Week 2, Day 4
I eventually come to to the sound of my own blood throbbing. My head hurts, and I’m acutely aware of every beat of my heart and the sensation of contact on my skin. I’m under a blanket. It’s daytime. Chance seems to be gone.
Journey is reading, checking the fire every now and then lazily with one eye. The book is blue dyed leather with bright silver along the binding and clasp. I haven’t seen it before. Chance gave it to her so she could learn non-necromantic magic before anyone could ask about her hair. It’s dark, but now that I’ve been with her for a while I can tell she dyes it. She might let it go white once she knows magic that’ll be better received.
It’s colder than yesterday. Eventually we crest a hill and Eaves comes into view. We see Jarsten Goodaxe, Belaryn the Horsemaster, Squelch, and a few armed men. The group leads a chain of horses, most of which I remember from visiting the stables. They wave us down when we get closer and says they thought we died but are glad we didn’t. Belaryn says the horses are going to their proper owner, the Syndic. He tells me about the horses’ bamf-sounding dad. Nilrae would love to be a Disney princess if she could tone down the ultra-violence and crazy-eyes, and Belaryn hints that his wife might let me see their stud if I can prove I respect my elders. They head out with Jarsten and co.
We find the Captain in the Tin Inn where he’s impassively receiving Bulster’s bickering. The brewmaster’s insisting we’re dead and demands compensation for the rooms, and looks up as the sound of our feet and smell of White Eye’s head makes it to them. The Captain’s a bit smug. He takes us back to his house to hear about everything we found. He doesn’t offer a specific bounty for the blobthing but says he’d be in our debt if we could help destroy it.
He plans to tell the witch who will likely want to question us about it. He winces and urges us to not be proactive seeking her out ”She is particular.”
He opens a chest for the bounty and some coin the other villagers pitched in.
Loot: 50W, 800L
The Captain drives White Eye’s head onto a pike planted in the courtyard of the inn. He announces a celebration. I have a drink, but I’m more interested in the horse. Naiv’s more interested in networking and covers for me as I slip out.
Rhuka is still working with one of the stablehands, a Iuzhenk named Aefel, cleaning and doing some maintenance that would’ve been hard with the horses in residence. She’s struggling to raise some lumber up to her younger stable hand. I offer to help and put my 17str to good work. She’s a grateful but a little embarrassed she’s got to have the young ones doing the hard work.
She asks why I’m not at the party and I sheepishly admit my ulterior motives. She says if I finish with the board, she’ll introduce me to Stormfeet. The horse is the gray of roiling clouds in a thunderstorm. His big eyes pass over me appraisingly and he snorts. He sounds unimpressed. For a horse older than me, he seems in surprisingly good health.
The horse seems to understand the conversation, apparently agreeing when Rhuka says she thinks Stormfeet misses traveling, seeming to laugh when I suggest she could take him to Salt. Rhuka lets me give him a carrot to buy time to think about my offer. Stormfeet pretends to attack, but it’s just to see if I’ll flinch. I don’t. The Syndic didn’t either.
Rhuka and her husband used to be adventurers. Belaryn almost died getting a mummy’s sword and Rhuka had a courier service with Stormfeet’s dad. She tries to shoo be back to the party, but I want to stay and hear more stories and help her out. She doesn’t ask twice and shows me her giant list of chores we work through. She cooks a great meal for us and grills me about Salt, and by the end of it, she’s offered me riding lessons. I’ve got 95% ride, but I’m happy to spend more time with this chatty lady.
“Maybe if you prove you won’t break your neck, and keep up this streak of heroics, we can conspire to let one of Stormfeet’s descendants slip free before the Syndic’s buyer shows up again. He seemed to like you.”
I’m so excited to be a fairytale princess on a crazy intelligent warhorse. I head back to the inn with a spring in my step to gush to Naiv, but she’s retired to her room. Several revelers drunkenly ask me where I’ve been. Some are about my age or a little younger and seem interested in keeping me downstairs to hear about my exploits. They’re complaining that Journey was more interested in scrolls she can’t read than us. I agree to drink with them a bit so they don’t feel bad.
The kids seem to be wannabe adventurers. The two main ones are a boy named Athah and a girl named Naryu. I try to convince them to head after the missing governor, who supposedly ran south, because the only one who seems like she’s got experience is Naryu, who also seems a little dumb. Naryu’s also Jarsten’s daughter, and Nilrae’s not interested in letting her get killed. I convince them, but Naryu doesn’t think I have much more experience than she does.
”I’ve been on pirate ships while they were raided by other privateers or official ships. I’ve had a ship nearly capsize under my feet from some sort of sea monster spirit and had to swim to shore in undead infested waters. I was in Glass during and after the Bread Riots and spent a lot of time putting out fires, searching rubble for survivors, and keeping cutthroats away from myself and others. I helped push back a Blighted raid when I was almost fourteen, mercenaried in the Shattered Bay for five years, and I’ve killed Maht in single combat. I don’t remember how many outlaws and highwaymen I’ve seen, but I grew up at the base of a mountain that might house a god of birds and lightning.” She shrugs. “So some experience, yeah.”
Naryu still thinks she could throw me on my ass. She’s Iuzhenk—or at least half with a name like Naryu and her slightly lither build. I demure that I don’t think fighting the steelpriest’s daughter will be a good idea. ”It might undo everything I got from bringing in White Eye’s head in a bag.”
They leave me be so I head up to find Journey. She’s slow to open the door. She’s got the scrolls spread over the table, the other loot shoved to the side. She thinks she could get around 12 grand for the gems and jewelry. When I tell her I think Stormfeet’s sentient, she goes immediately to paranoid plots. The paranoia isn’t enough for her to not want a horse too. “If we’re going to partner together for any length of time, I demand equal representation on the mythic horse front.”
But really, she was just waiting for a lull in the conversation to start talking about her scrolls. She doesn’t know much about them yet, but she’s excited and between them and the grimoire, she’s glad she has time before the Marshfolk need help. She wants to go look at the pillar when we go deal with the blobthing now that my life isn’t on the line.
Glamour hasn’t come to chat yet. Journey mostly just dealt with the loudness of the party and “that Iuzhenk girl’s irritating curiosity.” I tell her Naryu tried to fight me. Naiv says she tried to fuck her. She says if summoning and binding demons or golems was like the stories, she wouldn’t bother with people. They’re both apparently ugly and disgusting. You can at least bathe a Iuzhenk. She’s ready to go back to her scrolls. I ask if she’d rather be Naivara or Journey in Salt.
She pauses. “Journey. Think of Naivara as a token of trust, if you’d like. A thank you for your interference with the Maht. Though if I ever decide to go as power crazy as the Syndic, or even Chance or your Memory, I suppose that places you on the top of my list.” She winks.
I thank her for the trust and tell her that I’m not afraid of her necromancy and I’m still happy to bring her around my little sisters. She says that Chance’s conditions for the grimoire meant giving up her abilities anyway. She says she stole them from her father. The blue grimoire was Chance’s first. It’s enchanted so it can’t be read ahead. The first spell is domination, which should tell us something about Chance and Memory if this was their first grimoire. I ask if she hopes hers ends up being for Dominating Strong Babes. She says she’d rather be alone if Naryu’s personality would continue in the bedroom.
We say goodnight. She’ll show me how to use the godsblood in the morning.