Balance

GET'EM BOYS

10th of Wealsun, 383ONT, 10:43am, the slave Pits, Honastice Province, Argyle

“… Run, Sir Thalion, run far and run fast, cause I say, when I catch you, there will, I say there will be a reckoning…. RELEASE THE HOUNDS!”

With that the impossibly loud voice ended, and the dogs began to bark as their handlers were led in various directions. Lord Marmaduke looked down, watching the slaves continue to scramble up the shale hill and into the trees on the far side of the pit. He turned to the men around him and gathered them into a huddle

“Clyde, I need you to take fifty good men and get down that hill, there aint no way that they got all my slaves, get them fire’s out and figure out what in high hell happened, I want that place on lock down and a tally of just what in high hells happened. Get me a roster of who we have and who is on the run, I want our boys in the field to know just who in the hells they are looking for”

“You got it Lord Marmarduke” Clyde said peeling away from the group to go about his tasks

“George, I was not kidding when I said I want the militia’s and farms alerted, you go wake that damn fool of a wizard back at the house, tell him in the next four hours I want all of Honastica ta know about that dirty lying thief Thalion! That he is on the run with over a hundred pieces of my property! I want a reward on his head, 5,000 Don-Tonian Golden Pieces for the bloody head of that damned elf to be returned to me. I will pay an additional thousand for the heads of his companions, The Frog, the two little girls, the goblin, and the women guard!”

“Sir, what of Mr. al-Pour and his slave? They were seen lighting fires in the corn fields” George asked

“I doubt very much that anyone working with Sir Thalion was a slave…" Marmaduke said with venom in his voice “offer two thousand for them, but I want those two alive… al-Pour is worth money to me, his family will compensate me for this trouble, of that I am sure.”

“Yes Sir” George said turning away and finding his mount

“Leroy, You take twenty five or so men; I’ll send you more when I have ‘em, ride on west towards Bridgeton, get me a decent sized posse, I’ll fill there cups for some decent work, cut off any of them fools who think they’re gonna make for the Dwarven boarder” he turned to his left to another man in the huddle “Benjamin, you do the same, but hit all them little farm towns south of here and cut off anyone who thinks there gonna slip into the elvish lands, cast me a wide net boys… I don’t want no one gettin away”

“Yes Sir” the two said tipping their hats and peeling off

“Noah, take about four or five good ol’boys with ya… you know the type…. There are always a couple special slaves, the kind with no real sense of direction, head on North and see who you can rustle up”

“You got it boss!”

“Russel, I want you to get me el’Trejo…” there was a gasp at this, but Marmaduke made a cutting motion with his hands, he was in no mood to hear it "I want him after Thalion and those wolves… I want my wolves back! Once he is after them, Call in every favour we have…. Thalion is a Captain… he is so proud of his precious little ship, ‘the Champions Fist’” Marmaduke made a mocking tone while he said the words “I’d bet every coin I ever earnt that he’s heading east for the ocean… cut him off! STOP HIM! SINK HIS GODS BE DAMNED SHIP FOR ALL I CARE! HE ROBBED ME! NOBODY ROBS EARL EPSCOT MARMADUKE AND LIVES TO TELL THE TALE! I WANT MY SLAVES BACK AND I WANT MY REVENGE! GO OUT THERE AND GET IT! NOW!” he was red faced and screaming by the end of his tirade, the remaining men quickly broke off hurrying to their mounts and about their business. To summon el’Trejo should have been signal enough, war had been declared.

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Silent Freedom Pt 1

7th of Wealsun, Lord Maradukes Plantation, Honastice Argyle, 5:15am

They stayed about fifteen minutes, they wished they could stay longer. Mordicum didn’t seem very stable and she hated to leave him, but their work would not allow that. Hikauri and Aury carefully watched another guard rotation pass. Every quarter hour it seemed, not a lot of time to move but some. Try as she might Aury could find no way to remove the collar from the Mordicum, there was no key hole to pick. She was sure with more light, time and maybe a little magic she could have him free of it, but for now they had had to look elsewhere. Fortunately the chain that connected the collar to the ground was only clasped there with a padlock. It was a decent enough lock, the flickering light making it harder still to pick, but she was the Gate Keeper and soon it fell away to her skills. They explained to Mordicum that for this to work, he would have to hold still until the fighting began, then he was to rally and meet the other werewolves at the gate. A look to Hikauri showed that they both had little faith in the dwarf to remember this, but they had no choice and soon they were on their way.

