Montalan 29 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

One year ago today I woke up in a dirty alley (as opposed to a clean alley) in Graltontown.  It took me a long time to wake up fully.  For a good while my body was limp like a shirt on a clothes line.  My mind was foggy worse than any hangover in the recorded history of the universe.  At first I had no clue where I was or what was going on.  It certainly didn’t cross my mind initially that I wasn’t in Paladore anymore, let alone that I was in an armpit like Graltontown.  But I started to catch on to what had happened.  For obvious reasons the Duke’s wife and I weren’t the best of friends, but as long as we ignored one another everything was fine.  Out of sight out of mind right?  Their marriage wasn’t a love match by any stretch so why not allow the Duke his whims?  Within reason of course.  But something had happened that pushed that boundary too far.  In retrospect he Duke had been more shameless than usual in parading around with me on his arm in the months preceding my exile.  Maybe he was trying to upset her, maybe he was just getting careless, maybe it was one of any number of other reasons.  Regardless of why, he went too far and his ladywife complained enough that he felt he had to get rid of me.

He could have sent me off to one his other holdings.  He could have given me to one of his cronies.  He could have just said “hit the road kid”.  He could have killed me.  He could have cast me out into the streets of Paladore.  He could have set me up with a nice retirement.  He could have done many things.  But what he did do was drug me and toss me away like garbage.  Was this supposed to be a mercy?  He couldn’t bring himself to kill me?  Or was it a cruel joke?  One final laugh at the expense of good old Ela?  Either way he had to have assumed that I would die shortly after being abandoned.  Or at worse that I would end up a corner girl and be dead within a few years either from too much pipeweed, suicide, or some other nasty end.  So if it was kindness that stayed his hand it was a curious kind of kindness indeed – but I know better than anyone that the righteous Duke isn’t much of one for kindness. 

I can admit now that along with the anger I felt, and there was a lot of anger, I also initially felt despair.  My immediate thought, that the Duke was going to pay and pay dearly, no matter what by any means needed, was bravado.  At first.  It was the crying of a child who has been denied what they were promised – sound and fury only.  But it didn’t take long for it to become very real.  Without a doubt it’s the most genuine and true feeling that I have ever had.  At that moment I could have turned away very easily.  In fact most of who I am was screaming for me to do that – turn away, look away, don’t seek out what is likely to be your own destruction.  Run, run far away and never look back.  There’s a large part of me that begged me to do that.  And I could have done it, I could have listened to that voice.  And everything would have been fine.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I had to follow this path, that I had no choice.  I take responsibility for myself and what I am doing.  I know who I am and what I am doing. 

There’s no such thing as redemption, no such thing as second chances.  I’ve already been where we go when we die.  We’re shadows dressed in costumes of skin and bone.  Nothing you can see is going to last for long.  I don’t believe in destiny or fate or karma or whatever you want to call it – our lives are not written in the stars, we’re not stones thrown at our birth traveling to a destination with no altering the flight.  But despite all that, when I woke up in that alley, my path became horrifying clear.  And nothing, nothing, will stop me until I face him.  Nothing.  I will drown this world in blood if I have to.  I will tear down civilization itself if I have to.  I’ve said this before, when I say that I will do anything to have my revenge I mean anything.  Nothing that I can ever do to the Duke will be bad enough to satisfy me.  But I’m going to give it my best shot.  I mean someday I will when I stop being distracted by whatever I’m doing now.

Turns out that Aubesh doesn’t know any of Generous’ other girls, for some reason she’s not tight with his crew, so there wasn’t much to do today other than wait for the appointed time they would check in a Gentlemen Jack’s.  It gave me time to reflect on the last year and all the awful things that I saw and did.  I got really good at mundane disguises.  And guys, I mean really good.  It took time but the end result was flawless.  I could disguise myself as a specific person, as a different gender, as someone much older – you name it, I could do it and look perfect.  Then I learned how to do it instantaneously with magic and that skill became completely useless and all that time I spent learning it was a massive waste.  Which is magic in a nutshell.  I learned how to shoot a crossbow pretty well, and then shot a bunch of people, most of whom died.  But they were all bad so it’s fine.  I spoke to several worgs and only one of them tried to eat me.  That’s pretty good.  I rode a pegasus which was fucking amazing.  I started cursing.  I got sick and very nearly died.  Twice.  I made my first friend.  I made probably a million enemies, conservatively estimating.  I got lost many times.  Turned into a cat.  Was cursed several times.  Got super rich.  Some kind of old lady vampire put me in a cage and I was almost killed by her demon dog.  Thinking back on it it was really quite a year.  I wouldn’t recommend drugging yourself and having someone toss you in the street somewhere far away with nothing but the clothes on your back but it’s certainly a way to shake things up in your life.

