An Uncommon Want

Game Master Mowque

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Awenasa stares hard at the gnome, doing her best to see past the casual, genial face and see their real intent. To her surprise she does. It becomes obvious to her that the gnome doesn't care much at all what Altava wants or would do, but does think the law is real. The little gambler is merely using it as a weapon, or perhaps more accurately a shroud to hide his real purpose.

Even more apparent, Netuckelist doesn't even care if she knows this. Indeed, he seems a little smug and notices her noticing. Wheels within wheels.

"I'm not dancing." The gnome says, 'I would love to take your money. Indeed, in this circumstance I could probably skin you. Gold is gold, as you said. Although it isn't worth quite as much know that they found this big mines in Arl a few years back. Jewels would be better, fossils best of course." Awenasa has no idea what a fossil is and doesn't much care.

"But we don't want to go breaking the law, now do we?" The gnome says easily, setting his now empty mug on the card table with a tiny click. He stares back at Awenasa, apparently not daunted by her growing anger. "Now, take it easy Awenasa of the Shoanti. We wouldn't want to do anything rash would we?" The little gnome coughs and says, "I hate to suggest it, but I don't think beating the debt out of me is going to work."

Then he shrugs, little beard flipping with the practiced motion, "Besides, I think we can come to an arrangement, anyway. Here is what-"

He is cut off by a clamor from the door. Awenasa turns (careful to not let Netuckelist out of her field of view) and sees two big men at the door, dressed like common laborers. Heavy boots, grimy hands and massive shoulders. They are nearly as big as she is. Behind him the porch guards gesture helplessly, looking a bit abashed but not exactly scared.

It was a look Awenasa marked as 'lowlanders afraid to make trouble without orders'.

"We are here to drink!" One of the men says, voice slurred drunkenly.

'And eat!" the other roars in agreement, even drunker.

'And rut the women!" The first bellows, loud enough to rattle the rafters.

Netuckelist, for the first time, looks angry. Very angry actually, eyes blazing. He opens his mouth to say something, a hand twitching but then stops. A tight smile crosses his face as he says to Awenasa, quietly. "Break a few bones and I'll take ten percent off the debt."

"Bring out the dancing girls, gnome!" The first man yells and takes a slightly unsteady step forward toward the table.

Shoanti Unchained Monk/8 | HP 58/72; Non-lethal 18pts | Init +3 | AC19/F15/T16 | F+8 R+9 W+5 | Perc +14 SM +13 | Stunning Fist 8/8 | Ki Pool 8/8 | Active Conditions: None
Netuckelist wrote:
"I hate to suggest it, but I don't think beating the debt out of me is going to work."

It seemed like it didn't matter if she was on a different world or not, lowlanders were all the same and they annoyed her. Why couldn't they speak plainly and with reason? Her simmering anger is disrupted a moment when he points out that beating the debt out of him wasn't going to work. I am sure that Krahnu Duhn feels differently

Ulterior motives are about to be revealed when unwanted lowlanders burst into the space. She is immediately on alert and feels disgust when she hears their words and understands their intent.

However, in that moment, she remembers one of the last things Altava had told before she fighting. The Shoanti feels like screaming. Everyone she had met so far in Arsis had told her to do something different. Krahnu Duhn, Altava, and Netuckelist have each given her different orders that conflict with each other. Make the debt disappear at any cost, no fighting, fight. The conflict fuels her anger due to her frustration.

In the end what she clings to, what she has always clung to, is what is best for her quah. Her quah needs Eivind. She needs Krahnu Duhn to find Eivind. She needs Netuckelist to get Krahnu Duhn to cooperate. That puts the desires of the sheriff and the laws of a world she isn't a part of, of the lowest priority in her list of needs.

That doesn't mean that she has to fight. It all depends on how smart these drunk lowlanders are. Awenasa doesn't have high hopes.

Awenasa rises from her chair like a grizzly bear whose domain has been invaded by a lesser being. "You need to leave," she growls. "Leave while you can walk."

intimidate: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (14) + 4 = 18

Netuckelist raises an eyebrow at Awenasa's attempt to scare off the drunks, but doesn't seem upset. Thak cringes slightly, apparently still not used to Awenasa's ability to unleash her fury at will, while Perey takes it in stride (like a proper Shoanti should).

