The Adventures of King Carl the Squat and Prince Bortimer (Part 4)

Vika was somewhat of an anomaly among halflings. She had a knack for roguishness of course, but this had led her to engage in more travelling than her people were customarily known for. Vika was quick of hand and even quicker in wit and insight and before long she had secured for herself a reputation as a sneaky little scoundrel. Her hometown of Tinystadt soon proved too small for even her tastes and she made her way to the great city of Slothenburg to seek her fortune.

What Vika found in the sprawling swamp-born city of the jors was anything but the happy ending she had in mind. It was evident from the get-go that this was no place for an independent minded young woman, halfling or otherwise, to try and make her way as a thief. It was possible to skulk about the fringes for a short while, but the time inevitably came when she caught the attention of the numerous large, organized criminal factions that controlled who stole what and from whom in Slothenburg. For a while she did odd jobs for the Gonghauler clan, a rough group of ill-mannered and violent jorish and orcish thugs who did a surprisingly good business in grifting. Vika picked up a lot of skill in this line of work and soon she could pass as any number of different women from a variety of backgrounds as long as they were halflings. She posed as a cook, a noblewoman, a police inspector, a beggar, a woman of the night, and unironically as an actress. Life wasn’t exactly going according to plan, though, and Vika wanted more than to earn money for the foul-tempered goons she currently had to answer to.

Returning to her hometown she decided to try her hand at circus life. Tinystadt has always been the winter base for the infamous Deadling Brothers, Bedlam and Breakage Circus and Vika approached them in hopes of securing work that would allow her to travel and make money more for herself than for violent men. Seeing her potential immediately, she was hired as an actress and clown. Vika was going to earn more doing that than she would have in Slothenburg and there wasn’t the imminent threat of arrest involved. She worked hard and found even more ways to improve her skills as a rogue with the help of dozens of like-minded travelling performers.

It was in this capacity that she first met Prince Bortimer, the youngest child of Empress Reichsha. Bortimer had a taste for theatrics on a grand scale, but any performance would do. He especially enjoyed comedic violence and clowns were the undisputed masters of this art form. She made such an impression on Bortimer that he asked to see her after a performance and from there they became good friends. His ever-present companion was a terrifying jorish huntsman who seemed to find little amusement in anything and yet he always fervently applauded Vika’s performances.

That first meeting of Prince Bortimer and Shr Grogdahl was several years in Vika’s past now. She was a valued member of the circus family and yet it didn’t seem to satisfy her. Perhaps her halfling lineage was finally at long last beginning to assert itself as her thoughts wandered daily to daydreaming of a quiet domestic life. She did enjoy the travelling life, but it would be nice to settle into a place with a real kitchen where Vika could keep kettles and pots for her culinary concoctions. She was a halfling, after all. And so it was with great enthusiasm that Vika received a letter from her old friend Bortimer as she was resting in her caravan wagon after the show in the Fanolanian city of Rhyms. In it he proposed a scheme by which she could retire from the traveling life and retire at a youthful age to a more sedate and serene existence. Seems that another halfling lady who was a friend of Bortimer had an unwelcome suitor and she was looking for a way to shift his affections onto somebody else. The letter was surprisingly detailed, and the man who delivered it was none other than Shr Grogdahl who had plenty of information to fill in the details Bortimer had left out. While skeptical she was really ready for marriage, Vika began to mull over the possibilities that married life might offer. Bortimer was offering to set her up, and not just with any fellow, either. This man had money and lots of it. In fact, he was King Carl the Squat of Vlaanderen. She wasn’t going to just get her own little kitchen in a tidy little cottage den. She was getting a palace with servants that could assist in her cooking, or just do all of it for her.

The decision was really remarkably easy to make.