Macendamandel 5 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

If there’s a universal constant in the life of all intelligent beings it’s that one day you will have to take a long hard look at things and decide for yourself – do you want to let an ancient queen of a long gone decadent empire inhabit your mortal body or do you want to stay firmly entrapped in the hands of professional jailers taking you to a death sentence and hope that your lawyer is going to get a message to the Duke in time to stop it?  For me that time is now.  I went with the possession route but if we’re being honest, and I feel like we know each other well enough now that I can be honest, I don’t think it was a good decision.  The only real motivation that I had for doing it was imagining how pissed the dream queen would be when she floats or flies or slithers into my body, whatever dream monsters do, and found herself shackled and trapped.  That’s probably not a great motivation, but, as they say, what’s done is done.

When the queen disappeared so did her double-mawed spiderery handmaidens as well as the torture slab they were holding me down on, leaving me alone in and endless field of fog.  Not sure if she was so eager to get into my body (wouldn’t be the first time that happened you know?) that she forgot about my “punishment” or if that was the punishment.  It was certainly boring which is a decent punishment.  I walked for a long time but I never encountered anything, just more swirling white fog.  I thought maybe that I could create my own dream if I concentrated hard enough, but nothing happened no matter how hard I thought about – and I thought really hard.  For a moment it seemed like my efforts were making the fog was swirlier but it easily could have been my imagination.  I sat for what seemed like a long time, it’s hard to tell in a featureless dream, when a woman came walking out of the fog.  It was none other than Timora the witch-mayor of Cabshirement. The dream version of her was a little taller, a little more attractive, and much more self-assured. 

“Are you real?  And don’t give me any bullshit about how nothing and or everything is real.”

She nodded “I’m real, I’m using a spell to travel into your dreams.  I’ve been trying for a while but I haven’t been able to reach you.”

“I had a way to block out dream intruders, it didn’t seem like you were doing anything for me so I was using that before.  Although I don’t have it now so here you are I guess.”

“If you have a way to protect yourself what do you need me for?”

I gestured “Take a look around.  People have a very nasty habit of taking my things – without that magic item I have no protections from the various dream attackers I’ve acquired.”

“There’s more than one?”

“Oh yes, I have seem to have a real talent for getting under people’s skins.  Particularly people with bizarre magic powers that want to hurt me.  Although the one who’s hassling me right now I don’t think I did anything to.  She died hundreds of years ago so what could I have done to piss her off?  That’s what she claims anyway, he story is never quite the same.  The whole thing could be a snowjob.”

“Where is this adversary now?”

“Possessing my body.”

“How did that happen?”

“I made a deal with her.”

“That seems like an extraordinary bad thing to have done.”

“Yeah, I regretted it pretty quickly, but no use crying over spilled wine right?  So madam witch mayor what do you have for me?  You’ve come all his way into my dreams and so forth, I assume you have good news.”

“I’ll have to do some research.  I was just trying to establish contact with you.”

“That’s it?  That’s all you have?”

“I’m coming into this situation blind, I need to know what I’m dealing with before I can figure out what can be done to help you.  Am I going to be able to contact you tomorrow night?  And subsequent nights?”

“Seems like it, although I’m probably going to be executed sometime soon – I assume that will make it harder.”

She was taken slightly aback “Execution on top of dream attacks?  You must have a very active life.”

“That’s certainly one way to describe it.  Is there nothing you can do for me right now?  No kind of protection spell or anything?  Can you at least make it harder for these people to find me?  I don’t know how you find someone in a dream, is there some kind of supernatural ‘kick me’ sign on me or something?”

“I can place a ward on you but it will only last for a couple of hours.”

“It’s better than nothing, I’ll take it.  How the Hells does that work though?  I’m not really here, this is my dream, are you really here?  Either way since I’m not really here how can you cast a spell on me – the real me I mean – if this is a dream?”

She smiled slightly “It’s best not to think about it.  Magic isn’t an exact science and anyway magical theory has never been something I’ve been interested in.  As a witch I see magic as more of natural expression of . . .”

I sighed “Just get on with it.”

