Tales from the Road
As you stand in The Gap Inn biding your time before joining the table occupied by the strange man who claims to have sent you your note you overhear a conversation between a mercenary named Algier and a travelling bard. The mercenary’s tale sounds a bit rehearsed at first, perhaps because there is little in the shut down town of Bond to do besides share stories.. As he said before he and his band of caravan guards were working for the Tulla family, one of the fantastically wealthy noble families within Dernholm. He speaks in general terms about his time on the Western island of Dajabon, which practically belongs to the family entirely. He talks at first about its beautiful rolling hills, wonderful climate, punishing weather, and exotically spicy food.
He speaks with some hesitation about his job on the island itself as an overseer of plantations of sugar, indigo, and tea. While he never had to deal with the slaves with any violence beyond a few strikes with a cudgel, he tells of the mostly captive Archean tribals from the south of Brixton who made up the workforce. He recounts their strength, their dignity in the face of the dangerous forced labor on the island, and their customs that would fill him with guilt and unease. He pounds out a rhythm on the bar in front of him, a pounding that his mates join into, and teaches the bard some lines of song the would sing in the night long after the sun had set – a mournful and powerful dirge in a language not understood, seemingly, by anybody in the bar. Algier explains that it is a song for departed warriors and far away homes and friends.
He tells of his translator on the island, a tusked and green skinned tribal named Gutthorm with whom he formed an uneasy friendship. Gutthorm would talk about the tension and warfare within tribes back home migrating north away from the Void, and their efforts to combat the encroaching terror of their disappearing homes. In the evenings he would breathe and hold deep lungfuls of smoke and retreat into a trance for hours at a time. Algier shared a pipe with him once and says he remembers only a bewildering haze of green with tinges of gold that made him feel exhilarated and afraid.
Algier becomes serious when he speaks to this bard of events that preceded his departure from the island with his mates and a few merchants. He explains that back during his time on the plantation he only received snippets of the politics on the island, but the representative of the family he reported to complained of agents of the royal Graemson family poking their noses into the island that the Tullas considered theirs, demanding more than their fair share of taxes. Around the same time escapes became more common, and as Algier went out into the wilderness to recover the workers he and his band found themselves encountering skulking figures in the woods and the leftovers of camps that could not have belonged to any tribals.
Not long after was a night of absolute chaos. During a visit by the royal envoy to the sugar plantation Algier worked on all hell broke loose. The bell within the estate’s small watchtower began to ring around midday, and with that signal the tribals abandoned their tools and turned on their masters. The slave uprising began with the crude machetes used in the fields, but as Algier and others barricaded the house to defend his Tulla bosses he noticed slaves armed with swords, crossbows, and even flasks of a volatile, burning liquid that set fields and machinery ablaze. The revolt was put down and, with a big gulp of his ale, Algier admits that he had to put Guthorm to the sword before the end. The royal envoy and at least a dozen slaves lay dead by the end, but the family and their estate remained largely intact.
Disgusted with the night of blood and fire Algier and his crew gave up their lucrative jobs as guards and overseers for the pay cut and danger of escort on the open road all the way to the Primean capital of Hemeoskopein in the far eastern desert. He warns the bard at the bar against travel to the island of Dajabon, that the tensions between the Tullas, the royal family, and the restless slaves is a powder keg with a burning fuse. After a few moments of silence he orders another drink and asks her about her home and life around the same time you decide to walk over to the table and meet the strange man named Thomas.