Myam 12 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

After the sun went down the temperature dropped significantly more than usual for sunset.  It wasn’t freezing cold by any means but it was not comfortable by any stretch.  Despite the day of rest Corune didn’t seem to be getting any better, if anything she seemed weaker.  Having nothing to eat probably didn’t help.  I’m no healer but even setting that aside it seemed like there was something else going on – some kind of malaise seemed to have settled over her.  It was like all the vitality had been drained from her.  As the day wore on she seemed more and more listless to the point where she barely responded to my insults anymore.  Once night and the cold set in she started shivering so badly she couldn’t fall asleep.  So of course a few hours later it started drizzling.  Somehow that made things even more miserable that a true driving rain.    

Things were getting pretty grim around the old “campsite” so I thought about trying to get a fire going.  Sunrods normally don’t seem to produce any heat but they’re creating light with some kind of alchemical goo inside so I thought it was worth a try.  Since Corune hadn’t really moved I rolled her over and cut some strips off the back of the trademark blue greatcoat of her dumb order assuming correctly that it would be mostly dry.  I stuck that in my Haversack and gathered the driest wood I could find before dumping out the whole mess and breaking a sunrod over it.  Or trying to anyway, the thing was pretty damn hard to break.  I had to cut it halfway through with my dagger before I was able to finally snap it and pour out the stuff inside – which was mostly powder.  I was expecting liquid for some reason.  It created a few sparks and I saw a tiny flicker of flame, which was encouragement enough to take out the last sunrod and do the same thing.  This got a nice little fire burning and I dragged Corune next to it, covering her with a cloak from my secret pocket even though I knew it would only last a couple of hours.  Maybe that would be enough to get her warm.

About ten minutes later the alchemical goo fizzled and popped and the fire went out.  Out of all the things I’ve seen lately it was one of the more depressing sights to cross my eyes.  I tried to sleep but between the cold and the rain and Corune’s wordless moaning there was no chance.  I was starting to consider kicking her until she shut up when I noticed a tiny glimmer of light in the distance.  Rather than getting up immediately I stared at it spitefully for a long time, I couldn’t tell you why exactly.  You know that feeling when there’s something you should do that you know is going to make things better but for some reason you resent having to do it so you just sulk and get madder and madder?  Yeah.

When I finally did get up and haul myself towards the light the first thing I saw was a wheelbarrow that looked like it was hundreds of years old and all that was holding it together was hope and good intentions.  Even so it was piled high with ramshackle goods and items – junk really.  Amongst the treasures I saw half a broken bedframe, a dozen soiled wigs, pieces of rugs, part of a blanket, the basket of a catapult, some hunks of rotting cheese, a spinning wheel without wheel, loose nails, a cage missing two sides – that kind of stuff.  I would have said this was the cart of a rag and bone man but most of this stuff even a ragman would turn his nose up at.  Coming around the garbage-barrow I found a merrily burning campfire with three shifty older codgers sitting around it.  They were startled by my appearance due to their semi-inebriation and their advanced age although I couldn’t tell you in what proportion. 

They jumped up, well not jumped but creaked, and brandished a variety of “weapons” at me.  One had a chair leg sharpened to a point, another had a hayfork with only one tine left – so a spear maybe – and the third had a broken bottle with cloth wrapped around the neck to make a hilt.  Which means he carries it around like that, which means he’s insane.  I tried to reason with them, I really did, but they were cursing at me and shouting and yelling for me to lay down my weapons – I had no weapons at the time mind you.  I admit that in short order I lost my temper.  My grandmother always told me that if you lose your temper you’ve lost – that you have to stay in control if you want to survive, you can’t let your emotions overrule you reason.  Normally I’m great at that. 

I have every reason to be angry, but you have to hold back that anger.   Because there are consequences to expressing your anger, and because I have an image to maintain, and for a thousand other reasons.  Eventually though, there will be a last straw.  Actually no, I won’t like the straw and the donkey’s back metaphor because that implies that it’s an incremental process and it’s inevitable when neither of those are true.  When it happens it comes out of nowhere and it’s just one thing that makes it happen.  It’s not an accumulation of slights, it’s not that I’ve had all I can stand and I can’t stand no more – it’s like hitting your funny bone, it’s just the wrong touch at the right time in the right place. Do I regret killing those geezers?  Yes, I do.  But honestly, not very much.  Not because it wasn’t wrong, but because it didn’t really matter.

After they were dead I grabbed a stout burning branch out of their fire and carried it back towards Corune but halfway there the fire went out and I hurled the then smoldering stick into the darkness and screamed for a little while.  I was still pretty angry.  Once I calmed down I went back to their camp and dumped all the crap out of their wheelbarrow and used that to convey Corune over the fire instead.  Have you ever tried to carry a person on a wheelbarrow in the dark over rough terrain?  It’s maddening.  It took me almost two hours to travel maybe three hundred yards.  My arms ached so badly I just left Corune in the wheelbarrow by the fire and tossed some of the rug scraps and paper-thin blankets from their pile on her.  I never did manage to fall asleep.  I was too jittery and worked up.

Sometime before dawn I decided to leave.  Why was I even there in the first place?  So of course as soon as I started to walk away Corune miraculously is finally able to stand up and asks me where I’m going.  I could have lied to her, I could have lied to her so easily, told her I was going for help, told her I was just going to take a piss, told her a hundred other things.  And she would have believed me because that’s what I do.  But I didn’t, I told her I was going back to Beresford.  She asked if I was going to leave her there and I told her that I was.  Her voice was frail and frightened.

“I’ll die if you leave me here.”

“Yeah.  Probably.”

“And you’re okay with that?”

“Yeah.”

She looked like she was holding back tears, not for herself – but for me!

“What happened to you?  What made you this way?”

“That would be very convenient wouldn’t it?  I had a hard childhood or I was mistreated in some way or somehow traumatized and that’s why I ‘act out’.  I find that offensive.  I do what I choose to do because I choose to do it.  I’m not a victim, I don’t replay old horrible shit that happened to me and act on it.  I move on, I get on with my life because I am a Gods damned adult.  One of the few I seem to come across.”

“I need your help.”

“So what?  Nobody ever helped me do a damn thing, I had to do it all myself.  Where would I be if I sat around waiting for someone to help me out?  I’d be dead is where I would be.  Waiting for someone else to save the day is a long wait for a horse that doesn’t show up.  You want to live you need to fight.  Get up and walk to town.  The real question isn’t why won’t I help you now, it’s why did I ever help you?  You were taking me to be tortured to death!  I should have shot you the first moment I saw you.”

“You don’t know what they were going to do.”

“What the FUCK do you think they were going to do?  Have me to dinner?  Serve tea and raspberry tarts?  If they weren’t going to kill me they were going to make me wish I was dead.”

“If you had killed me then you’d be dead too, I saved your life.”

“I would have been fine either way, I would have figured a way out.”

She laughed a laugh so bitter it was hard to even tell it was a laugh “Your ego is astounding.  Until just now I haven’t been able to figure out what’s wrong with you, I couldn’t tell if it was anger, fear, or hatred.  But it’s all three together – pride.  You become angry at anyone who attacks your self-image of perfection, you fear the judgement of others, and you cultivate hate of those who force you to see the unpleasant truths about yourself.  It’s not enough for you to deny the truth when I point it out, you have to silence the source of your frustration with your insults and slander.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me!  You’re the narcissist for thinking that you know better!”

“Tell me this one thing, why do you want revenge on the Duke so badly?”

“He ruined my life.  He tried to kill me but he didn’t even have the balls to do it right, he just left me to die.  You talk about morality, I am morally bound to ruin the Duke for what he did to me.  You claim to love justice so much, what about my justice?  Why aren’t you on my side?  I’m left to administer justice myself because no one else is going to do it.  I’m the one who was wronged.”

“And that’s what it is, not that the Duke did something wrong, but that he had the audacity to damage the foundation of your fragile self-worth.  It’s not that he ruined your life it’s that he beat you – that’s all you care about.”

“You don’t know me, you don’t know anything.  And you have a very strange way of asking for help, if you want me to keep you alive another lecture doesn’t seem like a great way to go.”

“Without me you’re not going to get your possessions back.”

I smiled “And there it is.  You abandon the high ground pretty quickly when your ass is on the line.  Your God, your code, your precious laws it’s a bad joke.  So it’s not about right or wrong huh?  It’s a simple you scratch my back and I scratch yours?  Finally, now we’re getting somewhere.”

“I didn’t abandon anything, I just know who I’m talking to – you’re empty Ela, appeals to a higher purpose are pointless.”

