Post Greyhawk Wars: 585 CY
4th of Harvester
The orcs have been pushing against the borders of The Principality of Ulek and the Pomarj for some time now
I stood nervously in the great echoing hall. The city of Havenhill was in ferment, bustling with activity as the prince’s army mustered and the humanoids of the Pomarj approached inexorably.
I remember the room was cold, with a high, vaulted ceiling. Several empty chairs sat at a long, wooden table. Two powerful dwarven warriors stood watch in the room, halberds held steady,
their faces impassive. I knew better than to ask them any questions; the reply would
be stony silence.
A herald entered the room, and when he spoke, I felt my heart lurch. “His Serene
Highness, Prince Olinstaad Corond of Ulek, Lord of the Peaks of Haven!” Despite
my best effort, my jaw dropped. The prince himself? For so many years I had fought for the Principality of Ulek. Many of my friends and comrades have perished. I could not believe that the prince himself summoned me.
With no further fanfare, the prince entered, accompanied by two more guards. He is an
old dwarf, his beard long, white, and fancifully braided. His eyes are weary, sunken in
His seamed face. He sat slumped, tired. Here is a dwarf who has lived perhaps too
long and seen too much pain.
Yet, when he spoke, the prince’s voice was strong.
“My agents have told me that you have fought bravely against the orcs,” he said. “They have also told me that your grandfather, Gradak Arroway fought along side Uleks Dwarven infantry during the Hateful Wars of 498 CY. My kingdom owes you much Sir Gustav. I need your help once again. As you know, the so-called despot, Turrosh Mak, has claimed our principality for his foul humanoid nation. I have sent my heralds throughout the land, calling on all of my provinces to muster their warriors and send them here. Only with every capable warrior in the land can we hope to turn back the approaching horde.”
The prince bid me to sit. A servant appeared, bearing wine and cold meats. As I accepted the offered refreshments, the prince produced a map of the principality which he unrolled on the table. He pointed to the city of Highport in the Pomarj. “This is the foul city of Highport. If we can crush the city from within, we can maybe defeat the orcs once and for all. About 2 months ago I sent several of my best dwarves in disguise to Highport. None have returned.”
The prince clenched a fist and, for a moment, I felt the depth of his frustration.
Suddenly, the doors at the far end of the room opened. The prince’s warriors
came on guard, leveling their halberds, but he waved them back as a human in a muddy
“Grave indeed, your highness,” the man replied, shedding his cloak and handing it to
a servant. He was clearly exhausted, and his tunic was stained with blood. “Turrosh Mak
has crossed the Jewel River and even now engages your march wardens.”
The prince’s expression grew even grimmer, and he lowered his face into his hands.
“Then the worst has come to pass,” he said, softly. “My wardens are brave, resourceful
commanders, but even they cannot hold the enemy for long.” He fixed me with an unwavering gaze. “Our army can hold them Sir Gustav, but will not be able to for much longer. It will be just a matter of time before Turrosh Mak is upon us here in Havenhill. You must find out what is happening in Highport. I will give you orders under my personal seal calling
for the immediate mobilization of 5 of the best you have fought with.”
“You have the use of my finest horses and my letter of commission, which will enable
you to change mounts in any settlement under my protection. I charge you with this mission, for our nation may well depend upon it. Ride now, ride fast, and may Blessed Ulaa ride with you. Ride with haste Sir Gustav”
I picked out the best that I had spilt orc and hobgoblin blood with for many years now:
Elwita: a hearty dwarven fighter that had seen many many years on the battlefield. She was as loyal to Ulek as any dwarf would ever be. She fought during the Hateful Wars and would brag about how many orcs she slaughtered.
Ogre: A young Paladin of Rao, just 17 years old, this Raoan was pure of heart. He recently survived an ambush on the borders of the Pomarj and Ulek. He truly believed the gods chose him to destroy Turrosh Mak. This brave fighter/soldier believed nothing could stop him. This would soon be his undoing.
