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Old 07-06-2006, 11:49 AM   #35
Shade of Carn Dm
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Curled up on Melko's lap
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As Dorran stared down at the cold metal object that lay quietly in his hand, dark and brooding memories came flooding back. A long-dead scar on his left forearm began to ache and throb.

Yes, he had seen this accursed thing before, and he certainly knew what it was, even if Lindir and his own wife did not. This was the branding iron of a slaver, the bounty hunters whom the owners paid to feed new victims to the plantations and recapture anyone who tried to flee. Some of these gangs were notorious, known throughout all of Nurn for their cruelty and the abilities of their dogs to sniff out anyone within a hundred leagues. Most bands were small, run by fierce fighters who at least had enough brains to bring in their prey comparatively undamaged. Each group had its own unique brand so there would be no doubt as to who should be rewarded for capturing and turning over a particular slave.

Most slaves in Mordor hid their brands unless the marks were on their face or hands. It was no badge of honor, but an open acknowledgment of servitude and shame. Sometimes at night, men and women sitting around a firepit spoke in hushed tones about their experiences, reliving the exact moment that they had been hauled in and marked. Even those children born into slavery, as Dorran's sister had been, bore the brand of whatever bounty hunter had originally captured their mother. The slavers lost no chance to ply a pretty penny on their trade, and this included the right to brand the offspring of those they had been captured many years before.

Struggling to keep his voice calm and to stop his hand from quaking, Dorran turned towards the elf to explain. When the young man had finished talking, Lindir responded in a worried tone, "But what does all this mean for the slaves who lived in these caves? And who are these bounty hunters?"

"Sorry but I can't help you on the last one. I know a number of the brands that belong to the Easterlings, but this one means nothing to me."

At this point, the trio reached the stream. Dorran held Athwen's hand in his until they arrived at the stretch of land where the metal object had been discovered and where the grass was slightly trampled on the far side of the bank. Carefully surveying the landscape, Dorran nodded towards the elf in agreement, "Lindir, you're right. The slaves came through here and headed north. I do not think the slavers got them, at least not at this point. There would be blood and more evidence of fighting. But still, I don't like it. Those thugs could be on their trail as we speak, or they might have even caught up with them already."

At this point, Lindir and Dorran exchanged grim glances. They had already been joined by several other members of the fellowship who'd made their way down the hill and were now passing the dreaded metal object from hand to hand.

Last edited by Tevildo; 07-06-2006 at 02:47 PM.
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