It’s still raining, up here

Smashweed is so called because it’s surrounded by grey colored weeds that are tough as wire.  The people of Smashweed spend all day every day bending these weeds’ roots back and forth until they eventually break.  If you’re good at it, doing this takes about twenty minutes.  If you’re a little kid learning how to do it, it can take hours.  Once the weed is broken, you harvest it and then you boil it in some kind of brown water for a couple days and then you can hammer it until it breaks open and you can eat it.  This is the food that sustains all the people in the area.  I guess it’s better than gathering mud all day in Bosstown but only by the slimmest of margins. 

Unlike Bosstown where it seems people can breeze in and out as they wish, Smashweed is surrounded by a “wall” of smooth unbarked trees that look like they’re made of stone.  I guess they’re petrified but I’ve seen petrified wood before and it didn’t look like that.  The wall is heavily guarded (mostly by people with spears but still) on account of outsiders are not welcome in Smashweed.  At all.  They didn’t let us set one foot in the place.  That’s how worried they are and how valuable this paste they hammer out of iron grasses is. 

Also unlike Bosstown there’s no boss here, or maybe it’s more appropriate to say there’s a bunch of bosses.  Smashweed is run by committee and it seems like a dozen different people came to talk to us as we cooled our heels outside with the vulture tribe.  But in every group situation there’s always someone who’s the real power no matter how democratic you try to be.  I identified two as the real leaders of the place.  One of them was a little man (even by the standards of the day) with macular rashes all across the torso (no shirt for his fellow) and a kind of long twisted Mohawk.  I think he’s the “we are all equal but some are more equal than others” of the group. 

The other fellow was wearing a veil like a belly dancer and was swaddled in furs and robes that looked to be of decent material.  He also had shinbones that were about twice the length that you would expect.  He seemed to have a pretty difficult time getting around because of this.  His job is to deal with traders that come by so that the rest of the folk don’t have to sully themselves by talking to outsiders.  He’s the one who had the idea of hiring the vultures and I had him pegged pretty quickly – his thought process is if you need something dangerous done, have someone else do it because who cares if they die? 

It was slow going to make any progress because the Smashweedian leaders would only come out to talk to me for a few minutes at a time.  Longshanks would speak with us for longer than the others but even he acted like it was a real chore.  It was like being out from behind their walls was like being underwater – you do it for a moment and then you need to pop back out.  I suppose given all the dangerous shit out here I can’t blame them. 

Rashy claims that Smashweed can trace its history back to my time.  He claims that there was a flash-flood, followed by a monsoon that drove people to this place from Durham, Palermo, Sacramento, and other actual cities.  The fact that he even knows the names makes me think his story has some merit.  They were able to scavenge enough supplies from the ruins to start a farming community.  He claims there were thousands of them in those early days.  Two years later, ninety percent of them were dead.  But the community survived.  Later when the choking weeds took over their farms, two-thirds of them died again, but they adapted to be the “thriving” village they are now. 

Of course they had no information about what caused the flood or why there would be a monsoon in northern California instead of India. 

They claim that they hired the Vultures purely for self-defense because the Bosstowners would attack them to get the weed-mush if they didn’t give it to them, which they aren’t because of the filter situation.  The one thing both sides agree on is that there was an earthquake and now the river is fucked.  They are very bitter about how they feel Bosstown is not sharing their water filters. 

When I pointed out rationally and attractively that it made no sense for Bosstown to hold out on them because they needed Smashweed’s smashed weeds, they were dubious. 

“What’s their end game?  If you guys all die there’s going to be no food for them right?  Then they also die.”

They remained adamant that the Bosstowners were trying to destroy them by not sharing the filters.  Putting on my best negotiator hat I asked them, just for the sake of argument, pretend that Bosstown actually doesn’t have any filters either – what would they do then?  ‘Die’ was their answer.  Everyone would die.  They have a one track mind, these future people. 