Freday: A brave ranger from the Gnarley Forest. He was specifically hired to help us get through the Drachengrab Hills.
Kayen Telva: an elf that was willing to sacrifice his own allegiance to Queen Yoland of Celene. He could never understand why the queen choose isolation instead of helping out the dwarves of the south. How she did nothing when Bissell, the Grand Duchy of Geoff, Sterich, and the Yeomanry fell just about a year ago. He was willing to lend his bow and sword for the cause.
Blodgett: a halfling thief from Elmshire in the Cairn Hills. He told us of many of his own friends and family disappearing from the shire. He always believed they were being taken and enslaved somewhere in the Pomarj. It is better that he did not survive to see his worse nightmares come true.
5th of Harvester
For more than a week a storm washed over us. It was as if Ogre’s belief that the gods would walk with us the entire way to Highport was in fact true. Kayen and Elwita used the rings of invisibility provided by His Serene Highness. The rest of us tried to seem like nothing more than mercenaries heading to Highport for profit. The first 8 days were rather boring and long. We encountered no one and nothing at all. Until the very last day of Ogres short-lived life, he believed the gods had provided the storm to shadow us from our enemies.
13th of Harvester
That evening we finally reached the Drachengrab Hills. The skies had finally cleared. We were able to find a road paved with bricks. Several hours later we came across dozens of human slaves being pulled behind wagons filled with what was probably stolen goods of all kinds. There were several strong looking ½ orcs working along side a very hearty looking human that lead the way. We quickly hid in the hills as Freday attempted to get close enough to read the humans lips. They were heading to a place called Kalen Lekos deep within the hills. I still remember thinking to myself, “where is that Blodget?” I would soon find out. Moments later he appeared behind the human slaver. As he screamed out the name of Yondalla his sword came down hard. I still remember the look on his face once he realized his sword missed. There he was left standing alone. Damn stubborn halflings!!! Seconds later Ogre left the safety of the hills and ran towards the wagons. It was as if Istus herself had pre-ordained that day and there was nothing we could do to stop it. The ½ orcs and human slavers immediately cut both of them down. It took everything to hold back Elwita, Kayen and Freday. They took what remained of Blodget and continued on their way. It was as if they knew there were others hiding in the hills and were satisfied to know we could do nothing but watch our friends perish. We tried to not talk of what the ½ orcs might do with the halflings remains. While we camped for the night I reminded the others of our higher cause. For the rest of the evening not one word was uttered between any of us.
14th of Harvester
We decided it would be best to stay in the hills and travel as close to the road as possible. Freday was sure he could track all the way through the hills and to Highport. After what had just happened a few hours ago, it seemed like we would have no choice.
The hills would prove to be a challenge. Several times Freday lost his way and we had to stop and let him get his sense of direction. The hours seemed to go on forever and we were all so exhausted.
15th of Harvester
That late evening we were suddenly awakened by Kayen. He believed a band of orcs was closing in. We had to move as quickly as possible. We were so tired and had barely slept for several nights. We moved east through the hills. The ranger believed the orcs were closing in. We had no choice but to prepare an ambush.
There were more than 30 orcs. Freday believed that they were part of the Shadowmoon tribe. Their faces painted with a black circle on gray. These orcs are known to be scouts and had easily found us.
We were able to use our bows to take out several orcs before they reached us.
As soon as they were within 30 feet of us we rushed them with our swords. Within seconds most were dead and the others fled into the hills. Elwita lay mortally wounded. Her stomach cut wide open. We could not stop the bleeding. An hour or so later she was gone. In her final moments all we could do was keep her company and make sure she was warm. One of the bravest dwarfs I had ever fought with was now dead. I will make sure the Lord of the Peaks of Haven knows of her bravery.
16th and 17th of Harvester
For the next two days in the hills we traveled without incident. We could not believe that out of 6 of us there were now only 3.
