I am a terrible thief. I should be a good thief, but I’m not. They tell me that my mother was as skilled as anyone in purloining a coin, or even snatching a jewel from one of the temple idols. If the gods are watching they must be idle. Or maybe she was just that good to escape even their omniscient gaze.
When I was real small, I remember once when we went in to visit a jeweler. She had given me very clear instructions about what to do, and we had practiced over and over to make sure I would get it right. She always said there was no room for error in our what we do. That is true of our acrobatics as well as theft. If someone sees through the misdirection, the trick won’t work.
Anyways we go into the jeweler’s room and she is dressed up in suck finery that I thought she looked like a real baroness or maybe even a queen. They brought out the jewels for us to see and while they are looking at them she pinches my leg which was my cue to start squaling, which I did, and so she asks them for some water, but I kick the guy in the leg and while he is messing with me he snatches up a couple of the best gems and has them ready for me to swallow when they give me the water. Diamonds go practically invisible in a glass or water. Did you know that? Even big ones.
Well there were all kinds of accusations but there were no jewels to be found on either one of us and we walked out just like she knew we would, but then we also knew better than to go back there again!
I think maybe is she had lived maybe I would be a good thief. But it seems like the gods want we to walk some other path. Sometimes I really think so. Except them I remember what I am and I know that I can wander whatever road I want to, I will end up here again so I better find a way to get good at this.
We made it into town, and Bartholomew and I went to the Temple of Pelor to talk to Brother Darmouth. Shagrach stayed outside of town and said he would wait for us for two days before he would head on back to find his people. We didn’t make it back in time to meet up with him, so I guess that is where he went.
It was amazing to get so close to a goblin. I know that I could render him real well if I needed to. If I had some paper I would sketch him, but I don’t have my old sketching pad anymore. I used to make some money drawing people, except no one wants to be drawn the way they really are, which I what I like to do. It’s important to notice those details that make one person look so very different from another person if you want to get them right. And it is not just their appearance, it is also the way their expressions shift across their faces and the way they hold their bodies. To get the drawing right you have to do all of that and it has to be _exactly _right. But people want to look better than they do, which basically means that women want to be more beautiful and men more muscular and masculine than they really are. So if you want to make a living sketching people, you have to keep that in mine and make them look younger and more beautiful if, and I emphasize this, _if _you want to get _paid _for your trouble.
Now that I have learned that lesson I think I can make a better living sketching portraits of people. Maybe, someday if I can ever afford a wagon I can start mixing pigments and paints and paint some folks on canvas, but it is very expensive and it takes a lot of time to mix pigments and get them right. If I had a wagon I could also store all my acrobatics equipment so I could put on some really excellent performances. It is a way to make a few coins. If I had a partner to work the crowd while I was performing we could make even more. It is hard to steal anything while I am travelling with Bartholomew because he is always suspecting me of taking things even when I’m not. I’m not sure how to explain a whole horse and wagon. So right now I just have to think about it, cause I doubt I will ever have that much money all at the same time.
This morning started out good.
Shagrach and I went fishing and I speared a few fish, a couple of very nice ones, he got one most excellent dogfish with whiskers that were longer than the palm of your hand. The sines of those suckers are very sharp and poisonous. You have to be very careful when you catch them or pick them up, cause those fish know just how to flip to spear you with their spiny fin.p.
I started to roast them over the fire on some sharpened spits but Shagrach reminded me that we had that magic pot we got from the hobgoblins—oh yeah, that reminds me, never, ever confuse goblin and hobgoblin when you are talking to a goblin. Goblins get all red in the face over someone calling hobgoblins goblins, like three letters make such a difference. Anyways we got this pot, and it almost cleans itself. The fish soup I made tasted better than it ever had, and I am only a mediocre cook, but with a pot like that I might be able to make some money cooking if I can figure out how to work it out.
Xander, the elf, even said something nice about how the food tasted. I was really surprised. He is the most unsociable elf I ever met. Ok I just had to erase all that stuff I just wrote about Xander, so I know the page is sort of scritchy here cause this eraser is just about a nubbin now. He is just swell. We are great friends. I have much I can learn from him. Ok. There.
Xander and Bartholomew killed a bear. They wasted a lot of the meat somewhere in the woods, but I wasn’t sure exactly where to go to find the carcass, so now it’s food for wolves. I did salt down the skin and make some jerky from the shoulder meat they brought back. I wish they had brough back more fat. You can fry anything in bear fat.
Bartholomew took out that glowing stone he carries and was talking to it. Somehow the stone lets him talk to other poeple far away who carry other similar stones. I would really like a set of stones like that, but you would need the whole set, and I think you really could’t steal them because I bet the wizard who made them could use them to find you. He was walking about the Praetorian Crest, and I remember hearing baout it before. They think it was stolen a long time ago and Bartholomew and I decided we need to find it to stop whatever is going on below the river where the three champions are buried. The lich is there, and I think it has something to do with the three champions. One of them is a dead dragonman, there is a word for them, but I can’t think of it just now. Bartholomew hates them because they drove his poeple away from their homeland and took it over. It’s hard to blame him. You can never trust a dragon. Really you can’t.
