  Some land that’s going to become more valuable soon based on the pending war?  Did someone else die recently putting him the line of succession of something worthwhile?  Could it be just to humiliate me?  I’ll have to spend some time thinking about the possible motivations and matching them up to who could be behind it.  Assuming that it’s not just an accident.  I’ll have to see if I can track down that priest.  What was his name?

The Duke slurped his breakfast soup irritatingly “I suppose I’ll have to call you lady Chagarsa now.” He laughed and then this face fell into a pout “Hopefully this will stop the rumors about us from getting to my wife.”

Now that’s something that I hadn’t considered.  Maybe this is what the Duke intended all along.  This seems like exactly the kind of harebrained ridiculously circuitous plan that he would come up with.  His wife is getting on his case about his mistress – so what does he do?  He comes up with this outlandish plan of a fake wedding so he can “pretend” to cuckold someone meanwhile setting up a real wedding for the mistress because he thinks that’s going to accomplish anything.  The Duke being behind it for real would make a lot of sense.  On the other hand a fake wedding and a fake cuckolding his also the kind of ball-less bored and stupid scenario that he would cook up without any ulterior motive. 

One thing I’ll need to establish is what any of this means legally.  What does it mean under the King’s law if the servant of some country god that no civilized person has ever heard of marries you?  Probably nothing.  I’m pretty sure that under the laws of the land only a marriage performed by an anointed priest of Adariel or Odobenine has any legal standing.  I need to check the case law on that.  No matter what was intended or not intended I doubt I’m actually married.  It was probably that dunce Tullia Diana – this seems like her kind of poor marksmanship.  She’s clever enough to cook up a scheme but foolish enough not to do it correctly.  But then again she’s also a good patsy for that very reason, someone may well have put her up to it. I’ll need to find out who she’s been talking to lately.  And Azul as well, he might have been a part of it.  If there’s anything to have been a part of.

“Anyway my little nightingale, I won’t be seeing you tonight, I have that event with Duke Guenveur’s nephew and the ambassador.”

I hadn’t been listening to him but I have perfected the ability of looking like I’m paying attention while thinking and then anticipating when he’s going to say something that requires me to respond.  There are many useful skills that I’ve mastered but that one is perhaps the most valuable.  The Duke, as you might imagine, spends a great deal of time talking just to hear himself talk so I free up a lot of mental space by letting my mind wander and then detecting when I need to pay attention.  It’s a gift that I have.  I sulked and simpered appropriately at his dismissal, glowing on about how I would simply die without seeing him and so forth, but I was even more glad that usual that I wouldn’t have to play pretend with him that night.  I have a lot of work to do to unravel this fake-not fake marriage fiasco.

Funds: None

XP: 0

Inventory: Courtesans’ Outfit but you know, like a super fancy one

Macendamandel 28 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

I’m not saying that I wanted some variety of dramatic life or death struggle (okay maybe a little – almost dying can give you quite a rush) but putting an end of the deprivations of dream haunter was rather anti-climactic.  There were no minions, no traps, no lurking beasts in the darkness – not even a tomb really, just a cave.  I was expecting at the very least that her mortal remains would jump up and try to throttle me or vomit forth a locust-storm (where do undead get all those locusts from?) to devour me but there was nothing of the sort.  Just an old dead body.  All that was left was bones anyway so we smashed those up good and then chucked the shards off the side of the mountain.  I don’t know what the technical magical specifications are for destroying someone’s mortal remains but that seemed pretty good. 

I thought once the deed was done the hag herself might show up to attack me or to taunt me or to put a curse on me or something, but there was nothing at all.  I think I agreed to another errand I was supposed to do for her as part of our deal, but probably the guy what got killed was supposed to tell me next part.  Luck for me huh?  Now I don’t have to do it.  I don’t remember exactly what the exchange was supposed to be – she already told me were to find the tomb (such as it was) so what leverage did she have?  I mean beyond the nightmare attacks but I didn’t get the impression she planned on stopping that regardless.    

