I won’t lie to you folks, I would never lie to you, when I got up early this morning (nothing’s wrong I just slept something like fifteen hours yesterday off and on) I was thinking about going out to the woods with the belt buckle people and using my wiles to find out Victor, Beharri, and Cebuano’s sad stories. Why? So that I could figure out whom they had run away from so that I could potentially engineer their falling back into the bondage of their former masters. I know that right now you’re gasping and covering your mouth like a virgin being presented with a naked man (but are also a little curious) and saying “But Ela, your hatred of enforced bondage is your one redeeming quality. You’ve done many foul things but you would never get involved in taking away someone’s freedom – it’s the thing that keeps you from being a complete monster.”
First of all I have many redeeming qualities. I am full-on, balls to the walls pretty. I have so much charisma that you could take my left over charisma and make a second lady who was still pretty Gods damned charismatic from it – a smooth talking charmer she’d be. But that’s obvious, let’s take a look at some of my less salient fantastic qualities. I’m ambitious. You may argue that ambition is not a good quality and that I lacked ambition until disaster forced me to change, but you cannot deny that I am the one out here struggling to make things better. To quote the poetess Aprita “While you’re safe in your home I’m out here risking my gnome”. You know what she meant by gnome. She was an odd one was Aprita, even for a poetess.
I’m brave. I know that I’m probably going to lose. The odds are in the Duke’s favor, but have I ever for a moment thought about giving up? Well sure, maybe a moment here or there but I didn’t give up is the point. What you folks need to remember is that I’m pretty much going up against the entire Kingdom, and yet I fight on like the hero that I am because my next virtue is determination. I keep on on trying despite being stomped into the ground a million times. I still get up and keep going after my goals regardless of the constant beatings and that’s something everyone admires.
But one of my greatest virtues is humility. I’m just a down to earth, personable, modest country gal. I acknowledge my own fallibility. I am not be enraged by insults. I am not concerned with making a spectacle gloating. I’m diligent, caring, gracious, honest, honorable, loyal, patient, resourceful, responsible, selfless, and above all humble. It’s worth mentioning twice. The point is that I have many redeeming qualities. But the point is beside the point in this case, because the real point is that those three fellows are bad, ergo anything you do to them is good. Think about whom the most respected person in a village is – the executioner. Why? Because they murder bad people – while they’re helpless and can’t fight back in any way. Normally that’s not cool but if you do it to someone bad then it’s the best thing possible. It’s like that.
Anyway, I was too lazy to actually do it anyway so get off my back. A healer from the village came to look at my leg/hip but they were clearly just a backwoods idiot because all they did was smear some herbs on me – I’m pretty sure what that accomplished was make my hip savory. A hit of healing drink from the Flask helped somewhat but our original plan to ride to Aleene was quickly abandoned – the jarring was too painful. So we were walking once again. Martialla suggested, reasonably some would argue, that it made more sense to wait until my leg was mended and then ride – this would be both easier and faster perhaps. But I wanted to get out of this nothing town and get on the way to the next nothing town. After a few hours of gritting my teeth and sweating through my clothing walking the road to Obsis I was starting to think that I made a mistake but what was I going to do? Tell Martialla that I was wrong?
Martialla was looking at me with concern/amusement “How are you doing over there?”
“Great, never better.”
“Since you’ve been starting down at the road a lot, I assume because of how good you feel, I’d like to direct your attention to that.” She pointed.
“What the fuck is that? A fair?”
“Certainty looks like it.”
“Why is there a fair in the middle of the road?”
“Well it’s not in the middle of the road, it’s off the road a ways.”
“Yes, thank you, that’s the important point.”
“You want to check it out?”
“Of course I want to check it out, maybe there’s a healer who can rub more spices on my leg.”
As we got closer we saw that it wasn’t really a fair in the usual sense. There were a few wagons and a bunch of tents but there wasn’t much in the way of “attractions”. There were a few merchants trying to make the best of it, but the purpose of the gathering wasn’t clear. At least not until I saw a very fine extra-large carriage with platinum and ivory filigree. I smiled at the sight.
“Finally some good news, this isn’t a fair it’s a fighting . . . whatever, show? Exhibition? The point is there has to be some kind of actual healer around here – they infest these places like ticks.”
“How do you know this is a fighting deal?”
I chuckled as we walked up to the elaborate carriage and I knocked on the door “You’ll see, this is an old friend of mine.”
Martialla raised an eyebrow “You have friends?”
The door to the carriage flew up, nearly smashing me in the face. As I jumped back a barrel-chested fellow in an ugly red and yellow tunic hung in the doorway – he was grasping to the doorjamb like a mountaineer but still seemed about to fall at any moment. He had a sweaty soft face and one of those smiles that makes you want to punch someone right off the bat.
“Who the Hells are you?”
He frowned, this eyebrows touching like kissing swans “You knocked on my door, who the Hells are you?!”
“I’m looking for Rilfus or Trixa.”
He shook his head and made to slam the door “Never heard of them.”
I grabbed the door “Wait, where did you get this carriage?”
He shoved at my fingers “Piss off lady!”
I stepped back “Martialla, do your thing.”
She sighed “Remember when you used to actually talk people into being well disposed towards you?”
“You’re the one that learned magic, don’t blame me.”
“I know you said that just to annoy me, I’m not taking the bait.”
