Muthuselan 4 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

When I was fourteen I was riding one day along the Orchard Trail, my horse got spooked by a snake and I was thrown.  When I hit the ground I broke my ankle.  My horse ran off so I had to walk three and a half miles back to the Duke’s estate.  It took me almost four hours and in the process I wandered into a patch of poison ivy and before I realized what had happened I rubbed it into my eye.  Did I cry like an infant almost the entire time?  Yes, yes I did.  But the point is that I did it.  Why I am bringing this up?  I understand that I can’t really understand the pain involved in getting slammed in the dick and I understand that Scrua got kicked so hard it lifted him off the ground and I understand that probably something in there is broken.  But even so that guy was a real baby walking back to the inn. It was only a couple blocks, in the city, on streets, and he still acted like it was a death march.  Get your shit together man.

Once we did finally get back to the inn Bru and Scarlet were doting on him instantly.  That’s another thing that I don’t understand – he’s a good looking man (despite his clothing) but seeing him “injured” doesn’t make him more attractive it makes him less so.  There’s nothing desirable about needing help – handle your own broken junk, that phrasing sounded weird but you know what I mean.  Helping a bird with a broken wing I understand, it’s a bird, it can’t help itself – but people?  If they can’t help themselves you’re not doing them a favor by coddling them.  If you can’t make it on your own you’re not going to make it and people trying to stall that just makes it worse when the end comes.  I jumped onto one of the chairs at the table where Bru and Scarlet were fawning over the sweating and pale Scrua. 

“Before we discuss a fee for finding this Velya character I believe there’s the matter of my five hundred.  Please give the money to the woman behind the counter and then we can talk.”

Bru scowled at me “He’s in no condition for that!”

“Nothing happened to his hands.  Or do you want to reach into his pocket for him?”

Scrau gasped like he was in tremendous pain but he was clearly faking it for sympathy “I don’t have the money on me, when I can I’ll have to go get it for you.”

“Pathetic.  You ladies fancy a card game while we wait?”

Have you heard the expression “withering gaze”?  I could almost literally feel my fur wilt as Bru and Scarlet turned their scornful gaze on me.  Never let it be said that I can’t take a hint.  I went over to the bar and leapt up on a stool to chat with Josta, who as usual was standing behind the bar drinking from a tankard.

“Where’s Fiestia?”

“She left, some errand or other.”

“To do what?”

She shrugged “Couldn’t say, I don’t feel it’s my business to keep track of their comings and goings.”

“You’re going to make a great boss.”

The afternoon passed slowly and boringly.  Bru and Scarlet took Scrua upstairs so they could wait on him more appropriately and Josta isn’t really much of a conversationalist.  It was late in the afternoon, I was dozing on the stairs in a sunny spot when Captain Maple finally returned.  Even though this is the most important thing in the world to me right now I was very tempted to just open one eye and then go back to sleep cat-style. I need to get back to being human as soon as possible, my mind is starting to slip.  I forced myself to get up.

“What’s the news?”

“I’m going to be quick, I don’t want to be seen here.”

“You could have been even quicker if you had bypassed saying that and just told me what you found out.”

“Was Cladarielle doing something with the Lucky Bones gang?”

“She mentioned them when she was telling me who might be able to help me, again you could just tell me what’s going on instead of asking me question if you really wanted to get out of here quickly.”

“I think they grabbed her.  I was able to follow her trail on the day she disappeared to a place called Blossom, she was last seen in the company of a man called Crentist who is a known associate of the Lucky Bones.  After that the trail disappears.”

“Alright, so what are you going to do about it?”

“Why would I do anything?”

“You see that badge on your chest?  I believe that means you’re a captain in the watch.  Captain is a rank in the hierarchy of a military or quasi-military organization.  The city watch is one such organization and is charged with . . .”

“Don’t sass me cat!”

“Do your fucking job then.  Last I knew a citizen disappearing is the kind of thing that the watch investigates.  And this is a prominent citizen not some gross poor person, the law actually applies to someone like her.”

“What am I supposed to put on the paperwork?  I was blackmailed by a whore and a talking cat?”

“Who cares, out whatever you want.  Say a snitch told you about it.  Say you witnessed it yourself.  Say some anonymous citizens filed a complaint.  That’s not a real obstacle, that’s something you’re leaning on because you don’t want to do your job.”

“I did my part, I gound out what there is to find out, if you or Bru ever contact me again I will not be happy.”

“You might be surprised to find out that your happiness means very little to me.  Or maybe you wouldn’t, you see like a sharp enough fellow to have figured that one out on your own.”

He left in a huff, just as Fiestia was coming back – he blundered into her and almost sent her sprawling to the floor.  She looked like she was about to make a sharp comment about him colliding with her but the look on his face disabused her of that notion quickly.  She held the door for him as he marched out angrily and then looked over to me.

“What was that about?”

“He came here looking for you, he said he wanted to marry you and take you away to live in his mansion and command his army of servants.  But since you weren’t here he got angry and then left.”

She scowled “Has anyone ever told you that you have a real sour personality?”

“Yes, frequently.”

Eventually Scrua came back down to the common room with Bru and Scarlet helping him and the three of them went and got my money.  He wanted me to help him find out who Velya was but he had no more money so I told him to take a hike.  Bru and Scarlet were outraged and swore that they would help him.  I wish them good luck.  After they were gone I was sitting at the bar lapping from a bowl of rum that Josta poured for me.

