Slavery in Nemahay
Nemahay is a complicated region in which life is difficult at best. The rules and regulations regarding slavery are vaguely defined in most places, with each community electing to follow their own moral compass. In Vasheen, slavery is outlawed entirely. In Kintani, slavery of their citizen is never allowed (though it is particularly difficult to become a citizen of Kintani). In Ahtenko, slavery of any kind is allowed, but as long as a blood oath is not involved, escaped slaves are usually ignored and the crimes aren’t followed up on. Both Aztlan and Tir Tairngire have a caste system that bottoms out with something akin to a ‘slave class’ and they do the grunt work for the large empires.
In villages the opinions can vary towards any of these extremes. However, the average opinion of a citizen can usually be guessed. Generally, the people of Nemahay believe that selling oneself into slavery is the best safety net available to someone with no other options. Sometimes this could be selling your labor for a single season, maybe a few more until you are back on your feet. Rarely, you sell yourself into slavery for the rest of your life in exchange for the betterment of your community or your family. Its unfortunate when things come to that, but survival as a slave is better than no survival at all. The punishment for crimes is either disfigurement, death, or hard labor. Usually this hard labor is along similar terms as what is listed above. It is typically frowned upon for someone to volunteer someone else to slavery, and it is almost universally reviled to sell ones own children into slavery. Still, both of these things happen fairly often and the crime is difficult to pursue or punish. It should be noted that the slave master is responsible for their slave, and is expected to keep them in good health. Should they not, they are typically disliked, unless the slaves are being blamed for a particularly heinous crime.
Tir, Aztlan, Kintani, and the Maricaash family all keep copious notes on their slaving operations and agreements. They typically back up these agreements with blood oaths when they are made in the short term. Otherwise, book-keeping is left up to those involved in the agreement and tends towards being spotty or strictly verbal. After all, not many can read.
On to the Adventure…
Brother, my last missive concluded with many questions about what to do in Alnadotzli. The town appeared to be in the middle of some serious political tensions, and we weren’t sure how we would proceed, or whether we would even attempt to collect on the bounty on Hiyark Bonesetter’s head. Well, by now it should come as no surprise that the SIlver Linings Trading Company chose the course of action.
After some debate the previous evening, we had retired to mull things over, and on the following morning decided to tour the various locales in the town, speaking with the proprietors of various businesses in an attempt to get a better sense of the town’s political climate. We were surprised to learn that En’kik of Enlightened Materials had joined with us after I’d discussed the matter of Hiyark with him – apparently the t’skrang archer felt a personal calling to help us unseat this unsavory character. We gladly accepted his help, though he still seemed somewhat leery of us – for good reason, I thought, remembering our previous misadventures.
We first headed to the general store in town, called Ghee’s goods. The human owner of the shop engaged us in conversation and we learned about the proprietor of Longhouse Storage, a dwarf named Amni who engaged in quite a bit of reselling. Ghee also made his displeasure at the Passion House’s lack of a Gloehiba statue.
We concluded our business with Ghee and moved on to Passion House, where Rish, a dwarf questor of Gahbi introduced himself and his T’skrang companion (a questor of Klesh). We offered ten percent of the proceeds of the coming concert the Tumblin’ Weeds would put on that night as a tithe to the Passion House. Rish mentioned that the questor here before him had stored some of his things with Amni, and when Rish had attempted to retrieve them, the merchant claimed ignorance of any such goods. We offered our aid in its retrieval and moved on to our next stop: the Brewhouse.
Kranth, a human with a luxurious mustache, greeted us at the Brewhouse. We discussed his moonshine business and made him a trade, also offering a sample of mushlite for him to experiment with fermenting. Kranth mentioned that Perel, the guard captain, was not a fan of the slaving business, while the current mayor, Oren, was perfectly happy with the income it brought to the village.
We moved on to the River’s Ingot, where a tribal ork named Churning River greeted us, and made his displeasure with Hiyark’s business known. Churning River had an impressive collection of unusual arms and armor, but he spoke to us of politics as well, noting that Perel is an ambitious young t’skrang whose only hope for advancement would be becoming Mayor. The weaponsmith himself was disapproving of Hiyark’s business, and noted that Perel was opposed, as well. We then discussed the possibility of forging some items (or at least renting forge space), and decided to return after we’d completed our business.
Finally, we headed to the Longhouse, where Amni regaled us with the history of the edifice and bragged about its construction (which, as a craftsman, I could tell was nowhere near as impressive as this charlatan claimed). He let slip that he often claimed and resold the items of deceased individuals who had stored goods in his storehouse, and in our discussion we quickly saw that he was not an entirely upstanding businessman, to say the least. He also went on about his personal relationship with Mayor Oren and Hiyark, while we noted that two yaguarete guards kept watch on the longhouse. Finally, we attempted to glean information on the puzzle box from him, and after some tense and probing conversation, he admitted Hiyark had bought it, along with the former questor’s other valuable goods. Eager to leave this unsavory individual behind, we moved on to the Port Authority, which was unfortunately closed.
