Muthuselan 7 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

One thing I don’t care for in literature is when the writer has their character talk about their dreams – or just writes the dream itself like it’s happening and then pulls the rug out from under you like a jerk.  It’s hard enough to care about a real dream let alone one removed a step back from actuality.  The point is that I had a dream last night wherein I woke up and was a person again without explanation.  I won’t bore you with details but the gist of it is that I kept asking questions about how I got returned to my true form and in doing so unraveled the whole thing and ended up as car again.  What’s the lesson there supposed to be?  Don’t question things?  Nice try subconscious. 

That mourning the booze deliveryman showed up with his booze wagon.  He was not that old but his hair was completely snow white.  On his wagon where there should have been a seat instead he had another barrel strapped and he was riding a third horse leading the other two.  Seems like an illogical and awkward set-up.  I got to observe first hand Josta stumble her way through the very simple transaction of taking in barrels of beer and handing over money.  I think she may have become a gravedigger because she doesn’t know how to interact with people at all.  I guess she’s going to learn.  Once that “excitement” was over Josta immediately cracked open one of the barrels and went to work.

“Do you think you might considering opening this place now?”

After a moment she shook her head “No, seems too soon, I’m still getting my feet wet.”

“Is that where all the beer goes?  I think you should consider my idea of hiring some folks to run this place – you got a decent amount of money from the stuff left behind here but you’ll drink it all away fast enough.  You should get some revenue coming in.”

“Actually I was thinking about selling the place.  Based on what you said before I should be able to get three grand, that should set me up for a good while.”

“It’s not a bad idea, but then you’d need someone to forge a deed for you.  Or find the real deed and have them make some alterations there.  And you’d need to find a buyer.  I still think your best move is to hire some staff and just sit back and let the money come in.”

“Seems like a lot of work?”

“How?  The staff does all the work.”

She just shrugged in that annoying way of hers.  With nothing much else to do we went up to Kichwa’s old room to see if we could find a deed anywhere.  If nothing else Josta needs to hire a maid to keep up the rooms – her standard of cleanliness is pretty low and this place has a magic washtub in the basement.  It literally couldn’t be easier.  Unless you hired a maid.  Is there a male version of a maid?  I’ve never heard of such a thing.  While we were searching I heard with my keen cat ears someone coming in the door downstairs.  Leaving Josta to her rooting around I cat-padded to the stairs and took a peek. 

Standing in the common area looking around purposefully was a no-nonsense looking woman with a narrow face, sharp eyes, and tousled shortish chestnut colored hair.   I guess she wasn’t all no-nonsense because he boots had pretty silly buckles on them, so maybe a little nonsense.  Hiding around the corner I threw my voice down to her.

“Sorry, but we’re closed at the moment.  Renovations you see.  There’s been a chance in ownership and we’re getting ready for the grand reopening.”

She glanced around, searching for the source of the disembodied voice I would assume.  “That’s okay, I’m not here to drink or rent a room.  Or whatever the trade of this place is now.  I’m looking for someone.”

“They’re not here.”

She smiled slightly “But I didn’t even say who I was looking for.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, do you want to tell me who you’re looking for and then I can tell you that there aren’t here?”

She gave up a tiny chuckle “I think I’ve found her.  Ela, my name is Stella Roseblack and Baron Juost sent me to help you.”

“Baron?  Not Baroness?”

“The man himself, back from his triumph over the barbarous tribesmen of the foothills.”

“So then Calastria must have gotten through with my message.”

“I don’t know anyone by that name.  A woman called Martialla was there explaining your situation and she had Duke Lodvocka’s boy in tow.  That’s why I’m here, I actually work for the Duke not Baron Juost – I’m on loan.”

“Well if this is a trap it’s a good one.”

I came to the top of the steps and curled my tail around my legs, her eyes flickered to me for a moment and they reasonably slid away assuming I was just the innkeeper’s pet.

“Nope, it’s me, I’m a cat now.”

She was slightly alarmed but only slightly “Your friend didn’t mention that as one of your problems.”

“It’s new.  Why isn’t Martialla here with you?”

“The Baron has her working on other matters.  How are you doing that with your voice?”

“I’m a woman of many talents.  Or I am when I’m a woman anyway, right now I’m just a cat of a few talents.”

She pursed her lips “And here I was expecting just a legal battle to fight.  No wonder if took me three days to find you.  This is going to be a little more complicated.”

“How did you find me?”

“In the end?  Magic.”

“Of fucking course.  What exactly are you commissioned to help me with?  Is there room on the list to ward me against magic findings?  People seem to track me using magic with startling regularity and generally they’re not coming to help me.”

I came downstairs to talk to my “savior” and after a while Josta came down as well – without comment she returned to her usual spot behind the bar and started in with her new job of lifting a tankard to her mouth.  Stella claimed to be a troubleshooter of sorts for Duke Lodvocka but she assured me that she was the problem solving kind not the problem disappearing kind. 

“I should be able to quash the bounty that Glilcus and Stolo have out for you, have the local authorities charged you with murder?”

“No, but I did piss off the mayor.”

“How’d you do that?”

“I captured a cell of Ulpine terrorists that were plotting against the Crown.”

“How did that piss him off?”

“He’s an asshole.  Will the Vultur people give up at this point even if the law office rescinds the bounty?  They seem like the tenacious sorts.  And by tenacious I mean obsessive to the point of self-destruction.”

“I’ll deal with them.  Assuming you didn’t anger the mayor enough to incentivize him to do something drastic I think we’re going to be in good shape.  If we can figure out a way to turn you back into a person.  That’s somewhat of a challenge.”

“Believe me, I know.”

“What . . .”

She was interrupted by the door flying open dramatically and who should breeze in but the Five Torches – and with them was Cladarielle Staelish, wearing a tattered shift and looking a little ragged but none the worse for wear. The dragonman threw his arms up in the air was if he were a triumphant gladiator standing before a crowd of thousands.

“Behold!  We have returned!”

“I can see that.”

“Barkeep some ale for me and my friends!  It’s a celebration!  I tell you plain my good ladycat it was a fearsome fight but the Five Torches were up to the task and Bywan Staelish’s wife is returned safe and sound!”

I looked to Cladarielle “Is that true?  Are you safe and sound?”

She nodded “I could use a shot and a bath but overall safe and sound is right.”

I told Cladarielle there happened to be a very nice magical bathtub downstairs and as she retired to cleanse herself Pesh (as I learned his name was) downed a baker’s dozen of stiff drinks and told the tale of he and his friend’s mighty battle against the Lucky Bones.  The half-elf and the dwarf chimed in with corrections and cutting remarks respectively but the elf and the Halfling just stood there looking surly and nervous correspondingly – those two aren’t much for celebrations I don’t think.  Pesh also managed to make some frisky remarks to Stella as he wove his story but he barely even allowed time for her to respond before continuing with his rambling and outlandish discourse – which is for the best because she didn’t seem to relish being hit on by a scaly braggart.

“You managed to save the maiden and none of you died?  What’s the catch?  Are you wanted by the guard now?”

He grinned, or at least showed his razor-teeth “Far from it madam, we worked with the city watch to effect this rescue.  They helped us find the malefactors and then we did the rough stuff – the city watch is well equipped for pick pockets and the like but they need the help pf specialists when dealing with more exotic threats like the Lucky Bones.  Their leader was in fact a bearded demon in disguise.  He gave us quite a run for our money but in the end Keif was able to send him back to the damnedable void that spawned him isn’t that right?”

The elf may have nodded slightly, his arm crossed in a surly manner.

“So what went wrong?  You’re adventurers, you must have create an even worse problem in solving this one.”

His laughter was truly booming, I almost cat-jumped straight into the air “Nay fair feline, you’ll find none of that malfeasance with the Five Torches.” He slammed his fist on the table. “We stand together and we deliver!  Isn’t that right Neddly?”

The Halfling nodded timidly and managed a smile.  Pesh laughed again and honestly some items behind the bar rattled.  I’m sure they did something that’s going to come back to bite me in the ass, but there’s no point in trying to suss that out now.  I had Josta pay them their “unwanted” reward and they turned that money right back round, enjoying their revels, mostly Pesh.  After a while Cladarielle came back up to sit down at the table with Stella and myself.

“Did you see any clothes down there?  You can borrow them if you want to get out of that shift.”

“I did but they all seemed a little whory.”

“That’s probably because they were left here by whores.”

“That would explain it.”

“So, I take it that the Lucky Bones won’t be helping me out.”

“No, I would imagine not since they’re all either dead, in jail, or banished back to the fiery pits of hell.  They didn’t seem like the helpful type anyway.”

“I’m sorry that this happened to you trying to help me out.”

“Think nothing of it, it’s the most excitement I’ve had in years.  I’ve gotten rusty, back in the day I wouldn’t have been overwhelmed by punks like that.  Honestly though I think they grabbed me on a whim and then panicked once they realized who I was.  For the group with disguised demon in charge they were we kind of milksops.  They didn’t even torture me.”

“Well regardless I am sorry.  This is Stella Roseblack, the Baron sent her to help me out so you’re off the hook – you’ve had enough trouble.”

She shook her head resolutely “Not by a half I haven’t.  I said I was going to help you and I meant it.  I’m sure if the three of us put our heads together we can come up with a plan.”