“You should probably slow down, you only weigh like eight pounds.”

“If you’re going to make a living serving alcohol you need to get used to letting people overindulge.”

“Why didn’t you tell the book guy that you’d help him in return for him selling all those books you have stashed everywhere?”

“Because I didn’t think of it!  Why didn’t you say that before?!”

She shrugged “I figured you knew what you were doing.”

“You shrug a lot you know that?  It’s very annoying.  Shrugs have always been poor manners, or at least that is what I was taught. When asked a question, you should give a proper verbal answer.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.  So what are you going to do now?”

“Something I don’t want to do.  A prominent citizen has been kidnapped by wicked men.  I’ve got some money and I’m a mysterious patron at an inn.  If I wasn’t a cat I’d get a mysterious cloak and sit in the shadowy corner drinking mysteriously and not talking to anyone.”

“Adventurers?”

I couldn’t stop myself from hissing “Adventurers.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: 800 gold (held in trust)

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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 

Muthuselan 4 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

After our visit from the smuggler last night my fellow inn-dwellers became very distressed.  Makes no sense to me, there weren’t even any threats of terrible violence.  I didn’t expect a gravedigger and three former streetwalkers to be so skittish.  The point is they were no fun after that, they just drank moodily for a while without saying anything and then went to bed.  I assured them that if anyone tried to come in during the night I would able to hear them with my keen feline ears but in all honestly I was pretty soundly asleep most of the night.  But no one got killed so it worked right?

Before the sun was even up I did hear someone knocking softly on the door.  I threw my voice to whoever this early riser was.

“Sorry, we’re closed.”

“I’m looking for a detective.”

“This is an inn, there’s no detectives here.  Is that right?  There are no detectives here I mean.”

“Can you let me in so we can talk?”

“We are talking.  And no I can’t, not just because we’re closed but also because I can’t reach the doorknob and I don’t have hands.”

“You must be the one I’m looking for then.”

“Pardon?”

“I was told there was a cat detective here that solved a murder.  I need your help.”

“Seriously?  You want to hire me? I can’t even open doors.  Also that just happened, word really gets around, it is pretty interesting I suppose.”

“Even without being able to open doors you solved a case, I need you to do it again.  A rare book seller was found dead in his bathtub and I can’t figure out what happened, the door was locked so no one could have gotten in to kill him.”

“The person locked the door afterwards, or the water was poisoned somehow, or magic, or a thousand other things.  I did solve one murder, sort of, but I’m not a detective.”

“I can give you five hundred gold.”

I sighed “Fine, hold on a second.”

I went upstairs into Bru’s room.  Why her room?  She was the only one whose door was open enough for me to push in.  Let that be a lesson I guess?  I jumped on the bed and pawed at her but she didn’t seem like she wanted to get up.

“Hey, hey, come downstairs and open the door for me.”

She rolled over sleepily “Why should I?”

“Because if you don’t I’ll scratch that pretty face of yours up real good.”

For the record she doesn’t have a pretty face, it’s just okay.  When she opened the door standing on the other side was a handsome fellow with wavy dark hair and a slightly shaggy goatee – he would have been somewhat more handsome if he hadn’t been dressed foppishly but what can you do.  He bowed slightly to Bru who was clearly smitten.

“Good morning ma’am, sorry to disturb you.”

She smiled shyly and all but fanned herself with her hand “It’s no trouble at all.”

“Calm down woman, thanks for opening the door, now beat it – we have business to discuss.”

His name, he claimed, as Ulin Scrua but if that isn’t a fake name I don’t know what is.  He said that he was a frequent patron of the dead bookseller Cweat Holloh and had become worried when Cweat didn’t show up for a meeting where he was going to buy some old book he droned on about for a while.  He went to Cweat’s house and upon finding the door locked and getting no response he broke it down – or so he said, he didn’t look study enough to kick down a door to me – where he found him dead in the tub.

“And so you came looking for a talking cat?  How does that make sense?  Why didn’t you report this murder to the watch?  That seems like the logical thing to do.”

“Well . . . Cweat was a seller of rare books . . . but he also made forgeries sometimes.”

“If he’s dead what does it matter?  He doesn’t have a reputation to maintain.”

“Well . . . I may have been involved . . . somewhat . . . as well.”

“Don’t you make books by copying them?  How is a forgery of a book different from the real thing?”

“Oh, there’s a number of reasons they’re very different.  You see . . .”

“Forget I asked.  Alright let’s go check out this dead guy.  He’s probably all bloated and gross from being in the water all this time.  Five hundred isn’t even enough really.”

“It’s all I have.”

“You’re spending all the money you have to hire a cat to solve the murder of a guy you don’t even really know?”

“Well when you say it like that it sounds weird.”

This early in the morning there weren’t a lot of people out on the streets which made me feel a lot better about walking around – I’m still convinced that I’m going to get stepped on out here.  What a moronic way to die.  There were a few people out and about though – specifically one who I saw come around a corner and point a crossbow at Scrua.  He was yammering on about some book and didn’t notice – I jumped up and dug my claws into his backside.

“Get down you idiot!”

He sort of lurched and ducked involuntarily and the crossbow bolt missed him by the hairs of his chinny chin chin.  The assailant reloaded his crossbow and Scrua was smart enough to duck behind a marble planter for cover.  The man with the crossbow had a green cloth over his face and an odd white tunic with lace up sleeves.  He started walking closer cautiously with his crossbow at the ready. 

