Halflings tend to the same size of livestock as everyone else so why would they make barns that are half the dimensions? They don’t have special Halfling sheep the size of dogs. Or do they? No, no they don’t. Don’t get me wrong, a half sized barn is still pretty big, I’m just saying that waking up in one is a little disorientating. Did I grow to twelve feet tall is what you wonder until you figure it out. I suppose the explanation is that shirefolk being so much small don’t raise as many animals and therefore they don’t need as much room? Yeah, that makes sense, giants (if they had barns) would make them bigger even though their animals would be the same size because they need more of them. Excepting cloudgoats of course which are very large indeed.
Normally I’d be pretty upset about being tossed in a barn but I have a little touch of a soft spot for shirelings. They’re so little and everyone is so mean to them and yet they still just cheerfully go about their business and overcome through perseverance. You have to admire that in a heartbreaking kind of way – they got the short end of the stick (not a pun) and they don’t bellyache about it, they get to getting. Not unlike myself. Despite the fact that I am impressively tall, I have a lot in common with the smallfolk. Which is probably why when I ran until I collapsed they came upon me and stuck me in a barn. Which I don’t blame them for doing, it’s not like they could drag me into their little badger-hole homes.
Moments after I crawled out of the half-sized barn a smiling welcome committee of Halflings were there to greet me with overflowing baskets of tea-cakes, banana oat muffins, lemon poppy seed cake, toast with jam, jam with toast, and enough other pasties and sweets to choke a mongoose. They assumed I was Baroness Saltwheel on account of I had the Saltwheel staff of office clutched in my hand when they found me passed out in the dirt – and on account of my elegant clothing and noble manner. You can’t blame them really. I saw no reason to correct them. They surmised appropriately that I had fled from the Saltwheel country manor due to violent unrest. They clucked their tongues about the foibles of the bigfolk – always fighting and feuding when we should be getting down to drinking and eating and making merry. They’re not wrong about that.
We were having a gay old time until my tattoos started shining through my clothing like a brilliant star. Should I be happy that I have these to warn me, or is their very presence what it making these abominable things come after me? It’s a chicken egg situation. I stood up from my cross-legged position on the ground and dusted crumbs off my jackets (lucky birds!).
“Sorry my friends, but trouble is coming and I need to be on my way. I don’t suppose you have a fast horse around here do you? A fast horse suited for someone of my stature?”
They did not. Did you know that the word sheriff comes from Halflings? I didn’t, although I suppose I should have known – Halflings live in shires, hence shire reeve, contracted to sheriff. Although they say it shirriff. When I suggested a hasty departure the little folk wouldn’t hear of it – if there was danger the shirriff’s would protect me. They were four little men wearing feathered hats, jackets, and waistcoats each with a stout club. One of them was wearing a cravat for the Gods’ sake. Now I know why I so often catch people off guard when it comes to combat – you don’t seem threatened at all in fancy clothing.
I told them that I appreciated it but this was trouble they couldn’t handle. They wouldn’t hear of it – what kind of hosts would they be if they allowed me to come to harm? My plan was to ignore them and run anyway, but it was already too late just with that small amount of back and forth. A field of darkness appeared in the hilly meadow and out of it strode three forms. Two I recognized from the carnage yesterday. One was the horned man, although I saw then that what I thought was a robe the day before was in fact more of a leather jerkin and kirtle type scenario worn over trousers. In one hand he held a short crooked stick carved with sigils and topped with what appeared to be a still functioning eyeball. His other hand already danced with magical flame.
The second familiar face was one of the women I saw stark naked and covered with filth yesterday – now heavily garbed in a blue and purple robe and dress combination. Makes sense, you wouldn’t want your cult robes to be damaged in battle. She was startlingly white, pale as chalk she was, and she had some kind of crude writing tattooed on her arms and face. She held in her hand a long staff topped with the skull and horns of a goat. The newcomer with them had the appearance of a young nobleman, handsome as you like and dressed to the nines albeit with clothing that was several seasons out of fashion. His boots in particular were immaculate and shiny. The only thing ruining the effect was that nasty little human-faced rat monster clinging to the lapel of this overcoat.
I turned to the Halflings who were standing in shock at the dramatic appearance of the devilish trio “You need to run my friends. Run and hide. And don’t come out.”
The horned man sneered and rasped in the voice if a nightmare “Yesssssss, run away little morssssssssels!”
The woman all but rolled her eyes at him and the dandy fellow smiled apologetically, he spoke in that slow sleepy voice that some nobles affect for reasons unknown “Don’t mind him, he gets excited. No one needs to get hurt, just give us the necklace.”
“Are you kidding me? All this has been about that stupid ugly necklace?” I tossed the chunky crude thing at their feet “Here, you could have just asked, there was no reason to attack the Saltwheel house with your freak legion.”
The woman smiled as the sharp dressed man picked up the necklace and tucked it into his vest pocket “Freak legion, I like that, what better name for the brave fighting men and women of the dark goat of the woods?”
“Sounds like you’re done here, best be on your way, I’m sure you have all sorts of rituals you need to conduct involving goat piss and the blood of virgins and so forth.”
