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Old April 10, 2019, 11:34 AM   #1
Rushnak Orog
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[ZA] A Crushing Investigation (Closed)

Mid-Spring, Era XXVI p.f.


Ziel Aerca

The orc had thanked the rather unique Governor the best he knew how and hoped that the message of appreciation was clear. He knew he could not match her bubbly enthusiasm in nearly the same manner and decided to take the subtle approach of nodding his thanks and toning down his ugly smile. With orders more or less in hand, or in head as it were, Rushnak slowly made his way past the guards, down the stairs, beyond the friendly receptionist and out of the administrative building of Ziel Aerca. The short route output him on the streets where he was once again unfamiliar but much less uncomfortable than before. He had a goal and a purpose and this gave him confidence.

The Governor described the terrible dwarf--a common sentiment they shared--without great detail. He supposed he was given all the information available. Glen Blackmine seemed to have killed men and women indiscriminately in Primus Gaudeo. For whatever reason, he was discovered and detained in Ziel Aerca. Eyewitness reports there claimed he was asking the local population about a thing, 'Headcrush.' These witnesses placed him in the slavery district and local markets. His job was to discover what 'Headcrush' was exactly and if possible to find out why the killer dwarf was interested.

An orc's natural inclination was not necessarily to jump to conclusions and Rushnak would be wise to avoid doing so here. Members of his race were prone to acting, or reacting, based on the information clearly before them. 'Headcrush' could be a person, an organization, an object, or perhaps even a theoretical concept for all he knew. Rushnak assumed the dwarf never found what he was looking for in Ziel Aerca, however, or if he was successful then he clearly was too dumb to leave with it before getting himself caught. The latter being just as likely, the orc happily thought.

Rushnak determined that this task may take him to Primus Gaudeo at some point, which was an unfamiliar city to him much like Ziel Aerca was. For now, he would want to gain as much as he could here. The first stop that intrigued the orc was the slave district. Rushnak had not been exposed to "civilized" slavery and had assumed that it was not allowed throughout the Empire. This concept interested the orc. He wanted to learn how the trade worked, how it was organized, what the locals used slaves for, and what they were worth. In the back of his head, Rushnak thought there could be business opportunities there if the situation presented itself. If these slaves were transported out of the city against their will, for instance, that wagon could be a wonderful target for raiding with any slaves on board perhaps joining his side of the fight. That thought was comforting.

It had been decided. His investigation would begin learning of slavery and the atmosphere and environment surrounding it. His main purpose would be to learn about 'Headcrush" if possible but he would be keen to pick up on anything of interest. He would more than likely not outwardly ask about this thing in the same manner the dwarf did, but the orc would need to wait to see what approach made more sense. Rushnak set forth with the brief directions from the Governor in mind to make his way through Ziel Aerca and discover more about this new world he found himself operating within.
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Old April 10, 2019, 03:05 PM   #2
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To Ziel Aerca's slave markets, then.

That wasn't to say that this was the only place in Ziel Aerca to acquire slaves, of course. Just that it was the gathering place when it came to legitimately acquiring slave-persons. Most of the slaving companies were actually headquartered elsewhere in the city, and of course there were clientele who might personally visit such a location and look over the wares. How often, though, would a person visit a warehouse in search of groceries? No, they would instead go to a grocery store, where the produce was sent. So it was with the slave markets.

All things considered it wasn't all too large or luxurious a space, although it was doubtful whether Rushnak could have really had anything to compare it to. Slave ownership was hardly a cheap expense and Moonstone was not wealthy enough a province to support many individuals capable of affording such a thing. There was, nonetheless, a demand for such product, simply in the order of several dozens as opposed to numerous hundreds.

Overseers kept the slaves in line. Company-provided guards watched over the wares, and there was also a notable presence from the city watch to ensure public order. It really didn't feel all that different from any other section of the market districts, if only because the sort of customers who visited such a place tended to treat buying a slave as no different from buying a head of cabbage. All in all, it felt like a very "sanitized" means of display, with the obedient and civil slaves put to market, and perhaps the more troublesome ones sold off in a quieter, more discrete manner.
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Old April 11, 2019, 04:02 PM   #3
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On the way to the slave markets, Rushnak thought of a few courses of action he could take. Primarily, he was not going to just start asking anybody and everybody he saw about a dwarf or a headcrush. He thought he could act as if he were in the market for a personal slave. He also thought he could just act like he were a citizen of Ziel Aerca, since the city seemed to be at least relatively tolerant of him being there. He was not sure of his purpose in the market, however, and would need to see how the other citizens handled themselves. A crazy thought occurred that he could stage a protest claiming that slavery was immoral but decided he would rather not bring attention to himself in such a manner, especially not understanding the local laws or tolerances for public demonstration.

Ultimately, he landed on a strategy where he would keep to himself and window shop, as it were. That would give the orc time to observe how others were acting and the perhaps even overhear conversations as he went along. He could change tactics if needed, but this seemed to be the most sensible.