“Poke your head up and then instantly drop back down – see if you can get him to fire and waste the shot then you can attack while he reloads.”

Scrua’s eyes went wide “What?!”

“Is that a real sword on your hip or some fancy pants bullshit?”

He looked at the hilt like it was a venomous snake “What?  This?  Yes . . . I mean it’s a real sword.  I’ve never used it, it’s just part of the outfit . . .”

“Wonderful.  Take it out, make sure you don’t poke yourself in the eye.  I’m going to distract the guy, when his back is turned you run out and stab him in the back.”

“Wh-what?  Like you want me to kill him?  Couldn’t I just hit him with the flat?”

“You can try I guess, it’s a court blade so the edge probably isn’t very sharp anyway, but it’s pretty hard to club someone with the wide part of the sword and I don’t think you had much chance of success anyway.”

I threw my voice behind the advancing assassin and he spun around, giving Scrua the chance to spring into action and attack from the rear.  Which he did, he hit the man in the back with the flat of the sword – he didn’t even go for the head – it sounded like giving someone a sharp slap with a leather glove and probably hurt about as much as well.  The man with the green mask swung back around and kicked Scrau so hard in the groin that he flew back half a foot and his legs went flying out from under him just form the force.  I hope he already has children or doesn’t want them.

The thug dropped the crossbow, which for the record really bugs me – take better care of your crossbow buddy, have a little pride – and took an ugly mace from his belt.  You may be thinking “aren’t all maces ugly” but no, they’re not, I’ve seen some maces in my day that were akin to works of art.  I scampered around behind him to the discarded crossbow as he made ready to cave in Scrua’s head.  I managed to nudge the crossbow into position and hit the trigger with my nose.  Amazingly it was a hit – going through Mr. Green’s knee from behind and poking out the front.  It was somewhat nauseating to see. Both men were down and in extreme pain, but the killer pulled out a knife and started crawling towards Scrua – this is one determined murderer.  I ran back over to Scrua.

“I know you just took a hard one to the bags but you need to rally right now man because you’re about to get stabbed.”

Scrua’s groping hand managed to find his slim blade and with a great effort he managed to poke it towards the slowly crawling assassin.  His second poke hit the man in the cheek and glanced off to slice off part of his ear.  His third poke went through the back of the man’s hand and caused him to drop his dagger.  I threw my voice in his direction again.

“Who hired you?”

“Where are you?”

“I’m invisible.  I’m standing over you right now with a vial of acid – if you don’t tell me what I want to know I’m going to empty the whole thing on you.”

“Velya, Velya hired me, don’t burn me!”

“Well there you go Scrua, Velya killed your business associate.”

“How do you know that?”

“She probably hired this guy to stake out the house and see if anyone came snooping around and if they did to take them out too.  Is there another reason Veyla would want you dead?”

“I don’t even know who that is.  Oh, I think I’m going to be sick.”

And he was.  Its odd how being in extreme pain can make you feel nauseated.  I’m not sure how that makes any sense.  What does that help?  The human body has some real issues.  I sat and watched while the hired killer slowly crawled away and Scrua slowly managed to get to his feet.  Even then it was a good fifteen minutes before he could walk.   

“We can still go to the crime scene if you want but Velya did it so I don’t see the point.”

“Who’s Veyla?”

“I don’t know.  How about we go back to the inn and you can pay me my money and we can talk about that?”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: 300 gold (held in trust)

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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 

Mede 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 4

Have you ever wondered why there aren’t more magical people in the city watch?  I have.  I suppose it comes down a matter of trust.  If Jelician the Watchmage wiggles their nose and says “The dwarf did it” how can you be sure they’re telling the truth?  Unless you get some other wizard to cast a spell on them and then how can you be sure they aren’t shining you on and so and so on.  Still the entire process is based on trusting people either way so it seems like having the magic people on board would be better than the method of just hoping that someone saw it happen.  There probably aren’t enough magic people to go around.  Karta and regrouped upstairs to discuss our lack of progress.

“Is this how investigations normally go?  I feel like we’re not really getting anywhere.”

“We’ve only interviewed half the suspects, something is bound to shake loose.  Although, between you and me investigation isn’t really my thing.”

“Let’s talk about that for a moment.  I happened to see a garrote in your room, that coupled with the facts that your boss had a stab wound, you’re staying at an inn, and you don’t want anyone other watch people involved stacks up to make me think that maybe no one here killed him.  Maybe this is related to whatever secret shit you’re getting up to.”

“That thought crossed my mind.”

“And?”

“And nothing.  I can’t tell you anything about that.”

Before I could reply we heard a commotion coming from downstairs and we ran back down where we found Callon putting the boots to the merchant Weaver while Hilo looked on afraid and uncertain.  Gorum and Kichwa were behind the barring clutching at each other in fright.  Karta bellowed at him to stop and Callon did so reluctantly.  Kichwa, near tears, pointed accusingly. 

“Hey tried to take the key from Gorum!”

Callon spat near the merchant as he tried to get to his feet “He must have wanted to get out of here pretty bad.  I wonder why that would be.”

I jumped up onto the bar “Gorum what happened?”

His voice was shaky “He asked me for the key and when I told him that he couldn’t have it he offered me money.  When I said no again he showed me his blade and said that I should give him the key.”