As soon as her spell was completed I woke up back in the real world like I had been doused with cold water – it was shocking and disorientating to say the least.  What I saw before me was a good sight more astonishing though.  I figured that old dreamy would just be trapped in my body silent raging that I had outwitted her – seeing as how said body was shackled and magically mind-fucked.  Turns out that that assumption was very wrong indeed.  I wasn’t inside the coach anymore, I was standing unshackled a few years away.  The coach itself was looking worse the wear, the horses were both dead and it generally looked like someone had gotten the carriage up to full speed and slammed directly into the wall of a castle.  One for the Lodestoners was on the roof firing the ballista at a massive creature made of earth in the general shape of a humanoid with two glowing gemstone eyes. Two of the others were struggling hand to hand with the blonde fellow I had been chatting with yesterday.  Blindie had a wild look in his eyes and was maniacally trying to murder his friends.  There was no sign of the fifth fellow.

It was a lot to take in.  This dream woman certainly knows how to cause some havoc in the real world when she’s gets the chance, I give her that.  Unfortunately as soon as I “returned” the earth-creature collapsed into just a pile of dirt and blondie came to his senses – although the other two clearly didn’t realize this right away as they dragged him to the ground and gave him a sold thwack on the noggin.   I thought about making a run for it but the fellow on the roof manning the ballista had eyes on me in a flash and swung it around to take aim at me.  I don’t like his chances of hitting me in the dark, but I wasn’t sure that was a risk I wanted to take either.  I was gauging my odds when one of the other guards retrieved the poison injector thing I had seen them take down Crookjaw with outside of Graltontown and head my way.

“Wait, stop, I know this is going to sound like the world’s worst lie but that wasn’t me that just did that.”

The fellow with the injector looked grim “Talk, fast.”

“There’s a dream hag that attacks me in the night when I sleep, I had a magic necklace that keeps her away but they took it away from my in the prison.  I asked if I could keep it but they wouldn’t let me because it does other stuff as well, they thought I could use it to escape.  Tonight when she came to me I let her take possession of my body, I didn’t know that she would do whatever she did here – I figured she’d be trapped and helpless just like I was.  I was just trying to fuck with her like she’s been doing to me for months.  I can’t really say that I’m sorry and mean it because you are taking me to die an unjust death but I did not intend for this to happen.”

To their credit (or maybe not) they didn’t immediately disregard the entire story as bullshit.  They ordered me back into the carriage, and I went, noticing as I did that those horrible shackles were broken on the ground.  I suppose the earth-monster ripped them off of her?  Or me I mean.  You know what I mean.  One of them kept an eye on me while the other three, including blondie, went off a little ways to huddle up and conference.  I could hear enough of what they were saying to gather that they were debating if the Cathars authorities had broken their contract by not telling them about this dream business (which they didn’t know about).  After a few minutes of discussion blondie took out what looked to be a ridiculously poor carving of a horse about the size of a child’s toy and set it on the ground – where it turned into a real live horse that he mounted and rode off.  The other two came to join the one eyeballing me.

“This only happens when you’re asleep?”

“Yes, only when I’m dreaming.”

He nodded and gestured to his friend “We need mage protocols.”

I shook my head “I don’t have any magic, that was all her – the other one.  I can’t cast any spells.”

I don’t know if he didn’t believe me or if he just didn’t care.  My hands were bound, I was gagged, and I was blindfolded as well – which seems like a pretty good way to neuter a mage to me.  They also injected me with something.  There was no way to know at first but I eventually realized that it had to be everwake serum based on the jittery energy that was running through my body.  Once it was fully in my system I could not stay still for even a moment, even restrained like I was I was still fidgeting and bouncing around as much as I could.  At some point I felt the warmth of the sun on my face – hours had passed just sitting there on the road.  Eventually the beating sound of horse hooves came our way and after a few minutes of discussion I felt myself lifted up into a saddle.  I was immediately worried that I was going to be dragged along on a horse, which when blindfolded and with bound hands carries a fantastic chance of falling and breaking your bloody neck.  Somehow this fear must have been communicated by my body language because I felt someone sweep up behind me and place an arm around my waist.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you.”

They certainly did, and it was very worrisome.

Funds: None

XP: 1,190,751

Inventory: Whiterock family signet ring (Ring of Binding)

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

Montagem 14 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

There’s something about a scream that really grabs your attention.  I mean a real scream scream you know?  A girl might scream when the boy that likes her puts a spider down her dress.  A woman might scream because her beau proposed to her.  An older woman might scream at her husband after she goes town to the pub to drag him home before he can waste any more of his wages and catches him getting a handjob from a barmaid in a dirty alley.  That same woman might scream when her drunk husband drags her down the street by her hair.  An even older woman might scream because she sees someone of a different ethnicity or national background.  But a real scream scream is unmistakable – it’s the kind of thing that people look towards from all around.  It’s the kind of thing you put on pants for and go out the door to see what’s going on.  It’s a noise that demands attention – even after killing four men in cold blood with malice aforethought. 

