November 29, 1973 – Mesoamerican jade turtles are a girl’s best friend (and also are forever)

Think of something you like.  Now imagine that someone said that you couldn’t have that thing.  They’re not going to prevent you from having it, they’re just telling you that you shouldn’t have it.  Now think of something you don’t just like, think of something you love.  Love with all your heart.  And the same thing happens. 

Someone says, don’t enjoy that thing you love anymore.  They’re not taking it away from you, it’s still going to be EVERYWHERE around you, you’re just supposed to refrain by choice.  They’re telling you to ignore the constant ads for the thing you love, and the boundless opportunities to get it, and the fact that everyone else is doing it all the time, and just not do it.   

Now imagine that this thing you love also makes you physically feel really good, and not having it makes you feel like shit.  As soon as we walked out of Snakey Sally’s office, I realized I left my smokes in there.  I had the pack in my hand when we walked in and I set them on the corner of her desk when I sat down to talk to her.  There were only two cigarettes left in there but there was no way I was leaving them behind.  You ever see in the movies when a character is upset and they try to light up and it doesn’t work right away and they get mad and throw the pack of cigarettes away?   

That is the most unrealistic thing in movies.  More unrealistic than a woman jogging with her hair down.  More unrealistic than a flimsy table stopping bullets.  More unrealistic than people ordering food in a restaurant and it showing up four seconds later.  More unrealistic than someone going through a giant glass window without a scratch.  More unrealistic than people finding parking spaces.  More unrealistic than women running full speed in heels.  More unrealistic than characters in clubs being able to hear each other talk.  Because you NEVER throw away a cigarette.  Never.  That would be like a woman drop-kicking her newborn baby off a cliff.  I can’t say that it’s literally impossible, but if it does happen it’s noteworthy.   

I went back in to grab the pack and I saw Serpent Tina sitting there in her stupid catsuit happy and healthy, lording over her sad little domain of criminal assholes and I felt something coming over me like someone tossing a blanket over their stupid pet bird’s cage – it’s not FAIR.  Childish, I know, but I still felt it.  Say it however you want, I believe Oscar Meyer stated it best “Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not”.  This woman is a criminal and she gets to have a fully belly and shampoo and clean clothes and deodorant and I never did anything wrong (I mean not REALLY) and I have nothing?  In that moment, it was just too much. 

While I picked up my smokes, I also picked up some stupid globe thing she had on her desk, a paperweight I guess, and I hurled it sidearm at her shotgun toting bodyguard on the left (my left).  It cracked him on the side of the head and he dropped to his knees and sat there – I think he was unconscious – up against the wall.  Bodyguard number two swung his shotgun down as I kicked the desk back at him – the corner hitting him right in the dick.  I’m not normally one to feel sympathy for that kind of thing, but it looked like it hurt.  His mouth flopped open like he was trying to yelp, but no sound came out – like all his air had been taken away.   

Serpent Tina meanwhile had executed some kind of gymnast cartwheel thingee over the desk while it was in motion and landed agilely in a kind of fighting crouch with her hands in some kind of dumb snake kung fu stance.   

“Okay now that was cool, I have to admit that.” 

“Why are you doing this, I thought we had a deal.” 

“Just tell me where Count Yorba is man, I’m tired of running errands for crimelords, just tell me will you?  Why do you have to get something out of it?  Why can’t you just tell me?” 

I will never know the answer to that because she came forward in a very dumb manner with like a shuffle-step sideways move like a fencer would do maybe.  Her hand darted at me in a chicken-shape, I think she was trying to snatch out my eye, but I managed to move enough that she hit me in the bridge of the nose.  I tell you this, you wouldn’t think a hand-chicken to the nose would hurt much, but you’d be wrong.  My vision went away for a split second and then I was seeing stars.  She followed up with a kick that hit me high on the ribs right under my armpit.  I’m not saying it didn’t hurt, but for a kick to the ribs it didn’t hurt that much.  I caught her around the calf and shoved her down – she hit the ground so hard the floor cracked and stuff came flying up.  I’m very strong you see.   

I rubbed at my watering eyes “Jesus, that stings.” I looked down to the floor where Tina was writhing like a snake having a seizure while making the noises of a skinny kid having an asthma attack. “You know, I think I saw Bruce Lee on TV once saying you should never try a kick above the knee.”  She managed to gasp out something about how she wasn’t going to tell me anything and I grabbed the back of her head – squeezing lightly “Are you sure about that?” 