Callon nodded “I saw him flashing his blade and jumped in.  The kid froze.  You’re gonna get yourself killed out on the street if you don’t toughen up junior.  This is a rough business.”

“Especially when you’re out on the street I imagine.  Okay first of all, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been done already, how about you search everyone for weapons and take them so we don’t have an incident like that again.”

Karta took the merchant by the arm “You want to talk to this one next?”

“Of course.” After she was marching the merchant up the stairs I cat whispered to Gorum “If you can talk to the kid, you know, quiet like, and tell him to find me when we can talk in private.  I think he’s the weak link there.”

Weaver is a middle aged fellow balding fellow who is both chubby and fidgety.  He was wearing a garish gold medallion around his neck that made me think of all my gold and jewels and where they were right now.  If I don’t get that stuff back I’m going to be mildly annoyed.  But that’s neither here nor there, well I guess it’s there but you know what I mean.  He had a split lip but otherwise didn’t appear to be too banged up from the rough treatment he had just gotten.

“I’m a member of the guild!  I can’t be treated like this!”

“Obviously you can, I think you mean that you shouldn’t be treated like this.”

“I don’t have anything to do with this, I just wanted to leave!”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but are you stupid?  Did you think threatening a guy in front of a watchman wasn’t going to end with you getting your ass kicked?

“I figured the dwarf would just give up the key and I could slip out, I didn’t really think about what I was doing after he said no.”

“Obviously.  Why are you carrying a blade anyway?”

“My work isn’t always safe, I need to protect myself.”

“What kind of merchant are you exactly?”

“I sell various things to various people.”

I cat grinned “Yes of course, a various merchant.  I think I see what you are now.  That explains why you have a secret pocket in your jacket.  What’s in there right now anyway?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I’m sure, Karta, if you wouldn’t mind.”

Krata made a move towards the merchant who put his hands out imploringly “Wait, no, I have information!  Kichwa is in league with smugglers!  There’s a hidden room in the basement where she stores contraband.  The watch lieutenant must have found out about it and that’s why she killed him.  She works with Imma Shadowrun!”

“How do you know all this?”

“I . . . may have . . . been involved as well.  From time to time.”

“That certainly is interesting.  Now let’s have a look at that jacket.  Do you want to take it off like a gentleman or does Karta need to rip it off your back?  I know that some men like that.”

The jacket didn’t just have a secret pocket, said pocket was extra-dimensional storage like the one I used to have.  I need to remember to get one of those again if and when I ever turn back into a person and need to wear clothes.  Inside was quite the treasure trove, a tidy pile of gold, several gems, a dozen potions, several nice rings, several fake nice looking rings, various maps and letters, and an exquisitely made dagger in an elaborate gold inlayed scabbard that had the word “revenge” etched into the blade.  It looked very much like what you might find in one of my secret stashes. 

“This is quite a nest egg, the various goods business must be very good right now.  Do you have receipts to show were you got all this gold?  You’ve already admitted to being a smuggler, are you a tax cheat as well?”

“I didn’t admit to anything!  I didn’t commit any murder and I’m only trying to help!”

“Indeed.  Karta get the kid up here to watch him and let’s check out that secret room.”

Hilo came up to keep an eye on Weaver and we went back downstairs.

“Kichwa, are you going to make us find the secret room in the basement or do you just want to show it to us?”

Her face fell but after a moment she sighed “I’ll show you, but there’s nothing down there right now.”

The only way down was a narrow ladder, I could have probably made my way down it but I didn’t feel the need – I know they say cats always land on their feet but I’ve only been a cat for a little while now, I may not have the hang of it yet.  Karta went down with her and confirmed there was a secret door that lead to an empty storage room.  When they came back up Kichwa looked absolutely miserable.

“So, Imma Shadowrun?”

She nodded mournfully “I didn’t want to do it, but they didn’t give me a choice.”

“There’s really a lot going on in this one little inn, I wonder if you dig keep enough at any place if you find this kind of intrigue.  You were really getting squeezed huh?  Ferros on one side and these dirty criminals on the other.  Are you sure you didn’t kill Ferros to get loose?”

She started crying “I just wanted him to go away.”

Once again before I could continue with my line of thought there came a hue and cry from up above.  Karta and I ran up into the common room where Callon and the Kostelos woman were locked in a violent struggle.  Karta ran to help him, but there was also a commotion coming from the second floor.  I ran up the stairs to the room where we left Weaver and saw him half-way out the window with Hilo, who had a bloody wound on his head, struggling to hold him by the legs while getting repeatedly kicked in the face.

“Out of the way kid, I got this.”

Hilo looked confused and scared (which seems to be his perpetual expression at this point) but he was used to following orders so he let go.  I summoned the magic of my tattoo and unleashed a dazzling stroke of lightening on the merchant before he could wiggle through the window and drop to the street.  I can’t imagine being electrocuted is ever a good way to go, but you can imagine how being halfway out a window would lead to a really undignified way to get a bolt of lightning.  The kid flopped to the ground in a sitting position, stunned.

“It was me.”

“What?”

“I killed Lieutenant Cole.”

“Why?”

“He found out about Sergeant Skeen and Officer Saetirod.  He was going to tell.  They were going to get into trouble.”

“So you killed him?”

“They were nice to me.  No one has ever been nice to me before . . . and he was a bad person.”