Once I got bored of intimate self-reflection I went over to Martialla’s room to kill time, maybe play some cards or just chat but she was banging some guy (where does she find the time to meet anyone?) so I went to a stable and rented a horse for an afternoon ride.  Petro was a fine looking steed but he was a too ornery and finicky for my taste.  If there’s one thing I don’t care for it’s a horse that has its own ideas.  Still it was nice to go for a ride, seems like ages since I’ve been able to do that.  Once I got back Martialla was done with her dalliance and we had a long luxurious dinner since we had to nowhere to be until late.  Once it was appropriately late we staked out Gentlemen Jack’s and waiting for Generous’ ladies to show up.  The first one we tried to grab actually wasn’t a prostitute at all.  Boy was there egg on our faces.  In our defense though you should have seen the way she was dressed.  There were no mistakes the second time though, Martialla used her magic to put our target to sleep and then I assumed her appearance to go in and pass along her hard earned coin to Generous – and to pass on the information that one of “my” tricks was a Black Sheep who was bragging about taking out Dulphistos’s apprentices.  This almost turned ugly because Generous had forbade his crew from fraternizing with the Black Sheep, but I figured out that was just for appearances, the G man making it known that he’s a bad scary man but also being glad for the intel.

We let the next couple pass by unmolested and then repeated the process with the fifth girl to come by (sixth if you count the one we accosted by mistake).  Generous was nice enough to ask if “I” had heard anything about the Black Sheep and Dulphistos’s apprentices so I let him draw it out of me and feel like he was a genius.  After that we carted our two new friends to Adelis’ for safekeeping and then made our way back to the Song and Dance.  I can see now why serial killers are always targeting prostitutes – it’s so easy.  I mean that and the whole sociopathic sadistic sexual thing.  After a hard night of kidnapping and lying Martialla and I took to the veranda with some dwarfen fire ale to enjoy the moonlight.  Not normally my kind of drink but I’ve found that oddly the beverage intended to get you all riled up has a calming effect on me and acts as a sleep aid.  Maybe it works differently on different species. 

I offered my glass up to Martialla “Here’s to a job well done.”

She touched her glass to mine “I’ll drink to that I guess.”

“Clearly this isn’t what I expected to be doing with my life, how about you my old friend?  What did you think you’d be doing?”

“You’re asking about my life?  Are you confused?  Did you forget that I’m not you?  I can’t see any other reason that you’d be interested.”

“Hilarious.”

I could see her grin in the gloom “No, I didn’t expect to be snatching whores off the street at all, not even for a good cause.  Well not a good cause maybe, but a neutral one at least.  I figured I’d just eke out a life moving from town to town like everyone else.  When my niece was killed the entire trajectory of my life changed radically.”

“Were you two close?”

“No, which sounds strange maybe.  That I’d set off on a two year quest for revenge on account of a relative that I didn’t know well, but my sister deserved better.  We were close once and her daughter dying broke her.  Seeing that nearly broke me.  In a sick way it’s made my life much better, following you and taking up your scraps has earned me more money than I ever could imagine.  And my power with my magic has grown to be more than I ever thought it could.  Who would have guessed that the key to becoming a mighty sorcereress was killing?”

“I would have.  You know, I do owe you quite a bit of money, all joking aside.  Not that you shouldn’t have your vengeance as well, but she could be brought back.  Before I wouldn’t have believed it, but now . . . now I know that it can happen.”

Martialla was quiet for a while “The thought has crossed my mind.  You hold onto the money for now.  Once the whoreson who killed her is well and truly fucked then we’ll talk.”

“Now that sounds like a plan.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 28,040 platinum, 53,601 gold

XP: 795,911

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Amulet of Dreams, Ela’s Traveling Outfit, Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Ring of Urban Grace, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet

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) 

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  

Montalan 25 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

Even though I had gone through all the trouble of letting my Pavilion magically erect itself I ended up falling asleep on the low couchlike thing we had dragged out of the farmhouse.  Not that it was exceptionally comfortable in the consideration of all things, but it was enough like a bed that sleep snuck up on me like a serpent on a baby bird.  This meant my Censor wasn’t in operation, which meant that I was plagued by ill dreams of annihilation and horror, which meant that I slept fitfully at best.  I woke up with a stiff back to form a tight friendship with an aching shoulder and a stinging knee.  Martialla’s remark the other day about me being too young for these kind of wake up pains hit the mark a little too closely.  I’m not made for all this chasing about the countryside and roughing it – I should be treated more like a treasured piece of art, cared lovingly and admired by all, protected from ill-treatment by devoted hands.  Waking up I was disgusted to see that dew dampened my clothing uncomfortably and mildly surprised to see that Jasmi was already gathering herself to leave.

“Gone so soon?”

She tapped her walking stick on the ground as is testing its soundness “I’ve given you your warning, not much else to do here for me.”

“You have enough magic to know where I’m going to be and what’s going to happen why did you come here at all?  Why couldn’t you use that magic to project your words into my mind?  Or visit me in a dream?  People do that to me all the time and it’s never nice.”

She shrugged “It doesn’t work like that.”

“Why is magic so stupid?”