From shadow to shadow they slipped, always one at a time, always while the other looked on keeping the watch. In the last hour Aury had freed four more slaves, a half elf named Tanyl, a pair of Halfling twins named Fardulf and Bowman and a Half Orc woman named Sharn. Each had seemed to have their wits about them, and were willing to wait until the fighting began. It took almost half an hour to cross the wider stretch of road, dodging the ever churning lights and guard glances. They had freed another human who simply went by Riggs, and skipped another who seemed a little too unhinged to trust to wait before at last coming across another were.

She appeared human, with dark skin, and darker hair, wearing little more than rags about her. As the two slinked near her dog house she perked up, but did not make sudden movements.

“who are you?” she stated in a low whisper, her eyes not moving to them as Hakauri slipped into her Dog house, and Aury curled in the shadows to the side.

“I am Hakauri, this is Aury… Thalion sent us to rescue you” the child sized magus said in a breath of a whisper

“I am Selene, sworn member of Versum’s Pack, you have my thanks. As she spoke the women’s hand slowly moved some dirt, she pulled forth what looked like a dagger sized bone that had been sharpened to a shiv. “What is the plan?” she asked

“Aury here is going to pick the locks connecting your chain to the ground… in a few hours there will be a commotion at the front, link up with the other were and we will fight our way out” Hikauri said. To this Selene gave a subtle nod and moved slightly to allow her shadow to be cast over the lock. “Aury is going to need to shift forms in order to pick the lock… due to a curse, she looks like the vampire Serenity who attacked you, I assure you she is not, but if this will alarm you, we are all caught” Hikauri knew that this was a bit of a stretch on the truth, but her and Aury had agreed that for the sake of haste this is what they would say for the time being.

“A wretched curse indeed to be trapped in such a vile and horrendous creatures form” Selene said, her voice dripping with hate and venom.

“Indeed” Hikauri said, giving Aury a look not to argue. Dutifully the kitten said nothing as she shifted forms. And although Selene stiffened and clutched her bone shiv tightly, she made no move against Aurelia as the sylph freed the padlock and shifted back into kitten form. “Wait for the signal” Hikauri reminded as they prepared to leave.

The hour was at least the seventh, the sun as coming up giving an orange glow to the slave pits, they still had the advantage of long shadows, but this would not last long, they had to hurry.

Another half hour caused them to leave four slaves chained and free two Wing-Ti humans named Du Tao and Yaun Wuhan, a gnome named Clankwagic and a fellow who claimed to a former Tukin Knight named Dallan Stillard. Each were given the instructions to wait until the signal, and ever onward the two crept, winding and working their way through the third compound. The slavers seemed to have decided that the Were should not be close to one another, and so they needed to search far in each direction to try and find one. At last they came across a young women chained to another dog house. It appears the guard had come by with a slop and put it into a clay dish for her to eat, she was eyeing it suspiciously when they crept up to her.

“Greetings, I am Hikauri…” Hikauri began, but the redhead cut her off

“You are of Thalions Pack, you both smell of him… is he here, has Versum been freed?” Hikauri was a little taken aback by her revelations, but plowed forward

“Thalion will be assaulting the pits soon, we are freeing people to get them ready… Aury will free your chain but be warned, her appearance…”

“Is of Serenity? I can smell it on her, though she does not smell dead, thus she is not a Vampire… I am glad you came Aurellia… though am a little disappointed that your true form was not one of the wolf” her tone was light and not meant to offend. Aurellia shifted back and began to work on the lock

“I am sorry… did we meet last time?” Aurellia asked

“Not formally, you met my brother Berald I am sure, I was in the caves, but not a high pack member… my name is Azura”

“Well Auzra” Aurellia said with a grin as she heard a satisfying click from the lock “When the fighting happens, head for the gates, Thalion and the rest will be there to help us out of here”

“I will, my thanks to you both… but do tell, have you found Berald? Is he ok?” Auzra asked

“We have not seen your brother yet… but we will keep looking” Hikauri said as Aurellia shifted back

“Thank you my friends… be carefully” she said as the child and the kitten whisked to the next prisoner.