“Are you sure you did this on your own?  Did Callon maybe tell you to do it?  He shook his head numbly , not in a way that said “no” but more like he just couldn’t think about it. “What are you people doing?  What’s the big secret?”

“We’re not the city watch, not really, we’re . . .”

At that moment Karta and Callon came pounding in.

“What was that noise?!  What’s going on up here?”

“Weaver tried to bash the kid and then escape.  I had to fry him.  But he was the murderer.  That’s what he said right Hilo?  He confessed and then he tried to kill you too right?”

 Hilo frowned “What?  I . . .”

“You’ve got a concussion, don’t talk right now.  He can tell you all about it later.  The merchant did it, I heard him say so to Hilo.  I guess we’ll never know why now, but the case is closed.  What was going on downstairs?”

Callon seemed dubious “When we heard a commotion up here the savage went for the stairs.  I grabbed her and she took a swing at me.”

“Well, anyway, I guess things are wrapped up here.  And as a bonus you’ve got a smuggling ring you can bust if you want.  Point is it’s time for me to be on my merry way.  Let’s go downstairs and get that door open huh? 

Turns out we were behind the curve on that one.  When we got downstairs the front door was open and the only one still there was Rindol.  He was sitting at table looking surly.

“When is dinner going to be served?  I’m hungry!” 

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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

Behind the curtain: TWO new maps added to the maps section. Look and enjoy and then tell ten fifteen friends about it.

Mede 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 3

I’ve known some courtesans over the years that get really offended when people call them prostitutes.  Some people just like getting upset I suppose because the difference is a pretty thin one.  Besides which, getting upset doesn’t solve anything, that’s why I try to keep a level head – if someone hurts you hurt them back.  It’s the golden rule.  Despire that however while Scarlet and I once shared a similar profession there is a difference between being the Duke’s consort and working taverns and dives.  I had my tribulations of course, but I was sleeping on sheets that cost more than her year’s wages and all things considered I didn’t have to do a lot to get that life – she on the other hand is on the hustle every day just to get by.  What I’m saying is we don’t have as much in common as you might think.

When Sergeant Karta brought her upstairs for questioning the fresh bruises on her shoulders and neck told me pretty much everything I needed to know.  Her red dress was clearly quite fine a few years ago, which matched precisely the woman wearing it – a mystery writer would call that symbolism and make a big deal about it and think they’re very clever indeed.  There was a part of me that felt sorry for her, that wanted to ask about the sad story that led her to this – husband died, family needed money, etc. – that wanted to help her.  But I have my own problems.  The world is harsh and there’s no reason to pretend that it isn’t.  Giving people false hope isn’t kindness, it’s best to just let them get along with their business. She eyed me curiously as she sat gracefully on the bed.

“I’ve never been interrogated by a cat before.”

“It’s a new experience for all of us.  Looks like this Ferros character was a rough one huh?”

I could feel Karta burning with shame but Scarlet took it all in stride “Nothing I can’t handle.”

“I’m certain of that.  Did he rough you up enough that you’d want to poison him?”

“Is that what happened to him?”

“Yes, do you know anything about it?”

She shook her head slowly “No.”

“Do you have a room here?”

“No, I slept in the common room, Kichwa doesn’t let working girls in her rooms normally – she makes an exception for the Lieutenant on account of he told her he’d close this place down if she didn’t.  He wasn’t a pleasant man.”

“So you have no room to search, if we search you are we going to find anything interesting?”

“You’ll find a few things, but nothing that would kill a man.”

“Except for the knife you have hidden.”

“Yeah, except for that.”

I nodded to Karta who gave Scarlet a thorough once over – finding, in addition to her small blade a few lumps of a drug called Harlot Sweets by some and a small vial of Sweetdream which was confiscated.

“Do you have to take that, it’s expensive.”

“Don’t look at me, I’m just the cat, I’m not the city watch.  Maybe you can submit a form for reimbursement.  Ferros had a wound on his chest, if I were a clever poisoner I think I’d wait until after the fun and then dribble a few drops of Blue Star extract into the wound.”

“Would that work do you think?”

Before I could answer we heard a muffled thump from the next room over.  Karta and I glanced at each other and then we went out into the hallway.  She stood by the door while I crept downstairs on quiet cat paws and summoned Callon to help her.  After a moment they swung the door open, revealing what appeared to be an empty room, but a quick look under the bed dispelled that notion.  They seized a scrawny man by the leg and dragged him from under the bed to much yelling and consternation.  When they dragged him to his feet I saw that he had an abundance of silver earrings and was wearing a much-patched red and black outfit that was very well in fashion about fifteen years ago.  I looked like it might have been the proceeds of graverobbing.       

“Who the hell are you?”

“Nobody, nobody, I didn’t do anything!”

“Well, I’m satisfied we should probably let you go huh?”

Karta and Callon shook the man down and lo and behold what did they find but a bottle containing Blue Star extract. 

“Well that was unsatisfying, I didn’t get to crack the case, it was just some moron hiding under a bed.  Why’d you kill him?”

“Hold on, hold on, wait a minute!  I didn’t do anything, I just snuck in here last night so I could sleep inside, it was cold last night.  I found that bottle, I found it!”

“Is there any reason we should believe that?”

“She saw me, the tribal woman, she saw me sneaking in the window.  I just wanted to be warm, I found that bottle, I found it!”

“The fact that you snuck in doesn’t prove anything, you could have snuck in here to poison him – and honestly you look dumb enough to stick around with the murder weapon afterwards.”