“And yet you keep making them.  What’s that say about you I wonder?  You already told me where my stuff is, I’m sure I can get it back without you.  So that argument doesn’t hold a lot of water.  What else you got?  What else will you bargain with?  What can you offer me to make me save your life?  Money?  Jewels?  Eternal life in Vultur’s heavenly kingdom?  What have you got for me sister?  I’m entertaining all offers.  How badly do you want to live?”

“Not badly enough to listen to you for another second.”

With that she shuffled back and lay down by the fire. 

Funds: 53,775 gold

XP: 628,701

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

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 

Myam 8 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

What’s the worst way you’ve ever woken up?  Barking dog?  Hang-over?  In bed with someone gross?  House collapsed on you?  The Massacre at Eagle Eye Peak comes to mind as a pretty bad one but technically those people never woke up so that doesn’t count I guess.  I have a new contender.  There I was in my dumb cot in my dumb tent in this dumb refugee/prisoner camp sound asleep when the next thing I knew I was knocked to the ground with a slashing pain in my side.  And what do I see standing over me?  A Gods damned boar, snorting and bristly and tusky, you know a boar.  It charged at me again, slashing the cot to pieces as I used it as a shield of sorts.  Then the dogs came at me.  That’s a little bit worse than the time you woke up because the roof was leaking right?

While I was wondering where the Hells my bodyguards were I grabbed for my Walking Stick but one of the slavering attack dogs grabbed it like we were playing fetch and ripped it away from me – meanwhile his friends where biting and snapping at me like crazy.  My only goal was not to get pulled down, as long as I’m on my feet I have a chance, if they drag me down I’m dead.  What a way to go – killed by a pig and a pack of damn dogs.  I was able to grab my Flask and took a mouthful of Growth tonic, springing up to giant size, well not giant, but ogre at least, and once again knocking the tent down with sudden enlargement.  The tent collapsing turned out pretty well though because I was able to get the cloth at the edges and pull it together like a net of sorts, trapping most of the dogs.  The boar came charging at me again, but with my increased size I was able to boot it away like a woodchuck – sending it flying and crashing into another tent.

It was at this point that a tiny little demon bastard appeared.  It wasn’t much bigger than a rabbit but it had horrible bug-eyes and buzzing insect wings to go along with relatively large black curving horns and general demon-ness.  The nasty little creature hocked a wad of phlegm that I swear was bigger than its head right in my face, which was bad enough as is but also it stank like the middens of a thousand stables.  This distracted me enough for the only free hound to clamp onto my knee like a chicken bone.  Have you ever been bit on the knee?  It fucking hurts.  I could feel my kneecap sliding around underneath the savage pressure of its jaws.  Wiping the demon-snot away with one hand I grabbed the dog with the other and squeezed it.  It’s yelping and crying was horrible but I was too pissed off to care, I threw the carcass at the flying asshole but it flitted out of the way and held out its hand, summoning another gross little demon with a ray of putrid yellow slime.

This one was bloated and piggish but upright like a hideous man with huge floppy donkey-like ears.  It was covered in its own drool and slime and looked like it wished it was dead.  I know I did.  It stumbled towards me with claws out but its true assault was the stench that it projected – even worse than the foul spittle of the first one.  I gagged as it slashed at me with its freaky spider-leg looking talons but one slap with my ogre-hand caused it to explode in burning green acid-tar, a fleck of which went in my fucking MOUTH!  As I was trying to spit away the searing pain on my tongue the flying demon hit me with a centipede the size of a galley oar.  Are you understanding what I’m telling you?  It hit me with a giant squirming centipede like it was a massive club!  The thing can’t weight ten pounds, how was it even strong enough to swing the damn thing?  The centipede head stabbed into me with its fangs and its head snapped off, leaving it lodged and biting in my flesh.  I screamed in inarticulate rage as the little monster started flying away, disappearing as it turned invisible.

Of course by this point the guards and various other people in camp were all running over.  One them was screaming about how I had killed their dogs on account of during my staggering around I guess I stomped on the ones trapped under the tent.  I would have killed the screamer too only by this point I had reverted to my normal size and the crowd was able to hold me back as I lunged at the dog owner.  Eventually I calmed down enough to gather my possessions from the wreckage of the tent but as I was doing so some of the soldiers came over to me and said that I needed to come with them.

“Fuck you, I’m not going anywhere.”

At a gesture the soldiers rushed me and in short order had me bound.  My struggling against them did about as much good as that of a fish caught in a net (or a dog in a tent).  As they led me away I saw someone in the crowd making off with my magic boots.  They carried me bodily to the southeast section of the camp and tossed me into a large round tent.  Have you ever been thrown to the ground with your arms bound behind you?  It sucks.  Baron Berlixwhouse was there looking as sallow and unpleasant as ever along with two other fancy boys that I hadn’t seen yet.  The two of them grabbed me by the arms and hauled me up to my feet as Berlixwhouse took out a fabulously lacquered darkwood box reverently.  The box was full of live wasps, which I was afraid were going to be tossed on me, but instead he took out a little wooden implement and started mashing them into a paste.  Once they were thoroughly pulped into paste he put that slime on one of those curvy knifes that demon people seem to love and came my way.

“Now hold on a minute, we can talk about this.  You’re upset about Lypara but you’re not seeing the big picture.  This is an opportunity for you to take over.  You don’t have to take her directions anymore, you can . .  .”

He clearly wasn’t interested in listening.  I started kicking at him but the two men holding me pushed me down into a sort of painful kneel as Berlixwhouse came forward with his bug-guts knife.

“Don’t you fucking touch me you freak, don’t . . . “

He tore open the bodice of my dress and very carefully carved into my chest, it felt like the delicate slice of a razor.  I stopped struggling because I didn’t want to drive the point of the dagger in deeper, but I should have because as soon as he was done his two friends let go and I was lifted into the air by some manner of invisible force.  I was flipped upside down, hanging at an awkward angle against the roof of the tent and then I felt like my body was being twisted by a pair of massive hands – like a giant was wringing the neck of a chicken.  I’ve felt pain before, even agony, but this was indescribable – it was like my bones were breaking from the inside.  I was barely cognizant as Baron Redmynd and some different orange-clad soldiers ran in with weapons drawn.  The force disappeared as the fighting started and I was dropped on the back of my head and shoulders.  If I hadn’t managed to tuck my chin I would have broken my neck and been dead.  Just like that. 

I rolled and crawled and squirmed out under the tent canvas, getting stepped on and kicked as the men were fighting to the death above me.  Once outside I managed to get to my knees but with my arms trapped kept falling over when I tried to get to my feet.  There was fighting in other parts of the camp and there was chaos everywhere, people running and screaming and just flat out panicking.  As I was struggling to get up again I saw, of all people Writha Corune looking around wildly.  I called out to her and she ran over and knelt beside me.

“Help me up!”

As she was trying to undo the cords binding me she was clearly frazzled “What’s going on?”

“I think the Alliance of Barons is fraying a bit around the edges.”

Corune was able to get the bounds off me and we ran for the edge of the camp trying to avoid any knots of people fighting, or actually just people in general.  In the “alley” between tents though we found ourselves trapped between wildly panicking horse behind us and one of the soldiers in front of us.  He got that sneer/leer on his face that let me know, know for certain, that he was going to say “well look what we have here” but he didn’t get the chance because I hurled dagger at his face.  Lucky for him dagger throwing isn’t really my thing, unlucky for him the hilt hit him right in the teeth.  Have you heard the sound of metal smashing into tooth at a high rate of speed?  It’s not great.  The blade glided back into my hand as we ran past the man who was doubled over with his hands on his bloody mouth.  Corune looked horrified.

“How do you always manage to have a weapon?”

“My grandmother told me ‘always be prepared’ it was like her motto.”

We jumped over the little wooden wall-let that marked the confines of the camp and by turns ran and skulked our way essentially in a random direction.  A few hours later, still early in the morning we found ourselves in a wooded hillock watching the camp – which was on fire by now of course, there’s always fires – fall apart.  As accompaniment fighting had started up in the city as well, but not just in the “riot” quarter this time, along the border too.  The people in the shanties outside of town had rushed the northern edge and more men were called into try and hold them back.  Why would anyone want to force their way INTO a town under martial law?  No clue.  I was standing drinking freely and frequently from my Flask while Corune sat on the ground with her knees drawn up and her arms around them.  She scowled at me.

“Doesn’t that thing ever run out?”

“No, it’s magic, you saw that a few days ago.  You have a pretty bad memory for a law . . . whatever you are.  You are a real peach you know that, I save your life and you chap my ass over a little booze?  You are something lady.”

