“What simpler, less complicated and happier life could there be than that of a slave?”

--Morena Elta, Premier Conscience of Thella Onk

“A slave’s worth is in only how perfect their work be, beyond that they are worthless.”

--Ref Dulk, a carpet manufacturer

“Without slaves we would all be mules.”

--A slave trader axiom



Kurf, the Daggers’ foul mouthed pack master, was returning to camp after his morning latrine when he came upon a dragon’s corpse toadstool. Suddenly, he started stomping on it over and over and over. Its yellow-orange puss oozed out upon his boot and the glistening carpet of newly fallen leaves. Once he realized the toadstool was indeed “dead,” he stopped and pondered the probability it was somehow going to mend him.

Orno, that twisted butcher, had spread so much of the sticky goop on his wound he couldn’t feel the left side of his face, or most his neck and shoulder.

The woman, with a certain gleam in her eye, had said, “Make sure you don’t get any in your mouth,” slapped more of the goop on, and then wrapped his head tightly in a thick gauze which chaffed his scalp. Kurf was shorter than most elves, and, therefore, angrier than most. It did not help his demeanour he’d lost an ear in the skirmish the other night.

Though calling it a skirmish was less truth than branding it an ambush and harried retreat. Thrusting his boot into a nearby fern, Kurf attempted to rid it of the goop and his mind of the memory of the fiasco they found themselves in. Continuing to mangle the fern, Kurf glanced around the morning hued woods. Smoke from their camp’s fire had filtered through the woods and the early morning sun was slashing slanted shafts of light through the trees. It was a veritable cornucopia of variegated shadow and light.

Kurf, realizing his fatigue was making him poetic, pressed his boot relentlessly upon the fern’s stalk. They’d spent six nights and five days on a hard, fast ride and now, having reached the edge of the northern fjords and the limit of their and their mounts’ endurance, they were resupplying in Fengrin, a nearby, little, seafaring town smelling of fish and desperation.

He gave a sharp twist of his boot, sniffed, and shook his head. The fire was not the smartest of decisions. However, with the rain and the ride, they needed just a little warmth to take the chill off and attempt to dry their clothing, as things were indeed beginning to chafe.

Again, Kurf considered the woods, the stillness, the silence, the shadow and the light, its beauty. He spat and began a quick march back toward camp.

If not now, when?