January 01, 2014 05:59
December 09, 2012 20:26
After my tribe had agreed that I should be the one to find our missing members I went along the route they took. When I was a couple days journey from the Serpentine River I came across a place where an ambush had happened. What I saw was very strange. There had been a fight. My people must have prevailed because they had enough time to bury their bodies in the traditional way (on a raised platform with their stuff and under some hides). When I went to check on the bodies to get a better idea of how long ago this had happened THERE WERE NO BODIES!! What would anyone want with 3 dead Cynthians. Are the city people that weird?
Once I had crossed the Serpentine and the Crawl River I came across the second ambush. Here there was a hand that was more decomposed than the battle that had taken place. This ambush had not happened to long ago. I was close. I started to follow them and as I came very close to them I went through the woods to get ahead of them. I saw a group of about twenty four men and the rest of my people. I saw one group who sounded like they had been hired take most of the horses and go. Another group took the rest of the horses and my people. The last group seemed to be the leaders and were heading toward a rendezvous. I followed the people who were going to the rendezvous.
I followed them to a place where they left two men and their horses. I got off my horse and took care of the two men. I followed the trail the other three men had left to a farm house. They were trying to break in. I could hear a woman inside telling them to go away. I snuck up and took care of the three men. After I had helped the woman tie the men up I went back to get my horse. There was one guy who was up and knocked me out. When I woke up I got my horse and went beck to the farmhouse. I stayed with the woman that night and asked the men some questions. They refused to tell me who they were working for, however I took these badges that they all were wearing
The woman was a farmer with her husband. They had three children. Both the nights I stayed I told them stories from the Cynthian Plains. The second day I loaded up my horse with the stuff from the men and tied them up to go to town. The sheriff, who I guess is the bringer of law in small towns, took them. He didn’t seem to mind after I told him who they had been attacking. I sold my stuff to the shopkeeper, the person who distributes what people need if they have these coin things, and went on my way to Wickshine’s Inn the place where the rendezvous was to take place. I had received instructions on how to get there from the sheriff.
November 30, 2012 16:53
Today we have decided to go down the river to investigate Barius’s activates in a trading post near the cynthain plains. The trip down was ok we encountered a few storms and fierce winds that Aliella took full advantage of to practice her acrobatics and to goad her demon she calls a god into reminding her of his power.
When we arrived at the Cynthian Outpost, we disembarked to take care of business. However, we were tailed. I did not know how the others were doing with their tails but once I caught onto mine I reversed the roles and followed him. When he almost saw me and started to draw his crossbow I decided to act and being up on the roof I jumped down on him. The fight was over almost before it began. Unfortunately, the local law showed up and hauled us both to the jail. I, however, looked more innocent when compared to an assassin armed with concealed poisoned weapons and I was released. They also promised to tell me if they discovered anything from him (I highly doubt they will be able to and that I will need to break him.)
It turned out this was rather fortunate as Raganash was being jumped by three assassins himself. Acting swiftly I whipped out one of my bolo’s and threw it at the bandit with the crossbow rendering him incapacitated. Raganash took a stab wound from a sword but was able to send the other two assassins packing. The other one tried to run off but we managed to catch him (it is hard to run away with your hands wrapped around a crossbow.) But luck was against us Fiona who had been too late to help with the fight; spotted another assassin with a crossbow on the rooftops and she yelled DUCK. Then when we dropped to the ground he fired upon the assassin who Ragaonash had covered himself with.
That, however, was not the worst of it Raganash Volthar was rapidly growing sicker as if the wound was more serious then it looked with the help of Fiona we were able to get a message to Aliella that she needed to return to the boat. Between her skills and Fiona’s they were able to put Raganash Volthar back together. In the morning Lierin and I went to visit with the sheriff to see if they had broken the assassin (Lierin went along both because of the assassin’s and because I think she wanted to get off the boat for a little while). After trying a good cop cute cop routine (which as I suspected it would failed to break him) I suggested to Lierin that it might be a good idea to distract the guard on duty so that I could do my own interrogation after probing his mind I decided to ask him about the man who he kept thinking of. After realizing that I was in his head he decided to tell me everything including that that person was an master assassin.
With all the knowledge I needed from him we (Lierin, Raganash Volthar, and I) then began to hunt a master assassin (perhaps not the wisest course of action but it was a necessity). I had trapped him within his mind but he broke free. However, we were able to hunt him down and Lierin and Raganash Volthar took him down and then we high tailed it to the boat. The sheriff tried to take ownership of our captured prisoner. Lierin pulled rank and we were able to keep him so that I could interrogate him on the way to the suspected ambush site.