“I saved your life!”

“That’s not how I remember it.  So what do you see down there law lady?  Doesn’t look like Vultur is doing too good of a job.  I mean what’s your deal anyway?  Do you think that people want order?  Look, look at what’s going on down there.  This is what people want.  Anarchy.  You’re swimming against a strong tide.”

“You’re wrong, it’s civilization that corrupts the natural good inside people.  At least the civilization that people like you create.  The first person who planted a flag and said ‘I own this’ and found a bunch of other people dumb enough to buy into it, that person is the real corrupter – not all the demons in the Thirteen Hells.  Crime, wars, and murders, horrors and misfortunes, they’re all the result of people trying to own things.  Once you try to own something morality is undone.  If you forget that the fruits of the world belong to us all, and the world itself belongs to nobody you’ve already lost.”

“Those people aren’t dumb, they’re just doing what comes natural.  People want to have stuff, and more importantly they want to make sure other people don’t have as much.  There’s nothing you can do about that.  It’s human nature.  And dwarf nature too I think.  Also Halfling nature.  Elf nature is a little trickier, who knows what their pointed eared freaks wants?”

She shook her head “I don’t want to talk about this with you.”

I gestured with my flask “What the Hells else do we have to do?”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 53,775 gold

XP: 573,301

Inventory:  Courtier’s Outfit, Noble’s outfit (5), Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, sunrod (2) 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, +1 Returning Dagger, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, Ring of Protection +2, Saryah Phidaner gown, Crown of Conquest, signet ring, Stone of Good Luck

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 

Myam 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) – Part 4

There was a part of me that didn’t want to get up.  A part that told me to stay there, close my eyes and let go, let whatever was going to happen next happen and just accept it.  Put my fate in the hands of the Gods.  No more struggle.  No more strife.  Let things unfold and assent to the results.  But you don’t listen to that part of yourself.  You block out the seductive voice in your mind that says that it cannot be done, that you’ve done enough, that it’s time to rest.  Because there is only one sin that cannot be forgiven, and that is giving up.  I’ve done a lot of things people would consider damning but the only thing I could ever do that would disappoint me is stopping.  There is no line between perseverance and insanity, don’t ever let anyone tell you that there is.  Life is a meaningless struggle, and that’s fine, you do it anyway.  If you’re going to do something you do it.  The end.  So I counted to four and then I hauled myself to my feet and went over to see what the dead man had on him.   As I grabbed him by a handful of clothing to flip him over I looked at Corune.

“You’re a legal expert, in a time of civil unrest isn’t there some manner of suspension of law when it comes to doing what you have to in order to survive?  Or is this still theft and you’re going to arrest me and confine me to the closet?”

She looked dazed “There is no closet.”

I couldn’t help but laugh, somewhat deliriously “Good point.” I gestured to Aska “Is she alright?”

She looked after at the unconscious form next to her without really seeming to see her “I don’t know.”

“Can’t you use magic to heal her?”

She shook her head slowly “No.”

“You dedicate yourself to your stupid law God and he doesn’t even give you magic?  Seriously, what are you doing with your life?”

This seemed to bring her into focus a little “Can you say two sentences without insulting my faith?”

“I’m sure that I could but what’s my motivation?  Face it honey you lost the God lottery when you got saddled with Vultur.”

Aside from his weird sword/tool the deadman had hit of Zerk and Scour on him, which explains a lot, there aren’t many men that can take a crossbow to the face and not even blink with a chemical enhancement.   He had a few other odds and end on him but most critically of all he had a coil of rope.  If you had told me that someday I would be over the moon about getting my hands on a length of rope I would have thought you were off your rocker.  I dumped about a gallon of sake on Aska but it didn’t wake her up so I put Corune to knotting the rope while I stood watch out the window.  At one point a dozen knights rode by and I called out to them but they weren’t interested in distressed damsels today.  I thought about using my Beastspeech to call out to one of their horses just to see what they would do but ultimately decided that was a terrible idea.  Knights have a terrible sense of humor, I think it’s part of their vows.

Corune did a piss poor job with the rope but honestly I can’t say that I would have done any better so I didn’t chastise her.  There was an exposed wall-beam that seems sturdy so we attached the rope to that and I floundered my way down through the hole to loot the rest of the bodies.  There’s no reason to expect them to have any food on them but I was still disappointed when I found none.  After gathering weapons and tossing them up to Corune I started handing up broken furniture and other wreckage that she threw into the stairwell to help block it off.  After that I tried to hack through what was left of the loom to remove that as a way to climb in but it was ineffective.  The bits that were left were thicker than my waist, even with an ax it would have taken hours to take it apart.  I had found a bag of caltrops on one of the raiders and Corune had the idea to hammer them into the main part of the loom under the hole that I had been climbing on, which I have to admit was a canny notion.  Once I was done she tossed the rope out the window.  I thought it would be easier to climb up against the wall but it wasn’t, still I managed to drag myself up, soaked through with sweat by the time I made it up. Not only that but in the melee I must have twisted the wrong way because my knee was throbbing something awful.  I couple long pulls from the Flask helped tamp down the pain.

Corune looked at me coolly “Don’t you think you should cool it with that?”

“No, but I do think you should shut about it.  Last time I checked booze isn’t illegal even when society isn’t falling apart.”

“It should be.”

“That sounds dangerously like an independent thought.  Is that allowed in your order?  The law is the law isn’t it?  And you enforce it, unquestioningly, unthinkingly, un . . . some other un-word that fits there.  Unabashedly?  No, that doesn’t sound right. ”

“You don’t know anything about my order.”

“So tell me.  Give me a crash course.  We’ve got nothing but time.”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Good chat, very informative.  No fooling, how did you end up with this as your life?”

“I am immune to your mockery.”

“I’m not mocking you just now, I’m honestly curious.  Someone becomes a blacksmith or a cooper or a crier or what have you that makes sense.  But I’d like to know what led to you dedicating your life to Vultur.  I really am sincerely interested, and we really don’t have anything else to do.  You in particular are mystery because you’re a Corune!  How did a member of one of the most powerful noble houses in the Kingdom end up as a glorified bounty hunter?  No offense.  Tell me your story.”

“We should be keeping watch.”

“I can listen and watch at the same time.”

“Writha Corune is not the name I was born with.  My mother was Ulpine but my father was Modenese.  When my mother died I my father took me to live with his people – are you familiar with the Modenese?  They’re savages that live along the southern coast.   After a Modenese tribe loses a battle with another tribe, its common, even expected for the surrendering tribe to be sold into slavery, with the buyer being a mark of respect or disrespect to the defeated foes.  When a Modenese chieftain despises their conquered foes, they sell them to the city-folk, the Ulpine.  I was sold to a slaver who then sold me to a family in Caracalla.  I was treated . . . harshly by them.  The Church of Vultur took me away from them when I was fourteen and trained me as an acolyte.   I was an attendant to a diplomat that traveled to Indlecastle often as part of his duties, when the war broke out – not this one but the last one – Rilga Corune took me into her household.  I married her son Lacobian for . . . reasons that I won’t go into, but it is a marriage in name only, my dedication is to the church and to Vultur.”

“And the family you married into doesn’t care that you’re running around the Kingdom . . . doing whatever it is that you do?”

“It’s better if I’m not there.  I’m sure they probably don’t tell people exactly what I’m doing.”

“If you want to keep that a secret you probably shouldn’t go around telling people your name is Writha Corune, that’s bound to attract attention.”

“It’s my name.  Lying doesn’t come as easily as everyone as it does to you.”

“Oh Gods, get over yourself.”

“You probably think that your lies aren’t damaging but they are.  Society is based on trust and the more you lie the more you erode that trust.  The ability to make free and informed decisions is the cornerstone of moral conduct and if you actively and intentional deceive people you’re taking away their ability to act with freedom.  Lying is a bad act and when you regularly indulge in bad acts you’re corrupting yourself, you make yourself more comfortable with doing other bad things.  Lie enough and stealing doesn’t seem so bad, steal enough and maybe murder is on the table.  Communication is a gift from the Gods, given to us so that we can share our thoughts, so do otherwise . . .”

“Alright enough.  You can’t tell me that lying about your name is going to cause the collapse of society.  What it’s going to do is make your life safer, and help the people that took you in and cared for you when you needed it.  What you’re doing by refusing to just say one thing instead of another isn’t being righteous or devout it’s selfish and stupid.”

“Just because something is expedient doesn’t make it right, if you always take the easy path . . .”

“Don’t waste your breath with that high-minded slippery slope bullshit.  I would wager that my lies have done more good, saved more people than you have riding around shooting poor people with your crossbow with your little friends in blue coats.”