18th of Harvester
We arrived at the western gates of Highport and easily entered. The elf was invisible and traveled close to us. The city is nothing more than a dark, dirty city, whose humanoids smell like rotting meat, reeking of filth with their unwashed bodies. Many of the buildings still showed burns and damage from the Night of the Bloody Spear in 513 CY. We passed by several open fields with large and small tents where buildings once stood. Rats lived and walked freely feasting off of garbage or what was left of a poor soul that died from disease, starvation, or someone that was knifed or beaten and left to die.
We decided it would be best to rent a room within the heart of the city.
On this wretched road we saw temples of Pyremius, Iuz, Erythnul, and Mictlanteecuhtl
We passed by the stockade. It cost us 3 gp each to enter. Its fenced in area was guarded by warriors with crossbows. It contains a large open yard in front of a raised platform from where slaves are auctioned, a small smithy for making chains and collars and a big building which we a think is where the slaves are being sorted and detained. A human easily fetched 5 gp. Dwarfs, halflings and elfs 3 times as much or more. There were some in the crowd that talked of “freeing” their slaves outside the city and hunting them like animals. There was talk that the best of the slaves would be shipped to a fort deep within the Drachengrab Hills. We did not see any such fort. This was probably for the best.
Kayen convinced us we had seen enough and it was time to rent a room and go to work.
That evening we settled into an aweful place called the Chumhouse. A dilapidated structure at the end of the shorter wharves. The owners name is a human called Bryon Thunderhouse. He owns several slaves and seems to treat them quite well. If asked he simply tells you there is a place for everyone and everything. That we are all nothing more than puzzle pieces and who is he to question such ways?
Several fights broke out that night. We decided it would be best to stay in our room for the evening. Sleep was nearly impossible. Kayen watched guard at the door for most of the night.
19th –20th of Harvester
The next couple of days were spent trying to learn names of those with influence. A place at the heart of the city called The Arena seemed to be one of the best places to start.
For a few silver pieces we watched the bloody sport of live or die between man and beast. Slave owners entered their best dwarven slaves for 500 gp or more. Some survived. Most did not. Sometimes slaves were made to fight other slaves to the death. Bets were common and some accused the games of being rigged. We were able to learn that a female elf by the name of Tanva and a ½ orc named Brax, leader of the orcs, frequent The Arena. They enjoy the games and are well known at placing huge bets. We returned to our room, satisfied that we were making progress.
21st of Harvester
The next morning we decided to dine at restaurant called The House of Quiet. A mind flayer called Quiet owns this well kept establishment. A strange place, where anything above a whisper is forbidden.
That afternoon we returned to The Arena. Tanva and Brax did not show up that day. Rumors were being circulated that 2 days ago a group of thieves had attempted to infiltrate the slavelords operations in Elredd. There was talk that a halfling was killed and an elf managed to escape after burning one of the towers to the ground. The city was even more tense than usual. No one could believe that someone would ever threaten the compound of Davis the Reaper and his fleet of pirates/slavers. Anyone new was now considered suspicious. The ranger and I were questioned several times.
22nd of Harvester
The ranger and I woke up and were surprised to find out the elf was not in the room with us.
He was nowhere to be found. Most of his belongings were still in the room. For the entire day, until evening, Freday and I searched for Kayen. We traveled to several taverns, to the Arena and stockade. Until this day I fear the worse may of happened to him.
23rd of Harvester
We decided it would be best for the ranger to go back to Ulek and send for help. It was getting to dangerous for the 2 of us. I would stay behind and try to blend in by trying to enter the slave trade. That afternoon I went back to the stockade and started asking questions about bigger business than just a few slaves here and there. The name that kept coming up was Blucholtz. An all business halfling, that for the right price considers anyone his friend. He was known to enjoy the deadly fighting pits of The Black Gauntlet Taproom in the orc district at the western end of the city.
I decided the only way to fit in was to sink to a place only evil men desire. If the orcs smelled fear or a fake, I would surely roast over their pits. That night I dressed in my best clothes and bought round after round at The Chumhouse. I befriended a ½ orc name Slagist and his drunk orc girlfriend. I asked Slagist where the real action is. Seconds later he was telling me all about the taproom. Now I had my reason to enter the orc district.