When we arrived there we found an empty beach, however, more investigation revealed that it had been some kind of semi-permanent settlement that served as an on/off load point for our boat; which was abandoned after we liberated the boat from Barius. Now after we resupply the boat we will continue down the river to spy on Barius directly. When we stop I intended to broker a deal with the sheriff for the other assassin I apprehended in return for the master assassin.
November 30, 2012 02:16
After I came back from the Cynthian Plains I told my friends what happened to me. Turns out Aliella had gone on a pilgrimage (maybe she will stop saying “I want to go on a pilgrimage down the Mad River!” Only she would want to go where there was a plague that was most likely caused by Barius, may Cynthia curse him for forever pain after I kill him) and also had dreams that were sent by her gods, what she calls the Old Gods, who actually exist. Now instead of being a four year old with nothing to do she is a four year old with to much to do. At least she isn’t so over dramatic, or what she keeps saying that we all might die, which I suppose is true, but you don’t have to say it every single day.
So the Prince wishes for us to help Colvin get two of the groups of bandits who want to become Elweir’s allies. We are going to the Symkin Lakes to take a fort from one group of bandits and turn it over to one of our new allies. I am exceptionally pleased that we are doing this, since Cynthia told me that Jackob would be there. So Aliella bought our supplies for the trip,and we have a company of the Prince’s Guard to help us.
We make camp far enough away from the camp not to be seen. I snuck up to where I could see the fort. I also ran into by friend the Shambling Mound. I asked him a few questions about the fort and what he had seen. From what I knew Jackob wasn’t in the fort. The next night we stormed the fort. Darkarus, Lierin and I climbed the walls and took out the guards. We then captured all the bandits. Most of them were sleeping. We asked them a couple questions about this mysterious barge that was crewed by skeletons. Turns out it was only a few days until it was supposed to show up.
The day the barge was supposed to show up we made it look as normal as possible. With some well aimed shots the Garrick (Status : Dead) who was controlling the skeletons died. All we had to do was round up the rest of them. There was however something different about this barge. There was a second one full of skeletons, who according to Darkarus after he burned them where very dangerous.In the first barge in the hold was him…Jackob, the love of my life found at last. There were a few others from my tribe, but three of them were weird. Darkarus said that they were the dead walking (explains the missing bodies and the very decomposed hand) when asked what I would like to do with them I said to destroy them. They had lived their lives, now it was time for them to go back to Cynthia. Jackob had not said anything and hadn’t even recognized me. While they had been under a mental control and drugged so it was understandable.
After we gave Harry, our new ally, his fort we set back to Elweir. As we went the Cynthians started to recover more. However they were hardly back to what they had been. When we got back to town we reported to the Prince. Lierin did most of the talking, however Aliella kept interrupting her and the Prince(I got that he is very important, but still don’t get a leader of leaders. Oh well it is their government.)
As the Cynthians, well, grew up mentally I brought them to the stables to help the stable hands. I couldn’t control over two handfuls of child like adults at once. They didn’t mind and had lots of fun. Eventually Jackob started to remember who he was. When he became a “teenager” he became very weird around me, like we had been when we were younger. Finally when the Cynthians had reached their real mentally level I sent them home, except for Jackob. He was very useful when Aliella became a child for real, but that is another story for another time.
November 28, 2012 21:45
Slayer of Women
(and moving house … again!)
We got back from the rescue of Sir Alon and found out we’d missed a few developments. Some group calling itself “Black Shield” was taking over in Lowtown and, with help from the weasel of an agent who tried to feed us to the Carrion Crawler in the basement, was pressuring us to play nice with them … to the loss of our profits. Aliella looked into that (when she wasn’t chasing Dr. Itu around all moony-eyed) and decided we’d be better off moving. Somehow, Fiona (who can’t read) and Ardel (who can read a little) ended up with the task of finding us a new place. Amazingly, they found a place in Uphill West that would work. Fiona thought the big room on the second floor perfect because “we can all sleep in one room like a proper family!” Yeah … right. We partitioned things up a bit. Darkarus ended up with his own space and Fiona, Aliella, and I are sharing one big room. Raganash still has the basement. The staff has rooms on the main floor … and we can take in a tenant or two from time to time. It’ll work.
In the meantime, we also discovered from the gazette that the “Slayer of Women” was still at large. There had been a gruesome murder or two right before the Revels … and another one (involving a young lady from the Fifty whom I’d seen at a ball) before we left to aid Sir Alon. There had been a number while we were gone and the frequency was picking up.