The dapper dandy mirrored his lady friend’s smile “Well, being totally honest, retrieving the necklace wasn’t our only reason for coming here.”
At this point the horned man released his magic fire in a Hellsish vortex of fiery death that would have engulfed me and burned me to death if not for the fact that the gold stitching on my Greatcoat flared to life and cancelled out his magic. I’m not sure if I knew that it could do that. Good purchase past Ela. The magic absorption made the jacket sparkle in a pleasing way, it would have been a great time for witty quip if I was into that sort of thing, but the problem with real life fights to the death is your opponents never give you time to banter. In the novels when the hero is fighting with the big bad guy there’s always several minutes between thrusts for them to trade insults and explain whose great-grandfather stole whose land and so on and so forth. Murdering people in the real world is sadly allows for far less exposition.
Although I was doing very little murdering. I shot with my crossbow once, which was deflected by a gust of wind and then pretty much the rest of the time I was running for my life, dodging and ducking and diving as they hurled spells at me. It hardly seems fair to send three spellcasters to kill one normal person. I suppose that’s the point though. The horned man flew up into the sky and was lancing out with burning shafts of light all around me. I feel like I could have shaken them and made a run for it without him hovering above and spotting me like hunting bird out no matter where I ran. The woman with the ram-stick preferred summoning bolts of lightning at me but the dandy dresser was the real jack of all trades. He summoned a wall of spinning blades, he blasted me with freezing wind, he summoned a massive rain of sleet, he had all manner of tricks up his fashionable sleeves.
It wouldn’t even really be fair to call it a fight, it was more like a fox hunt – and if you know anything about fox hunts it’s that the fox never gets away. I’ve said this once before but I’ll repeat it now because it’s probably the best advice I can give you about fighting, aside from don’t. Only morons die like heroes – accepting their fate with a brave face. When you’re been beaten like a dog act like a dog – beg, grovel, whine for mercy, show your belly. Do whatever they want, offer them anything they want. Do whatever humiliating revolting thing you need to do to gain yourself one more precious second of life. You wouldn’t think that would work with these lunatics but they found my abasement amusing. They stood smirking as I pleaded for my life. They laughed when I offered them my womb for their twisted monster-babies. They sneered as I cried so hard I choked and blew big bubbles of snot.
And then they died when the earth beneath them opened up and they plummeted into the forty foot wide maw of a Shoddy Hills land serpent, also known to some as death worms, and until that very moment not something I thought existed. Looking down its throat (do worms have throats?) in total shock it looked like a striated flesh-cave ringed with thousands of shark-teeth the size of my head. My tormentors and their dirty rat friend were shredded as they were swallowed alive, being ripped to bloody shards in a manner of seconds. The creature’s emergence had been so swift and sudden it threw up a cloud of dirt like the water from a breaching whale. As shocked as I was by its appearance I was even more stunned by what happened next. That massive worm-maw closed, making it look like just a huge brown leather rope and the Halflings emerged to start patting its hide like it was a prize pig! I swear to you one of them fed it a bushel of corn!
It took me several tries to find my voice “What . . . what . . . . just what?”
One of the shirriff (sans club) looked over at me “Oh this is just Sally.”
Behind the curtain: Ela hit level 17 taking another level of Rogue, making her Rogue 15/Master Spy 2 is anyone interested in the details of her leveling up? Nah. I’ve been playing pathfinder forever and I just found out there’s a Noble Scion prestige class. I’m thinking about rebuilding her for that. If nothing else I can get another rip-off OOC post out of it.
Funds: 53,940 platinum, 27,309 gold
Inventory: +3 Thundering Distance Light Crossbow, Ela’s Fashionable Belt, Cerulean Sign Tattoo, Hat of Effortless Style, Ela’s Wonderful Flask, Ela’s Dazzling Garment, Ring of Urban Grace, Black Marketers’ Bag (5), Tidy Trunk, Ela’s Elegant Boots, Ela’s Extravagant Necklace, Headband of Subtle Misdirection, Antiquarian’s Monocle, Ela’s Stately Greatcoat, Ring of Eloquence, Cheating Gloves, Clothier’s Closet Rod, Singer’s Stole, Saltwheel’s Cane
Noble’s outfit (5) collegium ring, pocketed scarf, wrist sheath, signet ring (2) assortment of fake signet rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), garnets (631), gold necklace with jade pendant, ivory combs, tax collector’s badge, gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, silver and gold brooch, silver necklace with ruby pendant, disguise kit, covenant ring, tiny diamonds (26), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring, diamond and pearl lover’s knot tiara, Turnbill blade of first forging (one of three), darkwood and platinum music box, silver bracelet set with bloodstones, platinum ring set with fire opal, silver and moonstone bracelet, holy symbol of Kozilek, dwarf journal
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa, eyeless hag, Baron Saltwheel, Baron Harmenkar, Colonel Tarl Ciarán’s wizard soldier, Victor, Beharri, Cebuano, Mayor Eryn, Chimera Trading Company, maker of the manacles, Calvados Eure, Law Offices of Lampblack and Brimstone, Peronell Missplitter, Nightmare Hag