I am so angry, my fingers shake as I write this. What started out as an ordinary afternoon for us has turned into something entirely different. I won’t be satisfied until the perpetrator is flayed alive!
We had divied up the spoils of our latest encounter with the blasted hobgoblins. Samhein told us he needed to leave. Something was clearly agitating him, though he would not share it with us. He is new to the group and reluctant to divulge his entire life to us on our first meeting. < That would be my version of cynicism, if you do not know me well enough >
Anya slams the quill against the small writing desk she is sitting at. She struggles to pull herself back together before continuing. It would not do well for her readers to be pushed away by her lack of control over her emotions. She takes a deep breath before picking the quill back up and dunking it into the ink once more.
Samhein was reserved, but polite as he spoke his goodbyes to us. He said he would be interested in joining back up with us as soon as his other matters were settled. We told him the general direction we would head and that we would leave word in the taverns as to where we last headed. With that, he was gone.
We settled into the worn chairs around a square table a common tavern. Lucien sat facing the door, a habit I’ve noticed of his. Before this day, I found it a bit odd. Now, I am in full understanding. We had ordered our noonday meal when five men entered the establishment. A commoner was surrounded by four hefty looking men wearing garments identifying them as local militia. The commoner pointed straight at Lucien saying “That’s him! That’s the one that stole it!”
Lucien blinked in surprise as the four militia members surrounded him, ordering him to come with them. He rapidly fired questions at them as to what he was being accused of and by whom and so on, but they were in no mood to answer him. The largest of the men, who had a nasty scar on his face, made it quite clear he would brook no further questions. He slapped Lucien in chains on both his hands and feet, then escorted him from the tavern.
She glares back down at her parchment as she remembers the way the men “escorted” Lucien. There was nothing at all polite about how they pushed him about and made a scene of placing him in the restrainments. If anything, they had taken pleasure in their jobs!
Anya looks at the quill in her hand and realizes she has crushed the delicate quill. With a sigh, she looks through her supplies and withdraws another.
It is a good thing, though, that we did not choose to fight the guards. There were four more waiting just outside the building. Kael, D.W., and I followed quietly to make certain of where Lucien was being taken. Just inside the jail, two guards took up post in the doorway to prevent our entry.
What happened to Lucien inside the jail, I am not exactly certain. He was a bit vague on parts of it, in particular, the part about why the left side of his face is swollen and bloodied! He claims he “fell”, but my Lucien is an elf and fluid and graceful an…..
“Damn!” Anya utters the human swear as she looks down at the quill she just snapped in half. The parchment was now torn where she had jabbed the sharpened tip of the quill through in her anger. As it was the last of her quills, she would have to purchase more before she could continue. A break might be just what was needed, though.
Returning several minutes later with a fresh supply of parchment and a dozen quills (she decided she might need them to complete this journal entry), Anya sat back down to the desk to continue.
According to Lucien, he was brought into an interogation room where he was accused by a man claiming to be a Vicari. The man was gaunt and dressed in a black robe with a black velvet sash. He had boney fingers, Lucien told us, and stated that Lucien had stolen the amulet. His guards rifled through Lucien’s things and pulled out the Butt ugly amulet Lucien had obtained from the Sprite weeks ago. The so called “vicari” then left with two of the guards, including the scarred one. As he exited, he gave orders to throw Lucien into the jail cell.
As we waited outside, the man Lucien later told us was claiming to be Vicari and the militia that seemed to be protecting him vacated abruptly. D.W. quietly left without notice so he could track them. While he was doing that, I batted my eyelashes at one of the militia blocking the entrance to the jail. It didn’t take me long to charm him into talking.
The witless wonder told us how Lucien had stolen a necklace or something from someone very important and that he was to be executed. I choked down the bile in my throat to ask when and he responded tomorrow. Thankfully, Kael began asking questions as I felt faint at the moment. He learned they would build a gallows in town in the morning so the thief could be hung at noon. Thief"! I wanted to slap that stupid look from his face, but instead pasted a smile on my lips.
D.W. returned wearing a militia tunic matching the idiots in front of me. He looked ridiculous in the oversized uniform as it swallowed up his small frame. Luckily, the fools didn’t question him as he introduced himself as the newest recruit. Humans use a phrase of “hook, line, and sinker”. I think it captures the essence perfectly. Then D.W. deftly slipped me a second uniform. As he was talking to the guards, I grabbed Kael and we left.
Poor Kael did not expect me to pull out my dagger and trim his scruffy looking hair or give him a quick shave, but I did what I had to in order to change his appearance. He then put on the militia tunic and we headed back. I was babbling a thank you to the nice officer for helping me out. The dufus guard was still standing there and of course fell for a second new recruit that night.
Anya let out a huff as she thought about the morons who kept the peace there in Hodgeton. Not even questioning new militia recruits who just show up without identification documents or at the very least an introduction by their commanding officer? With a shake of her head, she returned to her writings.
