Back on the ship. I kept examining the Conquerors board, the one the Captain uses to play his game. If I could figure out the pattern, I knew I would be able to understand what was going on.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance. One moment, the mist was descending upon the ship like normal, and the next….
They were here. The Lady Luck. They descended on ropes down to the ship, Maith and Ari and the others and——
And my heart stopped. I think I knocked the board over. I think I might have gasped. I know I lost my composure. Because that’s not supposed to happen; the lives aren’t supposed to collide; they’re not, they’re not. How do I know who to be in that case? Taesaria the alchemist? Tirynna the pirate?
They’re my people, not Taesaria’s; that I does not fit with them. The only thought in my head was FUCK FUCK FUCK.
Because they were trying to take the ship. They were trying to take the ship, like we’ve taken hundreds of others, and I knew Taesaria’s group would not react well to that. They’d kill them. Maith
(still playing the fool, I see, dear) and Ari with her jokes and good nature, and Kanos with his sharp-edged dignity and quiet chuckle— Or the crew would kill them, Garreth and Deth and Cedric if they fought (they would, I knew they would)—not Jaela; she’s a child, perhaps not Anna, and not me if I yielded (and what then, be a prisoner on your own damn ship, a stranger among friends unknowing?)
The Captain almost blew the ship up. I talked him out of it, asked him to let me negotiate with them. Thank the gods, he listened. May fortune smile on his endeavors. And I talked to Maith. It felt wrong; I was not the right I, but still I talked. I told him Tirynna and I are blood-bound. It’s true enough; our blood is the same, after all. He agreed to leave the ship in peace in exchange for the Captain not destroying the Luck.
He agreed, and he left.
Went to have a bath. Needed to think. I kept changing back and forth in there, Taesaria to Tirynna and back again. Focus focus focus (How did this happen? You were supposed to be shells. Always shells, only shells, guarding Taz from harm. You are who the situation requires you to be, remember? You were meant to be shells, and Taz Mai of the Heart was the deepest layer, never surfacing. What was that old saying about masks?)
I was interrupted by a knock on the door. It was Garreth. I made sure I was Taesaria all over again, and answered. He’d brought wine, and he wanted to talk. He asked if I was all right. Told him Taesaria’s truth, that she and Tirynna were bonded to one another. I confessed that I did not know which side I would have taken had it come to fighting. Then I confessed that I did know. He said that he wouldn’t have wanted to kill me, which I find reassuring. I managed to move the conversation off of me. We spoke of Deth. Garreth claims that Deth “belongs to him” thanks to the fact that he’d almost killed him in the Dreamlands: the crab creature, before we knew his identity. (I’d forgotten that, forgotten it was Deth.) He trusts Deth to do what he says, which is reassuring. (Assuming Garreth himself can be trusted. He does seem to be genuine.) One usefulness point to Garreth for sharing information. Also one entertainment point for bath, wine, and food.
We arrived at the port city in Arenal, Pylas Talaear. Had to say goodbye to the Captain. It was most distressing; he’s one of the most interesting individuals I’ve ever encountered. Garreth and I each gave him a kiss in parting. He seemed surprised, but not displeased.
When Anna brought out the carriage, it looked much different than before. She’d altered part of it to be more like a chariot. It’s quite an interesting design. We talked schematics for awhile; she has some fascinating ideas on mechanizing the carriage. I gave her some suggestions. One usefulness point to Anna. Sold necklaces for 75 gold.
We all reconvened at an inn by the name of the Dancing Dryad. Cedric and Deth reported that the madstone they’re seeking is most likely in the town of Shae Cairdal. They also seemed interested in visiting the library there. The problem is, this is Arenal. Tribal elves don’t like outsiders—besides this city, they’re completely barred from the island. They don’t even like non-Arenal elves like Taesaria, so that wasn’t going to be much help.
Cedric wanted to set out right away and try to find a way to get to Shae Cairdal. I saw the look on Garreth’s face when he suggested it. No way that man was going to go another day without killing something. Deth seemed to notice it too; he convinced Cedric that we needed to stay the night here to prepare. One usefulness point to Deth.