So is the frequency of balls. Colvin and I were eating together when I returned … and he invited me to another one … which means I need more ball dresses (and another shopping trip with Aliella). More importantly, while we were eating and I was sharing the story of the rescue of Sir Alon, Colvin (astonished that we’d actually seen Uruk-hai) also let it slip that the sword he’d given me is his great-grandfather. (Oh ye gods! I had no idea!!! The man is indeed quite serious about me – not that I’m complaining.) Good thing I had another one for him. I’d already given him the first of the two ceremonial swords I picked up at Simkin Lake. Now he has the second.
But he and the others of the Guard are no closer to solving the slayer of women situation. And – back to the ball again – I agreed to go with him only if he promised that he would not allow Dr. Itu to have more than one turn with me on the dance floor and that under no circumstances would he permit Dr. Itu to take me out of his sight. That man’s overwhelming charm gives me the creeps – and that Aliella is so starry-eyed over him only adds to the overall creepy effect.
I got dresses; we did the ball. Nothing happened. Another woman was found brutally murdered. The frequency is getting up to one a night.
Darkarus has been doing stake outs since we came back. The next time, he wanted to borrow my spyglass. Does he know how to work it? No, he does not. (You want my spyglass; you get me – that’s the deal.) So I went along with him and as we were waiting, I helped him learn to work it. He’d been able to figure out the women were being killed somewhere other than where the bodies were left. A pattern was emerging that suggested the killer was bringing the bodies to the dumping sites through the sewers. By this time, Darkarus had narrowed down the possibilities to two places where the killer would be likely to exit the sewer with a body. He watched one of them and I watched the other. Darkarus had my spyglass … and I was the one who “got lucky.” The killer came up the manhole I was watching. As I followed his progress from behind a fence, something I bumped caused him to stop and look around for the source. I made a sound like a cat … and heard a muttered “damn cats” in a vaguely familiar voice. After I saw him with the body, I gave Darkarus the signal. He followed the killer back down the sewer … which was very foolish of him (especially since he had my spyglass on him).
When he didn’t show up the next day – and it was looking like Dr. Itu was the killer, we launched a plan of action. Aliella, who was now as sour on Itu as she had been over the moon (since he’d swiftly and viciously killed a would-be attacker right in front of her), went to see him with Fiona to create a diversion so Raganash and I could get in and see if we could find (and free – if still possible) Darkarus. It wasn’t easy I heard later, but Aliella managed to distract the bad doctor. We found Darkarus … who was alive and by that time had thoroughly perused a journal recording all of Itu’s crimes. I managed to slip out with the journal and ran to Colvin with it. After quickly paging through the thing and seeing the depth of Itu’s sickness, he rounded up a squad and summoned the magistrate. I led them back to Itu’s place and helped them find the sewer entrances to cut off Itu’s possible escape routes. Itu was captured and tried to creep us out. But the killings have stopped.
I think we’re all breathing a little easier now. Aliella was apparently trying to get books, herbs, and other goodies out of Itu’s office-residence, but that didn’t work out too well. It has worked out better for her to try to continue the clinic Itu started in Lowtown. But most of all, I’m free to enjoy the balls again.
November 28, 2012 21:33
For Our Teacher
Just when life seemed to be settling into something that might be considered normal, Ergal, Sir Alon Mendor’s squire, was found half-dead on the doorstep of our tavern one morning. When the pair had passed through Elweir before the revels, Sir Alon mentioned they were going out to discover why villages were disappearing on the frontier along the Nylsen Forest. When Ergal regained some measure of consciousness, he was muttering something about Sir Alon needing help and having told him to press on until he’d found some. Fiona was the one who found Ergal on her way out to the stables … and when she went out, she found Ergal’s horse had been left there in no better shape than the squire was. They’d come a long way – and come hard and fast.
As Ergal recovered a bit, he was able to tell us more. A band of Uruk-hai had attacked the village where they were. As Sir Alon prepared to defend the villagers, he sent Ergal to summon help from the lord of the local manor. This lord, however, refused to do anything to help. When the local lord refused, Ergal continued on to find Aliella and me. It was a long way to come to get help – and there was no further word on what had happened after Sir Alon engaged the Uruk-hai in combat. So Aliella and I persuaded the rest that we needed to go and try to help … or at least discover what had happened. We wanted to leave Ergal behind, but he insisted on coming. Fiona insisted his horse had to stay. But we have an extra thanks to that one I took when we stole back the shipment for the Arcane Beaker.
Traveling at a brisk pace, we reached the estate of the lord from whom Ergal first requested help. Although this lord did allow us to overnight at his manor, he provided no further assistance to us. So we pressed on the next day to discover what had happened. The village had been completely leveled to the ground – almost nothing remained. However, the path trodden by all the residents of the village and the force that obliterated it was obvious and easy to follow. It led to a clearing in which all the men of the village had been slaughtered and many of the items taken from the village had been discarded. I looked through the bodies but did not find Sir Alon, which was only a bit of a relief because I did find his sword and shield among the items that had been left there.
