After the last Espagra had fled, we regrouped. Osrack and Womax were both badly wounded and in need of attention. Draiden began binding their wounds and Vridich used his healers kit to aid their recovery. Suulin and Skram were also in bad shape, but were at least conscious and able to get around without trouble.
Wheeler, myself, Korack, Urgral, Draiden, and the troll from the downed ship, Dagmar, circled the wounded and warily kept an eye on the jungle around us. I also kept an eye on the troll, for though he was clearly no Theran, we did not know who he was.
The Dashing Stag came down and we hoisted our wounded aboard. Then Dremnin and his mentor, Quinn, joined us on the wreckage of the Theran vedette while Kerick took the helm.
It was then that we heard the story of Dagmar Steelsong.
Dagmar was a hill troll, a race of trolls who many mountain trolls consider to be inferior to their own. Such trolls were those who abandoned the mountains to live with other name givers in the low lands prior to the Scourge. They are considered more civilized in Throalic circles, than their mountain troll cousins, but are often smaller and do not share the mountain troll strict code of honor.
Dagmar was a weaponsmith adept from Bartertown, and his family owned a forge there. He had taken a job traveling to a small village some distance from Bartertown to repair a broken waterwheel. His party was ambushed by Ork and Human slavers who were lead by a human, Trejak. Those who were not killed were captured and eventually sold to the Therans on the wrecked barge to our North, escorted by the modified Vedette at our feet. They had, oddly, been traveling North when they apparently ran into huge flock of Espagra who caused both ships to crash.
North, I thought. Why North? I made up my mind then that I had to find the captain’s log. I thought it would be smart to know what the Therans were planning to do with these slaves so far from the Theran bastions in the Southwest.
I then overheard Dagmar and Skram talking, and the name Trejak was spoken harshly by Skram. It took me a moment to remember that Trejak was the human in charge of the band of cavalry that had taken Skram as a slave. If such a man was leading a band of raiders around Northeastern Barsaive rounding up slaves for the Therans, he should be hunted down and killed with extreme prejudice. If he had been trying this around my homeland in Konigsberg, he would have been relentlessly hunted by our forces.
But this was Throal, and Throal’s boundaries were over extended, and their forces too weak and spread out for such a thing.
We spent the next few hours searching the two wrecks, taking time to thoroughly scout the area around the ship for possible survivors. We found none. From the ships we recovered a number of things of value, including some damaged ballista that could be salvaged, six in all. We found few sets of poorly made padded armor, I was not even sure why the Therans had such things on one of their vessels, since I had never heard of Therans wearing anything short of hardened leather. We found a finely made Elven war bow and a large quantity of arrows. There we’re no melee weapons left on board either of the ships. Not a one. Which was very strange. We did however dig through the rubble and we uncovered several things from captains quarters of the vedette wreckage, that were of importance, including the captains log, his chest and an amulet that had some magical capacity to it. We gave that to Vridich, while I took the captain’s log to study.
Finally, we had to cut off our search and departed. I remember feeling a pang of regret that we were too late to save any of the slaves that were imprisoned on these ships.
The next day we arrived in Bartertown. I shook hands with Roinak and he immediately departed for the monastery of The Hand. It was a sad moment, for he was a good Ork who was then carrying the heads of his comrades in a sack, who just a week before had been a band of warriors that he called brothers. I watched him go, wishing I could have done more.
Then the strangest thing happened. A woman, extremely beautiful, smelling of spring flowers, walked with a confident stride onto our ship, past our stunned rail guards,and straight up to me from where she had been standing on the dock.
I admit that I did not recognize her at first, though at times, looking back, I think I should have.
She was intoxicating, my first thought in looking at her was to want her. But such thoughts for me were fleeting. I quickly sensed something out of place, something different. I realized that her delicious aura was tearing my mental defenses down, and I would not have it. Besides, I loved Quorra and she was good woman to me, and if I am anything, it is loyal. I think it was because of that loyalty that I was able to resist her charms.
Dremnin,Skram and Draiden were all standing near us, each staring slack jawed a the beauty before me. Me, I just glared at her. I was annoyed at their drooling over this woman.
“Woman, who are you and what are you doing on my ship?” I demanded.
She smiled a smile that threatened to melt my defenses. "Lord Stilicho, do you not recognize me?" Her voice was as lovely as her looks.
“No.” I said flatly and without any humor. I was annoyed that our guards just let some strange woman just walk aboard our ship as though it were the downtown market in Kratas.
She grinned, again forcing me to struggle with my want versus my logic. Logic won, and I instantly regained control after wavering for a split second. I steeled myself to prevent any further lapses.
She laughed then, a sing-song laugh that made me struggle to maintain my mental strength. "Lord Stilicho, surely you jest! It is I, Veranda!"
I stood there, realizing what she said was true. Veranda, the tall, muscular slave woman we rescued from the Therans who became a crewman on our ship. Veranda, who would have been beautiful had it not been for the scars and lines of her hard life.
It was her… yet it wasn’t her. The woman before me looked like her, even somehow sounded like her, but was flawless. Void of the scars and lines of the hard life that was Veranda’s lot.
Yet, she was Veranda…
Veranda, the woman who fell to her death from our ship and whose broken and stiff body I buried in the mountains a week ago.