Den of Wolves pt1

A JP with LSP and Rosmary

((Shadrazar, Zatar))

During her time living in Opra Dale, Orla had always stayed clear of the slave market, unable to bear the sight of such barbaric cruelty, nor empathically feel the misery and suffering that radiated from the whole place in psychic waves. She had been so very sorry for the poor captives but had never once imagined she would ever be in the same circumstances. It had never seemed possible with Fernoia always there to watch over her. In the heart of the Zataran slave bazaar she could see Reise if anything was somehow even more disturbed than she was right now. His hand was flexing beneath hers, and she heard him grinding his teeth. There was something in his eyes, a barely contained rage that she’d never seen before in him. It reminded her of life in the wilderness when two wolves fought to be the alpha. She could sense him having an internal battle within himself, a great battle for self-control.

“Reise…” Orla said quietly, as to not draw attention, “Are you alright?”

Hearing her concerned voice cut through his internal debate, Reise didn’t turn to her, he just spoke as quietly as she had. “I… I need you to stay here with me,” he said, a shocking note of vulnerability to his voice.

“Of… of course.” She squeezed his hand to try to reassure him and took a step closer. “I shan’t leave you. I would never leave you. But what is the matter…?”

“I just need someone to ground me right now. I... I’ll tell you more when we can step away from all these people.” There were things he would not even want Severos to know.

Orla nodded, continuing to search his eyes to understand and to assure him she was emotionally there for him just as he was always there for her. He was usually so steady no matter what, so sure of himself even in the face of the greatest of danger. Was it that he thought he had failed her again or was it something more than that? Something else entirely?

As slaves were led out onto the stage and inspected like cattle, Reise moved in front of her to block her view of the proceedings, gently turning her away from these horrific scenes of inhumanity that he knew might otherwise haunt her sensitive mind for centuries to come, long after the rest of them, even himself, were long dead. He would spare her that distress if he could. He did not want to think about what the real Orla, for lack of a better term, was experiencing and had thus far already experienced. The thought of what might be happening to her even now was almost enough to drive him stark raving mad. Mad enough to brutally kill every single person involved, and every god too.

Severos turned and caught the emotional rawness in Reise's face and hoped his dear friend would not lose control. The slave bazaar was heavily guarded, more so during this time of war than it might be in peace time. In addition to the many dozens of orc enforcers working directly for the slavers, there were scores of the city's watch and members of the Zataran army stationed throughout the square on the lookout for those with the cursed mark and anyone else who might disrupt the slave auctioning. It was far too great a force for them to take on, certainly not all at once.

How things could shift and reverse themselves from one day to the next, Severos thought philosophically. It had only been a matter of days ago that his own temper was out of control due to the effects of the Mortith that it was all Reise and Orla could do to keep him in check. Now Orla was gone, a mere flicker of her essence left in her place as a substitute decoy, and Reise was the one coming unhinged. Severos could not blame the man. For this to happen to Orla of all people was heartbreaking, and he fully understood the maddening and endless rage directed at the King in White, the so-called Guardian of Aeran who had engineered this seemingly every bit as much as the Nameless.

"The more things change the more they stay the same," an unknown voice said from behind the group, which went largely ignored, except for Orla who momentarily met the eyes of the speaker, a strange young woman swathed in native garb with white hair and dark golden skin who looked like she might have been one of the slaves up for sale. But Orla doubted she was a prisoner for the powerful magic of the woman gleamed brightly in her Faerie Sight.

"You guys better watch your step in this place," the woman advised Orla. "These men play for keeps."

At a gated door of the courtyard, Severos showed his brass plaque to the heavily muscled sentry. “Severos Aven. Here to see Dahab Saddique.”

The huge orc grabbed hold of Severos's wrist in a grip that could have broken it if the orc wished to as his yellow eyes studied the plaque. “You are of Amanap? What do you want with Master Saddique? He is busy man.”

“I have a lucrative business proposition to make your employer,” Severos said, a little surprised the orc could read the plaque. The green-skinned guard gave a signal and two more fierce looking orcs came up behind the three, boxing them in.