Following the trail after that was a bit more difficult, but still quite possible. It led us to a village of the Uruk-hai. As we observed the village, we noticed there were two barred enclosures. Sir Alon was kept by himself in one of them. The other was home to the women of the village and their children. Although the women were taken out during the day (apparently to work in the fields, prepare the food, and so forth), the children were left in the enclosure (apparently to ensure the women would not try to escape). In the evenings, after the women had been returned to their enclosure, Sir Alon was taken out of his. We didn’t know where he was taken; however, when he returned he was obviously battered. After that, some of the women were taken away; their dazed and confused expressions when they return pointed to the use to which they were put at night. (Sir Alon later informed us that his nightly battering was something of a training exercise for the Uruk-hai warriors.)
Once we understood the pattern of Uruk-hai village life, we devised a plan for rescuing Sir Alon and the other captives. Aliella suggested smuggling some herbs to the women which they could put into the food, herbs that would cause drowsiness and gastric disturbances. Fiona helped her locate the desired herbs. Darkarus smuggled the herbs to Sir Alon who passed them to the women and explained what to do. I think Fiona also enlisted Darkarus’ help in getting a message to her Cynthian tribe, asking them to come to our aid. In the meantime, we set such false trails and traps as we could arrange.
Once the herbs had taken effect on the Uruk-hai, we slipped into the village and freed Sir Alon and the others. We set off as fast as we could manage toward the place where Fiona’s tribe was coming to meet us on the east edge of the forest. Our efforts did much to slow the Uruk-hai – but not completely … and not nearly enough. A horde of warriors (maybe 100 or so) and two chieftains followed us into a river ravine. In that ravine, we found a narrow chokehold in which we prepared to make a stand. A few warriors from Fiona’s tribe surprised us there and explained that the rest of the tribe was up on the ridge. With their help, we were able to rig some ropes so the children and the women could climb out of the ravine and be protected by the rest of the Cynthian tribe. We set a trip line along the river and chose our positions. Before we dispersed to face the Uruk-hai, Sir Alon prayed and blessed us. It did help.
Sir Alon, Raganash, and an Amyklai fighter who came with the Cynthians prepared to engage the onrushing Uruk-hai with their weapons. Darkarus was to try to divert some of the horde. Fiona and the remaining Cynthian warriors fired arrows from further back. Aliella and I were up on the embankment so we could jump in (or push things down, in her case) once combat began in earnest.
Darkarus must have been successful because some of the horde did turn back, apparently to find a way out of the ravine and up on the ridge. Fiona and the other Cynthian riders fired away with their arrows as the rest of the tribe made occasional shooting passes up on the ridge. Once the chieftains came charging up the river to engage Sir Alon, I jumped into the fray as well.
Apparently, the Uruk-hai’s primary defense is his mean, ugly look. The regular warriors were fairly easy to put down. Their chieftains, however, were another matter. Sir Alon fought them valiantly (and they seemed unwilling to engage anyone but him). I protected his back from the rest of the horde along with Raganash and others in the thick of things. At some point, Aliella did manage to push a rather large boulder down into the horde. Something else seemed to happen around where she was, but between the Uruk-hai and the tree I was fighting under, I really couldn’t see what it was. But whatever it was definitely disturbed her; that was evident enough in the aftermath. Once the chieftains were felled by Darkarus’ blade, the messy affair was brought to a swift end. It would seem that a sizeable dent has been made in the Uruk-hai population and they should not be troubling the periphery of the Nylsen Forest within the foreseeable future.
For Fiona’s sake, her tribe sheltered us while Sir Alon went to find his squire and our horses where we left them when we entered the forest and to then arrange barge transit back to Elweir. The Cynthian tribe agreed to take in the women and their children and help them to rebuild their lives. Much to my surprise, Fiona introduced me to her mother as her sister and I was permitted to join in some of the family rituals grieving the death of her brother. Fiona’s people made a lot of fuss over my hair, which was kind of weird. But for the most part, it was a relaxing, healing time while we waited to get back to Elweir.
I did leave a note for Colvin when we left, in case he called for me while I was away … and when Sir Alon offered to send messages on ahead while he made arrangements for the barge, I sent a longer note with more explanation because by that point I was rather certain he’d be wondering about my whereabouts. It’s nice to be missed ….