At her roar, the second drunk's eyes fly open, clearly not so far gone he doesn't sense danger. The color drains from his face and he tugs at his comrade's shirt sleeve. 'Uh, she looks serious Dru, maybe...".

Dru, apparently, is less moved by Awenasa's attempt to avoid fighting. The big man blinks and looks somewhat owlishly at Awenasa. His voice is still slurred when he says, "Gnome, your dancing girls are a bit...large for my taste. Have any one smaller?" Then he grunts and shrugs, ignoring his friends attempt to dissuade him.

"But I guess she'll do." He gives Awenasa a leer, "Maybe a bear like you will be a change of pace." The big man digs in a pocket and casually tosses a lump of something at Netuckelist. Out of long habit, Awenasa snatches it first, half expecting a weapon. Instead he finds herself holding a very strange rock, somehow carved or formed in the shape of a shell.

Dru chuckles, "You do your own accounting? Good, come on then, let's go somewhere private.." He takes a few steps and outstretches a hand for Awenasa's shoulder.

Just as she is about to tear that arm off, she hears Perey whisper something. Without a sound, a slimy puddle forms around the dirty miner's approaching feet, reminding Awenasa of the drippings off cooking meat.

Caught off guard, the man roars and starts to slip....

Reflex, Drunk: 1d20 + 3 - 1 ⇒ (3) + 3 - 1 = 5

And falls spectacularity hard onto the floor, chin first. To his cried, the is kneeling in a moment, roaring curses in confusion. For a moment Awneasa thinks the man still might attack her, even covered in slimy grease and prone. Is even a lowlander that stupid?

But, with his friends help, the drunk man realizes the inanity of such action. He finally stands up (grabbing a wall for support) and stalks out, muttering angrily as he passes the porch guards.

'Sorry, boss." One of them says to Netuckelist in apology, "Yous aid not to cause trouble if we can avoid it.."

The gnome dismisses this with a flick of his small fingers, and soon Anweasa's group is alone with the tavern owner.

The gnome looks intrigued and says, "Well, you didn't break any bones, but on the other hand all my furniture is in place. So that is fair." He turns to Perey, "I assume the unsightly puddle is not a permanent addition to my decor?" So the gnome saw Perey's spell? He was observant.

Perey shakes his head and Netuckelist goes on, speaking to Awenasa again, "Just as a friendly warning, Dru has way of holding onto grudges. I'd keep your eyes open, he'll be looking to even the score with you now. Probably with a pack of friends at his back." The gnome shrugs, clearly feeling this is not his problem.

"But now, back to business. About this debt...I have an idea. How do you feel about children?"

Shoanti Unchained Monk/8 | HP 58/72; Non-lethal 18pts | Init +3 | AC19/F15/T16 | F+8 R+9 W+5 | Perc +14 SM +13 | Stunning Fist 8/8 | Ki Pool 8/8 | Active Conditions: None

Awenasa's ire grows as the man called Dru continues forward as he ignores his more sensible friend. The way in which he treats and views women is obvious and she finds herself secretly relishing the chance to break more than a few bones, completely disregarding the sheriff's warnings before she left.

And then she hears Perey's words and watches as the more reasonable and safe solution unfolds before her. Even though she remains on guard against a possible futile attack by the drunkard, she recognizes that the best possible outcome has happened. She meets Perey's eyes and gives him a nod of approval.

Alone again with Netuckelist, she listens to his warning and makes a mental note. Even though she doubts he was sober enough to remember, she is obviously an outsider and word would probably spread courtesy of the gnome's 'guards'. Nothing was more dangerous than a bully with a bruised ego. She would need to be careful so what happened to her in the first city she visited didn't happen again. If it hadn't been for her friends, she surprises herself a bit by thinking of them as friends, she would have been beaten.

The gnome's question catches Awenasa off guard. She has no particular feeling about children. She was always so busy with her training that she didn't have time to notice they were there let alone have any opinions about them. "Children exist. No thoughts, no feelings about them." She tries to think about what possible reason Netuckelist could have for asking her such a question and comes up empty. "Why?"

