You can tell she’s a lady…

A polite cough disturbed Iona’s train of thought and she looked up to see her housekeeper standing in the study door way with a complex expression questioning look on her face and a towering militia officer with his helmet tucked under his arm standing behind her.

Thank you Leonora,” she said rising carefully from her seat and meeting the woman’s quizzical look with a ‘your guess is as good as mine’ expression. “Do come in officer. Close the door and tell Shayla we’d like some tea, thank you Leonora.” She motioned for the officer to step into the room and gave Leonora another complicated glance that said ‘don’t wander too far when you’ve closed the door’. Then she turned to the officer, who she could tell was a corporal now she could see the rank stripe on his sleeve. Clearly this wasn’t too serious a visit, most of the things she expected the militia to call on her about were matters for more senior officers. Relaxing slightly, although not entirely, she smiled at the corporal. Then she turned to her desk and flicked the folder shut, covering the plan she had just been reviewing. Reminding herself that she was a Lady and therefore gracious under pressure, she indicated that the officer should take a seat by the window, as far from her desk as it was possible to sit. Perching opposite him on the edge of the armchair by the fireplace, she said in a honey-sweet voice,

I’m sure you are aware that I am Lady Iona, Duchess of Pringle.” It was a small cruelty that brightened her day, watching the officer trying to work out whether he ought to stand up, where to look and whether to offer her a hand or not. “And you are?”

I’m Corporal Elvin Fisher,” grumbled the militiaman, addressing his naval and keeping his gaze fixed on his boots.

Very pleased to meet you,” lied Iona charmingly, offering the corporal a hand to shake, which he accepted warily. “Now corporal, how can I help you?” She smiled trying not to bare her teeth.

Um, it’s like this, your Lady-ship,” he said uncomfortably, staggering over the word lady-ship. “I’m one of the duty officers at the Docklands Militia Base. It’s about two miscreants we’ve got in custody down at the Docklands nick. We’ve had a request from the clink, I mean the gaol house, for you to bail them out, and truth be told we’d be most grateful if you was in the position to oblige. They’re playing merry wossname with the duty officer apparently, saying they was only performing and that as members of the Bard’s Guild they’re entitled to perform anything they liked. We’ve put them in the end cell but they’re still creatin’.” At this point Iona’s face was fighting against a cacophony of expressions. Already she was entirely certain who these two gaol birds were and she was torn between blind fury, side-splitting laughter and polite confusion. It made her look as though she was suppressing a sneeze.

Really?” she said to the now beleaguered looking corporal, “How dreadful.” As she said dreadful a snort of amusement escaped, which the corporal took for a sneeze and uttered ‘bless you,’ under his breath. “What are the names of these miscreants? It is possible they might be associates or tenants of mine.” The officer dipped into his pocket and pulled a scrap of paper out of his pocket.

The name they originally gave us was ‘The Amazing Bazooka Sisters’, then they claimed to be Sister Daisy and Mori Silerbanis, then one of them claimed she was a personal friend of the Frisian Ambassador and the other one was his mistress.” At this point, the poor man cleared his throat and continued valiantly. “After an hour in the stockade they finally admitted to being called Bread and Butter Pudding and Custard the Goblin of the Aberddu Chaos Temple and Miss Clara Euphemistia Cropper of no fixed abode.” As he read out the names he flushed red with embarrassment. Managing to contain her mirth, Iona nodded with mock solemnity.

I am aware of both these, what was the word you used? Miscreants, and I am in a position to pay the bonds on both of them. How much is it?”

Seventeen florins the pair, and you’ll have to come down to the militia building to sign the papers,” he said with a look of gleeful optimism dawning in his eyes. He had clearly thought this a fool’s errand but now it seemed likely that he might actually return to the base victorious.

Give me five minutes to collect my things and bring the chaise around,” said Iona with an edge of well-mannered exasperation, “and we’ll go.”

