Carpathia III: Episode 113: Slave Traders

Yseri, outside Volcano

As the Blind Angel simply passed into dust, there was nothing to bury. Together, the party decided it would be best to trudge forward while the night was young and to put some distance between themselves and Volcano. The going was slow along the flat, straight road, however, due to the size of the group and because Toma had some difficulty walking. Near the end of the night, with Volcano no longer in view, they decided to settle down and camp.

As before, Adell set up a ring of rocks around the campsite while the others did their part to prepare a fire for a meal. As they did so, Adell started examining Toma's ankles.

Toma: Anyone have a way of getting these off?

Jaze, sitting next to Toma, was the first to react, realizing that the shackles that bound Toma to the long chain of slaves were still there. Jaze immediately dropped to the ground and started examining the shackles.

Jaze: I doubt anyone has a key. These are really sturdy.

Adell, having just finished putting up the rock wall, was next to approach. He put his hands around the shackles and held them there. Jaze wondered if Adell had another power that he was not aware of, but, in the end, nothing happened.

Adell: I'm sorry. This is probably steel. The chain was iron, so I could break that, but this has been manipulated too much.

The others stood around impotently, unable to do anything but stare at the shackles around Toma's ankles.

Kaoru: I could rust them, but that would be a bit slow.

Ryuu: I could do it, but I'd burn him.

Zet: Well, if there's nothing else that can be done, I suppose I could try digging around in the lock with my claw.

Before Zet had a chance to examine the shackles, Kagurain dove for Toma's feet and started tugging frantically on the locks.

Kagurain: There has to be a way!

Kagurain pulled and tugged like a wild animal. Though Toma made no indication of being in pain, it was alarming to watch Kagurain yank his leg around and make it flail like a garden hose. Jaze reached out, hoping to calm Kagurain.

Jaze: Kagurain...

Before Jaze could say another word, a small jolt of electricity suddenly erupted from Kagurain's hand. The shackle then simply opened and fell to the ground as though it had been opened with a key.

Toma: Ouch!

Kagurain gasped and threw his arms around Toma.

Kagurain: Ack! I'm sorry! Did I hurt you?

Toma shook his head.

Toma: I'm fine. It only hurt a little. I was mostly just surprised.

Reassured, Kagurain looked down at the open shackle laying on the ground.

Kagurain: Huh. I did it.

Artemis: You did. That's a useful ability you have. Try the other shackle and see if you can focus on it.

Kagurain's ears perked on his head as he looked at Toma's other leg, which was still bound.

Kagurain: Oh! Okay! What do I do?

Artemis kneeled on the ground and gently lifted Toma's other leg.

Artemis: Put your hands on it and concentrate. Think about what you want to do and let it happen.

Kagurain carefully took Toma's leg and did as he was told. Everyone watched in awe as he closed his eyes and a smaller, more focused jolt of electricity wrapped around the lock. It too clicked open and the shackle fell to the ground.

Toma reached up and gently rubbed the tips of Kagurain's ears.

Toma: Thank you. I've been wearing those most of the time since I got here.

Nobody doubted Toma on this. Toma's ankles were free, but discolored and scarred from the shackles. Nobody had time to mull for long about what sort of pain Toma had been through, as everyone was distracted by Kagurain squeezing himself between Jaze and Toma and putting his arms around both.

Kagurain: I'm Kagurain Rahotep Leonar! Now we can be a family!

Kagurain provided a strong note of enthusiasm amongst the rest of the weary group as he seemed either unaware or uninterested in the danger they had experienced or currently faced, being vulnerable on the open field. Zet and Kaoru continued on cooking the food while the others rested. Once the food was cooked, Jaze managed to bring up the question that had been burning in his mind since he found Toma the previous day.

Jaze: Toma, how did you end up there?

Toma, in the middle of munching on a root vegetable, slowed his chewing and then swallowed heavily.

Toma: I've been in that town for a long time...

Everyone looked up at Toma and listened in rapt attention as he began his story.


Toma wandered aimlessly around the open desert, clutching his arm. It had been sore since he landed in the strange world, though nothing seemed broken. Occassionally, he called out, though he knew there was no hope for an answer. The empty plain stretched for miles and he could see nothing.

Toma: Jaze!

No food. No water. That, along with the searing heat, lead Toma to believe that he would not last very long. He shed his hoodie and chose a direction. Either he'd find something or he wouldn't and he did his best not to think about what would happen if he didn't, lest he go insane from panic.

Toma: Anybody!

Trudging ahead, something appeared in the distance. Unsure if what he was seeing was real, he rubbed his eyes and focused on what appeared to be a massive, white rock with a mansion far away. It was something, and anything was better than nothing, so he pressed forward.

He didn't get very far.

Suddenly, several hidden doors in the ground opened up all at once and several large, dirty men appeared from underground. Before Toma could even utter a word of surprise, they tackled him and dragged him through one of the openings.

Toma: Let me go! Let me go!

Ugly Man: Get him to the table!

Toma found himself underground, but was too busy struggling to take in much of his surroundings. At least four men were pulling at his limbs, struggling to get him onto a table. He was not in much condition to fight and they finally slammed him on the table top. As soon as he was there, one of the men managed to close a shackle over his wrist. Casting away any doubt that he was being abducted, Toma struggled harder and finally managed to free both of his legs from his kidnappers.

What Toma did next would change his fate.

Toma pulled both of his knees to his chest, trying to avoid the grabby hands of his captors. When that didn't work, he released them both, kicking forward like a coiled spring. Both his feet landed squarely on the chest of a large man standing at the end of the table, sending him hurtling backward into the craggy, roughly-hewn wall. The man fell silently to the ground, below the table where Toma could not see while the others continued to wrestle with him.

It was a hopeless battle for Toma and his captors eventually prevailed, locking each of Toma's arms and legs into shackles attached to the table. Once that was done, the ugly, bald man went to check on the one that Toma had kicked earlier. Toma couldn't see what the man was doing, but shortly after, he stood and faced the other men.

Ugly Man: The boss is dead.

The ugly man paused while the other men registered their surprise. Toma, however, was horrified. Not only did he kill someone, but he shuddered to imagine what his punishment for doing so might be.

Ugly Man: That makes me the boss now.

Toma wasn't sure if this was good news or not and he watched in trepidation as the ugly man slowly made his way around the table.

Ugly Man: I am Brutus and I am your new owner. I think you'll make a fine new addition to our gladiator team!

Brutus reached down and grabbed Toma's face roughly, twisting it from side to side as though examining new livestock.

Brutus: Soft-skinned, this one is. Gotta train you up first. Gotta do something about them powerful legs of yours. Can't have you killing anyone else before we get you to meet the Ringmaster!

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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