“Now you’re just trying to upset me, and I don’t know why because we’re in this together now.  If you don’t like something, if you don’t understand something you make light of, you respond with insults.  It’s childish.”

“You and your gang of mercenaries would have taken me to Three Rivers to be tortured to death by another gang of rich assholes who paid you to bring me to them, I think I’m entitled to be a little pissed off about that.”

“We had a legal and binding contract to . . .”

“Fuck your contract!  I can write up a contract for you to burn to death right now, that doesn’t make it right!”

“Quit interrupting me!  Your lies have never done anyone any good other than yourself.  What it has done is encourage other people to lie, weakened social cohesion, and yes, if eventually no one can believe anything anyone says then society does collapse!  You walk through life doing whatever you want because people like me are there to fix the damage that you do.  If everyone acted like you we’d still be living in caves!  You are the problem, you are the cancer.  There must be order for the world to exist.”

“And because of your order I have to die.  For what?  What crime did I commit?  That contract of yours that so precious to you, what was it exactly?  What possible law gives a solicitor the right to kidnap me?”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

I laughed bitterly “Any time I bring up something you don’t want to talk about you fall back to that, and I’m the one that’s childish?  When you dragged me in chains to Glilcus and Stolo what did you think they were going to do to me?  Nothing fucking legal I can guarantee you that.”

“You have to keep your word, that’s the one thing you do in life above all others, otherwise what is it all for?  You abuse people and you hurt people and you don’t care.  It’s a game to you.  Life is sacred but you treat it like a joke and I think on some level you know what and you hate yourself for it.  If you had a decent bone in your body you’d take it out on yourself instead of everyone else.  But you don’t.  You’re the worst person I’ve ever met.  And I’ve met the worst humanity has to offer.  I brought in a pimp once who had traumatized his women so badly, controlled them so methodically, abused them so absolutely, that they killed themselves rather than be without him.  I would let him and people like him go a hundred times over if I could bring you in instead.”

“But at the core what’s really going on is that you’re jealous because I’m prettier than you right?”

“I knew there was no reason to talk to you.”

“In all honesty I’m sorry about your hair.  I’ve gotten my ass kicked several times now and it sucks, but bruises fade and wounds heals and the pain goes away.  That hair though was magnificent and that is a real loss.  I know that your whole deal is putting on this stick up the butt façade but with hair like that there has to be some part of you that desires to have one little thing that’s outside of the norm, something that makes people look at you admiringly, something that makes you feel good.  Just for yourself.”

“The only thing that matters is looking presentable.  Excessive pride in one’s appearance is counter-productive to the mission.”

“I see, it’s okay to lie but only to yourself.” For a long while neither of us said anything.  Eventually I jabbed my chin in the direction of Aska’s still unmoving form. “Is she going to wake up?”

“I don’t know. . . . . probably not.  What happened to her?”

“She got knocked around during the fight pretty bad.”

“She would have already been dead if it wasn’t for you.  So would I.  I have to admit this much, you’re quite the killer.”

“That almost sounded like a compliment.”

The sun was starting to dip when the next group came around.  They would have been a hard-looking bunch in normal times but for a time of lawless riot they were just normal looking.  They did have a hook though, they were carrying ladders.  Actually it looked they had taken a single siege ladder, those things are huge you know, and cut it into three smaller sections – much better for assaulting a two story building instead of a thirty foot curtain wall around a fortress.  I was sitting in the window with my crossbow as they rolled up.  Like all these little bands of brute-brothers they had a leader who did all the talking.  I wonder how they decide who the leader is.  Is there a vote?  Does someone just call it?  Or is it the guy with the most memorable appearance?  This one was a thick-set fellow whose arms, legs, and head all seemed to be the same circumference – which is a lot weirder than it sounds.  He was shirtless but was wearing some kind of studded leather vest.  I often mock women for their sexy armor choices but this is probably the least effective protection I’ve ever seen.  I guess it protects you from attacks coming from the rear or targeted at your nipples.

“Sorry boys, we’ve already been hit a bunch of times today, we’re all tapped out – we got nothing for you.”

“You’re up there, that’s enough for me.”

“Not interested.” Corune came to stand behind me with her crossbow visible as well “Neither is my friend.”

“How many people you got up there?”

“Well let’s see, beside the two us there’s, the rest of our crossbow regiment – it’s a new thing they were testing out, all female army units.  What’s the world coming to right?  But with the war on and all you know.  Plus Sir Anders the Decapitator, Sir Jellic the Mutilator, Sir Hellionch the Destroyer, the Impalement Brothers, the Butcher, the Blade, the Bunnykiller, a couple dozen other knights, a few war wizards, a pack of werewolfs, and the entire Skulltaker orc clan.  Oh, and a few adventuring parties – the Order of this and the Fellowship of that, you know how they like to give themselves fancy names.  One of them even has a dark elf!  Can you imagine?”

“Okay, okay, stupid question.”

“All you need to know is that there’s one window and two of us with crossbows right here – that should be plenty for you to scoot along to the next house.”

“You sure you know how to use that thing sweetie?”

“If you look around down there you’ll find a couple corpses that show that I do.  I’ve developed my own system where I aim for the uvula, even if you miss by a couple inches you’re still doing pretty well.”

“Maybe you can shoot, how many bolts can you have left though?”

“Good point.” I started pulling bolts out of my Quiver and tossing them over my shoulder “Here’s one, here’s another, there’s another one, oh look, here’s one, oh man here’s a whole handful of them, and a fistful, and another, does this this ever run dry?  It’s like one of them magic tricks with the scarfs.”

“Maybe we’ll check back in a few days when you’re running a little lower.”

“You do that, and have yourself a good night and you be safe out there boys.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 50,874 gold, 2000 silver

XP: 551,901

Rations – 5 days

Inventory:  Noble’s outfit, Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, sunrod (3) Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, dreamtime tea, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring, Everwake Amulet, Ring of Disguise, javelin, thunderstone, throwing axe, Boots of the Winter Jarl, Ring of Jumping, zerk (3), scour (3), knotted rope, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper)   

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 

Myam 2 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) – Part 1

It would have been nice to take on the form of a gnome or Halfling – the smaller size would help me pass unseen through the night if I were alone, but now that I’m party of a party of three there’s no point.  It also would have been nice to turn invisible every now and then to break up the eyeline of anyone watching me, but that would be equally as pointless.  But as a trade-off at least now I have someone to help me find my way around right?  Wrong.  Because why would things ever be easy for old Ela?   Aska Urolyin (as I learned her name was) the sooty cobbler (hence the hammer) was too frightened to give me directions.  All she seemed capable of doing was holding onto the battered Vulturian, who, and I don’t mean this as any sort of rudeness, was heavier than she looked.  She was sort of capable of supporting her own weight but we were essentially dragging her along with us – it felt like we were pulling her through deep water.  Wait, that sound easier because things float in water, but you know what I mean.  Quicksand?  Whatever, it was hard. 

There’s nothing I wanted to do more than to set her down and take a little rest, but I knew that would be a bad horrible terrible awful idea.  As morning closed in I was seeing more and more people about and none of them looked sociable.  Probably most of them were just worried about protecting themselves but that still leaves the few who are looking for trouble.  Since Aska couldn’t find her voice (I wanted to shout at her so badly but I knew it would only make things worse – I hate being reasonable) I was taking streets at random, heading away from noise and fire, hoping that I would see something familiar.  And eventually I did – we ended up back in the square where it all started.

By my calculations the machine Rindol and Murdane were building would have been completed tomorrow.  Instead it was smashed to smithereens.  Do you know how small a smithereen is?  No you don’t because no one does.  A smithereen issomething so small you don’t even know how small it is.  We should have kept moving but I stopped and looked at the one piece remaining – a maybe three foot tall post.  That’s all that was left.  There was a powerful acrid stench in the air that I couldn’t identity but it stung both the eyes and the nostrils.  Hells, I think it stung my ears.   It had been getting lighter out for a while but as I stood there the sun came up over the buildings to give me a good look around.

I saw half a portrait of the Queen smeared with mud and/or feces sitting against the frame of a building.  I saw the remains of dozens of shattered barrels with pickled fish scattered about and crushed under boots.  I saw the body of a royal courier laying face-down, which is to say that his face was down and the rest of his body was facing up, this neck horribly twisted. I saw ants and rats swarming over boxes filled with sugar beets while crows did the same on a pile of gristle that may have been a horse, a dog, or a man.  Burning torches, rotten food, broken furniture, torn clothing, blood, I saw it all lying in the street.  I even saw a gravestone and I don’t think there’s a graveyard anywhere near here.  I saw rubble piled up with torn off boards balanced precariously on the rock ramp to form a kind of shaky “bridge” into the second story window a building – the window of that building was splattered with blood.  My old friend in the blue coat had come around enough to bless us with his gem.