Hell, I wasn’t complaining. Meant that we all got to go drinking while Garreth did his thing, and I even found someone pretty. :D One entertainment point to Zila of the lovely hair. Been awhile since I’ve been with a woman as a woman. The night passed quite pleasantly for both of us.
Morning. Prepared: One (1) extract of bomber’s eye. One (1) block seed potion. One (1) dexterity enhancement mutagen. I’ve had the recipe for awhile, but never got around to trying it. I decided that today would be the test.
Garreth seemed much more cheerful today; it would appear that he’s taken care of his problem for the moment. How often does he have to kill? Every week? Every two weeks? Not every day…further research required.
We tried to convince the guards to let us pass, without much success. Fucking Undying and their lack of susceptibility to normal bribes. (I’m sensing a theme here.) No sooner had we looked away from the gate than we spotted a familiar figure in an alley. It was Shel. Holding a baby.
Cedric turned white as paste upon seeing her—honestly, Cedric; it’s only been a week; unless Shel has the gestation period of a fly, that isn’t going to be your child—and Garreth immediately grabbed his ax. Myself, I wanted to know what the hell she was doing here. It couldn’t be coincidence. Following us?
That was as far as I got in my ponderings before Deth shot her.
I thought Ced was going to kill him, straight-up rip out his intestines and strangle him with them. He immediately ran over to heal Shel—apparently he’s forgotten that she tried to kill him and broke his heart—and make sure the baby was all right. (She was babysitting. At least, that’s what she claims. It may have been a ruse to throw us off balance.) Cedric, dear, you have the survival instincts of a five-year-old’s pet gerbil. She fucked you over once—literally—what’s to stop her from doing it again?
She said that she accompanied a pair of elves, a brother and sister, here as their maid. Why here? Why now? Further research required. She was reluctant to give their names (suspicious)…said they were private and preferred to keep to themselves. According to Shel, he said he has business past the Wall. His sister went over for some reason, and for some reason he can’t go look for her himself. He’s also nocturnal. Am I the only person who thinks this setup screams trap?
Cedric wanted to talk to Shel alone. No way in hell I was leaving those two alone again. The last time I did that, Cedric ended up tied to a post over a fire. Hell if I know why he’s still lovelorn over the chick. There are plenty of other women, buddy.
And if it were you? If M- He wouldn’t. End of story. Those two knew each other for a day. Not the same thing at all. Anyway, M is Tirynna’s. So I escorted them around. It was awkward as shit but at least we avoided any problems that way.
We all met up again and went out to dinner while we waited to meet up with Shel’s Mysterious Elf Employer. One entertainment point to Pneu for being a serving wench. She made quite a fetching one. ;-) There was a minimum of conversation while Garreth and Deth stared daggers at Shel while Cedric tried to avoid making eye contact as he glanced at her. I made a game of seeing how many times I could make her flinch. Chewing on the fuse of one of my bombs seemed to have the best effect. Total: Twelve and three quarters. Pneu managed to carry out all of our orders one-handed. One additional entertainment point to Pneu.
Finally headed to the house, which had dark curtains over all the windows. “Nocturnal” indeed. We were introduced to “Master Xavian,” a tall, rather grim-looking elf. Not unattractive, though. The surprise of the day was that Anna knew him. She immediately shouted, “Mr. Grumpy-pants!” and jumped on him. (Isn’t that her doll’s name? He does kind of look like the doll…the hell?)
One usefulness point to Pneu for sneaking into the house without anyone noticing. Xavian said that he and his sister came here to gain access to libraries in the city. He was rather vague about what he wanted to find, simply that he and his sister had an “allergy.” She found a way over that he couldn’t follow, but he knows the point. When I asked him why he couldn’t simply go after his sister himself, he said something about the “rules” not allowing them to enter anywhere without permission. Sounds damned inconvenient if you ask me. His sister apparently got this permission somehow. (Also, she’s the one who gave Anna the doll. Must inquire of Anna later exactly how she knows this woman.) He told us to stick to the perimeter of the city once we were in.
Pneu decided to be provoking and say she had to warn us about something, but not tell us what it was. Thanks, Pneu. You’re such a help.
