Myam 12 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

After the sun went down the temperature dropped significantly more than usual for sunset.  It wasn’t freezing cold by any means but it was not comfortable by any stretch.  Despite the day of rest Corune didn’t seem to be getting any better, if anything she seemed weaker.  Having nothing to eat probably didn’t help.  I’m no healer but even setting that aside it seemed like there was something else going on – some kind of malaise seemed to have settled over her.  It was like all the vitality had been drained from her.  As the day wore on she seemed more and more listless to the point where she barely responded to my insults anymore.  Once night and the cold set in she started shivering so badly she couldn’t fall asleep.  So of course a few hours later it started drizzling.  Somehow that made things even more miserable that a true driving rain.    

Things were getting pretty grim around the old “campsite” so I thought about trying to get a fire going.  Sunrods normally don’t seem to produce any heat but they’re creating light with some kind of alchemical goo inside so I thought it was worth a try.  Since Corune hadn’t really moved I rolled her over and cut some strips off the back of the trademark blue greatcoat of her dumb order assuming correctly that it would be mostly dry.  I stuck that in my Haversack and gathered the driest wood I could find before dumping out the whole mess and breaking a sunrod over it.  Or trying to anyway, the thing was pretty damn hard to break.  I had to cut it halfway through with my dagger before I was able to finally snap it and pour out the stuff inside – which was mostly powder.  I was expecting liquid for some reason.  It created a few sparks and I saw a tiny flicker of flame, which was encouragement enough to take out the last sunrod and do the same thing.  This got a nice little fire burning and I dragged Corune next to it, covering her with a cloak from my secret pocket even though I knew it would only last a couple of hours.  Maybe that would be enough to get her warm.

About ten minutes later the alchemical goo fizzled and popped and the fire went out.  Out of all the things I’ve seen lately it was one of the more depressing sights to cross my eyes.  I tried to sleep but between the cold and the rain and Corune’s wordless moaning there was no chance.  I was starting to consider kicking her until she shut up when I noticed a tiny glimmer of light in the distance.  Rather than getting up immediately I stared at it spitefully for a long time, I couldn’t tell you why exactly.  You know that feeling when there’s something you should do that you know is going to make things better but for some reason you resent having to do it so you just sulk and get madder and madder?  Yeah.

When I finally did get up and haul myself towards the light the first thing I saw was a wheelbarrow that looked like it was hundreds of years old and all that was holding it together was hope and good intentions.  Even so it was piled high with ramshackle goods and items – junk really.  Amongst the treasures I saw half a broken bedframe, a dozen soiled wigs, pieces of rugs, part of a blanket, the basket of a catapult, some hunks of rotting cheese, a spinning wheel without wheel, loose nails, a cage missing two sides – that kind of stuff.  I would have said this was the cart of a rag and bone man but most of this stuff even a ragman would turn his nose up at.  Coming around the garbage-barrow I found a merrily burning campfire with three shifty older codgers sitting around it.  They were startled by my appearance due to their semi-inebriation and their advanced age although I couldn’t tell you in what proportion. 

They jumped up, well not jumped but creaked, and brandished a variety of “weapons” at me.  One had a chair leg sharpened to a point, another had a hayfork with only one tine left – so a spear maybe – and the third had a broken bottle with cloth wrapped around the neck to make a hilt.  Which means he carries it around like that, which means he’s insane.  I tried to reason with them, I really did, but they were cursing at me and shouting and yelling for me to lay down my weapons – I had no weapons at the time mind you.  I admit that in short order I lost my temper.  My grandmother always told me that if you lose your temper you’ve lost – that you have to stay in control if you want to survive, you can’t let your emotions overrule you reason.  Normally I’m great at that. 

