The night was dark and cool; the night sounds of the Orcish Waste a strange sort of silence. Little lives as the plants and small animals had been wiped out by the Orc Horde that had risen after the shattering. Humans had ruled the land when the Jagged Pines had been at its peak, acting a shepherds and caretakers of the wood. Their small city had been burned and crushed when the Orcs ravaged and burned their way across this land of massive old giant trees. The Shattering had also collapsed the tunnels of the deep underground world of the Underfoot, causing the opening of a vast chasm that quickly filled from the Ocean of Tears separating the Pines from the Surefall Glades, just a day's ride north of Qeynos. This new sub continent was quickly overrun by the Orcs and turned into a burned out wasteland, with only a few pocket valleys where the forest remained. The Orcs were intent on invading and destroying even these small remnants of life.
Over this sad, dusty land, a lone Woodelven raced through the night. She needed to reach the location the Greenhoods had set up to fake an assault on the mines to distract the guard forces around the thousand foot deep mine shaft known simple as, The Pit. They would need then to hold the guards attention long enough for her to reach the elevator, board it and descend into the depths. Her mission was to find a simple bit of metal, the magical Clapper from the Transit Bell. Without it, the humans and related forces were stranded and slowly being overrun as their supplies of food and weapons ran out. They had all but given up hope as no relief ship had made across the narrow sea in months, until one day, a wreck appeared off shore after a bad storm had passed by.
On this wrecked ship of the sea was a single survivor from the violent battering the vessel had taken. Tamalain Arrowmark, Woodelven from the greater Feydark. She was escorted to the docks and questioned in depth by the mariner port commander, Captain Fildalgo. His attempt to convince the post fort commander that she could be of assistance proved futile as the barbarian had little use for females other than bed mates. In his fury at captain Fildalgo, he exiled him to the Greenhoods. They are the remains of the protectors of the Jaggedpines, with a goal of one day replanting the massive wood and in time returning it to its former glory.
While gearing up for the run to the holdout village, Tamalain found pieces of armor and weapons that shocked and surprised her. She found gear that had been made by artisans from her home village, the Upper Pass. The bow and many of the remaining arrows in the accompanying quiver were those she herself had made almost twenty years earlier. She learned that the Elven man, one William Arrowline was said to have died in an ambush two years earlier, and his gear had been recovered to be resold.
With this new old gear, she and Fildalgo fled the fort into the badlands. Behind them was a trail of dead creatures that caused fear among the Orcs for days. Entire patrols and observation points simply ceased reporting. The Catapult row across the valley from the fort was obliterated in a few hours time, leaving the Orcs in further disarray. The Orcs did find Tamalain's trail and tried to follow her, but she escaped with a burst of speed that only bards could manage to produce.
It took a few days, but the two travelers made it to the outpost village and were able to rest and Tamalain prepared for the next stage of her mission, the effort to recover the bell clapper from the mines. She cut her hair, dyed it, darkened her skin and changed her appearance so as to not be directly linked to the destroyer on the badlands.
Tamalain was able to follow the trails made by the locals over the mountains and made it to the encampment an hour before dawn. She was expected so nobody challenged her reason for being out in the wilds.
"Miss Arrowmark, we attack in two hours, how are you planning to get to the shaft with arrows falling all around you," asked the curious raid leader.
Tamalain looked at him then frowned, "I would rather not say. Just make a lot of noise, bombard them with arrows then after ten minutes start running like hell. Make sure every living being of your village is on the other side of that ridge before nightfall and keep them there for their own safety for at least a week. I have to go now, may the Gods protect you and yours." She seemed to blur before his eyes and was gone.
He sent word for everybody to prepare for the distraction attack at one hour after sunrise and for how long it was to last then what to do after. The camps were quickly broken down; the material train quickly loaded and began moving back to the paths that led away from the battle. The Warriors and Rangers at the front stayed quiet and waited for the single to fire.
