Give Me Freedom, Oar Else. (Graded)

Woe on a Slave Galley

29th of Cylus 718

The Orm'del Sea is an ocean that separates Eastern and Western Idalos. It is said to have many horrors awaiting those that wish to travel through its waters.
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Woe
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Give Me Freedom, Oar Else. (Graded)

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29th Trial of Cylus, Arc 718
Continued from here...
It took 90 slaves to man the 15 oars on either side of the galley frigate Tyrant that bore them to Etzos. Of course, there were more slaves than the ones manning the oars. The overseers granted them each four hours shifts for sleeping, whereupon they would rest beneath the bench of the next slave up. In the later hours, if a slave had to relieve themselves they either had to do it on the cusp of a break. Else, they would make them to do it in the middle of their shift, showering some poor unfortunate lying beneath their bench with their filth. It was a terrible prospect to anyone. To those accustomed to treatment as chattel, it was a mere fact of life. From the master's point of view, it was necessary to weed out the sick and weak. Many slaves got thrown overboard for the sea creatures plying the waters around them for food.

Woe managed to control most of his urges, thus far. In either an expression of good will to his fellows, or else a lingering trace of personal pride and decorum.

"I only got three years more of transportation, then I'll be back in Andaris." Woe's neighbor said, as a way of encouraging himself through the arduous task. The torturer could hear him over the din of the drums resounding from either end of the ship's keel. Their overseers were burly and well fed by the look of them, but reflected the hopelessness of many of the slaves. Their faces were masks of indifference. Some of them even wore literal masks, as a way of intimidating the men and women under their charge. "Or I'll look for my fortune elsewhere. I'm still only twenty-seven, I can make something of myself..."

"Why were you sentenced for transportation?" Woe asked, curious.

The young haggard man replied, "Rape and banditry." He shrugged, "I've been on transport duty for seven years."

The torturer looked away from the young man, who turned to face him as they continued to row at the clip dictated by the drumbeats. "I'm Yeoman. Who are you? Your accent sounds familiar."

"I'm Woe, from Andaris."

A sharp crack of the cat-o-nines snapped at the two speakers. "Back to work, no talking slaves!" One of the overseers passed them by, put them off for more conversation after that point.

"I'm no slave!" Yeoman muttered loud enough for Woe to make his words out. The overseer's back was to them at that point, so he didn't hear them.

"I've known many people sentenced to transportation. You're lucky some guardsman didn't smuggle you into slavery." Woe muttered in the same cadence and tone as Yeoman. He was trying to keep his volume down to evade detection by any other overseers. "Still, most die on ships like this before serving their sentence..." Woe had a game going here.

Ever since his expulsion from Augiery, and traded to a slaver out of Athart, he'd been dreaming and thinking. Wheels were turning in his mind to find a scenario where he might regain his freedom once more.
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Give Me Freedom, Oar Else.

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30th Trial of Season, Arc 718
Woe let that seed of disappointment fester. He didn't bother with Yeoman after that first exchange. In the meantime, he took stock of others on the boat.

There were a mix of slaves out of Augiery, who were fit enough to work, while demoralized by their time in that dark state. There were others from a stop over in Athart, brought in by Avriel slavers. Most of them were rather defiant. Thus it seemed that the Avriel lacked the patience or ability to socialize their slaves. These Woe became more acquainted with as the days went on. He wanted to know their motivations, their dreams, their plans. Most important, he wished to impress on them in an indirect way, that their hopes were fruitless. He felt that their collective temperament would prompt them to violence later.

While he slept, he tried to dream of all the ways his plans could go if executed. There was an ideal outcome, that of overthrowing the entire boat's compliment of traffickers. Then there was the least favorable, where the slaves who rebelled would get thrown overboard, chains and all. These thoughts haunted his sleep, almost as much as the idea of vengeance against the one who'd duped him into slavery.

He'd have been better off without Emma Heen in his life. If only he'd carried out his initial plan. She'd played on his sympathies, robbing him of the bounty and depriving him of freedom. He would see her head on the chopping block one day. Wherever she had gone, he would find her.

