If wishes were fishes, the mines would sure stink. The saying holds true, even if you go with the human’s less colorful version where the world is an ocean. Bah! The ocean may be full of fishes, but the weight of the wish bears down upon the wisher, and the weight and smell of the fish flooding the mines – without water – is a lot more colorful to my thinking.
I mentioned in my last note that we were embarked on a silly quest, and how keen we all were to latch onto silliness. Just when we thought we’d gotten our wish, it slipped away, for the rain came down in a torrential downpour, and we had to take shelter at a good size estate – large enough that there was a house and guest house, in the human style, and a horse barn and a cattle barn. The horse barn was actually the greater of the two – I think the cattle were mostly for fresh milk and veal and butter and bacon, as the house and occupant were not of the working class.
Well, that is what I was made to understand. You see, we were greeted by an ostler, who also carried a saber, and he took us to the stables and made us wait while he asked permission from the main house. Since there were three people who spoke Rus, when the word came back to send in Kumori and his interpreter, I tried to go along, but the permission was just for Kumori. Since he seemed unaware of my first rule, the thing everyone should know, I let him be separated, figuring he’d be smart enough – because while he is a warrior in the truest sense, he’s also a tactician, and that’s a different kind of canniness than anyone but perhaps our new friend Otis brings to the group – to realize his error before things got rough and reunite the party, since there was surely a trap somewhere waiting to engulf us in danger and doom.
No, the bloody fool allowed us to be separated, and when it was clear he was not coming back, I made a feeble effort to be reunited with him by claiming to be his bodyguard. I didn’t press it, because maybe he wanted to be alone with a noblewoman for a night. I don’t know… I never saw the woman, and perhaps the quest we are on had my mind in a certain path.
Only later do I find out that she not only seemed to be interested in him, despite her shrunken, elderly form, but she mentioned to him at length that when she died, she planned to have a ritual performed and she would return young and beautiful and undying.
Kumori did have the sense to lie and not show his disgust for the proposition, but he didn’t make an effort to reunite the party, and he slept in the house, not even putting a chair to the door. There were many warnings from the servants that something was amiss, but he marched right into the maw of death and slept without armor – I know being fatigued is not fun, but it’s like he walked into a house to talk to a man about a script for a play and was berating a different play about a dope being bound and gagged and he ends up being bound and gagged. I saw such a play in Archemaine though I never understood living so close to a cemetery. I digress.
Well, suffice it to say, the old hag woke Kumori with a kiss, and she was not human, not any longer, and he fled for his life and hopes of his continued existence. For a samurai to flee a foe, especially a foe in such a non-threatening form, is comical, but it was the wise thing to do.
Ultimately, the battle was tough, and only by Otis being prepared to heal a bit and me reminding Eul that he had prepared Invisibility Purge did we win without someone dying. Who would have died first – Eul or Smriti – is the tough question. However, since the villain had the ability to:
- Appear as a helpless old lady
- Use that to enlist her servants to defend against the party as a whole
- Teleport about
- Turn invisible and stay invisible after attacking
- Sap us of our very essence
- Rob us of our vitality and cloak it about herself
- Cloak herself in mystical armor
… the fight was difficult to say the least.
And that brings me back to the wishes.
As I mentioned, Smriti seems in need of silliness, much like the rest of us, and she doesn’t seem to be getting a chance to be silly without being reminded that the world is a dangerous place and danger lurks around every corner. I am used to that being a fact, but she’s a lot more sensitive than I am.
Kumori enjoyed his time among nobility and not having to deal with rabble. I think we need to give him a proper procession in the capital. That may help.
Ian was sucked into the lamp, but I think he may also like silliness, though he and Otis were getting along smashingly and that hopefully will help reduce some of his stress. Also, since we’ve been traveling for Eul for at least a week, Kaminari should be trained to be ridden through the air, and that may make both Ian and Kumori ecstatically happy.
As for me… well, I dislike sounding petty, and I do like Otis, a lot, but it is no secret I have long felt under rewarded and that efforts to better equip myself have been tough if not impossible, and Otis points to the truth of that statement. You see, Otis is new to the group, and he has some impressive items. If you ignore the fancy look of my rapier – and being a practical dwarf, I tend to care more about my ability to stab someone with it than how neat it looks in a scabbard – his bow is worth as much as my rapier, my rings, my belt, my enchanted mithral chain shirt, my cloak, and my (Dad’s) Wayfinder. Admittedly, I carry a lot more odds and ends, but the flaming katana and the bag that contains it are not really mine. I even admitted as much in Pogost Vel when I was going to give the bag with the funds to Kumori should he have left.
Also, since before we met Qasim, I have expressed a desire to explore some ruins and properly put my skills to use. I think Ian also has hopes of doing such a thing – a cultist’s hideout, perhaps, or even a haunted prison that befell a terrible tragedy. It may not be the most dangerous of missions, but since I’ve built myself into a trap spotting and disarming and saving the party sort of guy, it wouldn’t be horrible to actually disable a trap and save the party with the training and choices I made and have some continued return on the investment. I know it’s not exactly on our way to the Lucky Fish, but it could be that a town we travel through in the future will have such a site nearby that has seen activity of late and they need someone to investigate it.
Finally, I think everyone in the party wished Borya dead when, having fought a deadly standstill for a few minutes and feeling terribly close to death several times during the fight, and unlikely to actually land a blow against the invisible and stealthy foe we fought, we had no rest and found that he was going to be strung up by the locals for deflowering a man’s daughter.
I know, you argue that he’s cursed, and his brother admits that he used to be a cad but he was never so bad before the curse. Let me ask, though, isn’t it likely he was cursed for something he did? I think my solution to the problem is the most elegant – have his brother marry the girl, buy a chastity girdle for him when we get to the capital, finish the quest, send the brother back to his wife and lose the key to Borya’s contraption until such time as he shows himself to be a moderately decent man.
I’ll tell you more about what happened with Borya shortly. We managed to talk the locals out of killing him tonight but he is still in deadly peril.