November 28, 2012 21:18
This looks like … A Job for Us
Darkarus mentioned … back before the revels, I think … that he had someone who wanted to talk to all of us about a possible job. Apparently something in the gazette caught Darkarus’ fancy as work he could do. But when he made contact with the person responsible for the notice, he was told he could not do it alone. Whoever it was would be willing to meet with us and discuss the matter after the Revels had ended. I’d almost forgotten until the chief steward of the Uril household showed up at our place with quite an entourage.
The company included none other than Branda Uril of Gold’s Reside. (I’d encountered her briefly when I was recently at a ball with Colvin.) She was looking for someone to find out what circumstances led to the death of her son, Tiran, around the time of the late prince’s tragic hunting accident. This was years ago and would likely require a fair amount of delicacy in investigating since there were potential political complications (which would be why Darkarus needed help as he has very limited political connections in Elweir and is seriously lacking in delicacy). This old case was being brought to new light because a cousin of the family had recently been found in hiding. This cousin had disclosed to Branda that Tiran had heard some hint of a plot against the prince shortly before he died and the cousin was convinced this hint had led to Tiran’s murder …which is why the cousin fled from Elweir. The apparent cause of Tiran’s death was as mysterious as it was clear. Tiran was accused of murdering a merchant from Gibberish in Lowtown in the middle of the night. He was executed on the spot by Magistrate Malick Rotwell (yeah, the self same nasty piece of work that took off Raganash’s hand). This swift execution was deemed unusual only in that, had the magistrate waited, he would have received some substantial bribe. Although Tiran was known to be a frequent user of illicit substances, murder was not consistent with his character (and that a merchant of Gibberish should happen to be in Lowtown at night – with money – was an even more bizarre element of the whole story).
The recently returned cousin informed us that Tiran had overheard the troublesome hint at the Colorful Smoke and that the party he had overheard went by the name “the Protectors of Elweir.” One thing I’d picked up on when I was at that ball in Gold’s Reside was that there is some tension between supporters of Duke Coeur (who wants to annex Elweir into his duchy) and supporters of the free-city status quo under Prince Summerset. In a further conversation, Colvin was most helpful in providing the details of the hunting accident that claimed the life of Prince Summerset’s father. The late prince had taken a position where it was difficult for him to be seen by other members of his party. Three of the men hunting with him shot him with their arrows – Lord Drake Saltbraid, Lord Sandover Reed, and Magistrate Lustshine. Each took responsibility for his action and all professed it was an accident. Colvin, who had been present at the time, acknowledged that the claim the shootings had been accidental was quite plausible, given the situation. Colvin also told me that although Tiran was from a fine family, he did suffer from an addiction to illicit smoking products. To his credit, Colvin did not fault Madame Uril at all and saw it as due to a lack of paternal influence due to the untimely death of Tiran’s father. The issue of Tiran’s addiction may have been why he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time so that he overheard the plotting of to so-called Protectors of Elweir. It certainly would have undermined his own credibility as a witness had he even tried to report to anyone what he’d heard.
Through his own contacts at the Colorful Smoke, Darkarus learned that these three men had a long-standing habit of meeting once a week in a private room at that shop. However, getting into that room while they were in there would be very difficult. Darkarus had an idea that might work, but there was no other option if it didn’t … not to mention absolutely no back-up plan if it went very badly and he were discovered spying. So Aliella and I agreed to go as back up. If he weren’t able to find out who were the Protectors of Elweir, we would accidentally stumble into the room as a couple of intoxicated sillies looking for the loo.
To further help in the pretense, we enlisted the Shury Brothers (who happened to be passing through Elweir) to accompany us. (I also found out the Brass Bowl is their local contact point for their illicit substance trade.) The four of us went to the Colorful Smoke a short time after Darkarus had entered the shop. While we waited, we enjoyed a glass of wine and some cigars Darkarus had recommended. (He has okay taste, but I wouldn’t make a habit of any of this … including the company!) When Darkarus showed he had been successful in his efforts, we left shortly after he did.
Back at our own tavern, Darkarus reported that he had been able to listen in on their conversation and he discovered that there was a signed agreement about the assassination which was in the possession of the son of Duke Lothar Coeur who resides in Little Romnel. That document, were it ever revealed, would prove the assassins’ guilt. The so-called “Protectors of Elweir” were none other than Lord Drake Saltbraid, Lord Sandover Reed, and Magistrate Lustshine – the same members of the late prince’s hunting party who had accidentally (on purpose) shot his highness. To further increase the risks for everyone involved, Darkarus had also learned that the three men were aware of the Uril Cousin’s return and that Branda Uril had people looking into the matter of her son’s death … and they discussed how they’d had him killed to keep him from talking about what he’d heard. The longer we sat on this information, the more likely they’d start picking us all off. Raganash knew of someone in town who would likely be able to procure the agreement for us. Who that person was and how he did it, I have no idea (and I’m not sure I want to!). But this mystery person did obtain the document and delivered it to us. Knowing the assassins were aware of the Uril family’s interest in this matter, we did not give the document to the household steward when he came for his regular appointment at our tavern. We let him know that we had it … and that we would deliver it to Madame Uril. I was quite certain he was being watched and would likely be ambushed if the “protectors” had a chance.
