Small Packages: Slaver’s Galley
Having activated Defiance’s larger form Valen managed to whirl the double mace like a bo staff to simultaneously block a coordinated number two (high left) strike and number ten (low right) strike, and side step the follow up number 8 (deep lunge) but not the rapid roundhouse kick follow up Jared loaded a cold punching snowball spell strike that rocked him back on his heels. The old man was serious today. Valen recovered his wits in time to see Jared complete a spell that created a half dozen illusionary doubles of the famed hero.
“You fight well my son, but you seem to think that matters. Your enemies will not wait to see if you’re ready to fight, they will simply look for the most expedient way to kill you.”
Valen spun Defiance again like a bo-staff and launched into a spinning assault that would offer him many strikes at the price of true momentum, it cleared all but one of the illusions solidly connecting with his father’s shoulder with perhaps too hard a clip. Jared vanished in that moment to reappear with the tip of his rapier two inches deep under Valen’s floating rib.
Unapologetically, Jared withdrew his blade and flicked of his foster son’s blood. “Take a healing potion and fetch one for me while you’re at it. You need to stop relying on your eyes so much my son, or some clever spire mage will kill you one day.”
The words were a gentle but serious rebuke. Valen realized two things in that moment, it was the first time he had ever hit his adoptive father in a sparring match, and that his father had was pushing him harder today with a purpose.
“Something is wrong?” Valen had never been a man of many words, words came awkwardly to his lips. He preferred silent action, monks in his order rarely spoke.
Jared nodded. Before he could explain a messenger burst into the practice courtyard.
“General Ambassador, pardon my interruption but there’s a slaver ship on its way to the harbor.”
Jared’s face darkened, with deadly swift grace that Valen had heard tales of but never witnessed from his father, the half elf half goblin sheathed his blade into his walking cane, made a number of practiced arcane somatic motions and ran out toward the harbor casting spells as he moved.
Valen had seen his father shirtless enough times to know the brutal lash marks on his back, the brand on his ribs, and the deadly serious glint in his father’s eyes when the subject of slavery was broached. Jared had been a slave early in his life and few things infuriated him more thoroughly.
The bards told tales of Jared freeing himself from the southern slavers. His full elf wife was a former slave the hero had freed. Many of his men were once slave troops or caravan guards effectively stuck in a cycle of debt akin to slavery. He had fled north and begged sanctuary in Briar Hills for the price slaver’s had put on his head. Jared was worth six figures to those men, it would end up being the low bid compared to what the Imperium was willing to pay.
Jared became Briar Hill’s greatest hero. He was the high general of their armies and chief ambassador. At one point a mercenary company form the southern cities came to collect the reward on Jared’s head and their ships were burned in the harbor of Briar Hills. Since then no slave ship had dared enter halfling territory.
Valen raced after his father. No slaver would dare try to dock in the harbor, Jared was famous for what he did to slavers as he was for anything else. Valen fished a potion out of the pack he carried, it would lend him speed. He would likely have to fight his own father in more earnest if he was to prevent a terrible mistake. There was only one reason a slaver ship would harbor in Briar Hills, that reason being it wasn’t piloted by slavers.
Valen watched his adoptive father’s mental decline with silent distress. In the moment the man was deadly and sharp and with a little coaxing he could match wits with any foe, but his short term memory was declining and sometimes he acted rashly to cover for his deficiencies. Today that could mean the death of innocents, Valen buckled down and ran faster.