Netuckelist taps his chin, obviously thinking fast. He glances around, as if to make sure they are alone (which, of course they are). A final drum of his nervous, quick little fingers on the arm of the over-sized chair, a brief moment of silence and then,

"What do you know about fossils?" This time Awenasa's blank stare is clear enough that the Shoanti need not even answer. The gnome shrugs, "Look at that thing in your hand."

Carefully (Awenasa would not more look away from a possible threat like Netuckelist then she would pluck out her own eye), she looks at the rough rock in her palm, which she can just been about to absently slide into a pocket. It was a rocky shell, like she thought but it doesn't seem to be carved or sculpted. There are no tool marks and the detail is very intricate yet...natural. It doesn't have the abstracted symmetry that artwork usually has, but instead seems 'right' to Awenasa's mind. It just looks like someone had turned a sea shell into a rock with magic.

Maybe that was what it was? Some sort of wizard's currency?

Thak speaks, "They are old things turned to rock. Things left in the ground so long they have become the stones around them. Some are quite beautiful. I've seen whole trees, stuck in stone."

The gnome nods but adds with the obvious relish of the one-upper, "Whole forests. They make good currency. Rare, generally portable and the desert tribes think they are holy. Out here in the sticks, they are good as gold, even better."

Netuckelist narrows his eyes, "The best source comes from the diggings around the old Canal. Did you see them yet? Caves and tunnels, dug right into the ground there." Awenasa had in fact seen them, wondering what the odd holes had been. Well, one mystery solved.

Again the gnome hesitates for a moment, eyes slightly distant. Then, his voice soft, "They use children to mine them." At this Perey leans forward, losing his usual boredom with such discussions.

"Children? Why?" Awenasa's friend asks.

The gnome shrugs, "They are small, easy to bully and don't need paid. Most of all, the town looks the other way because such fossils are one of the few reasons anyone even still lives in this place. Outside traders, the tribes, everyone wants them. They can produce a tidy profit for everyone...if you just ignore the children."

"A man named Ely Piggrich runs the mines and 'owns' the children', This time the disgust becomes clear, despite the gnomes attempt to hide it. "Formally, they are his adopted kid just doing general labor, like on all the farms and such near by. But in reality...." The gnome shakes his head, and there is a shadow in his eyes, some old dark past flitting through.

Then, he glances up, "I want you to free them."

Shoanti Unchained Monk/8 | HP 58/72; Non-lethal 18pts | Init +3 | AC19/F15/T16 | F+8 R+9 W+5 | Perc +14 SM +13 | Stunning Fist 8/8 | Ki Pool 8/8 | Active Conditions: None

Awenasa looks down at the object in her hand and then back at Netuckelist. "This? This has value?" She turned it over in her hand, lowlanders chose the most bizarre things to covet.

Her eyes narrow slightly when the gnome mentions that the desert people consider them holy. Of course lowlanders would plunder something sacred to outsiders for profit.

The Shoanti doesn't immediately react when the gnome shares that the children are being used to mine the fossils. She had grown up where children were expected to work to help the quah. She thought back to all the hard work she had done as a child and she figured she was better for it.

The name Ely Piggrich sounds familiar and Awenasa quickly recalls that the sheriff had mentioned him as one of the merchants to get supplies from."So the children are mistreated by this Ely?". Mistreatment was a different story than working to help the community.

She contemplates his request. Perey's words from the night before come back to haunt her. Freeing the children would definitely go against what the town would want but did she really have a choice?

"And what happens to children when freed? If town doesn't want them freed, how they stay free?"

"Everything is worth what's purchaser will pay for it." Netuckelist says easily. "In town, a glass of water can me a matter of small politeness. A mere courtesy. During a drought, it becomes priceless."

"As for Ely...he does better the harder and longer they work. I do not know where you are from, but surely men able to resist such temptations are rare in any place? Go, take a look around and judge for yourself."

When Awenasa asks about the details the gnome shrugs, "Good question, but one I can take care of. As part of my little operation here, I have a few people who travel often. One such can be arranged, to take the children with them to another town, another place. A proper orphanage, where they will be cared for instead of worked like animals. The town won't mind if the children suddenly vanish, most might even give a sigh of relief to have such a problem magically fix itself. Altava won't be tracking you down for this one...unless you get caught in the act. Red-handed kidnapping a bunch of children....well, that might not go so well."