Entering the slave markets proper, Rushnak slowly and calmly looked around before proceeding at a very intentional and methodical pace. His gaze covered everything at first, but he ensured to not look bewildered or surprised or nervous. No unwanted attention. This was most likely not the most bustling areas of town which means concealing himself among the population was more than likely out of the question. The presence of guards, both private and governmental, came as no real surprise. Certainly the products being displayed were not cheap and the fragility of the wares could cost their owners a pretty crown if damage were to befall them.

Rushnak took care to try and determine how diligent the guards were and how close he could get to any such slave. Again, with his buyer’s façade, he would look closely at the slaves, one by one. Perhaps spending more of his time analyzing any strong, able-bodied slaves as he imagined that to be his interest if he were to ever purchase another person himself. The more in-character he could set his mind, the more likely he would be to seem truly interested.

Seeing a slave that could fit his imaginary requirements, the orc took a moment to pause and approach the subject. He kept an inquisitive look on his face as he looked the slave over, trying to decide if it were worth his time to ask questions. If somebody was interested in selling, certainly they would not pass on the opportunity to upsell to the orc. If nobody spoke up, he would need to probe further himself and look for somebody to do business with.
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Old April 11, 2019, 10:49 PM   #4
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The town guards posted here, from what Rushnak could see, didn't seem to take things too seriously. Whether that was simply because they were lazy, or of a relatively jovial temperament, was difficult to say. They cracked jokes with each other, played dice and cards, and while it couldn't be said they weren't doing their jobs, one could easily see how they might be regarded as a little sloppy. In contrast, the private guards maintained by the slaving companies themselves were all business. This was actually their business, after all, this was what they were paid to do. There was no slacking on the job for them. They kept an eye on Rushnak and gave the orc as much attention as he warranted. Never knew who wanted to cause trouble.

He wouldn't have been the first misguided former slave or abolitionist who wanted to try and stir up trouble or settle scores.

To get close to the slaves meant garnering the attention of a salesman, however. It didn't seem like Rushnak was able to get up close and personal without somebody accompanying him, so to speak. The moment he began to approach, somebody came up alongside him. With the orc more or less choosing at random, it seemed he had gone with...

"Ahhhh, welcome to Frontier Slaves, my good sir," the prim white-furred omnicat katta noted, well-dressed and well-groomed in appearance. Rushnak had approached a tall Nairu man, tall and imposing when it came to looks but seeming to hold a far more subservient demeanor. While his legs were shackled and chained to the ground, every other part of him was free, and he puffed out his chest now that he was on display.

"This one's a good one," the katta said with a nod, "good, strong servant stock. A domestic slave, you see, not one of those unruly barbari others capture. Bred from birth to serve, he's got good muscle on him, perfect for manual labor, mercenary combat, anything where his raw strength would serve well."
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Old April 12, 2019, 05:18 PM   #5
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The dynamic between the town guards and the slave guards did not go unnoticed by the orc. Nor did it come as a surprise. When something of personal interest or value was at stake, you took things more seriously. When the task at hand had no directly implication on your life, you became more complacent. The focus and intentionality of the private guards is what Rushnak had come to expect to find, even though the slaves appeared to be contained adequately. He realized, of course, that the guards were here more for him than the slaves on display and it made him even more aware of the fact that attention would be drawn to him.

When Rushnak decided to take a closer interest in the tall Nairu man, he was greeted quickly by what he could only assume was a salesman. The katta described the man he was looking at and the thought crept into his mind that the furry creature more than likely relied on slave labor for daily tasks. Not only was it the katta’s business, but with such a well-groomed appearance some sort of wealth probably accompanied. No matter. The orc was not here to judge the katta—nor the slave, really—but was here to learn.

Frontier Slaves. Rushnak though the name sounded too commercial. And this man was bred to serve? The orc wondered if there was a workshop somewhere with similar men in shackles emerging from the assembly area and being hearded onto wagons for distribution across the Empire. How large was this business?

Rushnak diverted his gaze from the Nairu slave to the katta salescat. ”Barbari?” his brow lifted when the word was repeated. Though he was not truly offended, Rushnak noted that the word seemed to describe a negative connotation that could be used to qualify orcs as well. ”Not so terrible.” The orc did not want to cause an issue, but was interested in the katta’s response. ”Strength good. Combat better,” Rushnak continued. ”What training, combat skills?” It seemed obvious that this slaving outfit took pride in their production methods. Strengthening their slaves, disciplining them appropriately. But Rushnak was curious as to what else they may learn along the way. Again, more or less for his own education but also in case he could start gathering pieces for his investigation into why the dwarf may have been asking around these markets about ‘Headcrush’ or the like.
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Old April 13, 2019, 05:13 PM   #6
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"I imagine they have their uses, of course," the katta was quick to correct, "but nothing is worse than a slave who doesn't want to be a slave." In the Empire, it was perfectly legal to go out there, capture a barbari, and bring them back to be a slave. Whether you hunted them yourself or bought them from a slave hunter, nothing was stopping you - save, perhaps, moral qualms. Naturally, the barbari in question tended to not be particularly fond of this.