To my surprise she answered “I’m no great magician so take this for what you will, it’s merely the opinion of an old woman, but it seems to me that magic is a force or energy like water.  Try to cup water in your hand and how much can you get?  Very little.  Learn to make a bucket and you can scoop up more.  Turn those buckets into a tub and so on.  But if you really want to move a lot of water what do you need to do?  Dig a trench.  Bigger and bigger for more and more water.  But no matter how much you want to you can’t move an ocean.  So you get a ship and you sail on the water, and that water works for you as long as you stick to your rules, but also it’s dangerous to you – very much so.  A storm, a hidden reef, a hurricane, a massive sea-beast, whatever you like – and you’re dead.  And magic is water that you can’t even see, only sense a bit.  So you’re manipulating it blind, and some get very good at doing that but they’re still groping in the dark.  I don’t think we’re meant to be doing magic at all.  I think magic is for others, I think like a dog picking at scraps we don’t even know what we’re doing or where it’s coming from – we’re just down here like salivating dogs waiting for the next drop.  We’re on the edge of something, taking tiny bits here and there, but it was never meant for us.”

“Others like the Gods?”

“Maybe some of it but on whole I don’t think so.  Older things, things of power to dwarf the Gods even as they dwarf us.”

“Sounds like heresy.  Or apostasy maybe, I always get those confused.”

“One of the benefits of old age, you stop caring about what people think.  Mostly because they stop caring what you say.”

Martialla emerged from Pavilion looking desirably rested as the old woman clumped off into the early morning fog.

“Did she have any final prognostications for us?”

“What’s your sign?”

“Ragabash Thurgau.”

“She said that you’ll try with all your might to save your poor little life, but there’s nothing any mortal can do when Beast of War announces your doom.”

“Well that’s certainly dire, I’ll be on the lookout for that.  Do you want to dive back into the woods or skirt the forest north?”

“Neither, let’s head for Preen.  I’m tired of this countrified bullshit.  It’s a sad day when I’m looking forward the dubious comforts of a garbage town like Preen but that’s where we’re at.”

“What about Razmiran?”

“You mean the murderous crimeboss overlord of Preen that we ripped off?”

“Yeah, that Razmiran.”

“Maybe the orcs killed him.  Maybe his own men turned on him once they realized he was broke.  Or maybe he’ll be there waiting for us.”

“And if he is?”

“If he wants to cause trouble then they’ll be trouble.”

“And what happens when you finally run into trouble that you can’t flim-flam your way out of?”

“I’ll die probably.”

“Can you try not to take me with you when that happens?”

“Sure, but as you’ve pointed out several times people that come to kill me usually end up trying to kill you as well.  It might help if you teamed up with them instead of trying to save me from them.  Get on the winning side for once, jump on the bandwagon.”

“Sure, but what fun would that be?”

“True.”

We headed straight south (probably) towards Preen (maybe) rather than following the river figuring that whatever orcs or military jerks left roaming around the area would be by the river.  Why did we figure that?  Not sure really, but we did.  After only a couple hours of walking we started to see intact homesteads and shortly thereafter we started to see people out working in the fields so clearly things hadn’t gotten too out of control.  The only excitement of the day was some moron farmer shooting at us with a hunting bow because he thought we were thieves or deserters or something.  I don’t know what the Hells he thought.  He saw us well enough to almost put a shaft into my head so he should have been able to tell that we were two innocent girls roaming the countryside and not some threatening duo of criminal murderers.  Now, if you accidentally shot at someone, even someone normal and not someone wonderful like me, you’d be apologetic wouldn’t you?  Of course you would, because you’re good people.  Common, but good.

This guy however was a real asshole.  We got into a bit of a shouting match because instead of apologizing and inviting us to dinner saying “it’s the last I can do ma’am” bashfully he blamed us for being in his field.  As if walking in a field is a perfectly normal justification for murder.  I was tempted to do so for real but I settled for merely eviscerating him verbally.  Don’t let Martialla tell you otherwise, he DID run off crying when I was done laying into him.  Martialla glanced at me as we continued on from that jerk’s plot of land – which by the way looked terrible, his fences were a mess and his rows were a disaster.  

“I’m impressed.  Not only did you not kill him you don’t seem to be plotting his downfall either.”

“What kind of a person would I be if I killed everyone who yelled at me?”

“The kind of person you were when I met you.”

“That’s unfair.”

“Only a little.”

“Perhaps.  I’ve learned a lot of things since getting hurled from the Duke’s court like an unwanted child from a clifftop, most of them appalling.  But one useful thing, I won’t say good, that I’ve come to understand is that you can’t take revenge on everyone who deserves it.  There’s not enough time in the day you know?  Let the little revenges take care of themselves.  That guy probably makes his own life miserable enough that I don’t need to bother.”

“You think so?”

“No, I think most assholes are happy as clams, but it helps to pretend.”

“Why are clams so happy in theory?”

“Well they have no eyes, nor ears, nor any senses of any kind.  They have no idea what’s going on.  Given that what could possible make them unhappy?  If an otter cracks them open and eats them they don’t even know about it so how could they care?  Even about their own deaths?”

“Is that happiness?”

“I guess.”

“That’s disappointing.”

