Montresor 3 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

I’ll spare you rehashing my thoughts on tattoos for a third (fourth? Fifth?) time and just say that I’m displeased but not as displeased as I would have once been.  This tattoo they put on me is extensive but it can mostly be covered up by clothing and it’s not like I do a lot of naked gallivanting these days so it’s unlikely anyone will see it.  I’m still not happy that my glorious body has been debased by the crude ink of religious (or anti-religious?) fanatics but as the old philosophers ask – if a perfect body is besmirched under a robe is it really besmirched?  Yes, but you know what they’re getting at.  The good news is that in addition to taking the place of the Whiterock family ring in keeping away one of the infinite world-ending threats from beyond the stars, these tattoos seem to be protecting me from the nightmare hag as well.  I slept like a baby for the first time in a long time last night.  Maybe she was just taking the night off though, we’ll find out soon enough.  You know how I’ve come to appreciate a good night’s sleep.

Did you ever read that novel about the professor who was a tattooist?  I believe the twist at the end was that the professor was a devil in human guise, although I’m not sure why that was necessary – the story was messed up enough on its own.  The gag was that the professor devil would kill people and grab their souls and then turn he would turn that soul into ink.  Then he would tattoo that soul-ink into other people and they would become living tattoos.  One of the tattoo-people was a crime boss that had his goons keep the person he was tattooed on tied up and gagged all the time so he could keep on being a crime boss without being interrupted by the person he was on.  The author spent a lot of time talking about that guy’s bondage.  It was pretty fucked up.  Unless you like that kind of thing.  No, even then.  Point is I’ll be keeping an eye on this new unwanted “body art” of mine just in case.

At long last I reached Bryny today, which is less of a town and more of a meeting point where people put up tents.  There was one little building complex with a wall around it and that was it as far as permanent structures.  I knew that Bryny was a trading post, but what I didn’t know until now is that one of its main purposes is the trading of horses.  I should have figured that out though since the area to the west is renowned for horse breeding.  There were a couple hundred people there and probably a couple thousand horses.  It was really something.  I got a fantastic deal on fine mare with a smooth naturally ambling gait, a compact and well-muscled build, and a good disposition.  I would have paid five times as much in Paladore for a horse like this.  Pays to go to the source I guess. 

Not only that but as LONG last I got a magic means of feeding her as well.  Horses are all well and good but they need a lot of food and contrary to belief they cannot just eat grass after you’re done riding them.  Try that out and see how that works out for you.  Actually don’t because the horse will die and you’re the one that should die.  Actually that’s not a bad idea, if I ever get a wish from a demon or the several hand of an old God or something I think I’ll wish for this – if a horse is ever mistreated it should transform into one of the flesh-eating cattle of Akerbeltz.  But you know the horse version.  That’s a wish that doesn’t even need to be twisted to evil because it already kills people, but for a good reason.  Everyone wins.

I’m no writer but if I was one thing I would write is a story about one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ malevolent wish-fulfillers who’s supposed to twist everything people wish for into a nightmare from which they cry “I didn’t mean it!” but they’re just not very good at it.  Someone wishes to be rich and instead of having their beloved husbanded murdered by a nobleman who pays them off all they can think of is to change the person’s name to Richard.    They’re not stupid really they’re just not very creative.  Maybe the shocking end is that someone wishes for him to be better at his job and then he does become good at being evil and sadistic with his wish-twisting.  Be careful what you wish for!

After doing some trading I found a drinking tent and settled in to do some gambling and carousing.  There is an obscene amount of money changing hands at this tiny little non-village at the edge of nowhere.  You’ve got all these half nomadic horse breeders coming into town to sell of an entire herd, which is some serious money, and what are they going to with it?  They don’t really give a shit about money.  So they gamble. 

I’ve not seen this level of action since leaving the Duke’s court – and that was a very different experience.  One rich man wagering a small fortune over cards with another rich man takes about half a year as they both make pussified speeches and wave their hankies and whatnot – it’s a production.  Here it’s a free-wheeling affair where a man who only owns one pair of pants, which they’re not even taking good care of, will lose more money than all the villagers in a small town put together will ever see in their lives in eight seconds and then laugh about it while calling for more whiskey.  I don’t normally go for these low-down rowdy kinds of country jamborees, that was always more Martialla’s domain, but this was exhilarating.  For the first time in a long time I had fun. 