I persisted in badgering them about it.  My point was clearly they didn’t make these filters because they suck (I said it nicer than that), so where did they come from?  Eventually they grudgingly admitted that there was a place to the north where they had originally gotten the filters from the last time the river turned to poison but it was impossible for anything to go there now.  And by impossible they meant that it was dangerous in some unspecified way.  No matter how much I pried, they wouldn’t say what was so terrible about the path to the vague land of water filters. 

When I suggested that what we should do, since this was a problem that affects everyone who needs the river to live, is gather a representative from each of the villages in the area to talk about potential solutions to the issue, they acted like that was the craziest thing they ever heard.  “What if it’s a trap” they cried. “That’s why you send someone you don’t care about as a representative” I replied intelligently in a smooth sexily seductive voice.  This they were intrigued by.  Not so intrigued that they let us in their stupid honeycomb hideout for the night, but you can’t have everything. 

The Vultures had moved on by that point so Martialla and I were left to camp out on our own once again.  The bad news is that a snake jumped on me.  The even worse news is that there’s jumping snakes now.  The good news is that snake meat is by a wide margin the most palatable thing I’ve eaten since we woke up. 

Martialla looked at me as she gnawed on a snake-scrap like a Neanderthal “You know we’re the ones who are going to get those filters right?”

I nibbled daintily and sedately “Of course, I’m the protagonist and you’re my loyal handmaiden, who else would go?  But if we get everyone together to talk about it first maybe we’ll get some supplies, and perhaps they’ll send some extras with us to get killed in the final climatic battle.”

“Plus then everyone will know that you did it.”

“That too, how else will they know what to make the statue of me look like?  Maybe they should call me Ela the Peacemaker instead of Ela the Savior.”

Martalla spit out a snake fang “Why not both?”

“Why not indeed?”

I’ve missed you, you know that’s true

I used to have no opinion about snakes.  Why would I?  We rarely had any cause to interact.  Early in my career I booked a gig where they put a snake on me for a vodka ad (or something, print ads are weird, you never know where the pictures end up) one of those pythons that guys with ponytails have.  I don’t know why that’s a thing, putting a snake on a sexy lady, are there that many snake weirdoes out there for that to be a thing?  Anyway, I didn’t mind that snake, I’ve had worse co-stars you know.  AHEM Matthew Broderick.  

That was before.  Now I hate snakes.  I hate them more than I hate the Valley.  I wasn’t doing anything to that snake, why did it have to bite me?  It’s unjust is what it is.  And consider this, it seems that human beings are universally ugly and lumpy and dirty now (not that 95% of them weren’t uggos before) that being the case, my ass is most likely the best ass in the world.  What happened to me would be like someone vandalizing the Mona Lisa in the olden times.  Or something better than the Mona Lisa since the Mona Lisa kind of sucks.  Have you ever seen it?  It’s like the size of a postcard.  

My ass shouldn’t be getting gnawed on by California mountain snakes, it should be getting rubbed with fine oils and liniments.  Who had the best ass in the world before was debatable, but there’s no question now – my ass is a national treasure.  Or it would be if nations still existed.  To the people of this world my ass must be like an eclipse, so powerful and majestic that you need to look at it through a hole in a cardboard box.  If and when they reinvent navigation, sailors will come to me and say “Ela, your butt is so round and perfect we need to use it to calibrate our nautical instruments – nothing else exists that is so precise.”  And I’ll allow it, with due care and reverence, knowing full well that the man who undertakes this glorious task will afterwards gouge his eyes out because once you have seen such flawlessness you never want any other image to sully your vision again.  

This is what I was thinking about when I was sitting by the side of the stinking lake of tar-water.  Cantilevered more than sitting upright because of the aforementioned snakebite, leaning against what I initially thought was an ugly scraggy dying tree but I think might be a rock.  That’s the world now, rocks and trees can’t be easily distinguished from each other. Martialla was eyeballing the creature wallowing in the muck trying to decide how best to kill it.  I have to say that she’s adjusting pretty well.  One day you’re picking up my dry cleaning and the next day you’re in the future trying to kill a walrus-bear-octopus-pig-lizard.  That would plumb rattle some folks.  