I doubt Aliella ever wondered why I took it my head soon after the Revels to go shopping for a day dress. We were going shopping and that’s all that mattered to her. However, it was for just such an occasion as this. In that dress, I could pass as a lady from Gold’s Reside. Aliella dressed as my maid and Fiona passed as a guard along with the men folk. With the pass Madame Uril had entrusted to me, we slipped into Gold’s Reside within the usual flow of traffic.
Madame Uril was stunned, yet satisfied, by the contents of the document we delivered to her. At long last she knew that her son had been framed for the murder as an excuse to kill him – and why this had been done. She had the document delivered to Prince Summerset and the next day we were all assembled, along with the conspirators, for an audience with the prince. Colvin and a couple other members of the Prince’s Guard came to escort us to the palace … and Colvin was looking at me like he’d never quite seen before. He asked “What did you do?” and I grumbled something about “I’m wearing a dress.” (I really wish he wouldn’t do that!)
Having already reviewed the documents and the information that Madame Uril had obtained from her nephew and through us, Prince Summerset was ready to issue his judgments. Because of their rank and status, he declined to have his father’s assassins summarily executed. Instead he opted for in-house confinement to prevent any further conspiring or ability to take such actions. Magistrate Rotwell was allowed to remain in his position because he was a good enforcer, which Lowtown seems to require, and because there was no evidence he was directly connected with the plot. Even less clear was whether or not he knew he was being used to eliminate an inconvenient witness. We were given significant rewards for our efforts – royal pardons (one of which we needed later for the tax on the load we brought back from Simkin Lake), free transit on the Uril’s barge (should we need it) and I was allowed to keep the pass to enter Gold’s Reside.
Apparently, Malick Rotwell was given some additional instructions about his past conduct and guidance for improvement going forward. He came into our tavern again and apologized for the previous incident. Raganash just smiled and waved at him … and, regarding the magistrate with a completely baffled look, I said “What incident?” He quickly fumbled his way back out the door.
Perhaps all is well that ends so well….
November 28, 2012 20:49
Revelations & Revels
A Blast from the Past
We had only just arrived back from the treasure hunting escapade, when local Magistrate Malik Rotwell decided to come by the tavern and collect his tax levy in the form of a free meal. Of course, he didn’t announce himself … nor did he say anything in advance about expecting to have his choice of the menu selections gratis as collection of our taxes. He ordered. He ate the food he was served. He stood up to leave, not having yet paid, and announced he had collected our taxes. At that point, none of us knew who he was. But we were about to find out.
Raganash treated him as he would any other patron who tried to leave without paying, confronting him at the door. The magistrate took it as a challenge to a duel and they went outside. Last time I tried to stop Raganash, he took a hefty swing at me and I wasn’t of a mind to intervene in this one. I just stood in the doorway to keep what was outside from spilling back inside. It was probably a good thing. Almost too fast to see, the magistrate whipped out his sword and cut off Raganash’s hand. It took all the self-control I possess to get help putting pressure on the bleeding and collect the severed hand. It didn’t seem right to just leave it lying out there.
We bundled Raganash inside and up the stairs. Fiona and Aliella joined the group. Once we got Raganash and the hand upstairs, I let them do what they could and went downstairs to see about hot water and some linens to tear for bandages. Apparently I missed the miracle. According to Fiona, Aliella started chanting and held Raganash’s hand up to his arm and somehow, they rejoined and healed.
Raganash fled to his room in the cellar. We tried over the course of the next several days to get him to come out – or let one of us in – so we could check on his arm and hand. He stubbornly refused. Ever since our encounter with the Shambling Mound, he’s been saying Fiona is “half-mound” and has been somewhat wary of her. It’s also clear he has suspicions when it comes to Darkarus (but then don’t we all?). So now that Aliella has done this miraculous thing … maybe he’s steering clear of all of them. On a hunch, I chased them all out of the place one morning and pounded on the cellar door. I told him everyone else was gone and that I needed to look at his hand to see how it was healing. He agreed. His hand looked like nothing had happened to it. He was willing to show me the various designs he’s been drawing and talk about his ideas on sword crafting. It sounded like he was doing as well in mind and spirits as his body seemed to be doing, so I let him be.