“Tell me about it.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 23,045 platinum, 52,143 gold

XP: 789,511

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Badge of Last Resort, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Censer of Dreams, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Ring of Urban Grace, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering, Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Better Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet, unknown gauntlets, mysterious staff, Cape of the Mountebank, Sandals of Sprinting, +1 Agile Rapier  

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 (27), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring, tiara, masterwork red and black long greatcoat, lots of luxury goods, Turnbill blade of first forging (one of three) 

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  

Montalan 21 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

Here’s the problem with my magic tent.  It has many good features, it erects itself instantly, it’s three times bigger inside than it looks from the outside, I can control the ambient light and temperature inside, no one outside can hear the people inside, it can withstand storms and high winds and earthquakes (probably) – these are all good things.  But at the end of the day for all its vaunted it’s still a tent.  There’s nothing inside except some curtains to mark of three different “rooms”.  So when it comes down to it I’m still just lying on the ground like a damn dirty vagabond.  What I need is some kind of fully stocked magical house that I can call up wherever I want at my command.  I was thinking about this when I heard Martialla’s strident voice stridently stridenting over the pitter-patter of rain hitting the tent roof.

“Are we going to do any traveling today?  The sun’s been up for over an hour.”

I sighed wistfully “I remember when I used to never know when the sun came up.  I didn’t need to know.  Why would I?  They only time I ever saw the sunrise was when I was still up from the night before.  I miss that as much as anything.”

“Is that a yes we’re going to be moving soon or what?”

If I had a blanket I would have pulled it up over my head “No.  It’s raining and my back hurts.  I slept funny and now it’s all stiff and wonky.  Like in the middle you know?  That’s the worst.  Not lower back like some people say.”

“Aren’t you a little young for that?  Waking up with aching joints because you slept wrong is an old person issue.”

“That’s if you’re sleeping in a BED Martialla.  Sleeping on the ground like a dumb animal is a perfectly fine reason for a gentle lady in the full bloom of youthful health to feel sore.  I’m a delicate flower you know.”

“I saw you get stabbed through the gut with a spear one time and you didn’t even fall down.”

“Yeah but I complained about it a lot.  Also proper ladies don’t have guts.”

“How does that apply to you?” 

“I’ll ignore that remark.  I tell you Martialla once all of this is over and I’m in a proper bed in proper bedroom again waited on hand and foot by servants I’m going to stay in that bed for a month.  And I mean that literally, that is not exaggeration.  A month Martialla, a month.”

“Once all what is over?”

“Getting revenge!  On the Duke!  The whole thing I’m doing!”

“Duke Eaglevane?  Are you still on about that?”

“Am I . . . you . . . shut up!  Don’t try to get me all riled up.”

“So we’re just going to sit in this tent all day?  You seem to be able to survive purely on booze and bitter feelings but I’m hungry!  I want to get the Hells out of this Gods damned forest and get some food!  In a place that sells food.  Civilization, come on, you love being in cities.”

I admit I sounded a tad bit petulant “No, I don’t want to travel today.  There aren’t any good cities around here anyway.  I need to rest.”  I saw her hand come through the tent separation flap and grasp the edge in preparation for flinging in it back. “Don’t you come through that flap, I’m totally naked in here.”

She paused for a moment before speaking “You’re bluffing.”

“Maybe I am, but ask yourself.  Are you willing to risk it?  Here’s a question in magical theory to keep you occupied.  Let’s say I’m fully clothed but I use my Ring to create an illusion of nudity that looks exactly like I look when I’m actually nude.  Is there really any difference between that and being nude?”

“Yes because you have clothes on, also who cares?  Magical theory is for nerds.  I’m a sorcerer not a wizard.”

“You say that like those are different things.”

“They are.  How about you get dressed and I come in there and kick you in the back real hard a couple of times.  Maybe one of those kicks will realign your spine and then we can get moving.”

“I appreciate that offer, it’s very kind of you, but that doesn’t do anything about the rain does it?   Here’s another for you, if I used my Ring to cloak myself in the illusion of wearing clothing right now while fully nude how is that any different from wearing actual clothing?”

“You’d freeze your tits off for one.  I don’t want to just sit here all day, I’m in no mood for your shenanigans.”

“Shenanigans?  Shenanigans?!  I take offense to that madam.  Never once have I shenaniganed.  We’re not just going to sit here doing nothing, we’re planning.  Planning is very important.  You see I’ve been thinking friend Martialla, if that oracle can see in advance when you come out of the trees then as soon as we get to Alleene they’ll be waiting for us.  We killed those other bounty hunters but you made it sound like the woman in the armor is the one we need to worry about.”

“She is, she very nearly killed me.”

“So what’s her deal?  She never takes off her armor is that her gimmick?”

“I’ve never seen her without it, but then I only saw her the one time and she was trying to kill me.  And when going out to kill someone is generally when you want to be wearing armor.”

“Well I was talking to her and she didn’t even lift the face-hole thing in her helmet.  Very rude it was.  So if she’s going to be waiting for us what do we do?  Don’t you have a spell that makes metal red hot?  That would send her a flume real quick.”

“No.”

“Are you sure?  I could swear that I remember some kind of magic you did that heated up a ring or something.”

