At this point the party learned the major plot point between the two forces they found themselves between and it was a moralistic doozie. One side is right but is despicable in its actions while the other is wrong but honorable in its behavior. It's a classic LE vs CG situation and the party is on the CG side - but they can also really understand the LE side.
So much so that the elven protagonist who's name is Pecheri has been referred to as Douchey by the group for weeks now.
Write up follows:
We had discussed during our meal the merits of the people we had seen and those we wanted to hire. We had been spending money pretty freely and realized that our ready cash was a bit light. So after lunch we took some of the trade goods we had gotten from Dairymeade and wandered around town, selling them to the local merchants.
And we were surprised at the sheer amount of silver and gold we got for our goods.
Once more flush with cash (and the reminder to us once again that not all treasure is coins and jewels) we sat down and met with the possible candidates for heavy footmen, light footmen, porters, and finally linkboys. Once finished, the party talked at length and at depth at what our options were.
Interestingly, one of the candidates we wanted was hesitant to join us if we did not have a cleric in our mix. A touched priest. One who was going to go with us into a Hades blessed area that also had undead present. Obviously, Templars are in real short supply (um…only 1 in the local 4 town area since Device died, and Taryn (the gnome) left our group to join Sanric's), so we then wanted a cloistered priest to give us a hand. We went to the Temples and met with 2 possible choices, eventually deciding on the 2nd one – a Halfling priest named Pawn (obviously a leftover “thief” name from his youth) who was a reformed pickpocket.
With the priest at our disposal we went back over the listing and chose the following: Liscinia the 18 year old (appearing) 1st level half-elven female Shieldbearer, Caeticcius the 27 year old 2nd level human Heavy Footman, Funis the 45 year old 2nd level human Light Footman, Scripinius, the 17 year old 2nd level human Linkboy, and Vestanus the 35 year old 1st level human Porter. These hirelings brought a mix of skills and abilities ranging from miners, to smiths, to gemcrafters, and beyond.
Bolstered and ready, we then continued our own preparations with more trips to the Hospice as well as Flimflam stockpiling the almost maximum number of goodberries he could put together before the trip.
The group spent the next day (Watermonth the 24th) going over their belongings and preparing for the trip. Pecheri should be back this evening and currently Auri and Geld were at the Thanach house, watching over the family and Selene. After a last round of conversations and preparations, Zeta and Flimflam left Heatherfield and went to the Thanach homestead where they sent Auri and Geld back to town – the half-elf and gnome taking the final night of guard duty.
Once sure that everything in the house was fine, they went to the Griffanus/Thanach shared wall to talk with the guard there; a lone figure standing vigil who had a strange and stilted conversation with the party. He then went to get Master Griffanus who came out and spoke with the two of them. Again – it was odd and sort of filled with double meaning. When it was over HE went back to the Griffanus house and the guard came out once more. At the gate/wall, he bid us good night and asked us to depart so he can do his job and watch.
The two of them went to the Thanach house and talked about the oddity of it all and that they were looking forward to getting to the cavern tomorrow and rooting this “whatever” out.
It was here that Pecheri returned to the Thanach home with a different horse, told Thanach to take care of it, then sat at his table and proceeded to eat. He told us of some of the newer supplies he brought and the better preparation he had for the journey against the quarry.
It was here that he finally told us what we were up against, getting the ok and go ahead from his uncle and apparent head of the Silverhair clan. At the end of the Kinslayer War the dwarven and elven empires had declared peace after centuries of combat and there was a document of manumission established that said that there would be NO new slaves (dwarven) born into bondage and those currently in bondage would remain so for a period not to exceed 10 years and a day based upon holdship paperwork. This would give the elven families a chance to make the necessary changes in their operations to offset the loss of the dwarven slave exodus.
When the first “freeings” went off 270 odd years ago, it nearly wrecked the elven economy. Many of the families could not recover from the losses and the remaining elven families that still had dwarven slaves could see that they needed more time with their chattel if they were going to weather the storm.
Many families had come up with ways to extend the dwarven enslavement but it was the Silverhair clan that took it to the next level. With multiple holdings, shops, mines, camps, and other far flung places throughout the greater lands, what they did was caravan their chattel (dwarven slaves) before the 10 year period was up to another holding, have them documented as emplaced at that time with the proper stamps and seals, and then the clock would restart on those dwarves such moved.
It wasn’t perfect, but it did work 8 times out of 10. As the Silverhairs grew and their holdings failed to suffer the same economic hardships the other families did, they found it harder and harder as the decades rolled by to get trustworthy elven caravans willing to move their stock for them.
So they went to other caravans outside the Woodhelven nation to move their stock for them.
And the best of them was the Raugeri Mercantile Transportation Company. For three generations the Raugeri helped move the stock every couple of years like clockwork. They kept meticulous records and were cold and unfeeling in the plight of the chattel they moved. Until the last of them, the final 38 dwarven slaves, were released from the Silverhair holdings about 30 years ago – some 250 YEARS after they were originally manumitted. 250 years of extended servitude.
They were brought to the Beastly Hills and let go right outside the fortress city of Barmeer. And that is where they were left.
It was after that that that the Raugeri family began suffering misfortune. Master Silverhair deduced shortly after the initial attack what was going on and immediately set his people up to defend the next most likely Raugeri target. But instead it was a different family member that was hit and killed. So the Silverhairs shuffled again – and again misjudged their quarry’s long range plans.
One by one, the Raugeri family fell away, three generations slain in a 12 year period in groups of 1 and 2 at a time. Until there was a single target left – Selene.
The fact that in the dwarven culture, children are always presumed innocent, is the only reason the ex-slave-dwarf hadn’t struck Selene sooner. According to Pecheri’s uncle, this is the BEST time to keep the slave’s focus on 1 target – something that hadn’t happened in the past before. To the slave’s thoughts, this girl is the final Raugeri target. So if he is focused on her, we can protect her (as we are doing) and then strike out at him now.
Because according to the best diviners the Silverhair family can come up with, if the girl dies, then the ex-slave-dwarf’s focus will then most likely shift to another slight and target. And since the Woodhelven lands are impossible for him to get to – that means ANYWHERE in Heatherfield could be next. (The Orphanage that housed the girl, the stables that shod the Raugeri horses, the wheelwright who helped make the slave carts, the smithy’s who might have made the chains, etc…)
We went to sleep right after this revelation and found ourselves disturbed. The Silverhair family of elves are xenophobic, slavers, and did what they could to continue to keep the dwarven chattel they had owned under their yoke and control for centuries past their original manumission date. However they are trustworthy and take their words and deals honorably even after the Raugeri family is long gone. In addition, they are expending cash and resources to continuously combat this threat. Contra to this, the ex-slave dwarf though was mistreated and wrongfully kept in bondage for the majority of his life has also been venting his anger and frustration out for decades against one family – many of which had nothing to do with his plight.
Both of them are wrong, and both of them are also honorable in their own way. And it makes what we have to do on the morrow strange and difficult – a moral morass that we are going to have to wade through.