Martialla and I slunk back towards town to see what the screaming was about.  It was easy to ascertain because someone had thoughtfully lit several torches – can’t have their handiwork go unappreciated right?  In the middle of town there was a barrel.  And bent over that barrel was the woman with the blue-blonde hair who was smuggling something into town and was conspiring with several other parties to steal the money we brought in (which is now safely in my possession).  Based on the fact that her shirt had been torn off and one of the fellows with the crazy belt-buckles was beating her across the back with a horsewhip I made the mental leap that they had some manner of falling out.  You know, because the money wasn’t there.  Because I took it.  The merchant and his goons and the four remaining soldiers (who didn’t yet know that their commander and the rest of their squad was dead) were standing by watching the proceedings, as were a goodly number of horrified townsfolk.  Notable by their absence were any of the militiamen.  

Her friend in the peasant dress was being held there as well while the beating went on and she looked pretty terrified, although unless I miss my mark it was more about the possibility of her being the next one over the barrel rather than over the torture of her friend.  So maybe friend isn’t the right word so much as work acquaintance.  Blue wasn’t screaming every time she was struck, most of the time she was gritting her teeth and taking it, but eventually the pain would build up blow by blow and become too much for her and then she’d cry out.  Normally I’d say that it’s pointless to hold back, all that buys you is more pain, but in this case it clearly didn’t matter – the same amount of pain was coming no matter what.  That’s probably a metaphor for something. 

I looked over at Martialla “You want to do something stupid?”

“Always.”

“Head to the coach and see if the other smugglers are there – if they don’t know what’s going on let them know.  I’m going in as the sergeant or squad leader or whatever the Hells he is – don’t kill me when you come charging in t save the day like a big damn hero.”

Martialla started flanking around to the other side of town while I ran back and grabbed the reins of horse of the last soldier we had killed.  Mounting up, I thundered into town as Blue’s screaming had given way to helpless sobbing – I thought about trampling the whip-wielder but reined up at the last moment, which still scared the shit out of him.

“What the blazes is going on here?!  What are you doing to that woman?!”

One of the soldiers stepped forward “Sir, the money wasn’t there, well it was but it wasn’t.”

“What the holy fuck does that mean soldier?!  Either the money was there or it wasn’t!!!”

The other three soldiers started edging back as the volunteer gulped “Sir, what I mean is that when we went to look in the box all the platinum was gone and it was full of gold instead.” He pointed at one of the Buckle-boys “He said that these two had come to watch the money and . . .”

“And you believed them?!  Are you stupid son?!  What did YOU see?!”

“I didn’t see anything, by the time we got there the money was already gone.”

“Get the fucking woman off of there you fucking morons!”

One of the Buckle-boys stepped forward pugnaciously “She’s not going anywhere, these two stole our money.”

“And replaced it with gold?  How does that make any sense?”

“Well something happened!”

“And you think beating the shit out this woman is going to tell you anything?  Use your head boy!”

He and his friends were getting ugly looks “You’re not in command here old man.”

“You want to try me you little pissant?  I am a soldier in the King’s army!  I kill people for a living!  What the fuck are you?  Some duded up piece of country-trash who makes their living stealing chickens from little old ladies.  I’d kill you where you stand you garter-wearing goat molester!”

In pretty short order I realized that really only two of the soldiers had backed off, not three.  One of them, who I also realized wasn’t wearing armor, had taken maybe a half step back but was more watching with a sharp expression than reeling from the anger of his commanding officer.  I realized all of this when he cast a spell and my illusion was stripped away just as I finished what was a pretty good bawling out I thought.

“Oh shit.”

I spurred my house (figuratively since I wasn’t wearing spurs) into action, but people were grabbing at me like crazy.  Seems like everyone and their brother was grabbing at me.  Once it became clear that I was going to get dragged off the horse I did something very stupid – I stood up in the saddle and jumped for it like a circus performer.  It wasn’t pretty, it was anything but pretty, but effective nevertheless (well some the less)  I managed to hit the hit the side of a building and with my boots I clung there like a spider and started scurrying up onto the roof.  The soldier wizard (who ever heard of such a thing?!) summoned up some more magic and shot a mass of sticky webbing at me, but it didn’t even slow me down – maybe because of the Boots, maybe because he’s a crappy wizard.  Who knows?  Once I was up on the roof, seeing no bows or the like I peeped over the edge ready to duck back if any magic bullshit came my way.

