September 20, 1973 – Revenge, and a shipwreck

So now what?  I’m in a foreign land (where they don’t seem to like my music) with no money, and as far as anyone back home knows I’m dead.  I tried to think of someone I could call for help, assuming I could figure out how to make an international call, but I came up empty.  My parents and I aren’t close, my friends are mostly pretty casual acquaintances or broke.  Most of them are both.  I have a manager I haven’t heard from in months, and that was before I was blown up and kidnapped and lost several months of my memory.  He wouldn’t be terribly interested in anything that would cost him money anyway.  My ex could probably afford to bring me back, but I don’t know if he would.  Or where he lives currently.  

I assume the easiest route back to the CS from here would be through Panama.  And then somehow convince the police or someone that I’m me.  Fingerprints?  I’ve been arrested so I would have fingerprints on file right?  But that was in the CS, not the US.  Do they share information?  Is getting home what I even want?  Eventually, yes.  But someone by the name of Duke Eaglevane tried to blow me up.  Did blow me up.  I’d be dead now if not for . . . whoever did . . . uh, whatever they did to me.  I never thought of myself as vindictive or vengeful, but that’s a much easier attitude to have before someone murders you.  

I asked where Duke Eaglevane was and Alcazar laughed.  He’s the most wanted man in the world.  Several countries are offering millions of dollars to anyone who can give information on where he might be.  Not even for his capture, just for information.  When he asked me why I wanted to know, I told him I was thinking about killing Duke Eaglevane.  He didn’t laugh at all.  He looked at me like I said that I was thinking about swallowing molten lava.  He was pretty harsh in expressing his view that a singer from the “softest” country in the world with no training, no resources, and no support should not attempt to hunt down the world’s most dangerous and notorious terrorist.  Correction, the world’s most dangerous and notorious terrorist who may possibly be immortal.  

I barely know the guy, where does he get off talking to me like he’s my father?  I couldn’t get too mad at him though because he loaned me some money to get a place to stay and got me a job down at the docks with a French shipping company unloading ships.  The manager, who was skinnier than me, didn’t bat an eye when I picked up a crate that had to weigh a couple hundred pounds.  I guess Madripoor does have its fair share of weirdos.  

I foolishly thought that since it was a French company, most of the other workers would speak French, but they didn’t, even though it seems like some of the locals do.  The one guy there who spoke Spanish told me they were Vietnamese, but don’t they speak French there too?  I should have paid more attention in model UN.  So I can’t understand whatever horrible things my co-workers are saying about me.  Which is probably for the best.  Out of the many paths I thought my life might take, I would not have put lugging boxes on that list in ten thousand years.

While I was working one day, I heard a horrendous noise and looked out in the harbor to see that two ships had collided.  Actually it looked like one ship had sliced another in half.  Everyone came to gawk as the one ship listed badly with a half-ship stuck in its side while the other half sank like a rock.  I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that what I was seeing in the water were people.  My Spanish speaking “friend” Omar happened to be nearby and I asked him what I should do.  He thought about it for a moment, looked around and then shrugged.   

(translated from Spanish) 

“I don’t see anything you can do.”

“I have super strength.  I must be able to do something.”

He squinted out at the water “Like what?”

“I don’t know, hold up the ship until everyone gets off?”

“How would you do that?  There would be nothing to support you.”

“Maybe I could rip the side open in case anyone is trapped inside.”

He looked at me appraisingly “Could you?”

“I could try.  I mean I have to do something don’t I?”  At that moment the bossman, not the skinny guy who hired me, a big bald bastard with a mess of tattoos on his arms, came over and bellowed something not in English, French or Spanish.  “What did he say?”

“Boss says back to work.”

I gestured “But what about the people in the water?”

Omar and the boss exchanged a few words, Omar gesturing at a small boat nearby, and then he turned back to me with another shrug “Boss says back to work.”