Of course, I have always heard such terrible things about the Tieflings, though that is not the world my people had for them. They consorted with demons, in fact they are sort of demon spawn, or cambion,themselves. So it’s hard to believe they are very nice people. All my life they warned me that the Tieflings are looking for me, and that I have to diguise myself and be sure to stay away from them. I think grandfather should never have made that deal with them. I don’t care what the reason. Nothing good comes from making deals with demons.
But Mister Bartholomew is different. And I don’t think they would look for me if I am traveling with one of their own. I think the best way to hide is to hide in plain site. No one looks for you there. Mister Bartholomew seems nice, and even Brother Darmouth did some magic and said that he knew that Mister Barthomew’s heart was pure. I’m just glad he wasn’t looking at me. I’m sure my heart could use a good cleaning. Which reminds me that I need to find some silverpolish.
I tried to make some money in the town. The thing that worked was becoming a priest of Pelor. Everyone in the market wanted to donate food, so I guess the priests of Pelor must have reputations for having a big appetite. I blessed a whole bunch of people at the fair, and who knows, everyone says a Vistani blessing is real. I just know that farmers want to hear that their crops will grow and that they will have great harvests. Old sinsters want to hear that handsome young men will soon come courting. It’s not hard to tell a fortune if you just use your head and ask the right questions before you start talking.
But then I slipped up on this one knave. I think his name was “Mandy”. What were his parent’s thinking, huh? Good enough for him, no wonder he is such a jerk. I caught the chord wrong when I went to slice and he came unglued and started chasing me. Then it seemed like there was nothing under the sun that was going to go right for me. I caught my heal on the edge of thw wagon when I tried to jump over it to get away. So I fell. There were guards standing in all the wrong places and, well, finally he caught up with my by good friend’s tent. Oh yeah. You hear it right. I managed to pull the section of tent awning down over him, but then his brother in law Bill comes out and grapples me. I managed to get free, but those two guys must have practiced running with the hounds cause I could not get away from them. The fact I kept tripping didn’t help. You cannot run in the sandals. You just can’t. Especially sandals stolen from a priest. Bill slugged me a couple of times and busted my nose after Mandy tackled me down to the ground, and then a guard named Jack showed up, who was Mandy’s brother in law. Yeah. That’s right. His brother in law!
So the guard threatens to kill me, or just cut me up, but he never even thinks about taking me to the guardhouse, so you know he is exactly the kind of city guardsman you always hear about. Finally he decides to take everything I own, my sword, my dagger, my coin purse and divide it up with his good buddies who are all having a laugh at my expense. They went on and on about what a bad thief I am, and of course, the worst part is that they’re right. I am a terrible thief. Ican be a great entertainer, but that requires money and equipment I don’t have, so it ain’t happening. He even ripped off my shirt, so now all the clothes I own in the world is a pair of pants. I do have some armor, so I can wear that. I also have a priests robe, so I can wear that, only not when Bartholomew is around. So now I have even less money than I did before.
The acolyte at the entrance to the Temple of Pelor wouldn’t let me in, and then Xander wanted to charge me 100% interest on any coin to get myself healed, so I told him to go copulate with an orc. I hear elves think that is about the worst insult you can say. I found the healer, who didn’t charge me anything, but I would never go to him again. Never. I had to become an acolyte to get back into the temple. I could have found a stable, but with my luck some horse would have stepped on me, so I figured the temple was safer.
I thought a lot about killing Jack and Mandy and Bill. A lot. I guess maybe I am the only one who sees that killing a man is just another form of stealing. It’s a funny thing killin’ a man, you take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have. They took my stuff but they didn’t cut me up, or kill me, or even put me in prison. So I guess I should return the favor. It’s just very hard not to think about revenge. Uncle said I always have had a temper, but its probably all because of that bad deal my grandfather struck, and then all the stuff that happened later.
Things could be worse though. Brother Darmouth bought me a used shortsword to replace the one the guard took. And Xander bought me a used crossbow (and I will _never _figure that one out). I am a bad thief, but I am an even worse fighter. I need to find a new troup of acrobats and do what I am good at. I can’t even win a fight with a dandy and his brother in law. Not sure how well I will fair against orcs! That’s where we are going. There are orcs in the Kron Hills that have the bell they stole from the Temple of Pelor. We think it has more magic than Brother Darmouth knows and that it probably figures into all the stuff that is happening here. So now we are off to fight orcs. So like I said, I’m not thinking my odds are too great for surviving this, but I got balls like turkey eggs and I’m not scared of nothing.
Well, not usually.