Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 11

“My lady, the coach is here.” Princess Wynefrede Aumberden of the kingdom of Choochovia glanced up from her mail and nodded at her servant in acknowledgement. She was at her breakfast table in the conservatory where she could look out over her mansion’s small rose garden while having her tea and crumpets. Herbal tea. Real tea hadn’t made it to England until the mid-1600s, and Krim was ostensibly based on the year 1500.

Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 8

“Raphe Faryndon, at your pleasure.” Raphe straightened up from his bow and stretched out his hand. Wynefrede looked up at him, at the way his hair flopped down over his eyes, his slightly crooked smile, and his warm eyes. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Margarett and Benedicta being pulled out onto the dance floor by two other gentlemen.

Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 6

“I like the idea of starting fake rumors,” said Margarett. “It sounds like something a counter intelligence agency will do. I’ll take notes, so we don’t lose track of which rumor we spread where.” She looked around. Nobody was eavesdropping. The guards were standing by the coaches, waiting to take the two women home. Close enough to keep an eye on them, but not so close that they could hear what they were saying. The maid was gone, back inside Benedicta’s house.

Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 4

“Ride back with me,” Benedicta told Wynefrede and Margarett once they were back outside the hospital. “We can gossip about the boys.” She angled her chin slightly in the direction of a couple of other Royal Season participants, dressed in the best Elizabethan finery. “And you can help me pick out a dress for tonight. As a famous actress, I’ve got an image to maintain.”

Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 3

The Chubb-Baggins Leper Sanatorium and Heritage Medicine Hospital was fully equipped and it didn’t take long for a Doctor Buryngton to extricate Wynefrede from her thigh holster while Margarett and Benedicta watched, their wide skirts filling up most of the space in the tiny examination room.

Bridge Over the River Krim: Chapter 1

Wynefrede Aumberden, as she decided to call herself on Krim, scooted down a little bit in her seat in the back of a carriage slowly making its way along the cobblestones of Knots Hollow Way. She spread her legs a little further apart, giving the man under her skirts a little more space to work in.

Heartburgh Episode 5: Part 6

Geoffrey knocked on the door to Flame’s room at the Drunken Pie Inn. “Go away.” Her voice was muffled. “It’s me,” he said. “We need to plan your defense.” “I said, go away.” “I’ve got your file,” he yelled through the door. “I know what happened on Emura.” “What the…” Flame swore then stomped to …

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Heartburgh Episode 5: Part 3

Geoffrey left the atheneum and spotted Olav the page in the hallway. “Where did Flame go?” “She’s in the north tower,” Olav said. “Hold on, I’m coming with you.” Abigail came out into the hallway, followed immediately by Hephziba, Ayoob, and the general. “I’m sure we won’t even need a hearing if she just explains …

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Heartburgh Episode 5: Part 2

“You looked very different on Emura,” Flame told Handel. “You were… taller. And…” “I know, I know, I was a lot more handsome,” said Handel. “But one thing I learned from that experience is that when you’re choosing an avatar, you’re better off picking one with a brain instead of just going for looks. All …

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Heartburgh Episode 4: Part 6

Geoffrey slowly eased Steuan’s door closed. He’d managed to get in and out without getting caught, without making a sound, or attracting any attention. He didn’t normally engage in breaking and entering. When he needed to have anything stolen on World of Battle, he had plenty of thieves he could subcontract to. Unfortunately, he hadn’t …

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Heartburgh Episode 4: Part 3

Author’s note: I removed the book Bartram was reading in the previous installment and replaced it with a catalog. A very special catalog. “So this is where Flame’s faith healer is staying?” General Lukomendrius Dungerame asked Geoffrey as the two approached the Drunken Pie in. “Steuan Raollet, yes. And he’s staying in the room right …

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Heartburgh Episode 4: Part 2

The door to the athaneum popped open. “The Duke is going to be a few minutes late,” Olav the page told the waiting council members sitting around the conference table. “He’s probably meeting with a foreign ambassador,” said Hephziba Primrose Livilla Massey. “Running a small kingdom in the middle of nowhere must be very challenging.” …

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Heartburgh Episode 4: Part 1

Geoffrey Napadayushyi, professional drama stirrer-upper in exile, walked into Heartburgh’s finest dining establishment, the Drunken Pie Inn, located just outside the entrance to Heartburgh Castle. Flame Bunyips, the Duke’s alliances and outreach coordinator, looked up from her breakfast. “Looking for a fast horse out of town?” “No, I’m actually just here for breakfast,” he said. …