Montalan 27 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 4

I’ll hand it to Dross, Tarver, and their unknown blonde pal in this sense.  They were clearly expecting an easy outing to kidnap some dizzy dames to take back to their sex dungeon.  But upon encountering resistance – namely me shooting Dross in the ribs – they didn’t fold up their tent and bail, they raised up on their hind legs to fight.  I’m not sure if that kind of courage is to be admired but it’s not what I expect from spellcasters so it’s something.  Although, they are just apprentices, maybe they don’t teach you the appropriate level of wizardly cowardice until to graduate to being a full . . . whatever, non-apprentice?  While the apprentices three were still shocked by our resistance to their opening salvo Martialla cast a spell of her own but I saw no visual indication of it doing anything. Dross was the first to recover and he reacted by pulling out a canvas bag and setting it on the ground, which seemed very strange until I saw two shambling corpses climbing out of it.

Activating my Amulet for metal skin I charged forward with my Crossbow Blade, bypassing the dead things as they staggered out of their bag and stabbing down into the collarbone of a startled Dross as he was still halfway crouching from setting the bag down.  This seemed to be an even more startling turn of events for Tarver who turned invisible with a yelp of surprise.  Martialla cast another spell of her own which again didn’t seem to do anything but it must have interfered with Blondie’s spell because he did some frantic hand waving and eldritch word yelling and then looked confused and afraid when nothing happened.  The two dead bodies walking started muscling in on me and in the melee I grabbed for Dross’s beard to steady myself and it came off in my hands!  That fucking forked monstrosity was a false beard!  What sort of lunatic wears a false beard?!  Especially one like that?!  I suppose in the wizard community it’s possible there’s a lot of peer pressure and beard shaming.

Dross rolled/fell/staggered backwards clutching at his wounds as his two zombies grappled with me but he had enough fortitude to call upon his magic and conjure up a wide pit beneath my feet.  If his dead minions didn’t have a hold of me I probably could have jumped out of the way but as it was all three of us tumbled a good twenty feet down – although my metal skin mostly absorbed the impact on me (don’t ask me how) it didn’t do any favors to the zombie that I landed on, which exploded like a ripe melon.  A ripe melon full of rotting meat.  I grabbed the other zombie by the hair/scalp/skull and bashed it to redeath against the wall of the shaft and then made to scamper up the wall before remembering that I left my Slippers with Vetovia.  Grumbling, I took out my Badge and transformed it into a rope and grapping hook.  I hurled the hook up and over the edge of the pit lip hoping to catch something and was surprised when I heard someone cry out and then a muffled thud as I put my enhanced weight on the rope.  Pulling harder I saw Blondie come failing into my line of sight and then falling over the side with the hook around his leg.  He clutched desperately at the edge but with my metallic transformation I have to weigh more than three hundred pounds and his arms quickly gave out – sending him plummeting basically on top of me. 

You know what wizards aren’t good at?  Fist fights with a metal woman at the bottom of a pit.  Terrified, Blondie was trying to weave his magic but it turns out that’s pretty hard when someone is on top of you slamming a metal fist into your mouth.  I stopped punching when he stopped moving.  Listening carefully I didn’t hear the sounds of anything much going on up above.  After a moment I saw Martialla’s head poke over the edge.

“Are you done fooling around down there?  I’ve won the battle up here so it’s safe to come up now.”

“Help me with this hook.”

“If I had a gold coin for every time I heard that.”

“What?”

“It’s a joke.”

“Are you sure?”

Martialla affixed the grappling hook to something but even so I had a pretty difficult time trying to get up.  I mean have you ever tried to climb a free standing rope against a wall?  It’s fucking hard.  You try climbing out of a twenty five foot pit and then come talk to me.  In the end I had to swallow my pride and ask Martialla to get me out.

“How am I supposed to do that?”

“Can’t you magic me out?”

“You’re too heavy for that.”

“Excuse me?!”

“Have you ever seen me ‘magic’ anything bigger than an apple?”

“Fine, wake up Aubesh and then you guys can haul me out of here with the rope.”