Tamalain quickly crossed the valley the shaft was in well of to the west, hoping to find an easy path along the ridge behind the small Orc village. This so called village was composed mostly of rough wood shacks and ragged tents, and many of the sleeping Orcs were exposed to the weather as they slept out in the open. "I would be cranky all the time too if I lived like this," she thought as she quickly, quietly crept along the cliff wall. She saw a few watchmen out but not enough to delay her in her path to the mine shaft.
She arrived at the hole with about a half hour to spare, giving her a chance to study the situation; it also increased her risk to detection by the wandering guards. She saw two massive Orcs standing guard at the front entrance to the mineshaft; they would be the biggest problem getting past she thought. What could not be easily seen from a distance was a rim of stone, rocks, wood and dirt twenty feet high surrounding the hole. The wall of massive timbers around the hole kept this from open sight. It also hid the actual size of the hole from view. She stared in dismay at the shear width; it was over three hundred feet across. "Ok, now I see why they warned me repeatedly about getting in and out." She studied the walls and saw they were glass smooth, no handholds to be found at any point she could see. She studied the elevator from a safe distance and decided that would have to be it for getting in and out.
The elevator though was not a single platform or cage. It was composed of five separate cages stacked on one another. The lowest two seemed to be used for cargo only. The lowest was currently filled with barrels stacked five high. "This thing is huge," she thought to herself, "and maybe not as hard to get into as I though it would be." The floors were a thirty foot by thirty foot square cage of heavy timber and steel strapping. This would allow large crews and cargo to move in and out of the mine quickly and easily. The lift mechanism was a huge steam powered winch manned by several dispirited looking gnomes in chains to keep them from escaping. She decided the second cargo level would be the easiest place to hide on the trip down.
She had just gotten to the spot she wanted to wait when her time ran out. She could hear the Elven horns blowing in the distance, singling for the attack to begin. This sound caused every Orc in the area to snap awake, grab for their weapons, and run to their assigned post. The guards at the entrance did not move, but did focus their full attention outwards, that was all she needed. With great care to not disturb the loose gravel on the ledge near the elevator, she made her way to the ramp to the second floor of the elevator. She seemed to make it without being detected and carefully slid into a small space between several of the largest crates. Now she cursed her heritage from her grandmother side, her oversized breast were getting in her way yet again, preventing her from squatting all the way down in the narrow space. She had them tied down as flat as they could go without impairing her breathing, but they still stood out too far. This would have to do she decided, and waited for the daily drop into the mine known as Hell.
~Descent into the Abyss
Tamalain remained still and waited for the expected call to retreat and the Greenhoods had fled back into the hills. She could hear the calls and shouts of the leaders of the Orcs as they called their people back, lest they go charging off into the hills and get needlessly slaughtered. It took close to an hour before everything settled down and the daily routines settled back into place. More cargo was loaded around and over her, squeezing her even more tightly between the crates. More barrels were rolled into place below on the lowest level of the giant elevator, making shake and rattle alarmingly.
It was when the miners started loading that she nearly lost herself in rage. Large Orcs, each holding a long chain came aboard. On the chains were shackled slaves, Humans, Woodelven, High Elven, Uredites, Barbarians, Gnomes, Halflings, Dwarves. They all had iron collars around their necks, joined by the long chains. All of them, men and women alive were gaunt, nearly starved, wearing only rags of once might have been good clothing. All of then showed scars, open sores, slash's still bleeding from a fresh stroke of the whips. This changed her plans drastically. She would have to act to free these people and try to get them to the Greenhoods and safety.
She just hoped she would avoid capture long enough to make this happen and obtain the bell clapper so she could go home. Once everybody was aboard, a bell rang and one of the gnomes opened a valve. There was a loud hiss of steam and the elevator began to quickly descend into the pit. At first daylight provided enough to see by. Soon though, light stoned supplied a little light, just enough to see by. The trip took twenty minutes to reach bottom. Here the Orcs had gathered Greater Lightstone's to provide light enough for all the night blind races to work in. The shaking and vibration had caused dust to settle inside the cargo cage, and one of the bags had a small hole in it. Tamalain determined it was just flour, and paid it little mind.