Although bizarre and large, the beast didn’t look all that dangerous to me.  Of course, neither do hippos and back in my time they killed people constantly.  Three sitting presidents were killed by hippos – one during their inauguration!  I remember seeing that on TV when I was a kid, George Bush running for his life, hapless Secret Service agents being tossed aside as a brutal hippo charged POTUS with murderous eyes rolling like those of a shark.  That’s not the kind of thing you forget.  My dad was laughing like a crazy person.  He voted for Dukakis.  I remember one time I was in New York for a photo shoot and a hippo pod came out of the subway tunnel and into Times Square.  What a mess.  (Martialla’s note, this is all bullshit, hippos are dangerous but everything else here is lies) [Editor’s note, stay away from my journal Martialla!]

“Do you really think you can kill that thing with a handgun?”

Martialla half-shrugged “You can kill anything if you shoot it enough.”

“I don’t know if that’s true.  Wasn’t there a story in the paper the other day about a zoo elephant going berserk and killing its trainer?  I believe the police shot it more than a hundred times with their sidearms to no effect until the SWAT guys showed up with an RPG and took it down.”

She turned around to scowl at me “The LAPD did not kill an elephant with a rocket propelled grenade!”

I bit my lip in thought “Maybe it was an APC.”

Martialla scowled harder, that woman could scowl the bark off a tree (or a rock that looks like a tree) “That . . . that doesn’t even make sense.”

“Whatever it was the point I was trying to make is that small arms fire didn’t hurt it.  Don’t you hear the same thing about alligators and bears and so forth?  This thing seems to be a combination of all of them, plus some other stuff.  I think there’s some garbage pail kid in there.”

“Weren’t you in the garbage pail kids movie?”

“No, that was Katie Barberi.”

Martialla nodded absently “Oh yeah.”

I watched her watching the motionless creature for a while “Even if you can kill this thing, is it worth the ammunition?  I’m pretty sure you don’t know how to forge bullets and even if you did, I doubt there’s any gunpowder to be had.  Shouldn’t we only use our guns as an absolute last resort?”

She let out a long breath “It does piss me off when the survivors in zombie movies shoot their guns into the air or just shoot at things to make a point.  It’s horribly wasteful.”

“No one would watch a movie where the characters didn’t make bad decisions constantly. What are you trying to do, put me out of a job?”

Martialla smiled shortly “I hate to break it to you L, but I think you’re already out of a job.”

“Perhaps, perhaps not, I could travel around doing Shakespeare like in that movie the Postman.”

Martialla shook her head “That movie was awful.  Could you do that?  Do you have any of the works of Shakespeare memorized?”

“No, but what difference does it make?  I can make up whatever I want and just tell people that it’s Shakespeare, everyone who knows better is dead.  I could tell them George Bush was eaten by a hippo and they’d believe it.”

“Now there’s an idea for a movie, they unfreeze a caveman from a glacier and he’s a huge liar.  All the historians and anthropologists come to talk to him and he tells them that in caveman times they had hot air balloons and thousand foot tall rollercoasters and they rode around on dinosaurs.”

I snorted “See, that right there is why there are no good parts for women in movies, why does it have to be a cave MAN, you traitor?”

“What about that movie where you played the CEO of an auto company who was also a superhero fighting aliens by night?”

“Okay, that was a good role.  That movie got really screwed up in editing though.”

Martialla continued eyeing the creature with a mixture of apprehension and eagerness “It probably is a waste of ammunition but I think the bottom line is that I just really want to shoot something.  I think it will make me feel better.  You know, about the world being destroyed and my husband being long dead.”

“Well as long as you have a good reason.  Do you think you can take it out with one shot?  What if it charges us?”

She looked back at me with a look of pure condescension “It’s not going to charge us Ela.”