All this good fortune in one day?  Something bad is going to happen.  And soon.  It has to.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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, Rindol the Sage 

Muthuselan 5 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

I’ve been a cat for eleven days now.  Which seems impossible for a lot of reasons but it makes you think.  When I woke up in Graltontown at the time I would have bet pretty heavily that within six months I’d have taken care of Duke Eaglevane.  Or at least be pretty close to it.  And here I am no nearer to having revenge than I was then.  Farther away maybe.  All the hustling, all the lies, all the bloodshed, all the horrible things that have happened.  And for what?  It’s hard to see the path forward sometimes.  But what is there so do but keep walking it?  Nothing. 

Some poet or other said something along the lines of “Your footprints are the only road. There is no road; you make a path as you walk.”  Mostly it’s arty nonsense but the point is that there really is no clear path. You find the path by walking and making the path, by moving forward in spite of not knowing what’s going to happen. You can stand there and look for the path but you’ll never see it because you haven’t made it yet.  If you can see the path ahead of you you’re follow someone else’s path and that may or may not be a good idea but either way you need to realize that’s what it is. 

If you are trying to craft the perfect solution, life will remind you that there is no such thing with a swift kick in the ass.  Trial and error is all we have – move forward, don’t shillyshally and expect an answer to come by standing still. The answers come by taking action, often any action.  But enough philosophical claptrap.  Last night Josta and Fiestia agreed to make the rounds at some drinking-holes and bars to spread the word about “adventurers wanted”.  I wasn’t sure what impact this would really have and was shocked to find in the morning that there was a queue outside the inn.  A day spent interviewing prospective adventurers is pretty close to a living nightmare for me. Josta was looking out the window in awe/fear at the assembly outside “her” place.  She turned to me.

“What should I do?”

“Tell them that there’s a one silver piece cover charge, that should weed out the complete loons.  Then get ready serve some drinks at highly jacked up prices.”

“What if they drink all the booze?”

“That’s a good thing, you’re supposed to be running a business here remember?”

“But then what I am going to drink?”

“You take the money you earn and buy more.  This is pretty simple stuff.  I know your previous job didn’t involve selling anything but you must understand the concept.”

Charging a fee just to come in did get rid of a few people but it seemed to inflame the rest – a quest where you have to pay just to hear about it?  That must be one Hells of a quest!  I have no clue how to decide which insane murder is better than the next so I sat through a couple interviews with these “people” and listened to their ridiculous backstories.  Who knew there were so many people whose parents were killed by orcs that were raised by the church to be righteous warriors?  My next brainstorm really thinned out the herd – no singles, I was looking only for adventuring bands.  Not like music bands, you know what I mean.  One group of singles tried to get together real quick and fool me but their story fell apart pretty quickly.  Group lies are hard to pull off.  It’s interesting to me that all these folks with their wild tales of their origin didn’t seem interested at all why they were talking to a cat.  Not one person asked about that.  I guess interesting isn’t the right word, adventurers are rampaging narcissists so it’s actually completely expected behavior.

It’s well know that the more racially diverse a group of adventurers is the better they are, no one knows why that is but it’s true.  With that in mind I decided to talk to the group that was made up of an elf, a half-elf, a Halfling, a dwarf, and a dragonman.  Er, dragonperson.  Sure they broke the rule by having five members instead of four but they were diverse as fuck.  Plus the dragonguy was wearing real clothes.  I’ve only seen a couple dragonpeople in my life and they were usually running around almost nude – this guy was dressed normal.  Well, not normal, but normal for an adventurer. That’s something that bears further investigation.  The dragonman swept into the area with his companions trailing behind him and spoke in a rich honeyed voice.

“Good day to you talking cat, what manner of job do you have for the Five Torches this day?”

“Cladarielle Staelish has gone missing, it’s possible that she’s run afoul of the Lucky Bones.”

The half-elf made some kind of sissy noise of distress “Bywan’s Staelish’s wife has disappeared?”

“Yes, although I believe she has an identity outside of being married to Bywan.  I’ll have to check on that but I’ll get back to you.”

The dragonman frowned, I think, it’s hard to tell with a face like that. “Is Bywan looking for her also?”

“He’s out of town on another matter.”

The dwarf grunted “What’s the pay?”

Before I could answer the dragonman struck a dramatic pose “We need no payment to find the wife of a local hero!  Bywan Staelish has done much for Beresford, it would be churlish of the Five Torches indeed to expect gold for rescuing his ladywife.”

The Halfling was wringing his hands nervously “We’ve had run-ins with the Lucky Bones before, what makes you think Bywan Staelish’s wife fell into their hands?  I don’t think that he ever had any dealings with them.”

“She was last seen at the Blossom in the company of a fellow called Crentist, who I’ve told is an associate of the Lucky Bones.”

The half-elf nodded “He is indeed.”

The dragonman scratched his chin.  Or muzzle maybe.  Whatever dragonpeople have he scratched it.  “The Blossom you say?  Most curious.”

“What is that place?”

“It’s a tea room.  Of sorts.  It’s something of a neutral ground for the criminal element.  It’s an odd place because it’s not the kind of dive you expect to find low down dirty thieves, it’s a high class establishment.  Sort of.  It’s like a fancy brothel only it’s not a brothel.  If that makes any sense.”

 “None really, but you’re hired.  I like your price.”

The dwarf grumbled and the dragonman spoke again “We’ll do this a public service of course, but if we do find her of course we wouldn’t say no a monetary reward.  For the effort you know.  A reward for finding a missing person is pretty commonplace, I’m not asking for one mind you, I’m just saying that if one were to be offered . . .”

“Eight hundred gold.”

The elf scoffed and the dwarf looked dismayed, but the dragonman smiled – which is a curious site indeed.  “Excellent.  Then we shall be off!”

“I was debating whether I should come with you or not.”

For the first time the dragonman seemed off-balance “For what reason?”

“Just to make sure that everything goes smoothly.”

“Madam . . . cat, this is likely to be a dangerous expedition.  I’m not sure what use you . . . I mean to say, what I mean is that even the Five Torches might not be able to ensure your safety.  I mean . . . such as you are.  Ahem.”

“Yes, that’s my concern as well.  But don’t wizards go on quests with their stupid familiars?  Owls and ravens and lizards and shit?  How do they keep them alive?  Seems like it would be pretty easy for a gnoll to squish a fox.”

“I couldn’t say madam, we don’t have any arcane spellcasters in our band.”

“I knew I liked you guys for a reason.”

The half-elf held up his hand like he was in school “I’m an arcane spellcaster.”

The elf sneered at him “You’re a troubadour Gareth, shut up.”

The Halfling stepped forward “I could carry you in my backpack, but if we got in a fight it does seem like it would be pretty dangerous.”

“That sounds awful.  I guess I’m going to have to trust you.  You won’t let me down will you?”

The dragonman looked like he wanted to dramatically take off a big floppy hat but he wasn’t wearing one.  “Never madam!  For the Five Torches word is unbreakable bond.  When we say that we’ll do a thing that thing is as good as done.”

Gareth smiled “Would you like to know why we’re called the Five Torches?  It’s quite a tale.” 

“No.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

Here’s a philosophical question for you – if a pimp gets electrocuted and no one cares did it make a sound?  There’s a part of me that thinks out of all the murders I’ve committed (justifiably in self-defense obviously) I should feel the best about this one.  One less pimp ion the world right?  I could feel like this was for a purpose. I could feel good about myself for what I did. Like I did something constructive with my life or like I accomplished something.  But in the end what does it really matter?  You can’t kill your way to a better world, unless you kill everyone, and that’s more a draw than a win really.  Pimps are just the pustule, they’re not the disease. 

Anyway, enough pimp talk, Scarlet and her pals Fiestia (ugly corset) and Bru (washerwoman) after they got over their initial shock of witnessing a horrible death and then the more perverse shock of actually experiencing freedom (of a sort, I mean only rich people are truly free and lot of them choose not to be) got to work helping me out.  Cladarielle isn’t as famous as her husband, of course, but she’s known around town so they didn’t think it would be hard to track her down.  They tossed around a couple ideas but the one that was by a wide margin the most promising was contacting a watch captain by the name of Sharn Maple.  He was a regular of Bru’s but she was worried that he would be angry if they approached him to ask for them. 

“Yeah, that’s why he’s going to help us.”

She frowned “How’s that?”

“He’d be angry because he doesn’t want people to know that you know him, and the best way to get rid of you is to help you as soon as possible.  Well or kill you, but that seems like an overreaction.”

“But if I do that I might lose him as a customer!”

“So what, you guys work at an inn now.  Although might I suggest that you now have a pretty solid basis for a blackmailing business as well.”

Scarlet raised an eyebrow “Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Yes, but nothing ventured eh? Okay Bru, here’s what you do – send the guy a note saying you’re knocked up and you need money to get out of town.  You don’t say outright that if you don’t get the money people will find out about the whole sordid mess but you hint at it.”

“I can’t write.”

“No worries, I’ll write for you.”

Scarlet looked dubious “Can you hold a pen in your paw?”

“What?  Oh right.  Sorry I forgot I was a cat for a moment.  Can any of you write?” They shook their head. “Alright then, I know a place we can go to figure this out.”

