Not all societies are fair or just—rarely even the best-intentioned ones are. Humans in particular, but by no means to the exclusion of the rest, find a great deal of satisfaction or contentment in blaming the “other” for their problems. Not enough food? Some other race is having too many children. Not enough jobs? Some other race is willing to work cheaper. Too much crime? Things were different before they started moving in. Honestly sometimes I have to sit back and contemplate the good our society has also wrought to work up the motivation to keep fighting.
No matter the “regular” power imbalance in our societies I cannot abide out and out slavery, namely as practiced by the Drow and Orcs. Humans do as well, particularly down in the jungles of Chult, but in the frozen coasts of Neverwinter slavery is the dominion of those who survive underground. Expendable labor. Gristle for the mill. “Resources.” Whatever flowery language is used, the practice makes me sick.
I was less than enthused to learn that some orcs had broken into the basement of the Cloak Tower, and had been using the maze of tunnels thereunder as a base for slaving raids against the men and women of the north. Ignoring the fact that they made a bold mockery of our faiths by knocking over all of the statuary contained therein, they had arrived in such numbers that it had become dangerous for common citizens to pass near the Tower after dusk, putting the whole district on edge. The town guard were happy and eager to take care of any threats that actually crawled up onto the surface, but surely weren’t motivated to throw their lives away by venturing into the orc’s newfound domain.
In some sense this is what separates “adventurers” from common folk. Whereas the riches and treasure obtained from one daring venture into a dungeon might yield enough to ensure a comfortable, if modest, living for the rest of one’s days, there is no satisfaction in the job being over. There are always more depths to explore, other planes to visit, and greater threats to cripple. My mother instilled in me the idea that my work will never be done, until I have done all I can. There are injustices and dangers in every corner of the world—if I can’t see any I’m not looking hard enough.
Accompanied by a local hedge wizard who wanted to recover lost relics from the tower’s basement, I gathered my heavy shield and mace, oiled and tended to my mail, and took my first steps into the yawning darkness, hoping to bring down the leaders of the Many-Arrows Clan in order to restore some measure of peace to the streets above.
The mage who trailed behind me was quick to point out items of arcane interest as we passed through the quiet halls, telling me of the tower’s speckled history—first as a center of learning, then as a tomb for any who dared enter. There were traps in nearly every hallway, though the frequent scorch marks on opposing walls gave testimony of the unfortunates who traveled that way before.
I urged my companion to silence as we approached the alchemy labs; orc war-paint and cruel sigils were splashed on the walls, and it was not difficult to hear the guttural sounds of their native tongue from beyond the door. With a nod to the mage to confirm he was prepared—or at least believed himself to be—I kicked the wooden door off of its hinges, announcing my presence.
“By decree of Lord Neverember, Protector of the City, and by the laws of this land, you are evicted from this ancient monument,” I bellowed across the curious room filled with potions, reagents, and surprised orcs. “Submit to the peace and good order of society or be removed by force.”
A half-dozen raised eyebrows greeted me in response, before all heads turned toward the largest among them, an orc known as Makred the Foul. He merely laughed, jutting a finger toward the lab’s entrance. “Kill the human” he sounded in Common, intending for me to understand his threat.
The orcs took no time to draw their weapons and charge the doorway. Bulwarked with my shield, I stood ready for their assault, the mage behind me whispering quietly—if the gods and goddesses be kind he was casting a spell rather than saying a prayer for his life.
Not for the first time I prepared myself to serve my lords—both those mortal and divine—in the face of great evil.