Okay, I admit it. I followed him.

Not two nights after I happened to run into him in the sleazy drinking establishment in Kell, I followed (stalked?) him back to Cerilon and waited for him to make another late night trip to meet with his collected ruffians.

I did not have to wait long, and this time, what I found was yet more distubring.

He met with a ship’s Captain who had made the trip special from Southeron.

Of all Velociryx’s cities, three are coastal, but one of these (Cloudpeak), only just. Yes, you can see the ocean from most of the apartments in the southestern quarter of the city, but the way down is a sudden drop of nearly two thousand feet.

A port city, it is not.

Dol’Doras has a passing good port, but is poorly situated to do more than serve the southern portion of Devil’s island. One would have to sail from there, around the Horn of Ghedd, or worse, waste the better part of two weeks sailing west to round the greater bulk of Devil’s Island to even begin making for the mainland, and sadly, Southeron, while being fairly ideally situated, is cursed with wickedly shallow waters and trecherous reefs, making entering the sheltered port a feat best reserved for daredevils or madmen.

That said, if Vel wants to ship something, it either arrives by Knight’s Ocean Port in the north, then overland through near a thousand miles of trackless jungle, or south from Shimmering, then meandering up the Horn.

There were brief diplomatic talks with KV Kumala early on, when Velociryx was first emerging as a regional economic power, but as I understand it, those ground to a chilly halt when no agreement could be reached over some fertile farmland (-896,-636) just outside of the city of Parthaway. That, coupled with the provacative use of a semi-permanent armed garrison on Mount Spurling (-894, -639), and the two lords have not spoken since.

All of that so you will understand something of the sort of man Velociryx was meeting with.

This blessed fool had not only sailed into the dangerous shallows of Sutheron’s harbor, but done so unannounced, and in the dead of night, THEN proceeded via horse up the Devil’s Road to Cerilon, all apparently in great haste and without stopping.

By the time he arrived in the SouthShanty district of Cerilon, he was a sight to behold, I can assure you, and smelled worse than even the foulest Orc I’ve ever run across.

Nonetheless, he seemed both agitated and animated…practically beside himself in his excitement.

“They’ve agreed!” He told his Master breathlessly. “They agreed to your price…they’ll part with them!”

Velociryx’s eyes lit up in much the same way I remembered them doing when he spoke so passionately about protecting the weak and helpless around the Realm, and I confess that I felt a surge of pride at what I was seeing.

Here was a man content to get in the muck and mud in order to build a better future, and a good thing too, because such men are hard to find, and…

I was on the cusp of singing his praises till I heard the next words tumble from his lips.

“Bring them up the trail (by this, I took him to mean the Devil’s Road, which cut straight through the heart of the jungle), still in their chains and shackles, all the way to the gates of Cerilon. I want the Chimera to see thim just that way.”

Chains?

Shackles?

Was he buying prisoners? Were they violent criminals? Madmen sold as slave labor? Or worse, captured women and children taken prisoner in one of Illyriad’s numerous ongoing skirmishes?

And what was he going to do with them that he needed them in chains along the horrifying march up the length of the Devil’s own road?

And what fate awaited them at the end of that march, when the Chimera laid eyes on them?

Were they to be…food?

A sacrifice to some unholy thing Velociryx was building in his hidden jungle stronghold?

Had I been so completely wrong about the man?

I determined to find out, so I followed the Boatman when he left Cerilon, back the way he had come, down the Devil’s Road to Sutheron, then back to his ship, which would undoubtedly be returning soon, and with a most unsavory cargo.

That explained his skill in navigation.

Most Lords of the Realm took a dim view of Slavers, and wanted nothing to do with them, so they had to learn to operate on the fringes. Had to be able to scurry in and out of the most meager of ports and harbors…places that respectable Captains would simply pass by.

Was I now seeing the man behind the mask?

Was this who Velociryx truly was?

I hoped not, and it was that hope that led me on my mission of late night thievery.

Into the camp of the wiley BoatMan, and into his vest pocket, where he had tucked the scrip given him by Velociryx.

I have reproduced it below.

Evidence.

Proof, both of my poor judgement, and of this ruffian’s misdeeds and dark dealings.

Based on what this note contains, I see little choice. I will hide myself away until the slaves arrive at the gates of Cerilon and confront him then, in full view of them.

Someone must stand up for them, and if this supposed reformer will not, then it must be me.

It may cost me my life, but I cannot let this stand.

Elven Slaves.

Gods!

I will not.

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