The sun coming up was certainly slowing their ability to move quickly. More staff were working now delivering breakfast to slaves, the guards shift had changed offering fresh troops going about their business. Slaves were being rounded up for work or assessment. They managed to free an ogre named Ik, and a human named Sevel before they opted for speed in searching for the Were.

Over the next hour they managed to track down and Free a Halfling Were named Hallec, and a Half Elf named Kodan. Kodan had already freed himself of his lock; planning to free himself this day anyway, Hikauri managed to convince him to wait for the others. The hour was getting late, near enough to 8:30 or 9, Thalion and his group could be arriving anytime between 9:30 and 10:00. The extra light was making things harder still as the shadows grew few on a bright Wealsun day. The heroes would need to decide if they would push forward and attempt to enter Zone 4, 2 or 1 with the increased light or if they would continue freeing non-were in zone 3 until their comrade arrived.

To be Continued

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Dog eat Dog world pt 2

1st of Wealsun, Lord Maradukes Plantation, Honastice Argyle, 1:34pm

“ah, you can see he is coming to. This is, developmentally, a very important time for our slaves, if you are diligent now it will save you countless hours later” Voss heard the light baritone voice as his eyes cracked opened. The light assailed him sending waves of nausea ricocheting through his body; all at once he could feel the pain from dozens of bruises across his body. As a werewolf he was not used to this feeling, his healing tended to take care of these things quickly, they must have beaten him within an inch of his life for him to still be in such poor shape. Again he willed his eyes open, he could not help but pant heavily sucking in oxygen to try and fight off the nausea. He was curled into a ball, in a small metal cage, the kind one would expect to find in a kennel. There was a ratty wool blanket on the floor and a bowl half filled with water. With great fortitude he rose his head and looked about. His cage was under an open shed, there were cages on either side of him, but currently both were empty, ahead of him was a dirt field were three men stood, beyond them was the loathsome wrought iron fence and the clay walls. He was still in the Slave Pits. One of the three men turned to his companions. This man wore a clean suit of tan, he had well-groomed brown hair and a neatly trimmed goatee. The man removed his tan jacket showcasing a tan vest and white shirt. He passed the jacket to one of the men, by his dress Voss assumed a guard, then he carefully approached Voss’s crate, keeping low with a forced smile plastered across his face.

“Who is a good boy? Who is a good boy?” the man asked in an oddly chipper tone as he approached. When he was within five feet of the cave the man stopped his approach “You are a good boy aren’t you? Aren’t you?” the man’s hand reached for the edge of the cage. Voss’s hand snaked out like lightening, but the man proved quicker, startled he fell backwards in the mud, but escaped before Voss could grab him. In seconds the guard ran up baton in hand striking at the bars. The slight charge of electricity in the baton jumped into the bars and gave Voss a frightful shock that threatened to send him back to oblivion.

“DIRTY SWINE, YOU’LL NOT TRY THAT AGAIN!” the guard cursed as he raised his baton again. But the blow did not land. The man in tan held the guards hand and was scolding him

“you ignorant fool! What are you doing?” he asked

“I was disciplining the slave Master Bladwell” the guard responded, a little taken aback

“No you weren’t, you were undoing my hard earned efforts!” Bladwell spat at the guard, slapping him hard in the face “He is in his crate! You never discipline a creature in their crate! That is HIS space, HIS safe space… NO MATER WHAT! Am I getting through that thick rock skull of yours?” he asked slapping the guard repeatedly.

