Mantelderith 13 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

It was quite a while before anyone found us.  As I said we watched the sun rise yesterday and it was dark before a couple grim faced blood-splattered soldiers came marching up the stairs to our not very secret secret hiding place.  You’d think that checking the perimeter (or whatever) would be one of the first things that you’d do once the fighting was wrapped up.  You’d also think that finding your wife would be a pretty high priority.  But the old Baron has just been freed from the malevolent depraved mind control of Kostelos witch so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt – it’s probably akin to be hung-over, you’re not at your best.  Takes some time to get your wits about you and make good decisions again.

The soldiers escorted us and we escorted the Baroness to an almost genuine looking teary reunion with the good Baron – much hugging and exchanging of pretty words.  He explained sorrowfully to us all that his mind was not his own when he was betraying his sacred wedding vows.  Although I felt that message was undercut somewhat because he spent a good deal more time going into detail about how the witch turned herself into a comely young woman for these couplings.  There was no mention of any of his other violations of the wedding vows which if you ask me was a missed opportunity.  Were I the Baron I would have taken that chance to explain that the witch had been messing with my mind for years – which caused all the infidelities of the past.  I also would have elucidated that there was still a little witch magic rattling around in here that was to blame for the infidelities I had planned in the future.

Since Martialla and I had robbed the Baron of his revenge by killing the witch and the shaman and the witch-shaman (and possibly a shaman-witch) he had to settle for a mass hanging of the handful of Kostelos warriors that had been captured.  A popular thing for rich and powerful people to order in these scenarios is to leave the bodies to rot on the walls as some kind of lesson but that presents all manner of logistical problems.  Rotting corpses aren’t very handy to have hanging around (pun).  To make him feel better about not getting to execute any Kostelos women I presented him with Greysmith’s dwarf-axe saying that it had been the weapon of mightiest Kostelos warrior in the battle. 

The good news is that Zedkath had been captured.  With very little prompting he said that the goal of the Kostelos-Satander alliance was succession from our beloved Kingdom and the creation of a new kingdom dedicated to their God and their cultural whatevers.  I got the impression that Zedkath had gotten mixed up in the scheme out of boredom rather than any manner of religious ecstasy, a theory which Martialla backed up.  I guess that’s what you get when you send an ambitious young asshole warrior to guard a mountain pass instead of to the front lines where he can make a name for himself.  Although I suppose that was the point, the Duke doesn’t need any rivals. 

I explained to the Baron how I saved him and all his lands making sure to downplay everything I had done and emphasize that he had mostly broken free of the spell himself and had probably only fallen under it in the first place because of something someone else had done.  I told him how his lands had fallen into disarray and that many of his holdings have been either given away in his name or were being usurped – particularly usurped by Baron Saltwheel and Baron Harmenkar.  Since the Kostelos had done such a good job of stripping him of his loyal fighting men I suggested that Mord’s crew of warriors would help him start righting the ship – they’re not your typical baronial sworn men but these aren’t typical times and they had proven themselves effective in doing their small part to help him had they not?

After all that talking it was late and I was dispatched with Martialla to my old room – someone else had been living there clearly but the man (either a very casual soldier or a servant with a weapon) that escorted us assured us that they wouldn’t be coming back.  I wonder how many “innocent” bystanders got the shaft in this whole fiasco.  I had a weird sense of repetition being back in that room – even though it was full of someone else’s possessions.  For a weird moment it felt like I had never left.  Before I banished it I was overwhelmed with the helpless feeling of being trapped here that I had when they first demonstrated that they could track me with the necklace they’ve sealed around my neck.  But things are different now.  So many things are different now.  Things such as waking up in a bed – a nice bed.  A nice bed a place that is safe (sort of) and has good food and clean water and zero lurking rays (probably).  Case in point when I woke up Martiall was sitting by the window eating breakfast corn and having herself a morning cocktail. 

She nodded over at me as I stirred “How were the nightmares?  Soul crushing or just spirit destroying?”