When, twenty minutes later, Iona drew her well known chaise and greys up outside the Docklands militia base, every eye in the street was on her and the embarrassed officer that had just jumped down from the passenger seat. Very few people would be presumptuous enough to leave a vehicle of this quality parked in this neighbourhood but Iona dared. No thief in their right mind, or even a wilful child with a piece of chalk, would lay their hand on Iona Pringle’s chaise. The militia officer opened his mouth to suggest it was unwise but before he could get the words out she turned to him and with a wry smile said,

I’m sure the illustrious citizens of Aberddu can be trusted not to steal a cart belonging to a widow-woman from outside of a militia building.” Then, she turned smartly on her heels and headed towards the open door of the base before he could object.

In the entrance hall, a cat fight between to dockland streetwalkers was being tentatively managed by a massive sweaty militiaman who had them both by the hair and had pushed them each to arms length. His shiny face was turned to one side to keep it out of scratching and spitting range. Around the edge of the room a gang of their colleagues, each in a set of heavy steel cuffs and still dressed in their working clothes, were participating in some colourful social commentary at the top of their voices.

Beyond the shrieking and cursing prostitutes, Iona could hear the usual after dark remonstrations coming from the ground floor cells. She stopped by the door, removed her gloves and hat and without batting an eye lid turned to Corporal Fisher and said,

Do lead on,”

Er, yeah,” he mumbled, now regretting his success in getting Lady Pringle to accompany him down to the base. Between her unguarded chaise and the fact she didn’t seem to have any sense of self-preservation in the face of a bunch of cat fighting hookers, he had a feeling things were going to end badly. “Walk this way your lady-ship”

With some trepidation, he lead her across the crowded hall and down the narrow stairs. He knocked on the door at the bottom and was let through by a squat, disgruntled woman in a green tabard who handed him a large ring of keys without a word. Picking up her skirts so that she had a good three inches of clearance, Iona took a step on to the foul floor of the corridor. She had heard Pudding and Clara the moment she had passed through the doorway. It really was a masterful talent they had between for creating an Indaba even whilst incarcerated. Iona allowed herself a private smirk as she heard Pudding serenading an irate gaoler with the old music hall favourite “I like it like a well boiled ham, firm and pink and juicy.” The atonal section as she escalated to the middle eight was a stroke of genius.

Corporal Fisher turned to Iona and shouted over the cacophony of singing and the shouts of the other prisoners for her to stop,

As I said, we would be most grateful if you would pay the bonds for them.” Iona nodded, having managed to chorale her face back to polite compliance just in time. “If you come this way, you can have a brief word with them before the private takes you up to the office to fill out the bonds.”

Thank you,” said Iona graciously as she tiptoed through the effluent on the gaol floor fighting back the urge to ask them when the last time they had hosed it down. She had actually walked through cleaner sewers, no wonder people complained about militia detention. It was a long walk to the end of a long narrow corridor with cells either side, the occupants either hunched in the shadows or catcalling at her and flailing through the bars. Then, faced with a t-junction she followed Fisher to the left passed a cell of arguing pickpockets some of whom she recognised. Neither she nor they acknowledged this acquaintance as she passed, they just came to the grille to watch what was happening.

Clara and Pudding were in the cell at the end just as Fisher had said and when Iona came into view Pudding stopped in the middle of the second verse of “Well Boiled Ham” and they broke into a chorus of the far less subtle “You can tell she’s a Lady by what she charges,” in glorious two part disharmony. They were clearly steaming drunk and judging by the state of them had either fallen into someone’s cesspit or Doc Loladge’s city slurry works. They looked almost exactly the same as they had when Iona had importuned them on Fisherman’s Walk, apart from the fact they were even dirtier, there were no apples, Pudding was actually wearing her hat and Clara had been swamped by a large woollen coat that dragged on the floor as she hopped about in the cells. Iona sighed and immediately regretted taking such a deep breath.

Shut it you two,” she hissed before Corporal Fisher had the chance to bark any recrimination. “You’ve got some explaining to do.” Clara and Pudding shut up immediately and looked at Iona with mock shame. Infuriated that Iona’s hissing had succeeded where his threats and taunts had failed, the gaoler glowered. “And this’ll be coming out of your wages,” Iona added smartly as she turned her back on them and took herself back to the stairs. 

Clara Cropper

aka: Clara, Clara Euphemistia Cropper

Age: no bloody idea

Religious views: whoever’d have ‘er… Trickster mainly

Adventuring skills and specialities: appalling street performance, theiving, scrounging, creating a disturbance of the peace, getting arrested.