The end of laughter and soft lies

Remember that movie Caddyshack 2?  Of course you don’t remember it because you never saw it because you’re a post-civilization marauder who doesn’t know what movies are.  But I’ve decided to write this like I’m speaking to people from my time because otherwise what am I going to say?  And I can’t not write this because people need to hear my courageous story.   

The question is moot anyway because no one remembers Caddyshack 2 because it was horrible.  It’s the poster child for crappy sequels.  The only good thing about it is the Kenny Loggins song “Nobody’s Fool” which I wanted to include a cover of as a B-side on my album Louder than Words, which I would like to point out sold better than J-Lo’s On the 6 domestically.  I was supposed to play a Ty Webb type character in a Caddyshack rip-off called Two Putts (the poster had two golf balls together that kind of looked like a butt, which makes no sense for a variety of reasons) but Jay Mohr pulled out of the lead role so he could be in Mafia! and without the “star power” of Jay Mohr, the financing fell through.  I wonder how many lives could have been saved with the millions of dollars spent on movies that don’t end up getting made.  Probably a lot. I mean they’re all dead now anyway.  So I guess it’s fine. 

Anyway the closest thing to anything approaching humor in Caddyshack 2 is when the guy from Ghostbusters gets snakebit in the ass and he asks the guy from National Lampoon Vacation movies to suck the venom out of said ass and Clark Griswold says “Is there any money in it?” which is almost mildly funny.   It’s very close to being mildly funny.

We haven’t been here very long, but so far I have to say I am not enjoying this post-apocalyptic hellscape.  It’s hot, and I means balls hot.  That soggy hoggish variety of hot where it’s like you’re getting slapped with a piece of wet ham repeatedly even when you’re not.  Which would be bad enough if I wasn’t marching through a tangle of nettle-y plants but also I’m doing that.  I’ve heard people with bad knees say that walking down an incline is worse than going up, which sounded like nonsense to me before but now I get it.  I feel like I have shin splints so bad I’ll never get unsplinted.  There seems to be literally no flat ground, it’s all roots and rocks and plants and shit.  I would seriously just like to take three steps without slipping and or tripping.   

But what really sucks is that food we got from the ratlike traders is sitting like a rock in my belly.  No, not a rock, more like a sea urchin, with the spines you know?  One that’s still alive and is trying to poke its way to freedom.  Slowly, relentlessly, Andy Dufresne poking its way through my belly.  I feel like I’m all twisted up inside.  If this is what food is like here, I’ll be dead soon.  Which would maybe be a relief at this point.  Did you know that until modern times, for every soldier that died in battle, seven shit themselves to death?  Literally I mean, on account of they had dysentery.  Point is, I was doing my business when I got Caddyshacked – a fucking snake bit me on the ass.   

Martialla said that she doesn’t think it’s venomous.  She didn’t see the snake that got me but she said the bite shape is that of a non-venomous snake, being U-shaped instead of two-hole vampire shaped. She also said that it doesn’t really matter anyway because there’s nothing we could do about it if it was venomous.  She said that that old cowboy tale of cutting the wound and sucking out the poison is pure nonsense.  The poison is in your bloodstream instantly, it’s like pee in a pool, there’s no getting it out.  So if it was venomous, either I’ll survive it on my own or I won’t.  Cheery huh?   

My left cheek has swollen up to Jennifer Lopez proportions but if Martialla is to be believed, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s venomous, she said that a barracuda bit her on the arm once and it swelled up like crazy.  Sounds like the real issue is making sure that the wound doesn’t get infected.  She said what we could really use is some alcohol.   

She doesn’t know how right she is about that. 

I was so focused on limping along with my half-Lopezed butt and my twisted gut that I bumped into Martialla without realizing that she had stopped.  The not-road had led us to a path – like a real path – through the foliage.  I said that it could be an animal path but she pointed to what was clearly a shoeprint.  More like a moccasin print, but you know what I mean.   

