(I tried to get the character’s names right – if something is misspelled or flat out wrong feel free to edit, or let me know and I will make the change. -Cam)
Alone for the moment, Tlaloc studied the night sky. The first moon, Ral, hung low like an overripe fruit dappled in various shades of green. Above it, the lesser moon Guthay shown in brilliant gold and brass. The half-elf sighed and returned his attention to the problems at hand. Hushed voices swam along the desert breeze, the conspiratorial discussions of his fellow slaves. He would need to give them his answer quickly, lest the opportunity pass. Escape from bondage – Tlaloc was uncertain if it was such a good idea. In the shadows near him, an ethereal mist began to gather – taking a vaguely humanoid shape. The specter whispered to Tlaloc in shadespeak…
Citlali: You stare at the moons so intently. I have not caught you in the middle of prayers?
Tlaloc: You know I don’t do that anymore.
Citlali: Then what could you be pondering? You are lucky to have such capable allies on this water errand – your escape is practically assured.
Tlaloc: Nothing is certain, except the rising and setting of the sun. Besides, I don’t think it’s to my advantage to escape.
Citlali: A foolish sentiment, even for a templar.
Tlaloc: I’m no templar, not anymore. Now I’m a slave…and a slave’s life is quite easy compared to before. All I have to concern myself with is another step forward, another shovel-full of rock, and another day of the same. As long as my true nature remains hidden…
Citlali (interrupting): How long will that last? Now that they have you in the arena, it’s only a matter of time before someone realizes the power you use in combat are not of the Way of the Unseen.
Tlaloc (sighs): I’m certain the old man, Cadros, has already figured it out.
Citlali: He won’t be the last – these slavers are cunning.
Tlaloc: Still, I’m probably better off on my own.
Citlali: Nonsense. These other slaves are worthy comrades. Shall I review the events of yesterday’s arena battle?
Tlaloc (sarcastically): By all means, I’m sure you observed something I missed.
Citlali: Very well. As you and the others were led by chains through the gladiator’s entrance, the leader of the Iron Lords…
Tlaloc: Gabe Muir.
Citlali: Yes him. He walked past when one of your fellow slaves, a human called Elevar issued a challenge.
Tlaloc: Muir accepted, but later had a proxy fight the old man. Dishonorable certainly, a move worthy of a templar.
Citlali: You approve?
Tlaloc: I understand. It’s different than approval.
Citlali: Fine. You entered the arena to participate in three separate combats. This was after equipping yourselves with the available weapons and armor…
Tlaloc: Which was next to nothing. I set foot on the arena sands with nothing but a dagger!
Citlali: I’m sure you sent slaves into the arenas in Draj with less.
Tlaloc: Well – I never had arena duty. Most of what I did was check people and goods at the city’s entrance, also investigating and quashing sedition, though that job…
Citlali (interrupting): Enough. The arena was divided into three fields of battle, separated by walls of flames. On the far side fought the two trained gladiators against a veritable hoard of fellow slaves.
Tlaloc: The matched pair you mentioned are both amazing close-quarter fighters. The mul, Eben, fights with the ferocity of a raging storm. Something about his name is familiar, but I did not follow the careers of gladiators while in Draj.
Citlali: And the thri-kreen?
Tlaloc: Some are calling him Clicky – I know very little about him, except it is rumored he once ate the flesh of a fallen human.
Citlali: Someone you want on your side then?
Tlaloc: Better a friend than an enemy.
Citlali: The center of the arena was devoted to a fight between gladiators and a giant centipede.
Tlaloc: You are generous to refer to me a gladiator – the others accounted for themselves much better against the beast.
Citlali: The dwarf…
Citlali: He possesses the power of an elementalist. I have seen the type before.
Tlaloc: His combat healing was impressive, but the nature of his powers are strange to me…Not, I should say, as strange as those of Cadros. I have had ample chance to encounter wielders of the Way of the Unseen, but never of his type.
Citlali: Besides his power with the Way, he called upon the spirits of Athas – and they listened. A worthy ally.
Tlaloc: True, but much of our survival was because of Penzer.
Citlali: I saw. The human took much of the centipede’s early attention.
Tlaloc: The beast bit deep, and its poison affected Penzer deeply. I feared that he had seen his last sunrise.
Citlali: I noticed. I also noticed that when the creature charged down on your weakened ally, you distracted the centipede with a dagger strike – and earned a deep wound for your effort.
Tlaloc: A necessary choice. Capable allies are as rare as water.
Citlali: A bit of altruism?
Tlaloc: Not altruism, but practicality. It is necessary to protect one’s allies in the arena. This escape plan is problematic as it is, but if only five of us remained it would be impossible.
Citlali: A party of six is good, but seven would have been better?
Tlaloc: Indeed. I would have it that Elevar could have survived his fight against the half-giant.
Citlali: It was clear to me that Elevar was a skilled fighter, but luck was not on his side.
Tlaloc: The half-giant fought flawlessly. I was certain he would refuse to end the human’s life.
Citlali: The half-giant could not help but follow orders. I’m sure you know the type.
Tlaloc: I did once.
Citlali: After the combat, the victorious gladiators earned the privilege to retrieve water for their insidious masters.
Tlaloc: And the other slaves.
Citlali: True, but you know this is the best opportunity to escape. Away from the main camp, surrounded by capable allies.
Tlaloc: Say I escape with the others…what am I supposed to do next?
Citlali: So you have decided to throw in with their escape attempt?
Tlaloc: You did not answer my question.
Citlali: What are you supposed to do once you escape from bondage? You will walk the path of the preserver. Your reformation will set me free to leave the mortal world and take my place in the afterlife.
Tlaloc: I would like it if you left now.
Citlali: That can’t happen. We are bonded until you make amends.
Tlaloc: How long?
Citlali: I…don’t know. Until you are reformed, I suppose.
Tlaloc: Well, the path of the Preserver best lead me to some finer clothing.