On a searing Southern Periphery afternoon, Erestor and Elanthir found themselves on a scrubby bluff, overlooking the lawless pirate town of Vakarel. It was there, Elanthir had discovered, that Serge was rumored to make his home port. Exchanging a glance, the two Elves picked their way down a narrow trail and entered the city.
It was worse than they’d expected. Vakarel was once a gleaming port city, but time and the collapse of Mannish power had left it half in ruins. Great temples, gilded palaces, and Vakarel’s own walls had been pulled down to make rude shelters, to line privy-pits, and to ballast the low-slung pirate galleys that sold their spoils here. The Elves received no challenges to their entry, though furtive eyes followed them from every filthy alley and gaping window.
In the course of locating the harbor, Elanthir and Erestor came upon a coffle of galley-slaves being herded along by a driver, who was laying his quirt upon the unfortunate heads and shoulders of his charges with cheerful abandon. The Elves confronted him and bade him stop: his reply was too vulgar to relate verbatim – suffice to say, he refused. The noble Elves insisted, and after a brief altercation (in which Elvish steel was shown in a threatening fashion) the fellow claimed that Men in this town did what they would with their possessions; and offered to stop beating them if the Elves bought. Suffering a certain penury in Mannish coin, the Elves demurred. Raising the quirt, the slavey clearly meant to further abuse his charges, at which point Erestor offered immediate violence: the man then took to his heels, abandoning the slaves to the mercies of the Elves. Elathir ran him down, grabbing his eelskin vest and demanding the key; learning it was in the hands of the slave-broker, the Elf released the man, who fled, pausing only to issue a promise of retribution.
Erestor and Elanthir returned to the grateful slaves, whom they freed by snapping the bog-iron chains with their songswords. Accompanied by the oarsmen and an ever-increasing mob of armed and angry-looking individuals, the Elves made it to the harbor, where one of the galley-slaves pointed out the Pelerine where she rode at the end of the longest pier. Elanthir and Erestor moved purposefully to the pirate galley, and called for Sergei. The _Pelerine_’s first mate appeared, and his visage was just that of the Odrysian kings of old, except more confused and suspicious.
Erestor and Elanthir delivered their news, and needless to say the erstwhile scion of the Odrysian throne was a little skeptical. Nonetheless, seeing the men the Elves had freed, he took heart and helped repel an effort by the slaves’ recent ex-owner to reacquire them – the cost, though, was that the _Pelerine_’s crew would never sell plunder in Vakarel again. Thus began a split among the crew – Serge’s allies (many of them galley-slaves he’d freed) on one side, and career crewmen loyal to Unrath on the other.
With the Elves aboard, and unrest among the crew, the Pelerine sailed on the evening tide. The trouble intensified as the Elves convinced Serge to abandon his ambition to be captain: he agreed, eventually, but only after extracting a promise from the Elves that they’d help find a proper master for the ship. This announcement was greeted with cheers and jeers from the respective camps.