“I’m not even sure it was a nightmare.  I dreamed that Auraluna Domeil’s daughter was working with a group of blood wizards to turn the Queen into a vampire with their blood ritual so they could control her with their vampire controlling amulet.”

“Ah yes, who doesn’t have one of those?”

“Exactly.  Of course I was the only one who had the cure and I needed to get it to the Queen before it was too late.”

“Where was I?”

“Absent.  I assume you sacrificed yourself to the Blood God in order to get the cure.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Why would I try to save the queen?  It’s a dream, they don’t have to make sense.  Speaking of, I promised to tell you about a new development.  The ghost or spirit or something of an ancient Emperoress has visited me a couple times and wants me to help her come back to life or something.”

“How tedious.  Also it’s Empress.”

“You mean it’s impressive.” 

“No, it’s Empress, you said Emperoress.  That’s not a word.”

“Impress who about what?”

“No, not IMpress, EMpress.”

“What?”

“Forget it.”

After breakfast the Baron gathered everyone in the town square and made a grand declaration that in three days’ time there would be a great feast in honor of his victory so everyone better get off their ass and fix up all the damage that had been done in the fighting.  That’s a pretty good example of how life works for these people.  You work like a dog all day and then suddenly out of nowhere there’s fighting and fires burning in your home.  You hide or run or do whatever and manage to survive the night – congratulations now you have to clean it all up!  Oh, and also this extra work that needs to be done right now!  And these are the privileged ones – they’re lives are much better than the farmers out in the countryside.  It’s almost enough to make you feel like those Black Bride/Widow/Whatever people are onto something.  Almost.  Remember how I accidentally created that movement?  Well not accidentally, but unintentionally. 

After that I “got” to attend to the Baroness since all her ladies in waiting had been killed or fled or killed while trying to flee.   Things were so dire that even Martialla was impressed into service as one of the Baroness’ attendants.  Martialla clomping around the Baroness’s sitting room?  That’s how bad things were.  After a couple hours on Baroness duty I managed to slip away and leave Martialla to attend to her needs by herself – which is probably the worst thing I’ve ever done to her.  And remember that I stabbed her a few days ago.  It might be the worst thing I’ve ever done to anyone.  Maybe not. 

I went to see the Baron and who did I see by his side but Hellerhad.  It took me a moment to recognize him since he was dressed in fine clothing now instead of being draped in animal guts, but a man that size with that stupid of a mustache?  You don’t forget a sight like that.  What’s the world coming to when a man like that is a wizard?  He’s got to be close to seven feet high and he looks like he could pick up a manatee like a sack of grain.  Or at least a dugong. 

“Good morrow My Lord, I thought all your enemies had meet their final disposition.”

He frowned “Speak plainly woman, what can you mean?”

I lowered me head demurely “Sorry My Lord, I just assumed that Master Hellerhad being the powerful man of magic that he is could have long ago broken the witches spell that affected you rather than leaving you to struggle free triumphantly as you did.  Much hardship and loss could have been prevented if he had defended you as one should their liege lord.  Ergo I assumed he was your enemy by proxy.”

The Baron’s frown turned into a look of curiosity as he glanced at his advisor “Do you know this woman?”

He nodded “We met briefly while you were away My Lord.”

“Yes, met when I went asked for his aid in protecting the Baroness, and in helping her to manage the land in your absence.”

“And what was his response?

“Why don’t you tell the Baron what response you gave to my supplication Master Hellerhad.”

His face turned to stone and he paused before speaking “My Lord, it was purely a case of bad timing, you see . . .”

“Very bad timing I must imagine, for there was no response at all My Lord.  Master Hellerhad sent me on a fool’s errand and then fled like a thief in the night, leaving not so much as a word to me or your good wife.”

Hellerhad was halfway out of his chair before the Baron waved him back irritably.

“This is a serious accusation.  Do you deny it sir?”

Hellerhad stopped glaring at me to look kindly at the Baron “It’s not quite that simple your Lord, the situation is more complex than a woman . . .”

