Hawken walked along jauntily, whistling a happy tune, accompanied by the clinking of the dinars in his pocket.
He'd had a particularly successful time of late collecting the dinars off of the rogues and thieves that had taken over Tiamat's
vineyard and now was heading to Alexandria to spend some of his hard won cash.
'Pondering on all the wonderful exotic treasure of Egypt that he could buy, Hawken was so deep in thought that he
almost didn't notice the scuffling behind him. Too late he turned, just in time for a strong net to be tossed over him,
engulfing him in its ropes. Hawken struggled valiantly, but to no avail. The harder he struggled the tighter the
net entangled him.
"He's a biggun." Hawken heard one of his captors say.
"Yeah, he should bring a good price!" chimed in a second.
Hawken managed to raise his head enough to see the three men who'd captured him. All three of the human
men were greasy haired, disreputable types, their faces scarred and their eyes bright with greed. Hawken realized that
they were slave traders by their talk.
One of the men pulled up a straw laden cart that was towed by a broken down old mule. The three struggled to
lift Hawken's bulk into the cart.
Despite the net twined around his limbs, Hawken was determined to make his captors feel his anger. He
may be tied up, but he wasn't helpless! He could still move a bit. The loud *CRACK* Hawken heard as he lashed
out with a well-timed kick at one of the men sent a shiver of satisfaction through his mind. The man howled in
pain, clutching his broken arm. From that moment on the men were careful to avoid the bound giant's feet.
The three men finally managed to drag Hawken into the wagon and covered him with straw, leaving no trace of our friend's
predicament. The cart started off, bumping and skipping down the road. One of the cartwheels must've had
a break in it because every rotation it jarred painfully and Hawken smashed his head against the wall of the cart.
About 20 minutes of travelling and they finally rolled to a stop. The straw was pulled away from Hawken's face,
leaving him blinking blindly up into the bright sunlight. Another man leaned over Hawen, measuring the giant as though
he were a piece of furniture. Finally the other man nodded, his scraggly, dirty blonde hair hanging in Hawken's face.
"25,000 dinars and not one more," the slaver said.
"B..but that's only 5,000 each," stammered one of the mathematically challenged captors.
The men haggled over Hawken's price for a bit more, until finally agreeing on a sum that made even Hawken gasp with
Soon Hawken was roughly pulled up and dragged onto the ship and down into the hold with the rest of the hapless slaves.
His netting was so tightly wrapped around him they had to use knives to cut it away from him.
When his captors finally left him, Hawken gazed around at his surroundings. It was a sight he knew well
and had hoped to never see again...the inside of a slave hold. The smell alone was enough to make his eyes water.
But the sight of the men and women, gazing at him with lifeless, hopeless eyes was many times worse than the stench
of this place. He recognized many races in this wooden prison, Celts, Norsemen, Centaurs, Giants, Humans and even a
Ch'inese or two.
There were 18 rowing oars, each with 4 rowers seated on a bench and chained together and to the floor. Hawken
found himself chained to an oar with three older men during the days. He was to make up for the lack of strength of
the other three. Each slave pulled oars for 12 hours, then had a 12 hour "rest" down in the slave hold where they were
fed just enough to live on and not allowed to talk or move around.
Once every two weeks the slavers would take them out onto the deck and allow them to bathe. The "bath" consisted
of stripping down to their small cloths and having buckets of sea water thrown on them, and then being covered in lye powder.
The stinging, bitter powder killed any fleas and lice that infested the slaves, but if one wasn't careful and some of the
powder got in the eyes it could cause blindness.
By Hawken's third week rowing, the other three men on his oar had become so weak that Hawken was doing all the work
himself. Unfortunately one of the slavers noticed and, stating that the other three slaves were just a waste of precious
food, executed them. No replacements for the three men were made so Hawken was forced to row all alone, doing the work
of 4 men.
Somehow, during this time, Hawken had incurred the wrath of the head slaver. Perhaps it was because he'd not
given in to his fate as the others had. He still had life and fire in his eyes and the slaver knew that this was no
ordinary person. The man wanted to break Hawken. Our friend had become a challenge to him.
One day after the slaves were brought back from their baths a plan began to form in Hawken's mind. He knew
he had to escape, it was just how. Hawken bided his time, hatching schemes in his head for the two weeks until
it was next bath time.
When the day finally arrived, Hawken stayed back while the other slaves were eager to get out of the stinking hold.
Hawken was still in the hold when the slaver counted to see if everyone was there. Sending the slaves on to the
baths with the rest of his men, the head slaver went down into the hold to hurry Hawken along with his whip.
Hawken, knowing the man would be soon be descending the steps waited off to the side of the ladder, until the man
reached the bottom, his back to Hawken. As the slaver's eyes adjusted to the gloom, Hawken hit the man over the
head with his manacled wrists, knocking him senseless. The whip flew from the slaver's hands and Hawken quickly
grabbed it up, wrapping it around the man's neck and choking the life from him.
Pulling the manacle keys from the belt of the dead man, Hawken quickly undid his bands and then, as a sign of his
triumph, fastened them around the wrists of the slaver.
The ship would be out to sea for a week still. Hawken knew he'd either have to leave the ship or find a way
to hide and avoid his captors for the week. He knew exactly what to do.
Finding his way to the dinghy that was lashed to the side of the ship, he sat the body of the slaver inside.
Using one of the manacle keys, Hawken pried one of the boards of the small craft loose and then slowly and quietly lowered
it into the water. The slaver was much smaller than Hawken, but if the little boat could get far enough away from the
ship, no one would realize that the form inside the dinghy was not giant sized.
Hawken released the dinghy to the tides of the sea. Then he quickly made his way back down into the slave hold.
The slavers would think he was escaping on the little boat, but he'd be here in the slave hold the whole time. They
wouldn't be searching for him, because they'd think he'd be gone.
Soon the slaves returned, an even more dejected expression on their faces than normal. They all thought our
friend had drowned when the little boat had succumbed to the hole Hawken had made in it and sunk. Not one of the slaves
said a word all week long about Hawken hiding in their midst. Some even gave him a share of their meager rations, allowing
him to get just enough food and water to survive the long week.
Finally the ship reached shore in Piraeus. The crew went to town for some relaxation and ale, leaving only
a handful of men to watch over the ship. Hawken easily slipped out and off into town, secretly vowing to himself
to return someday to set his friends free.