The next day, who should suddenly appear but my former mentor, Sir Alon Mendor and his squire of the year, Ergol. A year or so ago, I might have been delighted to see Sir Mendor. After all, he was the one who showed me wider possibilities than I might otherwise have imagined. I doubt I’ll ever forget how we first met. The barbarian incursions were particularly bad that season and it was the first time my youngest brother was permitted to go out with our forces. My mother and I were at home with the household and a few older men-at-arms to defend the place. A party of barbarians managed to get through my father’s line. They reached the estate and were coming into the manor itself. As I hurried up the main stairs with my mother while the barbarians were bursting through the door, I saw the ropes used for maneuvering the chandelier so the candles could be replaced and lit. I suppose it was fear-induced insanity that moved me to secure the rope around the railing, grab a sword and swing down. I cut two of the barbarians through the mid-section as my father and brothers came inside, accompanied by a knight I’d never seen before. The scene sort of froze for a moment … except for me, still swaying on the rope. My brothers’ jaws were all gaping open; my father looked surprised … maybe a mix of being startled and impressed. After he’d surveyed the scene for a moment, the stranger turned to my father and said, “Actually, I think it should be her.”
That was Sir Alon Mendor. I had no idea what he was talking about at the time – but I was about to find out. He and my father told my mother that I was being offered a position in his school, a finishing school … which it was … sort of. It certainly did refine my manners a bit (even though I try not to let my mother know that) and teach me even more about how to conduct myself in social situations – lots of different social situations, not just at court. But I knew there was going to be a lot more to it than just a finishing school for ladies when my Uncle Ansel, our family fencing master, gave me an early present of my rapier and main gauche, telling me he was giving them to me because I really was the best of the class and that he was thrilled I was given this opportunity.
Suffice it to say I learned a lot under Sir Alon’s tutelage. And I acquired a number of important connections. However, that network of connections had a hand in the unfortunate arrangement that all but forced me to leave home and come to Elweir. So I was not happy to see anyone connected to that awful situation here at all – certainly not in my place.
Seeing him come in, unannounced and unexpected, was surprising enough – but that was not the biggest surprise of his visit. The biggest surprise was that he greeted Aliella as well as me. It turns out she studied with him, too – not that you’d ever guess it the way she acts around combat … or her complete inability to pull watch duty. He invited both of us to join him for a private conversation and Aliella (un)helpfully suggested the common area upstairs.
It was quite clear early in the conversation that she’d been ratting on me to someone in that network for some time. I was furious with her! It did not escape Sir Alon’s notice that I was none too pleased with him, either. He asked why – and I reminded him of the unacceptable arrangement made on my behalf and that they had a role in that. He informed me that he hadn’t been involved in that one and personally considered that arrangement to be a waste of good talent. Well, that softened my attitude toward him considerably.
Then Aliella proceeded to tell him about Colvin – emphasizing the romantic possibilities. I pointed out the potential usefulness of the connection … and then brought up her relationship with Dr. Itu. (She’s been making time with him ever since the incident with Raganash and the magistrate … and oh yeah, Colvin told me more about Malick and warned me to never cross swords with him – as if! Anyway, Aliella’s attitude about Dr. Itu has been softening considerably over the last few days. She’s been going to visit him and help at the Lowtown clinic every chance she gets.) Sir Alon asked what the issue with Dr. Itu is. Before I could respond, Aliella went all dreamy about him. So I just looked at Sir Alon, nodded toward Aliella, and said, “That.”
Sir Alon was very pleased that I’ve been practicing with the Prince’s Guard – and he was very displeased that Aliella had not been practicing at all. He reminded her of that “special room” back at the school. I asked how many times he’d had to put her in it; he only said, “More times than we did you” … which isn’t saying a whole lot since I was only in there once. I came within inches of running the man they put me in there with through with my rapier and they never put me in there again. Then Sir Alon essentially forced her to agree to a practice session the next morning in the alley behind the tavern.
So the next morning, Raganash and I watched them go at it from the upstairs windows. We were even openly betting on how things would go between them. It serves her right for ratting on me like she did – and bringing up my relationship with Colvin. Sir Alon did have to chase her around quite a bit. But eventually she did manage some solid work with her quarterstaff. It was worth every copper I lost to Raganash.
Sir Alon and Ergol left the next day. Villages on the frontier at the edge of the Nylsen Forest have been disappearing and they were going to investigate. Fiona also left. She had no desire to remain in Elweir during the Revels, so she was heading out into nature for the duration of the festivities. Darkarus mentioned something about someone was going to come to talk to us about some sort of job once the Revels had ended.