Marital Status: …. hahahahah…none

Family connections:  A street urchin that survived to adulthood, she has a couple of siblings knocking about but family doesn’t really mean a lot to her.

Bio:

Clara Cropper was born and grew up on the streets in the rough end of Aberddu. She never had nothing or nobody… and she was used to that. Resourceful and wiley she avaded hanging and starvation to survive into adulthood.  She then joined as many guilds as would have her – most notably the Bards Guild, The Adventurers Guild and the Other Guild. This would have been a lucrative lifestyle had Clara understood what it meant to have one of those. It did bring her to Pudding the Goblin  who was probably the only person she trusted enough to consider a friend. A sticky end was fitting for Clara, because she’d had a pretty sticky exsistance one way or another.

Quotes:

Disguise?” snarled Clara, thirty minutes later, “Disguise? It’s practically fancy sodding dress.” Iona sniggered. The tiny urchin was standing gazing at herself in an enormous ornately framed looking glass in Mademoiselle Mantovan’s back room. Her old clothes had been chucked into a sack by Mademoiselle Mantovan herself. She had used the coal tongs to lift them and had been most affronted that she was not allowed to burn them. She had bagged them up with her nose upturned against the stench. Now Clara was done up like a horse for carnival, by comparison to her previous attire at least. She was wearing a well made simple little tunic and a pair of loose fitting hose that were made from heavy weight black cotton. They were probably the first articles of clothing she had ever had that were actually the correct size for her.  – In Shadows Waiting

 

Tollie & Sylas

aka: .many, many things including The Duchess of Montrone and Mattocks the coachman, Uncle Jack and Eloie the mouse, Marietta and her father, Doc Tolliver and his daughter,  (real names: Tolliver Marchant & Sylas Benn)

Age: unsure

Religious views: sceptical and mercenary.

Adventuring skills and specialities: deception, disguise, theft, innovative ways of escaping, the tarantella.

Family connections: Tollie’s father was a very important Death Priest.

Bio: 

Tollie and Sylas work as a pair.  Tollie is the main ideas man, although Sylas is not without his own brains. Sylas is a master of disguise – his tiny frame and feminine face make him a natural at pretending to be a girl. They have worked their way across the continent making a buck or two in any way they could think of posing as everything from a travelling medicine man and his daughter to an Albion Duchess and her coachman.  They joined the Adventurers Guild shortly after the collapse of the non-existent Guild of Thieves and Assassins and after the Summer of Fire, found a new interest in bringing down the Frisian Inquisition (if a buck can be made on the way then all well and good).

Extracts:

Excuse me Brother, but why do you have two magical mice in your pocket.” His little shake of the head told Tollie that he couldn’t believe he had just said these words.

Ah,” said Brother Tollie, looking abashed but grinning, “a little indulgence I’m afraid.” The guard gave him a highly suspicious look. “A left over from my dreadful heathen past. Allow me to introduce Eloie and Merkadi, my mice. That one is Eloie,” Tollie pointed at the disgruntled blonde one that narrowed its eyes at the sound of its name.

The homunculus was now trying to take a step away from him whilst remaining a menacing presence. Tollie knew he was on to a winner, and continued. “I was, in my bad old days, before I saw the light,” with his free hand Tollie theatrically waved his ankh at the guard, “I was in a travelling fair. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? Uncle Jack’s amazing magical mice?” He said it with such a convincing air of despairing hope that the guard felt obliged to shake his head and mumble ‘sorry no’ under his breath. “Ah well, it was a long time ago.” Tollie had the ability to sound like an old man even if he didn’t look like one and talking the talking was far hard than shuffling the shuffle of the old. It was something that Sylas admired in Tollie when he wasn’t a mouse waiting for an inevitable humiliation.

What kind of amazing magical mice?” said the guard with a grudging curiosity and Tollie was ready for the question.

They squeak the Paravelian National Anthem and dance the Tarantella. Although I’m afraid they’re a little out of practice.” – Dawn of Darkness

 “Would you take that ridiculous wig off?” snapped Tollie.

It’s no worse than your badger’s bum beard,” grumbled Sylas, stubbornly refusing to remove it.