With effort she managed to force out another whisper “You’re no killer.” 

I nodded “True, but why would I kill you?  You have the information I want, if I kill you then I don’t get it.  So killing you would make no sense, I’m just going to hurt you until you tell.” 

“You don’t have it in you.” 

“Six months ago, you would have been right about that.  But I’ve grown as a person.  Being in this horrible place, on top of my physiological issues, has really changed my mind about the nature of pain, and more salient here, my willingness to inflict it on others.  I think if I put my foot on your butt and push down slightly until your pelvis cracks, I would be just fine with that.” 

She was strong, much stronger than a ninety-pound Asian woman should be, but not nearly as strong as I am.  She struggled to get up and I held her down without much effort.  I grabbed the back of her stupid catsuit, intent on moving her, but the damn thing ripped like it was made out of tissue.  I wonder if Cathy Gale ever had that issue.  What kind of shoddy leather was it made out of?  The dead cow that spawned that pelt should feel ashamed of itself.  When I tore the suit up, I also accidentally snapped a jade necklace that she had on underneath.  It didn’t look like jewelry you’d wear, it looked like something that should be in a museum.   

All at once the strength went out of her.  I think she looked suddenly older too, it’s hard to say.  The look on her face was so terrified that I felt sorry for her, just for a second.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone look so scared in my life.  She grabbed the end of the necklace but I pulled it away from her without feeling any resistance.  The necklace itself didn’t break again though, which must mean it’s pretty robust, which probably means it was choking the hell out of her when I snapped it.  Examining it, I saw that the jade was carved into little turtles. 

“Huh.” 

Mantelderith 29 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 2

I’m starting to realize that what my life has become is a series of days where I have new and unpleasant experiences.  And I think that it’s partially my own fault.  There are only so many things you can experience right?  I mean there’s only so much that exists in the world – there’s a finite amount of experience to be experienced.  I’m starting to suspect that I did myself a disservice my front-loading my life with all the good stuff.  With the help of magic I plan to live several more hundred years but what good new experiences do I have to look forward to?  I’ve already indulged in all the good stuff, from here on out everything new that happens to me will at best be neutral and most likely will be bad.  It’s a mildly depressing thought. 

Case in point I woke up being drug across the ground by the feet.  The woman with the prize-fighter face and the tiny green shirt had my feet under her arms like she was pulling a cart full of rutabagas.  I assure you that waking up to a feeling of being dragged is unique and not good.  This is what I’m talking about.  This is the kind of thing I have to look forward to in terms of new things to encounter.  My clothes were in shambles and I was getting a goodly amount of dirt getting scraped into the back of my shirt.  Based on the aching in my head I think I was already knocked around by a couple rocks on the ground – or maybe that was just the after effect of the kick that blew out my candle in the first place.  I tried to pull my feet free but her grip was like a vise, or some other less tired metaphor.  What’s something else tight?  Besides that.      

“Hey you’re mussing up my hair.”

She half-way turned to glance back, but not enough to actually look at me “Shut up or I’ll break your jaw.”

“I get that you’re mad because I killed your friend but that’s no reason to be rude.”

“You didn’t kill Bock, but you’re going to tell me who did.”

“Oh, I killed him alright, I killed him good.  I dropped a chandelier on his ugly mug and then I cut his throat – twice because it didn’t take the first time.  It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t really that hard either.  I guess he was supposed to be a hard bastard but he died pretty easy the way I see it.  Are you suggesting that I couldn’t have killed him because I’m a woman?  I suppose I’m not surprised, there’s a lot of women who are so indoctrinated they’re just as misogynistic as men – moreso sometimes.  It’s a sorry sight to behold.

“No, not because you’re a woman, because you don’t look strong enough to lift your skirts to piss.”

“I’m not wearing skirts, but I take your meaning.  You look a real fighting fighter, I’m more of a fancy gal so I get that.  Can I ask you something?  How do you wear a shirt like that?  Aren’t your tits getting smashed flat?  That can’t be comfortable.  How can you even more your arms in that thing?  It’s like painted on you.”

“Shut up or I’ll break your jaw.”