We headed over to Gorum’s shop.  I expected that he might be there but apparently he loves Kichwa even more than his books because there was no sign of him – they must have run from the inn and just kept running.  It’s good to know that true love exists.  Granted it’s easier when you don’t really know the person you’re in love with, let’s see how they’re doing in six months.  For that matter as long as dwarves live do they even believe in monogamy?  I’m not sure I even want to know. 

Fiestia was able to tease open the lock but for some reason she did a whole innocent act before admitting that she could.  Who was she trying to fool?  Once inside I found a book that was one tutors use to teach kids that had a couple pages with big block letters and I was able to point out the letters for Scarlet to copy with the plentiful ink and paper in the place to write out the message.  It was tedious and took a long time but she actually did pretty well considering.  The writing was somewhat childish looking, but what can do you?

“Next we find a courier and the trap is set.”

Scarlet spoke for the group “What are we going to pay him with?  We don’t have any money.”

“Bullshit.”

“Okay, we don’t have any money we’re going to spend on this.”

“That I can accept.  Let’s go over to Gorum’s house and see how much of a hurry he left in.”

“Isn’t that robbery?”

“Yes.  You lot are awfully uptight for prostitutes, crime is crime don’t get bogged down in the details.”

“Ex-prostitutes you mean, we work at an inn now.”

“Of course that’s what I meant.”

Gorum’s shack was untouched as far as I could tell.  He and Kichwa must have literally left town together as soon as they were out of the inn.  Or maybe a bugbear ate them.  Doesn’t matter which I suppose.  There were a lot more books, which probably can be sold but that’s not really quick cash.  More promisingly we found a leather cutlery case with steel knives inside, a silver decanter, and a brass jar.  Scarlet “happened” to know a fence called Egg who we went to see next in his basement lair at 83 Grimalkin Lane.  I was expecting him to be bald because of the name but he had a full hair of hair – he wasn’t a bad looking fellow for a weasely asshole fence – so I have no idea why they call him Egg.

Scarlet bargained with the guy for what seemed like a year over these simple items and I wanted to get angry about it, but I remember what it’s like to live or die on every coin – because I was doing it less than a year ago.  You should bargain as long as you can – words cost nothing and they can get you gold.  It’s like magic only anyone can do it.  Eventually the goods and coin were exchanged and as a bonus Egg had a short guy with a horse-face (not literally, although I saw a guy once that was cursed by a witch to have a horse head) that was willing to carrying the message for us.  It was getting on to the dinner hour so we went to a restaurant nearby to await the reply.  I had to hide under the table and eat off a plate on the floor.  I didn’t care for that.  Egg’s messenger returned with instructions to meet the Captain by the Statue of the Maker in an hour.

“Hells no, send the guy back a note saying we’ll meet him at the inn.”

“Why?”

“When you’re putting the squeeze on someone you don’t want to let them dictate the location of the meet.  If this guy does want to slit your throat and toss your body in an alley for the dogs you don’t want to let him set up an ambush.  We’ll meet him on our home territory.”

“We only moved to the inn yesterday, how much of an advantage could it be?”

“Sure but you know what I mean.”

Rather than messing about with a another note we just had the courier take him the message verbally.  When we got back to the inn Josta was puttering around not doing much of anything with a mug of beer in her hand. 

“I was wondering where you girls had gotten to.  I see the magic cat is back.”

“With a vengeance.  We’re going to use your place to meet with a watch captain we’re blackmailing.  Do you have a crossbow?”

“No, but it he gets out of line I’ll bash him with my shovel.”

“Good enough.”

The watch captain was a tall fellow that had one of those weird baby faces – not that he looked young exactly, he looked like a middle aged man with a baby face.  I found it unsettling.  He had clearly been quite the physical presence in years gone by but he was putting on a little weight and was at the point where he was either going to realize that he can’t live like he used to or begin the long slow slide into slovenly portliness.  He was equal parts shocked by a talking cat and relieved that he hadn’t impregnated a sex worker.

“Don’t get too excited though, because we’re still extorting you – I need to know where Cladarielle Staelish is and/or what happened to her.  She didn’t come home last night and I don’t think that’s her usually shtick.”

His eyes widened “Bywan Staelish’s wife is missing?”

“Yes, and you’re going to find her – aren’t you lucky?!  Think how impressed and happy he’ll be that you saved his wife.  I mean he’s this hero right and you saved his wife, what does that make you?”

His eyes gleamed “A big damn hero.”

“You can say that again, twice if you like.”

“What am I saving her from?”

“That’s what you need to find out my friend.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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, Rindol the Sage 

Muthuselan 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

The night came and went and come morning Cladarielle still hadn’t returned home.  As someone who regularly goes out on a basic errand and ends up “missing” for several days that maybe shouldn’t alarm me but I have a bad feeling about this.  You may be thinking to yourself “Ela, you have a bad feeling about everything”.  Yeah, I do, and when’s the last time I was wrong?  I spent the night wandering around the house looking for a way that I could get out.  I should have told Cladarielle to leave a window cracked just in case.  From now on the first thing I’ve going to do when I end up in a new place is find how I can get out of there on my own and if theirs is no way something needs to be done about it. 

I know that I’m starting to repeat myself, but this feeling of helplessness is really starting to wear on me.  I can endure a lot mentally, Gods know that I have, but this pervasive sense of being powerless could grind me down over a long enough timeline.  I had found no way out of the house when the sun came up and I contemplated blasting a way out with my Storm tattoo, but then I would be defenseless for the rest of the day.  And of course there’s the possibility that everything is fine and I would be wrecking the house of the one person helping me for no reason.  In the end I decided to do what cats do best – sit in the window sill and watch the world outside. I even managed to doze off for a while.

When I woke up there was a little girl on the other side of the glass looking in at me in that way little girls do when they see something fluffy and adorable.  Well, some little girls anyway.  Doing my best to be as cute as possible I threw my voice to her.

“Well hello there.”

I’ve seen some truly astonished looks in my day but adults can’t hold a candle to children when it comes to facial expressions of surprise and joy.  Or any other ones really.  I guess they haven’t learned to hide their emotions yet.  She held up her rag doll and looked at it in wonder.  I suppose that’s maybe more plausible than a talking cat or equally as plausible at the very least.  I’ve always hated those things, the button eyes really creep me out.  Can you prove those buttons didn’t come from the trousers of a psychotic killer?  No, you cannot. 

“Yes, it’s me, your doll, I’ve come to life because I need your help.”

I could barely hear her through the window glass “If you came to life why aren’t you moving?”

“I can’t move, I can only speak to you – and only you can hear me because you’re so special.  You are the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times.”

“I am?”

“Yes, and I need you to do something for me. That door to your right, see it?  I need you to open that door.”

She scowled “That doesn’t sound very important.”

“I assure you that it is.  You see that door is a magic door and you’re the only one who can open it because you’re the prettiest and the smartest and horses that don’t like anyone else will let you pet them.”

“Why is it magic?”

“A witch cast a spell on it.”

“Why?”

“To trap a beautiful princess who is actually your big sister and will show you how to put on make-up and seem more gown up.”

“Really?’

“Yes.”

“Wow.  Why did the witch do that?”

“Jealously.  She didn’t like that the princess was prettier and better liked than her.  And also she’s really good at jacks.  The witch hated how good she was.”

“How good?”

“She never forgets to go queens before kings.”

“Whoa.  Can she teach me too?”

“Absolutely, she’d love nothing more than to do that, and also to do your chores for you.”

“Really?”

“Yes really, can we move this along a little, the princess has places to be.”

The girl eagerly ran over to the door of the Staelish house but she stopped herself from reaching for the knob.  I saw she saying something to the doll but now that she was away from the window even with cat ears I couldn’t make it out.  I threw my voice in her direction again.

“You have to speak up, these doll ears don’t hear so good.”

She shouted her little lungs out “Isn’t it wrong to go into someone’s house without asking?”

“You’re not going in, you’re just opening the door, besides that rule doesn’t apply when witches and spells are involved.”

“Okay!”

I had a moment of true panic when she struggled with the knob, thinking that maybe the door was locked, but she was able to get it open.  Who doesn’t lock their doors?  I guess it’s a good thing this is a nice neighborhood.  She tried to grab me as I ran out but she’d have better luck jumping to the moon.

“Hey kitty you’re supposed to be out here!”

“It’s fine, don’t worry about the cat.  Now the last thing you need to do is shut the door very gently, not all the way, just enough so that it looks closed but that a very small creature could push it open still.”

“Like a rabbit?”

“Sure.”

With exaggerated care she closed the door – the kind of exaggeration that you can only find in children.  Or drunk morons. 

“Thanks kid, the magic is over now so I won’t be talking to you anymore but you’re the best, remember that.”

“Wait, where’s my sister princess?”

“She had some errands to run, she’ll swing by tonight to see you.  Bye now.”

I hate walking through the streets like this.  I absolutely hate it.  It’s hard to see where you’re going when you’re this low to the ground – everything and everyone blocks your line of sight.  I’m not super tall but tall enough that I’m used to having a good eyeline.  Plus one person steps on you and your dead.  And don’t even get me started on dogs.  I wouldn’t have thought that any experience could sour me on pooches, but this has opened a tiny crack.  Why must dogs bark their heads off at me one hundred percent of the time?  Do you know how fucking loud a dog bark is to cat ears?