“Ugh, that sounds like a pain.  How about this, I can climb down there and . . .”

At that moment the pit disappeared and suddenly I, along with the two zombie bodies and Blondie, were standing on the street with Martialla.  The magic must have worn off.  It was so abrupt that I almost lost my balance and fell over for no real reason.  About that same time Aubesh was coming around from her slumber.

“ . . . or not.”

Aubesh groggily looked around “What happened?”

“Things took a bit of a turn.  The good news is that you get to learn how to dispose of a body.”

Martialla was knelt down to examine Blondie “Good Gods Ela, did you have to cave his whole face in?  What did you hit him with, an anvil?”

Aubesh looked over and then whipped her head back the other way to start vomiting noisily.  That’s probably just the after effects of the magic though.  Turns out there is one good thing about Preen, it’s really easy to take care of bodies on account of all the channels and waterways.  We hucked them into the mud and they started to disappear instantly.  Not to mention some kind of slimy eel-snake-fish things came swim-crawling out of the muck to start nibbling on them before they were even submerged.

“Remind me not to fall in these canals.”

Aubesh was pretty shaken “What do we do now?”

“Let’s go back inside, a triple shot of rum with some lime juice should calm your nerves.”

“You just killed three people!”

“Yeah, so?”

We went back into the Red Hearts and found our way to a table where a few of the Red Heart Specials – raspberry and cherry rum punch – failed to do much for the shell shocked Aubesh but they were doing me a world of good.  When I was on my sixth one Martialla had to be her usual wet blanket self.

“Gods almighty Ela, slow down, are you trying to get completely wasted?”

“I think I sprained my ankle when I fell in that damn hole.”

“Maybe you should pour the rum directly on your foot then.”

“Maybe I will.”

Aubesh was shaking her head slowly “It doesn’t seem real.  We were just here talking to that man . . . and now he’s gone?  He’s just gone  . . . ?  I don’t . . . it doesn’t . . . . how can you do that?”

I shrugged “It was self-defense.  They attacked us.  What do you think would have happened to you if we didn’t do anything?  Do you think you would have woken up anyplace nice?”

She looked at me intensely, her eyes shining “How can you say it was self-defense when you were talking about kidnapping and killing him?”

“The only reason we were going to do that is because his master is holding a woman against her will.  You think they were blameless in that?  They’re surely helping him and if not at the least they knew about it and did nothing.”

“So what are you saying?  That they deserved to die?”

“I’m saying grow up.”

Aubesh looked utterly disgusted “How can you say that?  How can you live with yourself?”

“I just take it one day at a time.  The matter before us now is what should our next move be.  The problem is we don’t know if Tarver contacted Dulphistos, otherwise maybe we could pretend that they were still alive and that we wanted to work out some kind of trade.”

Martialla pursed her lips “Maybe we could pass ourselves off as a third party of some kind that knows what happened to them.  What was that lady group you dealt with here last time?”

“The Gallows Girls.”

“Right, maybe we pass ourselves off as them and say we know what happened to Tarver and Dross and work it from that angle.”

“Maybe, but we’ll have to make sure they’re even still around – I don’t like the chances of an all-female gang surviving the kind of underworld war that apparently happened when Razmiran skipped town.”

Aubesh’s voice was flat and dull “What about Generous?”

“What about him?  You think we can involve him in this?”

She shook her head sharply “No, I’m supposed to go see him soon, what are you going to do about him?”

I finished the last of my drink and called for another “We’ll worry about that later.  Tonight didn’t go exactly as planned.”

She shook her head more slowly “I can’t not show up, you said that you’d deal with him, that’s the only reason I came.”

“Well you’ll just have to meet with him tonight, later we can . . .”

She clutched at the table like she was afraid of falling “No!  No, I can’t see him!  I can’t face him now.  He’ll know.”

I frowned “Know what?”

She took a big swallow from her drink “I can’t . . . I can’t . . . . I can’t.”