“How convenient.  I think it’s very simple, I came to you for help and you ran on account of your cowardly soul.”

The Baron gave me the stink eye “That’s twice you’re interrupted when it is not your place to do so.  Don’t do it again.”

I curtsied retiringly “Apologies My Lord, it’s been an eventful few days, all the excitement has made me forget myself.”

“Hmm, yes, quite so.  Well, this is a troublesome problem isn’t it?  I shall need good councilors around me in the days to come and they are sadly in short supply just now.  I was counting on Hellerhad to advise me on many matters, many matters indeed.  But as you say his absences before now is rather damning.”

Hellerhad now did stand to address the Baron “My Lord all I can say is that I am here to provide you all the wisdom I have to offer.”

“My Lord, if I may, two relations of mine have traveled here with me, I would suggest that they could provide much better counsel than this vondrook and would be happy to do so.”

The Baron was shocked by my language “Madam, you forget yourself!”

I ducked my head in apology once again “I’m sorry My Lord, but the sight of a blackguard sitting at your strong right hand quite inflames my passions.”

Hellerhad spun on me “Blackguard?!  How dare you madam?  How dare you?!”

The Baron gestured at him “Sit down my friend.  Perhaps you should remove yourself until your passions are calmed Lady.”

Another bloody curtsy “I shall My Lord, again my apologies for any upset I have caused.  Before I retire however I would like to bring up one thing.  You spoke of a boon for the small part that I played in your return to your faculties.  I would request that it be banishing this scapegrace from your court.”

“I’m afraid that’s out of the question.”

“How about a duel My Lord?”

He looked like a rabbit had just ridden by on the back of a giraffe “A duel?”

“Yes My Lord, a contest of some sort.  If I win Master Hellerhad is exiled.  If he wins I shall apologize and never speak ill of him again.  We’d have to figure out some fair competition of course, clearly I cannot match magic with him just as he’s no match for me physically.”

He was incredulous “What?  I could break you in half with one hand!”

“So it would have to be something where we had an equal chance – letting the Gods decide as is the intention of these things.”

The Baron’s surprised turned to deep thought “An interesting proposal.  I shall think on it.” He waved his hand airily “You may go now.  And in the future don’t turn up in my chambers unannounced.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it My Lord.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 53,040 platinum, 8,000 gold

XP: 1,070,851

Inventory: Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Ela’s Dazzling Garment, Belt of Physical Might +4, Ring of Urban Grace, Black Marketers’ Bag (5), Tidy Trunk, Whiterock Family Ring (Ring of Binding), Ela’s Elegant Boots, Ela’s Extravagant Necklace

Noble’s outfit (5) collegium ring,  pocketed scarf, wrist sheath, signet ring (2) assortment of fake signet rings, silver chain set with moonstones, gold and emerald ring (2), garnets (700), gold necklace with jade pendant, ivory combs, tax collector’s badge, gold bracelet with ivory inlays, silver necklace set with rubies, gold earrings with jade inlays, silver and gold brooch, silver necklace with ruby pendant, disguise kit, covenant ring, tiny diamonds (26), Saryah Phidaner gown, masterwork thieves’ tools, onyx (55) personal signet ring, tiara, masterwork red and black long greatcoat, Turnbill blade of first forging (one of three), darkwood and platinum music box, silver bracelet set with bloodstones, platinum ring set with fire opal, silver and moonstone bracelet, holy symbol of Kozilek, 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

Mathanaya 26 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

We reached Heller’s Hills today a few days ahead of schedule to intercept Tanara Aluation, which gave us time to explore the community.  We saw such sights as the one street and the crazy guy who harangues passersby (passerbys?) and the taxidermy bear outside the lumbermill.  And that’s pretty much the extent of what Heller’s Hills has to offer a curious traveler.  After checking out the one street and the stuffed bear for a second time Martialla and I were sitting on barrels outside the general store drinking distilled fruit brandy from her flask. 

“How is it that you always seem to have booze?”

“It’s a magic flask, it refills itself every day.”

“Really?!”