It took me hours to get back to the tavern, the scene of the crime if you will.  There was no longer a dead merchant hanging out the top window, which I saw as a welcome development.  The door was closed but I was able to make my way on the roof of the building nearby and window jump into the room where Lieutenant Ferros had met his maker.  Or maybe not his maker but some God or other probably.  His body was gone as well and I could see my friend the gravedigger sleeping in the large bed.  I would have woken her up but I heard voices coming from downstairs and decided to investigate that first.  Cat peeking down the stairs I saw Scarlet two other women of a similar mien sitting around a table in their underclothes. I padded down to the common room.

“What are you doing?”

The two other women were as startled as you’d expect by a talking cat but Scarlet was nonplussed “Well if it isn’t the cat detective.  Did you crack the case?”

“Of course, the butler did it.  Why are you sitting around in your smallclothes?”

“We’re doing laundry.”

“Looks like you’re just sitting around.”

“There’s a magic tub downstairs that does all the work, you just have to toss the clothes in.”

“I don’t know how I feel about that, without menial tasks to keep them busy what’s going to become of the lower classes?”

“I shudder to think.  Did you come here for a reason or just to visit the scene of your detectiving triumph.”

“I came looking for help actually.  I thought that the gravedigger might lend me a hand because I gave her this inn, but maybe you lot can help me.”

“Why would we do that?”

“When you bailed the law dogs wanted to go after you, I told them not to bother.”

“Because of you I got my sweetdream confiscated.”

“Not because of me, that was the law dogs.  But there’s plenty of money to be had here – the dwarf had some weapons and armor in her room and the merchant had all kinds of good stuff.  I doubt the digger knows how to liquidate that stuff but I’m sure that you ladies do, or know someone that can.  Er, does.  Whatever, you know what I mean.”

“What do you need help with?”

“I need to find a friend of mine.  She was out last night and she never came back.  I’m concerned that something may have befallen her.”

“How sweet, I wish someone cared that much about me – something befalls me regularly.”

“I know the feeling.  Are you going to help me?”

Scarlet thought about it for a moment “That’s pretty thin.  I’m sure Josta was going to have us help her sell that stuff anyway. What else do you have to offer?” 

“Let me ask you a question, what do you girls plan to do?”

One of other women, in a hideous black and red corset spoke up “Do?  Do about what?”

“About this place.  Josta is going to need help running it, this is your chance to earn a living on your feet.”

Scarlet shook her head “Roche would never allow it.”

“Your pimp?” She nodded “What if he wasn’t in the picture anymore?”

Scarlet laughed “You get rid of Roche and we’ll find you the crown price Himself!”

“Done.  Take me to wherever he is.”

The third one, who looked more like a washerwoman than a pleasure girl snorted “What are you going to do?  Cat magic?”

“Yeah.”

They clearly thought I was joking but they carried me (humiliating) a few blocks over to the kind of waterbug infested taproom where you’d expect to find a low quality panderer.  They didn’t think it was a joke anymore when I annihilated him with a stroke of lightening.  Interestingly enough I would say the smell of burning pimp actually improved the ambiance there.    

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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, Rindol the Sage 

Mede 29 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

I woke Gorum up early by bite/tugging (non) playfully on his beard – I’m eager to get back to my usual species.  I have no idea if it’s true or not but I’ve heard tales that if you spend too much time polymorphed eventually your mind becomes that of the animal you look like.  All your memories and intelligence fade away and you’re left a dumb beast.  That’s a fate I’d just as soon avoid.  Gorum insisted that we return to his “store”, which is apparently more of a storage facility for books he will never sell, to make sure everything was safe.  This checking process seemed like it was going to take hours but once I started chewing on the corner of some tome or another he was suddenly ready to go.  Since my little cat legs can transport me only so fast he carried me, which neither of us really liked.

Paddock Street in Beresford (I have no idea why it’s called that, I saw no horses) looks to me like the kind of place that was where the rich people lived when the town was young and now is where the better off middle class people are trying to keep up appearances.  In another few generations it will be packed with poor people and everything will be falling apart.  I wonder if people study how cities change over time like that – it’s like the migratory patterns of rich folk and their impact on the urban environment.  People seemed to be pretty startled by seeing a dwarf carrying a cat – it’s just weird enough that people take notice. It was actually a helpful in to get directions to Bywan’s house.

Said house was a well-maintained two story deal with a second story balcony on fancy pillars that framed a door that was mostly green stained glass – must have cost a fortune.  Not a fortune fortune but a fortune for common people.  Answering the door was a silver haired half-elf woman who had the tiniest hint of wrinkles and the first hint of walking with stiff joints.  I’ve never seen a half-elf show any signs of aging before but I suppose it stands to reason that they eventually get old and decrepit since they’re half human.  I can’t say why exactly but it made me slightly uneasy – it’s like seeing a massive stone with a little tree growing out of it, something about it just doesn’t sit right.  She was taken slightly aback but a talking cat but adjusted quickly.

“Our pardon for calling on you at such an early hour madam, but we’re looking for Bywan Staelish.”

“I’m afraid he’s out of town.  Is there something that I can do for you?”

“Do you know anything about magic?”

She smiled slightly “I have a passing familiarity.”

She invited us in for tea to talk.  I felt somewhat ridiculous lapping out of a teacup but she didn’t seem to mind.  Turns out that Bywan got all the fame, but all those grand deeds Gorum was talking about yesterday – his now wife Cladarielle was there too for all those deeds getting in the mix with sword and spell.  Bywan had left town with some of their old comrades in arms to investigate what was going on at that half-ass fort in the woods but Cladarielle was willing to help, possibly eager – a life of excitement is probably a hard one to ever give up completely. 

“I don’t have the power to break the spell myself.  I don’t know of anyone in town who does either but there may very well be someone, I can ask around.  If nothing else pans out I do know a couple people that have this kind of magic that I’m sure would be willing to help but it will  take a few weeks for them to get here.”

“If that’s what it comes to I have no choice really.  One thing I’ll mention when you’re making your inquiries you may want to be cautious, the mayor and I recently had a little bit of a falling out and he may have eyes and ears on the alert for someone asking these exact questions.”

She thought for a moment before answering “I’m not exactly fond of office of the mayor at the moment.  The current administration and I have had issues of our own.  The people I’m going to be reaching out to know the value of discretion.”

“I like them already.  One other idea that I’ll throw out there, in my personal effects I happened to have the severed head of a hag – you know how that goes – and I was given to understand that you can use them to cure werewolfism.  This isn’t exactly the same thing but it’s similar so I wonder if there’s a possibility there.”

“Magical theory and research wasn’t my area of expertise, I was more about application, but I think there’s a good chance that would work.  And I happen to know a wolf shaman who’s usually in the area.”

“The only problem is I don’t know where my stuff is at right now.  I was arrested you see and I don’t know if the city watch took it or if the Vultur people did.”

“The Church of Vultur is involved in this?”

“You’re familiar with them?”

“We worked with them a few times in the past.  I’m all for good and just laws, but I believe that justice needs to be tempered with mercy and compassion – not so for the church of Vultur.  They’re about as rigid and inflexible a group as you’re likely to ever find and still be working on the side of good.”

“That sounds about right, except that piece about them being on the side of good – the way I see it there’s nothing more than assassins.”

“Why do they want you?”

“Some law office in Three Rivers paid them to grab me, I don’t know why.”

“Glilcus and Stolo?”

“Yes, how did you know that?!”

“Educated guess, I’ve heard that name in reference to some shady activities over the last few years.  I know they’re heavily involved in that mess with the Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company being broken up and sold off.”

“Oh, that probably explains it.”

“Do tell.”

“I don’t know what the official story they tell is for the reason behind that but I’m the reason behind that.”

She raised an eyebrow slightly “Is that so?”

“It is.”

“Not surprising I suppose.  Anyone who gets turned into a cat by unknown parties breaking into the Tower of Midnight must be getting up to some interesting misadventures.” She poured herself some more tea and sat back in her magnificent elfen crafted chair looking contented. “My inclination is to help anyone who comes to my door, that’s why Bywan and I are so happy together – we share a common passion for making things better – but I’d like to know who you are.  When you get back to being yourself what will you do?  How do you bring good into the world?”

“Honestly I tend to keep my cards pretty close most of the time.  I don’t usually talk much about myself or where I’m from, people usually are looking for an angle they can work in whatever you tell them, but since you’re being so kind I don’t mind telling you a little about my story.  I’m a simple country girl really. You might say a cockeyed optimist, who got herself mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue.  Had I not been so enthusiastic perhaps I could have adverted this disaster.”

She smiled faintly “You’re a bit of a bullshitter aren’t you?  That’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with having a silver tongue as long as you’re not a jerk about it.  I’ve been known to tell the occasional fib.”

“I tell a lot more truth than I get credit for.”

“I’m certain of that.  I’ll make some inquiries and get back to you.”

“Thank you madam, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.  It’s rare that I find people willing to help without an agenda.”

“Well I haven’t helped you yet, but I shall do my best.”