Martialla reached across the table to take her trembling hand and looked me in the eye“You did say that she wouldn’t have to see him again.”

“Fine, so don’t go, stay with us tonight.  He won’t . . .”

Her voice had turned wretched “No, he’ll be looking for me.  If I don’t show up . . . . you don’t know what he does to people.”

“Look, there’s no way that . . .”

“You promised me.  You have to kill him tonight.”

“Oh sure, ten seconds ago you were whining about it and now you want me to kill someone?  Those are some flexible morals you have there girly.”

Martialla frowned “Come on Ela, lay off her.”

Aubesh looked me in the eye fiercely “What does it matter after what you’ve already done?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

She looked slightly afraid of her own words “You’re a killer.  What do you have to lose by killing?”

I snorted and picked up my new drink as it arrived “That’s not what I am, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Martialla took Aubesh to a room at a nearby inn across the bridge and somehow I found myself taking on Aubesh’s appearance and walking into Gentlemen Jack’s.  There was an open kitchen in which a little older fellow was bustling around, and in the front sitting at a table was the man himself.  Generous as I now know he’s called was wearing the same lubricious get-up although it appeared to be newly made – which means that he got that same horrible outfit tailored again in finer detail.  He was paler than I remembered but somehow looked healthier in a way I can’t quite define.  Leaning on the chair next to him was a swagger stick with a serpent’s head on the end, I’m not sure why but I knew that it must be magical.  The two promised goons lounged by the door, forcing you to walk between them to hand over your money to Generous – they too looked like a cut above the gutter scum that he had at his beck and call previously.  Sitting at the next table over with several small sacks of coins was a short wavy-haired man with spectacles and a ledger on the table in front of him.  When I walked in a giant shark-grin split Generous’s face and he held his arms out wide.

“Lily, my favorite, I was starting to wonder if you weren’t going to show up” he gestured with his stick at one of the goons “Beetle here said that he thought you had run off.  You wouldn’t do that do me would you Lily?”

I sat across from him demurely “Of course not, what would I do without you?  You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”

His grin turned even more predatory “You wouldn’t last long without my protection and that’s a fact.  Now what do you have for me tonight sweetheart?”

I reached into my pockets and started dumping out handfuls of gold coins into the table, dozens upon dozens of them clattering onto the table, some of them spinning and others rolling onto the floor.  Generous’s smile disappeared, replaced by a combination of unbridled greed and a fair amount of trepidation.

He rubbed his stick nervously “Where did you get all this?”

“It wasn’t easy, well it was in a way but it wasn’t you know?  What I did is I decided that I would have a sale – I told everyone that today only my price was just a silver.  I had ‘em lined up around the block to have a go at me.  I must have fucked more than a thousand men today.  It was a heck of a promotion if I do say so myself.”

He slid his chair away from the table “Who are you?”

I laughed and returned to my normal speaking voice “Isn’t this what you want?  It looks like you’ve really moved up in the world since the last time I saw you, no more hustling at bridges for you eh?  Generous they call you?  That’s cute.”

He regained a bit of his composure “Things always work out for me, I know which horse to back.  Why are you here?”

I sighed and looked around the room “Oh, when I came to town I thought about looking you up, I have to admit I’m a bit sore about our last meeting.  I decided against it, no reason to go looking for trouble right?” I gestured broadly “But here I am.  I guess I just can’t help myself.”

“You’ll have plenty of trouble if you mess with me.  What happened to Lily?”

“I decided to help you out.  I could tell that she was a thorn in your side.”

“She would have come around eventually.  They always do.”

“Maybe, but an important man such as yourself?  You don’t have time for that kind of headache.  So I took care of her for you.” I gestured at the money I had spilled out “Consider this repayment for the loss of her services.”

“You presume quite a lot.” He gazed at me for a moment “You’re different.  I remember you.  But you’ve changed.”

