I find myself with more time for journaling now that my followers have gotten accustomed to their work. And so, I shall endeavor to capture my biography in greater detail for those future aspirants who dream of following in my great footsteps.
When I came out of the coach, Star and Daphne were arguing about what to do with the prisoners that they had tied up. Star was interrogating one and Daphne was arguing religion with the other. As I mentioned, if Floyd were still among the living, I wouldn’t need to worry about this. Of course, we had other worries while he was traveling with us. As if hearing my apprentice and paramour argue wasn’t enough, Ming kept bothering me while he rooted through the equipment we collected from the fallen. He was disgruntled because his poor farming skills had left him rather slight and these brutes wore armor too large for Ming’s emaciated frame. I sensed his frustration and when Star inexplicably put one of the prisoners to sleep, Ming grabbed a warhammer from the pile of loot and went to assist. Star put Ming to sleep as well but only for a short while. When he awoke, the prisoner, thinking to find a common bond with Ming, explained he was a potato farmer.
Ming was already upset that he couldn’t fill the literal shoes of these brutes and now the foolish prisoner had pushed one of the few buttons my dim witted friend had. Of course, the prisoner had no idea that Ming spent years trying to grow rice in an area poorly suited to that particular crop. He heard from everyone that he should plant potatoes day in and day out. It was too much for his childish mind to take. Ming lifted the warhammer and with a calm statement that he hated potatoes, bashed in the zealot’s skull. The irony is that the potato farmer was of a similar size to Ming and his half plate fit quite nicely (once Ming cleaned it up, of course). We quickly divvied out the remaining loot to the hirelings and turned the last prisoner over to the peasants for some simple acts of vengeance, public torture, and what sounded like some sort of cultural cannibalism. It wasn’t the way I would’ve handled it, but in his own simple way, Ming got the troops moving and we were soon back in the coach heading further South.
We traveled all night and when I awoke, the smell of pine was replaced by the salt air of the sea. I looked out and saw tended groves of fruit trees spread among the many farms. As we approached the town of Billet, we saw a thriving town with a tower on a nearby hill and lots of new construction projects. There were shops and a market as well as a fine looking inn called The Welcoming Wench. While the others went about taking care of the mundane tasks that hirelings do, I availed myself of a welcoming wench and bought breakfast for my troop. I find it always good to rule with the carrot as well as the stick. They were shaping up nicely, so I treated them to a fine meal and then secured the nicest suite in the place for myself and Daphne. Unfortunately, Daphne’s acolyte was in need of remedial education so she needed to see to that. She is so devout. I find it admirable, but we have so few chances to be alone that I fear our relationship suffers because of it.
Without the affections of my paramour to occupy my time, I went out to explore the town. It seems that a pair of ex-adventurers had settled down here recently and infused the economy with a good amount of gold. Billet was experiencing something of a boon. There was a large trading complex and the pair of adventurer/rulers were even building the foundation of a castle. I would have to consider something like that for Hiroit. The longhouse they gave me is nice, but a ruler should have proper accommodations.
While the hirelings saw to the needs of our troop, I took Star and Ming to pay a call to the rulers of this thriving town. We went up to the tower to discover it was a nice work of construction including a number of attached towers to the main one and looked like recent work. There was an ornate plaque that read, “The Most Worshipful Wizard of Billet.” I immediately liked his style. Worshiped. That was something to aspire to. I was part way there with Daphne, Ming, and Star but I needed to win over the lesser members of our troop. Something to plan for later.
The door was opened by a scarred, veteran warrior who introduced himself as Sir Rufus. He welcomed us through a very defensive entryway into a cozy den where sat the Wizard Burne. He was reading in the chair and I doubted his magical prowess as he appeared to not have suffered any obvious signs of mastering the arcane forces. That is, until I saw his image shift slightly out of phase and the blessings of the Art shown through. I know that our visages can be unsettling to the uninitiated but I see them as a badge of valor. Lesser men would shy from the danger of playing with the very forces of creation, but I wield them on a daily basis.
The Wizard Burne, Sir Rufus, Star, and myself spoke of many things. Arcane lore, the best ingredients for spell research, and other trade talk. It was nice to speak with an equal for a change instead of always having to explain myself. In fact, I was so taken with Burne that we ended up trading some hard currency of the Arcane Art – knowledge. He enlightened me to a delicious new spell that I can’t wait to try.
We also spoke of the troubles in Iralon and both, Sir Rufus and Burne, were grateful we were headed to investigate. Apparently, the Duke controls a small city state which includes the surrounding lands which historically has had a string of amazing luck for the past 13 generations. Rivals died strangely, pestilence struck neighbors but not Iralon, and other such things. We surmised that perhaps the line of Iralon made an alliance with Dark Powers, because the 1st Duke died unnaturally, his skull was removed, plated with silver, and buried separately. That did sound suspicious.
Ming was overjoyed to find that the warhammer he picked up from those religious zealots was a magical weapon of law that was destined to smite down the servants of Chaos, especially the Undead. Unfortunately, he had decided to call it his “Potato Masher” even though I tried to convince him to name it something more… noble. My apprentice was warned that the Black Orb he carried around with him could turn him into a demon. He seemed unconcerned. I shall have to keep an eye on him lest he turn to the powers of Chaos.
As we bid our new friends good day, Burne encouraged me to travel to the Imperial City and seek out the University there. I will have to make my way there to see what I can learn from those learned scholars. To think that a talent such as mine was lying dormant in the pitiful streets of Dirtville.
When we returned to the Inn, we discovered that Daphne and her crew went to the Temple of Justicia to get the hammer head one of her servants found re-dedicated to the service of Justicia. The High Cleric there, Yiddae, had heard stories that an artifact of their faith was lost up North but hadn’t believed it. He tried to get Daphne’s man-at-arms to leave it there with the temple, but when he refused, the High Cleric delayed by saying he would meditate on what to do. I suspect that he intends to take back their holy artifact by force and Ming will soon get another chance to employ his “Potato Masher”.
We left Billet the next day and traveled to Irolan on a road that was significantly nicer the closer we came to our destination.