Voting is now closed, and the results are available.
Bardulf is back, and you all voted to free the slaves. How’s that going to work out? Read on to find out. If you need a bit of a refresher, I posted a recap last week. If you want to read all the entries, the Vote Your Adventure link at the top of the page will take you to a list of all the entries. Without further ado, enjoy!
It didn’t matter. These people could turn on him, but Bardulf couldn’t ignore their plight. In a swift motion, he pulled the knife from his belt and threw it at the lone guard. The man fell to the ground before he knew what happened.
The slaves fell silent as Bardulf stepped into the dim light. As he retrieved the knife and searched the body, they murmured amongst themselves.
The guard had very little of interest. The only useful item was the spear he carried. “Where is the key for the door?” Bardulf wondered aloud.
“Wall,” a deep masculine voice answered.
Bardulf turned and found one of the slaves standing close to the cell door. “You can understand me? You speak my language?”
The man nodded.
“Good.” Bardulf scanned the wall, and found the key. When he unlocked the door, the slaves stood there watching him.
The man who had spoken stepped forward a bit. He looked strong, and moved with a fluid grace. The scars on his body spoke of battles. He pointed to Bardulf. “What you want people?” He gestured to those behind him.
“I want you to return home,” Bardulf answered
The man frowned. “To forest mountains?” He shook his head, and anger filled his voice. “You people come. Take me people. No see again. Take holy place. No trust you.”
Bardulf paused as he began to realize something. “These people came five years ago?” The man frowned. Bardulf tried again. “Five, uhh… Five seasons ago?” He held up his hand, showing all his fingers.
The dark eyes understood. “Yes.”
Bardulf smiled. These people must be enslaved by the members of the expedition. He picked up the spear and pulled out the knife. A few stepped back. “I am sorry about what happened to your people. I am different from the one who took you. I want to go and help your people.”
“You different tribe?”
“Yes. I was captured as well. I want you to be free, but you will need to fight.” He held out the spear and knife for the man. “Can you fight?”
“Me hunt nelgik like wotabi.” The man smiled as he took the weapons. He handed the spear to another man and spoke with passion to the others. Tears, and cries of joy were shed at his words. One woman rushed out to hug Bardulf. As everyone else came out, they made a semi-circle around Bardulf and the man who seemed to be their leader.
He bowed his head slightly. “You escape?”
Bardulf nodded. “I need to find my horse first.”
“We follow flowing water down. You meet there.” He gestured to himself, and then to Bardulf. “Help you. Have fratinal.” The others whispered as the man said this. “We go now.”
The man called some commands out, and the people began to move. Women gathered together, while the men surrounded them. With the spear-bearer leading, the slaves surged up the stairs as one. Bardulf pulled out his hatchet and followed close behind.
Two guards that had come to investigate the noise from the cells fell quickly. Their weapons taken by some of the other men. The leader called out, and the group ran up the stairwell towards the common room. Fights quickly erupted. Many of the men were too drunk to put up much of a fight. The slaves would not have trouble escaping. Bardulf used the commotion to slip into the kitchen.
Since the cook had rushed out to see what was going on, the kitchen was empty. The aromas from the days meals permeated, and Bardulf’s stomach rumbled. Bardulf grabbed a chicken leg as he walked by and took a bite. It wasn’t much, and would have to suffice for now. He walked through the only other exit, and found himself in the dimly lit stables.
He stopped as he walked in. Voices could be heard from further in. Bardulf crouched down, and moved to a closer stall to hear better.
“Who’s dis guy? How’d ’e get out?”
“No idea. An’ dem slaves got out? Da boss’ll be mad.”
The first man scoffed. “Time teh go help wit ’em. Nut’n more teh do here. Dis ’ill slow ’im down.”
“De’ll get it now!” the second man laughed. A door creaked as they left the stables.
Bardulf came out of hiding and walked to the stall where the men had been talking. His stomach threatened to return the chicken that he had just eaten. His horse’s throat had been slashed. The killers had also taken all the equipment that had been in the saddlebags.
He put a hand on the horse’s muzzle, and stroked it a few times. Although his blood boiled, Bardulf kept a level head, and channeled his anger. He gathered hay around the body. An old lantern that hung nearby provided some oil. After a few strikes of the flint and steel, the fire caught. The pyre for his friend would provide some cover not only for him, but also the slaves.
Bardulf was about a block away when the cries of “Fire” began. He wondered how the slaves were doing. There was no doubt that most of them would escape. The men looked to be very capable fighters. “So how did they come to be slaves?” The flickering glow grew, and reflected off the river. Bardulf smiled. “Maybe I’ll find out,” he said as he approached the docks.
The water was calm here. The townsfolk had built two large boats to cross, and two smaller ones as well. All four were tied securly. Bardulf looked at the rapids downstream. He might get away across the river, but the people would be coming for water soon. They would notice a boat missing, and would quickly cross it to catch him. The rapids might buy him some time. But could he traverse the river in the moonlight?
With a deep breath, Bardulf stepped forward towards the boats.
Inventory: hatchet, flint & steel, traveling cloak, heart necklace, 80 coins in a pouch, small wooden box of healing ointment
Health: broken ribs, minor burns
What’s Bardulf going to do?
A) Cross the river
B) Brave the rapids and go downriver
Hero’s Tale exists! Though at two months an update, it might take a long time to tell the story…
Okay, on to the actual vote bit. I’ve been all about trying to locate an ally, and while the slaves may not have a lot of information, they might, and they certainly seem grateful for having been freed. Though there’s a definite risk that the locals will thoroughly overpower the slaves, or follow them quickly with a large force, Bardulf thinks the slaves are well set up to largely escape. So I’d really like to “follow flowing water down”.
I’m not as keen about doing it in a boat on unfamiliar rapids at night. I’d rather we had the strength+speed+endurance to go down river by land. But it sounds like we’re on a boat one way or another.
Of course, if we just cross the river, then shove the boat back into the water to float downstream, then the locals will have escaped slaves headed downriver, might see the boat also headed downriver, and would have to look for Bardulf’s tracks at night to find his actual location. There’s a good chance we could escape detection entirely…
Hmm. Starting this, I thought I knew my vote, but now I’m seeing good points to either option. I think I’ll mull it over for a bit.
Yeah, not my plan when I started doing this. I’m going to be doing regular updates through October. November will be reserved for NaNoWriMo, and then back to the VYA in Dec.
I will say that when I first envisioned this part, I did have the idea for not taking the boats and going downstream on foot. Hmm…
If the consensus is there, I’ll allow an (un)official C) Go downstream on foot, or something similar.
If Bardulf crosses the river, he is still going to have to go downstream if he wants to “follow flowing water down” and meet the slaves. They may have valuable information relating to his quest. It may be difficult for him to go downstream on foot with his injuries. I vote B) Brave the rapids and go downriver.