As they continued their descent, Tamalain could see scaffolding built along the walls. Many of these levels had tunnels bored into the wall, leading off in all directions. She could see other slaves working, with overseers wielding cruel clubs and whips. She didn't see one Orc that did a double take as the elevator went past him on the way down. She did hear the whistle he blew as they descended past him, but she didn't know if it meant trouble for her. Above her, the others suddenly drew sharp breaths, and then cried out in pain as their binding chains were pulled tight and they were ordered to remain silent or be whipped to bloody ribbons. Down below, a dozen large Orcs started running into the main chamber, surrounding the platforms that would allow loading and unloading to be accomplished quickly. As the elevator came to a stop at the bottom of the pit, Tamalain saw a huge Orc, almost the size of a small Ogre enter the main hall.
He was talking and laughing with another, smaller Orc, this one dressed in bones and rattles, a Shaman most likely. The Giant was wearing a large over tunic of leather with strange shrunken bits of what looked like dark flesh sewn onto it. His boots were metal studded hob nails, the kind made for killing the target being kicked. He looked up and saw what the whistling was about and laughed. When the elevator came to a halt, he called out to everybody in the area.
"Attention one and all! I welcome those that are new, welcome back those that have been my guest before." He turned around, looking around the cavern as most of the Orcs had burst out laughing. As they settled down he continued. "I have a special announcement for one and all. We have an unexpected guest with us today." As he said this, he stared right at Tamalain and she felt a stab of fear in her heart, she was caught already. "This person is in such a hurry to see the sights and visit with us, they stowed away on the cargo section. Welcome whom ever you are. As to how we spotted you, that bag leaking behind you has flour, and it has covered you, so invisible is rendered useless."
Tamalain cursed at her stupidity and started to leap out and fight. She never had a chance, the Shaman had already acted. He tossed a small sphere into the cage at her; the Orcs all turned their heads away and covered their ears when they saw this. Before she could react, the sphere released an intense flash of blinding light, and a mind stunning thunder crack. Stunned, she was not able to defend herself as the Orcs boarded the level she was on and dragged her out. They held her down to the floor, pulling her arms and legs apart, and prevented her from escaping, two Orcs on each limb, holding her firmly down ensuring she was unable to move or escape.
As her head started to clear, she began trying to bring her powers back up, but the Shaman quickly moved in and swatted her in the head with a bone club, stunning her even further. "None of that drawing power down here girly. Not allowed at all, no sir, not at all."
The leader asked, "She has power then? Well, we know how to handle that, don't we now boys." He called out. This brought cheers and laughter all around. The slaves all groaned quietly, they knew what was about to happen. "Bring the branding iron. You three, hold her head so she can't move it."
Three guards closed in and held her head up and still. Her eyes had just cleared when she saw the red hot glowing branding iron moving towards her face. She saw the shape of the iron and realized what they were about to do to her. The shaman drove the iron into the flesh on her forehead, holding it there for a full, slow count of ten. As soon as the burning metal had touched her skin, Tamalain let out a scream of agony. She felt as if her head was burning away, her sight went red and her mind fled away to unconsciousness.
As soon as he pulled the iron away from her head, the shaman rubbed a type of enchanted dust into the burned skin, staining it and locking in the spell. The symbol on her forehead was of a mana power block, she had been rendered helpless in one move. The leader threw a bucket of scalding hot water on her, waking her and causing another scream as her skin was viscously scalded by the heat.
"Now little elf girl, you are our guest, for as long as you live that is. You will work in the mine, serve as you are told, and if I am interested, you will be my personal plaything. Any questions, No, Good." He glanced around, "Strip her and send her to the pits. She is also to remain unspoiled, at least no worse than she may already be, so no gang raping, at least not yet." This last announcement elicited groans of displeasure, but they knew not to defy this Mine Foreman. He turned away and returned to his office, as the overseer of the mines.