“Oh well, you know what they say, change is a part of life.  It’s the one constant in the human experience.  Or something.” I stood up and nipped the edge of one of the fallen coins with the tip of my boot – flipping it into the air and catching it to place it on the table “I’m going to be in town for a couple of days.  It would be best if we didn’t bump into each other wouldn’t you agree?”

His words were emphatic but hollow “This is my town, I go where I want.”

“Of course you do dear, of course you do.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 28,040 platinum, 53,663 gold

XP: 805,311

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Ring of Disguise, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Amulet of Dreams, Ela’s Traveling Outfit, Belt of Physical Might +4, Versatile Vest, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow with Sharpshooter’s Blade, Ring of Urban Grace, Holy Symbol of Adariel (Sanguine Protection) Black Marketers’ Bag (5), Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Walking Stick, Meteoric Amulet

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) 

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 5

After night fell there was an initial lull in the activity out in the streets but unlike last night night it was only temporary.  An hour or two after sunset it seemed like all Hells broke loose.  I heard the sounds of fighting and shouting carrying through the darkness from all around.  I’d see a man with a lantern run across one way, then another group with torches heading back the other way, and that doesn’t even consider all the people skulking around without a light source.  At one point when my eyes had adjusted and the moonlight was strong I swear that I saw an orc slouching down an alleyway.  This frightened me more than anything I had seen so far.  Things are really getting out of control if humanoids are creeping into the city unabated.  Although the more likely and awful notion is that someone is bringing them in intentionally to shift the power of whatever is goingon.  The rugmaker’s ornate chest had been tossed down the stairs as an obstacle but I made sure to secure the flayleaf before that happened.  Just the thing to help calm the nerves on a long night’s watch.  I shielded the tiny flame from the tindertwig as I lit up but it must have been visible because I heard Corune’s coming from the bed.

“Is there a vice you don’t have?”

“Actually until recently I didn’t have any vices and now I only have one.”

“Self-delusion?’

“Is that a vice?  I’d consider that more of a character flaw.  You should be sleeping.  You need your rest after the day you had.”

“And you don’t?

“Nope.  As they say no rest for the wicked and according to you I’m the wickedest around.”

“I’m having a little trouble falling to sleep considering where I am and what’s going on.”

“I’m keeping watch.”

“That’s what’s keeping me up.”

“You don’t trust me to spot trouble?”

“I don’t trust you not to cut my throat while I’m sleeping.”

“Don’t flatter yourself Princess.  You think I would need to take you unawares or do you think I could handle you in a fair fight?”

“I hadn’t thought about it.”

“Bullshit, I’m sure you’ve thought a lot about it.  I suppose it doesn’t matter, I would never fight fair anyway.  You know what’s interesting?  Our backgrounds are  very similar.  I was taken from my family at a young age and I was trained to serve someone, I wasn’t a literal slave but I had no say in what I was doing.  Then I was given to someone as a companion.  And yet you turned out like you did and I turned out like I did.  I suppose the difference is the church of Vultur got their hooks in you and brainwashed you when you were young.  If that hadn’t happened you’d probably be just like me.  Only less charming and attractive.”

“The difference is that I have a moral compass and you are a sociopath.”

“Do you though?  If your so-called morality comes from an external source, from the church or from Vultur himself or whatever, is that really morality?  Or is it just slavish devotion to whatever comes down from on high?  At what point are you doing awful things because you’re ‘just following orders’?  If Vultur sent an angel, or whatever he has that tells people to do things, to tell you that you had to kill someone because they were going to commit a horrible crime – but hadn’t done anything yet – what would your reaction be to that?”

“I’m not interested in hypotheticals.”

“Go to sleep then.”

“I would if you’d stop talking.”

“You’re the one who started talking to me!”