I have every reason to be angry, but you have to hold back that anger.   Because there are consequences to expressing your anger, and because I have an image to maintain, and for a thousand other reasons.  Eventually though, there will be a last straw.  Actually no, I won’t like the straw and the donkey’s back metaphor because that implies that it’s an incremental process and it’s inevitable when neither of those are true.  When it happens it comes out of nowhere and it’s just one thing that makes it happen.  It’s not an accumulation of slights, it’s not that I’ve had all I can stand and I can’t stand no more – it’s like hitting your funny bone, it’s just the wrong touch at the right time in the right place. Do I regret killing those geezers?  Yes, I do.  But honestly, not very much.  Not because it wasn’t wrong, but because it didn’t really matter.

After they were dead I grabbed a stout burning branch out of their fire and carried it back towards Corune but halfway there the fire went out and I hurled the then smoldering stick into the darkness and screamed for a little while.  I was still pretty angry.  Once I calmed down I went back to their camp and dumped all the crap out of their wheelbarrow and used that to convey Corune over the fire instead.  Have you ever tried to carry a person on a wheelbarrow in the dark over rough terrain?  It’s maddening.  It took me almost two hours to travel maybe three hundred yards.  My arms ached so badly I just left Corune in the wheelbarrow by the fire and tossed some of the rug scraps and paper-thin blankets from their pile on her.  I never did manage to fall asleep.  I was too jittery and worked up.

Sometime before dawn I decided to leave.  Why was I even there in the first place?  So of course as soon as I started to walk away Corune miraculously is finally able to stand up and asks me where I’m going.  I could have lied to her, I could have lied to her so easily, told her I was going for help, told her I was just going to take a piss, told her a hundred other things.  And she would have believed me because that’s what I do.  But I didn’t, I told her I was going back to Beresford.  She asked if I was going to leave her there and I told her that I was.  Her voice was frail and frightened.

“I’ll die if you leave me here.”

“Yeah.  Probably.”

“And you’re okay with that?”

“Yeah.”

She looked like she was holding back tears, not for herself – but for me!

“What happened to you?  What made you this way?”

“That would be very convenient wouldn’t it?  I had a hard childhood or I was mistreated in some way or somehow traumatized and that’s why I ‘act out’.  I find that offensive.  I do what I choose to do because I choose to do it.  I’m not a victim, I don’t replay old horrible shit that happened to me and act on it.  I move on, I get on with my life because I am a Gods damned adult.  One of the few I seem to come across.”

“I need your help.”

“So what?  Nobody ever helped me do a damn thing, I had to do it all myself.  Where would I be if I sat around waiting for someone to help me out?  I’d be dead is where I would be.  Waiting for someone else to save the day is a long wait for a horse that doesn’t show up.  You want to live you need to fight.  Get up and walk to town.  The real question isn’t why won’t I help you now, it’s why did I ever help you?  You were taking me to be tortured to death!  I should have shot you the first moment I saw you.”

“You don’t know what they were going to do.”

“What the FUCK do you think they were going to do?  Have me to dinner?  Serve tea and raspberry tarts?  If they weren’t going to kill me they were going to make me wish I was dead.”

“If you had killed me then you’d be dead too, I saved your life.”

“I would have been fine either way, I would have figured a way out.”

She laughed a laugh so bitter it was hard to even tell it was a laugh “Your ego is astounding.  Until just now I haven’t been able to figure out what’s wrong with you, I couldn’t tell if it was anger, fear, or hatred.  But it’s all three together – pride.  You become angry at anyone who attacks your self-image of perfection, you fear the judgement of others, and you cultivate hate of those who force you to see the unpleasant truths about yourself.  It’s not enough for you to deny the truth when I point it out, you have to silence the source of your frustration with your insults and slander.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me!  You’re the narcissist for thinking that you know better!”

“Tell me this one thing, why do you want revenge on the Duke so badly?”

“He ruined my life.  He tried to kill me but he didn’t even have the balls to do it right, he just left me to die.  You talk about morality, I am morally bound to ruin the Duke for what he did to me.  You claim to love justice so much, what about my justice?  Why aren’t you on my side?  I’m left to administer justice myself because no one else is going to do it.  I’m the one who was wronged.”

“And that’s what it is, not that the Duke did something wrong, but that he had the audacity to damage the foundation of your fragile self-worth.  It’s not that he ruined your life it’s that he beat you – that’s all you care about.”