Gorum gushed over her for a while before we left, it was mildly annoying because he seemed to ignore her part in all the tales to ask her about Bywan.  I suppose that’s to be expected, the world being what it is.  Afterwards we returned to his shop where there was nothing to do but wait.  I hate waiting, especially when I’m counting on someone else and there’s nothing I can do.  But life unfolds as it will in spite of our impatience.   

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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 28 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

I was about seventy percent sure that oily bastard mayor was going to screw me but I went through with the plan anyway because it was worth it for the thirty percent chance that I might be wrong.  Sadly as you all know I’m scarcely ever wrong.  The first part of the plan went off without a hitch, I went back to Lord Oeracea’s and cat loitered on the front steps until I saw my shadowy friend lurking across the way being nonchalant.  I set him up real good and the city watch swooped in and grabbed him, whisking him off to be tortured for the crime loving his country so much that he was brave enough to come into our country and conspire against us.  As they marched away it quickly became apparent though that the mayor had made no arrangements regarding me. 

It took me several hours to get to the mayoral compound on my little cat legs and a couple more to sneak inside.  Once I finally made my way into the mayor’s office he was sitting behind a big desk shuffling papers around – as all important men do.  I don’t understand these things because I am a simple woman, but being a man of substance and gravitas involves a lot of paper shuffling.  I jumped into one of the mildly uncomfortable chairs that sat facing the desk.

“What kind of ride are you sending me for here?  The full deal or are you just not going to try to help me?”

“I understand that the circus is in town in a few weeks, I’m sure a talking cat would be quite an attraction for them.”

“I see.  Any particular reason why you’re screw me over that you’d care to share?”

He stopped his paper shuffling for a moment to gaze at me “Too much to do, that’s all it is.  Helping you would take a time and resources and there’s nothing for me to gain in doing it – you already gave me your only valuable chip.  It’s unfortunate but you have no worth to me so why would I waste any capital helping you?  You should learn to negotiate more carefully.”

“You could at least let me hang out in your house where it’s safe until I come up with a solution on my own.”

“I could but I won’t, I have a distinct feeling that you would cause a lot of trouble, even as you are.  Your reward for helping me out is your life.  To be safe I should have you killed, it would be quite easy, but I grant you your life.  You should probably thank me.”

“Thank you your honor.”

“That was nice, you almost sounded sincere.  Now please leave, I’ll be giving orders to have any cat on the grounds shot soon.”

“Can you at least tell me who has all my stuff?  Do the Bluecoats have it or the city watch?”

“I’m sure I haven’t the faintest idea, run along now little kitty.”

So, options.  Arien and Togra have probably moved on to their next merchant destination.  Bywan is probably the most likely to help me and the most capable but I have no idea where he is and trying to gather information as a cat seems problematic.  So the best bet initially is going to be Murdane.  He’s a scholar so if there’s a school of some sort, he should be there right?  Or failing that he should be hanging around leeching off Lord Wesel, and a Lord should be easier to find.  Just to check I tried talking to a few people on the street but they reacted universally in the negative.  Don’t these people know that magic exists?  Why are they so skittish?  Maybe that’s why they’re so skittish.

Next I tried my Beastspeech but the only other animals that didn’t try to eat me or think I was going to eat them were other cats and they were wildly unhelpful.  Have you ever tried to explain what a school is to a cat?  I was getting nowhere slowly.  With nothing else to do I started wandering the streets looking for some kind of university and trying to avoid getting stepped on.  At one point some kids chased me throwing rocks.  Why do little boys like hurting animals?  Fucking sociopath assholes.  You have no idea how close I am to annihilating them with my Storm tattoo.  No idea. 

I was getting very frustrated and more than a little frightened when I saw a little shop that appeared to be bookstore/scribe/printer/whatever.  I couldn’t tell you what the sign said because here’s something you’re unlikely to find out for yourself, while cats have fantastic night vision during the day their visual acuity isn’t anywhere near as sharp as that of a person when it comes to fine details.  The lettering on the sign to the shop just looked like a blob to me.  I had to wait a few minutes for someone to open the door to come out so I could run in.

I’ve only been in a few scribe/book stores but the rule seems to be that they must be untidy and cramped.  Not dirty, but hugely disorganized with stacks of papers and odd curios sitting here and there and everywhere.  This one was no different.  The proprietor was an especially tall and skinny dwarf, you know, for a dwarf.  He was erotically fingering a book that I believe he had just bought from whomever just left.  With a mighty bound I leaped up onto his counter.

“Are you smart or are you just a guy that sells books?”

He tumbled over backwards off the stool he had been perched on but there was so much junk packed into the place that he just hit a pile of heavy boxes and bounced off, staying more or less upright.  It’s hard to read dwarfen facial expressions for normal people, they’re a stoic folk and the beards don’t help, but this dwarf was undeniably terrified.

“No, no!  Not again!”

I tiled my head, cat style “Again?  This has happened to you before?”

He grasped desperately at some kind of talisman around his neck “Back succubus!  Back!  Leave my soul be!”

“I’m not a succubus, I’m just a lady that turned into a cat.”

“That’s exactly what a succubus would say!  Lies!  Lies!”

“Well we’re at a bit of an impasse here because you’re right, I would lie about being a succubus if I was a succubus – although, I’m no demonologist, but I’ve never heard of a succubus turning into a cat to try and trick someone, isn’t their whole deal turning into sexy ladies so they can bite your balls off or whatever they do?”

He started weeping gently “Leave me alone demonspawn, haven’t I suffered enough?”

“Look, I just thought that because you sell books you might know if there’s a library around here because I’m looking for a scholar and I thought he might hang around there.  I’m not here to do anything to you.”

“If you really aren’t a demon prove it.”

“How would I do that?  Oh wait, here’s something, I’m a dwarf princess or some kind of royalty.  I was adopted into a dwarf clan over by Carmin, I had to say an oath and they put some runes on me and everything.  I think they called me rauthar or maybe they said eaulakia, I don’t speak dwarfish so I don’t know exactly what they said.”

“Stoneblessed?  Why would they grant you such an honor?”

“I took a spear from some Korrok cultists and gave it to them, it was an heirloom of their clan, lost for generations.  Lost for human generations anyway, I guess to dwarves it was just a generation – you guys live for hundreds of years right?”

“The Unnamed One!?!?!”

“That’s what they kept calling him too, but he has a name, it’s Korrok.  I get that you’re afraid to say his name but shouldn’t you call him He Who Shall Not Be Named or something more like that?  He’s not unnamed you just don’t want to use his name.”

He seemed even more shaken than before “How can I know if this is the truth?”

“I don’t know man, can’t you ask some rocks or do some dwarf magic or something to know your own kind?”

“I . . . I need to pray on this.”

“Great, can you get me something to nosh on, I’m starving.”

He gave me a bowl of dates and then went into a little back room.  Who gives a cat dates?  I suppose when you live in a mineshaft you don’t learn much about cats.  What do dwarfs have as pets?  Moles?  No wonder they’re so crabby.  Have you ever see those gross fingernails that moles have?  Disgusting.  I wonder who he’s praying to, I’ve heard that dwarfs have their own pantheon of gods.  Although one priest I talked to said that they were really all the same gods and the dwarfs just gave them different names.  I think he was burned for heresy if I remember correctly.  I investigated the shop for a while until he came back – books smell much more interesting as a cat.  I never found their smell remarkable at all before, now it’s downright fascinating.

“I have decided that I believe you, and I will help you.”

“Great, first order of business get me a nice piece of veal or something.”

The dwarf told me his name was Gorum Gimblecern and he had a shack not far from his store – I guess being a book dealer doesn’t pay so well.  I don’t think he spends much time there normally though, I feel like this kind of guy usually sleeps in his store.  We had a little heart to heart while he ate his rock soup with mud sauce or whatever it is that dwarfs eat.

“Why are you here instead of living in a hole in the ground with your clan?  You don’t seem like the kind of violent lunatic that usually gets exiled from a dwarf clan.” 

“I’m not an exile, or if I am it’s the voluntary kind, I didn’t really fit in back in home – my people are really only interested in history, and that is largely oral – they don’t make a lot of books.”

“You must really love books to live in this dump.”

“That I do.  Now how are we going to help you out of your current predicament?”

“Do you know any powerful magic users?”

“No.”

“Well then I think we’re back to trying to find a fellow by the name of Murdane.  He’s a scholar so I assume he runs in the kind of circles where people might now things about undoing magic transformations.  I know that he’s got Lord Wesel as a patron but that’s pretty much it.  Is there a university or the like here?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“So there probably isn’t, otherwise I’d have to assume that professors from there would be coming to you to buy rare books.”

“I don’t have many rare books, and those I do I don’t really sell.  If we’re being honest I’m more of a book collector than a book seller.  I have a hard time parting with my books, I mostly make money from scribing.”

“Hence the shack.  Regardless it shouldn’t be hard to find out.  The only other person I know in town is Bywan and I don’t . . .”

“Bywan Staelish?”

“You know him?”

“Everyone knows him!  He’s famous.  Twenty five years ago he unmasked the Lord Mayor as the leader of the Stag Cult, he saved the city from the Bog Witches and their army of bile zombies, he fought the Six Swordmasters of the Scar to a draw, and many other adventures!  I have several books about him.  They’re mostly fictionalized but there’s some truth in there.”