We both looked at each other.  Decision time.  Do we want to avoid where other people are or seek them out?  Do we rely on the kindness of strangers or keep to ourselves?  Neither seems to offer very good odds of staying alive for long.   

I gestured vaguely “You need to make the call on this one Mar, I’m falling apart over here, I kind of want to die right now.  I don’t think my judgement can be trusted at the moment.” 

She looked down both avenues of the path for a long time “Just like when you decided to be in Cobra Two.” 

“Look, that film got really screwed up in editing.” 

Martialla decided that we should follow the trail.  Wasn’t much of a decision really, it’s not like we’re going to find a patch of land and start farming. Unless we can find someone to interact with, we’re not going to last long.  Traveling on the path was much easier (that’s why people make them you know) but it was still a struggle for me.  At one point Martialla pointed out hoof prints on the trail which really lifted my spirits.  Sure, riding a horse isn’t great for a snake-swollen buttocks but it would be nice to let someone else do the work.   

We stopped to rest and even though my guts felt like twisting barbed wire, Martialla told me to eat some of the energy bars.  I wonder what would happen to me if I tried to live just on energy bars.  Die of malnourishment, I suppose.  I don’t know if I nodded off or passed out (there’s a difference right?) but when I came around for a second, I thought that Martialla had left me there.  Not only left but that she had taken all the supplies too.  That was easily the most terrified second of my life.  But she was there dragging me to my feet by the straps of my backpack. 

I looked at her sweatily “I suppose this is the part where I should tell you to take the supplies and go on alone, leaving me to die.” 

She snorted “No chance of that eh?  I’m pretty sure you told me one time if you were ever on life support and your estate ran out of money, I should start running drugs to keep you alive.” 

I smiled wanly “How else are you going to make serious money?  Not as a high-class escort right?” 

She chuckled “You know I’m your stunt double right?  Whenever you make a comment about my looks, you’re actually putting yourself down as well.” 

Stunt double Mar, stunt double, not body double, very important difference.” 

“I suppose that’s why I wasn’t in your softcore porn movies.” 

“School of Hard Knockers is not softcore porn!  There was less nudity per minute in School of Hard Knockers than there was in Revenge of the Nerds.  So are you saying that Revenge of the Nerds is softcore porn?!  Because if that’s what you’re saying you’ve gone completely insane!”

Myam 6 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

I know what you’re thinking, “Ela if the person who poisoned you can disguise their appearance wouldn’t they have bought the poison in disguise as well?  So what’s the point of threatening the black market guy to find out who they are?”  That’s a good question, thanks for asking it.  Kisha and people like him don’t do business with people they don’t know – that’s how you get caught.  If you’re ever running a black market operation and someone comes in that seems a little off but you’re thinking about it because the money is too good it’s one hundred percent a trap.  So he knows exactly who he sold the poison to.  And I know what you’re thinking now “Well maybe the person has a well establish alternative identity and he does know the person but that’s a false face as well.”  Another fine point, you’re really on the ball today.  But here’s the deal, a well-established alter ego is basically a real person – they’ve got roots, you can find them.  You see it doesn’t really matter of Katu of Ambor is in actuality Bokter of Radok and Katu is a made-up persona because if you find Katu you’ve found Bokter as well.  You see?

With his goons out-gooned and a deadly venomous viper in his face Kisha told me that he sold the jellyfish toxin to a young woman named Essa who was an assistant to the quartermaster Rayfield and was rumored to be fraternizing with military leader of this prisoner of war camp Baron Kartov.  Now, to be clear he’s not baron, his name is Baron and he works for the Alliance of Barons which is made up of actual barons not people named baron.  When I asked him why someone so well connected would come to him to get something rather than relying on the quartermaster – who you have to imagine is quite good at getting things – or her lover, the commander of the whole operation, he didn’t have an answer.  Although I do, whatever she’s up to it’s not something that they’re privy to.  Which is a fun wrinkle.