The gnome's voice hardens slightly, "But that is my price for waiving the Sheriff's debt. You free the children and I'll write it all off, instantly without complaint. It will be my problem to get them away."

Shoanti Unchained Monk/8 | HP 58/72; Non-lethal 18pts | Init +3 | AC19/F15/T16 | F+8 R+9 W+5 | Perc +14 SM +13 | Stunning Fist 8/8 | Ki Pool 8/8 | Active Conditions: None

Awenasa doesn't come right out and agree to Netuckelist's 'deal' but she has little choice in the matter. Frankly she is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't. Even though there is risk in freeing the children, it is the only way for her to learn about Eivind. She knows she will do it but she needs to know more about the risks so she continues to ask the gnome questions.

"How many children and are they only in mine or is there a home?"

"When are children in mine and for how long?"

"Are there men watching them?"

Awenasa hopes that if Netuckelist had been contemplating this that he would have some info that would be helpful.

Trigger warning, child abuse mentioned below

Netuckelist nods at her question but does not reply right away. The little figure seems to be thinking a moment, weighing a choice. Finally he nods, and sets down his empty drink.

"Boy!" he suddenly shouts, loud enough to make Perey jump slightly. In only a moment, obviously waiting, the young boy appears. Awenasa gives them a longer look this time, seeing slightly reddish tinged skin, brown hair and dark blue eyes. They seem spry and helpful enough, nearly running over to the table.

The gnome glances from the boy to Awenasa. "This is Aigo." the boy's head bobs in agreement. "He was recently....a guest at Ely's establishment." At this name the boy's face clouds over with confusion and fear. Yes, fear. Even Awenasa , who has lived a hard and demanding life among people with little time to coddle finds the child's quick change concerning. What would darken a boy's heart so?

"Perhaps he can answer some of your questions." Netuckelist says, grim now. "Boy, how many children did you used to live with?"

Aigo seems displeased by this topic but says, sullenly, "Lots." he thinks for a bit and looks down at this hands, and Awenasa sees him using his fingers. This doesn't shock her, she's run into plenty of Shoanti and lowlanders who have trouble with numbers.

"Twenty four." Aigo says finally, nodding.

"And where did you live?" The gnome prods.

"In some rooms....near the mine." The boy says slowly, reluctantly. "Sometimes we'd go up to the Big House but not much." He shudders a bit at this. "The rest of the time, we were in the mine..." Then, clearly unable to stop himself, tears start to form. "You...are you sending me back? I won't go, I won't!" he suddenly shouts, surprising even himself.

For the first time Awenasa sees real emotion on Netuckelist's face, pity. A deep well of pity that seems quite out of place on the genial criminal's pointed face.

" won't go back. I promised you that Aigo, and I meant it. Now, tell us. How many men did Ely have watch you?"

The boy's tears remain, gleaming in the light from the windows. His voice is husky and a bit ragged, "Just two. Big men....and Mother Aleve in the rooms. Watch us at night. They had other men who worked there though, on the big farms or mining rocks..."

Then Netuckelist leaned in, "And what did these men do to you?" The boy looks surprised but resigned. Without a word he turned and pulled up the back of his shirt.

The child's back was a horrifying criss-cross of old welts and scars. Not from a whip, Awenasa judged, but a cane perhaps? Laid on hard enough to break the skin...many times.

"Stop it!" Perey shouts, and Awenasa sees tears in her friends eyes. "That's enough!"

Netuckelist looks at the man and nods, "Perhaps." Aigo, for his part merely shrugs and says, "It doesn't hurt any more."

"Run along, boy." The gnome says quietly. Aigo dashes off, vanishing once again.

Silence fills the room.

Shoanti Unchained Monk/8 | HP 58/72; Non-lethal 18pts | Init +3 | AC19/F15/T16 | F+8 R+9 W+5 | Perc +14 SM +13 | Stunning Fist 8/8 | Ki Pool 8/8 | Active Conditions: None

Awenasa grips the edge of the table harder and harder as the boy shares what he had experienced. By the time Perey shouts to stop, her knuckles are white and she is seething with cold anger.

What kind of a place was Arsis where the children were treated so shamelessly? The community was supposed to collectively care for the children and the elderly, not exploit them. This whole place should be razed to the ground. As far as she is concerned, if the vulnerable aren't protected then the people were unredeemable and forfeited their rights. The sooner she can leave, the better.

