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This is the eighth part of the Hero’s Tale Vote Your Adventure story. More information can be found here. If you need to catch up, check out the Vote Your Adventure link at the top of the page. I have links to all the previous entries setup there. This time, I’m giving you two weeks before I close voting. As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to put work on the story on a hiatus while I work on some other projects. I want to make sure everyone has time to vote.
The tavern upstairs was full of people. Bardulf didn’t trust anyone up there. For all he knew, they could all be working together. He thought he would have a better chance finding an exit here in the basement.
He knelt down and pulled the knife out of the body. The voices in the hallway were getting closer. Bardulf wiped the knife off and slid it into his belt before stepping closer to the doorway to listen.
“The buyers will be here in three days,” said a man.
“Maybe we can include that stranger who was sniffing around for the boss,” another man replied.
“That is a possibility,” the first answered. “He’s being questioned right now.”
“Ohh!” Bardulf could hear the hunger in the second man’s voice. “I wish I could help with that.”
The other man scoffed. “We need him alive. That last one you helped question didn’t live long enough to be useful.”
A door creaked in the hallway. Bardulf peeked out to see the door down the hall opened by two men. The hallway was lit well enough that he could easily see them. One was tall with long arms and legs. He had twin short swords strapped to his back. His companion was a short man who was stroking the hilt of a mace.
“Those screams…” The short man closed his eyes and seemed to shiver. Whatever else he said was lost as the two men entered the room and closed the door behind them.
Bardulf listened a moment longer to make sure there was no one else approaching. He slipped out the door and closed it behind him.
He saw another doorway across from the one the two men went into, just down the hall a short distance. Bardulf needed a place to start, and this would be as good as any. He crept over and listened at the door.
Faint sounds could be heard. It sounded like more people. Bardulf cracked open the door to peek in, but it was dark, so he opened it further. The stench slammed into him.
He shut the door quickly. The smell brought back memories of a prison deep below the castle in Dawncrest and a slave market in the out-lands of Martiq. Neither were pleasant memories that he wanted to revisit in any form.
The door across the hall rattled. The two men were returning.
With no where else to go, Bardulf opened the door, and slipped in. The door caught as he closed it, and refused to budge. He gave up and moved into a shadowy corner. He fought his body as it tried to return the little supper he had. So far, he was winning.
“What’s that smell?” Footsteps came toward the doorway. “Looks like someone left the door ajar again.”
“Should we go check down there now?” Bardulf could hear the distaste in the question.
“Ehhh. Heriak is down there right now. He owes me a favor. He’ll let them know we checked it, in case anyone asks.”
The men gave a laugh, and shoved the door shut.
Bardulf exhaled. He didn’t notice he had been holding his breath. He shivered with disgust when he inhaled the fetid air.
He decided to go down the dim stairwell. From the conversation he overheard, it sounded like there was only one guard. Maybe there was an exit down below.
The stairwell was damp and the stone wet to the touch. A mouse skittered by, letting out a small squeak in alarm. The way was lit by a single torch mounted on the wall of the landing. The sounds that he had heard were evident now. Sobs of women and maybe children, and the deeper timbre of men talking amongst themselves.
When Bardulf reached the torch, he looked around the corner into a wide room. It was split in half by a wall of metal bars, the entrance into the cell being a single door. A single guard stood in the room. He looked bored as he leaned against the wall in the dim light of the lone torch. They wore little clothing, and a few of them were huddled around a woman, who was crying. Another group of men stood off to the side, talking. Slaves.
Bardulf fingered the knife in his belt. Disgust filled him at what was being done to these people. He could easily free them. One guard wouldn’t be a problem. But, should he take the risk? He didn’t know if they would attack him, or help him.
Equipment with horse: bow, 9 quivered arrows (some were made while traveling), 5 packets of healing herbs, rope, compass
Inventory on Bardulf: hatchet, flint & steel, traveling cloak, heart necklace, 80 coins in a pouch, small wooden box of healing ointment
Health: broken ribs, minor burns
What should Bardulf do about the slaves?
A) Help the slaves escape.
B) Leave them and find the exit.