And so we went over the wall. Xavian brought us up—moving unexpectedly nimbly—while Shel acted as a distraction for the guards. (Maybe she slept with them and then tied them to sacrificial stakes.) (Uncalled for?) (Nah.)
Once we were over the wall, we found ourselves in a jungle illuminated by white light. We hadn’t gotten very far when I noticed a brighter area moving closer. Guards? Sentries? Two things flew off and vanished, and there was something humanoid coming towards us. The prudent course, I judged, was to hide until it was gone.
Unfortunately, it noticed some of the others. (All four of you hid in one spot? Really? What part of that seemed like a good idea?) It headed right for them. It had silvery hair and rasped something about “prey.” Lovely. I couldn’t identify the thing, but it was definitely not friendly.
Once it came closer, I could see that it looked like an emaciated child with light coming out of its eyes and mouth. Wholly unattractive. Anna chucked a smokestick at it. It didn’t seem to like that. I imagined that it wouldn’t like darkness much either, but alas, I had no way to create either. Research note: Make more items to have on reserve in the future. Drank my mutagen and one (1) extract of bomber’s eye and shot it. Excellent! My mutagen is proving to be quite successful. One usefulness point to Deth for excellent shooting.
AND THEN IT HIT ME WHY DOES EVERYTHING ALWAYS HIT ME FUCK THAT HURT. I felt all sick and disgusting and fiery. It was wretched. One usefulness point to Anna for making it hold still. I shot it again, to better effect. I love my new bow. I love the Captain. One usefulness point to Garreth for killing it. Also one usefulness point to Jaela for healing me. And somehow there were six Pneus, which was quite fascinating. One entertainment point to Pneu. It turned out that Deth was BLIND THE ENTIRE TIME HE WAS SHOOTING THAT THING. One additional usefulness point to Deth. Cedric was also blinded during the scuffle.
No sooner had we killed the thing than we were surrounded by guards. Fucking fantastic. If they were going to catch us anyway, I might as well have used my bombs to blow the thing to hell. But the guards didn’t arrest us—in fact, the leader, Councilman Theorin, thanked us for getting rid of that creature. (Not a sentry, then.) It was apparently summoned by some outsider in blue robes who’d been messing around in the library.
Theorin said that since we’d done him a favor, he’d do us a favor and get us into the city and the library. Cedric inquired whether the library would have information on how to prevent someone from dreaming. His eyes flicked to Deth as he asked. Aha. Cedric is trying to protect Deth from his…family? Associates? in the Dreamlands. Has there been a permanent break, then? Perhaps if I cloak my inquires in concern for Deth, he’ll be more forthcoming. Theorin assured us that their blindness would probably be temporary.
He also said that he’d heard of the madstone, and might be able to help us locate it. He had not, however, seen Xavian’s sister. From what I could determine, he was being honest. He told us that he’d talk with the council about the madstone—is it really a good idea for an entire government of xenophobic elves to know we’re after this thing? Am I the only one concerned about this? He offered to give us accommodations and bring us to the library in the morning. Note: Stick close to Deth and Cedric.
Pneu took advantage of Cedric’s blindness to paint “I’m a loud, obnoxious idiot” on the back of his armor. One entertainment point to Pneu.
Day 24: Close call. Could have been worse, all things considered.
Day 25: Interesting.
Money obtained: None.
Loot obtained: None. :-(
Ranking of companions:
Garreth: Usefulness- 2 points. Entertainment value- 1 point.
Pneu: Usefulness- 1 point. Entertainment value- 4 points.
Deth: Usefulness- 3 points.
Anna: Usefulness- 2 points.
Jaela: Usefulness- 1 point.
Zila: Entertainment value- 1 point.
Ranking totals to date:
Garreth: Usefulness- 21 points. Entertainment value- 9 points.
Pneu: Usefulness- 13 points. Entertainment value- 15 points.
Anna: Usefulness- 13 points. Entertainment value- 13 points.
Deth: Usefulness- 15 points. Entertainment value- 10 points.
Cedric: Usefulness- 14 points. Entertainment value- 6 points.
Jaela: Usefulness- 6 points. Entertainment value- 3 points.