The glade nestled in the rolling hills beneath Shadow mountain. The mountain got its name because nothing under its eastern edge ever saw direct sunlight. This was the perfect environment for the mushrooms which sprawled for miles across the hills and provided the main source of sustenance for those living within the nearby city of Gloom.
The camp Rush was heading towards, the produce it collected and the slaves huddled within it were all owned by the Pulchritude Guild. This was one of several businesses run by the Druachi (or Pale Elves as they are more commonly known) in the area.
Pale Elves as everyone knows are tall, slender albino people with delicate features which belie their harsh and cruel nature. They pride themselves on their honor and it is said they have never reneged on an agreement, rather they find sport in crafting loopholes and pulling on them like wool from a loom until they can take advantage of those foolish enough to deal with them.
The slave camp was comprised of several hundred slaves congregated together in a rough area. A wash of unsanitary smells assaulted the senses upon entering the area, from both the unwashed bodies of the slaves but also the waste a hundred souls generate when living together. The bulk of the inhabitants huddled around a large fire in the center of the camp which acted as a deterrent to some creatures and warned the group about others before they reached them.
The slaves weren’t particularly united and rarely worked together towards a common goal, but it was acknowledged that by staying in a group it was more likely they might wake after a nights sleep. At least if one of the other slaves didn’t kill them.
Rush picked his way through the groups dragging Jeanne in his wake until he neared the edge of the fire. Dim against the light of the first was a figure holding court at the head of a long table.
Before they reached the table two huge brutish humanoids blocked their path. Similar looking but far taller and sturdier than Rush, they towered even above Jeanne’s lanky form.
Tags appeared above the Hobgoblins, the larger more flat faced of the two was named Bigrun while his more compact companion was Raktag. Flexing their arms menacingly they both looked intimidating as Rush stared up towards them.
|Bigrun & Raktag, Hobgoblin Warriors Level 1
Armour: Tattered Leather Armour (1 point)
Weapon: Large Serrated Knife (Average Quality) Base Damage 2-7
Hit Points: ? and ?
(Unlock the Tactical Analysis skill to gain more information on your enemies)
“Get out of here, before I squish you flat.” Bigrun stated, shoving Rush violently in the chest. As he flew painfully to the floor a warning flashed in the corner of his vision.
|“You have taken 1 point of damage / You have 13 hit points remaining”|
The Hobgoblin moved forward and lunged with his foot, only to find it grabbed by Jeanne. She held him balanced precariously for a few seconds before pushing hard and sending him sprawling to the floor.
He got up angrily the laughter of the other guard ringing in his ears.
“You will let us pass” Jeanne stated, staring resolutely at the irate Hobgoblin as he moved towards her, fangs drawn into a snarl.
Rush scrambled to his feet, mouth working to try and prevent Jeanne from getting herself killed “If you don’t how will we share a cut of our profit with you?”
Raktag put a hand on Bigrun’s shoulder holding his companion back, “Profit?” he asked stupidly.
“We are here on business.”, Rush informed him. “If it goes well we would obviously help those who have assisted us.”
Rush took Jeanne’s hand as she proffered it. The now more amenable Hobgoblins moved aside and waited. As the duo passed Raktag leaned in towards Rush and grunted “Don’t forget snotling, you pay later in gold or a pound of flesh we don’t care which.”
Rush walked on, pretending indifference even as his body quivered in fear.
The figure at the head of the table sat with his back to the fire, flickering shadows playing over his disfigured features. No one knew what had happened to the Pale Elf to cause such horrible burns but it was obvious they must still cause him considerable discomfort even after all this time. In the Druachi society which valued grace and beauty his injuries had pushed him down into the lowly position of camp overseer.
All the slaves in the camp were familiar with Averiel and most flinched away from him when he passed. As the overseer of the camp he ruled with an ice cold hand accepting no dissent from his charges. Rush looked intently at him trying to ascertain more about him but apart from his name little was revealed, that was worrying.
|Averiel, Pale Elf (Class and Level Unavailable)
Hit Points: ?
(Unlock Tactical Analysis to gain more information on your enemies)
He smiled sardonically at the two newcomers as they stood a few feet from where he was seated, “Rush, you I know, however I am unfamiliar with your lady friend.”. He rose to his feet and offered Jeanne his hand, “Let me introduce myself, I am Averiel and I keep order in this camp. Now how can I be of assistance to you?”
Jeanne looking a little uncomfortable, released his hand and looked to Rush to reply.
“The lady is Jeanne and we have a proposal for you which could benefit us all”
Averiel raised an eyebrow, “My lady you appear to have had quite an effect on young Rush, he is barely drooling and his vocabulary has improved dramatically.”
Rush gritted his teeth, “As you know the only food we have access to are the Mushrooms in the grove. We have meat, which I’m sure you could sell for a substantial amount.” As he ended his statement he up ended his bag and unceremoniously dumped the meat on the table in front of Averiel.
“Fascinating, I don’t suppose you are going to tell me how you came across this or what creature it is from?”
Rush remained silent, waiting and refusing to incriminate himself.
“It doesn’t matter, I suppose,” Averiel commented after an awkward silence, “I’m sure everyone here would be happy with a little more variety in their diet. I could find my way toward giving you perhaps twenty pieces of silver for the meat. Obviously if you think you could find a better deal elsewhere I wouldn’t prevent you leaving.”
Rush looked around, the encampment had gone quiet and everyone present was following their discussion. If he didn’t come out of this with a deal then it was unlikely he’d make it far from the table before being assaulted and the meat taken from him.
Twenty silver pieces was a decent amount, but far from what Averiel was likely to make selling it.
He gulped loudly, countering Averiels offer “Forty and we both get a cooked portion.”
Averiel raised an eyebrow.
“Really? A Goblin with a spine, I never thought I’d see the day. Very well, presuming half in cash and half from your debt is agreeable then we have a deal”
Rush considered, he was owned by the Pulchritude Guild but he could theoretically buy his freedom by paying off his debt to them. The company paid their debtors for their toil each day, but then recouped it from them by charging them for the space they slept in and any food they ate. It was all legal and above board, which didn’t make it any fairer on those trapped in its existence.
Still a few more pay days like this and perhaps he could beat the system, leave and find a new tribe, he nodded agreeing to the deal and a chime sounded in his head and once more words appeared as Averiel counted coins into a pile on the table.
|“You have negotiated a deal of 40 silver pieces for 20 x Chunk of spider meat.
The money received have been split between you and your partner. 10 silver pieces of your share has been paid towards reducing your debt to the Pulchritude Guild which now stands at 140 silver pieces.
You have unlocked Negotiation, level 1. Congratulations, there is more to life than killing and eating everything, who knew?”