The Grunts holding her down quickly cut away all of her clothing, stripping her naked for all to see. The Forman of the section known as the pit came forward and grabbed her by the throat, lifting her to her feet, then off the ground, holding her above his head. Tamalain struggled, tried to get the massive clawed hand to release her until he shook her hard until she went limp in his hand. Between the burning on her head, the scalded skin and now this, her body gave up and she passed out again. While she was out, a heavy iron collar was affixed tightly around her throat.
Minutes, or maybe only seconds later Tamalain woke screaming as a whip lashed across he exposed back. She tried to curl into a ball to protect herself, but several grunts grabbed her arms and stood her up. "No sleeping on the job bitch, that was but a taste of what's to come if you fail to do as you're told. Now on your feet and move to the end of the chain!" To make his point, the Pit foreman lashed the whip at her legs, leaving a red slash down her left thigh.
Tamalain limped to the place he pointed and a smaller grunt attached the chain to the collar. He also took a chance to grab one of her breast and gave it a savage squeeze and pull. "We will have fun with you elf girl, lots of fun." He quickly released her as the whip slashed across his hand, also raising a painful welt on her left breast, straight across the nipple. She let out another scream of shear agony as the burning pain slammed through her body, stunning her mind even further.
She shuffled along with the rest of the slaves on this particular chain to the section known as the pit. As her mind started to clear when the pain had faded, she tried to reach for her power, only to find a wall in her mind. She was cut off from what made her a Ranger of the Feydark. Jordan and others had warned her about becoming too dependant on the power of magic, she had not listened to them on this matter. Now she was coming to regret that failure in ways she could not yet grasp.
Another thought occurred to her, a frightening thought that made her look far deeper inside, the door to the locked room was gone, the room had the sealed chest still, but even that was fading slowly away. This protection needed a constant supply of mana to be maintained. It didn't take much, but it was needed. Now the barriers were failing, which meant in a few days time, the real power would be released and the world would suffer if she could not remain in full control. She sent a silent prayer to Tunare, hoping that the goddess of life was paying attention.
~The Plane of Life~
Tunare did keep a watch on Tamalain and it is well that she did. When that faint prayer, that desperate call for help came, she looked and saw, and realized how dire the situation really had become. She quickly flashed to the Astral plane and called to Veeshan that danger had come upon them unseen and unplanned.
"Mistress Veeshan, if she doesn't get her mana control back in the next five mortal days, we will lose the lower elemental planes entirely to the reality wiping burst. I don't even want to consider the damage to the mortal realm it will be so bad. You must call the others for a meeting of minds."
Veeshan stared at Tunare in amazement; she had never seen the Goddess of life so scared. "I will call, no, make that drag them here, kicking screaming." She flicked her mighty barbed tail three times and all the gods, of Norrath, both lesser and greater suddenly appeared. "You are summoned, now you listen and look."
Not one of the beings argued. When Veeshan, the Dragon of Sky addressed them in that manner, any back talk was forbidden. "Tunare, show them."
Show them she did, "Now Prexus, do you see why I was against your stranding her there in that manner?"
"This is a rather unexpected development, but not the total disaster you seem to think it is."
"Damn it Prexus, if she loses containment on her reality ripping power, we lose the lower planes, and that includes your domain you water brained idiot!"
"Enough, both of you," Growled the Dragon. "Prexus, you will be responsible for freeing her from the enslavement since you created this situation."
"Only one part of this scale brain, I merely set this stage in motion, ask the war god his about his part."
Veeshan slowly turned her massive scaled head towards the God of Chaos and war, Rallos Zek. "What did you do Zek, didn't you learn not to interfere last time?"
"This plan did not count on her, it was totally independent of The Arrowmark, she was not targeted in this plan, she just had the bad luck of being on that ship at the wrong time."