“What a waste.”

“Sure, that’s one way to put it.  Fucking Hells would be another.”

She frowned “Do I know you?  Your voice sounds familiar.”

“Yeah, yeah you know me.  Come on, I know where we are now.”

We made our way to the rugmaker’s shop which would have been a confusing sight had I not known that a temporarily very large person had crashed through the ceiling because it looked mostly intact from the outside but the interior was a shambles.  Seeing it in the daylight it seems much bigger than I thought from having been inside.  Coming back here was possibly not the best idea, Sperry could very well still be about, but there’s something instinctual about returning to someplace you’ve already been.  A random building could have been better of course, yet it could just as easily have been much worse.  The Devils you know and all that.  I helped Aska carry the priestess into a side room stacked with rags and then I shimmed my way up the remains of the loom to the second floor.  I didn’t call out because I didn’t want to potentially alert Sperry but that was foolish because I’m not exactly quiet as a ghostcat in the best of times let alone when I’m clambering up a wood frame. 

Sperry was still there, looking out the window, but he was overlaid with the appearance of the rugmaker – not her real appearance but the one she had projected.  The result was a grotesque shadow amalgam that almost made me wish that I couldn’t see through the illusion.  His attempt to mimic her voice was preposterous, in different circumstances it would have been comedic. 

“Thank goodness, I was so worried about you!  How . . .”

“Did you kill her or did you just rob her?”

“Whatever can you mean?  I . . .”

I shot him in the stomach, the bolt punching through his chainmail like it was nothing.  I suppose at this range you can’t expect much else but whenever I see armor pierced so easily it makes me wonder why people put up with all the weight and chafing.  He went for his sword but I dashed forward and bashed him in the shoulder (I was going for the head but he moved) with the stock of my crossbow hard enough to knock him to the floor. 

“You’re poisoned my friend, this is a very special crossbow, so you’re done for.  Just tell me if you murdered that woman or if you merely stole all her shit and kicked her out of her own house to get murdered by someone else.”

He reached for his dagger and I shot him through the meat of the forearm – pinning that limb to his chest unintentionally.  For a dirty coward he was admirably trying to fight on anyway and I had to shoot him again in the side, sending him staggering towards the hole.  I kicked him over the side and watched him crash into what was left of the loom with a horrid cracking sound – flipping off the frame and slamming into the ground.  The cartwheeling action of hitting the loom is the only thing that prevented him from hitting head-first and breaking his bloody neck.  Incredibly, after a moment he started to crawl away.  I walked to what was left of the staircase and slid/fell/jumped down and moved to his side.  His body was wracked with tremors as he painfully and glacially crawled towards the street on hands and knees.

“The poison has you now.  You may have fatal injuries anyway but either way you’re done.”

He managed to lift his head to look me in the eye, his voice shaky “Ant . . . i . . . . dote?”

I shook my head “I can do nothing for you.  I could lie and tell you that I can save you if you tell me what you did to her, but I can’t.  You’re already dead.  This is your last chance to do something halfway decent for once in your miserable life.  Where is she?”

He lowered his head back down “N . . n . . no . . .”

“I figured.  You know I’m not usually one to deliver a monolog to a dying foe, I mean is there anything more pointless?  I understand that sometimes people can’t help themselves – they need to explain why they did something or they want to get in a few last digs, or whatever it may be – but talking to a dead man?  What a waste of time.  But I’m going to do it in this one special case because I want to thank you.  Even though you’re be gone in a couple minutes, or seconds maybe, I want you to know that you reminded me of something and I really appreciate it.  You reminded me that trusting people is always a poor choice.  Always.  This is a universal truth.  And I didn’t even really trust you is the thing, but I left a little sliver for you to exploit and you did because of course you did.  You can’t give anyone anything, unless you like being fucked over.  Which I knew, but clearly I needed to be reminded.  I mean look what happened here with you huh?

As I was talking he slumped to the ground, most likely dead, so I don’t even know how much of it he heard.  But I suppose it was for my own benefit.  The illusion of the illusion of the rugmaker didn’t fade after he checked out, it stayed active until I stripped the ring off his finger that was making the effect. He had a massive amount of coins on him – all silver.  There’s probably a story behind that but I guess I’ll never know it now.  After stripping Non-Longer-Smiling Sperry of his gear I helped Aska to climb up to the bedroom.  Then it was time to have a little heart to heart with the third member of our trio.  She was laying on a stack of rugs in the side room looking like she had nothing left in her – pale as a sheet (a clean sheet), clammy skin, eyes kind of unfocused, having trouble breathing, the whole nine.  She looked like she had been tortured only hours ago, because she had.  I knelt down beside her and patted her on the arm.

“What’s your name?”

“Writha . . . .Corune . . . .”

“Corune?  Surely not of the Indlecastle Corunes.”  She nodded very weakly “Seriously?  Well shit what the Hells are you doing here?  We can talk about that later.  Here’s the deal Lady Corune, you’re not safe down here, I’m going up to the second floor – which isn’t really safe either but it’s at least must safer.  And I can’t carry you.  And I don’t have any other way to get you up there.  So if you want to live you have to fucking rally right now.  Whatever strength you have left in you you have to conjure it up.  Aska and I can help you but you have to be able to climb.  You have to get up and you need to get it together for like thirty seconds.  And I realize that that’s a long time in this situation but this is what it is.  There’s nothing for it.  If you’ve been holding anything in reserve this is what you’ve been holding it for.  If you’re completely spent you need to manufacture something.  If you can’t what I would suggest is that you hide under some of these rugs and I’ll sneak down and give you some food and water occasionally, but someone’s going to come in here and they’re going to find you and it’s unlikely anything good is going to happen after that.  You need to save yourself right now if you can.  We can help you, but we can’t do it for you.  You want to give it a shot or you want to stay here?”

You probably think that there’s no chance she would chose the latter but you’d be surprise how many people won’t fight for their own lives when it comes down to the bitter end.  If someone attacks you you might fight back in the moment, but that’s different – when you’ve been beaten to a pulp and you’ve been hung by your arms for a couple hours and you’re halfway dead already, do you have the guts to haul your ass up and try to make it?  Maybe you do, but it’s not as universal as you might think.  Animals, they never give up, they can’t, they don’t know how.  You drop a dog in the middle of the ocean and it starts swimming because it doesn’t know it’s dead no matter what.  We humans have been blessed with consciousness and with that comes the fun knowledge of how royally screwed we are sometimes.  And when you know that you have a decision to make.  Can you find it within yourself to press on or do you lie down, give up, and enjoy some peace for a few moments before it’s over?

Writha Corune proved to be a gamer, this time at least.  I helped her up and I got under the shoulder and I helped her stagger to what was left of the loom-frame.  Aska’s face appeared in the hole above us looking scared as ever.   I got underneath Corune and pushed her up as best I could but she had to do her part, she had to climb up on that shaky piece of garbage (not easy when you’re in the best condition let me tell you) and she had to balance and reach up and take Aska’s hand and she had to do her part to haul herself up.  Aska for all her (understandable) pusillanimity was clearly a woman with a physically demanding trade so she was strong but still, she couldn’t haul Writha up all on her own as dead weight – the woman in the blue coat had to do her part.  Her hands were shaking so badly it took Aska several tries to grab them and her breath was so fast and shallow I thought she might pant herself unconscious but she did it.  She did enough to keep herself alive a little longer.

I climbed up after her and Aska and I carried Corune over to the corner and placed her in the rugmaker’s bed.  I gave her another drink of rice wine and offered her some of the rations that I had taken off Sperry but she waved them away.  Aska ate and drank as fast as possible and then hid under the bed where she fell into a deep and troubled sleep.  I moved to the window and looked out at the streets, empty of people in the early morning light but filled with the wreckage and rubbish of yesterday’s excitement.  Writha’s voice came from the bed sounding marginally stronger but still barely audible.

“I know you.  You’re Ela.  You saved me.”

“Yeah well we all make mistakes.  At least the rest of us do, I’m sure you Vultur people are perfect in every way.”

“We were doing our just duty, you . . .”

“You were paid assassins and the only reason you stopped is because someone else paid you more.”

Her voice actually rose slightly with anger “We are not mercenaries, we had an unbiased and legal contract to . . .”