As far as defeating ancient elder evils go it was very humdrum.  Which I guess is good.  Afterwards I spent the night on a mountain ledge with some Daga and their heard of shaggy mountain goats – I assume they were some of the non-murderous kind on account of they didn’t try to murder me.  Crinna would not shut up about how I had “ruined” her reputation and she was afraid that she would never be able to show her face in town again.  It was highly annoying.  And here’s the thing, I didn’t seriously consider killing her to shut her up.  Not only that but I didn’t even steal her magic everflowing tankard despite the fact that my flask has stolen from me and even if it hadn’t been I deserved it have something like that more than Crinna anyway.  Also despite that fact that it would have been very easy for me to steal it.  Personal growth or sentimental weakness?  Perhaps they’re one and the same.

In the morning the shaggy mountain people wandered up higher into the mountains with their shaggy mountain herd and Crinna was nowhere to be found.  Probably she fell down the rocky slope, drunk as a monk, and broke her bloody neck.  Left alone I had some time to wonder what my next move should be.  Things didn’t really work out in Three Rivers, so that’s still on the “to revenge” list, but I don’t relish going back there right this moment.  The plan after that was to head to Graltontown next to finally help Martialla with her revenge murder, but that doesn’t matter now.  I hadn’t really thought what the next step after that was going to be, which isn’t laziness so much as the acknowledgement of the fact that my plans are always derailed on step .01.  Maybe I should just head to Paladore and get to work on taking down Duke Eaglevane.  There’s a lot to like about that idea. 

There are drawbacks too.  Such as, the entire idea was that I would spend some time building up some resources that would give me a good chance to succeed in taking down one of the eleven most powerful men in the Kingdom.  What resources do I have now exactly?  A crossbow, some robes, and a garish cape.  That’s not a lot to go on. So what do you do when you’re not sure what to do?  You go back to basics.  What’s the most important thing?  Revenge.  And who do I want revenge on?  The people on the List.  Setting aside the Duke for the moment who do we have?   Rince Electrum – the watchman who did nothing.  He’s in Graltontown.  Percy Ringle – the snooty butler.  All butlers are snooty sure, but he was beyond the pale with his snootiness you know?  He’s in Graltontown.  Alice Kinsey my first, last, and only roommate, who coldly turned me out on the streets in my time of need.  Sure I poisoned her, but is that enough revenge?  No.  Not nearly enough.  She’s in Graltontown.  Cardshire Arms owner Claire Conrad– asshole.  Graltontown. Sage Mirror owner Risela– asshole.  Graltontown.  Eedraxis, the alchemist who tried to kill me.  Near Graltontown.  And so on, I really filled up my dance card in that grotesque little burg.  Looks like I’m heading back to Graltontown anyway.  But not because I might bump into Martialal there.  I don’t even think about her anymore.

The easiest way to get there would be to find some kind of boat in Gib’s Tor and float myself downstream to Three Rivers and from there on to the Comass River.  But I don’t want to go back there until I can really take down the consortium so instead I’m going to head across country to Bryny and from there across to Cathars.  From Cathars I can then take the road south to Graltontown.  Which is going to take forever.  How do I keep ending out in the middle of nowhere?  Just thinking about all the miles I’m going to be walking is making me want to turn back before I ever set out.  On the plus side of the column though maybe I can get all my stuff back in Cathars.  Assuming that I’m not arrested again.    Or maybe either way.

Once I had my plan of action, such as it was, I set out to the west (maybe) in the direct of Bryny (probably).  Once you’re made up your mind there’s nothing else to do but do it. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 6642 gold

XP: 1,277,751

Inventory: Bag of Holding, +2 Distance Light Crossbow, traveling outfit, Ring of Invisibility, potion case, potions (Protection from Evil, Cure Moderate Wounds x4) 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