Another voice, an unknown voice spoke up, "You didn't plan on her being there, but I did." A misty faint form began to appear in their midst, it quickly solidified into a human like shape of middle stature. It sported a slight beard and moustache, and wearing clothing of an unknown type made of a white cloth draped over his body. "I made sure she was on that ship since I knew it would take her to this point in her life. Her powers must fully awaken or she will surely die before Frostfell, and she must not die, it is imperative. Also, you may not assist her, if you try, I and my brethren will simply rewrite events and your actions will be erased. So go home and stop the panic." He waved a large feather quill pen and vanished.
The gods, including Veeshan looked at each other in confusion. "Tunare, since the Muse has just told us to stand by and not panic, we will stay by and not panic, so everybody go home and DON'T PANIC." She snapped her tail once and all the gods except Tunare were sent back to their home planes of existence. "In spite of the Muse's assurances, be ready to try and contain her power if you can. Never argue directly with a writer of reality Tunare."
She faded away and returned to her castle on the Plane of growth and watched in horror as Tamalain's life was rapidly and painfully ripped asunder.
~Kelethin, Mages Academy~
Winter was seriously bored with life. Early on in her life she had discovered her affinity for heavy duty Mana use. This had led to her entrance into the Academy and her rapid rise in power at the school. She sometimes took time to check in with her old friend from the Upper Pass, but they where scattered all over the world now. She did have a way of keeping tabs on the rest of the Gang of Nines health though. Her necklace had eight beads on it, each attuned to a close friend. One had gone dark several years earlier when Mason, a warrior type was killed in a bandit raid on a farming community.
Several times in recent months one other bead had been flashing on and off. The color indicated a life threatening situation of one of the attuned. The bead in question was the one she had attuned to Tama. She stopped grading scrolls when she felt one of the beads suddenly grow hot. When she glanced down at it, she saw one had turned a deep red, almost black. It was on the right end, so she knew it was Tama's marker.
Taking off the necklace, she separated the beads on the string and laid the one in a small dish. On top of it she set a clear crystal and uttered a small scrying spell. What she saw when the image cleared sent her into a panic. She could see Tama and what had been done to her, including the branding.
"Oh Horse crap, I have to find Silor, fast. He needs to know about this." She didn't bother to put away any of her writing instruments, which shocked the others in the room, Winter was normally OCD neat. She took only the necklace and viewer and fled to find her friend of old.
~The Pit and Revelations~
The pit was just that, big deep hole in the floor with five ladders to climb in and out. The pit, from what she could see in the dim red light of Fire Beetle eyes, was about fifty feet across and thirty feet deep. The low light prevented her from making out any details of the bottom from the ledge. Armed guards moved in to cover the slaves as the small Orc grunts moved down the line, releasing each person, one at a time, then shoving them towards the nearest ladder.
Once one was half way down, the next would be released to be sent down the hole. This took process took about twenty minutes to get everybody down the ladders and to work. Several of the larger folks were handed picks and shove towards a section of wall to chip away at. As they started, the rest gathered large, heavy burlap sacks and started collecting all the chunks, stones, pebbles, and even the loose dirt by hand and filling their sacks. The sack could hold up to a hundred pounds of material, then the slave had to carry it up the ladder, empty the sack into a large mine cart, then return to the bottom to start over. Fifteen slaves wielded the picks, the other thirty, including Tamalain were the gatherers and haulers.
This went on for what seemed like days to Tamalain. Twice she received a lash across her back for not moving quickly enough, then once for asking another slave if hey ever were given water while down here. The speaking offence lashing cut her skin and her back bled on and off for the rest of the work shift. Every time she hauled the full sack up the ladder, it rubbed the open cut, tearing it a little more each time. She knew that one would scar badly.