“Okay guys, honesty time, here’s what happened.  My friend and I enchanted that gold to make it look like platinum for a scam we were running . . .”

Wizard soldier shouted up “We had the money before you idiot, we know that’s not true!”

“Oh right, there’s a lot of moving parts here, I kind of lost track of . . .

“Someone get a ladder!”

“No, no, no one needs to get any ladders, you see what’s happened here is . . .”

Some of the Buckle-boys dragged Blue, shirtless and bloodied, off the barrel and one of them held a hooked knife to her face “Come down or I’m going to cut her nose off.  For starters.”

“Look, I don’t even know her, and I know that’s what people always say when they’re in a situation like this but it happens to be true this time.  I just have this funny thing about wanting to help women being tortured in the town square for no reason.”

“How do you know it’s for no reason?!”

“Look, I can explain everything if you just give me a minute.” I saw a couple of the townspeople carrying a ladder over “There’s definitely no need for that, you just stay down there and I’ll stay up here and we can just talk and everything . .  .”

The Buckle-boy with the knife was practically frothing at the mouth “Get down here now or I’m going to slice this bitch in half!”

“Eh, go ahead, show everyone what a tough piece of business you are by murdering a helpless woman – that’s some real dangerous stuff, you’re clearly not a man to be trifled with.  I tell you what champ, if I had a crossbow right now I’d shoot you right through your nose.  I’m a great shot, I could totally do it with a nose like that.  You wouldn’t die right away, that’s the fun part – it would take days.  You’d want to die long before you actually did – it’s pretty gruesome usually but with you it would be hilarious.”

They brought the ladder up against the building and I waited until I saw a face appear over the side of the roof before I touched the ladder with my Walking Stick and caused it to crumble and shatter like it was made of toothpicks – dumping the men climbing it to the ground.  I made a show of chuckling.

“Oh, that’s some classic comedy right there.  What’s your next routine?”

I think it was the dwarf that had the bright idea to set the building on fire.  It was certainly his men that did the torch work.  Calling on my Boots for a burst of speed I ran and jumped as far I could – not far enough to reach other roof, but far enough to spider climb up the side and make it to the roof that way.  The mob followed and the merchant guards seemed like they were going to repeat the process.

“Alright people of Cataola, doing nothing while a woman is stripped and beaten like an unruly dog in the middle the night – I get that, that’s just some good old fashion woman beating, nothing wrong with that.  But now these fuckers are burning your town down.  And you’re just going to stand there?  I can jump from roof to roof all night until there’s no buildings left.  Is that what you want?  Look around, who’s not here?  The constable and his men.  Because these people killed them.  I don’t see the mayor either, so either she’s dead too or she’s letter this happen.  There’s no one to defer responsibility to here, it’s just you right now – are you going to let these out of town assholes destroy your town?”

A few people in the crowd did seemed concerned about this casual arson but after they were smacked around a little by the buckle brigade they piped down.  I guess they are willing to see their entire town burned.  I mean what’s the alternative?  Standing up for yourself?  As the merchant guards came forward with their torches again I ran to the edge with my hands out wide.

“Wait, wait, I’ll come down, I’ll come down.  But I need certain assurances about my safety.”

That puke of a sissified looking dwarf laughed “You’re not going to be safe.”

One of the Buckle bandits chimed in “If you give us the money we won’t start ripping pieces off of you, that’s the only thing that can save you.  Either you give us the money or we fuck you up, nothing you say or do matters other than that.”

“Fair, fair, that’s totally fair, I get that.  The problem is that the money isn’t there anymore, we used magic to send it away.”

The solider wizard scoffed “Bullshit.  If you could do that you would have done it in the first place.”

“We couldn’t, not until we got here.  We didn’t know the spell, we used a scroll.”

“Who’d you get the scroll from?”

“Nobody, we just had it stashed here.”

“Your lies are pathetic.  Do you even know what the truth is anymore?”

“Look, what do you want me to say?  You’re going to accuse me of lying no matter what.”

“I don’t want to hear you say anything, either you give us the money or you die screaming – those are the two options.”

The dwarf nodded “Now come on down from there before we have to burn another building down in this nice town that you’re so worried about.”

“Alright, I’m coming down.”