“You already said that.  And, professional to professional that is not a terribly effective threat since you’ve already implied that you’re taking me to be interrogated about who killed your friend since you think I couldn’t have done it.  I assume you’re taking me to the fort so he dwarf can be involved.  Seems  like he’s the leader.  That’s a good mile away, why are you dragging me?  Just to be a bitch?  You’re clearly very strong, you could be carrying me across your shoulders like a shepherd with a little baby lamb.”

“Shut up or I’ll drag you through a pile of horseshit facedown.”

“Now that’s a believable threat.”

I need to work out my core muscles more, I had a real hard time folding up to stab her in the ass with a convenient dagger from my secret pocket.  I wanted to stab her in the back, go for the kidney or the spine maybe, but I couldn’t reach.  I think my long legs were working against me in that position – it was awkward as Hells I can tell you that much.  I can also tell you that she had one Hells of a muscular ass.  I suppose with all that kicking she does that really tones the glutes.  Have you ever tried to stick a knife into a thick roast and it goes in a little but mostly just bounces off?  It was like that.  Her response to this tiny ass prick was wildly disproportionate.  She dropped my legs and swiveled around with a kick/stomp to my shoulder/collarbone that made my entire right side go numb.  Then even though the blade had tumbled out of my senseless fingers she grabbed my wrist and twisted it in an excruciating way – although strangely it felt like my elbow is the joint that was going to break.

She leaned down to put her face right in front of mine as I teared up with pain, her breath was oddly minty “See what I can do to you?  Don’t do that again.”

“Okay.”

I forced that out through gritted teeth.  Then I ungritted them to bite her on the nose.   Later people would say that I bite her nose off – this is an exaggeration.  Most of her nose was still there, a good eighty percent of it in fact, I just bit off the portion after the nostrils.  There was a ton of blood though so I guess I can’t blame bystanders for assuming that he whole nose had been bitten off – from their point of view that’s probably what it looked like.

Women are weak and pathetic an unable to endure pain – we all know that.  Childbirth is an uncomfortable counterpoint but I’m sure that they’re working on a theory behind that – probably that the Gods give them special magic powers during that time.  I’m a perfect example of the feebleness of women – I get stabbed and beaten and tramped all the time and I complain about it to no end.  It’s pathetic really.  But I tell you this, the woman in the green shirt and naught much else took getting a piece of her nose bitten off as well as I imagine someone can take it.  Sure, she loosened her grip and I was able to scuttle away like a crafty crab, but she didn’t scream – she didn’t lose her cool.  All things considered she handled losing a part of her body in stride – it was a small part of her body, but still. 

I pulled a cloak of out of my secret pocket and threw it over her head, hoping to blind her while I retrieved a weapon and stabbed her good.  I assume there’s a name for that, the old blanket attack.  What happened instead is that she did some kind of rolling scissors thing with her legs and hurled me to the ground while she popped up to her feet and tossed the cloak away.  I managed to pull out a rapier and came at her with a pretty solid attack if I do say so myself and she caught the blade.  You know, with her bare hand.  Catching it all is impressive enough, doing it with your bare hand is a bit too much if you ask me.  You can be a good warrior but do you have to show off?  Nobody likes that.   With a shout she brought her other hand around in an open palmed strike that snapped the blade like a chicken bone.  I’m not having a good day weapon breakage wise.

“Shit.”

That’s what I said as I activated my boots and ran like Hells – right up the side of the only somewhat dilapidated temple of Adariel.  This ended up being a little more harrowing than expected because some of the stones shifted as I scampered over them, I think because their mortar was being replaced by moss.  I still want to know how that happens.  How does a plant grow in stone?  I was safe on the roof for about three seconds before my opponent took a couple steps towards the temple, then a did a little hop, and then leaped onto the roof as gracefully as a gazelle.  Well except for the part where when she hit the roof the wood collapsed and she fell through.  Even considering the falling through the hole part it was a startling turn of events – that had to be a twenty-two foot height and it’s not like she jumped up on the side and caught the edge and pulled herself up.  Which would have been shocking enough, she fucking cleared it (easily) and landed on her feet.

