Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Bitter Blades (Flashback): Martha vs. The World

A brief, unpublished play-by-post in which Martha joined the party...immediately prior to them all getting killed by shadows. Following the same format of other play-by-post logs.


Martha
Martha stood on the docks, staring at the small boat that had so recently arrived from Thorn Island. She recognized the misshapen form of Jack, but she did not know any of the other misfits who were unloading her father’s corpse from the boat. She was too much in shock to cry just then, instead she just stood there in silence, glaring at Jack and the others.

What do I do? she thought. Her father was dead. He had been paying for her apprenticeship at the grocers, not the other way around. Without his income, she had no job, no prospects. She had her little house in the slums. Perhaps she could hang out a red cloth like so many other girls and invite the men of the slums in with her, it would help her feed herself, but she had no wish to give herself to the likes of Jack, or the other slums dwellers. She scratched at her lice-ridden dress and tried to think of any way out of her predicament.

It was then that she noticed the well-dressed officials assembling on the docks to greet Jack and his companions, and the huge pile of weapons, armor, and other items brought back from the island. Somehow, only then did the tears start.

Wiping her eyes, she stalked up to the strange white-haired woman with the scar on her face and pointed at her father’s holy symbol sitting on the pile. “THAT’S MINE!” she said firmly.

Hazel
Hazel looks at the girl with unconcealed disdain. “Yours?! Who are you? I did not see you swinging a sword on Thorn Island.” She walks over and unceremoniously shoves the little girl away. “You’ve got spirit.” She says with a half-smile. “But I’ve never seen your face before and that bounty is ours.” She smiles more broadly, “Of course. If you really think you have a claim to that old cog, you could fight me for it.”

Martha
Martha rankles at the injustice of the scar-faced woman’s taunts. She wants to cry, but instead forces herself back to her feet. She stands there glaring and shaking her fist at the woman for a moment before pointing at the body being carried out of the boat. “That’s my father!” she says. “If you went out to that island, in that boat, then it was because he made you. Surely he deserves a share of what you brought back, and barring him, his kin!”

Tamn
“Hey!” Tamn steps up between Hazel and the girl, broken stick in hand. “First,” he says indignantly, staring up into Hazel’s good eye, “y’ve got no right t’ be shoving the girl. Second, the girl’s right, her da’ died fighting at yer side. At the least she deserves something t’ member him by. It’d be more proper for ye’ t’ take care of his kin. At least, make sure she’s got a place t’ sleep an’ some food…”

Ada
Ada walks over to stand behind the young girl, and nods vigorously.

Hazel
Hazel stands there looking at the girl for a moment longer, then walks over to the pile of loot and gathers up the things that Martha had indicated. “Tom was your dad, huh?” She hands over the wands, weapons, and jewelry. “These aren’t toys girl. If you’re going to be carrying around stuff like this, you better learn how to use them…”

She gathers up a few items herself, then looks around at the others and smiles. “That was fun. How bout we all go get some sleep, then meet at the Council offices in the morning to get paid and see what other trouble we can get in to.” She pauses for a moment, staring at Martha. “You too girl. Meet us in the morning and you can have your dad’s share…and come along to gut some monsters if you like.”


She turns to leave, then stops, “Hey, what’s your name girl?”

Martha
“Martha.” She says, finally breaking down and crying as the woman hands her the items.

She runs back to Mr. Cockburn’s grocery, tears running down her face. She had to take care of herself now, and she was determined to never be hungry again. Outside the grocer’s she put on her father’s holy symbol and the amulet, tucking the later inside her dress. Inside she stashed her new wands and weapons, and went to talk to Ian.

Her master soon learned how shrewd of a negotiator she really was.