Sometime late evening we arrived at The Black Gauntlet Taproom. A huge 1-story building. Its double doors big enough to be a barn. Hung on the doors is a sign depicting a pair of black spiked gauntlets. The doors stood partially opened. The sound of loud laughter, cursing in orchish tongue, and the sounds of brawling coming from within.
We quickly made our way through the drunken, evil, swine of Highport. This must be where hell breeds its evil. The owner, “ogre,” an ogre from the Lortmill Mountains to the north, greeted us. “What you bring tonight Slagist?” he asked.
I paid a total of 200 gp for both Slagist and I and then 2 orcs lead us downstairs to the basement.
The makeshift ring was surrounded by chairs filled with all sorts of figures betting on who would fall next. In the ring there was an orc with 1 arm nearly torn off and a nearly naked dwarf with a collar, obviously a slave, battling to the death. We were moved up close to the ring. We watched as the dwarf over and over again pounded on the orc. Biting him or anything he could do to finish him. The orc had obviously had too much to drink and could barely stand up. Once the orc lay near unconsciousness, the dwarf was able to crush its head. The sound of the skull smashing filled the room. A silence took over. Seconds later a high pitched voice broke the silence, “see, I told you my dwarf would not be beaten this evening! Who’s next?” It was Blucholtz. There he was. Surrounded by the slime of the inn. Like a rat king at home in his den of filth. The dwarf slave was then chained up and brought over to him. The dwarf begged for water and rest. The halfling replied, “dwarfs certainly do not need water or rest. This is why you fetch so much on the block.”
The slave dwarf was once again brought to the ring. He begged for mercy and a chance to just rest for a little bit longer. Moments later a lizard man was brought out in chains. It looked beaten and subdued. It was being lead by its very proud owner; an orc dressed in fine chain mail. Slagist whispered to me that standing in front of us is Moolak, the leader of The Blaze Mercenaries.
He struggled with the words as he spoke to Blucholtz,
“Tonight you not beat Moolak.” He pointed to the lizard man, “find in marsh”
2 orcs lead the lizard beast to the ring. The dwarf wasted not a second and rushed it. He knocked the lizard off of his feet and hard onto the ground.
I called over one of the poorly treated human servants, she couldn’t have been more than 5 years old, I told her I want to bet 100 gp on the dwarf. She made her way to the halfling to confirm the bet. Blucholtz nodded in my direction.
The lizard man was able to regain its balance. Some of my men had come across lizard folk and knew if angered, this beast could be very dangerous. I was hoping the dwarf had one last bout in him. If he survived I could maybe pay for his freedom.
The beast came at the dwarf and with a desperate attempt, managing to bite the dwarfs arm. The dwarf slave screamed out. He pleaded for his life. He had already lost too much blood. The lizard man came at him again, clawing, biting, whatever it had to do to survive. Seconds later the dwarf was dead. An orc entered the ring. He called the fight for the lizard man. Moolak demanded both the halfling and I pay up.
“You cannot just bring a beast in here like that!” he paused, “My slave didn’t have enough time to rest! All of you orcs are the same,” Blucholtz said. Moolak started to finger his longsword at his side. His orcs filled with plenty of ale and ready for a good fight.
“I will pay for Mr. Blucholtz” I said
The girl took my 200gp to Moolak. The orcs were satisfied, happy with their pay off. The drinking continued and the next victims entered the ring.
“Master Blucholtz wishes you would join him sir,” said the little girl.
I tipped her 5gp and went right over.
“Why don’t you sit down friend and tell me all about yourself,” Blucholtz said.
We spent the next several hours watching the filth of Highport come and go. Some drunk enough to enter the ring and barely able to recognize they were living the last few moments of their lives. We bet on slave after slave like they were dogs. The halfling unable to see them as anything more than what they might fetch on the auction block.
I told him I was from the City of Greyhawk. I told him I am nothing more than a businessman trying to find out how best to invest his coin.
“You and every other scum around,” he said.