“Do you know where he lives?”

“Hmm, somewhere over on Paddock Street I believe.  It shouldn’t be too hard to find him.”

“Excellent, we’ll start there then.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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 27 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

The man in the hood let me out of the warehouse office but the streets were haunted by feral dogs and devils rats and other things I’d rather not encounter so I climbed up into the rafters and slept in what clearly had been the nest of a street urchin.  I can think of no more ignominious end to my life than being mauled by a raccoon dog in the middle of the night.  Actually I can think of many more ignominious ends than that but you know what I mean.  In the morning once all the dangerous animals were safe in their holes (where do feral dogs go during the day?) and all the dangerous people were beginning to stir I made my way (after a few wrong turns) back to Lord Oeracea’s mansion. 

I got bored waiting for someone to open a door so I climbed a tree and jumped in an open window on the second floor, startling one of the maids.  When I told her it was alright she screamed and ran out of the room.  How is it possible that the entire household doesn’t know there’s a talking cat in the mix now?  That seems like the kind of thing that would get around quickly.  Menial love to gossip you know and a talking cat is a lot more interested than seeing a certain person at a certain market at a certain time of day rather than the time they’re normally there.  A few minutes after the screaming maid disappeared Lady Oeracea came into the room and she didn’t seem thrilled to see me. 

“I was hoping not to see you again, haven’t you caused my husband enough trouble?”

“What trouble did I cause your husband?  He wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for me, how about a little gratitude?”

None was forthcoming.  People, I tell you.  I thought she scurried off to fetch her husband, but after a few minutes I realized that she had just left.  The nerve.  Eventually I found Lord Oeracea having breakfast and when he saw me he didn’t seem all that delighted by my return either.  I jumped up onto the table and helped myself to some rich creamy butter.

“I’m detecting some frost in the air today My Lord.”

He set is fork down and regarded me coolly “I’m sorry, but it is starting to become a strain.  Magic and plots and lawyers and battles breaking out in my home?  It’s a lot of bare.  My ladywife is somewhat high-strung and it’s taken a toll.”

“Sure, sure, I’m the one who’s been attacked and turned into an animal but I’m sure that it’s been very hard on her to have her bridge schedule with the girls interrupted.”

“That’s not exactly fair, we’re not used to this kind of . . . strangeness.”

“Regardless, in case you were wondering the man from the tower waltzed right in here and grabbed me – stuffed me in a sack he did – but it’s all for the best anyway because we worked out a deal.  He needs some information I have and I’m going to give it to them in return for getting my human form back.  After that I shall consider your debt to be repaid and I’ll be out of your hair.  I do apologize for all the trouble, it seems to follow me wherever I go.  Lucky for you though right?  If I hadn’t stumbled onto you out there in the woods you’d still be a mind-slave to those cultists.”

“Um, yes, quite.  I’m not sure the exchange you suggesting is going to be so easy though.”

“Of course it isn’t.  Why not?”

Turns out that there had been some manner of disagreement between the priests of Vultur and the city authorities over the treatment of the captive.  I guess the Vultur people weren’t lying , they really don’t condone torture – the city watch on the other than has dedicated torturers on staff.  This led to something of a jurisdictional kerfuffle.  The mayor for some reason was siding with the Bluecoats and the Captain of the Watch was crying foul.  According to the rumors the Vultur people had gone so far as to try and sneak her out of the city.

“Pardon my cat-tongue, but are you fucking kidding me?  These azure assholes have been pursuing me across the land by the dozens based on nothing and they’re willing to go to bat for this woman who they KNOW has broken the law?  How can that make any sense?  Where is she being held?”

“I don’t know.”

“Can you find out?”

“I can try, but they’re talking about calling in the county authorities on this – I don’t think this is going to be resolved any time soon.  And I want to be done with this as soon as possible.  You can’t be here indefinitely causing my household to be in an uproar.”

I gave some very serious thought to putting this ingrate on the list.  I save his life and this is how he treats me?  In the end though I declined to do so.  I tell you this much, it’s very unsatisfying.  No one ever talks about the constant bitter disappointment that comes experience personal growth.  It’s a good thing cats don’t get migraines otherwise I would have such a headache from not pledging the destruction of this thankless wretch.  I wandered around the household moodily, one of the Lord’s brats tried to pet me and I clawed him pretty good – that made me feel better momentarily – until late afternoon when I was informed that the captive was being held currently in an Odobenine debtor’s prison as something of a compromise.

After being told this though I realized that it didn’t matter where she was being held, what mattered is who was deciding her fate.  I asked Oeracea to get me an audience with the mayor and he didn’t exactly scoff but he came close.  I told him that if he did that would square us which is the only reason he got off his ungrateful ass and made the arrangements.  Which is why if you happened to be in the vicinity of the mayor’s house a few hours after the dinner period you would have seen a very elegant coach roll up and stop, nothing strange about that – the mayor surely entertain important guests regularly .  But then you would have seen the gilded door of that coach open up and what you would have seen is a gorgeous long-haired black cat jump out of the coach and walk up the stairs where it was granted entrance into the mayor’s estate.

The mayor had a schnozz that you could hang a coat on and his hair was greasy but he had a shrewd look about the eyes – sometimes you can just tell by looking at someone that they’re an operator and this guy was one of those.  If he thought that it was all odd that he would be sitting at his dining room table with a glass of sherry holding a meeting with a talking cat he didn’t betray that thought at all.

“I’m sure you’re a busy man, matter of state, or city I guess, and all that, so I’ll get right to the point.  I believe the prisoner you’re holding has the ability to turn me back to my rightful form, and her compatriot who’s still at large is willing to trade this for some information I have.  I would like to propose a sting operation of some manner where I get turned back into a person and then you take him into custody and everyone’s happy.”

“Aside from the murder charges hanging over you.”

“Are there any charges against me in Beresford?  Has your administration accused me of anything or is that a private matter between myself and the church of Vultur?”

“It’s not quite that simple.”

“So I keep being told.  Setting that aside for now though, no matter what my status is legally I want my status physically to be resolved so I put this plan forward murder charges notwithstanding.”

“I’m afraid that’s impossible.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because she’s dead.  She killed herself in custody.  She was bound and gagged, as you would expect for a spellcaster, but it seems that she bit her tongue off and drowned herself in her own blood.  What kind of person would be so concerned about being captured that they would go to those lengths, subject themselves to that kind of horrible death to avoid it?”

“I can think of several.”

“I can only think of one, a foreign agent for a power we currently happen to be at war with.”

“Well there’s an easy way to find that out.”

“How’s that?”

“The same plan I just mentioned.  I can give you the fourth man of this little terrorist cell or whatever you think it was, then you torture him or whatever it is you people do and figure out what’s going on.  Bring in that enchantress we used the other night that impersonated me to impersonate the dead witch to seal the deal.  When he comes out of hiding you grab him and then the threat to the Kingdom is nipped in the bud and you’re a big hero.”

“And what do you want?”

“The same thing, I want this magic on me broken.”

“The only two people in town who could do it are dead.”

“You don’t know they were the only two.  But in any event I’m sure someone of your resources and stature can find someone who can undo what’s going on here if you put your mind to it. I get the feeling that if you decide on something there’s very little chance that it’s not going to come to pass.  You give me your word that you’re going to help me and I’ll give you the operative that’s on the loose in your town right now plotting and scheming – who knows what manner of horrible things he could be dreaming up right now to inflict on your poor citizens?”

“That’s a fair trade.  I agree to these terms.  Do we shake on it with your little paw then?”

“Don’t be a jackanapes Mister Mayor.”

_______________________________________________________________

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

Mede 26 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

Remember the other day when I was bragging about how good I am at hearing people sneaking up on me?  What’s the old saying about pride and the fall?  After all the excitement in capturing the two whoever those people are I was sleeping in front of the fireplace when all of a sudden I woke up in a sack.  I tried to throw my voice to whoever might be around but either no one was there to hear it or they couldn’t figure out where the sound was coming from.  Tangent, have you ever heard a man describe a woman’s ass as she walks looking like two cats in a burlap sack fighting?  I can infer from context that this is supposed to mean she’s got a great ass, but seriously, what the fuck?  That is pure nonsense.  Men are so fucking weird.

With nothing much else to do I tried to gnaw and claw my way through the sack but that was a non-starter.  If only I had been transformed into a beaver or some other gnawing champion of the animal world.  Or something with big antlers like a jackalope.  After several minutes of nauseating swaying I found myself dumped unceremoniously in what looked like the office of a warehouse – potentially an abandoned warehouse based on the amount of dust and detritus around.  Why do people allow abandoned warehouses to stand?  Everyone knows criminals live in them, they probably generate criminals spontaneously.  If a warehouse can’t find a new . . . whatever results in a warehouse having stuff in, it in a week it should be torn down.  Why would a warehouse ever be abandoned anyway?  If it “goes out of business” isn’t it just a free place to store stuff then?  There’s so much about the warehouse industry that I don’t know.    

