Legends of the Three Pillars
The slavers had attacked under the cover of darkness, quietly and efficiently dispatching the few sentries before assaulting the village proper. They knew the weak points in the palisade, where to strike, where to pull down the wall with teams of horses. Disciplined raiders flooded the settlement, using nets and padded clubs to herd frightened villagers into wagons waiting outside.
Although Garra rallied a defence, it was too late to prevent the slavers from taking nearly thirty souls, killing eight guards for only three in return. Among those taken was Beleeni – Jemik’s wife – and Chendra – the teenage daughter of the witch, Chardra.
The villagers, although grateful for the party’s aid in tending the wounded, are in a state of shock. There has not been an overland raid for twenty years and they do not have the strength to retaliate. Such is life on the Savage Coast, they would say, the strong take what they want and the rest do what they can to survive. Bentil, however, has a plan.
While Watcher eavesdrops, the dwarf outlines a desperate scheme to recover the captives. Despite the slavers’ head start, Bentil believes that the adventurers can reach Slavetown before the villagers go on the auction block. Meanwhile, with help from the remaining villagers, Bentil can refloat the Lady Luck and make haste south. The party will affect a rescue from the slave pens and everyone can be ferried to safety aboard the airship.
“You didn’t have to ask”, replied Templar when the request was made of the group, a sentiment shared by the rest of the companions. As preparations were made and provisions gathered, Garra shared what he knew of Slavetown from his time in the fighting pits. At the last, Chardra gave Cassandra an ominous warning.
“My daughter must be rescued. Great events are unfolding around her and they must not come to pass. Return Chendra to me…at any cost”.
The slavers’ trail south was easy to follow, alternating between flatlands where the grass grew taller than a man, and jungle covered hills. Seven days later, exhausted from the heat and nightly rains, the party arrived in Droga’s village. Nestled in a jungle valley that drained out over the cliffs, the settlement was twice the size of Garra’s and marked the final leg of the march to Slavetown.
The party heeded Garra’s warning not to trust the people here – this close to the slavers’ den the settlement survived by paying tribute, and visitors were often sold into slavery – and declined offers of hospitality. They pressed on, despite noticing that they were now being watched.
The final three days were a grueling trek over a series of overgrown ridgelines stretching out from the mountains like talons. Finally though, the party caught their first glimpse of the infamous port. A rampart and palisade of felled trees – three times the height of a man – stretched across the northern boundary of the town. Massive iron braziers belched smoke and flame atop the wall and human remains hung from ropes and spike – some fresh, some little more than bone and tatters.
Archers atop the wall called out the party’s approach and an iron portcullis was lowered to bar their entry. A lively discussion ensued, between Jullian and a brusque gate captain, over the cost of entering the town. In the end Jullian’s efforts were for naught – the gate would remain closed to them until the toll was paid. Then Watcher proposed a wager – a contest of champions in unarmed combat – with the prize being entry to Slavetown.
The captain accepted, sending one of his men running to “fetch Kuragga”, and Watcher was selected to fight on behalf of his companions. Things started to look a little grim when the captain’s champion appeared. Kuragga was a giant of a man – well over two meters tall – with a physique resembling man-shaped slabs of granite. Demonstrating his strength by lifting the portcullis with one hand, Kuragga was obviously the guards’ favourite to win the bout.
A small crowd of onlookers formed a circle around the combatants and the match was on. After some initial jabs, where Kuragga showed an alarming speed at odds with his size, it became clear that this would not be a one-sided fight. Kuragga was unable to land a telling blow upon the nimble elf – foiled by an arcane haze and a subtle illusion from Cassandra – but proved largely impervious to Watcher’s attempts to hurt him. As the pair circled and sparred, the excitement grew – in part due to Jullian’s efforts to stir them up.
The fight came to a sudden stop with the arrival of a woman in green leather. Tall, athletic, and obviously used to being obeyed, she swayed with the gait of a seafarer. With a few terse commands she dispersed the crowd and ordered Kuragga back to the keep. Instant obedience bordering on terror followed where she spoke. After a perfunctory survey of the party she ordered that the toll be paid and, turning on her heel, left as quickly as she had arrived.
After learning that the woman was Mileen, second in command to a slaver named Dane, the party ventured forth into the den of violence and vice that is Slavetown.