A large Avriel shook Woe out of near-sleep, buffeting his wings and screeching in his strange language. Woe recoiled from the vile creature, but stood to attention as it cracked a cat of nine-tails over him. Nobody knew the creature's name on the ship, among the slaves. They'd taken to calling him Rooster, albeit in hushed tones so that the birdman wouldn't catch wind.

As the creature lurched away, down the row and waking the rest of the slaves, Woe eyed the weapon Rooster wielded. He made a silent promise to himself then, that he would own that weapon and make it his.

This day, the traffickers sent Woe along with a few others to the top deck, for sweeping and cleaning the area. On occasion they were set to the task of fixing the rigging, or bolstering the crew's efforts to man the ship.

A young Biqaj approached Woe, a friendly yet apprehensive expression on her face. "Are you one of the galley slaves?" It was then that Woe noticed the brand on her, which shone silvery for the different colored blood in her veins. He nodded yes to her. "We're about one hundred and twenty strong down there. The men from Augiery are strong but docile, while the slaves out of Athart are lazy and surly."

She leaned on one hip, chuckling a bit. Her voice lowered in pitch, "A shame we can't overcome the marines and enforcers here. I've counted around a score of them. Between you galley grunts, and the rest of us, we could take this ship anywhere."

Woe shrugged. She seemed crestfallen at his reaction. "Don't tell me you've given up on freedom?"

The torturer had met a few biqaj in his time. He knew how high they valued their freedom, with the ability to dock at any port anywhere.

They walked over toward the rigging, and Woe made a show of pretending to ask her how it worked. "Pretend you're showing me how to fix the rigging, and we'll see what we can do about not giving up."

She quirked an eyebrow, but did as he said, showing him how to loosen the ropes and then set them to open the sails. He continued, "If it's possible, you and the others on the deck can make the difference. How would you like to be the brand new owner of a prime galley frigate?"

"I somehow doubt you're carrying the deed to this ship in the folds of those rags you're wearing."

"No, but I know at least one who might be persuaded, with the proper inducement."

Woe shrugged, "I'll be blunt, I need you and the rest of the deck slaves to produce an accident. And the sooner it happens, the better."

"Then what? We'll get chain-ganged off the starboard bow!" She whispered in harsh tones, to evade the attention of Rooster.

"We've got a century of muscle below deck. I've had them stewing in their juices. Bandits out on transportation. Augiery slaves who are just looking for a spark to light their way out of this hole. Athart slaves that endured worse caretakers than Rooster, and have the temper to match. We're all waiting for a chance. It won't happen with how smooth things have been going on this ship."

She sighed, "Fine, I'll see about it."

"Twenty breaks, then we'll be ready to make our move."

So saying, Woe approached Rooster, who brandished his cat'o nines over his shoulder.

Woe flinched in obedience, "Please master, may I go back to the galleys?"

The creature spoke some in it's vile tongue, squaking at him and then relenting, but not before whipping him on the shoulder as a parting gift.
-------------------------------------
Twenty breaks passed by. Nothing happening yet, but Woe had faith in the Biqaj's ability to throw the ship into disarray. If anyone could maneuver an accident at sea, it had to be either a Biqaj or Mer.

Meanwhile, Yeoman was his neighbor at the oars once more. He was looking a mix of angry and glum. Woe spoke to him, "So, have you had time to reflect on your good fortune, Yeoman?"

Yeoman grumbled, and looked away. Rooster was walking by them at that point, shouldering his cat'o nines, and staring them down. After he passed Woe spoke more, "There's going to be an accident."

Yeoman seemed not to hear, but in a trill or two, he responded, "A what?"

"The ship will jostle, or a fire will start, or the sails will go awry. However it happens, this ship is going to stop. If you want to see the light of day again, you'll follow my lead."

In all the time that had passed since Yeoman spoke to Woe, the bandit had been commiserating with his fellow captives. He'd imparted Woe's demotivational story about how galley slave rarely saw freedom again. Even those who were sentenced to transportation by a court of law. They had the criminals ready to revolt.

The Athartian slaves were already hardheaded enough for a rebellion, and so it was probable that they were ready to go. All the Augiery slaves needed was a clue of hope. Woe was wagering much of this plan on the Augiery slaves' rising up. They were strong. But they needed one who could lead them to overthrow this ship of its score of enforcers and overseers.

Yeoman frowned at him, "Follow your..." Then it happened.