“No.  I’m just a good scrounger and I plan ahead.  There actually is such a thing as a mug that fills itself but its weak watery beer.  I’m not sure why anyone would even bother.”

“Most likely because they have a serious drinking problem.  You’re magic, why don’t you make something like that that conjures up good alcohol?”

“That’s not how it works.”

“It’s never how it works.  Magic is the worst.”

Martialla summoned an illusionary hand giving me a thumbs up “You got that right lady.”

The excitement really ratcheted up a notch when a kid came by rolling a hoop with a stick.

“You be careful with that hoop kid, it will stunt your growth. Mess with that hoop too much and you lose the power to imagine because you’re staring at the hoop all day – turns your brains to mush it does.”

The kid deftly used the stick to flip the hoop to his hand “I’ve never seen you before, who are you?”

“Strangers, come talk to us, we’re luring you over.”

The kid shrugged and walked over “Okay.”

“We’re in town for a few days, does anything interesting go on here?”

“Well, Old Man Gwetting was killed by the hillfolk.”

“Hillfolk eh?  What’s their problem?”

“I dunno.  They sent word to the bailiff about it to see if he would come out and kill them but he said there was a war on so there’s no men to do anything about it.”

“There is a war on but there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of violent men hanging around as far as I can tell.”

“That’s probably in the city though, people there are always killing each other.  My ma says that cityfolk are all murders and drug addicts and women of loose morals.”

“A wise woman your mother.  Where could we find these hillfolk?”

“In the hills.”

“Of course, how silly of me.”

“You’re not going to go out there are you?”

“Someone has to don’t they?  Can’t have murderous hillfolk running around scaring the sheep and molesting the scarecrows.  Don’t worry about us kid, my friend and I are great warriors.”

The kid made a face like tasting something bad “You don’t even have lances.  Or armor.  Plus . . . . you’re girls.” The whispered the last part like it was a great secret.

“Correct on all counts, but when all you have is thin gruel it does no good to bite a snake.”

“What does that mean?”

Martialla turned to me as well “What does that mean?”

“It’s an expression” I said defensively.

After telling the kid to go home and help his momma Martialla and I went out to the “estate” of Old Man Gwetting which consisted of a shack and a pig pen and a second pig pen, so you know, it was a pretty nice shack.  There was a very much not old man there shirtlessly doing something with hay and a pitchfork – his sweaty muscles rippling in the sun.  This was the great-great-great fifth nephew Gwetting or some such who told us that his antecedent had been out by the Blue Ridge gathering mushrooms when the evil hillfolk set upon him and bludgeoned him to death.

Martilla and I made our way out to the Blue Ridge and made contact with the wicked hillfolk.  They didn’t look like Kostelos – they looked normal – but they spoke a dialect of Kostelos that I was able to understand pretty well.   They claimed that the old man had been grabbed by two elfs and taken up in the higher hills – which of course is where the real bad people are.  If I’ve learned anything it’s that the lower elevation you live at the more civilized and less awful you are.  Martialla and I headed up the trail they indicated.

“Full blooded elfs?  What do you think we’re really going to find up there?”

“Nothing, probably the old man just wandered off and fell in a crevasse.  Old people are forever falling in crevasses.”

It was starting to get dark by the time we were coming upon an outcropping where there appeared to be the ruins of an old temple, nothing much left standing but a couple of walls.

“I’ve never understood why religious types build in hard to reach places like this, what’s the point?  Don’t they want to be where people can come and give them their money for their God?  Hey, what is that?”

That turned out to be an alchemist’s vial thrown at us which exploded with a burst of some kind of freezing liquid that splashed all over us, which was quickly followed by a second.  We spotted two figures in the shadow getting ready to hurl more vials at us through windows (or maybe just holes in the walls) of the front face of what was left of the temple.  Martialla turned herself invisible while I used a Feather Token to create a tree and got some cover.  The people in the temple tossed a few more vials but the path was so narrow the tree blocked it almost completely and they gave up.

“That wasn’t a very kind greeting.”

