Dear readers: I have just had the best nights sleep in my life. I had forgotten what clean sheets even felt like in my meandering over the years. And never had I known the comfort of whatever this strange fabric – doubtless it is imported from some far away heathen land. Perhaps the heathens aren’t as uncivilized as I had once assumed. After we had the opportunity to break the evening’s fast, we were joined for conversation with our gracious host, Mr. Polecat. His peculiar nature speaks of a man that can afford such freedoms bought with perhaps only the most elite mix of wealth and power. As he is our host, I have chosen to overlook the basal debauchery of some his extensive drug use off the posterior of a beast of the fields, albeit and exotic one. He took his leave after some bewildering lectures? Or was it an interrogation? How can say when dealing with such a man.
We were then left alone to discuss the disposition of our gladiatorial arrangement with those whom we have started referring to as The Rockettes. A troupe of meekly built, purple haired women – surely they don’t mean to compete in the upcoming contests? At that point Meimei decided to take exception with something I had said. I don’t even remember what it was in all honesty. But rather than confront my slight like a man, she took occasion to strike me!
Seeing the ire break across my face, the rest of our mismatched band decided to join in! Again Meimei assaulted me – this time missing. Kiaran cast some sort of spell on me which left me diminished. Shizuka had the stones to come at me with a knife – however ineptly. I am a patient man, but this sort of violence can not be left unanswered. Quickly producing a blade, I targeted the stretch of floor between MeiMei feet and through. As the dagger trembled, having been expertly positioned – I thanked them all to mind their manners and not try that again.
Yet again they tried to assault me, again escalating the situation. Meimei trying to replicate my skill with the blade but failing embarrassingly, the blade bounced flew well off target and clanked uselessly to the floor. Shazuka meekly beat upon my chest. At this point it was up to me to be the bigger man, or rather the man and draw this encounter to a close. Zuzu was easily cast aside, I retrieved my knife, and went on to converse with The Rockettes.
The Rockettes, it seems, are really only interested in gaining access to the hill – the same as we. Their mission is clear, your standard distribution of wealth. They are a bit stumped, however, on how to achieve victory without being brutally murdered. It was decided that we would arrange things so that they and we would be the two reigning champions and both earn our trip up the hill. In exchange for our aid in this matter, they would provide for us a map of all known water resources in the region.
Next we were off to our meeting with ‘The Man.’ Hopefully enough time remains before the approaching army arrives for any deals we are able to strike are able to reach maturity. We were lead to a house where we were locked within coffins, and then transported to and frough before arriving at our final destination. I expected some obfuscation being taken to the meeting location and participated quite willingly. My companions followed suit and we were brought to a boat house where we were set free.
Well – freeish. The coffins were opened remotely, likely some kind of magics in use, but we were release into a locked steel cage suspended over water. I opened negotiations as I normally have in such situations – calmly describing the situation the city is facing. And an offer to negotiate an arrangement that would bring both profit and a means of surviving the coming menace. We could hear the inexperienced whisperings of what sounded like two boys bickering from beyond the floodlights. They then demanded all available in exchange for..nothing? Obviously inept negotiators, I began to understand that these boy’s were not ‘the man’, at best – they were his agents. At worst, we had been duped by Knucles.
Obviously, I refused to divulge the only information currently keeping us alive at that point. Unfortunately, the boys took that as a signal to murder us out of hand. Standing brave, I called their bluff stating that we were not afraid of death as the cage was lowered into the water. As the cage continued to be lowered into the water, I reminded them that the information we had would die with us, and that a beneficial arrangement could be made for all parties.
It was about that time that Zuzu chimed in by stating she had knowledge of the Gladiatorial bouts being fixed. I judged that her gamble might just pay off, so I allowed her to continue. Unfortunately, she overplayed her hand in stating that it was her desire to murder Duke Cassus. Men such as these operate with under agreement and even a sort of cooperation with the nobility. In threatening his long-term position, the die was cast.
Luckily, Zuzu is quick on her feat. She immediately recognized her misstep and set to unlocking the cage with a skeleton key. Shrewd move (for a girl). In an instant, the door was open and she had lept across the water to ledge with an easy grace. Being an ungraceful old man, I opted for a more measured pace. Climbing atop the cage, I got a running start and lept across 10 feet of water. I was actually so stunned in making the jump and landing expertly on my feet, I just stood there. My, that did go better than expected.
Kerian and MeiMei made effort to following along but came up short and found themselves handing from the precipice. I reached down – offering a hand to each. Accepting my aid, in unison, we were able to get them hoisted over the ledge. Zuzu was attacked by what I later learned were magic missles in took some injury. The rest of us sprinted after the boys who had betrayed the neutrality of our parlay.
A fire bomb of some kind was set off, but I quickly sprinted past with the others hot on my tail. Our attackers attempted to barricade themselves behind a door while fire spread through the room. We had wanted to preserve their lives and merely subdue them, however with the fire spreading this course of action was becoming quite impractical. Little by little we whittled down the resistance until none remained.
By this point, the build was engulfed in flame. I made effort to retrieve whatever information and possessions I could from the bodies of the boys, but the flames forced my retreat as well before I could remove some rings that seemed of interest.
Bursting into the street, a crowd had gathered and seen us exit the burning building. I quickly shouted for the fire brigade and got to organizing bystanders to aid in fighting the flames lest the entire district go up. Knowing what to do, the town citizenry quickly took my direction and started to work. At this point, we melted into the chaos and disappeared.
We are met again by our gracious host. Zuzu came right out and asked if he could fix the fights. Seeming to take offense to this he went off into a spirited and somewhat comprehensible lecture. Quickly interrupting, I explained that she is new to this language and misspoke. By ‘fix’, she mean ‘arrange’ or ‘setup’ – like any true manager would. Feeling better about this situation he again started, but then drifted off looking for the ass of the great beast which provided him with his comfort.
Later that night, I was awake at the table in my room, preparing extracts for the next day. I could have sworn I heard Zuzu’s voice in the room next threatening some poor soul with her knives. Adorable.