A cry of Anchor's away echoed across the water and back toward the ship, and the sound of chains being thrown overboard. The ship turned on its axis and ground to a sudden halt, throwing everybody off balance.

Woe didn't wait too long after regaining his footing, before running after Rooster. Yeoman wasn't far behind him, having taken Woe's clue after a few trills.

Yeoman charged ahead, taking Rooster low in his body, while Woe tackled him from above, attempting to wrest the cat'o nines from his grasp.

The animalistic bird man gouged Yeoman's eyes with it's claws, screeching bloody murder. The rest of the scene was chaos as the Athartians, Augiery slaves, and biqaj from above sought to overthrow the crew.

Woe had a weapon back in his hands, after so much time.
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Re: Give Me Freedom, Oar Else.

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30th Trial of Cylus, Arc 718
With that weapon, he would scour the flesh from anyone standing between him and his freedom. A slave no longer, but a revolutionary and a would be mutineer captain, he went into action. With his newfound freedom of movement, he wrestled with Rooster. A swift arm lock saw to it that the claw that gouged at Yeoman's eye relinquished it's grip. Yeoman stood, his one eye bloodied and ruined. Woe held Rooster down, kneeing, biting, and gouging in the bloodied decks of the galley. Yeoman meanwhile stomped on his stomach, his solar plexus. Finally, when they had cowed the Rooster with their dual abuses, he smashed in the avriel's face with a loose wooden board.

This done, they rose, Yeoman helping Woe to his feet. They could hear the sounds of waning battle from above. Their struggle had come to a head quick, it seemed, and the biqaj saboteurs had done their work well. The shock of the anchor dropping under full sail had wrenched most of the crew off. The rest the enslaved biqaj saboteurs overcame with sheer numbers. It wasn't long before the sharks banquet had been set, as the biqaj put it. Thus the mutinee was over in a manner of breaks.

There was some damage to the ship, as one would expect, yet the biqaj knew how to make repairs at sea if anyone did. The galley benches served as repair materials for much of the carpentry. It took a day, but soon enough the ship was right for travel.

Woe and Yeoman rose from below decks to meet the slaves on the upper decks. They convened over the food that the crew had meant to dine on. It had been too long since Woe had tasted anything other than gruel or the mystery meats of Augiery.

He sat quiet while the biqaj and Yeoman chattered among themselves.

One of the formerly enslaved seamen spoke up, "We'll need a command structure, if we're to survive for long up here."

Yeoman piped up there, "I elect Woe, the man who orchestrated our mutiny. You all owe your freedom to him. I've watched all the while that we've traveled between ports, as he sown the seeds of rebellion among us. He cast doubt among the crew members, and negotiated among the different groups of slaves that make up our new crew. He may not be a great seaman, but he will be good in whatever crises follow from here on out."

The biqaj mumbled to each other in their language for a few moments. Before too long, they chimed in finally in the common tongue, "Very well. So long as he defers all matters of piloting this vessel to us. He ought to be second in command, quartermaster. Our friend and comrade Valogh will be captaining the vessel, though."

Before Yeoman could object, Woe nodded, "That's acceptable." Afterall, the former slave knew nothing of captaining a vessel, let alone navigating to someplace where he might find safe harbor.

Thus the slaves of the galley attained their freedom, and set about deciding on how to find safe harbor.
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Tristan Venora
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Re: Give Me Freedom, Oar Else.

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Woe:

Knowledge:
Endurance: Working the oars for hours at a time
Psychology: Assessing the motivations of your subjects
Psychology: Divesting a broken man of a shred of hope
Tactics: Executing and instigating a mutiny
Tactics: Overthrowing a better equipped force with greater numbers
Unarmed: Arm lock/half-nelson

Loot: A scourge (Whip)
Injuries: Bumps, Bruises, and lascerations that should heal by the time Woe makes landfall.
Renown: N/A
Magic XP: N/A

Points: 10
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Comments: This was kind of dark – but well-written!

I found it shocking how freely the young haggard man admitted to being a rapist.

I wonder if Woe ever committed a crime or if he’s just an unlucky bastard that ended up in Augiery before he was sold into slavery.

I hope there’ll be a sequel. I want to find out if they'll find a safe harbor!

Enjoy your rewards!

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