Shadows and Dust

The large, brutish Troglodytes were easily dispatched. The first one fell to flame and the second to a combination of Leland and Bren’s quick moves around the beasts.

During the fighting, the smell they gave off had changed from sickening to sickly sweet without a discernible reason. After the fight, the market, seemingly inexplicably, had emptied. nothing seemed to have prompted it, and the bridge on the other side of the caver was rolled up and placed carefully near the cliffs edge. The carts were all still there, and they were sealed up well, each tied with that same resilient leather strapping, and a portcullis of Kimpar Wood and leather slammed down in front of a room that had a circular cage filled with slaves. Toward the back of the room, two of the Lizards of Burden munched on strange mushrooms and lichen.

Numer made his way past the portcullis by stepping for a short time into the feywild, and moving around it in that realm, popping back into the mortal realm on the other side. Izzy followed.

While Numer looked for a way to determine how the portcullis could be moved, Izzy examined the bars of the enclosure. The slaves on the other side seemed to be talking, but no sound got beyond the bars of the cage. Izzy found raised images on the Kimpar bars. Claws, fangs and amphibian eyes dominated. After a few puzzling moments, she recalled, however, the tale of the Demon frog, a rape-child of the Goddess of water and the stink-demon Gragganik. It seemed that the bars had an enchantment to contain those within.

Numer, meanwhile, had determined that the portcullis (rather quickly-it is not smarter than him) was lowered from above. However there seemed to be no way to notify or communicate with anyone in the room above.

Just as both Numer and Izzy finished up their examinations and popped through the gate, Bren finally had managed to lift the massive gate, heavier than expected. The wood made a strange reverberating sound as it was lifted. Leland shoved one of the carts underneath to support it, and was promptly kicked under the now-stable portcullis. He looked around for a few moments, and upon traveling to the backside of the cage, pulled out his dagger and sliced the lashing holding the door shut, freeing the captives within like a stream.

He took the adoration well, and the starving, hungry people slid, crawled and wandered into the market. There was a quick discussion on what to do with the people. None of them were particularly of one mind with that regard. They went into the hall to speak, and what greeted them to their surprise was a number of Troglodytes. Three of the large ones, just over a dozen of the ones with spears, and about half that many wielding great clubs. Leading them all was a large specimen, wearing no clothes, still a pale blue but tinged towards his edges with a brilliant red. He motioned them to follow and then turned and left.

The meeting with the Troglodyte Chieftain was quick, though initially difficult. It seems that they don’t speak and only barely hear. Leland’s grand proclamation in the room echoed intensely, sending a number of both the Troglodytes and his friends to their knees in pain but proving that they do indeed hear.

After trying to communicate via smell, eventually Numer managed to make the Chieftain understand that they spoke, and didn’t smell, for communication. A few small gains were made, and eventually a translator was hauled out.

Cuffed at both hands and feet, cuffs linked with chains, and wearing only a deep brown loincloth, the translator spoke perfect Tyndal. He was grey, hairless, small and almost wiry, his eyes an intense blue. His nose was long, beak-like, and came almost to a decided point. He translated to the Chieftain the thoughts of the group, and why they were here, through unguents and herbs. All the while, he set up a meeting with his people.

Afterward, with a shaman carrying his sack of tools to communicate with, he lead them down and around the deeper areas of the Troglodyte lair. All the while he explained what had happened. His people had found this cavern system here, abandoned by its previous owners. They lived there for a while, scavenging off the lairs other inhabitants. Then came the Troglodytes. They came with great vengeance and great anger, seeming to boil up from the hot depths of the caverns. They drove the Gimmla west, into the hollow they now call home.

On the tour through the Troglodyte lair, they noted the craftsmen creating spears, shields, and a small number of swords. They saw huts, small and compact, in a large chamber, maybe a dozen. The translator explained that there were maybe a dozen of these small villages spread out among the craftsmen, The breeding Lairs (where the Crocadillians, or female Troglodytes are kept), the feeding chambers, and their great temple. The market was also explained: no real trading went on, per say. It was merely a place where needed things were moved from one place to another. It was revealed that the Chieftain is supreme authority, able to issue musk-commands at a great range, and no Troglodyte can disobey.

The slaves, they learned, were pretty much exclusively used for food.

With that he left them in the hands of another Gimmla, who lead them to the Hollow. There they were informed of the nature of the the slave trade and how the Gimmla and the Troglodytes participated in it. The Gimmla were contacted once, a short time ago, telling them to leave a number of slaves in a specific cave. If they did, they would be rewarded. Rewarded they were… with solid gold nuggets. Now the Gimmla use the nuggets to buy (with the help of slaves) things they never imagines. Houses, cloaks, daggers, food from exotic lands. The Gimmla are finally happy.

Finished, the group was lead back to the surface via a small, abandoned mine almost 2 hours walk from Hilea. Curious, puzzled, and with some new notions, they headed home.

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