“I didn’t, I swear, I swear!  Why would kill anyone?  I don’t even know who you’re talking about!”

Callon grabbed him by the neck “Maybe someone hired you to do it.”

“Stand down there chief, no one with half a brain would hire this slug to kill a cockroach much less a person.”

“I’m not the Chief.”

“It’s an expression.”  I eyeballed the captive “I’m usually pretty good at reading people but your problem is you’re one of those guys that seems like they’re lying even when they’re telling the truth because they always seem like they’re lying.”

While this was going on Scarlet had bailed out the window and was gone.  Karta and Callon wanted to go after her but I told them not to bother, I was confident that she hadn’t done anything.  They dragged Earrings down with the rest and I told them to search the place and make sure no one else was hiding about – which gave me a chance to look through the other rooms without them hovering over my tiny cat shoulders.  Which they don’t really have.  But you know what I mean.  What are those things?  Front hips? 

It’s hard to riffle through people’s belongings with cat paws but I was able to make due.  Karta’s room was very messy, don’t they teach you to make beds and shit in guard school?  I found a little stone with dwarfen runes on it, which is an old country tradition – you’d trade those stones with your lover, especially when it was a match your family didn’t approve of.  I also found a garrote in her backpack, which doesn’t seem like standard watch issue at all.  It had some blood on it if you were wondering.  There was nothing of interest in Rindol’s room nor that of the Merchant Weaver but in Callon’s room I found another of the same stones.  So Karta and Callon are an item, is that any reason to kill your superior officer?

It occurred to me at this point that I’m not even sure why I’m doing this.  I don’t really care who killed this guy and why they did it, I just want to leave.  I suppose it’s just a childhood thing that I never got over, I want to be like Annebelle Spaulding.  I suppose everyone is entitled to be a little childish once in a while, even me.  We regrouped downstairs and I asked the Kostelos woman in her own language if she had really seen that fool sneaking in the window. 

“Yes.

“Why didn’t you say anything to anyone?”

“I didn’t think it was my business.”

“Isn’t Kichwa your boss?  Wouldn’t you want her to know that she was getting ripped off?”

“I don’t get involved.”

At this point Rindol started pitching a fuss about us talking in Kostelos, he thought we were conspiring somehow.  I told him to cool it.  This did not stop him from putting out the theory that she had brought in meat that was already poisoned and that’s what killed Ferros.

“You all ate that meat didn’t you?  That makes no sense.”

“You just think you know everything don’t you!  What have you learned?”

“Nothing really, this investigator thing isn’t as much fun as I hoped.  Does anyone want to confess at this point?  Besides you Kichwa, you already confessed once.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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

Mede 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

I haven’t read one in some time but I love Annebelle Spaulding books.  I’m embarrassing to admit that I thought she was a real person until not that long ago.  Kudos to the writer I suppose for making the character come to life.  I’m sure many people would look down on me for enjoying that type of story but the fact that I can read at all, and have access to books should be plenty impressive enough on its own.  Her stories always begins when something terrible has happened.  People are confused, afraid, and uncertain how to respond.  Then Annebelle steps up to take responsibility for solving the crime. She doesn’t sit there and wail and cry like a bitch, she’s takes up the mantle and the challenge of finding the murderer.

She elects to make the journey.  When the chips are down and there’s a dead body on the floor it’s easy to turn away, every part of you wants to do – you’re screaming at yourselves not to take the journey.  But she does it anyway.  I live in a world beset by wars, violence, dark magic, hideous monsters, and more disasters than you can shake a dead body at.  A good murder mystery soothes you with sweet lies.  They tell us a tale that begin with evil events, but call forth the efforts of people who can rise to heroic heights and reassure us that, with great effort, evil can be overcome. I like a good murder mystery because they entertain me with things that don’t exist – redemption, hope, and advancing from fear to reassurance.

I hope that I can do Annebelle proud.

“Okay, first things first, is there anyone else in the joint or is this it?”

Kichwa, holding Goum’s hand in fright said that there was no one else there, but she didn’t seem to know that the Kostelos broad was here so how reliable is she anyway? 

“Okay then, Callon, Hilo you two stay here and watch over this lot – make sure no one leaves of course but keep them from chatting with each other too, we may be dealing with a conspiracy here.  Sergeant let’s go have a look at that body.”

Callon started to bristle again at the idea of taking orders from a cat but Sergeant Karta told him to pipe down and just do it.  The sergeant and I made our way upstairs to the room where Ferros was staying.  Had been staying?  Are you still staying somewhere if you’re dead?  It was the largest and nicest in the place, which meant that it was about the same as the worst room at any inn I wouldn’t mind staying at.  The man of the hour was lying face-down on the floor in an awkward sprawl, his head and neck an ugly bluish-grey.

Karta gestured vaguely “This is exactly how I found him.”

“Well I think you’re right, I think he was killed.”

“What makes you say that?”

“I can smell the poison.  Extract of Blue Star flower.”

“How do you know so much about poisons?”

“I don’t know anything about poisons, but Blue Star flowers grow in pastures where they graze cattle and you have to get rid of them, or at least make sure that the cows don’t eat them.  It usually won’t kill a cow, but it does get passed through the milk – that’s how my cousin Melmur died.”

She pointed to a nightstand “There’s a cup over there, is that where it came from?”

