Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sold as a slave in that cess-pit of rogues and harlots, Sak-Luaan

Dear fellow Fae academics,
Apologies for the disturbing delay in my missives. The Captain of our trading vessel fulfilled every potential of his shifty looks when we arrived in Sak-Luaan. It quickly became clear that he was really an evil slaver and fully intended to sell his passengers as slaves before heading south with the loot gained from this despicable enterprise.
A band of thugs, with a distinctly Trollish look about them and armed with large clubs and nets, boarded the ship as soon as we pulled in against a grim dock some distance from the main harbour of the town. They proceeded to club the innocent merchants and traders, netting any that tried to escape. The only passengers who immediately avoided this unpleasant fate were the Elves. They lept and swung from the rigging and onto the roof of a nearby ruined warehouse, to disappear into the bustling port in seconds. How I envied them their youth and dexterity! I could see the Captain's frustration at their timely escape, just before I myself was snared in a net and knocked unconscious.
Later, I awoke with a dreadful ache in the head. All of my belongings had been taken, even my cloak! I was in a foul cave. It was dark and noisome and I could hear the sounds of other people all around, breathing and moving in their sleep. But I could see nothing. It seems several days had passed, for I was ravenously hungry and thirsty. Eventually a guard came with a lantern and thrust some crusts of dried bread and a bowl of water through the metal bars that were now apparent.
In the cave were all of the other passengers, as well as several other men I did not recognise, maybe twenty of us in all in a room barely large enough for us to lie down at once without brushing against one another. This was a real low point for me, so much so that I could not bring myself to take part in the scramble for the crusts. I did manage to get a sip of the tepid water, though, and this raised my spirits a little. What seemd like an eternity later, although it was probably only a few days, most of the prisoners were taken away by the Trollish thugs. They took only strong and able younger men, I was left with half a dozen other old men, feeling worse than useless. We learned that the fit and strong amongst us had been sold as galley slaves! Suddenly we blessed our age and infirmity.
After another couple of days, in which two of my fellow inmates became quite ill. We were taken before the cursed Captain, one by one. He offered to have us ransomed, if any would pay the exorbitant prices demanded. Several managed to escape this way and the poor fellows who were ill disappeared as well, one hopes they were merely dumped in the streets of Sak-Luaan rather than something worse!
Now there were only two of us left, neither had anyone we could think of in the region who could pay a ransome for our release. We spent many hours discussing how to make good an escape.
In the end I came up with a cunning plan. I told the guard that there was an item in my cloak that would be of interest to the Captain. I also said that it was magically concealed and that only I would be able to recover it. If they brought my cloak to me, then I would get the 'item' and present it to the Captain in return for my release.
At first they were reluctant to consider this plan. But since they had no other way of getting more value from my person that they could think of, they agreed. My cloak was duly produced and, although it was slashed and torn where some fool had searched for valuables (and thus spoiling a very valuable cloak,) my secret pockets had not been discovered. I mumbled a spell of revealing and pulled out a small vial of fluid.
"This is a magic potion, your honour." I said obsequeously to the Captain. "It will make the drinker rich beyond his wildest dreams. But only one person can drink it, and it will only work once."
I was gambling that the Captain's greed would fool him into drinking the potion there and then. He grabbed it, and not without some fearful looks at his colleagues who seemed pretty keen on trying it themselves. So he sent them from the room, they reluctantly followed his orders.
He looked at me, as if trying to weigh up whether I was telling the truth or not and then pulled the stopper and poored the potion down his throat. At first nothing happened and he began to look angry. I gestured his for patience. Then, the magic began to work. His face looked pained and then concerned. He was shrinking fast. I stepped back to avoid his flailing arms.
What I had fed the stupid and greedy rogue was a potion of shrinking! He had obviously very little knowledge of such things. If he had, he would have known how easy it would be for me to deceive his as to the nature of the potion and the impossibility of checking my story without actually drinking it.
I felt no pity for the nasty fellow and when he had shrunk to about six inches tall (he had swallowed the lot and so was likely to end up very tiny indeed) I stamped on him without hesitation. He made a satisfying squelching noise which was almost certainly terminal for him. I did not stay to find out but jumped straight out of the open window, without a further thought. I hung onto my ruined cloak.
I fell some feet, hit a sloped roof hard, rolled down that and then fell again, this time about eight feet to the hard ground. Nothing seemed to be broken, although I was terribly bruised. I rolled over and crawled away before my escape was discovered.
More soon,
Your friend
Cornelius Clifford
Somewhere in the warehouse district of Sak-Luaan

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