Aliella wouldn’t have missed the Revels for the world. She did some shows here and some back at the Abyzinian Night. She even hired someone else to entertain here when she was there … and then she got involved in his knife throwing act at one point. It was crazy. In many ways it was a lot like the fall in-gathering back home. Lots of people come to the estate to bring in the harvest and other provisions and store them for the winter. As good hosts, we would feed the workers, serving alongside the usual servants … and it is something of a celebration as well … and with enough drink people start to forget who the noble family is and who the help is. Knowing how to deliver a solid, well-deserved slap came in handy back then and it did again here during the Revels. But sometimes that wasn’t enough. I think every table in the dining area now has at least one gouge from my dagger. I missed the hand every time – just like I meant to do. We did make a good profit from all of it, and now it’s over so maybe life can get back to normal … whatever that is.
Did Darkarus say something about someone coming to talk to us about a possible job when the Revels were over?
October 25, 2012 04:05
September 20, 2012 11:54
An Ex-Summer Place
Shambling Mound … Wargs … What’s Not to Like?
Darkarus had been hired to do a job – and we could help. He’d been asked to go to a place where many of The Fifty of Elweir once had summer homes. Although they had long since abandoned those summer homes, a cache of treasure had been left behind. The reason for abandonment had something to do with reports of “berserker wolves’ in the area. Darkarus’ employer wanted four specific items from the treasure. All the remaining items would belong Darkarus … and anyone he engaged to help him. Aside from the four specific items the employer wanted, Darkarus had been informed of a number of other valuable items in the collection. Just like everyone else in the group, I agreed to go … mostly because I didn’t have anything better to do. (Note to self: I need to find better things to do.)
Of course we’d need supplies for this adventure, so of course, Aliella flew into action. In addition to the usual food, ropes, and things like that we would need pack mules. Assuming we did find the treasure and it was as extensive as described, yes, then we would need pack animals. But in any case, it would be impossible to find mules or anything else once we got to where it was we were going. Plus, pack mules would allow Aliella to take her pavilion. The journey would not take too long and it would be a good test of the abilities of our staff (such as it is) to manage things in our absence. Packed up and ready to go, we headed out.
We didn’t meet with any trouble until the night we camped close to where the summer homes had been and the treasure was supposed to be. At some point fairly early in the night, there was a strange noise like nothing I’d heard before. Raganash and Fiona were up and about; I was on the wrong side of the pavilion to see what was happening. By the time I caught up with them, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at or what was going on. There was this … thing … that looked like a small hill had detached itself from the ground and started walking around on its own. Maybe Raganash had whacked it with his act and the … thing … had hit back (somehow). I wasn’t sure. Fiona was speaking to it in her own language, so I didn’t know what she was saying … but it seemed to be listening to her. Then Raganash made another lunge for the thing. Hesitation seemed a more appropriate course of action to me, so I put out my blade and tripped him. He thanked me by taking a swing at my legs. But Fiona was able to calm the situation. The thing is a shambling mound and meant us no harm … so long as we did not seek to harm it. I think Fiona and the mound stayed up talking all night; the rest of us went back to sleep.
The next day we found the spot Darkarus was seeking. He and Raganash and Fiona all went down into the ruins to find the treasures while Aliella and I kept watch on things in the area. Nothing happened where we were. I’m not sure what all happened down in the ruins, but Raganash came out with all kinds of ideas for traps and gizmos. Darkarus found the treasures and we hauled them out. After we brought the loot back to camp, Fiona went hunting and shot a deer. I was about to start work on cooking it when her mound friend returned. Fiona explained that the mound was warning us there had been Wargs in the area and was suggesting we go over to its place. Raganash, Darkarus, and Aliella started arguing about whether or not to go. I grabbed the deer, threw it over my horse, then jumped up behind and said, “If you want dinner, I’ll be over at the mounds.” That settled things. During the night we did hear some howls from the direction where our camp had been.
Nothing more exciting happened until we were returning to Elweir. Apparently anyone who brings any amount of goods into Elweir has to pay tax on those goods. Darkarus did not think to also get compensation for this from whoever hired him. Somehow, I don’t know how, he and Aliella managed to have the whole cache pretty much overlooked. We’ll see how this plays out, but I’ve got a bad feeling about it …
Darkarus took the requested items back to the person who hired him. We dived up the rest of the goods. I ended up with a silver ewer, a spy glass, and two silver, ceremonial swords. The spy glass is definitely useful; I just need more practice with it. Having the ewer in my room reminds me I really am a lady; it’s good to have a little something nice. As for the swords, I know what I’m going to do with them. I can give back as good as I get … maybe a little better.