Through clenched teeth she asks, "Where are the parents, the families?" She honestly can't understand how this is allowed to happen. The sheriff didn't seem like a bad person but if Awenasa understands her job properly, she should protect the whole community and not just a select few.

Discipline was one thing, she had experienced much discipline in her short life so far. Abuse is a completely different thing entirely and those who abuse the vulnerable deserve no mercy.

"Has anyone here, besides Aigo, been to the mines? I no want to add to his trauma but knowing layout of the mines would help navigate freeing children."

"They are orphans, one way or another." Netuckelist says, watching Awenasa's face closely. "Those without parents. Ones who died, or left, or are unknown. A few are even from the desert tribes, dropped off here for some reason. No one is sure. But most are locals, who wind up there with no better place to be."

"No one else has been there, but I doubt it matters. The tunnels are cramped, mostly fit for children. There are a few older shafts from previous owners, who used adults for the work, but they tend to just be the main connectors. A few are airshafts but they are either very small or covered with heavy grates. To prevent escapes." Last word is said cold enough to chill her bones. And Awneasa can only imagine what such an 'escape' might look like. Where would a mere child go? Faced with the hellish surface desert during the day, with no food or water or survival skills. Even she, with all of those in abundance, had gone the crossing arduous. No, the Shoanti guesses such escapes were rare indeed, no matter how bad the beatings or hopeless the future.

Shoanti Unchained Monk/8 | HP 58/72; Non-lethal 18pts | Init +3 | AC19/F15/T16 | F+8 R+9 W+5 | Perc +14 SM +13 | Stunning Fist 8/8 | Ki Pool 8/8 | Active Conditions: None

Awenasa understands that not all parents survive to raise their children but Aigo had said there were over twenty children. That would suggest a slaughter for that many to have died. Considering this didn't seem to be the case, that means many of the children were abandoned. If one couldn't take care of a child, they shouldn't be having one. Although there were a lot of lowlanders that were barely more than animals, at least in her experience, so maybe it isn't so surprising.

There is something that Awenasa is curious about ever since meeting the boy and so she asks, "How you get Aigo out?"

She continues to think through what would be involved in getting the children out. Information about how to get to the children seems to be thin so she will need to do some investigation herself. However, she couldn't be seen hanging around where she doesn't really belong. One could only use the excuse that they got lost so much before raising suspicions.

"You being local, what time of day best to get at children? And when does sheriff come here?"

Awenasa considers whether to tell Krahnu about the 'price' of settling Altava's debt. She didn't know the former sheriff well enough to know if she'd help where she could by distracting people in town or whether she'd object and become an obstacle. The Shoanti was fairly certain that Krahnu would rather Awenasa eliminate Netuckelist but how could someone be so bad if they are the only one wanting to help the vulnerable? Things are proving to be quite complicated for Awenasa.

"I will do this. Any more info you have to help is good to give me."

"Get him out?" Netuckelist said, then shrugged. "The same way you get anything of value in the world, I bought him. Granted, it was phrased somewhat differently but in essence the boy was giving Ely trouble and I said I needed a servant. For a generous 'donation' he proved willing to hand him over. It's a trick I can only use rarely however, without the man growing wise." A bit wistful, "Wouldn't do to being known as a generous, easy mark."

'As for how to rescue them, I'm not sure. Do I look like a wasteland raider?" The little dapper gnome, sitting in his oversized chair looked as far from the many hard-bitten raiders Awenasa knew (and loved). Yet, for all that, here he was putting such plans into motion. Surely the man knew blood might be spilled in such an operation, and not just those of the other side.

"At night they would all be together, but probably more guards. During the day they would be in the diggings, but more spread out. I doubt Ely's guards work very hard in the heat." Aweansa remembered the punishing inferno of the previous day, which taxed even her rugged constitution.

When she asks for other information the gnome does offer, "I know the tunnels go much deeper and farther then people think. The tunnels the child dig in, I mean. The ones near the canals are just scrapes made to find fossils, but many connects to older, natural caves. Other then that, not sure I know anything useful. But then again, I've never planned a raid before."

