June 9, 2011

An excerpt from Balen's missives home (translated from Dwarven):

Mother & Father,

Once we had freed the prisoners we decided the best course of action was to bring them with us. Don't worry, I'm not getting soft on the poor humans. They were weak and in no condition to take care of themselves. Leaving them behind was a security risk we could ill afford. All we needed was for the slavers/bandits to come back and they'd have far too much information regarding our group.

We continued on towards the inn we knew was further down the road. When we got to what used to be the Triple Crown....I believe it is the Dead Minotaur or some such, we pulled up to a trio of wagons. The first held some wolves, the second some kobolds and an orc, and the third had some prisoners. I stayed behind with the wagon. Krank and his kin kept me company, along with the badly wounded man we rescued. There were some flashy-dressed guards watching the nearby stable. There was some brief discussion back and forth and we were able to tell the trio were slaves....pit fighters that enter combat because they are forced to. One tried to goad me into paying to fight him, saying he was responsible for many deaths at Kadir Ridge. I saw the ruse for what it was, but he attempted to distract me from my duty anyway.

When the hobbo girl came out of the inn to relieve me so I could eat I overheard the trio making a crass remark about the girl. They said something to the effect of, "Maybe when we are done with them, the boss will toss her in here with us." I suspected a trap and after confirming these men could not understand our language I called out to Zaki to gather the party because we needed to leave in a hurry. As our group assembled to leave, a couple of men followed them out and tried to convince us to stay. Their words sounded more like a threat than a concerned warning and I ignored them. One man made his way to the caged wagon and the other went around the corner towards the privy.

I jumped off the wagon, expecting trouble, and sure enough we were soon in some. I later learned that the man that disappeared came back around the corner and cast some spell that affected several of the group, mostly the weak and wounded. I was fixated on the human fumbling around with his keyring. I moved to engage him in an attempt to stop him from freeing those pit fighters. Just before I reached him, he fell to a well-placed javelin. Evidently we had another Elf befriend our party and she had thrown the missile. I finished the man off and dragged his body away from the cage lest those fighters attempt to grab the keys.

The battle was over in a matter of seconds. Evidently I was correct about the trap and our preparations gave us the upper hand in what could have been a nasty battle. The inn keeper told us that he had suspected these men guilty in some earlier disappearances. We searched the bodies and bound two prisoners. While we were securing the battlefield the new Elf went to the one cage and outright slaughtered the kobolds and the orc. Then she started to freak out and threw up all over the hobbo girl. I just don't get that kind.

We had some discussion about what to do with the pit fighters. I was concerned about the one called Crusher, who had said he slaughtered so many of our kind. When we offered them the possibility of freedom the big one called Ox seemed almost confused by the concept. I asked Crusher if he was just trying to goad me earlier or did he truely wish our kind ill will. He admitted being a Kalamaran Lieutenant during the Battle of Kadir Ridge, and to having killed every Person who crossed his blade in battle. He said it matter of factly and without remorse. Then he went on to say that when he was ordered to massacre non-combatants he turned away and was enslaved as a traitor to his people. He tried to be stoic, but I could see the truth in his eyes. As one fighter to another I believed him.

Ancestors protect me....I fumbled with the keys and released the trio then and there from their slavery. If they were going to be a threat and attack us once they had the chance I was willing to find out then and there. They stumbled out of their cage, stiffly rubbed where their shackles and chain restraints bound them, and then set upon our prisoner responsible for their suffering. A single blow from the one called Ox put a dent so large in the Mage's head that you would have sworn it was from my Warhammer!

The trio was truly grateful to be freed and the inn keeper donated a keg to the liberation party. As a group we gave them some coin to see them through to their next destination and we offered them the very horses that carted their cage around. There was much partying to be had in the inn that night.

I allowed myself one drink and then went back to guard the wagon. It is my duty and I do not feel slighted that I was unable to partake in the festivities. I do have a lot to think about though. It has been a very long day and while I could use a bath and some time to comb out my beard, I felt it was important to stay up just a little while longer and write you this note.

May the Ancestors watch over you,

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