We let the Orc stew, while we rested and tended to our wounds. Isabelle asked elderly Boatman about the gem we found. He didn’t know what it does, but he seems certain that whatever enchantments are on it are good ones. He mentioned finding a similar one trapped in rock a long time ago, but he wasn’t able to retrieve it. Brottor used magic to determine the rune on it means “Protection.”
Interrogating the Orc was immensely frustrating. They were raiding for fish, not slaves, so he knows nothing about the slavers we’re looking for. He drew us a map leading to the Black-Skins and the Orc city, Glass Spear, but his knowledge is questionable at best.
Jaridan had an interesting idea, however. He obviously knew the way back to the Orc city. If we covered him in fish guts, and told him it was a healing ritual to make sure he didn’t wash them off, we could follow the scent back to the Orcs once we had dealt with the Black-Skins.
A Boatman guard seemed to think it more likely that he’d be eaten by Trolls. So either he leaves us a nice, pungent trail back to Glass Spear, or he’s killed horribly. I’m okay with either outcome.
Following his map was as difficult as I expected it to be, and we followed our noses more than his scribblings. At least, until we found a bloody smear and a boot that smelled of fish.
If we had followed his map correctly, we should be at the fork that leads to the Black-Skins. Between Isabelle’s cat’s reluctance to go this way, and a sign painted on the wall that apparently meant “Danger”, we decided that we had, in fact, not read the map correctly and doubled back.
We did eventually find our way to the Black-Skin city. Isabelle used her Tongues spell to get us access to the city, which is apparently called Selecod’s Respite. We claimed to be going in as traders seeking slaves, which I suppose is technically true. While I’d much rather deal with these slaving scum with the end of my spear, rescuing my family is more important.
We found the slave pens, but sadly, there were no humans there. Kyari bartered her healing magic for information. We had not, as I had feared, beaten the Orcs here. The young ones had been sent east to a people called the Rhaen. Mira had been taken west to Glass Spear.
I’ve never faced a harder decision, although I fear I may face similar ones before I see the sun again. Mira’s situation is reprehensible, but if Isala reaches her final owner before I catch up with her, she’ll face something similar. Possibly worse. I have no idea what will happen to the little ones. I have to put my faith that Mira can hold on longer. I will return to save her as well, and kill every beast that touched her.
Our trip to the slave pens was not as fruitless as it first seemed, however. One of the slaves was a Dwarf, although apparently from much deeper than any of Brottor’s kinsmen travel. His name is Bromack and he’s a carpenter, apparently something the Black-Skins find useful. We purchased him for a disgustingly low price. He told me that the children seemed… as well as one could expect given the circumstances, but told me that there was talk of Isala being made into a Rhaen Princess. He didn’t know what that means, but my mind has come up with numerous possibilities, and plans for exactly what I’ll do if any of them turn out to be true.
We asked if Bromack wanted to join us, but he declined, wanting to return to his family. I cannot fault him for that. He fixed the map the Orc gave us as best he could, including adding his people’s city, Malachite Hall, to it. I asked him if we could deliver my sister and cousins there once we had them, so they would be safe while we rescue Mira. He agreed whole-heartedly. Part of me wonders if I can bring everybody home, but if I can ensure that everyone is safe, it’s a start.
We proceeded to look for items in the city’s stores for anything that would help us on our travels. Other than a well-crafted bow Jaridan picked up, we didn’t find anything useful enough. We gave Bromack what equipment we could spare, and wished him luck on his journey home.