Mensalith's Gambit

The Slave Caravan

The heroes awake in a cage pulled by giant beasts, hands and feet bound, and without any possessions. They can see that they are amongst a long line of cages and Orc soldiers, presumably the same enemies that attacked them at Blackworth. With them in the cage is a young man, weathered and dirty, staring out at nothing. Garett engages him in conversation and finds out that his name is Alain, and he is from Hullhearth, a town to the north and west of Blackworth, that met a similar fate. His family was in Hullhearth, and he does not know what happened to them, but fears they are dead. Garett gets the feeling that Alain would love to escape, but feels so defeated that he does not care to try. He is overcome with despair.

Some nearby Orcs are overheard talking, and only Adrie can understand what they are saying.

“So what if we are attacked? We are strong, and we’ll just kill the prisoners if we meet any trouble. Stop worrying. I’m thinking more about food and sleep than enemies on the road. I wonder how much longer we have to march?”

“Not long, we make camp at sundown.” The other answers. “Grannik says we need to get these prisoners on the other side of the Ironsides before they spoil. Dead slaves ain’t no use, he says. So we’ll be up before dawn, as usual. What Rokrag does with these is anyone’s guess, but I’ll bet it ain’t nice and pretty.”

The orcs both share a muffled laugh. The other one speaks.

“I heard he was using them to work in the mines, and some for experiments, whatever that means. But I think they been sending the fancy ones to Him for some other reason. Them’s the ones who read the words and remember things that happened a long time ago. Dunno what for, but that’s what me cousin Jalkraat told me. He cooks for Rokrag, and hears what they talk about.”

The other orc sucks in his breath. “Has your cousin ever seen…*Him*?”

“No, no, you dolt. Rokrag is just a lieutenant. I doubt he has even been within a mile of the Great One. Idiot.”

“Well, I don’t know!”

The Orcs bickered back and forth until a shout ahead in the procession silenced them.

Eventually, as the sun begins to set, the Orcs pull the caravan off the road next to a forest. The beasts are corralled, and fires are lit. The heroes smell the foul stench of what can only be Orc food.

As soon as it is dark enough, Garett begins work on escaping his restraints. He is skilled enough to remain undetected in his struggle, and manages to free most of the occupants of the cage until finally he is spotted by a passing guard. The Orc guard calls over two of his friends to guard the cage as he goes in to refasten the holds on Garett. But just as soon as the gate is opened, to the Orc’s dismay, Garett is not the only one free, and a fight breaks out. The Orcs are quickly overtaken and just as the last one is about to fall, the sound of metal and shouting can be heard both ahead of and behind them. There seems to be another battle in the caravan. The remaining Orc uses this opportunity to escape toward the front of the procession, and the heroes, along with Alain, dart off into the forest.



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