Domestic slaves, however, were born into their situation. Whether or not that was a sadder lot in life for them, they tended to be far easier to look after as a result. Significantly less resistance.

"A number of martial disciplines," the katta went on to explain. "Hand to hand fighting. A few basic weapons: the sword, the spear, the axe. Some of the slaves are more specialized, they'll know archery, or how to ride a horse. Is there something in particular that you're looking for?"
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Old April 17, 2019, 09:13 PM   #7
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The katta’s responses continued to trigger more questions and thoughts in his head. Rushnak was of course new to all of this, but was becoming more ambitious when business opportunities presented themselves. He listened intently, noted the salescat’s quickness to avoid offense, and followed up with one of the inquiries that came to him. ”You purchase barbari if brought to you? He knew this particular plan of earning wealth was more than likely beyond his means now, but he could keep it in the back of his head if he happened to be in a situation where capturing a potential slave was viable. ”If dey act bad, crush deir head! The orc’s laugh came from deep within the green-skinned creature but was restrained to show control. Rushnak also watched the katta closely, locking eyes, to see if there were any reaction to the particular words he used.

As the list of various skills continued—options available on newly purchased property—Rushnak became impressed. This business seemed to be ran very legitimately. He wondered if professionals such as this outfit would ever be involved with a serial killer dwarf. It would not necessarily dissuade the orc from doing business with them at some point, but he felt a growing sense that this may not lead to anything related to his investigation. ”Where you train? Where dey live? Again, a question more to appease his personal interests, but at this point he had nothing to lose. He could maybe one day bring a captured barbari to them for profit. Or perhaps trade one to receive training himself. The possibilities were endless.

”Manual labor, crushing tings,” was his response to the katta fishing for a lead. ”Some skill nice, mainly need strong help.” He was not in the market right now. He had not the means even if the desire was there. But the orc listened intently, eager to pick up on anything that could help him learn about this dwarf, ‘Headcrush,” or any means of personal benefit.
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Old April 18, 2019, 01:48 PM   #8
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"If they are deemed to be a worthwhile investment," came the noncommittal answer from the smiling katta. All the problems that had been mentioned before had to be taken into consideration. It took time to break a rebellious slave - and more importantly, it took money to keep them alive for that duration. Domestic slaves were much easier to handle. Thus, it depended on the asking price for a barbari slave, and the estimate of how many resources had to be put into properly training them.

The katta simply continued to smile as the orc laughed. Rushnak got the impression, however, that the smile had far more to do with customer service than any particular amusement at his comment. Either way, he got no particular response, and the katta quickly moved on to his further inquiries.

"Frontier Slaves runs several compounds where the slaves live and train," the salesman continued. "We do our best to separate them out based on what role we expect them to play, in order to specialize the locations and tailor them to their expected profession. More martial slaves, for instance, won't receive the same training as those expected to work in a household." Slaves could be moved around over time depending on how things went, or as they became more and more 'set' in a particular field.

"If you could provide some more insight into what skills you are looking for, I think I could determine a fine selection for you to choose from." That seemed to be the key thing here. Finding a slave who was strong and could do manual labor wasn't difficult, after all.
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Old Yesterday, 03:58 PM   #9
Rushnak Orog
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Rushnak was beginning to feel the usefulness of this particular encounter to be waning. The katta was putting on his best sales techniques and the orc was unsure if the signals were being missed due to social or racial misunderstandings or if the cat simply did not have any information of value. The description of the Frontier Slaves business model made sense to him, however, and it was interesting information nonetheless. Rushnak would certainly mentally tab the data for future use in case he were to come into possession of a person with potential value.

”Hm,” the orc grunted as he thought. ”Now? Smart. Help with search.” Rushnak decided he may as well see if there were any assets he could use. He knew the price would still be an issue, but decided there was little harm in asking. ”Looking for dwarf.” He added the extra detail again to see if there was any type of response. However, the orc had determined that the katta was a seasoned salesperson and would suppress any emotion or reaction to anything he said. Though, if the information he gained from the Governor was true, it would seem that legitimate business people in this district would want to help with such an investigation rather than hinder it. In fact, all signs so far had pointed to this Frontier Slaves operation to be quite the legitimate and efficient business.

Rushnak thought that perhaps an orc asking about a dwarf in a civilized town may raise some eyebrows or hopefully ring some bells. The races were not necessarily the best of friends, after all. Almost more of an afterthought, Rushnak decided to ask pointedly, ”You notice dwarf here, ask questions?” Why not try the direct route?
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