I am going absolutely stir-crazy here. There’s a city full of work, full of adventures to be had, and where am I? Trying to herd this company of cats. Finn’s been absent, Galen’s been lost in his head, Cyrus has been penned up by the Exiles, and Isabella – well, she’s been around, and that’s the worst part. I don’t exactly blame her for being suspicious of hiring on someone to compliment our abilities, but if we had another hand, we could mount expeditions again. Really, Clyde is the only one happy with this arrangement.
I’ve gone to the Sole Exception once or twice, which was interesting enough I suppose. I’ve got about five half-finished essays on my desk that are either going to get submitted to the debating club or get shredded for ermine nesting material. I also picked up a new spell in the waiting, which I’m itching to try out. Maybe I should go home for a visit. It would take less than a moon round-trip, and maybe things will be back to normal by then.
Cyrus dragged me out to the Full Quiver tonight. I was a little cross at first, but it turned out really well.
He’d offered some work to the Traveler’s Collective on behalf of the Lords in Exile, and I suppose he was trying to appease me by seeing if they’d take me on for the duration of the job. We’re going to be looking for some sort of outpost that was poorly labeled on a map, clear it, and hold it until it can be garrisoned by their men. That’s about all Cyrus was told, and I’d like to trust him when he says that. This isn’t going to be as easy as al-Arakis thinks. If this is so desperately important that they’re hiring it out, it’s going to be a mess. Damnable Hells.
Of course Cyrus can’t come along. I know the higher-ups don’t have the highest opinion of free companies, but I still wish they’d respect that he chose to sign our charter. This expedition could change that, perhaps. I do agree that they need to be shown that a lot of problems benefit from a more nimble solution than a full regiment. Maybe that could convince them that allowing Cyrus to spend more time with us is to their advantage. It might also cut back on the number of expeditionary forces he has to lead. I bet black dragons have sunnier dispositions than Cyrus after leading a regiment.
I also hope that getting in the good graces of the Traveler’s Collective might help me learn more about what No-Collar Jack wants with us. al-Arakis doesn’t seem to have backed off from his involvement with the Collective Friend. Perhaps he knows, or can find out. Or at least get me an introduction. I have this nagging feeling that if I said that I’m late for a meeting with Jack, I wouldn’t be lying by half.
I wonder what Owain meant by saying he’d like to be there for my first meeting with Abad. He seems rather tedious, all flowery words with little substance behind them. More open-minded than Naheeda, or at least able to look past initial impressions when profit’s on the line. Strange, being seated between them. Abad always dancing around the subject, Naheeda cutting deep.
In something I can only hope is coincidence, Lars and Cyrus served together in the rebellion. I’d pegged Lars as being from the southern Horse, but didn’t dream he’d be involved in noble intrigue – he seemed so guileless. The possibility that they’d pulled something off together crossed my mind. Cyrus can’t lie to my face, but he’s a master of the strategic omission. Perhaps Lars tipped him off as to when to find me. Perhaps it’s a true coincidence. Perhaps it doesn’t matter in the least.
I admit, I’ve been a bit harsh on Lars for leaving me at the customs office after our first ranging. The pair from the desert sent us to find a friend of theirs, one Emilia, and he’s more talkative than I remember. Even a touch witty. He confirmed my suspicion that it’s impossible to talk about weapon drills without veering into innuendo. Abad and Naheeda appear to have chosen to take any comment about weapons training in the most sexual way possible. Heh, those two. I’m sure they’re not blood relations, but they’re definitely brother and sister. The difference makes the similarity, as the old saying goes – the refinement of the eldritch knight and the raw power of the barbarian only strengthen their kinship.
Turns out the Emilia they sent us to find is Emilia Oddsbeater, my old friend from the caravan days. As Clyde reminded me, I lost a lot of money to her before I figured out her talent. There’s a phrase in Halfling people used to refer to her all the time, and when I asked for a translation, I was pretty uniformly met with hesitation, then “something like divine favor”. Obviously a half-translation. Apparently Red Tom of Cinnabar is her brother, and she’s been working at the bar, setting odds for fights. Strange, that we were a handful of blocks apart this whole time and never knew. I’m excited to travel with her again. I’ve just been checking and rechecking the contents of my haversack. Finally, back to the swamp.