I tapped my Walking Stick again to revert the scary hissing snake-head back into a harmless cane-head, which was also shaped like a snake-head, but you know. 

“Kisha, I apologize for that, it was rude of me to threaten you with death by snake-bite.  Given enough time I could have charmed the information I want out of you but this is a quickly evolving situation and I simply didn’t have the luxury of taking my time.  Which is a real shame for both of us because being charmed by me is really quite an experience.  I don’t want us to get off on the wrong foot though, I don’t know how long I’m going to be here and I really want us to get along.  Do me a favor and have your thugs bring in some barrels.”

“I don’t . . .”

I tapped his cheek with my Walking Stick “Just humor me for a moment will you?”

He gulped and sent his two sullen bodyguards out of the tent, returning a few minutes later dragging what I think were pickle barrels. 

“Cheer up gents, sure you just got your asses kicked by two women not even half your size but things are looking up!”

I took out my Flask and started pouring rice wine into the barrels.  Yhey were cross at first, they thought I was mocking them with my little flask, but as the booze kept coming and coming and coming and filling up both barrels their expressions turned to astonishment.  I took a hearty swig from the Flask myself before tucking it back away.

“There you go, that should bring in a little more than that fermented horseshit you’re serving up currently.  Any time you need a refill just let me know, this baby never runs dry and as long as you’re willing to help me I would be ever so happy to help you.”  I nodded to my two guards “Ladies, let us take our leave shall we?”

As we made our way through the darkness towards my tent one of them, not sure which, spoke up “That’s the most fun I’ve had since we got here.”

“Stick with me and I’ll guarantee you one thing, it won’t be boring.”

It was late when I got back to my tent and I thought about pulling about the Amulet to give myself some time to think, but in the end I decided to get another night’s rest.  Having guards is helpful but it’s also limiting – if they weren’t around I could essentially take the form of a solider and walk out of here whenever I wanted to.  But as it is I need to be careful.  A little careful anyway.  The next morning there was a halfway decent breakfast waiting for my outside of my tent and there were another two almost identical women standing nearby.  I was starting to pick up on the differences, one of them had hair that was more dark down than black and the other was a little taller.  As I sat down to eat my honeyed toast I gave them a good once over.

“Seriously, what the Hells is your deal?  There’s six of you now?”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Fuck you, I saw you smile!  Quit the mysterious crap, tell me what’s going on.  And why.  Why would anyone want a bunch of similar looking women trained in unarmed fighting?  Why would anyone spend the time and money to make that?”

“Why indeed?”

“You don’t look like me, otherwise I’d assume you were decoys.”

“And what do you think happens to decoys when the person they look like dies?  They throw themselves on the funeral pile.”

“Pile?  Isn’t it pyre?

“No, it’s pile like a pile of sticks that they set on fire.  A pyre is someone who makes pies.”

“That’s a baker you dolt!  So what you’re saying is that you’re an elite cadre of handmaidens slash decoys that served some woman that looked like you and she’s dead now so you’re left to just be mundane bodyguards that happen to look alike?”

“I never said that.  But yeah.”

“So the woman you all look like is dead?  That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.”

“She was killed before we ever worked for her.  We trained for years in hidden isolation to learn our skills and then one day some man wearing a dress came and said that our to-be mistress was dead and we were turned out in the middle of the wilderness.”

“That has to be a real kick in the tits.  Being taken away from your family to train to be killed in someone else’s place is bad enough but then you never even got to do the thing you were trained to do?  Whoo boy.  You say were your trained for years?  How old were you when this started?  Because even if you looked like whomever you looked like when you were younger people don’t always grow up to look like you think.  Two of my cousins looked enough alike to be sisters but one of them grew up to look okay and the other is a pit of despair.  Or she was anyway, she’s a very handsome woman now.  Long story.”

“Some of us had our faces cut to make sure we looked right as the years went by, they’d bring in this sadistic monster to do it and then there was another guy who’d pour chemicals on us to make sure we’d heal without scars.  He was even worse.”