After what seemed to be an eternity of blinding agony, the slaves were pulled from the pit and chained back together. The handlers marched them to a large chamber with several very large cages in it. The chain line was pushed to one of the cages and soon all were locked inside for a rest period. A large cauldron was rolled into the chamber next to their cage and small bowls were handed in. As the chained slaves carefully filed past the point nearest the big pot, a scoop of thick grey goop was ladled into the bowl. All the slaves quickly drank the contents then returned the bowl to a stacking point. To Tamalain, the taste was one of the worst things she had ever tasted in her life. Her stomach tried to rebel, but she fought it down and kept it down. She saw a large trough off in one corner that others were using to handle bodily needs, and followed suit as her bladder had been sending warnings for quite some time now.
This taken care, she moved of to the side as far as the slack in the chain would allow. She sat down and pulled her knees up to her chest then started to cry, shedding tears like at no time since the day she had found out she has caused her mother to miscarry. She could not see any way out of this situation. She was contained in a way that made even prison seem welcoming. She sat and cried for the child she would never have now. She felt that she had failed everybody that she had ever known or cared for.
As she sat and rocked herself in misery, one of other slaves on their chain came over to her and sat next to her. He did not wait for her to take notice of him, he simply asked, "Why in all the hells did you come down here girl. You had to know it would be suicide to do so."
Tamalain answered without looking up, "I came to retrieve the transit bell clapper. I need it so I can go home."
"Stupid reason girl, you should have just waited for the relief ship then left."
"Storms keep wrecking all the ships before they get here. That's how I ended up stuck here myself, ship wrecked."
"Do you have a name girl?" He asked quietly.
Tamalain looked up finally to see who it was that was asking. She saw a Woodelven man, several years older than her, maybe twenty years or so. He was thin, thin to the point of emaciation, yet he still carried an air about him that made him strong enough to withstand the torture he had so far survived. She considered lying about her identity, then decided she had enough troubles already. "Tamalain Arrowmark." was all she said.
"Pleased to meet you miss Arrowmark. You wouldn't by chance be related to the Tamalain from the last stand would you?"
Tamalain smiled a thin, sad smile, "She was my Grandmother. What's your name?"
He looked at her with amazement then said, "You must be Tama of the Upper Pass village. My goodness girl you have grown, and changed. I'm William Arrowline of Arrowline clan and family. I think you were about ten or eleven when I bought my last bow and good arrow load from the Heart Brothers shop."
She looked at him disbelieving his claimed identity. "The shop keeper that had your bow said you had died in an ambush."
"Yeah, he would. Seems he and a few others in the fort have a deal with the Deathfist clan here on Zek. The big barb supplies slaves every now and then for the mines and fields, and they leave the fort intact. Disabling the bell was stupid. Once they are too weak, the fort falls, then no more slaves." He looked disgusted at the thought. "I was drugged and taken out in the night from the fort. My group had proven too successful in stopping the Orcs in the fields."
"That explains your bow and gear. You may be happy to know that all the parts I could find are with Han'Mere of the Greenhoods now. He is holding for me until my return."
William snorted, "Nice, but he is going to have a long wait. Nobody, and I mean absolutely NOBODY escapes this hell, except in death."
Tamalain looked sad then a thought struck her, she reached down inside and redirected what little power that remained in the containment chest to focus the release in one direction rather than all around. "Maybe, Maybe not, but I still live in five days time, Every Orc down here and near the Pit topside will die a horrible death and all the slaves will be free. That is all I need to do, survive." She curled herself back down, "Now, I want to sleep as much as I can. By the by, one of your family is head of the trade consortium now. The others in charge are mostly dead now for treason against the Fey Queen."
"My father is head of the Trade families now? That's fantastic news. Tamalain, you have just brightened a very dark day."
"Glad to be of service. William?"
"If freed from here, where will you go, what will you do?"
He looked at her with a sad expression, "I try not to think about the future anymore Tam, It hurts too much when you wake up the next morning only to find yourself still in hell." He looked at the floor, than back at her as if to say something else when the guard told them to shut up and sleep, next shift starts early.