Shoanti Unchained Monk/8 | HP 58/72; Non-lethal 18pts | Init +3 | AC19/F15/T16 | F+8 R+9 W+5 | Perc +14 SM +13 | Stunning Fist 8/8 | Ki Pool 8/8 | Active Conditions: None

Awenasa's teeth involuntarily clench when Netuckelist mentions buying the boy. No one should ever be bought and sold. However, she recognizes that the gnome and his motivations are much different than the slavers she had dealt with in Riddleport.

"You not make good raider, the Shoanti says matter-of-factly. "But those who plan the raid, not always go on raid." Awenasa doesn't have much experience planning raids either but she had participated in quite a few of them.

"I will look for these natural caves and find another opening. It take time to prepare but I will find way." Awenasa is fairly sure that she will need to free the children during the day to limit the harm she may do to the locals but she would start searching the area at night when it was cooler.

What she needed to do now is discuss things with her friends. Mainly, she wanted their opinion on whether to tell Krahnu or not. Would she be helpful if it meant helping the sheriff? Or would she think this plan was too much of a disruption to the town and that Awenasa should just make Netuckelist disappear? Awenasa already knows that she wouldn't be okay with the latter. He may prey on human weakness and profit from it but he was also one of the only few that was concerned about the vulnerable being exploited.

"Where do I bring children when they free?"

Netuckelist looks a little put out when Awenasa says he wouldn't make a good raider, but she doesn't really care. It isn't her job to confirm this gnomes delusions, whatever they may be.

At her idea at finding a natural cave the little gnome shrugs but looks slightly apprehensive, which she can't blame them for. Awenasa knows, from long experience, caves can be very dangerous places. Quite apart from the mundane dangers of being trapped or lost, they were often the home of viscous creatures of all types, even more so in such a hostile surface environment. A cool protected cave made a desirable home for most desert animals.

Still, she needed Krahnu's information, and this was the start of the chain that led to it. Besides, if she was being honest, freeing children from such a fate would be a good deed. Maybe her ancestors would approve and help guide some luck her way? Assuming they had power in such a strange land.

At her final question, The gnome rubs his bearded chin for a moment. "There is a small garden at the edge of town, which I own. There are a few sheds and such for the tools and seeds. My man, with a cart, will hide there until you drop them off. " Netuckelist gives her the directions to the spot, which, to his credit, is a fairly easy approach that avoids any main roads.

At this the gnome gets up off his chair and takes a step toward Awenasa. He holds out a tiny pale hand to her and says, "I think this is the custom in your homeland? To shake on the agreement of a deal?"

However that goes

"My first customers won't be here for another hour or so. Consider this room yours until then, if you need to plan or anything of that nature. I will make sure you are not disturbed or overheard. Please, enjoy the drinks if you wish. On the house."

And with that he fades out of a side door, leaving Awenasa alone with her friends.

Shoanti Unchained Monk/8 | HP 58/72; Non-lethal 18pts | Init +3 | AC19/F15/T16 | F+8 R+9 W+5 | Perc +14 SM +13 | Stunning Fist 8/8 | Ki Pool 8/8 | Active Conditions: None

Awenasa nods at his mention of the garden. It was less conspicuous than this place and hopefully had a lot of hiding places until she could get them all out of the mines.

The Shoanti stands to face the gnome and stares for a moment as Netuckelist stuck out his hand. Then as was her way, she says bluntly, "Lowlanders do this, not my people. Our word is our bond." She eventually holds out her hand, "But if you need such ritual I will do so." After all, she was doing many things that she never thought she would have to do in order to help her people,

Even though Awenasa finds it hard to trust anyone outside of her inner circle, she does need a place to speak freely with the others where she is fairly certain the sheriff will not overhear. She knows that Netuckelist wants her to succeed so it is in his best interest to not lie to her at this moment. She sits back down, "Thank you. We will not stay too long."

Once they are alone, Awenasa turns her attention to Perey and Thak. "We will need to learn about this Ely and his operation."

"Night time would be best because all the children will be in one place but they are also guarded and there is greater risk of creating trouble in the town." Awenasa continues to sum up their options. "Day would be best to get the children out more stealthily but it will also be more punishing due to the heat. And we will need to find a different way into the mine."

"It may prove helpful to speak with Krahnu about this given she would know the town and surrounding area. Unless she doesn't want the children freed, then speaking with her would be harmful."

