Of course I met the two new members a few days before the survivors of the original group. After delaying the acquisition process for the Greenbelt Charter for over three weeks, I was finally summoned to the Mayor’s Palace where I was introduced to Reiner Schreibock and Wiktor Bergstrom. Despite all my travels, these two humans made the strangest pair I had ever seen. One came adorned in trappings of wealth and strength, a model of human power. The other came dressed in simple garments that served only to highlight the heavy chains and manacles binding his hands and arms. It seemed obvious that the second, more heavily muscled man was a slave of the wealthier human. Though this grated on my sensibility I knew that, surrounded as I was by the Mayor’s guards, there was little I could do about the situation. Yet when the Mayor announced that these two were to be my new traveling partners I had to object.
“I’m sorry Lord Mayor, but I will not travel with a slave or a slaver in my party!”
To my great surprise it was not the Mayor or even the wealthy man that responded to my outburst. Instead the chained man turned his head slowly to meet my eyes and said very clearly, “I am not a slave.”
For a time no one in the room moved. I stared up at the muscled man’s and held his gaze. I searched his face, hidden behind the mass of stringy black hair, for some sign of the game being played here. Shockingly, I saw only sincerity and determination in his eyes. This proved too intriguing to pass up.
“My apologies My Lord, I will happily accompany these two into the Stolen Lands.”
If any of the people in the room were put off my sudden change of heart they did not show it and early the next morning we were packed and ready to begin the journey south. If I thought the previous day’s meeting strange I was in for another shock when my traveling companions arrived at the city gates with not only themselves and their mounts but a wagon loaded with a curious set of metal cages. When I asked the wealthy man, who had identified himself as Reiner, what the cages were for he said simply that they were for ‘holding his finds.’ I decided not to press the issue.
Wiktor, the name I had since learned for the muscled man, was still in chains.
The journey itself was easy enough. While the two humans at first seemed put off by having a Halfling in the party slowing them down, by the end of the first day my infectious smile won them over. The first night we made camp in a small clearing just off the road. After an all too light evening meal I sat down and tried to get to know my new companions.
“So Reiner,” I asked, “have you and Wiktor been traveling together for a long time?"
“More or less.”
“Oh, I see. Well Wiktor are you really ok with wearing thoes chains?”
“So what made you two decide to come out here?”
“Same. I suppose.”
It was one of my better conversations.
~Travels in the Greenbelt