Gareth mulled it over for a bare second, before realizing that keeping up the guise of friendliness with these mysterious people would keep himself safer in the long run. He nodded and turned to his crew.
“Be ready to sail at high tide, Setra and I are going with these men. We'll be back soon.”
And so the captives were hurried along, still chained to one another. At the head of the line, Gareth walked with the leader ahead of him, and Setra a bit behind.
“You're an intelligent man, Captain Southwind. I could tell when I first met you, or else I wouldn't have contracted you as such an important part of my master's plans. So I don't doubt you'll have no trouble understanding our situation and how necessary your help was. We found this island, uncharted and unnoticed, completely by accident. We were searching for a place such as this, and to stumble upon this island as we did... it was a one in a million chance, and we took this place for ourselves. Our boss said it was meant to be. But he, and we, are not content to sit on an island and farm or hunt until we grow gray and die unknown and unnoticed.”
“He has a grand plan, one that you may know fully in time. But it will be time before we are ready to show ourselves. Before we can, we must be a force to be reckoned with, and we need many hardy slaves to build for us an armada, a secure fortress, weapons, and many other things. We can't be impatient, we can't show ourselves early. We must be ready, and when we are, we shall swoop out along the seas, and no one shall be able to stand between us and complete dominion of the seas.”
Gareth liked what he heard less and less. Was this man and everyone else on the island completely delusional? They thought they had to power to stand against the Alliance and Horde navies, the goblin cartels, and the various pirate gangs that all roamed the seas? If these people were as crazy as they sounded, he was right to get out, the sooner the better.
As he talked the man had been leading them up toward the top of one of the bluffs facing the sea. They were above most of the rest of the island and the man gestured for them to turn around. “See what my leader has done in a few short years!” he said with his eyes shining.
In a valley near the center of the island, a fortress stood half-finished. The small figures of slaves labored along the scaffolding erected near the main building. A large village stood nearby, within the fortress walls, but whether it was for members of the ruling group here or for slaves couldn't be determined. Rock was being hauled from a quarry farther from sight, and along the sea-facing cliffs, enormous cannons were stationed and manned.
“We have worked diligently, but we could have not done so without your help, Captain. And you will continue to help us,” the man said, gesturing toward the seaward side of the cliff. Gareth followed the man's gaze to see his own ship far below, and bobbing about her in the shallows were what appeared to be...
“NO!” Gareth yelled, as he saw about half of his crew being chained up, while the other half lay dead at the hands of the same men that had walked down to the beach earlier.
He whirled on their guide, his hand reaching for the rapier at his waist. Several guns were leveled at him, and he slowly let his hand drop.
“You will continue to help us, Mr. Southwind. Though since you find our generous offer of slave-procurer to be tiresome, you will work as one of our slaves. And we will take your ship and hunt new blood ourselves. Welcome to your new home.”
With that, Gareth and Setra were both disarmed and chained to the end of the line, then forced toward the settlement along with the other captives. After a short march, they entered the fortress walls, and one by one they were unchained, then forced into a deep square-shaped pit. Once they were all inside, a lid made of criss-crossing sturdy metal beams clanged shut. They were all now in “The Pit”. It was a dirty hole that was used to weaken new slaves and break their spirits through hunger, lack of sleep, and the ability to hear the sufferings of the other slaves above them. Misbehaving slaves were also thrown down there to mellow for a while.
“Don't get any funny ideas about escape!” jeered a voice from above. “You wouldn't like to meet our slave-catcher or her pets. Actually, go ahead and try to escape, it's been boring around here lately and I'd love to see one or two of you dragged back screaming and twitching.”
For their part, Setra and Gareth felt a deadly peril surrounding them. Not only from the guards that walked above, but mostly from the now-unchained slaves around them. They stood in a corner, facing outward, ready to defend their lives.