Once Martialla had hit him with her friendship charm to remind me what good friends we were he was more than happy to invite us in. It was the same carriage, being the size of a small house on the inside via MAGIC, but its new owner had made a right mess of the place. The bedroom used to be a small but well-appointed but was now just a cot beside stacks of crates. And I know what you’re thinking – wasn’t there a storage area anyway? Yes, it was packed with shoddy merchandise mostly loose or held together with twine. The office was a mountain of discarded food and empty wine bottles.
“I love what you’ve done with the place.”
He laughed like a lunatic “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to have the maid come around.”
He laughed so hard at that “joke” that he started foaming at the mouth a little and got out of breath. Once he was done almost having a heart attack he introduced himself as Mord Eli Ciraanova – owner, operator, and “fight master” of the “Touranment” of Dreams as he called it.
“Tournament. You said touranment.”
After that diversion we got back on track. He restated that he had never heard of Rilfus or Trixa, that the carriage was given to him by someone called Psyhundt.
“Gold chains? Hairy chest? Doesn’t wear a shirt? Has a couple hookers as bodyguards.”
He grinned “That’s the one. But those aren’t hookers, those women are gladiators from some other country. They fight giant eels in a big arena full of water.”
“I’m sure. Why are you having your event out here? I don’t mean to tell you your business but where are the customers supposed to come from?”
He literally growled like a mongrel dog “We’re supposed to run in Obsis, they have an event there every year for the King’s birthday, but they wouldn’t let us. That place has been taken over by some religious nuts and they said that celebrating violence wasn’t in keeping with the faith.”
“THE faith, Adariel. I don’t know what they’re so upset about, at the beginning of the show we have some broads come out and do a dedication fan dance to Adariel. What more could they want?”
“Well you know how unreasonable religious types can be, who knows what sets them off. Taking over a town doesn’t sound like Adarielites though.”
He took a drink of something green and unsavory looking “Uh, this is some new cult. A schoolmarm or a maid or something up in Aleene came back from the dead so they’ve got their underclothing all in an uproar about it.”
“The Order of Saint Hardra the Returned?”
He snapped his fingers “That’s the one. Their leader, called himself a Herald, you should have heard the way he talked to me. Some people have no respect. Since they kicked us out I figured I’d recoup what money I could and just hold the event here.” His face fell for a moment “I’m worried about what the boss is going to say. I’m going to lose a lot of money anyway.”
“Why didn’t you just continue all the way down to Preen and do your thing there?”
“There’s like ten different gangs that fight over Preen, I’d be torn apart if I went there to do business – or get ripped off so badly I’d end up owing. Since people were going to Obsis for the fights I figured the best thing to do was to stay close.”
“Huh, that’s actually pretty smart. You’re not as stupid as you look.”
He beamed an ear-to-ear smile “Thank you.”
Martialla, being more interested in warlike endeavors went to watch the contestants hammer each other with broken glass or gouge into each other’s flesh with rusty hooks or whatever kind of bloodsport was going on while I went to see the healer. In my experience healers are usually two types – stick up the butt religious freaks or real weirdos that collect jars of blood and shit like that. Arvan was neither. His red and blue tent was tidy, no bloody rags and hacked off limbs laying around, and he was utterly professional. I explained my injury, he examined me (without looking at anything he didn’t need to) I paid him some money and he did some magic and fixed my hip. That was it. He was just a competent healer doing a job for money. It’s a sad commentary that this is so unusual.
Afterwards I strolled around the small area of merchant tents and wagons to peruse the wares. There was actually a decent selection of items for a gathering of this size, but there was nothing that interested me. Surprisingly it would have been a pretty lucrative score for a robbery. After “window” shopping for a couple hours I joined Martialla and Mord at the fighting ring for the main event – some massive fellow from up north against some kind of tribal with feathers tattooed on his arms. Seemed like the big guy was going to crush the birdman, but it was a Hells of a fight – if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s some kind of bare-knuckle fighting deal, there didn’t seem to be a lot of rules, but I got the impression that most of the fights had been pretty tame – as soon as someone was in trouble they’d yield.
This fight wasn’t like that. Both men seemed to be out for blood. Not sure it it’s a personal thing or some kind of prejudice I’m not aware of, but they were tearing into each other like rabid wolverines. I would have thought that the big guy would break the birdman in half, but he was tougher than he looked and vicious – I suppose I should know better by now not to judge how dangerous people are by how they appear. Still in the end the big guy got the upper hand but the birdman refused to relent and in the end Mord’s goons rushed in to separate them before someone died. The crowd, which had been in frenzy, was quickly turned into a booing mass of angry people. Nobody likes a draw. It seemed like things might turn ugly, but a few of the early competitors came out to reinforce the guards and the crowed decided they’d rather not have their eyeballs pulled out of their dicks stomped by professionals.
“I’ve been thinking about your predicament Mord, and I might be able to help you – as old friends do for each other. Do all these fighters work for you or do they just come and go?”
“They’re all under contract for a number of fights, if they don’t die.”
“Perfect, how would you like to rent them out to me?”
“To rescue Baron Juost. I think I can make it worth your while – enough that you won’t need to worry about the bossman breathing down your neck.”
Funds: 53,040 platinum, 9,005 gold
Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Ela’s Dazzling Garment, Belt of Physical Might +4, Ring of Urban Grace, Black Marketers’ Bag (5), Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Extraordinary Walking Stick, Ela’s Elegant Boots, Ela’s Extravagant Necklace
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 (700), 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, tiara, masterwork red and black long greatcoat, 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
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