I jumped up on the bed to have a sniff “No, this is just ginger tea with honey.  I don’t see any other food or drink up here, so let’s talk to the chef.  First though, let’s talk motive.  Why would the dwarf poison your boss?”

“It’s hard to imagine that someone would kill over this, but we were staying here for free.  Ferros more or less intimidated her into giving us free room and board.  He didn’t treat her very well either.  He’s . . . . from an upper class family and he’s not always nice to . . . certain people.”

“I know the type.  How long have you been here?”

“We stay here when we’re working on cases sometimes.”

“And why is that again?  Why were four members of the watch staying at an inn rather than the barracks or their own homes?”

“I can’t say.”

“Oh right, I forgot.”

The Sergeant went down to grab Kichwa and I took that opportunity to snoop around some more on my own – for all I know she did it herself.  There didn’t seem to be anything else of relevance that I could tell.  Karta came back with the dwarf innkeeper and we went across the hallway to one of the empty rooms – it wouldn’t do to question someone in the same room as the dead guy.  Everyone knows that’s bad luck.        

“Did you make Lieutenant Ferros anything to eat last night?”

“Yes, last night I made pan seared boar with garlic roasted potatoes and beets for everyone.  And I make fresh bread every day as well.”

“Did Ferros eat down in the common room or did you bring it up to him?”

“I brought him his food.”

“I didn’t see any dishes up there, did you take them away after he was done eating?”

“Yes, and he was fine when I saw him.”

“You seem nervous.”

“I’m very nervous, someone died in my inn – a member of the watch!  People aren’t going to want to come here anymore, I could be ruined.”

“That makes sense, are you sure it isn’t because you poisoned him instead?    

“No, I would never!”

I looked over at Karta “Well this is interesting, I’m pretty sure she was telling the truth about him being fine but she’s lying about that.  She did poison him.”

Karta’s eyes narrowed “How do you know that?”

I swished my tail, which is the cat equivalent of a shrug “I have a sense for these matters, I know a thing or two about lies and liars.”

“That’s not a lot to go on.”

“You’re a watchman, er, watchwoman, start kicking the shit out of her, make her talk.  You know, with violence, as is your way.”

Before Karta could say anything Kichwa, who turned white as a sheet upon hearing the remark about being beaten, spilled the beans.

“I admit, I admit, don’t hurt me, I did poison him!”

Karta blinked in surprise “Well that was easy.”

“Why you’d do it?”

Tears started streaming down her face “I didn’t mean to kill him, I just wanted to make him sick so he’d stop coming here.  I barely make any money as it is and giving away free meals and rooms to him and his men is going to drive me out of business!  The last time they were here I had a wealthy merchant in the big room and Ferros made me kick him out so he could stay in there, the merchant was so mad I had to refund all his money and he had already been here for three days!”

“Well there you have it, the dwarf did it, I saw it coming honestly.  If you just wanted to make him sick why did you use Blue Star extract?  And where did you get it?”

A look of confusion passed over her face “Blue Star?  What do you mean?  I put bitterroot leaves on his boar.”

“Show me.”

All eyes were on us as we went back downstairs and went across to the kitchen – I don’t know how much they could hear but it was obvious that something was afoot.  The kitchen had been very well organized before the watchkid and the Kostelos deliverywoman had a donnybrook in there but it didn’t matter because Kichwa didn’t go for any of the jars of herbs anyway – she had a sack in a drawer where there were a few bitterroot leaves. 

“I should have known, the first lead is always a red herring, the false confession?  That’s standard.”

Karta frowned at me “What are you talking about?”

“Just something I was thinking about earlier.”

“Well Kichwa you can rest easy, you can’t kill anyone with this.  Although I suppose it’s possible that you also poisoned him again later, that would be a good twist.  Let’s establish a timeline, after you came up and cleared away his dishes did you see him again?”

She seemed a little dazed “No.  But I saw Scarlet go up to his room maybe an hour later.”

“Who’s Scarlet?”

I saw Karta look away in embarrassment as Kichwa blanched slightly “She’s . . . a lady of the night.”

“Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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

Mede 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

I tried to think of some actions that I could take other than merely waiting for Cladarielle to solve all my problems for me – I don’t like playing the victim – but I couldn’t come up with anything that wasn’t grasping at straws of the most egregious nature.  So I spent the morning lying around Gorum’s bookstore – between yesterday and this morning I’ve seen a sum total of zero customers come through.  It’s a miracle that someone happened by to open the door and let me in at all.  Late in the afternoon Gorum closed up the shop and we went to an inn a few blocks away for lunch.  There was nothing very impressive about it but the owner and sole employee was a fellow dwarf that Gorum was clearly sweet on so that explains why we were there.

While Gorum is extraordinarily tall and skinny for a dwarf Kichwa Heavyhammer is exactly as short and broad as you’d expect – but she had blonde hair in an elaborate braid-crown that was rather fetching.  Have you ever seen two socially backwards dwarfs try to flirt?  It’s like the verbal equivalent of a full body dry heave.  I have a feeling this has been going on for years and will probably continue so until they both die of old age hundreds of years from now before either one of them summons the courage to make a move.  I did my best to ignore them as I enjoyed some rabbit stew.  Definitely not the kind of fare that I would have liked as a person but as a cat it was wonderful wonderful. 

At one point a long haired fellow in a fancy blue robe interrupted the abomination of the two dwarves awkwardly making passes at each other to complain.