“You don’t know me, you don’t know anything.  And you have a very strange way of asking for help, if you want me to keep you alive another lecture doesn’t seem like a great way to go.”

“Without me you’re not going to get your possessions back.”

I smiled “And there it is.  You abandon the high ground pretty quickly when your ass is on the line.  Your God, your code, your precious laws it’s a bad joke.  So it’s not about right or wrong huh?  It’s a simple you scratch my back and I scratch yours?  Finally, now we’re getting somewhere.”

“I didn’t abandon anything, I just know who I’m talking to – you’re empty Ela, appeals to a higher purpose are pointless.”

“And yet you keep making them.  What’s that say about you I wonder?  You already told me where my stuff is, I’m sure I can get it back without you.  So that argument doesn’t hold a lot of water.  What else you got?  What else will you bargain with?  What can you offer me to make me save your life?  Money?  Jewels?  Eternal life in Vultur’s heavenly kingdom?  What have you got for me sister?  I’m entertaining all offers.  How badly do you want to live?”

“Not badly enough to listen to you for another second.”

With that she shuffled back and lay down by the fire. 

Funds: 53,775 gold

XP: 628,701

Inventory:  Courtier’s Outfit, Noble’s outfit (5), Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring,  Ring of Disguise, Ring of Jumping, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper), map, Badge of Last Resort, Healer’s Satchel, 28 tiny diamonds,  Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, Ring of Protection +2, Saryah Phidaner gown, Crown of Conquest, signet ring, Stone of Good Luck, Onyx (55), Tankard of the Drunken Hero,  Altar of Adariel,  Cauldron of Brewing, Censer of Dreams, Bowl of Conjuring Water Elementals, Companion Mirror,  darkwood lute, +3 buckler, celestial shirt, +1 Frost Demonbane Shortsword

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 

Mathanaya 8 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

It was late in the afternoon by the time Martialla and I were able to head out into the woods for the lady werewolf showdown.  Martialla suggested that was the sort of thing that should wait for the light of  day, but I didn’t want to spend any more time in this no horse town so off we went. Yet again marching into the wilderness to face an unknown and possibly deadly threat.  Is there such a thing as time magic?  If there is I feel like I’ve been influenced by some spell to do the same things over and over again.  I tell you this now, when I settle up with Duke Eaglevane and I’m living a life of luxury I am never going to set foot outside of a city again.  Not ever.  If the city is on fire I’ll burn with it.   

“Can I renew my objection to heading out to meet a werewolf as night is coming on?”

“You may not.  Besides, there’s no such thing as werewolves.”

“What do you think we’re going to find out there then?”

“A hairy broad that likes slaughtering livestock.”

“And what if she is a werewolf?  What’s the plan in that event, unlikely though it may be?”

“Uh-no, I’ll come up with something.”

“How comforting.”

“You’re the magic expert, shouldn’t you know how to curse werewolfism?”

“I’ve heard that removal of the spleen can cure an afflicted wolfperson, the side effect is that they die but the good news is they aren’t damned to the Hells for being a sinful monster.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Surprisingly perhaps we were able to follow Drake’s directions to the letter and as the sun was going down we came across the luxury accommodations that he had secured for this sister – something akin to a trapper’s supply shack that may have been a whole six feet wide.  Martialla and I had come under the cloak of invisibility – metaphorically speaking, I mean we were invisible but you know what I’m saying, there was no literal cloak.  If you know where I can get a cloak of invisibility let me know because that would be really handy.  There was a fellow back at court that had one of those but all he used it for was wandering about the palace naked and molesting himself near the kitchen staff. The point is we came across the twin sister unawares chopping down a tree.  I would have never pegged them as twins because this one looked a good ten years younger – although Drake’s premature greying around the edges probably had a lot to with that.  She was wearing a simple red peasant shift that clashed horribly with her scarlet locks and a leather apron type thing over that.  She was wielding the axe with an expert hand and attacking the tree like it had stolen her virtue.

