Kraytol picked up the journal. Since his mind had grown a bit fuzzier over the intervening weeks, he passed it over to Aedra to be read. She opened it to the last page, looked about and then read it to the group.
‘The smell of sweat is all around me. I’ve been on this boat for over a week now and all I feel is contempt and sorrow for the poor suckers around me. There are only a few that seem to rise above all the rocking and mindless chores we are forced into. There is a man here with so much bravura that he insults his captors even as they would lash his back. No man denies he has the heart of a lion but even I notice a bit of melancholia when he plays his ocarina. He travels with the largest creature I’ve ever seen with the ability to talk. I’ve heard of minotaurs but I’ve never seen one up close. After getting kicked to the ground by one of the guards he picked me up like a child who tripped, grabbed the whip the guard had and scolded him. But then gave the whip back. He is a simpleton, but a friendly and generous one.
I’m assuming they were a part of a band of robbers because they also spend a lot of time around a man who stares out to sea when his isn’t working, an elf with a haughtiness like nothing I’ve ever seen and a girl who spends most of her time making funny motions with her hands, to no avail. Though slightly more dejected by the situation, even they were held in better spirits than most of the group. I think having the bull with them helped. They didn’t need to worry as much about being cut in the night.
I watch them and wonder what I can do to befriend them. Perhaps since I am innocent they will take pity on me. The place we are going is supposed to be quite harsh. We shall see.’
Aedra placed the journal back on the body of the young man about to be thrown overboard.
Another man who had been listening eyed the body greedily. ‘Poor bastard, he didn’t even make it that far. I wonder if anyone has claimed his shoes. They look…’
At that, Kraytol tossed him into the ocean, ‘Mean man go first.’ Even though he knew the lash would come again, he smiled. Helping was its own reward.
After your arrest:
The party was taken to a windowless prison were you were all stripped of all your magic items and forced into the rags of beggars. The clothes were dirty and reeked of unwashed bodies and the stains were obviously a combination of human waste and dried blood. The following morning you are walked out to the public square with about fifty other men and women where the king declared you all guilty of your respective crimes. He didn’t even bother to read the charges listed when he sentenced you all to forced labor at the hands of the Cheolians. The sham was helped by the voices of the accused being silenced by a spell.
By mid-afternoon you were on board a large ship. There were several large, blue, wormlike creatures with four arms in charge of a mostly human boat crew. A couple of orcs and half orcs were there and all carried whips and short swords. After taking the time to look around, you noticed that there were 58 prisoners and cubbies for about 10 people. They picked out the people for the room with the small sleeping cubbies, henceforth referred to as ‘The Room’ and the rest of you were sent into the cargo hold for the other cattle.
Yablo found himself next to a porthole and looked out. He saw Mirabella making her way to another vessel when she looked over. She quickly looked away but not before he saw a mournful look on her face. He found it odd that she was walking with two women dressed in black traveling gear. They were watching her very intently and looked over towards Yablo. He moved his face as fast as he could. When he looked back he saw the women talk to a man at the other ship and made their way towards the slave ship. They boarded shortly before it left port.
The ship had surprisingly few crew members for a ship this size. Once you realized the difference in the worm creatures you learned to distinguish the three of them. There was the father, Vork who was a relentless task master, the elder son, Markon, who cared for nothing but ale and let his underlings do the work and finally the younger son who was merely there occasionally wandering around the ship. The two women that Yablo noticed were obviously considered dignitaries of some sort. They didn’t do any of the work and often bossed around Vork and his sons. The worms flashed looks of venom but didn’t raise a hand to do anything about it.
Otherwise there were the two half orcs, who were treated with some scorn, one orc who was the steersman, and six humans that mostly supervised the prisoners, who did most of the normal ship duties.
The party spent most of their time among the other prisoners but communication was frowned upon. Most of the party talked as they could to raise their spirits as much as possible but Aedra did a lot of time digging and found that most of the prisoners were there because they spoke out against the current king or his friends in Cheolia. It was a ship full of political prisoners.
Rumors started spreading about where you were all heading. Fear became a natural part of the trip amongst the rest of the people. One man got it in his head to lead a mutiny. Three men overpowered the guard on a late night duty when everything exploded into violence. It appeared the short swords the guards carried were spelled in some way, as the man who grabbed it first found it sticking out of his stomach.
The two women came out of their room at first hint of a problem and quickly dispatched anyone that came near them. They did what they could to keep from killing them, leaving a trail of broken bones on their way to the men who started the fight. The three worms came out shortly after to subdue the uprising and were far less concerned with everyone’s survival. The first guard may have been killed in the process but after ten of prisoners were left with broken body parts and twelve others killed, it was evident that the captors had the upper hand. Since it was your turn in ‘The Room’ you could not get out as the ‘Room’ was locked all night. You all watched from the small windows and could do nothing about it.
Instead of being given time to recuperate, the ten injured prisoners were forced to do more work than before. Occasionally you’d help them as you could but if you were found helping you got just as much punishment as they did. The 46 prisoners remaining were even more disheartened. Shyrrik withdrew into himself once again.
Over the next couple of weeks quite a few prisoners died of various things. Malnutrition, accidents and occasionally knives were normal occurrences and when you all finally saw the island you were heading towards there were only 28 of you left.
One other thing you noticed during your crossing that you found odd. Your minds started getting a bit fuzzier. Thoughts became more difficult to hold into your heads and you found yourself more willing to just go along with your orders. But your bodies were also getting leaner and more athletic as you went along. All the hard work was doing something for you.
The boat was sitting near the island for two days when four smaller ships came from the river mouth towards the boat. The prisoners were loaded up and taken towards the island. The island was a mass of jungles with a large volcano in the middle. The river led you straight up to, and into the volcano. You saw many people chipping away at the walls and the occasional glitter of something shiny in the carts that passed by everyone.
You were all deposited in a cave that had no right being as bright as it was. After looking around you saw a Dracon in a cage above a pit of lava. He was on the verge of passing out but holding on out of sheer will power. A sign over the cage read, ‘This is what happens to dissenters’.
An odd creature flew down from above. His lower half was that of four legged eagle like creature and the top half of a small man wearing a red hat. He was only about four and a half feet tall but the sneer that revealed sharpened teeth put everyone on edge.
‘Welcome to my home. You will do what I say, when I say it. You will mine until you have no life left in your body. You will give me what I am tasked to get and you will do it willingly. There are only two rules here: get me my stones and stay alive and one day you may be set free. If you don’t you may suffer what my friend Kethand is dealing with.’ He looks at everyone there, ‘or worse.’
‘Give them their picks and get them started. We wasted enough time today going to get them. They will have to make up for any losses.’
Weeks have passed and you are slaving away. This is where you will start…
Here are the adjustments based on your time in the Slave Mines.