“What kind of establishment is this?  There’s a cat on a table over there!”

I glanced over and realized that it was one of the scholars that I had rescued from the woods “Not that long ago I saw you shoveling barbecued spider thorax into your face Rindol, I wouldn’t worry about a little cat hair if I were you.”

He rocked back as if he had been punched in the chest “How did you see that?!”

“Because I’m a witch!”

I hissed at him and he scurried back to his table and slammed a bycocket on his head like it was some manner of witch-repellent and buried his nose in a book while he nursed a large mug of something. Probably something pussified like small beer.  Kichwa was momentarily stunned and worried by this exchange but she quickly went back to flirting gracelessly with Gorum. The next interruption was a little more serious. A tall woman with bushy black hair in a guard uniform wearing a breastplate came striding down the stairs and slammed the front door shut. 

“There’s been a murder!  No one is to leave the premises.” She pinned Kichwa with her glare “Keys, now!”

After a moment of frightened inaction Kichwa tossed the woman a ring of keys which she used to lock the front door as two more guardsmen came scrambling down the stairs – one was a handsome middle-aged fellow with sideburns so straight you could use them as a ruler and the another that looked like he was about sixteen years old and alternated between stumbling over his feet and stumbling over his words.  She tossed the keys to the older fellow.

“Callon, lock the back door, Hilo check for any other ways out of here.”

As they obeyed her commands the woman looked over the handful of people in the common room with piercing eyes.

“I just found our commanding officer dead in his room, which means that one of you killed him.  And . . .”

“Why were you staying in an inn?”

She looked around for who spoke, her eyes sliding over me, which is reasonable.

“Yeah, me, the cat, I said that – there’s talking cats now.  If you’re with the watch why would you be staying at an inn?”

“That’s none of your concern.”

“I mean it is and it isn’t.  The only thing I know for sure is that neither I, nor my friend Gorum here killed anyone because we just got here.  From my point of view you may have killed your own officer, and through that lens the fact that you’re staying here is my concern because that’s a very strange thing for a watchman to do.  Er, watchwoman.” 

Sideburns came back with the keyring in his hand “How dare you accuse the sergeant of that!  I’ll have you know . . .”

She held her hand up to forestall whatever he was going to say “No, no the cat is right.” She shook her head like someone trying to wake up “I’m sorry, that was just a weird thing to say.  Everyone else here was here last night, the cat and the male dwarf are the only ones who we know didn’t do it.”

“So there’s an easy solution here, let Gorum and I out and we’ll find a watchman and tell him to send a squad over – they’ll handle the investigation and everything will be great.”

She didn’t hesitate for a moment before speaking “No.”

“No?”

“We can’t do that.  We can’t involve any member of the watch outside of those of us here now.”

“Okay, you’re staying in an inn and you don’t want to involve any other member of the watch?  That’s insanely suspicious.  Is there any reason to believe you even are part of the watch?  Those could be uniforms you stole.”

Her underling was about to get all bristly again, but at that moment there came a cry and hew from the kitchen.  Sideburns stuffed the keys into his pocket as he and the sergeant ran toward the yelling.  I cat galloped across the floor to get a look as well.  In the kitchen the young watchman was being throttled by a large strong-looking Kostelos woman with an ugly birthmark.  The two guards sprang to the aid of their compatriot, seizing the woman by the arms and bending them back in ways arms weren’t designed to bend.  Once his throat was free he young guard fell to the floor grabbing at his neck and managed to croak.

“She was trying to get away!”

As the three of them were struggling I called out to the woman in her native tongue to stop fighting them or she was going to get her skull bashed in.  She seemed more surprised to hear Kostelos being spoken at all than she was by the fact that it was being spoken by a cat.  She did stop resisting which bought her a punch to the gut from Sideburns once they had her under control – if there’s one thing guardsmen like it’s getting in a few extra blows once you’re given up.  I think there would have been more if the sergeant hadn’t ordered him to stop.  They dragged her out into the common room and threw her into a chair, Sideburns then going back into the kitchen to close and lock that door as well.

Rindol felt the need to speak up at this point “Well there’s your murderer right there.”

Kichwa was outraged “She’s not a murderer, she brings me meat and groceries!”

Sideburns sneered “Why was she trying to leave then?”

“Probably because you guys shouted for no one to leave, strangely that tends to make people want to leave immediately – they’re funny like that.  Before we start slinging accusations around how did this officer of yours die?  Are you sure he was murdered?”

The sergeant shook her head “I’m not sure how he died.  He had a wound that he got yesterday but it’s not one that would be fatal and there’s no time for infection to have set it.  I found him lying on the floor of his room, he was still in his clothes so it looks like he never went to bed.”

“It’s well past midday, why were you just looking in on him now?”

“We had a late night on a case.”

“Alright, here’s the plan, first of all Callon give those keys over to my friend Gorum here – that way everyone can be confident that they’re in the hands of a neutral party.  Then let’s go take a look at this dead officer and see what’s what.”

Callon looked at his sergeant “Are we really going to be taking orders from a cat?”

After a moment of thought she answered “I don’t think we have a choice.  We don’t know what happened here.”

Callon was struggling to keep a calm tone “You know that we didn’t do anything to Theros.”

The sergeant looked him square in the eye “I don’t know that Callon.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  NA 

Funds: None

XP: 348,051

Inventory:  Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)

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