“I’m sure I know what spells I know Ela.  You’re thinking of when those hags in the Blackroot did that to me!  I almost lost my damn finger and I did lose a ring of protection.  Probably the huge ugly scar on my hand reminded you of it.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right.  That was quite a melee wasn’t it?”

“You bet your firm ass it was.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been more afraid for my life than I was during that fight.  More afraid?  Yes, I was more afraid when you dragged me right up to that dragon like that was a thing to do.  But that there, in the Blackroot, that was the time I was most afraid for my life.”

“Yeah . . . . I thought we were going to die.  But we didn’t.”

“But we didn’t.”

“Do you think it was like that for the people I’ve killed?  Were they terrified?”

“No.”

“No?”

“Ela nobody ever sees you coming.  One moment they’re talking to a pretty girl and the next they’re on the ground and they’re dying and they can’t figure out why.”    

“Huh, so I guess that’s something.  Anyway, I think what we need to do is to take out the oracle.”

“And how would we do that?  If she can see what we’re going to do before we do it then if we make a plan to try and take her out she’ll know about it and counter it.  Plus we have no idea who she even is.  She could be a hundred miles away and communicating to her bounty hunters with oracle powers.”

“Can she do that?”

“How would I know, I’m a sorcerer not an oracle!”

“Are those different too?  Why are there so many different kinds of magic people?  And why did you choose to be the worst one?”

“I didn’t choose anything because I am a Gods damned sorcerer!”

“Gees, yell about it why don’t you?”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 23,045 platinum, 52,143 gold

XP: 759,111

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Badge of Last Resort, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Censer of Dreams, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Ring of Urban Grace, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering, Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Better Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet, unknown gauntlets, mysterious staff, tooth-sword, Cape of the Mountebank, Sandals of Sprinting, +1 Agile Rapier   

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 (27), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring, tiara, masterwork red and black long greatcoat, lots of luxury goods  

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  

Montalan 11 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

After our touching reunion last night this morning Martialla gave me the inside view of what has been going on at Juost Manor after we parted ways in Beresford.  Obviously the first part went off without a hitch since Roseblack showed up to help me out of my legal issue in Beresford.  Martialla’s intention had been to return with her but the Baroness had insisted instead that she take up my tasks – or really just one task in specific, making sure that the Deepmare gap was closed to any rebellious Satander exiles that were feeling frisky.   Martialla didn’t feel like she had any obligation (or desire) to follow those orders but she didn’t want to cheese off the Baroness while I was under her thumb still so off she went to Deepmare and from there to the fort that controlled the pass.  The commander of said fort was none other than one of Duke Eaglevane’s abundant cousins – Zedkath.  Old Zed was vociferously unhappy with his posting and knowing my ultimate goal regarding the duke Martialla tried to think or some way to turn this to my advantage but she couldn’t come up with anything.  The entire endeavor seemed like a waste of time to her since while Zedkath has not loyal to the Juosts personally he’s not about to let an enemy force through the gap to attack the Kingdom either.

I asked her what the Baroness had her working on next and she simply said that it was the kind of work that rich people send people like her to do instead of their actual minions.  I hope it wasn’t anything too distasteful, it’s hard to imagine the Baroness ordering much in the way of dirty deeds but it clearly wasn’t charitable work either.  This only went on for a short while before the Baron returned with his new Kostelos best friends.  It was clear to Martialla from the outset that the Kostelos shaman or witch or whatever had overthrown the Baron’s mind and he was under her spell – literally.  After that people started disappearing and the Baron’s closest advisors and allies were all sent on missions far away.  Martialla herself was sent on some fool’s errand, but instead she stayed in disguise and tried to unravel the magic on the Baron.  She was found out and managed to escape with her life, but that’s when she was declared an outlaw and a bounty was placed on her head.  Since she was labeled an outlaw anyway she decided to become one, taking to the woods as is the outlaw’s way, and robbing traders coming into Alleene. 

She said that she didn’t really think that this was an effective way to wrest the Baron from the hands of the Kostelos but she didn’t know what else to do.  She tried to come south to find me three times but any time she leaves the forest bounty hunters are on her tail and the last time sounds like it was a pretty close call to escape alive.  Plus she didn’t actually know where I was so there was a very good chance, given how much I move around, that she wouldn’t have been able to find me anyway so she decided that the best thing to do was to stay put and wait for me to turn up at the Manor.

“And then you climbed out of a tree in the middle of my camp.  You always did like to make an entrance.  How did you manage that anyway?’

“I don’t know honestly.  You’ve really gone above and beyond here, you could have just left and attended to your own business.  You are a loyal friend and I appreciate that more than you can know.”

She shied away slightly “You’re not going to hug me again are you?  This new attitude of yours is messing with my head.”

“I’ll get over it shortly, don’t worry.”