“Saying something doesn’t make it true!” I sighed “Look, I don’t want to talk about this anymore.  You have your point of view and I have mine, we’re never going to agree.  You need rest, don’t get all excited about it.”

“What’s going on out there?”

“Nothing.  But I doubt it’s going to stay that way for long.”   

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 50,874 gold, 2000 silver

XP: 523,101

Inventory:  Noble’s outfit, Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Field Scrivener’s Desk, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, Ring of Invisibility, sunrod (3) Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, dreamtime tea, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper), Masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring, Everwake Amulet, Ring of Disguise, +1 Mithril Shirt

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 19 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

I woke up this morning feeling much better, and not just because I slept in a real bed with a real mattress with a real bath and a real breakfast waiting for me – the Martialla situation being squared away took a weight off my mind.  Before diving into that project I hit the market, if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you have to take advantage of commerce centers when you can, most places can’t afford to buy a bent copper pan and have even less to sell.   I sold the Robes I took off that abhorrent wizard (which one?  It’s sad that’s a question, what about magic makes people want to start doing insane shit?) and unloaded two dozen garnets for a good price.  I cashed in my trade bars and weird amber coins as well.  The amount of money I’ve managed to amass honestly is staggering.  I could probably hire a mercenary army to attack the Duke’s city if such a thing existed.  For some reason the government frowns on massive numbers of men loitering about that fight for coin instead of being loyal to the crown. 

After that I purchased the scroll I needed from a familiar looking older fellow in the market and then headed to the grand temple of Adariel.  Adariel houses of worship aren’t as ostentatious as some, but it’s puzzling to me that a god theoretically promoting healing and niceness and friendship would spend any money on building fancy churches.  That bullshit about it being a “symbol” for people to look up to doesn’t hold water when there are folk with hungry bellies roaming the streets.  The high priest was expecting me so I only had to deal with six or seven underpriests or novitiates or whatever you call them before getting into see him.  You know how I feel about male healers, but he seemed to know what he was doing.  He was your standard bald man in white robes but he added in a sassy little chin puff.  I wonder why gods don’t like hair, and why they only don’t like it for men.  Maybe all my hair getting burned off was a sign that I could join the priesthood.  I should ask for an application.

The high priest , four temple-guards (priests need bodyguards?  Beresford must be a rougher place than I think) and I returned to Lord Oeracea’s manor where Bixton was tending to Martialla.  Some of the Lord’s staff came to witness the miracle, I guess I can’t blame them.  There wasn’t much to observe really, Baldy read from the scroll and then Martialla was fine.  No heavenly light, no glorious players, no archons playing trumpets, the scroll did crumble away but that’s hardly impressive.  Still everyone was very impressed, one of the maids fainted but I could tell she was faking.  Martialla was understandably confused and alarmed.

“What happened?”

“A wizard crushed your spirit, but this guy uncrushed it for a money.”

The high priest frowned “That’s not exactly . . .”

“Hush up churchy, you’re done here, you can go.”

The staff was shocked and horrified by my speaking to a man of the cloth like that and rushed to protect him from my terrible opinions.  One of the Templars looked like they might try to do something about my insolence but in the end they left without incident as the staff fawned over them.  Martialla sat up in bed still seeming fretful.  

“So you saved me?”

“Yeah, why’s that so strange?”

“Normally I’m the one saving you.”

“I object to that characterization, I think we saved each other plenty of times.  Maybe you saved my life a few more times than I’ve saved yours but it’s impolite to keep track of those kinds of things.”

“That was in the heat of the moment though, I’m surprised that you’d go through all this effort for me.”

“Why would you think that?”

“You’re a bit of a wild card, it’s hard to know who you’re going to help and who you’ll cast aside.  I wouldn’t have bet on you saving me like this.”

If we’re being honest that hurt my feelings a little bit, but I suppose it’s fair.  Trust can be hard for some people, not everyone has a positive outlook like me.  We had lunch with Lord Oeracea who was clearly a little cool over the “incident” with the priest but he couldn’t be too much of an asshole about it since I had saved his life and all.  He clearly felt like he owned me something but didn’t know how to repay me.  I told him all I really needed was an introduction to Lord Wesel but they weren’t acquainted so I guess he’ll have to remain in my debt.  Later in the afternoon Martialla and I were discussing how to approach Wesel when one of Oeracea’s servant came to say that I was needed in the sitting room. 

Upon arrival I found several city watchmen along with a couple official looking fellows in civilian clothing as well as four travel-weary looking people in blue greatcoats.

“Good gods, what is this about?  Don’t tell me I’m being charged with blasphemy or whatever crime it is to be rude to a priest.”

One of the women in the blue greatcoats gave me a hard look “No, but I’m sure you’re guilty of that as well.”

One of the watchmen, helmet under his arm, came forward “Ma’am you’re being accused of murder.”

“Murder?  I never murdered anyone.”

The greatcoat quartet scoffed at this and the watchman continued “We have a writ here for your arrest for the murder of Elias Sharp.”

“Who’s Elias Sharp?”

One of the men in blue spoke up “One of our brothers in the service of Lord Vultur.  He made the mistake of depending on outsiders to try and bring you in but we’re here to make sure that you pay for what you’ve done.”

At that moment the blue greatcoats clicked into place, Vultur must be the law-god that bounty hunter was always frothing at the mouth about.

“So he died huh?  The attacked me, three times, or was it four?  I forget.  So I think we have a pretty clear case of self-defense here.”

The blue-clad woman who first spoke face twisted in anger “There is no self-defense from the execution of a lawful writ of arrest!  A criminal can’t murder an officer of the law and then . . .”

“But you’re not officers of the law!  You’re hired assassins!” I looked to the watchmen “Why are you going along with this?  These people are not law enforcement, they are a private military force that hires out their services to whomever has the coin to pay.”

“We are holy justices in the service of Vultur.  Justice is the highest of the divine attributes, unrivaled by any others!  Vultur provides justice according to their needs for their orderly performance and formation and human civilization.  Divine justice administers the necessary providence to each being so that it succeeds in the purpose for which it was created, and we are the . . .”

“I don’t give a shit what you are, I don’t worship Vultur and neither does anyone else, you should have no authority here!”

One of the civil servant types looked frightened to speak but did so anyway “The treaty signed by the King in seven forty-one states that . . .”

“You cannot be serious!  These are religious fanatics collecting on a price put on my head by private citizens, how is that justice?!”

One of the other Blueies got in on the action “No one put a price on your head, we aren’t mercenaries, this is the execution of divine will.”

“Quit saying that!  Your god doesn’t mean fuck all to me or anyone else, I cannot fathom .  .  .”

One of the other city officials shouted everyone into quiet “We’re not going to try this case right here.  The fact is that you have been accused of murder.  As long as you remain under Lord Oeracea’s protection we can’t arrest you, but we are asking you to turn yourself into the custody of the city watch so we can determine the appropriate course of action.  You will not be handed over to the church of Vultur or any other parties without a thorough examination of the facts.”

Lord Oeracea stood “You saved my life madam, you have my sanctuary as long as you want it.”

I gave a long look to each of the four pairs of eyes belonging to the Vultur adherents.  “This is never going to stop is it?”  I turned to Lord Oeracea “Thank you for the offer but I will turn myself over, get me a good lawyer and then we’re square.  Just give me a minute to gather my things.”

I went back to the room and explained to Martialla what was happening.  She bit her lip, something that I’ve never seen her do before even with all the scrapes we’ve been in.

“Aren’t I the one who actually killed him?”

“It doesn’t matter, I don’t want you to get involved in this.  I’m the one they want, there’s no reason for us both to get arrested.”

“But . . .”

“Look, here’s what I need you to do, take Bixton and get him to Juost manor.  There’s nothing you can do here that can help me more than having Duke Lodvocka know that I saved his son.”

“That could take weeks or months before he even finds out about it, assuming the Baroness even tells him.  She’s not exactly your biggest fan.”

“That why I need you there to make sure that she doesn’t screw me.  I mean more than she already has.  And if I never see you again, stay safe.  You deserve long and happy peaceful life.”

“Gods you’re not going to say it’s been an honor are you?”

“No, but I never gave you your share of the garnets from the Razmiran heist.” I started shoveling handfuls of gems at her “This should be enough for you to hire enough killers to take our Dirt-Tooth and most of Graltontown if you want.  It’s your money so use it how you like, but razing that shithole to the ground seems like a public service to me.”

Her eyes went wide as the precious jewels tumbled into her hands.  She bit her lip again.  “It just won’t be the same executing a pederast without you.”

“Don’t go getting all weepy on me, this is just in case.  I’ve gotten out of tighter jams than this.”