Riese put an arm protectively around Orla, the other in his pocket, ready to draw forth one of his bizarre, but devastating weapons and blast the orcs to shreds if need be. Orla watched the first orc speak to a human in the compound and a moment later the three of them were admitted inside the stone complex and led to one of the master slavers.

Dahab Saddique had a hard, broad face with a beard streaked with grey, burly shoulders and arms, and a bulging gut that hung over his belt. His cold black eyes looked the trio over with brief speculation, his gaze lingering on Orla the longest before turning to Severos. “You are Aven of Amanap? What business do you have that would interest me? I don’t deal in spices. I am a trader of slaves.”

“I am tracking down a recently sold slave,” Severos explained. “I think you might be in possession of information that would help.”

“All non-public customer information is confidential,” Dahab said, his voice flat and cold.

Severos smiled and clinked his coin purse. “All I want to know is information about this one slave, and I'd be willing to pay several hundred gold pieces for it.”

Dahab shook his head. “You're wasting my time, Aven. You should know I do not give out that kind of information.” The slaver signalled to the orc guards and pointed at the three. “Get them out of here.”

“We only want one piece of information,” Reise persisted as the guards surrounded them. “And Severos misspoke. We would be willing to pay you not several hundred, but several thousand gold pieces for it.” Severos turned in surprise to Reise, and he mouthed, “I’m good for it.”

Dahab's cold expression did not change, but there was a flash of avarice in his eyes. “Who is this slave you are trying to find? Sounds very valuable.”

Reise stepped forward, “The woman in question is this woman’s twin,” he explained, gesturing at Orla. “Her name would likely not do you much good as she was stolen away from a well protected keep by a snake who wished to do her family harm.”

"What a sad tale," the slaver said, not sounding sad. "And who are you, the big brother?"

Reise held up a hand to show he wasn’t going for any weapon when he reached into a pocket, taking out a sheaf of parchment. He showed it to Dahab, official documentation identifying him as a diplomatic envoy from Karavoss charged with this official investigation. “Mister Aven has been financially induced to assist me in my inquiries.”

Severos nodded at this, playing along.

“Like I said, I would not be able to give you a name for her,” Reise went on to the slaver, “Due to her position within the group it is likely they would have used a fake name when selling her, to hide away who she is and prevent a search and an attempt to absolve themselves of high treason,” he added for effect.

"Indeed," Dahab said, his eyebrows raising at this.

Reise produced a heavier bag of coins than the one Severos proffered. “I am willing to compensate you the same as Master Aven if you provide me with the information I require, and it leads me to finding the woman in question.”

“You would, would you?” The slaver steepled his fingers on the desk in front of him. "Zatar however has a longstanding policy not to cooperate with other nations when it comes to recovering their citizens we happen to sell into slavery. I am under no obligation to help you, and every bit inclined to hamper your efforts. So I think I'll just take your gold, and see what price I can get for all three of you on the block." The man grinned like a shark as he dropped Severos's name plaque into the rubbish bin by his desk.

Reise stuffed his parchment back in his pocket. He approached the desk, and with a blink-and-you-missed-it fluid motion he grabbed the collar of the man’s clothing and slammed his forehead into the desk, and once again drew the small L-shaped tube from his clothes. The light scent of ozone burning, like after a lighting flash slowly filled the room as he aimed the wand-like device back at the orc guards. Lifting Dahab up by the hair on the back of the man's neck, Reise leaned in close to his ear and snarled coldly, “Sorry, I think you misunderstood. This was not a request, it is not an act of friendly cooperation. It’s an order, and the price is now your life.” Reise threw the man’s head back so he was sitting up right and wiped the greasy hand on Dahab’s shoulder.

The master slaver looked over Reise’s shoulder to a guard, who at the signal charged fast with a small axe, thinking Reise distracted enough to take him unawares. It was the orc’s last mistake, in the boxed-in room the sound was deafening when the device went off, leaving nothing of the orc's chest behind. Severos had realized what was about to happen and had hugged Orla, covering her eyes with his hand. Dahab gaped at the wound, which was nothing less than a gigantic hole through the orc before the creature fell dead to the floor.

