The next day they were marched deeper into the Tempest Hills. They rested near a waterfall while the giants pulled fish from the water with their hands. No one spoke much, though occasionally the broken would sing songs. The giants tolerated the singing. Jochu seemed to genuinely enjoy it.
By the evening, Tristan’s steps began to waver and he was pulled more than he walked. The man in front of him did his best to shoulder Tristan’s weight. The group came to a long wooden bridge with supports like tree trunks. The walkway stood over a wide rushing river. A feeling of foreboding came over the broken as they gazed at the dark grain of the wood painted a dull black. The giant sled them across the bridge and through the gates of the town.
Secure an advantage: strong hit (+2 momentum)
Like the village in Mammoth’s valley, this place was made for imprisoning broken on their way to the mines. This place was much larger than the one in Mammoth’s and it buzzed with activity. Ironlanders and giants conversed over fires and shared wineskins. Tristan saw blacksmiths making weapons, iron chains, and caged wagons for transport. Tristan made eye contact with a man by the wagons and thought he saw him nod slightly. When they passed the stables Bashtu yanked Tio towards them.
The town was surrounded by tall rocky hills on one side and a slatted wooden wall on the others. Along the town’s main road, the buildings looked like barracks and storerooms. One was a tavern with loud voices and music pouring out. Tristan and the broken soon found themselves locked in a guarded building.
“Have fun.” Oslo sneered. Jochu joined his laughter and they walked away.
A few hours later, a pot of boiled oats was brought to them. The broken complained of their wounds and begged the guard to send for a healer. The guard assured them that he would. They took turns eating from the pot with their hands. As night fell the air grew stale and they slept huddle in the corner furthest from the door for warmth.
In the morning the door opened. Tristan awoke to see a woman standing over him. Her hazelnut eyes were warm and her dark skin seemed to radiate in the sunlight. She wore a white dress – a blue shawl covered her head and draped over her shoulders. She turned to one of the guards and pointed to Tristan, the burnt man, and his wife. They were unchained from the others and brought to a building that served as an infirmary.
“I keep telling you: if you kill them, then they can’t work.” She scolded the guards who cursed and left the room.
She approached Tristan and began to examine his ribs. He moaned from the pain.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am Maya, a healer. You?”
“I am Tristan the broken, of Pria.”
“‘The broken,’ huh?”
Maya removed Tristan’s clothes until he was naked from the waist up. She left and returned with a mortar and began to mix herbs. Another woman dressed like Maya cleaned the whipped woman’s back as her lover held her hand. Tristan remembered that the dead in woman in Pria was dressed the same way. She must’ve escaped from here.
“What can you tell me about this place?”
Gather info: strong hit (+2 momentum) Settlement trouble: 22 Theme: 91
“You are in the slaver’s town of Blackbridge. Here you will stay until you are well enough to go into the mines. Broken are brought here from throughout the Ironlands. There is another slaver’s camp nearby. All giants. Be glad you weren’t brought there.”
“Why do you say that?” asked Tristan.
“I’ve heard stories that they are more brutal when none of Brevan’s men are watching. If you can believe it.” Maya sighed softly and rubbed her herbal mixture into bandages. “Though I see you can.”
Maya wrapped the medicated bandages around Tristan’s torso and washed her hands in a nearby basin.
“I have no intention of working in the mines. I’m here to bring an end….”
Tristan’s voice faded and the tart scent of his bandages filled his senses. Maya appeared to him in a cloud and he smiled warmly as he drifted off to sleep.
Sojourn: weak hit (+2 health)
The next afternoon, Tristan was surprised at how much better he felt. He shared this news with Maya. She sat beside him and spoke in a low tone.
“Are you truly here to end this?”
“And how will you go about it?”
“That part I haven’t figured out, yet.” Tristan sat up in the cot. “I was hoping you would help me.
Compel: miss. Burn momentum: weak hit (+1 momentum)
Maya stood and looked out the infirmary’s door wistfully. Tristan watched her with what felt like a similar longing.