“Are you shitting me?”

“Certainly not.”

“How many of you are there?”

“We don’t discuss such things.”

“So you were taken to be trained as soldiers or whatever when you were young?  Are you all messed up in the head then?  Is this one of those deals where you can run down a water buffalo and leap over a giraffe but you don’t know how to buy bread at the market and human social interactions frighten and confuse you?”

“Water buffalos aren’t very fast.”

“You know what I mean.”

“It was an adjustment as first when we were kicked out of the training facility but I assure you we can buy bread.”

Brown hair spoke up at this point “And who isn’t frightened and confused by human social interactions?”

“Me, but I see your point.” I raised my glass of weak watery ale “Well here’s your dead mistress who you never got to protect but who totally fucked up your lives.”

As I was eating my breakfast several of my new not-noble-but-rich friends dropped by to shoot the breeze.  It was almost time for lunch before I was given a moment’s peace but it gave me some time to think about what to with Essa.  There’s no reason to believe that she wanted to kill me on her own, and there’s no reason I can think of that her boss nor her lover would want me dead either.  My first thought is that Master Sergeant Costell Monague is the only enemy I have in camp as such, but aside from a wild leap of non-logic there’s no way for him to know that I’m the one who stole his stuff, and it seems pretty petty for him to try and kill me just over me treating him like garbage.  Dealing with barons all the time he has to be used to that.  So it comes back to the demoness Lypara Emprenzo maybe?  The only way to know for sure is to ask her.

I had lunch with and spent the afternoon idling with my fellows in the “rich” camp.  Someone had found a deck of cards so we played This and That for a couple hours – my head wasn’t really in it so I only won enough to make sure everyone knew I was as a canny and strong player.  After this they decided they wanted to put on a show of some kind and they spent the bulk of the afternoon talking excitedly about it.  One woman started singing and I had to stifle a laugh – she wasn’t horrible but she couldn’t hold a candle to me.  There was a part of me that wanted to put her to shame right then and there but I hid my light under a bushel basket, I had other things to do that night. After dinner with the tent aristocracy I went to see Kisha, who of course had a much nicer tent that anyone else in the “poor” camp and of course had found a way to weasel out of being part of the work gangs. 

He jumped up at first like he was afraid I was going to attack him with a snake-stick but I calmed him down and traded him the drugs I took offer the marauders the other day for the location of Essa’s tent and her schedule for visiting Baron the non-baron.  Luckily tonight was her night off so I stayed and chatted with Kisha and observed his enterprise – a lot of people coming and going and dropping off and picking up various goods. 

“You really have a way with people don’t you?”

He gave me a wary glance “Usually.”

Once I felt it was appropriately late I bid goodbye to Kisha and headed towards another section of tents – adjacent to the military section was much smaller section of non-military helper types attached like a bunion.  At some point my two minders had been switched out for one of the original ones and one of the second duo I think. 

“Do you report everything I do back to one of the Barons?  You’re been surprisingly accepting of my schemes.”

“We would if any of them cared.  We were told to protect you and keep you from leaving, no one said to babysit you.”

“So you have no issue with me attacking the quartermaster’s assistant?”

“Not really.”

“How much are they paying you?”

“It’s rude to discuss finances.”

“We should talk, I’m sure I can give you a better deal.  Assuming there’s not like a hundred of you.”

I stood outside the tent for a while to make she was asleep before entering.  I stood for a while to let my eyes adjust to the darkness and then moved forward, taking out my flask and dumping a gallon of rice wine on the sleeping form before me.  She came up kicking and spitting but she quickly realized I had my dagger in her stomach, or actually maybe it was a little lower than that, it was hard to tell with the blanket and the darkness.

“Shush your mouth girlie.  You know why I’m here.  Out with it.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 50,874 gold

XP: 554,101

Inventory:  Courtier’s Outfit, 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, 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, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper), map, Badge of Last Resort, Healer’s Satchel, 28 tiny diamonds

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