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Heartburgh Episode 3: Part 6

By the time Geoffrey found and returned with four raw eggs, word of the competition had spread. Several villagers were camped out on the edges of the training ground, placing bets. The soldiers were no longer competing just for the gold stars. They were now competing for an audience, which meant that Ohoudulus might well survive …

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Heartburgh Episode 3: Part 5

Ohoudulus stood with his hands on his waist, watching the troops try to organize themselves into teams. “Watch and learn,” he told Geoffrey. “Watch and learn.” He walked to the first team. “Your ties are too loose,” he told them. “If they come undone, you’re disqualified.” He walked around behind the team, sniffed, and continued walking …

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Heartburgh Episode 3: Part 2

“This isn’t going to end well,” Bartram told Geoffrey. “You’re right, Flame is going to find out.” Geoffrey could see how it would play out. Flame Bunyips, Heartburgh’s alliances and outreach coordinator, would find out that Geoffrey hadn’t been injured in battle at all, and that she had provided medical care under false pretenses. She …

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Heartburgh Episode 3: Part 1

“Well, this is exciting,” the Duke said. “Our first official after-action debriefing.” For the purposes of the meeting, the atheneum had been turned into a war room, with a large map of Krim hung up on one of the walls, completely covering the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. A slate slab was propped up against the shelves on …

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Heartburgh Episode 2: Part 9

Geoffrey was very good at riding horses. Sowing hatred and discord usually required lots of travel. He was even better at riding dragons, since they were the faster mode of transportation on World of Battle. Krim, unfortunately, had no dragons. That was a pity, because it could have significantly reduced the time it took to …

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Heartburgh Episode 2: Part 8

“I guess he’s not going to have his soup then,” said Jim, and sat down in Bartram’s chair. He leaned over it and breathed in the scent. “Beans and… turnips?” “Skirrets,” said Quarta Pappa. “And garlic and onions, a little fennel.” Jim slurped up a spoonful. “Tasty.” “Is your friend really planning to walk all …

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Heartburgh Episode 2: Part 6

“When you get to Cleig Grijan, look for Quarta Pappa.” Flame handed Geoffrey a packet. “She’s the village elder.” “Her house is right next to the church on the village green,” added Abigail. “You can’t miss it.” “Fine, I’ll go,” said Geoffrey. “But just to Cleig Grijan. I don’t want to go to the sex …

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Heartburgh Episode 2: Part 3

Olav nudged Geoffrey awake. “Mr. Napadayushyi? Mr. Napadayushyi?” Geffrey propped himself up on an elbow. “Did we have a meeting scheduled? We did, didn’t we?” “No, no, I mean, yes, you wanted to talk to me today, but this is about something else. Duke Percheval would like you to come up to his suite.” Olav …

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Heartburgh: Episode 1 Part 7

“Wait, you can’t go in there…” the page said. Geoffrey shoved him out of the way and threw open the door. The general was climbing out of the bathtub and his derriere, glistening with water droplets, was pale and flabby. “Hey!” The general grabbed for a towel and turned around. “What’s the meaning of this?” …

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Heartburgh: Episode 1 Part 6

“General Lukomendrius Dungerame is in here,” the page said, opening the door. Hot, steamy air washed over Geoffrey and he stepped back. “Is that you, Geoff? Come on in!” The general was soaking in a large tub, one leg hanging over the edge, in a small, wood-paneled room that smelled of eucalyptus and juniper, probably …

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Heartburgh: Episode 1 Part 5

Geoffrey’s lodgings were located outside the castle proper, in an inn not too far from the castle entrance. He headed for a side door, instead, to avoid bumping into anyone he knew. He opened the door and walked right into Flame Bunyips. “What the hell!” Heartburgh’s alliances and outreach coordinator staggered to keep her balance. …

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Heartburgh: Episode 1 Part 4

“General Dungerame! The new military strategist is here.” General Dungerame turned around in his seat. “Hello, Geoff.” He dismissed the page with a wave of his hand. “Sit down.” “Hi, Luke.” Geoffrey walked out through a set of heavy wooden doors onto a stone balcony that overlooked the training field. Below, Heartburgh’s army was doing …

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Heartburgh: Episode 1 Part 2