One curious thing is that amongst the hustle and bustle I saw a wolf, a big wolf, walking on its hind legs go up to the bar and order itself a drink.  It wasn’t a werewolf or a barghest or anything like that, it was just a big wolf walking around upright like that was a normal thing to do.  And no one else seemed to think it was strange either.  Normally I’m pretty good at keeping my composure and hiding my feelings, Hells pretty good, I’m great at it!  But I couldn’t help but staring a little bit.  And the big wolf sitting on a stool like a person holding a tankard in its paw noticed me looking and fucking grinned at me – and then winked!  It finished it’s beer, flipped a coin to the bartender, and then walked out like a person.  I asked one of the men at my table slowing losing a lot of money to me about it.

He frowned and looked towards the door “What?  Oh, that’s just Barry.”

I don’t really ever want to come here again, but I kind of love this place. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 13,432 gold

XP: 1,277,751

Inventory: Bag of Holding, +2 Distance Light Crossbow, traveling outfit, Ring of Invisibility, potion case, potions (Protection from Evil, Cure Moderate Wounds x2) Blessed Robes, +1 Mithril Holy Undead Bane Sword-Cane, Cerulean Sign Tattoo, Satchel of Plentiful Feed, Horseshoes of Surety, Teremana (light warhorse), Wind Fan

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

Myam 12 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

I dragged Corune back into the wheelbarrow – even through her clothing her skin felt ice cold.  If I didn’t see her breathing I would have sworn she was dead already.  Before setting off I poked around in the pockets of the three dead geezers to see if they had anything edible but all I found was a flask of grain alcohol.  Normally I would turn my nose up at that but I’m starting to get pretty sick of rice wine, besides its grain right, so drinking it is as good as eating bread.   Right?  I threw back a goodly amount of the flask and started dragging Corune’s worthless hide over the difficult terrain back to the road without the ancient barrow falling apart in the process.  By the time I managed to get to the road the sun was up and it had all the earmarks of being a scorching hot day – because why wouldn’t it be unseasonably warm right after a night that was the coldest in fifteen years? 

Not wanting to sweat through my good clothes (which weren’t in that great of shape at this point anyway but you know) I decided to change into my commoner clothing.  So of course halfway through the process I heard a voice.

“Now that’s a right pretty picture.”

I turned towards the voice and saw a smirking fellow with a mop of curly black hair that worked with some bushy sideburns to frame his eminently punchable face.  He was a good head shorter than me at least and was wearing respectable clothing aside from the fact that he had a row of knives on each leg and more in his belt and on top of that several pieces of jewelry and adornment that were also shaped like knives.  Add to this a blue sash and a red cape and you know what kind of fellow we’re dealing with.

“I’ll be with you in a moment.”

He smarmed smarmily “Don’t hurry on my account.”

“Hasn’t anyone else told you it’s not polite to sneak up on a lady?”

“Certainly, but it’s ever so much fun.”

“Fair enough, most of what we’re told in our lives is designed to keep us from having fun.  What’s the old saying?”

He chuckled “There is no pleasure in having nothing to do, the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.”

“No, I was actually thinking of another saying ‘ow, there’s a crossbow bolt in my chest’.”

He frowned “What?”

Having finished dressing I pulled out my crossbow and fired at him.  I give him this – he’s got some good reflexes, he dove out of the way and to the dirt as the bolt flew past.  That takes some real speed so duck out of the way after the shot, especially at that range.  The key to dodging is normally anticipating and moving before but this fellow was able to get out of the way even taken unawares.  He flipped the cape away from his face, which had flown over his head during the dive, and looked up at me incredulously.

“Are you insane?!”

“I don’t think so, but I was told specifically just a few hours ago that I am, so the jury’s still out I guess.”

I was reloading as I talked and fired again at his prone form, he tried to roll out of the way but I still managed to hit him in the leg – causing him to yelp like a frightened nanny goat.  The pain was nothing compared to the outrage in his voice though as she grabbed at his pant leg.

“How could you, this is Satander Silk!”

“No it isn’t, it’s fake.”

“But it’s a good fake!”

He yelped as I fired again, managing to knock the bolt mostly aside with his cape in what I have to admit was a pretty fancy maneuver.  He scrambled for the wheelbarrowing, putting it between us and hunkering down out of sight – well sort of out of sight, I simply went to one knee and shot under the barrow.  The bolt deflected off the wheel and instead of hitting him in the side came in at a weird angle right through the top of his foot.  He moaned like a woman at her husband’s hanging.

“That was esparga leather!”

“That’s made up.”

“It is not!”

“Trust me, I know all about fashion and I’ve never heard of it.”

He started to retort but I had reached into my secret pocket and produced a silk rope with a grappling hook and swung it around the barrow, hooking him on the leg and giving it a yank – sending him stumbling to the ground. I put my crossbow away and came around the barrow as he was struggling to disengage himself from the rope and get up at the same time and not doing the a great job of either.  I turned my Walking Stick head into a snake and let it strike him on the arm.  He hopped backwards, turned a fall into a roll and came up with a short blade in hand – not a knife amusingly.