Lucky for me it was after midnight, I took a drink from my Flask and grew to ogre size.  I don’t know why magic cares what day it is but it does.  Magic is stupid like that.  With my increased size I leapt off the roof and landed on that bearded turd.  My plan was to come up swinging with my Walking Stick and try to fight my way free as best I could but jumping on a roof and landing on a dwarf really knocks you for a loop – who would have guessed it.  I think I might have really screwed up my hip.  And my knee.  And my foot.  Pretty much everything on the left side behind the waist.  And the worse part is I don’t think the dwarf was even hurt that badly.  I was seized and my Walking Stick wrestled away from me before I could turn the head into a real live snake. 

I got punched and kicked a couple times as they dragged me towards the barrel but the whip-wieldier cautioned them about knocking me out before he could go to work on me.  Considerate fellow.  They tried to rip my clothing as well to reveal my back but they found that my clothing is pretty rip-resistant – it would have been comical to anyone watching them try.  Who could find comedy in such a grim moment.

I laughed “It’s magic you fucking morons, it’s not going to rip.”  The whipper responded by smashing me in the mouth with the handle of the whip “Good compromise.  Way to be adaptable.”  I spit out a gob of blood and saw something white in it “Oh, fucking Hells, if you knocked one of my teeth out you are going to be in real trouble.  My mouth is very important to me.” With a growl he bashed me between the shoulder blades with the whip-handle. It took me a moment to catch my breath.  “It’s okay, it’s okay everybody, I can kind of feel them with my tongue, I think all the teeth are there.”

They were still struggling to rip my clothing off (in their defense they were excited) when the commander of the soldiers came riding up in a suspiciously poor manner to anyone who would have been playing close attention other than myself.

“What the blue blazes is going on here?!  Report soldier!”

One of the soldiers moved to start blabbing in a sycophantic manner but the wizard-soldier jumped the line “What’s my name?”

His face became a thundercloud “What?!  What the Hells do you think you’re doing son?!  I asked for a status report not an inquisition!  I’ll ask the questions here Gods damn it!!!”

The wizard soldier backed up, his hands moving in arcane shenanigan “It’s another imposter, kill him.”

What would have been nice is if Martialla and smoothly rolled off the back of her mount and landing nimbly on her feet with her rapier in hand.  What actually happened is she mostly fell out of the saddle, landed badly on her hands and knees and lost her sword in the process.  On the plus side she did scramble to her feet emitting three beams of magic fire at anyone who looked dangerous.  That really got the crowd scattering.  I was forgotten in the chaos and took a swig from my Tankard, hoping that it would buoy me enough to help Martialla.  Filled with magical heroic vigor (and rum) I managed to limp forward and strangle one of the soldiers with my Necklace – good thing it’s, well not indestructible, but less destructible enough to be used as a garrote rather than breaking.  Although that’s going to be bad news if I’m running or falling and it ever gets caught on something.

As if the odds weren’t bad enough suddenly there seemed to be those belt buckle people everywhere.  Where the Hells did they all come from?  I had a split second to realize how screwed we were before the big guy and the lady Shireling from the coach showed up – followed in a moment by our friendly neighborhood assassin and her pals.  What really turned the tide was when I got a hold of the dwarf though, and by got a hold of I mean grabbed the bejeweled knife off his belt and stabbed him in the gut six or ten times.  Once his guards had nothing to fight for and two of the soldiers were dead (the wizard disappeared as they always do) the Brotherhood of the Belt Buckle ran for it and the last soldier threw down his weapons and begged for mercy.  I found my Walking Stick and clubbed him in the head until it was gone.  His head I mean. Not my Walking Stick. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 53,040 platinum, 9,605 gold

XP: 923,451

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Ela’s Dazzling Garment, Belt of Physical Might +4, Ring of Urban Grace, Black Marketers’ Bag (5), Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Extraordinary Walking Stick, Ela’s Elegant Boots, Ela’s Extravagant Necklace

Noble’s outfit (5) collegium ring,  pocketed scarf, wrist sheath, signet ring (2) assortment of fake signet rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), garnets (700), gold necklace with jade pendant, ivory combs, tax collector’s badge, gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, silver and gold brooch, silver necklace with ruby pendant, disguise kit, covenant ring, tiny diamonds (26), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring, tiara, masterwork red and black long greatcoat, Turnbill blade of first forging (one of three), darkwood and platinum music box, silver bracelet set with bloodstones, platinum ring set with fire opal, silver and moonstone bracelet, holy symbol of Kozilek 

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 wizard soldier, those guys with the stupid belt buckles, Mayor Eryn, Chimera Trading Company