“Now talk,” Reise said calmly, showing back a mocking ‘shark’ smile to the slaver.

Dahab was more angry than afraid even after seeing what Reise’s ‘wand’ could do. “You think you can bully your way through this establishment, stripling? There are hundreds of guards outside and dozens inside, more than you can kill with that thing before they bring you down. But you can clearly kill me, so for now, I’ll talk,” he said grudgingly, belligerently.

“I do think I can bully you,” Reise said very matter of factly. “I offered you money for your trouble, and you spat on my goodwill. You consider yourself so untouchable as to put a value on a person's life--”he began to say more, but Dahab interrupted him.

“I was appointed a slave master of Shadrazar by the Prince himself, you little brat. I am untouchable,” he declared, and making a series of hand motions, there was a glimmer of light Reise could only see for a moment and the man was covered in a thin film of energy. Orla could plainly see with her Faerie Sight it was a barrier the man had erected around himself to deflect magical attacks.

“Anti-magic protection?” Reise guessed. “Cute.” He waved the weapon in a small circle. “But unfortunately for you, this… this isn’t magic, and so your field won’t stop it. Now, where is this woman’s sister?”

The slaver squinted skeptically at Reise’s claim the wand was not magical in nature, but at the question turned his gaze on Orla. “Lower your veil so I can see your face,” he told her.

Orla did so, and Dahab stared at her for a long time, searching his memory for any familiarity. He drew a blank. “I can’t be expected to remember every slave wench processed through here, but I think I would recognise her as one I sold recently, and I do not.”

“You wouldn’t forget Orla so soon.” Reise sadly reached into the bin, fishing out Severo’s brass plaque, and handed it back to the mage. “Let's get out of here.”

“If you think this transgression will go unpunished you are more of a fool than I thought, ‘envoy’,” Dahab said with a cold smile. “I tripped a silent magical alarm thirty seconds ago. Guards are swarming the building as we speak. Even if you were to kill me you’d not make it out alive.”

“Oh, I know,” Reise said, “And I’m glad you did.” He smiled at Dahab. “It’s exactly what I wanted you to do.”


Reise grabbed the bag of gold and started backing to the door, waving the ‘wand’ at the orcs to get them to stay back that were itching to rush him. He knew full well that once he was clear of the door and was flanked by the outer guards they would immediately attack, but by then he and the others would be long gone. Or so he hoped.

Exiting the room, the three headed towards the door they entered through but hung a fast left down a hall, just as the promised guards began to pour in, their boots clomping and small axes in their hands. Finding the perfect door, Reise pulled out his key, ushering Orla and Severos inside first before following right behind the pair and shutting the door behind them.

“Well, that really went well,” Severos said, his sarcasm more relieved than anything else.

“It did go well.” A woman's voice said ebulliently. The voice did not belong to Orla. It was the voice of a stranger, and one that should not have been in the Hallway of Doors with them. The three turned in unison to see a dark golden skinned woman flexing like a hero. “Master is strong and brave! He sure showed that mean ol' Dahab who’s boss,” she said almost smugly. “Glad my new master is so amazing and not like that old fuddy duddy who was my last master.”

“Master?” Orla said with a frown, recognising the woman from earlier in the bazaar.

“Master?” Reise unintentionally parroted.

“Well... yeah,” the woman said. “You did buy me.”

“I can wholeheartedly assure you I did not,” Reise said, thinking she meant in the slave auction.

“Oh yes, you did,” she replied, pointing to his bag.

Reise looked at her puzzled, and then to Orla. “My bag?” he asked, taking it off and looking inside. He couldn’t figure out what she meant, until he saw the fancy, bulbous long-necked bottle he’d purchased in the border town marketplace. The stopper was knocked off. He looked up at her.

“See? Toldja,” the genie said.

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