It’s going bald, and it’s got lice,” spat Tollie, leaning over to snatch it from his head.

It’s realistic,” retorted Sylas ducking skilfully out of his grip.

It’s revolting,” groaned Tollie making another grab for it.

Would you two just shut up,” snapped Jason Devere irritably. He was leaning against a nearby tree just off the path trying to pretend that he wasn’t with them. Next to his feet, Pringle was sitting cross-legged on the floor, his hammer across his knees, playing with the grass. It had been a very long walk from Neckard not because it was far away but because Tollie and Sylas hadn’t shut up the whole way.  – Summer of Fire (coming soon) 

 

Who’s your favourite adventurer?

So, those of you who have read any or all of the Aberddu Adventures series, a simple opening question (well two actually) . Who is your favourite adventurer and why? 

(Maybe it’s the one you’d like to meet most, the one that makes you laugh, or cry or want to slap them…. it’s up to you what you mean by favourite but it’d be good if you would explain.) 

 

Gerard

aka: Viscount Gerratti Baranetti.

Age: Old enough to know better

Religious views: complex

Adventuring skills and specialities: wizarding, thinking, portals, reading maps, giving lectures, changing into birds.

Marital Status: Bachelor

Family connections: Related to half of Paravel…the rich half.

Bio: 

Gerratti Baranetti came to the Mage’s Guild of Aberddu shortly before the summer of Fire. He was apprenticed to Elor Nybass, a wizard who spent most of his time interfering in the Adventurers Guild. Curiousity and little better to do with his free time lead Gerratti to become a permanent fixture in the guild. He was renamed Gerard by a bunch of Greenskins who liked him but thought his name was stupid. He is treated with affectionate contempt by the majority of the Adventurers who like him, but don’t want him to get ideas. It’s taken him five years to discover the purpose of pantaloons.

 

Extracts:

Gerard was clearly no danger with a weapon, except perhaps to himself. Unfortunately, it did not stop him from trying. Keeping him on the right track was proving to be like trying to herd frogs with a teaspoon. The problem was that he was fixated by the fact that she was a woman. He had somehow got it embedded in his head that he would have to escort her; a thought that would have offended Iona had it not been so laughable. She took a deep breath and pressed on to the peak of the mountain. – The Freetown Bridge

It’s not difficult you moron,” Derek could hear Cassandra saying up ahead. He couldn’t see her, as most of the party had crested a hill and were out of sight on the other side. It was just that the Jaegars’ voices tended to carry. “We’re following a main road, how complicated is that?”

Then he heard Gerard’s nasal retort and sighed. Someone had let Gerard get ahead of the scouts again. For an extremely intelligent man he was useless with both maps and directions. His haughty voice wafted in the afternoon air.

…and furthermore Madam, I’d be extremely grateful if you could step back out of my personal space.” Derek pushed forward passed the gaggle of Clerics in front of him. He needed to reach the front before Mr Adarius Jaegar decided, for a laugh, he was going to defend Mrs Cassandra Jaegar’s honour by punching Gerard on his somewhat ill-defined chin. Just as he overtook Dingelo the tiny bard, who was clanking like an out of tune one-man-band with every step, he heard the sound he was expecting and dreading. Adarius Jaegar’s  distinctive baritone split the stillness.

Don’t you speak to my wife like that, wizard-boy.” Derek broke into a trot and as he reached the top of the slope. He could see the knot of adventurers where they had collected at a fork in the road about fifty yards ahead. Adarius was squaring up to petulant looking Gerard, whose flabby chin was wobbling with self-righteous irritation. The two men were of roughly comparable and not inconsiderable size.  – Dawn of Darkness

 

 

Mrs Iona Pringle

aka: Lady Iona, Duchess of Pringle; Iona; IP; That woman…

Age: you shouldn’t ask a lady her age

Religious views: prefer not to disclose

Adventuring skills and specialities: scouting, thievery, risk-taking, being outspoken and opinionated

Marital Status: Widow – of the late and great Dakarn Pringle, one time piss-artist now aspect of Trickster.

Family connections: One daughter – Rosemary Iona Pringle. She has no interest in her family roots.