Finding ourselves with only about an hour before the Tumblin’ Weeds’ show, and feeling more comfortable in our knowledge of the town’s political landscape, we came back to Perel to discuss what we found – and what opportunities may have arisen. She noted that the few times she has interrogated any of Hiyark’s slaves, they refused to admit to being coerced in any way, and thus she’s been unable to make progress. She mentioned that the Longhouse was the Shivalahalla’s original estate, and was said there were secret tunnels leading between it, Hiyark’s Warehouse, and the current mayoral home. We were also told to speak with the guardsmen on the way out and ask for the “bureaucracy file;” what we got were suspect documents including Kintani citizenship papers for a woman named Lysa and a long hand-written story about being forced into slavery by Hiyark Bonesetter. Perel officially admonished any untoward action taken toward Hiyark or his property, but implied that were evidence provided to the guard that would let her take action against Hiyark (and discredit the current Mayor), she would happily act on it.
We finally headed to the Submerge Inn, where the Tumblin’ Weeds began what would be spoken of for a long time after as a legendary performance for the people of Alnadotzli. Lokan’s very fingertrips sparked as he played his lute with lightning speed. As the crowd was enraptured by their work, we slipped away to gather evidence of Hiyark’s wrong-doing. Dave and En’kik snuck into the front room of Amni’s Longhouse, while the rest of us waited for a signal outside. When the signal came, it was from En’kik, asking us to distract the yaguarete guard patrolling the storage hallway while they searched for the tunnels. Indeed, they had discovered what appeared to be storage spaces permanently rented by both the mayor and the famed slaver, and after a chaotic battle where we knocked out the two guards, we bound and gagged them, leaving them in another storage space to avoid suspicion.
We descended the tunnel to the warehouse, and Dave stealthily emerged into the main chamber to find half a dozen t’skrang guards patrolling around eight slave pens, each filled with four or more unfortunate souls. One of these guards patrolled on a catwalk overseeing the chamber, while the other five were at ground level. We attempted to stealthily assemble in the antechamber we’d found ourselves in, but in the darkness, Tala slipped, and the clamor instantly alerted the guards. By this time, Dave had stealthily leapt to the catwalk, and a well-placed arrow by En’kik toppled the only guard up above onto ground level, leaving that upper level clear for Dave to explore. While we fought below, he managed to find the puzzle box, keys to the slave pens, and some other goods, tossing the keys down to the slaves before another guard emerged from a barracks and spotted our battle in action, rousing another half-dozen assailants.
Meanwhile, the Tumblin’ Weeds had put on a blistering encore, leaving the crowd delighted and obtaining an invitation to carouse with Hiyark. Lokan and Gen gladly took this opportunity, keeping Hiyark and his four elite guards busy at the Submerge and sparing us a much more difficult battle.
Back at the warehouse, our battle on the ground was quite the press, but with the foes focusing their ire on En’kik and Tywon’s impressive command of the primal forces of lightning, we managed to defeat the first six guards before the remaining ones joined the fray. Seeing half their number defeated with little to show for it, the remainder jumped into the river through a rear exit and escaped.
While we ransacked Hiyark’s warehouse for any official documentation linking him to unsavory trade, we also attempted to get the truth out of the slaves – they had sworn a blood oath to Hiyark of some kind, but it seemed to do more with their ability to speak of how they’d come into captivity, rather than the standard agreement of indentured servitude. This was highly suspicious, but I worried that without a skilled orator, the ‘evidence’ would not win the townsfolk – or Perel – over.
An important piece of evidence we did find, however, was Hiyark’s logbook, which detailed a meeting with Sen and the Great Adventure. Hiyark noted the brutal Maricaash family was dealing with a full-scale slave uprising, with a capable leader known as Peri Singing-Bird. This human woman directed a devastating campaign of guerrilla warfare against her former overlords. Hiyark’s logbook noted that Sen offered to have his people ingratiate themselves with the rebellion, before waiting for an opportune time to assassinate this brave woman. Upon returning to Gen with this information, he immediately recognized the name of his sister, and made preparations to protect his long-lost sibling from the devious Great Adventure.
Perhaps Hiyark’s foreign connections could be used as evidence against him? Perhaps we could get one of the braver slaves to break their blood oath, branding them a blood betrayer in exchange for liberating so many current and future coerced slaves from a life they never wanted? Would we stoop to relying solely on the forged evidence? Even if we prevailed with our findings, would the town support a change in leadership – and the downfall of one of its civic leaders? With all of these questions hanging in the air, the remainder of our time in Alnadotzli would certainly be exciting. I only hoped we would be able to help this town cast off the chains that bound it to the business of slavery, and forge trade links instead of burning bridges.