She shook her head “I have a bad feeling about this one.”

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .0945% 

Funds: 7817 platinum, 71,104 gold

XP: 335,251

Inventory:  Wig of Alluring Charisma +4, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm) Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Ring of Sustenance, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow + Sharpshooter’s Blade, Deck of Curses (two cards used), Ring of Urban Grace, +1 Human Bane Dagger, Bewitching Gown, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Ela’s Walking Stick (Rod of Ruin/Agile Alpenstock) Bag of Concealment, Bag of Holding, Black Marketers’ Bag, Handy Haversack, white squirrel fur Slippers of Scampering, Nymph’s Favor

Pocketed Scarf, wrist sheath, assortment of Fake Signet Rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), 700 garnets, severed hag head, gold necklace with jade pendant, ivory combs, receipt, 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, glass vials of something awful (8) 

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 7 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

I tried to talk to Judge Poitoupett about Martialla but one of the judicial goons shooed me away as they were still “in session”.  After the third time I asked for an audience they told me it would be sundown before they were done.  I asked if I could make an appointment to speak with Poitoupett or one of the other judges and was brushed off.  In order to keep my temper in check I decided to keep myself busy by figuring out which guard had taken my money.  Turned to be pretty easy, these guards have remarkably loose tongues.  The thief in question was Jey Rora, a dead-eyed fellow with lank hair and bushy eyebrows who nevertheless was an impressive physical specimen – seems like the kind of man who should be out in the field fighting Vielanders not wailing on helpless prisoners.  Since I had a few hours to kill I went out into the city and in short order was able to track down where he lived.  People really are too free with information – assume if someone is asking you anything they’re up to no good.

I went to his rented three-room fleapit (prison guarding doesn’t pay well) and took on his appearance before breezing in to startle his wife in the middle of whatever she was doing – there was a tub and a stick and a bunch of rags involved emitting a strong chemical smell.  Making soap maybe?  She was probably ten years older than Rora but with the deep worry lines on her face it looked more like twenty.  She had a light-colored streak in her long brown hair which normally I don’t care for but it looked quite fetching in this case.  She wiped her hands on her skirts with a look of concern.

“Jey! What are you doing home?”

With a sigh I sat down in what I assume is Rora’s favorite chair “I need a drink.”  She scurried off and came back with a bottle Oldlaw whiskey – maybe prison guarding is more lucrative than I think.  I took a long swig “I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is that I got fired.”

“What?!  Why?!”

“They found out I was having sex with the female prisoners, and a couple of the more feminine male ones if we’re being honest.  I mean everyone does that, it’s no big deal really, but a couple of them got pregnant so it turned into a whole thing and someone had to be made an example of.  It’s all political really.”

“WHAT?!?!?!”

“Hey don’t worry baby, I only did mouth and butt stuff with them – I know the rules, it’s only cheating when you come in the front door.  Says so in the holy books.”

Rora’s wife was so upset she couldn’t speak, just uttering weird little noises, sounded kind of like a small bellows.

“Anyway, the good news is that I found you a job.  I’ve been keeping this whole operation afloat for a long time, financially speaking, while you just laze around the house getting fat and spending the money that I earn – it’s time for you to start pulling your weight around here.  So I went down to the Alabaster Tiger – you know, the brothel – and they agreed to take you on.  It took some doing because you’re a little long in the tooth to be getting into the sex work trade but I assured them that you had skills.  Plus when I told them you were exclusively going to be doing butt stuff they were very interested, most girls aren’t into that.  Just remember that the martial arches are just for me right?  I mean I did the right thing when I was banging all those women, and a couple men, through the bars of the jail cells – I went backdoor exclusively out of respect for you – I demand that you’ll be doing the same.  Plus you get seven gold for that, well the house does anyway, I’m not sure what your cut is.  I know if you live there you only get three but since you have your own place I would expect you to get at least five.  If they want to give you four don’t make a big fuss about it, you don’t want to seem like you’re not a team-player.”

After Rora’s wife stormed out to go live with her mother I searched the place while I finished off the bottle of whiskey.  In addition to my own money I found three coins of a type I had never seen before – they were tiny diamonds in amber – I have to admit it was pretty neat looking.  I wonder who he stole those from.  The only other item of interest was a threatening note from the landlord by the name of Stutter.  Seems old Rora had stopped paying his rent because of a dispute over something or other and it had progressed to the point where Stutter was threatening a visit from some unpleasant individuals.  Conveniently it had an address on it where the money was supposed to be delivered. 

It took some doing because it was kind of hidden away, but I found the nondescript building next to a farrier had a confusing sign that said something about real estate licensing with no name.  When I knocked the door was opened slightly by a round puffy-faced fellow with unhealthy looking greyish skin.  His voice was croaky and froggish.

“What?”

“I need to talk to Stutter.”

He held out his large sweaty hand “Just give me the money.”

“I don’t have all of it, I need to talk to Stutter, work out a deal.”

A solid looking man with amber hair and missing a finger barged past Froggy and into the doorway “I don’t need deals, I need coin.”

“You’re Stutter?”

“You know who I am Jey!”

“You know I work down at the jail right?”

“What of it?”

“I have a business opportunity, if you wipe out my debt I’ll tell you about it.”

Stutter shook his head “I need money Jey, and I need it now, you want to talk about a job after that, fine, but I don’t get paid in bullshit stories.”

“Fair enough.”

I doubled him over with a solid kick to the groin and then smashed him over the head with the empty bottle of Oldlaw (is it still a whiskey bottle once it’s empty?  Or is it just a bottle?) which cut him open something awful across the scalp, turning his long hair dark with blood.  I threw the broken bottle at Froggy who squealed and ran away.

“That’s what you get for messing with Jey Rora!  I’m not paying you a copper, I’m not afraid of you and your goons!  I’m Jey Rora!”

I ran away and then resumed my own appearance before heading back to the judicial compound.  I got there about an hour before they wrapped things up and saw four men sentenced to death.  Makes you think.  Afterwards I was able to talk to Poitoupett for a few minutes before he left but he basically said that it didn’t matter that I was innocent, Martialla still needed to be tried.  I asked him if we could discuss it over dinner but he declined despite the fact that I was being winsome as fuck.  Shortly after the judges left I was chased out of there as well and had to loiter across the street for several hours until Jey Rora came out.  I lifted his keys as we passed on the street , took his appearance again, and then headed back into the compound.  One of the other turnkeys chuckled at the sight.

“Forget something Jey?”

I went into the building with the cells and opened up the last one on the right to let Martialla out.  As we walked out I tossed the keys into the cell of one of the four condemned men – I believe he had been caught taking a duck from a rich man’s pond.  Martialla expressed her gratitude at her freedom. 

“What took you so long?  I was about to start trying to melt the bars.”

“Can you melt metal with molten metal?”

“Yes?”

“I had a scheduling issue, you know how it is with the court system.”

On the way out the chuckling guard ran up to us.

“Whoa Jey what are you doing?!”

“I’m taking this one home for the night, the wife wants to get freaky, don’t worry, I’ll keep her chained up.”

“You can’t do that!”

“I’m Jey Rora!  I can do anything I want!”

The jailers stood there stunned as we walked out.  A few blocks away I returned to my normal appearance and Martialla took on that of a weather beaten half-elf with a fancy walking stick and an eye-patch.

“So anyway, as I was saying before we go interrupted I think we should head back to Alleene.”

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .06% 

Funds: 817 platinum, 54,829 gold

XP: 277,451

Inventory:  Wig of Alluring Charisma +4, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Belt of Giant Strength +4, Versatile Vest, Ring of Sustenance, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow, Deck of Curses (two cards used), Ring of Urban Grace, Feather Token (tree), +1 Human Bane Dagger, Bewitching Gown, Grappling Scarf, Wyvern Skin Robe (Robe of Arcane Heritage),  Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Ela’s Walking Stick (Rod of Ruin/Agile Alpenstock) Bag of Concealment, Bag of Holding, Black Marketers’ Bag, +2 Keen Short Sword (2), Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, +1 Flaming Light Crossbow

Pocketed Scarf, wrist sheath, assortment of Fake Signet Rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), 852 garnets, severed hag head, gold necklace with jade pendant, white squirrel fur slippers, ivory combs, receipt,  tax collector’s badge, Calastar (Superior Riding horse, Horseshoes of Speed, Endless Feedbag), Wine (expensive) 4 bottles, Gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, 5 gold trade bars , 3 diamond in amber coins 

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 7 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

Last night the kindly deformed turnkey – even though he’s human he reminds me of my old Graltontown friend Crookjaw – made the very courteous offer to bring me bread for breakfast this morning if I serviced him.  What a champ.  I gave some consideration to using my lion-paw to rip his dick off but in the end I decided that maiming a jailor would probably get me additional charges.  There’s really nothing you can do in this world without the damn legal system getting involved.  Point is my breakfast was a bucket of slop this morning same as everyone else – luckily I didn’t feel the need to eat it.  Martialla and I were discussing our legal strategy through the wall when Stannum growled at us from his cell where he remained in a heap on the floor.