The voice did indeed sound like the mellifluous tones of an elf  “We don’t get many visitors up here, come out and we’ll give you a proper welcome.”

“Did you kidnap and old man for some reason?”

“Yes.  You want him come and get him.  How long is that tree going to last?”

“Forever.  Well, this isn’t a good place for a tree so it will die in a few months but I mean it’s not magic, it’s a real tree so it’s not going anywhere.”

“That’s going to be really inconvenient to get around.”

“Can’t you just float down to the ground with effeminate elf magic?”

“Come out from behind that tree and we’ll find out together.”

“Martialla are you ready yet?”

I heard her voice coming from inside the temple “Yeah, I’m ready.”

I activated the Lion Tattoo for climbing and shimmed up the tree, switching to lion balance to get a good firing position.  I saw the two elves in the temple looking around wildly for Martialla. One of them threw down a flask that turned into a giant centipede and the other drank a potion that made him grow.  Have you ever seen a ten foot tall elf?  I have now.  It’s . . . odd.  I’m glad I wasn’t in the mix with the massive centipede, I hate those things even when they’re tiny, but it wasn’t much of a battle.  A giant elf with a massive spear seems intimidating but a molten glob of metal to the face changes things in a hurry.  After the fracas was over we found the old man’s body looking emaciated and exsanguinated in equal measure. 

The elfs both had lean-tos set up against what was left of the crumbling walls and looked to have been there for years.  They had notes and books that indicated they were looking for some way to turn themselves into vampires, which I have to assume is why they’re here instead of whatever magical land elfs are supposed to live in – elfs don’t like vampires so much.  I think where they live is to the west across the sea.  We found a few more bodies including what looks to have been a tax collector with a Bag of Holding full of gold.  We piled the bodies together and burned them along with the notes and books before bedding down in the lean-tos for the night.

“Why would an elf want to be a vampire?  Don’t they already live forever?  Is there just weird stuff like this going on everywhere?”

“You were the one that was bored.”

“Meaning what exactly?”

“Maybe if we just took a few days to rest and do nothing this wouldn’t have been here.”

“What, so I made it happen somehow?”

“Maybe.  The world is a strange place, who’s to say really?  Maybe if you think about something enough you bring it into existence.  Maybe the Gods are just waiting for ideas to make real.”

“Poor people think about food and money all the time but they don’t get it.”

“Oh no, it only works for bad things.”   

“That much sounds accurate at least.”

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .0435%

Funds: 747 platinum, 70,296 gold

XP: 263,161

Inventory:  Wig of Alluring Charisma +4, Enchanted White Pathfinder’s Gear (effects as Iadaran Dress Uniform) Pocketed Scarf, Wrist Sheath, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Ring of Protection +2, Assortment of Fake Signet Rings,  Bag of Concealment,  Belt of Giant Strength +4, Versatile Vest, Ring of Sustenance, Silver Chain set with Moonstones, Gold and Emerald Ring (2) Black Marketers’ Bag, 852 Garnets, Campfire Bead, Expedition Pavilion, +1 Human Bane Endless Ammunition Light Crossbow, Deck of Curses (two cards used), Blue Dragoncloth Dress, severed hag head, Ring of Urban Grace,  gold necklace with jade pendant, Feather Token (tree) , white squirrel fur slippers, +1 Human Bane Dagger, ivory combs, Bewitching Gown, masterwork lute, Grappling Scarf, Wyvern Skin Robe (Robe of Arcane Heritage), receipt, Bag of Holding, tax collector’s badge, Calastar (Superior Riding horse, Horseshoes of Speed, Endless Feedbag)    

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

Mathanaya 8 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) Part 1

Emerging from the Broken Oar Martialla and I found signs that the wounded swamp cat had been prowling around outside while we were cavorting drunkenly inside.  Just the kind of thing you need to make yourself feel like it’s going to be a great day.  Because that coward Jopha had abandoned us and we didn’t feel confident in our ability to retrace our steps to Gibson we decided to head east to Bowcrag – we just need to follow the muddy channel where the river used to be and we’ll get there right?  As we traveled the ground seemed to randomly get less peaty and more swampy and then back again – at times almost being solid.  It was another miserable day tromping through the wilderness. 

