Montresor 18 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) part 4

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time for far (and there’s not, there’s tons, guys I know a lot of stuff) it’s that life takes some funny turns.  One moment you’re crouched in a dark windowless storeroom waiting to be blown to bits and the next moment you’re onboard the flagship of an invading fleet having lunch.  The food wasn’t much to get excited about but Commodore Cottonwood (more military men should seek out an alliterative rank) at the least provided a nice bottle of Lisken wine. 

The commodore was dressed in the manner of a common sailor and had the strangest pattern of baldness that I have ever born witness to.  He had the standard receding hairline leaving a stark peninsula of wispy hair jutting out in the front, but then on either side he had another little dip and a sandbar of hair as well.  It was like he had sideburns above his ears.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  When I first saw him I thought maybe he shaved his head to look like that for some incomprehensible reason but as we chatted through lunch I realized that’s just what his head is doing.  It’s something you have to see to believe for sure.  His head looked like a shoreline itself with little coves.  Maybe that’s why he became a navy man.

He had wanted to know who had organized the defense of Peacevast and once he found out it was a woman he simply “had” to meet me.  He was a tedious man.  The majority of his conversation was “I can’t believe you’re a woman” rephrased in slightly different ways.  This is especially odd given the fact that his executive office is a woman as are the bulk of his sailors.  Not to mention the fact that the defense of Peacevast was little more than telling everyone who could to get weapons and fight.  I guess the part with the ships was worth a little something but it was really just common sense.  It was a tiresome afternoon but I played along.

In the olden days I had an unlimited capacity for going along to get along, that was my job after all, and I was pretty good at it.  Also my life depended on it, which really helps motivate me.  But these days I really get myself worked up into a lather when I have to play a role for one of these preening jackasses.  What I wanted to do was stab him in the face until he was dead and then make a run for it.  I probably could have gotten away with it too, but probably isn’t good enough odds.  I like definitely more than probably.  And assuredly is the best.  So instead I smiled and laughed and acted the way he wanted me to act – defiant but not too defiant, just the right amount of challenge for him to “overcome”.  But I wanted to stab him in the face a lot.  I just want you to know that.

I’m sure that his intention was to keep me as his prisoner on his ship and then throughout the rest of the war trot me out whenever he felt like having chat and that in his mind eventually I would become his mistress and fall in love with him.  Then when the war was over we could have some teared-eyed embrace on the docks of whatever Ulpinese shithole he lives in as he goes back to his wife because of his dumb kids of whatever.  Despite this fantasy it was easy enough to convince him to let me go.  I’m pretty good at convincing people of things too. 

I told him that I was born in a house of ill-repute (but you know one of the fancy ones) and never found out which one of the women working there was my actual mother.  I told him how I was set to earning my keep at an early age, not in the way you think – cleaning, cooking, and running errands.  I told him on my sixteenth birthday they had a big celebration with a cake and presents and everything – that had never happened before.  And at the end the party when everything was nice and warm and rosy the fellow that owned the place declared that it was time for me to start working for real or to get the fuck out.

I told the commodore that I quickly found out how hard it is to make a living alone on the streets of Indlestacle. With nowhere to stay, no guaranteed meals, and no one looking out for me things had taken a turn.  But if I had learned one thing it’s that that a bit of flattery works on just about anyone.  I told him that I had lived by my wits, which is a nice way to say that I conned people.  I specialized in religious fakery, telling people what they wanted to hear and reinforcing what they wanted to believe. The Gods wanted people to be successful, but there were evil forces aligned against them. I could show them the way to the prosperity the Gods wanted them to have.

I told him about how doing this led to me to having an actual transformation of faith.  I had told people so often about the glory of the Gods that I started to believe it myself.  I joined to the church of Adariel as a novitiate but ended up not taking my final vows of priestesshood because I had fallen in love with the most wonderful boy in the world.  And when he died in the last war I thought that I would die myself, but when I didn’t I only became more convinced that the Gods had a plan for me and for everyone. 

I told him how I used my skills as a healer traveling from town to town helping in any way that I could.  It was a sappy story but that worked out well because the commodore was a sap.  I swear that he cried at one point.  He went on some long winded soliloquy about war and duty and this and that, I guess he was trying to say something about how great  I was for not hating him after the death of my fictional beau.  After talking for a long time and saying nothing he said that was all well and good but how was I able to organize an effective defense against his attack? 

I dropped him a sassy wink, completely out of character for what I had been portraying him “Adariel helps those who help themselves.”

I don’t even really know what that was supposed to mean but he looked at me for a moment and then roared with laughter like it was the funniest joke ever told.  He pounded the table so hard that a fork flew onto the deck of the ship and his Halfling page had to scurry out and pick it up.  Probably a slave.  Ulpine isn’t civilized like the Kingdom, they have slavery there. 

I not only convinced him to let me go, I convinced him to let all of the survivors go.  The ones that hadn’t already been tossed overboard to the monstermen anyway.  After all the villagers were just defending their homes, they’re not even militiamen, so they’re not soldiers they’re just noncombatants really.  And the dwarfs, they were just at the wrong place at the wrong time, they didn’t even know what was going on.  The witch and the wizard were nowhere to be found, probably they had escaped with magical means.  Which begs the question of why they were fighting to defend the village in the first place of they had the means of getting away. 

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