I don’t know if she fell asleep but she stopped talking at least.  I knew that rescuing her would be a bad idea but I didn’t realize how annoying it would be.  If I didn’t know better I’d swear that everyone I come across makes it their personal mission to irritate me.  I’ve often been critical of people on watch or guard duty or whatever you want to call it and how easily they’re distracted or fooled.  But I’m starting to understand it now.  Even in the face of potential violent horrifying death at any moment there’s only so long you can stay on alert.  Once the fear and heart-pumping anxiety fade away all you’re left with is boredom, your mind starts to wander.  You stare at the same thing for enough hours and you stop seeing it, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re supposed to watching for trouble.  When there’s an ambush or a night-time massacre or something it’s often blamed on a guard falling asleep, but I would bet that half the time they’re there awake and just not noticing someone walking right up on them until it’s too late.  It’s a wonder there’s anyone left alive at all really.

In the dead of night I heard the hammering of hooves on the cobblestones coming from the south.  It was an overcast night but there was enough light for me to see a moment later three figures come running into view like scared rabbits.  At first I thought two of them might be children , especially because they were holding the hands of the “normal” sized figure but after a second I realized they were Halflings.  As soon as they came into view a horseman came pounding up behind them wearing full plate and wielding one of those double-ended spears you see cavalry types with sometimes.  As soon as they were all within view the horseman struck, skewering the figure in the middle and sending the two smallfolk tumbling to the ground to the right and left.  The tip of the spear seemed to pass through the body without resistance, like a stick through water, and hit the stone underfoot with a clap like an ironsmith hammering an anvil.

I could hear the choking sound coming from the impaled victim, dangling on the long spear like a spiked fish being drug out of a pond.  Both Halflings, rather than running, lay on the ground looking stunned.  They continued to do so even while the horseman struggled to kick the dying person off their weapon.  I fired at the armored man, the bolt deflecting off his heavy plate like I had thrown a toothpick at a stone wall.  The “ping” noise of the strike seemed to finally snap the two smallfolk out of their reverie and they scrambled to their feet to run.  I know they’re under stress but why didn’t they split up?  Instead they first ran to each other, giving their pursuer the chance to follow them both.  Why do people do that?  When one person is behind you sticking together only makes sense if you’re going to turn and fight, not if you’re going to run.  Use your heads people.

The horseman finally got his weapon free and made to pursue, but I hurled the thunderstone that I had taken off one of the attackers right at the feet of his mount.  Even the best trained warhorse is going to react to that and this steed as no exception, rearing up and making the rider struggle both to hang on and to control his animal.  Aggravatingly though at this the two Shirelings stopped and looked around as if they were trying to figure out what happened.  I wanted to scream at them to keep running but I didn’t want to give away my position.  As the horseman was getting back under control I cracked one of my sunrods, shielding it in my hand, and tossed it into the alleyway across the street.  The horseman wheeled towards the light but only for a second, dismissing it as the distraction that it was quickly enough. He turned back to his prey still frozen in the middle of the street and cursing under my breath I fired at him a few more times with my crossbow, my shots bouncing off his armor uselessly.

The good news (?) is that he turned to face my side of the street and although I ducked down in the window for cover he spotted me quickly.  It was at this point that I realized that with the height of his charger and with the reach of his weapon he could probably attack me even up here.  As he turned to do just that I employed the shitty but time honored tradition used when facing cavalry – I shot his horse.  It’s a real dick move, the horse didn’t do anything wrong, it can’t, it’s a horse, but it’s a sad fact of life that sometimes you have to do it.  It was too well trained to react with much more than a whinny, but I was hoping the poison would slow it down some.  He came trotting forward at a good clip and stabbed not through the window but through the wall beneath it, narrowly missing me as I dodged backwards – and by dodged I mean fell ass over teakettle. 

In doing so my knee pain went from a tolerable throbbing to a blindly intensity and I hit the floor.  Nevertheless, being the big hero that I am I lunged back forward to grab at the part of the spear that was sticking through what I now saw were shockingly thin boards of the wall facing the street.  All that bought me was some scuffed knuckles as the man outside easily yanked it backwards, slamming my hand into the wall and out of my grip.  Corune rolled out of bed looking around wildly and whispering intensely.

“What’s going on?”

“I have no idea!”