Bio:

Born in obscurity in the Elven Forest, Iona brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘parvenu’. She’s widely travelled, having ‘worked her passage’ across the continent with the Ambassadorial services of Paravel and Albion. The adventuring life suits her because it allows her to pursue several of her great passions: being right, making money and gaining power and most importantly – appearing to be doing all of this for the right reasons. In her spare time, she runs an Aberddu knocking shop (sorry… high class drinking establishment with bespoke personal entertainment) called The Duchess’ Pleasure.

In Iona’s defense, she’s a more genuine soul than people give her credit for – her best friends include an erstwhile pig-farmer turned adventurer called Derek and  a colourful gypsy called Morwenna. She is fiercely loyal to those select few that she loves and will fight tooth and nail for them, and against the Frisian Inquisition. She just doesn’t suffer fools.

Quotes:

“When you said ‘you don’t know what’s down there in that fog,’” he gasped finally level with Iona again, “What you meant was that I didn’t know what was in that fog but you did, wasn’t it?”

A scornful smirk curled across Iona’s face as she turned to look at the flushed cheeks of the wheezing wizard.

“Glad you’ve finally worked that one out,” she retorted, “Now perhaps we can get to where we’re going without getting ourselves killed.”

“Absolutely, right you are. You lead on then, madam,” said Gerard, trying to sound cordial whilst still flushed and panting. Fire flashed in Iona’s eyes, as she turned on her heels, started back up the hill and growled

“And don’t call me Madam,”  – The Freetown Bridge

 

 

“Miss’ ‘ona Prin’le.” he asked gently, and took Scylayla’s scowl as an affirmative.

Iona, probably still alive because of her paranoia, shot one hand down to her knife hilt. Why on earth did a gargantuan swineherd in Idldorf know her name? She knew farm folks liked their gossip but she hadn’t been in Paravel that long and Derek surely couldn’t know every pig farmer on the continent, could he? With little option but to own up to her name, she turned to the man and said,

“I’m Iona Pringle, how can I help you?”

The swineherd pulled himself up to his full, towering, height, removed his rag cap and bowed low.

“Obidiah Bowe Hingis, a’ your ser’ice, it’s an honour ma’am,” he said with the poorly contained excitement of a small child who’d been told he has to stand still for five minutes and then he can have his own magic cat. He proffered a hand like a side of steak and not knowing what else to do, Iona took it and shook. Her other hand was now firmly gripping her dagger, ready to draw. After a bone-crushing moment she retrieved her sweat-coated hand and wiped it on the seat of her hose. She was just about to take leave of her unexplained admirer when he bellowed across the hubbub of the thoroughfare.

“Oi, Oi, Abraham,” and a man that resembled a human stick insect looked up, a clay pipe clamped between him disgusting brown teeth. “gue’ ‘o thi’ im! I’ only Miss’ Prin’ fro’ tha stories,”  – Dawn of Darkness

 

 

“What in the names of all the Gods were you think?” she cried as she burst through the door to find Clara and Pudding sitting forlornly on the bed side by side gazing at their feet. “What the hell did you break out for?” Looking up sullenly, Clara said,

“We had some fings to do, di’n’t we?”

“Yeah,” chimed in Pudding her eyes narrowed with resentment. “We can’t be sittin’ about here all night like a bunch of hookers ya know. We’ve got things to do, people to see and all that.”

“Like what?” demanded Iona, glaring at them incredulously. “What was so bloody important that you couldn’t follow a simple instruction?”

“Well,” started Clara her voice already wheedling after just one word, “I had some fings to collect didn’t I ? “

“Like what?” snapped Iona again, getting into her motherly stride. At this point Clara stood up to show Iona her coat.

“My best coat for instance,” she said turning to show Iona the full extent of the immense monstrous garment. Iona had been ready to retaliate to any one of a number of excuses but this one completely floored her. She just stood there, gaping. After floundering for a few seconds she finally managed to utter,

“That’s your best coat?”

“Yeah,” squealed Clara offended, “Wha’ wrong with it? It’s got plenty of wear in it.”

“Yeah, for someone twice your height and weight or possibly a family of midgets.”

“It fitted the guy who died in it,” mumbled Clara by way of explanation.

“Someone died in it?” cried Iona, her earlier fury subsiding in pity.  – In Shadows, Waiting.