“If you don’t want to head to the mines, then you play up them cracked ribs for one more day, Tristan. Then tomorrow, you will go to Rock Rock, the giant’s slave camp.”
“Listen to me. I have been here so long. I have seen countless broken pass through those gates. I patch them up only to send them to their deaths. I have been working on a way to redeem myself and make sure it never happens again. I believe that is what you meant when you said ‘end this.’”
“Good. I will get you out of here tomorrow night. In Rock Rock friends will aid you. Destroy the village, free the broken and bring them here and we will burn this place down as well. It is a vow that I swore so long ago. I ask that you swear it.”
Though Tristan’s hands were unbound, his feet were still in chains. He reached down to touch the links, but Maya stopped his hand before he could. She raised it to the iron bands around the rim of his kufi.
“I will liberate the broken of Rock Rock and Blackbridge. I will burn them both to the ground. On my honor.”
Swear an iron vow: Destroy Rock Rock and Blackbridge, liberating the broken slaves: weak hit (+1 momentum)
Mark Progress on vow to kill Othos. (made an ally in Blackbridge, escaped imprisonment)
“Tonight will be the first part of the plan.”
“What’s that?” asked Tristan.
“Getting a map.”
When Maya came to wake Tristan, she was glad to see him already dressed and ready. Tristan was glad to see her and smiled shyly as she undid his chains. Blackbrigde’s gates were to the west, left of where they were facing. To the right of the entrance next to the guards’ barracks stood the caged wagons.
“That building next to the wagons. That’s where Torgan gives the slaver’s their pay and their orders. He tells them where to bring the broken and he gives them a map. There is a map to Rock Rock somewhere in there. You must find it.”
“I will,” said Tristan.
Face Danger: weak hit (-1 momentum)
Tristan crept away. Crouched low he was able to hide behind crates and in between buildings. He made his way down the street until he was across from Torgan’s office. He moved to make his way toward it when a couple of men came out of the building. They stood outside of it chatting.
Secure an advantage (wits): Miss. Pay the price: 59
Tristan watched the men speak, hoping they would clear the entrance. He was shocked by a hand on his shoulders. He turned to face a pair of Ironlanders, their faces flushed from drinking.
“What are you doing there, friend? Are you lost? I think he’s lost.” asked the man with his hand on Tristan.
“Well, we’re lost too.” His companion chuckled and waved towards a guard near the gates. The guard approached, with his hand on the hilt of his sword.
“What’s the matter?”
“Well, we all seem to be lost.” replied the drunk men in unison.
“Yea, we can’t find the tavern,” said Tristan.
Pretender: strong hit (+2 to rolls)
Face danger: strong hit (+1 momentum)
The guard pointed at a building two doors down from Torgan’s office. He glared at them all more annoyed than angry, then returned to his post near the gates. The drunk men laughed heartily as one of them wrapped an arm around Tristan’s shoulders and pulled him toward the tavern.
“Sorry guys, I’ll catch up with you. I gotta go get my pay from Torgan.”
The man stopped tugging on Tristan and they both wished him luck. Tristan decided to try the front door of Torgan’s office.
Ask the oracle: are the men still outside talking? (50/50): 66 yes
Tristan approached the men outside of the building.
“I’m here to talk to Torgan.”
“Bit late for business, isn’t it?” replied the shorter of the two men. “Who are you anyway?”
“I gotta make a transfer to Rock Rock early in the morning and I’m supposed to get directions from here.”
Compel (shadow): strong hit (+1 momentum)
“Wait here.” replied the short man. He returned moments later with a map in his hand. “Here you go. Make sure you bring it back. Those lanky bastards in Rock Rock always lose’em.”
Tristan thanked them both and made his way back to the infirmary without incident. He climbed back into his cot, redid his chains, and, while thinking of Maya’s eyes, slept soundly.
Mark progress on vow.