I met the rest of her crew of daring and deadly bandits which was made up of a whole three people.  There was a fellow called Rum who had been a dock worker in Renwick until, well you know what happened there, and ended up being branded a thief on account of he was stealing stuff as he went through the countryside trying to get to Cathars where his sister lives.  There was an army deserter by the name of Riv who looked like a tough son of a bitch but was obviously having some mental issues.  And the third fellow was called Bacca, a lumberman who was on the run from the consortium for reasons he didn’t go into beyond saying they had a falling out.  Martialla explained that she was the one who was doing the vast majority of the banditing and these fellows mostly just stood around and looked intimidating.  They weren’t really bandits so much as lost lambs she was taking care of out of the kindness of her heart.  She didn’t think when it came to doing any real bloody business they could be counted on for much.

“What’s this I hear about you cavorting with bugbears?  You’re not ripped in half so I assume the truth is something else.”

“I wouldn’t say cavorting but I have been dealing with a small tribe of bugbears here in the woods.  I’ve disguised myself as one of them and earned their trust – and by trust I mean that as  long as I give them targets to attack they attack them.  I don’t know if you know this, but those things are fucking terrifying.”

“Why are you dealing with them?  That sounds like a great way to get yourself killed.”

She’s pretty good at hiding her feelings but I could tell she was a little rattled “I didn’t feel I had a choice, with the people that have been coming after me I needed some muscle.  It’s been pretty bad.  You and I have been in a couple of bad scrapes and I’ve been truly and fully afraid for my life twice before, but the kind of people that come after you for money?  They’re something else.  I’d be dead if I hadn’t turned those savages on them.”

“I’m sorry.  Why didn’t you just go back to Graltontown and finish up your business there?”

“I couldn’t abandon you.”

“Sure you could have, honestly we barely know each other.”

“No, I couldn’t.”

“I thank you for that.  So what’s the play?  Get your bugbear buddies all riled up to attack the manor?  Will they know enough not to kill the Baron?”

She shook her head “They’d never do it.  Tribe is maybe too grand a word, there’s not even a dozen of them, and they wander away from the group regularly ,at any given time there’s only six in the forest together usually.  They’re not like orcs or goblins where there’s a bunch of them all together and there’s leaders and a hierarchy and all that, they’re more like coyotes – they form packs but it’s a casual sort of deal.  Besides as bloodthirsty and powerful as they are they don’t really like a stand-up fight against a determined opponent, they prefer raiding and terrorizing people that don’t fight back.”

“Who doesn’t?  So it’s just you and me huh?  I’d chastise you for your choice of allies but I had a whole party of knights headed up this to help out, some of the Baron’s own men too, but somehow that didn’t work out.  So I can’t really say shit about it.”

“What do we do then?”

“Well how do you feel about just the two of us infiltrating the manor and taking out the Kostelos one by one using disguise and guile?”

“Not great.”

“That’s fair, it’s not a great plan.  Are any of these bounty hunters that have come after you still alive?  If they love money so much maybe we can get them on our side.”

“The last one is.  The one who almost killed me.  I have no idea how bribable he might be though.  I think we’re overlooking an obvious answer there though – what about the legitimate authorities?  I have to assume enchanting a Baron and messing up his lands is illegal.  How do we get the law on our side for once?”

“The Baron is the legitimate authorities.  As long as they’re not failing to kick up their taxes the Crown isn’t going to care.  Renwick is ruined, you were in Deepmare, do you feel like anyone there would both care about this and be able to do anything about it?”  She shook her head “That only leaves Cathars and I don’t know if the chances of getting anyone there to listen would be good anyway.  What’s the Baroness doing during all of these?  Do they have her under wraps too or what’s going on there?”

“I don’t know, when I was still at the Manor she had made herself pretty scarce since the Kostelos showed up.  I think she’s still alive but she’s keeping her head down, probably because she wants to stay that way.”

“Well, I hate to say it, but the situation we have there is that we have a local person of importance that has fallen under the sway of an evil witch and our main asset is that we have a lot of coin to spend.  What does that sound like the setup of to you?”

“Adventurers?”

I sighed “Adventurers.  Getting paid money to save a Baron from the clutches of some barbarians?  That’s the kind of shit they live for.”

She nodded “Yeah, I’m sure they’re do something.  The Manor will probably be burned down and half the city will be dead but it will certainly shake something loose one way or the other.  Assuming that we can find some.”

“Where’s the nearest tavern?  Adventurers infest those places like fleas on a dog’s ass.  It’s their natural habitat.  They just hang out drinking and waiting for people to show up with cloaks to give them an urgent and dire mission.  Its genius in its way, without a home the tax man can’t find you and without a real name you can’t be sued for all the damage you do.  I mean how are you going to serve papers on Axios the Destroyer?  That’s not a name.”

“Has it really come to that?  It is time release the doomsday device?”

“There is wisdom in facing a threat with a proportionate response. Go too far and all you do with your victory is guarantee that the next threat is that much stronger. But every so often, the time comes when the threat is so great, the situation has gone so horribly wrong, that there is no proportionate response. When circumstances are so dire as to justify the use of anything and everything that might solve it, no matter how reckless, nonsensical, or horrific, regardless of cost. When even the hiring of adventurers could not possibly make the crisis any worse.  I don’t know if we’re there yet, but we need to steel ourselves for the possibly that it may be the only path forward.”