William curled down into a ball on the hard stone floor and closed his eyes, asleep in seconds. Tamalain wasn't sure how to deal with the situation still, only that she needed to survive the next five days, she would be free of this place, one way or another. She laid down next to William, not sure why she wanted to, but she reached out and laid one hand on his. He seemed to relax a little bit and his breathing slowed into deeper sleep. She closed her eyes and slept.
It was not a pleasant sleep for her. She dreamed of the iron pressing into her head again and again, locking her away from her mana, and cutting off that which made her what she was. Her screams became evermore painful and loud as the night went on, yet not a sound did she make in the waking world. Only at the end of the sleep period, just before a whip snaked across her back did she see something different. She saw herself, flaming with a silvery white light and all she beheld burned as she willed it.
When the whip snapped on her back, she did scream out, as did several of the other women that were enslaved. She rolled to the center of the cage, ready to fight, only to be brought up short on her length of chain, trapping her near the edge of the group.
"Up and get moving you sluggards, the pit is waiting to be mined. There is a rich vein waiting to be tapped and you will dig it out, now up," screamed the pit foreman. He lashed out with the whip, catching a human male in the left arm, cutting it open. He cried out and the Orcs around the cage laughed at the pain the man was in. "Everybody take a dump and piss, you have a long day, now move it."
Move they did, all quickly doing their business and getting in line to be led back to the pit for another very long day digging deeper into Norrath, looking for the rare metal the Orcs coveted so greatly. Once everybody was lined up and waiting, Tamalain at the end again, the Orcs opened the cage door and grabbed the woman that was at the head of the chain. They marched sullenly through the tunnels to the pit and went through the routine of going down into the hole again. Being last, Tamalain was shoved and almost fell off the ledge. Had she fallen, it would most likely not have been a fatal fall for an Elven. She almost smiled, but held it back for when she could and not be cut up by the whip the guard was using this day. It had nine short tails, all about two feet long, all tipped with small spikes. It would tear the skin right off you on a full hit. That could be fatal down here as there wasn't any medical treatment for injuries.
She had seen what happened the night before when a slave on another chain had been injured too badly and was no longer able to work the mines. The Orcs pulled the man out of the cage, and beat him with clubs and hammers until he was most assuredly dead in front of the rest of the caged slaves, as an object lesson they said. The Orcs laughed and joked the entire time they were beating the helpless human to death. The jailors also pulled several of the women out and proceeded to brutally rape and beat them in front of the slaves. When they finished, the women were shoved back into the cages and left to cry and bleed as all of them had been ripped open in both holes by the brutal abuse they had taken. One woman had died as her body gave up during the raping and beatings. Her broken body; along with the other dead were thrown to the Orc that cooked the horrible goop that the prisoners were fed. She decided that every Orc in the mine would die, and studied each monsters face as well as she could without staring. When it broke in four days time, they died, horribly.
All day she toiled, getting lashed by one or the other overseer for not moving fast enough for their taste. One of them decided that he had to grab a feel and yanked her to him. He felt, squeezed and mauled her breast savagely, leaving deep bruises and scratches, causing her intense pain in the tender flesh. It was when he untied his pants that the Foreman stepped in. He snapped the barbed whip across the face of the offender. It took out one eye and half ripped his nose off.
"The Boss has laid claim on her you lot, he will take her when he tires of the Barb bitch he has been breaking for the last week, or kills her. This one is off limits." He then pulled out a short sword and chopped at the Overseers neck until the head fell off into the pit, hitting one of the pick wielding miners in the head. Tamalain had quickly fled back down the ladder as soon as she was free to move, hoping to avoid anymore such events, but by the way they Orcs acted, it was unlikely she would survive as she was before the last day.