Looking through the hole though I saw that she defiantly did not land on her feet in the temple (which looked empty) down below, it appeared that she had landed on her head.  I guess her feet must have gotten tangled up in the rafters and she flipped over.  Standing over her was that I thought was an empty robe hanging in mid-air, but I eventually realized was an insubstantial rail-thin woman.  It probably didn’t help that even if she wasn’t half-starved the robe looked to be about three sizes too large for her.  Amazingly, yet somehow not surprisingly, the fallen woman below started to move as I was looking down at her supine form.  For some reason the first thought that came into my head was tying off a rope and climbing down – instead I just activated my boots again and spider-walked my way into the hole, across the ceiling and down the side of the wall.

The priestess who was more robe than woman looked at me with concern “I think she’s pretty badly injured.”

“Not as badly as she’s going to be.  Where is everything?  This place looks abandoned.”

“I had to sell most everything, donations have been scare lately.

“What’s the world coming to?” I walked over to my foe as she was just about on her hands and knees. “You think you’re the only one who can kick?”

I drew back and unleashed a mighty kick right into Green Shirt’s ribs – it felt like I had kicked a stone wall.  I immediately fell on my ass with a yelp of pain, pretty sure I just broke my heel.  Have you ever broken your heel?  Pro tip, it fucking hurts.

“God gods, what the fuck is wrong with you!  I understand that you’re in great shape but this is ridiculous!”

She was starting to get up, dizzily, so I crawled over and smashed her on the head with my Tankard a few times – I halfway expected it to shatter on her iron skull, but I guess she is human because it certainly dazed her.  Enough for me to get hammer and piton out of my Greatcoat and drive it into the back of her skull.  I’ve been told that the guys who “drive” elephants have a mallet and stake for just that kind thing – if the elephant goes crazy they drive the spike into its brain and kill it before before it stomps too many people on your own side.   My question is, what happens to the guy?  Falling off a horse is bad news, having your horse fall over with you on it is even worse.  Having that happen with an elephant has to be ten times worse.  Plus you’re in the middle of the fucking battle.  I suppose that’s why you don’t see too many war elephants, sounds like a poor design for a murder machine.

The robe/woman was staring at me in horror “This is a holy place.”

I grimaced slightly “Yeah, sorry about that, I didn’t mean to murder someone in your house of worship it jus thappened.  That’s my mistake.  If you need to reconsecrate the place or something I’ll cover the cost, that’s no problem.  I’m not really religious but I certainly didn’t mean to you know . . . . defile or whatever.” She nodded numbly, watching the expanding blood of blood from the face-down woman. “Look, I think I busted my foot, are you a healer?  Can you do something about that?”

Wordlessly she came over and laid her hands on my foot reverently – with a flash of golden light everything was fine and the pain was gone.  I pulled myself to my feet and patted her on the shoulder.

“That’s some fine healing.  Do you have like an acolyte or a choir boy or someone to help you drag this body out of here?  I’d do it but I don’t want to.”

She didn’t answer but at that moment Martialla came in, not exactly casually but not really in any kind of a hurry either.  She didn’t even have her sword in hand or some magic crackling around ready to fry someone.

She looked down at the dead body “So that’s what all the racket was.”

“Where the Hells have you been!”

“I was visiting a friend.”

“You know someone in this shit-town?”

She winked “A new friend.”

“Good Gods woman, there is something seriously wrong with you.” I waved at her “Come on, there’s one more up at the fort, let’s kill him and then get the fuck out of here.”

The robe with a woman inside seemed even more dismayed, which I wouldn’t have thought possible “The dwarf?  He’s doing something terrible up there, I can feel the evil forces gathering around him.  I didn’t know what to do, I’ve been praying for guidance.  I feel that something very bad is going to happen unless he’s stopped.”

Martialla and I headed out the door “Good news honey, your prayers have been answered.”

Martialla made a sacred sign “Truly the Holy Mother works in ways unknowable to the minds of men.”

“Shut up you.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 47,040 platinum, 25,750 gold

XP: 1,181,151

Inventory: 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 Elegant Boots, Ela’s Extravagant Necklace, Brooch of Shielding, Headband of Subtle Misdirection, Antiquarian’s Monocle, Ela’s Stately Greatcoat

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, dwarf journal

Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis,  Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee,  Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa, eyeless hag, Baron Saltwheel, Baron Harmenkar, Colonel Tarl Ciarán’s wizard soldier, Victor, Beharri, Cebuano, Mayor Eryn, Chimera Trading Company