“but, he was trying to hurt you…” the guard said in a confused whine

“but he was trying to hurt you…” Bladwell repeated back in a nasally mocking tone “… no he wasn’t, he is declaring his space, and establishing dominance over it, exactly what we want him to do you nitwit! Your Lord hired me to train his slaves, because he wants to expand his labour and fighting operations, you can’t just beat ogres and trolls into submission, they have to trained… or you will keep having incidents like this… so shut up and let me do my jump you incompetents nincompoop!” he slapped the guard three more times before ripping the stun baton from his hands and throwing it across the field, forcing the guard to walk off and get it. With that job complete he turned back to Voss “I’m sorry about that boy, was that mean old guard twying to hurt you… hmmmm… we don’t like him do we? Do we?” the tone of Bladwell had shifted back to his chipper infantile one as he spoke to Voss. “But we’re going to have to stop calling you boy aren’t we? Your gonna need a name, yes you are, yes you are”

“I am Voss” Voss said, clearing his throat slightly, perhaps he could make inroads with this person.

“Awwwwe, he’s trying to sound like people…” the man turned to his companion with a look of adoration on his face “That is sooooo cute… but… we are going to need a good name for you aren’t we?”

“I said my name is Voss!” Voss said anger growing inside

“Good speak, good speak!” the man said in an overly excited tone, then he turned again to his companion… “I had some figs today, and I enjoyed them so much… I think I will call him Fig”

“An excellent name sir” the third man said, his tone one of passive disinterest

“Do you like that name Fig? do ya Fig? do ya?”

“VOSS!” Voss snarled at the man

“Ohhhh I think Fig likes his new name, I think he does” Bladwell said rising to his feet. “You hold tight here Fig; I’m gonna get the training fields all set up, then you and me are gonna have a lot of fun!” again his tone was light and chipper, but Voss felt a sinister fear creep into him, this was like no man he’d ever met before.

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Dog eat Dog world Pt 1

1st of Wealsun, Lord Maradukes Plantation, Honastice Argyle, 1:14am

Voss had heard the chime of the first hour; he did not move, did not open his eyes. He lay in his scratchy cot waiting. The last few days had been hard, but he was sure his tactics were sound. He had been the best-behaved slave he could, had proven his aggression but also his eagerness to please and thus had been granted status into the fighting circuit. He had now done four days of training, he was being fed better and his accommodations had been upgraded to a group barracks. The thick collar was still around his neck, and from it a heavy chain leached onto an inset ring that had been shaped into the stone floor. He had not seen Versum since they had arrived here, he knew some of his pack brethren had attempted escape already, each of them failing and being punished, others were still starving in the intake pits; the captors waiting to see what kind of trouble they would be. He had seen Trovel and Weizen had also been moved into the fighting pits.

.

The captors were smart, they never let him near his pack brethren, never gave them opportunity to talk. Voss guessed that the slavers figured they would try to escape and plan if they could speak… the slavers would be right in that assumption. At last Voss opened one eye the room was dark and quiet. He opened his other eye and risked looking back and forth. The room was silent, just he and the three other slaves he roomed with; the time was now. Silently he rolled out of his bed dropping onto the floor, he crawled under the bed and out between the lower two posts before slinking to the nearest bed. In the bed slept a little gnome, Hadnom, the fellow was apparently a very talented boxer. Voss placed his hand over the gnome’s mouth and leaned over the bed. Hadnom’s eyes shot open in alarm, Voss placed a finger to his lips before leaning close to the gnome’s ear and breathing the words

.

“Silence, tonight I escape, circumstance makes us allies, your actions now could make us friends, are you with me?” there was a long pause as he looked into the grey eyes of the little brown-haired gnome. The fellow gave a single deliberate nod and Voss removed his hand from his mouth. Voss carefully reached for a bandage from an earlier fight, from under it he produced a small bit of wire and gave it to the gnome. “I would prefer it if we were freed silently, use this and attempt to open the lock, I will speak to our other bunk mates” he whispered. The gnome lightly sprung from the bed and took the wire tiptoeing to the ring in the centre of the room. Sticking to the shadows Voss slinked around to the bed across from his, one that belonged to Rhax a large brutish lizard man. He positioned himself over the lizard man and followed the same procedure of covering his mouth as he had with Hadnom, again as the Lizard awoke he breathed the words.

.