I became visible as we came up on her “Have you ever considered selling your hair to a wigmaker?  I think I’d look fine as a redhead.”

Startled, she spun around with her axe held menacingly “Who are you?!”

“Your brother sent us.  I’m surprised you weren’t able to sniff us out, or can you only do that when you’re in wolf form?”

She shook her head “He wouldn’t do that, he’d never send anyone out here!”

“Well he’s in a bit of a pickle.  The townfolk are about to burn him alive because you’ve been killing their aquatic monster rats.”

She growled, and I mean really growled – not like a human growls – and snapped the shaft of the axe like a stout twig. 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa there, hold on – don’t go wolfing out on us right this second, we need to talk.”

She turned her head up to the skies and screamed, a guttural primordial scream that made the tiny hairs on my shivering scalp stand up on end.  She slammed into the tree she had been hacking at like she was trying to tackle it and started hammering it with punches – splitting her knuckles open to the bone and sending blood flying with each hit.  After more than a minute she fell into a sitting position, exhausted and bloody handed.

“That was . . . something.”

“It’s not the moon, in the stories they say it’s the moon.  It’s not the moon.  It’s anger, or sadness sometimes.  It can happen even if you get really happy – not that that’s happened in a long while.  It’s a beast inside of you, waiting until you’re weak or just tired, and then it grabs you and it takes over.  You have to hold it back all the time – it’s like you’re trying to hold shut a trap door above you, but the weight pressing down never gets tired, it never lets up – but you do.  Eventually you can’t hold the weight anymore and it pushes you down, and it gets on top of you, and it gets inside you.  You’re never safe because it’s always with you. Always.”

“Well we’re here to help you.”

She looked utterly forlorn as she met my gaze “How?”

“We’ll figure something out.  But right now we need to help your brother.  Let’s get back to town, tell them that you’ve been killing the rats not because you’re a werewolf – that would be crazy – but because you’re selling the pelts or meat or whatever to poachers.  I’ll buy them off, you and your brother will get kicked out of town and then we can find a cure.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Honestly I have no idea.  There’s something inside me too, it’s different though.  I feel like I’m a dog chasing its tail sometimes – I just do things.”

“Maybe you’re just a good person.”

Martialla snickered at that and I shot her a dirty look.  The three of us started walking back to Long Avon. 

“So, when you do your wolf thing are you a red furred wolf?”

“I don’t think so.”

“So what happens to your human hair?  Where does it go?  And how does it come back?”

“I have no idea.”

“That’s disappointing, I thought we might be onto something there.  Some kind of magical dimension of hair.  What happens to your tits when you turn?  Do they disappear or do you get more of them or what?”

“I’d really rather not talk about it.”

“Sure, sure, I mean it’s probably the only interesting thing you have to talk about but I get it.  So, you were really going to town on that tree back there.  Looks like you’ve cut down a lot of trees around here.”

“Physical activity helps me stay under control.  Plus before I got bitten I worked for the lumber consortium.”

“Of Three Rivers?”

“Is there any other?”

“I stand corrected, I’m very interested in that.  Tell me everything, in particular focus on any potential embarrassing or ruinous secrets you might know about them – anything that you would consider blackmail fodder.”

“I was just a woodcutter, I don’t know about anything like that.”

“We’ll see, just tell me everything you know, leave nothing out.”   

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .012%

Curses – Marksman’s Malady

Funds: 900 platinum, 4251 gold

XP: 243,161

Inventory:  Pathfinder’s Gear (white) Pocketed Scarf, Wrist Sheath, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Light Crossbow, Assortment of Fake Signet Rings,  Bag of Concealment,  Belt of Giant Strength +4, Vest of Resistance +1, Ring of Sustenance, Silver Chain set with Moonstones, Gold and Emerald Ring (2), Glove of Vampiric Touch, Platinum and Silver Holy Symbol of Kralten, Holy Symbol of Kozilek, Ruby (2), Black Marketers’ Bag, 879 Garnets, bolt of silk, Pirate’s Eyepatch, dress (fancy, revealing) 2, dress (fancy) 6

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