The door was shut and there appeared to be no other paths of cat-escape so I hid under the desk, peering out at the sacker – it was the second follow from the night-time assault on the tower, the one with all the leather, although he was dressed normal now.  Still though he was wearing a low hood and I couldn’t get a good look at his face.  All the dust being stirred up elicited a tiny cat-sneeze from me, which prompted a “bless you” from my captor.

“Did you just bless a cat?”

“Only because I knew you were really a person.”

“What’s the plan here buddy?”

“You’re going to answer my questions or I’m going to drag you out from under that desk and strangle you dead.”

“No.”

“No?”

“No.  That’s the wrong approach.  You guys killed the only person who could turn me back into a human so I have no reason to live anyway, threats of death are meaningless.  Turn me back into a lady and then you can threaten me with death because then I have something to lose.  As thing stand now there’s not much you can do that I care about.”

“I can’t.”

“You can’t what?”

“I can’t turn you back, I don’t know anything about magic.”

“Well then we’re at a bit of an impasse then aren’t we?  How about you tell me what’s going on and let’s see if we can work this out together.”

“Telling you anything doesn’t seem like a good idea.”

“It’s a great idea.  If you tell me everything and then if I can’t help you out then you can just do the dragging and strangling to death thing and there’s no harm done.  If I can then you get helped.  There’s no downside for you here.”

He was quiet for a long time before speaking again “I need to know what Reedsy Trygve said to you.”

“Who’s Reedsy Trygve?  Oh, the masseur?  Lady Tittlesmith’s personal servant slash bodyguard?  He didn’t say anything to me.”

“He must have.”

“Uh, I guess he did say something to me when we were watching the house burn down.”

His voice was very measured but at this moment betrayed a hint of desperation “What was it?”

“This isn’t question answering time, this is figure out a plan time.  So you want to know what that guy told me and I want to be returned to my original species – how are we going to work this out?  Your friend who did this she can undo it right?”

“I suppose she can.”

“So there you go, nothing could be simpler right?  You just need to rescue her and then she can turn me back and then I’ll tell you what he said and then everything will be square.  I like this plan, this is a good plan.”

“She’s still alive?”

“Yeah, they killed the other guy, the one with the axes, but they took her alive.  All you have to do is get her out.”

“That’s a suicide mission.  I’m the only one left.  Every time we’ve tried this we’ve failed.”

“But that’s because you were going up against me, and I took you down – even as a cat things were going fine for your friends until I got involved and turned the tide – but now I’m going to be on your side.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Because I don’t want to be cat, remember, we just talked about that.  You let me go and I’ll go back to the manor and figure out where your friend is being held and then we can come up with a plan to get her sprung.  I can be your spy.”

“How can I trust you?”

“You can’t.  But what choice do you have?  If it makes you feel better I was under arrest for murder, that’s why I was in that tower, so it’s not like I have any interest in thwarting you – I was only fighting back because you guys were trying to attack me.  If all you wanted to know is what that giant told me why didn’t you just ask?”

“It’s complicated.”

“I’m sure.  I think this is the best offer you’re going to get, do we have a deal?”

“How will we coordinate?  Will you come back here?”

“Do you know how far this is to walk for cat?  I assume you can observe the Oeracea house without being seen, or noticed I mean really, when I want to talk I’ll just come out and sit on the front steps.  You can signal me and we’ll figure it out from there.  Or actually I can throw my voice quite a ways, we probably won’t even need to meet really – I can talk to you from across the street.”

“Who are you anyway?”

“It’s complicated.”

_______________________________________________________________

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

Mede 25 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

I didn’t think there was anything that could make me contemplate giving up my quest for revenge but I was wrong.  I was giving some serious consideration to living out my days as a talking cat in a noble household.  It’s a pretty sweet gig.  Hacking up a furball put an end to that train of thought.  After eating a nice piece of bacon that was just sitting unprotected on a table in the kitchen and peeing on an antique rug in the drawing room I jumped into bed with the Lord and his wife and started walking around on them.  They didn’t seem to be getting the hint so I knocked over a pitcher of wine, spilling it mostly on the bed.  That got their attention.  I climbed up the drapes and onto the canopy of the bed until Lord Oeracea was through cursing and then looked down over the edge at him. 

“As much fun as this is I think I’m ready to go back to being a human now.  What’s the status on that project?”

“I don’t know what there is to be done about it.  With the high priest dead there’s no one with the magic in town who can dispel the magic.”

“Maybe there is, the woman who turned me into a cat presumable can turn me back as well.”

“If we knew where she was she’s already be in custody.”

“Indeed, that’s why we need to trap her like a tasty rat.  I’m not sure if those people were coming to kill me or capture me, turning someone into a cat could go either way really, but they wanted me for some reason.  So you let it leak that I’ve been un-catified and am being held here and then we wait for the assassins and/or kidnappers to make their move and then we grab them.”

“Leak it to whom?”

“Whoever knew that I was being held in the tower.  Someone had to have informed them in the first place.  Have the next ranking priest come to the house – there’s no reason to think that they know the high priest was the only one who could help me – and then have some illusionist appear to be me and wander around in the gardens a couple times and let’s see what happens.”

“They must have killed the high priests because they knew he was the only one that could help you though.”

“You don’t know that for a fact.  You don’t even know that they killed him.  There’s no reason not to try right?  If they don’t take the bait what have we lost?”

“Who’s going to apprehend them if they do show up?

“Those Vultur people claim to be all about law and order, let’s see it.”

I was snoozing on and off the rest of the day while the Lord and the guard and the Vulturians discussed the plan – humans can be so tedious.  In the end they decided to do as I said, I don’t understand why people can’t just obey my wishes from the get go, that’s what’s going to happen in the end so why not just skip to the punchline?  I’ll never understand people’s motivations.  I think the second in command priest, who I guess is the new high priest now, visited at some point while I was sleeping in a windowsill.  Later that night was I was exploring I found a bored looking half-elf woman sitting alone in one of the spare rooms leafing through a book.  She was pretty enough, for a human.  I jumped up onto the table where she was reading and regarded her with catlike curiosity.

“You must be the ringer.”

“And you must be the talking cat.”

“I think my deduction was a little more challenging.  So you’re an illusionist then huh?”

“Enchantress, but I’ll get the job done.”

“I’m sure you will.  Tell me, why is an illusionist an illusionist no matter their sex but a man is an enchanter while you’re an enchantress?  Why aren’t you both enchantists?”

She sounded disinterested “I’m sure I don’t know.”

“That’s the only school of magic where there’s a difference, did you know that?  Abjurer, Conjurer, Necromancer, Diviner, Evoker, Transmuter, there’s no evokresses or divinesses.  Why do you suppose that is?  Probably because when it comes to messing this people’s minds they want to be clear – after all if an enchanter made you do something that has certain connotations right?   Did they really enchant you or did you want to do it?  That needs to be clearly delineated from when a sexy lady enchantress controls your mind otherwise people might get the wrong idea.”

“I can’t say as I ever thought about it.”

“What’s wrong with your tits?”

Excuse me?”

“I smell something weird coming from your chest area.”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but that’s where I keep my familiar.”

“Why?”

“He’s cold-blooded, that help keep him warm.”

“Sure, that’s not weird at all.”

“Look lady, I . . .”

“Hey shut up Snake Tits, I hear someone coming.  Do your thing.”

“They can’t already know . . .”

I jumped off the table and hid under the bed “Just do it!”

With a world-weary sigh she cast her spell and was cloaked in an illusion that didn’t look exactly like me (well me when I’m not a cat) but was close enough.  Given that she was going on just a verbal description I’ll give her credit for getting as close as she did.  In case you were wondering I tried to use my disguise powers but I was only able to make myself look like different cats or other small animals.  Magic is crazy. I was about to come out from under the bed because it was just two of Lord Oeracea’s servants that came in but when the imposter-me turned to say something to them one of them pointed at her and said some magic words and she instantly passed out – the other “servant” catching her before she fell out of her chair.    

I threw my voice to the bluecoats and guardsmen I knew to be waiting down the hall. 

“It’s going down, they’re in the room now disguised as servants.”

“Servant” #1 watched the door while “servant” #2 bundled up the imposter and started to unfurl a rope out the window.  A moment later the four Vulturians came into the room with crossbows at the ready, backed up by two of Lord Oeracea’s personal guard and two watchmen.  The “servant” on watch spoke some more magic words and one of the guards turned and buried his spear into the belly of his counterpart.  The second “servant” produced two axes and charged into the group, after that it was pandemonium.  Fighting eight on two didn’t seem to bother these kidnappers in the least. 

With nothing else to contribute to the cause I stayed low and slunk out from under the bed to the unconscious enchantress and tried to wake her up with a friendly claw-swipe to the face.  Which prompted her boob-snake to strike out at me but I was able to cat-jump back away from its fangs.

“Oh sure, that you get upset, where were you when your mistress was being put to sleep and hauled away?”

She did come around, groggy, sitting up and looking blankly at the raging combat.

“The two dressed as servants, get them!”

She cast a spell but all it did was transport her and her dumb snake away from the action.  Dirty bitch.  I saw another cat dash into hiding under the bed – the spellcaster must have struck again – although this one was a dingy orange and grey, I guess you make as attractive of a cat as you make a person.  Things didn’t look good for the home team.  Both guards were down, as were two of the Vulturians and one of the watchmen – the “servants” looked banged up but they were both still up and swinging, although it looked like the one was out of spells.  I had no idea if this was going to work, but I decided to give it a try.  Leaping onto the table I tried to summon the magic of my Storm tattoo, and surprisingly I was able to do to so – I don’t know if that means there’s a tiny tattoo under all this fur or what, as I said before magic is crazy. 