“Silence, and struggle not! Circumstance makes us allies, your actions now could make us friends… tonight we escape. Are you with us?” the lizard man’s eyes rolled locking on to the gnome working away at the locks, then back to Voss, he nodded and Voss removed his hands. The lizard was up in moments padding his way towards the gnome. Voss crept to the last bed, a large half orc slept in the bed peacefully. Voss leaned over him placing a hand over his mouth like the others, but this time his other arm sat across the orcs neck denying any air. The Orc’s eyes popped open as he began to struggle. Voss leaned in and whispered to him.

.

“I know of you Aguk, I know you are a spy for the slavers, and that they give you food and easy fights in return for information of slave escapes…” Voss pushed harder on the Orcs neck “How many have you denied freedom to you selfish pig?” the orc struggled for breath but could find no purchase on Voss “You will not be the last blood I spill tonight, but the first of my vengeance” as he said the words to the orc he placed all of his weight on the orcs neck and watched the creatures windpipe cave in. the rocs sputtered and flailed for a few moments, but eventually the life drained from his eyes, only then did Voss let up. .

CLICK

.

The gnome could not free them from their collars, nor from each other, but could free them from the floor. Voss was attached by a ten-foot chain to Hadnom and Rhax was attached via chain to the now dead Aguk. Voss ripped at the collar slowly and quietly peeling off the head of the now dead orc. At last he freed the collar and handed it to Rhax.

“Quickly now, stealth is only our friend so far, then might must carry us through” Voss murmured to his compatriots

“Might will bring us to right” Rhax responded, eliciting a grin from Voss, it appeared that the Lizardmen had also read the teaching of the Great Mordakka. If ever they needed a God on their side it was now, and the Breaker of Chains and Lord of the Underdogs was certainly Voss’s pick. Voss worked his way to the door and put his nose to the crack at the floor inhaling deeply. He turned back to his two companions.

“One guard in the hall, Rhax, open the door, Hadnom and I will take the guard” Voss stole, the Lizardman agreed and within seconds the door was peeled off its hinges and Voss leapt out the gnome hot on his heels. It hadn’t taken much, the chain wrapped twice around his neck. The gnome as counterweight… the little man’s head popped near off his shoulders. Down the stairs they traced, gliding like shadows fearful of the moon’s dispelling glare. Rhax was ready for the next guard before Voss could signal. Again the chain was used to choke the human, and silently he was dragged up the stairs and placed in Voss’s bed. The three gathered at the front door. Voss sniffed under the door, the air was thick and humid, the sweat of slaves and guards saturated the outer walk.

“we must find my sister” Hadnom said “she is in the farm pens I am sure…”

“no” Voss whispered solemnly

“I can’t leave her…” the gnomes words were cut off by Voss’s hand silencing him once more. Voss offered a look of empathy before he breathed the words into the gnomes ear.

“I have brothers and sisters here as well, we must prove we can get out, find allies and return… I will not risk their future for a rash temporary hope, cooperate” the last word was both an order and a threat, though Hadnom seemed to understand. He nodded and the two went to the door. Hadnom had taken a dagger from the guard, and with it was able to pry the lock and open the front door.

“Through the shacks until we reach the fence?” Rhax asked in a hoarse hiss. Voss nodded

“Over the fence, then up and over the wall, we will deal with whatever is on the other side out there. Once we make the tree line I will shift, you two may ride me and we will cover ground until we find chance to remove these chains. From their, your lives are your own…agreed?” the two nodded and with only a brief pause to allow the spattering light to slip by on its meandering course they sprang into action. Voss carried his companion under one arm as his longs legs propelled him across the dirt street and into the shadows of the shanty houses on the other side. He did not pause, did not stop for breath but raced through the shanty allies and into the far clearing, then it was only fifty meters to the fence. Twelve feet tall forged of wrought iron, it glowed a feverish purple color. Rhax was quicker on his feet and perhaps three strides ahead of Voss. The lizard leapt into the air, his left hand touching the iron to throw himself to the other side.

“ARRGGHH!” Rhax could not help but scream as his hand turned to stone. The fence changed from a dancing purple light to a bright white one as the slow siren of alarms rose. Voss skidded to a halt just in time seeing what had happened to the Lizardman. He could not make a twelve-foot jump without touching the bars, definitely not while carrying the gnome.

“FLEE RHAX, IF I CAN SLOW THEM I