I heard the voice of the horseman from below, echoing strangely inside of his greathelm “This is none of your concern.”

“I couldn’t agree more, sorry to have disturbed you, I thought you were someone else.”

The spear came stabbing in at an angle through the floor and even though it wasn’t really that close to me I couldn’t help by yelp in surprise and scramble further back, almost falling through the hole in the floor behind me.

“Shit!  Those two Halflings are probably getting away right now, why are you wasting time with me?”

“They’re already gone, because of you.  I’ll pick them up again without too much trouble though, they can’t hide from me.  But you need to pay.”

“How much?”

“Your life.”

“That’s a little steep, how about a nice rug?”

I gestured with my head for Corune to cover me as I used my ability to throw my voice to keep bargaining/begging for mercy in the room while I kicked the rope through the hole and climbed/slid/fell down to the first floor.  I did my best to land with my weight on my left leg but still the explosion of pain when I hit the ground made me bite my tongue to keep from crying out.  Limping forward intently, I saw the horseman through a hole in the wall head tilted up taking to “me” and I hurled a looted javelin at his neck as hard as I could.  Instead of plunging into his neck it deflected off that weird little round thing knights have on their armor sometimes, it’s called a gewgaw or a guisare or something like that – anyway I guess this is why they have them.  The deflected javelin did knock his helm askew though and while he was trying to right it – not easy with reins in one hand and a people-stabber in the other – I shot his horse a few more times, pumping in more poison.   I then jumped back on the rope and struggled my way up, Corune reaching down to haul me in the last bit.

I heard the man outside cursing as his mount labored and founded under him.  I crawled over to peep out the window and saw the poor horse frothing at the mouth, its legs giving out underneath it.  The man dismounted and after cursing and kicking at the horse for a while did the merciful thing and put it out of its miser with a stab through the skull. He stood by the dead animal seething with rage.

“Whoever you are I’m going to find you and I’m going to kill you.”

“That’s a pretty pedestrian threat, you could have at least said you were going to skin me alive or something like that.  Get creative with it.  People try to kill me all the time, it’s kind of lost its luster.”

 “Do you know who I am?!  I . . .”

I sat up and chucked a looted throwing axe at him as hard as I could – I’ve definitely done more throwing things as hard I could the last two days than I have in my life before now.  It didn’t penetrate his platemail but it did hit with enough impact to knock him flat.  I stood tall, reloading and shooting with my crossbow as fast as I could while he turtled.  Eventually he rolled to his side and clattered to his feet awkwardly running into the same alley as the sunrod to take cover.  All of my bolts banged off his armor but I was hoping that one might at least scrape against some flesh to poison him.  I stepped out of the window as he produced a longbow and fired back.   

“Good Gods how can you even draw back in that metal lobster suit?”

He declined to explain but I could see Corune looking at me in the darkness “What do we do now?”

“You want to go down there and flank him while I keep him busy?”

“No.”

“Me neither.”

For a few minutes I was trying to think of something while occasionally trading shots with the armored bowman and I had pretty well decided to just ignore the situation since there was no way for him to get up when I heard an urgent “psst” noise coming from downstairs.  I dropped down and belly-crawled to the hole where I saw the round frightened faces of the two Halflings looking at me.  I saw now that it was a man and a woman.

“Are you fucking kidding me?!  Get the fuck out of here!”

“Let us up!”

“I feel like I’ve done plenty here, you should be running right now.”

“Running to where?  There’s nowhere to run, let us up.”

As I was about to say something else Corune dropped the rope down to them and they scooted themselves up with enviable nimbleness, it I’m sure it helps that they’re so diminutive. Once they were in and Corune was hauling the rope back up I fell heavily into the corner and took a pull off my Flask.

“Welcome to the party.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 50,874 gold, 2000 silver

XP: 554,101

Rations – 5 days

Inventory:  Noble’s outfit, 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, dreamtime tea, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring, Everwake Amulet, Ring of Disguise, 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