I unleashed the bolt of arcane lightening and smashed both infiltrators to the ground.  That must have really been something to see – a little black kitty summoning up a deadly stroke of electricity from a tiny paw.  This is quite a world we live in.  It looked like maybe neither of them was going to ever get up again, but one of the bluecoats cast a healing spell and prevented the enemy spellcaster from expiring on the spot.  The other fellow wasn’t so lucky – a goodly amount of the flesh on his right side had been melted off.  I saw stuff inside him that you’re not supposed to be able to see. I don’t know if there’s any healing spell for that.  

_______________________________________________________________

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

Mede 24 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

I’m sad to say that I’ve developed a pretty keen ear for nefariousness lately.  Sad because I don’t want to live a life where that sense is necessary.  But I am (for now) so it does come in handy.  I was fast asleep when I was awoken by the unmistakable sound of someone falling to the floor – the kind of falling where you’re maybe not going to be getting up again.  I cautiously got out of bed and listened carefully for the sounds of footsteps coming up the stairs – why do you cock your head when you’re trying to listen?  Does that help anything?  How could it?  Stealthy footsteps mean that someone took out the guards and is coming up.  Non-stealthy footsteps mean the guards took someone out and are heading up themselves.  Or you know, whatever, I’m not a footstep expert. 

The only lighting was a few embers from the fire but I used my tattoo for Lion night vision and took what shelter I could behind the bedframe while I watched and listened.  I heard nothing until the slight catch of the key in the door lock which means whoever is out there steps quiet as a cat.  The door opened softly and with my dark vision I saw a small woman in a chair shirt wearing a leather cap out from under which spilled a mass of bright red curls.  She had the key in one hand and one of those tiny hand crossbows in the other.  I don’t care what anyone says those things are ridiculous. 

The Lion tattoo having done its part I turned to the Storm tattoo.  Now I know what you’re thinking “Ela, shouldn’t you find out who this person is before you attempt to fry them with a thunderbolt like the mighty god of thunder herself?  Maybe that’s person is coming to help you.”  For most people that would be a fair point.  Here’s the deal though.  I’m not one of those people who believe that the gods watch us all the time and they control everything and they’re pulling the strings of our lives.  I don’t believe in fate or destiny or karma or luck or whatever you want to call it.  But I can tell you this for a certainty, if someone is creeping into my prison cell it’s because they’re going to kill me.  Not because I have ill luck, but because that’s just how it is. 

The flare of light off the stream of electricity coming out of my fingers was dazzling.  I should have thought about that and closed my eyes but I didn’t and I was dazzled for a moment.  Thankfully it didn’t matter, when my eyes did adjust again enough for me to see Red was down for the count.  She looked even smaller lying on the ground flattened by a lightning bolt.  That tends to happen.  I heard a shout and boots pounding up the stairs so I dashed forward and grabbed the miniature crossbow and fired blindly down the stairwell – hopefully the bolt was poisoned and hopefully it hit someone.  The only other weapon on the body was a dagger which I didn’t bother with.  Before I had a chance to hide or get a better position a fellow in a dark cloak and leather (why do assassins love leather?) barged up the stairs.

He fired his identical tiny crossbow but I slammed the door shut and blocked his shot – I clear the tiny bolt clattered off like a dropped goblet.  He kicked the door in with me holding it, knocking me on my ass and in return I slashed at him with my Lion claws as he tried to charge in.  He tried to get my by the hair only to find that I didn’t have any and in response I slashed him across the groin and belly with Lion claws.  This didn’t seem to bother him too much, which was disappointing – when you claw someone in that area you’d like for that to at least give them pause.  He clubbed me in the shoulder with what felt like a sack full of steel balls and I grabbed at him, forgetting that without my magic belt I wouldn’t have much chance of overpowering anyone in a clinch.

We fell to the ground, his knee driving the air out of me for a moment, and we struggled for position.  I remember years ago talking a tavern brawler type guy and he was expounding on his “expertise”. He said that the only time he really got into trouble in a fight was when a guy had him grappled and was about to do some “serious damage”.  And how he got out of that jam is by biting the guy’s nose off.  Biting is considered a serious bitch move by some, but there are times when it’s unquestionably necessary.  This seems like one of those times.  I managed to grab him by the ear and pull him close enough to bite him in the eye – which based on the screaming wasn’t a great for him but I was the one with a mouthful of eye-juice, I wasn’t have a ball either. 

His allowed me to get the upper hand and I was slashing at the back of his head with my claws when a THIRD person came up the steps, which hardly seems fair.  She was a sturdy gal in a brown peasant dress that did not match her elaborate braided hairstyle at all.  Her eyes widened when she saw the scene before her but she rallied quickly and said some magic words.  I could feel an oppressive fog of sleep trying to drag me down, but I was able to shrug it off by sheer force of will – I’m good like that.  I leapt at her with claws out, but some manner of magic field was protecting her and my attack bounced off like she was dressed in battleplate. 

She stepped back and said some more magic words and instantly I was seeing everything from a new perspective – one a few inches off the ground.  She had turned me into a fluffy black cat.  Here’s the thing though, have you ever tried to catch a cat that didn’t want to be caught?  I don’t know how magic works but if she could have turned me into a turtle and chose cat instead she’s a fool and a half.  I cat scrambled away, easily dodging her attempt to grab me and cat ran down the stairs past the two dead guards lying awkwardly in pools of their own blood.  Thankfully this trio of nightstalkers had left the door open because as nimble as a cat may be they aren’t very good at opening doors.  I saw the woman and the heavily bleeding man come out to the street and look around as I scampered into the night.

Being turned into a cat would probably stymie most people but a quick test showed that I was still able to use my Mockingbird ability – it was weird, I couldn’t speak but I could still throw “my” voice even as a cat.  Again I tell you I don’t know how magic works.  It took me until morning to find my way to Lord Oeracea’s partially because I don’t know my way around anyway and partially because seeing everything from a cat perspective makes everything much harder when you’re not used to it.  Which I am not.  On account of I am not normally a cat.  I’m sure you get used to it after a while but I had a Hells of a time navigating my way around town.  Eventually though I did make my way to the Oeracea household and approached a maid who was out sweeping off the entryway. 

“Shoo, get away!  There’s no mice here for you!”

“Please don’t hit me with that broom, I’m the lady who was here a couple days ago – I got turned into a cat.”

She didn’t hit me with her broom but what she did do was faint straight away and take a pretty nasty tumble off the stairs – she hit the street head-first.  Thankfully, for me at least, a moment later someone else opened the door to see what the sound of her slamming into the ground was and I was able to dart in.  I wandered around the building for a while, they say that cats don’t have a great sense of smell but there were a lot more interesting scents going on than I ever noticed as a human when I was here.  Eventually I found Lord Oeracea sitting at a desk frowning at some papers – typical lord stuff.  I jumped up on said desk and rubbed my catness against him cat style.

“What the?!”

I cat sat on the middle of his papers “It’s me, Ela, I saved your life the other day and then was arrested for murder?  Well as luck would have it when I was imprisoned in that tower some people killed the guards and came to kill me.  I managed to kill one of them instead and I was doing pretty well with another but then a lady showed up and turned me into a cat.  So you should probably contact the mayor or the captain of the guard or someone.”

He stared at me, mouth open, as I decided that was a good time to clean myself – my paws got pretty dirty running around the city all night.  Lord Oeracea eventually regained his composure and I spent a few hours sleeping in a beam of sunlight coming in through a window while he gathered together the various constituent parties – some guardsmen, the bluecoats, city officials and the like.  That must have been quite a scene for any outsiders looking in – all these bigwigs gathered around with a fluffy black cat as the center of attention.  I told them what had happened, even as simple as the story was I had to go over it several times. 

Turns out part of their consternation stemmed from the fact that the high priest – remember the one I was SO rude to – had been assassinated that very morning.  And since he was the only one in town they knew of that could undo the transformation that was effecting me some people thought they had to be connected.

“That seems a little implausible to me, killing a man just to keep me as a cat seems a bridge too far.  Also, I’d just like to point out that had no weapons or any of my stuff and I managed to survive these fuckers – meanwhile the head priest of a whole church, a man with bodyguards and divine favor and all that was taken out by them?  I find that very interesting.”

No one else seemed to think that was interesting at all.  I told them a dozen times I had no idea who the people were, once again I get attacked and somehow everyone is suspicious of me.  There’s no justice I tell you. 

“So what are we going to do here people?  How are we going to get me back to my normal form?  And do we still care about these phony murder charges against me?  What’s the plan?”

No one seemed to know.  Assassinations, gorgeous and charismatic women falsely accused of murder being turned into cats?  These weren’t the kinds of things they we used to dealing with around here apparently.  I stretched luxuriously and fell asleep on an overstuffed chair while they talked in circles.  One of the servants reached like they were going to move me off but a sleepy growl backed them away. 

_______________________________________________________________

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