Geoffrey found Flame Bunyips in the stables, brushing one of the horses. “There you are,” he said. “Who, me?” said Flame, turning around. “No, the horse,” said Geoffrey, and stroked the animal’s neck. “The stablehand said there’s nothing wrong with her.” “Then I’m sure she’s happy that you’re here with her instead of him,” said …

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Krimspiracy: Part 15

The accountant rubbed his wrists and staggered around the fire. “Did you have to kill them all?” Ellison stepped over one of the corpses, working the kinks out of his arms. The stars were bright in the sky. Normally, in Krim City, the constant smog blocked much of the view. Out here, you could see …

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Krimspiracy: Part 14

Ellison lunged towards the fire, trying to grab the poison capsule, but it was gone. One of the guards immediately grabbed him by the back of his jacked and pulled him away. “None of that,” said the guard. “We went to a lot of trouble to catch you.” One by one, the prisoners were re-shackled, …

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Krimspiracy: Part 13

Ellison didn’t know if the cult was watching him or not, so he followed the recommendation to go the King’s Arms and asked loud and detailed questions about the menu. “What do you mean, you don’t have turkey legs?” he complained at the bar. “The Middle Ages were all about turkey legs.” The bartender pointed …

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Krimspiracy: Part 12

Ellison stepped through the gate in his new avatar, wearing a randomly-generated face and a default adventurer outfit. He looked around as if he were on Krim for the first time. Matilda was nowhere in sight, but there were a lot of people milling around between the merchant stands in the Gate Plaza. Or she …

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Krimspiracy: Part 11

Ellison and Matilda met with the Round Krim Society late the following morning to deliver the bad news. The brothers were in the main meeting room downstairs, sitting around one of the long tables at the back, drinking herbal tea. Linota stood up when she saw them walk in. “Did you find him?” Ellison shook …

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Krimspiracy: Part 10

The wench avatar was a big mistake. Barking Street was much shorter when Ellison had walked up it while wearing the assassin outfit, with its long pants, jacket, and heavy, hooded wool cloak. Walking back down to Aldwich Row in a skirt and a bodice-baring chemise was an endless march. At least the skirt had …

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Krimspiracy: Part 9

Matilda and Ellison exited the Aldwich Row Community Center through same back door that they had come in through. There was a line of people in the alley and they pressed in as soon as the door was opened. Matilda pushed the most aggressive devotees aside but Ellison had neither her forceful personality nor the …

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Krimspiracy: Part 8

In the hallway outside Remember Keturah Bohannon’s office Ellison stopped to check the floor. “Do you see any scuff marks?” he asked Matilda. “You mean, from when Remember dragged Fulke out of his office, into hers, and threw him out the window?” She pursed her lips and looked at the floor, then grabbed an oil lamp …

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Krimspiracy: Part 7

Returning to Krim never got any easier. Even knowing that the fleas were all in his head, the minute he stepped through the gate, his entire body began itching again. His body felt heavier. His shoes were too tight around the toes, and too loose at the heel. The air, full of soot and aerosolized …

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Krimspiracy: Part 6

After getting back to city center, Ellison veered off for the central gate while Matilda continued down Knots Hollow Way, to the rooming house on Marylebone Place where Fulke lived. Ellison’s brother, Jerald Crewe, owned an investigation agency that mostly handled background checks and delivered subpoenas. When Ellison got out prison, Jerald was the only …

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Krimspiracy: Part 5

“You should have come and talked to me first,” the waitress said. She came up to the banister, keeping Ellison between her and Matilda, and looked over the bay as she tilted her head towards him. “I know all the goss. I’ll give you the straight story.” “What did Captain May lie about?” Ellison asked. …

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Krimspiracy: Part 4

“Apparently, to have a completely realistic physics engine, you need a computer as big as Krim itself,” said Ellison, walking up to Matilda’s table at the King’s Armpit. She normally sat at the bar. The choice of the table, in the far corner, was so that she could have a private conversation with some guy. …

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Krimspiracy: Part 3

Taenaran the Bard confirmed that he saw nobody else upstairs except Brother Fulke before the rehearsals began, then nobody else went up and down all afternoon. “We were short of chairs and a couple of guys had to sit on the stairs,” he said. “Nobody snuck past us.” “Did you go upstairs at anytime during …