“What is wrong with you?!  I was just having a bit of fun.”

“Oh, you know how us women folk are illogical and flighty and unpredictable and emotional – who knows why we do anything?  You know what I’ve noticed, men have a special power where they can act like a total dick, and then when the woman gets upset they’re able to turn it around and make it seem like she’s the one behaving badly for reacting to what he did.  It’s pretty impressive I have to say.  I know a few tricks myself but that is one that is really something.  Is that something that you’re born with or do your fathers teach you when you’re old enough to shave?”

He warily made a move to half-way put his blade away “Are you going to shoot at me more?”

I tapped my Walking Stick to de-snakify it “No, I already hit you a couple times, and the snake got you so you’re already plenty poisoned, I don’t see the point in shooting you anymore.”

“Poison!”

“Yeah.  What are you doing out here anyway?  Just wandering around looking for women getting dressed?  You’ve got about a minute to live if you want to tell me your story.”

“Do you have the antidote?!

“Sure.” He came forward desperately and I whipped out my dagger “Back off chief.”

He licked his lips like he was trying to decide his chances of overpowering me “How much for the antidote?”

“Hmm, let’s see, how about everything you have.”

His eyes bugged out “Everything?!”

I nodded “Yeah, that seems fair.  I mean you’re going to be dead in a few seconds otherwise right?  So then I get all your stuff anyway.  You seem to be balking through, which I find confusing.  Is your life worth less than the stuff you have on you right now?  That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because if you die you won’t have it anymore anyway.  Although I guess some Odobenine worshipers believe . . .”

“Fine!”

“Fine what?”

“Fine I’ll give you all my stuff for the antidote.”

“Will you?  I don’t see you doing it.”

As he started dumping out all this possessions on the road before me I saw that he was starting to struggle.  The arm where he had been bitten was clearly in a lot of pain and he was sweating buckets in very short order.  His face, especially the lips, took on a very slack loose look.  As he tossed out more and more things he got that look like someone who’s trying not to vomit.  I’ve been poisoned a few times but I never felt like I was going to throw up.  Then again I’ve only been bitten by snakes three times so what to do know?

“You doing okay over there?”

His voice was shaky “I’m having trouble seeing . . .”

“Yeah, that will happen.”

He started swaying like he might keel over “The p-pain . . .”

“You better hurry up if you want that antivenom.”

“Th-th-that’s all . . .”

“I don’t see how, you’ve still got your clothing.  I believe we agreed on everything.”

“B-b-but . . .”

“Everything.  That’s another strange thing I’ve noticed, people have a very different definitions when it comes to absolutes.  When I say everything I mean everything, I don’t know what you mean.  Get those clothes off.”

I gathered up his possessions, making them my possessions, as he struggled and fumbled to take his clothing off with one hand, the other arm hanging uselessly at his side.  Eventually he collapsed face first into the dirt half nude in a most undignified position.  I crouched down next to him as he labored to breath.

“Well my friend you didn’t quite make it, but I have good news – I fibbed a little bit just then, there is no antidote – so you didn’t fail.  You can take some comfort in that, this was going to be the end either way so you don’t need to be sad, you never had a chance.  That probably means something in the afterlife, let me know if you get a chance.”

His eyes rolled back in his head and he started spasming sharply “Wh-wh-why?”

I stood up and dusted off my hands “Oh, just having a bit of fun you know.”

I’m not sure if he was dead or just unconscious when I stripped his clothes off.  With that done I grabbed the wheelbarrow and started heading down the road to Beresford.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 53,775 gold

XP: 631,901

Inventory:  Courtier’s Outfit, Noble’s outfit (5), Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring,  Ring of Disguise, Ring of Jumping, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper), map, Badge of Last Resort, Healer’s Satchel, 28 tiny diamonds,  Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, Ring of Protection +2, Saryah Phidaner gown, Crown of Conquest, signet ring, Stone of Good Luck, Onyx (55), Tankard of the Drunken Hero,  Altar of Adariel,  Cauldron of Brewing, Censer of Dreams, Bowl of Conjuring Water Elementals, Companion Mirror,  darkwood lute, +3 buckler, celestial shirt, +1 Frost Demonbane Shortsword, potions of cure moderate wounds (5), potion of invisibility, +2 mithral chain shirt, masterwork buckler, +2 falcata, ring of protection +2, 120 gp, ring of sustenance , bottle of elfen absinthe, assorted jewelry, male noble’s outfit, signet ring, dust of tracelessness, scroll of knock; +1 hand crossbow, cloak of resistance +1, ring of protection +1, masterwork thieves’ tools

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