“May the Gods have mercy on us.”

Funds: 23,045 platinum, 19,788 gold

XP: 725,701

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Badge of Last Resort, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Censer of Dreams, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Ring of Urban Grace,  Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering, Token of Summoning, Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Better Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet

Courtier’s Outfit, 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 (27), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring

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  

Behind the curtain: One dedicated reader pointed out that I had lost the strike-through on the revenge list at some point. What a catastrophe!

Montalan 10 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

If I had ever thought about it, which I haven’t, I wouldn’t have thought that it would be possible to fall asleep clinging to a tree with deadly beasts below you.  I can tell you now that it is completely possible though.  I can also tell you that sleeping in a tree is a terrible idea.  When I woke up I felt like I had been pressed for several hours and then put on the rack as a chaser.  When you wake up with terribly painful joint pains the question I always have is how did you stay asleep?  Clearly you can feel pain while you’re asleep right?  Or rather pain wakes you up?  The point is when you wake up with a throbbing ache in your shoulder because you slept with your arm wedged into the crook of a tree’s limbs how did you fall asleep and stay asleep with that level of discomfort in the first place?  It makes no sense. 

The first thing I did upon waking was look below for the canine beasts that had treed me.  Actually that’s not accurate, the first thing I did was almost fall out of the tree while trying to stretch out my stiff back.  But after I managed to catch myself the next thing I did was look for the beasts – and saw them sitting below as patiently and silently as a cherished hunting dog waiting for the hand of their master.  And those eyes – looking up at me with hateful intelligence.  Oddly I’ve met a fair share of animals with human cleverness at this point and they generally still have the dumb eyes of creatures – maybe a little spark here or there, but generally there’s no difference between them and any other animal of their kinds from sight.  These hounds of the Hells were something else entirely – like humans eyes staring greedily up at me from their skullish beast-heads.  Of my mount there was nothing left – not even bones, there was a bit of the saddle on the ground but it seems they even ate most of the tack.

Taking stock of the situation I eventually noticed that I wasn’t alone in the tree.  On a branch above me and to the side I saw another person halfway standing halfway leaning halfway lying (I know that’s more than one but that’s how it was, you weren’t there so shut up about it) in a relaxed and comfortable manner.  I’m no expert on elfs but it looked a bit like an elf while not being an elf.  What it most looked like was one of the Shirefolk but this person had to be close to five feet tall and no Halfling ever grew so lofty.  Another difference,  its shoeless feet were far more delicate and petite looking than those of the smallfolk.  Being so fair and composed with easy grace I was left to guess that it was some manner of fey, although I’ve never seen one that just looked like a person – they usually have some kind of fluttery wings or vibrant colored hair at the very least to make them as faeries.  Even its gender wasn’t easy to guess at.

“Ahoy there.”

It glanced down and I saw that it was chewing on a leaf “And a good morning to you, it’s rare that I have visitors.  I would have preferred that you had introduced yourself first but it’s nice to have company nevertheless.”

“My apologies at that bit of rudeness, I was fleeing for my life at the time.”

It nodded “And a mighty fine piece of fleeing it was.  I’ve never seen one of your kind run up a tree so nimbly, or run up a tree at all for that matter, normally they climb like the clumsiest of bears.  If only you had been so concerned with your equine friend as you were for yourself.”

“If there was anything I could have done I would have done it.  Maybe I should stop riding altogether, I seem to end up being pursued by monsters more often than not and they pay the price.”

“Maybe you should, but humans will find a way to send horses to their deaths anyway.  I don’t care so much for horses myself, they make me sneeze and they have very little to say that’s at all interesting.  You seem like you’d have all manner of interesting things to say.”

“That depends entirely on what interests you.”

“Well put.  I saw you trying to drive off the pack with your crossbow, you’re not a very good shot.”

“That’s true enough, I generally manage to get along fine with my level of skill but this was beyond me, they’re very quick.  And they seem to know what a crossbow is.   That’s the real problem, they see me aiming and they dodge before I can even fire.  And the firing isn’t so easy clinging to a tree in the first place.”

“I would imagine not.  I’m sure they do know what a crossbow is since they’re humans.”

“That would explain why my beastspeech didn’t work on them.  Are they shapechangers then?  Seems like this would be a good time for them to change shape into something that can climb if they want to get at me.”

“No, they are as they appear.  I should say that they were human to be wholly true.  It’s a hag trick, they find some people who don’t want to be human and work their sinister rituals to turn them into these ugly critters.  So the hag gets a loyal pack of hounds that are smart enough to avoid people when they need to and smart enough to find people as she wishes.  It’s a pretty nice bargain for the hag.”

“What do the people get?”

“To run free.  To kill as they desire.  To take their pleasure as they will.  Have you ever met someone who seemed like a monster in human form?  This gives those people the chance to be what they really want.  To embrace this path is to reject humanity in exchange for the power and passion, trading their humdrum lives for corrupted flesh and spirit.”

“Still seems like the hag comes out ahead in the deal.”