By the time the group reconvened in the morning, she had arranged to use her father’s share of the pre-pay her apprenticeship for the full seven years, with additional time allowed for her to go adventuring with her father’s friends, had arranged for an extended line of credit with Mr. Cockburn to make sure she was fed, had bought outright the house her father had been renting in the Slums, and had hired a contractor to start making repairs to the place…

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Tamn
After the party visits the Council Clerk to get paid, Tamn eyes as wide as saucers, heads strait to the Cracked Crown and orders a huge breakfast. When he finishes breakfast he heads to the Laughing Goblin for elevenses. After that he heads to the Bitter Blade for lunch, then to Ian Cockburns to buy a couple bottles of wine, which he takes back to the Bitter Blade and drinks until time for tea. At tea time he heads back to the Cracked Crown, downs a couple of plates, then back to the Laughing Goblin where he buys supper for his new friends…

Having thus eaten more in one day than he probably has in the last two years combined, Tamn, bloated and barely awake, buys a room above the Laughing Goblin (probably for two or three times what it is worth), stumbles up the stairs with his riches, and passes out. After throwing up much of the previous day’s repast some time in the middle of the night, Tamn wakes up late, aching and groggy. He leaves his room late in the afternoon and begins wandering through the small town.


Somehow, after sleeping off the pains of overeating, the facts of what he has just done start to feel more real. He is walking around a town, without minders or fetters. He is armed, properly armed, with two good swords at his side, and no humans are leaping to grab him and wrestle the weapons away. He wanders in a blissful daze, fat, happy, and free, for several hours, until he finds himself outside of the gates in the Slums near dinner time. This feels more like home. Poor, hungry, downtrodden folk living on the fringes. Feeling his stomach growl, he looks for a place to eat and finds the soup kitchen where the priests of Tyr and Sune are giving away meals for free. Seeing the long lines of emaciated people, and feeling the weight of his purse (holy shit, he has his own purse), he realizes that he really doesn’t belong here. Instead of queuing up for a bowl as he would have done only a few days ago, he walks to the back, finds one of the priests, and presses a fistful of platinum into their hands without a word—but in view of everyone present.

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Ada
Ada stood patiently and quietly, not that she had a choice, as the Battle Chaplain yelled at her for three consecutive hours about abandoning her post. She was used to it, it wasn’t the first time that she’d gone AWOL for more than 24 hours and it wouldn’t be the last. She just stood there, as still as she could, and listened to the man ramble on about “not hot-headedly rushing off to wage war recklessly” and “considering the consequences of the violence you do before hand”. At least this commander wasn’t inclined to smack her around like the last one, and didn’t bother to look inside the strange leather satchel which came back slung over her shoulder.

Regardless of what her commander said, she knew she had done good. A risk to the city had been eliminated. She had made some friends. And, best of all, she had come away with a giant pile of platinum. That really was the worst thing about being a member of the Silent Sisters was that they didn’t get paid. Of course, she didn’t really have anything to spend the money on—her food, shelter, arms, and armor were all provided by the church. Still, it was nice to have.

When her hours of being reprimanded were over, and another four hours of penance sharpening spears in the armory done, Ada wandered back to her room and opened the satchel, spilling hundreds of coins out on her bed. She smiled broadly at the wonderful sound of the coins clinking together, and would have laughed if she could as they ran through her fingers. This is what violence, war, and adventure were all about, good, solid, cold cash.


After her little celebration, she carefully counted the coins and returned them to the small satchel. She really liked this new toy, it was bigger on the inside than on the out, never spilled unless she wanted it to, and the contents made no clinking noises. She hugged the bag to her chest, and laid down on her bunk. In two hours she would have to wake up and resume her guard duties, but she was used to going on minimal sleep, and she knew, if her new friends found something interesting to do, she would probably be abandoning her post again anyways.

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Hazel

Hazel, as the daughter of a queen (sort-of) and a raider of dragon’s lairs, is much less surprised by the sudden windfalls of wealth than her companions. After many months of travel and sleeping in common rooms, she was quite pleased to have the funds to live “properly”—renting the best rooms above the Laughing Goblin, opening a tab for their finest food and wines—and sharing quite a bit with Tamn during his first day binge.

After establishing her rooms, she spends a day seeking through the town for a proper tailor, and visiting the silver-smith and other shops to deck herself in the “finest and most impressive southern fashions”—which to her means bright colors, lots of metal, and lots of exposed skin. After several fittings and adjustments for her muscular build, she is soon seen strolling around town in a “classic” lacemail bikini and chemise.