“Remind me again why we came out here.”

“You wanted to kill the people that killed Hardra.”

“Oh right.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Have you ever been this far east?  Are we even in Cymrile County anymore?”

“I don’t know.  We might be getting near the border of Vieland.”

“What?  Isn’t the border hundreds of miles away?”

“Not as of the last war, you know the one before the one going on now – we, and by we I mean the King and people like that, seized a swath of land from Vieland but there’s two bulges along the coast that still belong to Vieland.”

“We’re not anywhere near the coast are we?”

“No, but they’re big bulges.  If you know what I mean.  Besides which the land has just recently changed hand so who knows what the people think – maybe they’re on the lookout for a couple Kingdom ladies like ourselves to ravage – you know, to get back at the King.  Or the Queen I guess since the King is dead now.”

“Yes I’m sure she’d be devastated to hear about our ravishing.”

“That’s how wars are fought right?  I’m sure the kings and high priests and court wizards and so forth sit around in their throne rooms and read lists of all the peasants killed and weep over each one.  Otherwise what would be the point of killing them?”

“I always assumed it was something to do with the Gods, they need a war every now and then a something to watch from the Heavens.”

“That too.”

Eventually our slogging led us to a small stream that we followed south, that turned into a slightly larger stream – a creek it could even be called.  Following that took us to a small village by the name of Long Avon, named after its founder for reasons I’ll leave to your imagination.  Normally it couldn’t have been home to more than fifty people, but there were a lot more there because there was a festival on.  A fellow who was visiting from nearby Grimslan clued us in to what was going on – the Long Avoners had captured a vampire that was going to be burned at the stake, which is more than enough reason for a festival.  There were painted poles decorated with flowers and long ribbons, wandering minstrels singing, dancers dancing , prancers pranncing, vendors selling dubious wares, and general merriment – all the things you need for a good vampire burning. 

The semi-main event was an over nine foot tall “statue” made out of flash paper of varying colors that people called “the Sorceress” – the resultant lightshow of it being set aflame would signal that it was time for the vampire to burn shortly afterwards.  Right next to it was the vampire attached to his stake in the traditional arms chained over the head format which has to be Hells on the shoulders.  Seemed like a pretty average looking fellow – aside from his brawny arms.  His hair was nothing to speak of but I found myself envying it nevertheless.  I really need to find a wigmaker. 

“Do you see something wrong with this scene?”

“Well, since you ask, I’m no vampirologist but aren’t they supposed to die in sunlight?  Aside from being chained to a stake this guy seems fine despite the sun blazing away.”

“Exactly.  Do you suppose there’s something stupid happening in every village at all times or are we just the unluckiest people in the world?”

“Don’t look at me, I never encountered this kind of thing until I started following you around.”

I went to poke the “vampire” and asking him what was going on, but was blocked by a chunky fellow in mismatched and rusty armor with an antique halberd.  He told us not to bother the prisoner.  My initial instinct was to slap him in his corpulent face, but it’s time to return to form.  Instead of resorting to violence or childish name-calling I turned on the charm.  It was a simple matter to convince the guardsman to let us talk to the prisoner and a good reminder that this is the kind of thing I should be doing more of.  Unfortunately the prisoner had nothing much to say, you’d think if you were tied to a stake you’d want to chat just out of boredom but he refused to engage. 

Thankfully as we were trying to get the vampire to open us his wife came running over to us – she was quite a beauty for a country girl.  Curly wheat-blonde hair, milky white skin, soft pink lips – in another few years country life would leave her a wreck, but for now she was really something to write home about.  Sadly she didn’t have much information either, she just insisted her husband wasn’t a vampire and begged us to save him.  All she was able to do was direct us to the mayor – one Navomi Noik, who was pretty much an “after” portrait of the vampire’s wife Imma, a rough looking country lady who looked like she had risen to the position of mayor based on her ability to take a punch. She all but admitted that since Drake (the vampire) had come to town a few months ago livestock had started drying mysteriously and he was the scapegoat.