The rest of the day was actually peaceful in comparison to normal according to one of the other women at the end of the day. "Normally at least one of them would be raped and beaten by the overseers. I guess the big guy wanting you has put a damper on things." Tamalain did not smile at this, the effects of the mauling had begun to hurt deeply and effecting her breathing. She knew sleeping on the hard floor would not help the situation at all.
William came over to her again and sat with her until it was time to sleep. They could not even sleep as they wanted, always by the clock as scheduled. She asked about the time he had come the Upper Pass for his equipment. "I had heard the Green Brother were the best wood crafters in all of the Feydark. That I could get a Bow and Arrows that would be the best I could ever hope to buy." He smiled at her then, "I didn't know then until much later that their apprentices were as good as or better than them. That bow lasted me the entire time I had it. I saved the arrows for those times when missing the target was not an option, they tended to hit what I aimed for. And the quiver was of a design I had never seen nor heard of."
He saw Tamalain blushing, "It didn't strike me until much later that the bow was made by someone other than the brothers. When I showed the Makers mark to my father, he told me to never lose that bow. It was made by an Arrowmark and should be cherished. I did cherish it, and it served me long and well."
Tamalain listened and her blushing made him smile. "That Bow William, it was my final project, my last exam to become a Journeyman as a Bowyer, and the arrows were the part for my fletching. The Quiver was an idea I had when I found it to hard to shoot arrows if I constantly was having to stop to poison them from a bottle."
"Well, what gave you the idea for the inserts on the side like that."
"Believe it or not, it was a cook that gave me the idea. He would have a bottle of salted water slow dripping down the side of hams while curing them. He told me it was a great way to save time and effort. Rather than wet each ham several times a day by hand, he just refilled the reservoir each morning. That gave me the idea to see if the tailor could make a small quiver as a test with one insert."
"I would say it worked then?"
"Nope, the poison ate right through the leather in a day. We both worked at it to find a liner that was light, yet resistant to the corrosive effects involved. We ended up using a thin layer of lead foil in the bottom. It protected the leather, and didn't rot away."
William laughed quietly, "That was some project then. What is the Rune, two doing stamped in the liner pocket?"
"That means you had number two off the line. I had number one until it was destroyed in my fight with the Drakota Lord. I missed it horribly, until I found out that one of the leather workers apprentices had been away on a trip to acquire a new stock of rawhide when Skyfall destroyed Upper Pass. I'd found that a local shop was selling the quivers of that design for fantastic profit. Each also bore a number of the production. The one I have in the bank is One Hundred twenty five." She glanced up as an Orc started towards their cage. "Sleep time I think, or maybe not," as the Orc pulled his whip out.
Without warning he lashed out, catching Tamalain across the cheek, just below her left eye. She dropped to the side and curled herself into a tight ball to protect the more sensitive portions of her body. The Orc lashed out four more times, cutting her back and buttocks open each time. "That is for getting Gresh killed bitch. I'll have a special torture for you in the morning, and I don't care if you live or die from it." He lashed out one last time, only to catch William's blocking right arm rather than the back of her head. "Fool, for that you will join her in pain." He stalked away, muttering about uppity slaves not getting the punishment they deserve.
Tamalain stayed curled tight, crying in agony from the new damage to her body. William held her in his arms and rocked her until she settles down. She also felt a faint tingling as he moved his hand along each cut. The pain faded and soon the wounds stopped bleeding, but he did not try to heal her fully. "If I did that Tam, it would give away that the block used on me didn't fully work. Now say nothing more and sleep. It is going to be a bad day for both of us."
He slept, holding her the entire night. For Tamalain, it was a new experience to be held in a man's arms like this, but she found it comforting. Her dreams did not scare her this time, she knew with a certainty what would happen in little more than three days time.
~Kelethin Bard Runners Office~
"Are you sure Winter, absolutely sure of what you saw?" asked Silor.
"Positive, it was her and the Orcs on Zek had burned a Mana blocking rune into her forehead. Silor, without control of her mana, she is a bomb waiting to explode, and soon."
"How bad will it be do you think."