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Krimspiracy: Part 2

“So let me get this straight,” said Ellison, looking around the office. “You want us to find evidence that Krim World administrators kidnapped your leader…” “Brother Fulke,” said Brother Linota. “…And are keeping him trapped in some kind of secret dimension where they keep everyone who disagrees with them.” “Yes.” “So that you can sue …

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Krimspiracy: Part 1

Damp darkness surrounded the back door of the Aldwich Row Community Center. It was colder by the door, with a mist rising up from somewhere to the right of the entrance. The only light was a faint glow from a second-floor window of the building on the other side of the alley. Someone up there …

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25. Angel with a jewel

Why would Rodge hire someone to steal a blank notebook? Ellison stopped under a streetlight and pulled it out of his pocket. He felt the pages. There was still nothing hidden in them or between them. He put the notebook away and continued down Leadenhall back to the Barley Mow Inn. Maybe Harmen Chapman stole …

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24. A spider in the corner

Quimby Plummer, owner of the Barley Mow Inn, refused to tell Ellison where Donna lived. “I know you’re working for that Rodge guy,” Quimby said. “After you two dragged my customer right out of here, I’m seriously considering kicking you out. Next time, drag them out after they’ve paid for their meal.” Ellison sighed, then …

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22. Fork full of skirrets

“Wait at the entrance,” Matilda told Ellison as she walked into the inn. “Don’t let him go upstairs or into the kitchen.” She pantomimed a knife across her throat. “You want me to slit his throat?” he whispered. “No. If he gets to the kitchen he might slice his own throat and we’d lose him …

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21. Pretzels, fur coats and trash chutes

The city hall was, in theory, a great place for secret meetings. Krim administrators didn’t allow any hanky panky inside the building. They had no problems with their residents being subject to grotesque acts of violence, but didn’t want to become victims themselves. Any user who violated the rules could be permanently banned from the …

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20. Send for the fishmonger

Rodge Bannister didn’t want to offer a reward for the return of the Jewel of Rhotar. They’d recovered everything except a dozen or so of the smaller, less valuable previous stones and historic artifacts. The Gang of Four had either hidden them somewhere where Rodge and his mercenaries couldn’t find them, had already sold them, …

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16. A steaming pile

“I suspect that Gervis has been finding opportunities to climb that back watch tower and drop the stolen goods down to one of his accomplices standing outside the wall,” Ellison said. “It’s hard to see who’s going up and down because the guild house and the stables are in the way.” “Well, now that’s all …

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14. As the bowl turns

“Don’t look now, but there’s a table at the back with four guys at it,” Matilda told Ellison in a low voice. “I know. My guy is there,” he said. “The one who just walked in?” “No, the one he kissed when he sat down.” “That’s Trozganoth the Anointed,” she said. “He knits scarves and …

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12. Around the corner

Ellison stepped out through the front gate of the Armforge guild, onto Knots Hollow Way, and debated about whether to head straight back to the Barley Mow for some dinner, ale, and a good night’s sleep, or to try to catch up with Matilda. On the one hand, Matilda could be just about anywhere. On …

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10. Horse sense

“They’re the Gang of Four,” said Matilda. “They’re famous. They case their targets, figure out who has access but doesn’t interact with other people much, and steal their identities while the commit the crime. They usually knock their victims out and tie them up somewhere, but getting Hellcut, Gorehair, and Rainbow Squirtle passed-out drunk was …

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7. Time to see the wenches

Before leaving, Ellison and Matilda had a chat with some of Rodge’s security team. They weren’t happy that Rodge had brought in outsiders to deal with the problem. “It’s almost like he doesn’t trust us to do our jobs,” said Two Teeth Tom, newly back from the dead. “Just because someone got the drop on …

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The Assassin’s Assassin Part 6

“So it all hinges on Ismena’s testimony.” Ellison leaned over the hand-written statement from Gus’s girlfriend and sole alibi. “Do you think she’ll be credible?” Matilda shrugged, then raised her self on her elbows so she could look over at the paper, her head almost touching Ellison’s. “Look here,” she pointed. “She writes her letter …

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The Assassin’s Assassin Part 4

“Hey!” Just outside the doorway, Gus threw up his hands. “Warren already told you that he didn’t see who attacked him!” The chancellor grudgingly nodded. Or perhaps the chief assassin did see who attacked him, but was too embarrassed to admit that he’d been caught out. Saying so out loud, though, especially without any evidence …

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