There were two guards downstairs, but D.W. relieved one of duty for the rest of the day. On the ground floor, two more left as their shift had ended. D.W. looked over to where Lucien stood in a cell, then jerked his head slightly toward the remaining guard downstairs. Lucien quickly picked up the silent signal and shouted out in pain as he fell over. He writhed and moaned that he was dying. D.W. then insisted the guard run for a doctor.
I don’t know how D.W. did it, but his timing was beautiful as Kael and I were just walking in the door when the guard from downstairs ran up saying a doctor was needed. I told him I was a healer, so he let me in to look at his patient. We went down to the cell where I prepped to heal their prisoner. Kael then relieved the guard of his duty as well.
When we were at last alone, the four of us put our heads together and decided to pretend my healing failed and the prisoner died of poisoning. Kael and D.W. carried the prisoner upstairs. Truth be told, if I had not been so frightened that we would be caught, I would likely have been bent over laughing so hard at the entire scene. As it was, I cried to the guards about how I had failed so miserably and positioned myself so their backs were to the others. D.W. grunted out that they would bury the body for the guards as he struggled with Kael to carry Lucien outside.
The guards had been daft, but they also proved themselves to be lazy as well as they wanted no part of having to bury the thief’s body. As bad a day as we were having, Fortune also seemed to be on our side. Otherwise, those ridiculous schemes should not have worked.
While Kael and D.W. carried Lucien down the street a bit and out of sight, I went to the local stable to purchase some horses and a wagon to get out of town without Lucien being spotted. Whoever it was who had set him up may have left others to watch for him. I wasn’t taking chances with his being caught again. I also grabbed some more supplies and a tarp for him to hide under and place them all in the wagon.
Once we were back together, I insisted Lucien hide in the wagon bed while I rode one of the horses. When we were outside of town, we began discussing what happened and exchanging information. D.W. told us he had seen the boney dude (that’s what they started calling the imposter claiming to be Vicari) jump into a carraige. His two escorts tossed off the militia tunics, then one climbed on a horse while the other drove the carraige away. That was how D.W. had obtained the uniforms.
Everyone began talking at once. D.W. wanted to know what Lucien had supposedly stolen. Kael was asking who they thought the boney dude might be. Lucien wanted to know who the guy was who has supposedly identified him as a thief. I kept demanding to know who could hate Lucien enough to set him up like that. Chaos reigned for a bit. We had far too many questions and not enough answers.
When we were at last able to calm down, we stopped to relay everything we knew to one another. Lucien and I told the others about the Sprite and the Butt ugly amulet we had found. Dale, a former member of the group, had known who had the amulet, bu he was too honorable to set Lucien up. The only others who could possibly know Lucien held this item were both dead – the mage that had tried to kill us and the sprite.
Lucien had suddenly paused at that point. “Are we sure he’s dead? The wizard, I mean. We checked the sprite, but did anyone make sure the mage was dead??”
Anya sighed deeply this time. It was a bad habit of this group to walk away once a critter was downed. Rarely did anyone verify the creature, be it humanoid or otherwise, was actually dead. This time, it may have come back to bite them in the ass.
We all agreed that it seems the only plausible answer. I frowned at D.W. “Did it occur to you when you saw the guards toss down the uniforms that you could have used it as evidence to show the real militia that they had been duped?” D.W.’s mouth parted in surprise, at my anger or at the logic, I am not sure.
Lucien felt we should try to find the commoner who had pointed him out. That human might hold some answers for us. Kael surprised us by sketching a picture of the man. He claims he has no talent with it, but the drawing was very much a good likeness. With that in hand, I was determined to go see the magistrate back in Hodgeton and see about clearing Lucien’s name. I don’t want him to be a fugitive for the rest of his life.
We agreed that Lucien and D.W. would stay just inside the woods on the outskirts of town. They are to take my horse and the pony I purchased for D.W. and ride out if trouble comes. The next town over is Farseek and we will meet them there in the tavern if we cannot find them upon our return.
Kael drove the wagon team into town. Once there, he changed into his cat form. He felt my having an exotic pet might help intimidate or impress the magistrate, depending on what I needed to deal with him.
Turns out it might have been a little of both. When confronted with the evidence and tales of how his militia had been so gullible, the magistrate was embarrassed. Kael hissed and whipped his tail about for good measure. The magistrate then took the sketch I gave him with the promise that he would find answers within the week for me. I told him I would check back and that there had best be results. Then I insisted on his writing up a pardon for Lucien just in case another of his fools (militia) tried to confront Lucien again. I tucked away the document and left.
Anya placed the quill down on the desk, then stood and stretched out her cramped muscles. She groaned as she remembered what came next. While she and Kael had run that errand, D.W. and Lucien played gin rummy on a tree stump to pass time. As they did so, a pair of Ibixians discovered them in the woodland. There was quite a skirmish between them, with Lucien going down. Fortunately, D.W. seemed to really know what he was doing with his bow and managed to finish the creatures off.
Not for the first time that day, Anya found herself upset at someone attacking the rogue. She and Kael healed their companions (thank Pelor for a druid who knows how to heal!) and then they packed up and headed to Farseek. Anya decided it was time to use her skills and make some healing belts for her friends and offer better protection for Lucien.