She looks into Perey's eyes and then Thak's, "Thoughts?"

Awenasa takes along look at her two friends. She does not doubt their bravery (she had seen Thak ignore a burning building and Perey had faced down an armed lizardfolk on his own) but they didn't quite have the raw power she might have liked. What she would give for a raider like Matoska?

With He-With-Fire-Inside at her side, they wouldn't even need to bother with plans. They would just go and take these children by brute force. Alas, it was not meant to be so simple.

Thak is still looking over the drink tray when he speaks, "Krahnu was the sheriff so she also allowed this children slavery to go on. I doubt she cares very much either way, Awenasa. The main issue, I see is that the more we involve her the more risk we run brining Altava into it. And remember, that will upset the whole crazy bargain we are caught up in."

Perey taps his fingers on the table thinking, "A night time attack risks the children more, Awenasa. In the confusion, in the dark...chaos might break out. If we did it during the day, if we can get to the diggings, we'd meet them only a few at a time. Not that I really want to climb through a bunch of dark caves...."

Thak spoke up again, "Krahnu said this Ely sold items for miners and travelers? We are travelers, I could go and visit his shop, and see what I can learn? It would not raise alarm, in fact this town might expect us to visit." The redfish skinned man smiled, glancing at Awenasa, "I am experienced shopper who will not scare anyone off."

"If we wait until tomorrow, I can help with some spells," Perey says, "Thak has been teaching me some magic, I can help us share languages as well. That way we can talk to the children. Also, I might be able to help us find our way underground too."

Shoanti Unchained Monk/8 | HP 58/72; Non-lethal 18pts | Init +3 | AC19/F15/T16 | F+8 R+9 W+5 | Perc +14 SM +13 | Stunning Fist 8/8 | Ki Pool 8/8 | Active Conditions: None

Awenasa looks at Thak sharply. Not because she is upset by anything he has said but because he had said something she hadn't considered. She had been assuming the children were being abused only on Altava's watch as sheriff but it made complete sense that this had probably been happening under Krahnu's watch as well. "Good thought, Thak. We will keep Krahnu in the dark."

She nods in relief as Thak offers to go 'shopping' on their behalf so that she doesn't have to. "While you shop and learn about our foe, Perey and I can look for a secret way into the diggings."

"I agree that we shouldn't attempt to free any of the children today. We need more information before we act. If we can learn enough this afternoon, we can try tomorrow."

The Shoanti clapped one of her hands down on Perey's shoulder and the other clasped Thak's shoulder. She may have preferred to raze the mines with Matoska's help but she was grateful to have the help of her friends. "We will free the children together. This good we will do. You are warriors in your own way."

Is there a roll she can do to find an alternative entrance to the diggings? She has geography but I wasn't sure if she can use it on a planet she doesn't know.

I think you should re-set your health bar or am I forgetting something?

Thak grins at Awenasa's words but Perey looks uncomfortable, even more then usual. He quickly wriggles free of Awenasa's embrace and the Shoanti wonders what she said that bothers him. She had meant her words and, to her, were the highest praise she could give.

Thak takes a final drink and departs, after taking a small allowance from Awenasa, just enough to 'play the part', at least according to the Vudran. This left Perey and here alone, and together they stepped back out onto the shaded porch around the gambling house.

The slovenly guards were still there, dicing and talking but none of them met Awenasa's eye. Clearly they had been told to leave her alone, and let them pass at will. Not that they could have stopped her anyway.

Outside the morning is growing hot, the sun a disk of blazing white surrounded by a sizzling halo of clouds or dust , Awenasa can not tell. Even in the shade of the porch, she feels a sweat start on her skin, quickly whisked off by the dry air. There is no wind, and the Shoanti is not sure if that is a blessing or curse. At least it meant no dust-storms today, or so she helped.

She turned her eyes back the town, and over the canal at the building's edge. There, small rugged hills lay scattered, surrounded by red sand dunes. Sometimes the hills were sharp and jagged, lifting ledges of raw rock toward the sun while others were smooth and worn by endless storms. She saw little signs of life, few trees or plants but this did not shock her. In the heat of the day, most living things were be hiding.

I'd allow geography. Caves are caves after all, and Awenasa would use her knowledge as best she could

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