“They usually do.  Most people strike a deal with a hag out of pure desperation but some think that they can come out ahead.  What they fail to consider is that they’re deal with an immortal creature that has done this countless of times before, you have to be pretty canny to get the upper hand there.”

“Hags are immortal?”

“Or near enough, they live for thousands of years anyway.  When they don’t get nailed to trees by humans.”

“So a hag is after me and these are her minions?  What the Hells is with this place?  This is like the third hag I’ve run afoul of this week.  There’s a whole dang village of them to the south!  Well I guess I only saw one hag there but I’m lead to believe there were others.”

“You went to that place huh?  No wonder these dogs are after you.  What’s happening is that this land is cursed.  Back when this was the Barony of Cyroa a plague of crows were eating all the farmer’s crops, which is something that farmers don’t like, seeing as how they don’t grow those crops for crows to eat.  They went to the Baron of Cyroa and asked him to do something about it.  The Baron thought about it and didn’t think there was much he could do – it’s not like you can send your soldiers out to fight crows is it?  But the Baron had a wizard advisor, as they often do, and he felt like he could handle the situation easily enough.  The wizard crafted a spell that would kill all the crows, it took some time because making a new spell is very hard work, but eventually he got it done.  Unfortunately though things were more complicated than they seemed, the crows themselves were compelled to be there by the magic of a demon. 

The next Baron over wanted to take over the land of Cryoa so he conspired with the demon to cause a catastrophe that would drive the people out and allow him to annex the lands into his own.  The demon was quite enjoying having his crows eat everything causing the people to suffer and he didn’t want to fun to stop, so he did some demon trickery and messed up the wizard’s spell so they when he cast it instead of killing all the crows it turned them into humanoid crow people.  However this botched spellcasting was just as good because the crow-people couldn’t fly, so the Baron could just sent out his soldiers to kill them at last.  Which is just what he did.  The demon got involved in the fight too but the Baron’s wizard and some of his companions were able to bind him under the ground.  Ever since then there’s been far more hags born here, I mean in the old borders of Cyroa which no longer exist, than there should be by any rights.  And those hags attract others.”

“Hags are born?”

“Yes, they’re born to humans, they don’t turn into hags until later.  That’s where the stories of changelings come from.  That’s one reason for them anyhow, sometimes fey actually do crib swaps like the stories say.  I guess they think it’s funny.  They’re a peculiar bunch.”

“That’s quite a story, is it true?”

“I think so.  It explains all the hags around here anyway.  There’s certainly a demon bound under a big tree a couple miles away.  He’s not a bad company for a demon, likes to fish.  Being alone for all these years are probably softened his demoncity.  I have a theory that it’s being in the Hells that makes demons so bad.  I bet if you take them away from all that for a couple centuries they’d probably turn out to be pretty normal people.”

“People?”

“Sure, why not?”

“You seem like you know quite a bit, any advice on how to get out of this jam?”

“Well you can’t wait them out, they’ll stay down there forever unless their hag mistress calls them back.  And it seems like you can’t fight them or scare them away.  If you could fly away you would have done it already.  I don’t know you so I can’t say for sure but it seems like you can’t get out of this yourself.  I can help you though if you want.”

“That would be very kind of you.  What would you want in return?”

“I can’t think of anything I need so no charge.”

“I hate to be cynical here but that kind of generosity makes me suspicious.”

“I’m just a helpful being, but I don’t blame you for being dubious, it’s a rare quality these days.”

“What are you going to do?”

No sooner were the words out of my mouth then I noticed a few things.  One was that the person I was talking to was gone.  The next was that instead of morning it was now several hours after nightfall.  Also I was in a different tree.  I’m no naturalist but I could tell that it was the dark smooth bark of an ironwood tree, which one hopes places me in the woods of Irontimber.  Below me was a merrily burning campfire with several people sitting around it staring lazily into the fire as people do sometimes when sitting around a fire at night.  One of them was Martialla.  I was frozen for a moment and I looked down at that scene for a long while before believing that it was real.  Eventually I crawled down out of the tree with the aid of my Slippers.  The people around the campfire were naturally very surprised by a woman appearing out of a tree without warning and several of them leapt to their feet reaching for weapons.  Martialla though upon spotting me smiled a lopsided smile, waving for her companions to stay their weapons.  She was about to say something when I lunged forward and caught her in a hug.  I may have even wept a little.  After a moment of confusion she hugged me back and then stepped back to look me over.

“You climbing out of a tree out of nowhere honestly doesn’t surprise me much given your ways, but I don’t think that anything could have shocked me more than that.  You haven’t gone soft have you?  What’s next you’re going to be saying that we’re friends?”

“I’ve never really had a friend before, it took me a while to realize what I was feeling.”

This admission seemed to startle her almost as much as the hug, and she was clearly embarrassed “Well . . . anyway, how have things been going for you?”

“The usual.”

“That bad huh?  No wonder you’re all emotional now.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 23,045 platinum, 19,788 gold

XP: 725,701

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Badge of Last Resort, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Censer of Dreams, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Ring of Urban Grace,  Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering, Token of Summoning, Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Better Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet

Courtier’s Outfit, 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 (27), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring

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