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