“Shut up will you!  My head is killing me.”

“Probably because you got clubbed in the skull.  Why exactly were you struggling anyway?  They already had you, it was over, what did you hope to accomplish besides earning yourself a crack on the nob?”

“What the Hells else was I supposed to do?”

“Save your fighting for when it would do some good.”

“And when would that be?”

“Later today maybe, or tomorrow at the latest, they usually move these things along pretty swiftly.  You see my very good friend you’re an unclean commoner, and as such you have no rights in the legal system really, but I am a member of the aristocracy and as such I shall be requesting trial by combat and you will be my champion.  If you win we’re both off the hook, it’s a fun little loophole that most people don’t know.”

“You’re a noble lady?”

“But of course, my cousin is Baroness Joust.”

“She’s the Baroness, but what are you?”

“Trust me it’s fine, I have the same rights.  My cousin Emmalina is a lawyer and she told me all about it.”

“Why should I help you?”

“Mostly because of that part where you’re also saving yourself from being hung.  I believe stealing from a place of worship is a capital offense, although they may just commute your sentence to eternal bondage since the church of Adariel is all about mercy and all that.  But also because we fought side by side and that makes us blood brothers.  Er, sisters?  I guess you’re my blood brother and I’m your blood sister.  Isn’t blood sister something else though?  Those are gladiator women down south right?  Blood siblings I suppose.  The point is we’re fire-forged friends now.  But the mostly the other thing where you’ll die if you don’t do it.”

Later that day I was brought out into the courtyard where a quartet (quadumvirate?) of judges was handing out “justice”.  Most of the judges that I’ve known have been ancient bald men with white beards who could barely lift the gavel – these four were young looking strapping fighting types.  Not sure why they were wasting their time with this sort of thing while there’s a war going on.  Actually I know exactly why, wars tend to be dangerous and sentencing poor people to hang by the neck until dead for stealing a goose is pretty safe.  And fun probably. Colonel Ciarán was there, looking smug surrounded by his four cronies and several other liveried lackeys and hangers-on.  The short ugly guy with the fancy girl-hair looked very angry when they trotted me out.  I suppose he feels bad about me lying and stealing his horses and making him appear the fool.  Some people, I tell you.

The head judge who was called Poitoupett explained the charges against me and went on at length about the testimony and evidence against me.  When I was finally given a chance to speak I invoked my right to trial by combat to much harrumphing and muttering from the gallery.  Poitoupett silenced them and turned back to me.

“Anyone can claim to be a noble when it suits them.  What proof can you offer?”

“In my affects you will find a letter from Baroness Juost to me giving me instructions to meet with several of the Juost family vassals on her behalf in which she clearly identifies me as her cousin.  And to clarify I claim rights by relation only, I do not lay claim to a noble title myself.”

One of the other judges leaned forward “Your affects were searched and we found no such letter.”

“I’m sure whatever mutant gaoler you had paw through my underwear had a gay old time but I assure you it’s there.  One must take precautions to protect their valuables.”

The second judge seemed annoyed by this “Your items were thoroughly searched.”

Poitoupett dismissed him with a look “Bring her things.”

One of the jailers jogged out with my various bags and rucksacks from which I produced Baroness Juost’s instructions and handed them to Poitoupett.  He and the other three judges spent a great deal of time examining it and one of them did some magic on it as well.  He seemed disappointed by whatever his divining told him.  Poitoupett returned the letter to me and I returned it to my Bag, handing it back over to a bailiff or whatever a judge’s minions are called.  A third judge jumped in at this point.

“What else do you have hidden in that satchel exactly?”

“Nothing that would concern an august body such as this.”

“You may be carrying contraband.”

“I invoke also my right to confidentiality as befits my station.  I am under no obligation to reveal my personal possessions to you.  In truth you have already violated my rights by searching my things without my leave but since you couldn’t know at that time I was of a protected class I won’t hold it against you this time.”

He started to speak again but Poitoupett cut him off “You know the law My Lady.”

“I believe that it’s very important to be familiar with your rights. These rights are the foundation of our legal system and are in place for the protection of every subject of this great Kingdom. Failure to know and utilize these rights leads to their erosion and then where are we?  No better than lawless Northmen or unjust Vielanders.  It is every person’s moral duty to know the law and their place in it.”

Poitoupett nodded with the tiniest hint of approval “Well said.  When will your champion be ready?”

“He’s ready now Your Honor.”

As I was being led back to my cell Colonel Ciarán jogged over to me (quite sprightly for an older fellow) and grabbed me by the arm.

“You think you’re smart?  My man Auttaine is going to make short work of whatever tavern-brawler you’ve seduced into helping you and then you will hang.”

“Mr. Jailer this man is grabbing me by my arm, which is a violation of the terms of my imprisonment, please break his nose.”

The look on the jailer’s  face was priceless – the look of a common man with a shit job who’s just realized that he had carte blanche to wallop a rich man in the face.  Sadly the Colonel saw the look too and quickly snatched his hand away from me as if I had turned into a serpent.  I dropped him a sassy wink as I was being led into the prison.

“How are things going with your wife Colonel?”

Once I was placed back in my cell across the way Stannum was up and grasping at the bars like a drowning man in river man clutching at a shoreline tree root. 

“Well?”

“We’re set.  I hope you can do more than kill orc women and children because I have to assume a retired military Colonel has a few rough characters in their entourage and I’d hate to see you get hurt.”

A few hours later we were back in the yard for the trial by combat.  Auttaine was apparently the name of the fellow at the crossroads with the silly horned helmet because he was the one waiting when Stannum and I came out.  Stannum was given his gear back and a few minutes to get ready in which Horns gave me a dirty look like Uggo Girl-Hair did – when did people get so sensitive about someone lying right to their face?  I mean grow up people.  I had no idea if Stannum would win but I figured either way it would work out for me.  Either he’d win and I’d be free or he’d die and then I’d escape. 

They were pretty evenly matched, Stannum was the better fighter but Auttaine was a warrior-priest of some kind and his magic made up the gap.  I won’t bore you with the blow by blow – these things are all much the same, two jugheads in plate mail battering away at each other with swords.  Not my idea of a fun afternoon.  In the end, though grievously wounded, the former Hero of the Lost Sword was victorious, vanquishing his opponent by ripping off his stupid helmet and stabbing him heroically through the bridge of the nose.  Two onlookers had to help him pull the sword out of the poor guy’s head.  After that the judges said some stuff and some papers were signed and so forth and we were let go.  I keep most of my valuables in various hidden compartments but I always have some loose change – when I got my items back I realized that a handful of coins were gone. I turned to say something to Martialla and then realized that she wasn’t there.

I flagged down one of the jailers “When are you going to let my friend out?  I’ve got places to be.”

“She’s not being let go.”

“What?  What do you mean?”

“She’s not a noble, she’s not entitled to trial by combat.”

“What, that makes no sense.  We were accusing of stealing horses together, if I’m innocent how can she be guilty?”

He just shrugged and walked away.

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .0585% 

Funds: 817 platinum, 54,799 gold

XP: 277,451

Inventory:  Wig of Alluring Charisma +4, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Belt of Giant Strength +4, Versatile Vest, Ring of Sustenance, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow, Deck of Curses (two cards used), Ring of Urban Grace, Feather Token (tree), +1 Human Bane Dagger, Bewitching Gown, Grappling Scarf, Wyvern Skin Robe (Robe of Arcane Heritage),  Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Ela’s Walking Stick (Rod of Ruin/Agile Alpenstock) Bag of Concealment, Bag of Holding, Black Marketers’ Bag, +2 Keen Short Sword (2), Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, +1 Flaming Light Crossbow

Pocketed Scarf, wrist sheath, assortment of Fake Signet Rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), 852 garnets, severed hag head, gold necklace with jade pendant, white squirrel fur slippers, ivory combs, receipt,  tax collector’s badge, Calastar (Superior Riding horse, Horseshoes of Speed, Endless Feedbag), Wine (expensive) 4 bottles, Gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, 5 gold trade bars  

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, Prison guard thief, Colonel Tarl Ciarán