“What kind of livestock do you raise around here?”

“Coypu, they’re a sort of big semi-aquatic rat.”

“What would anyone want that for?”

“Their meat is . . . edible, and you can make clothing out of their pelts, sort of.”

“Why are you accusing this guy of being a vampire?  He’s out in the sunlight.”

“It was the best I could do.  All signs point to a witch, but everyone knows that only women can be witches so I had to come up with something.”

“That’s flawless logic.  When I tried to talk to the guy he wouldn’t say anything, has he denied this vampire accusation?”

“No, which makes my job much easier.”

“How long do we have to find the real reason your super valuable rats are dying?”

“Drake is the real reason of course.  He’ll be burned the day after tomorrow though if that’s what you mean.”

We went back to speak with Imma, but were blocked at the door to her hovel by her tall, stern, cadaverous father accusing us of her getting her “riled up” and complaining of her delicate constitution.  I was able to persuade him to let us in however and after an excruciating tangent about his wife’s death and how he was a self-made man we finally got to speak with the lovely Imma.  Despite her emotional pleas for her husband’s life it didn’t sound like she even knew him that well – saying that he had been rather cold and distant the entirety of their only months long marriage.  The father explained that he had arranged the marriage, which is what brought Drake to the village, but talking to these two was getting us nowhere slowly.  We went back to the horse’s mouth, where my new friend the rusty guardsman was only too happy to let us try and talk to the prisoner again.

“Here’s what I’m thinking.  The reason you’re not shouting your innocence to the Heavens is because you’re protecting whoever is actually responsible for the death of these swamp rats.  I’m sure that seems unspeakably noble to you, but here’s the problem – after they burn you to death and the rats keep disappearing what do you think is going to happen?  Eventually they’re going to find whoever you’re protecting and kill them too.  And then you died for nothing.  So how about you let us in on whatever’s going on and we’ll see if we can help you.”

He was a tough nut to crack, but cracking nuts is my specialty, if you know what I mean.  There’s no vampire of course, that would be preposterous, a werewolf is killing the watery rodents.  Drake has a twin sister who got the Bite of the Moon and is slowly losing her battle against her murderous instincts.  People were starting to get suspicious in their old village so Drake did the only sensible thing he could do – arrange a marriage to someone in a different village and then hide his sister in the woods alone, occasionally going out to visit her and try to control her desire to feast on people like so many sheep with prayer and inspirational beatings. 

“Since you’re chained to a post and hours away from death this probably doesn’t need to be said, but that wasn’t a very good plan.”

It took even more time to convince him to tell us where this sister of his is hiding out.  Despite what Martialla said yesterday I think the real issue is that stabbing someone is fast and it’s done.  Trying to get people to do what’s in their own best interest takes forever.  I don’t understand why people persist in not doing what I say without question, it’s quite vexing.

“Alright Drake, you hang here, were on the case.”

Martialla shook her head “Really?  A pun?” 

“That was unintentional, you know I would never do such a thing.”

_______________________________________________________________

Hair regrowth progress :  .012%

Curses – Marksman’s Malady

Funds: 900 platinum, 4251 gold

XP: 243,161

Inventory:  Pathfinder’s Gear (white) Pocketed Scarf, Wrist Sheath, Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Dagger of Venom, Bracers of Armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Light Crossbow, Assortment of Fake Signet Rings,  Bag of Concealment,  Belt of Giant Strength +4, Vest of Resistance +1, Ring of Sustenance, Silver Chain set with Moonstones, Gold and Emerald Ring (2), Glove of Vampiric Touch, Platinum and Silver Holy Symbol of Kralten, Holy Symbol of Kozilek, Ruby (2), Black Marketers’ Bag, 879 Garnets, bolt of silk, Pirate’s Eyepatch, dress (fancy, revealing) 2, dress (fancy) 6

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