"Your question is both wise and betrays your ignorance." Ssark pauses and says, "Please, do not take that as an insult. I simply mean that as City-Dwellers you are correct to ask what is of value to my Tribe. Your first inclination however was an incorrect one, while we will gladly take coin in our raids it is only of value to us because it is of value to you. We have scant opportunities to use it for trade and within the Tribe it holds little worth."
Leaning forward the troglodyte explains, "Water and food are always of value, but your waterskins and rations are not enough to be of much good. If you have alcohol or pipe-weed, those are especially hard to come by and would be received well however little. Crafted goods are also beyond our ability to make, so weapons and armor, even lumber or tanned hides are worth their weight in water to us."
He pauses before finishing his explanation, "The thing that is of the most value to us? Slaves. Not because we put them to work, just the opposite. We are a Tribe of fugitives, I was broken from bondage as I was being taken to Ix. If you can arrange the escape of a gang of two or three dozen slaves for me to bring back to the tribe that would be of the greatest value, we are always in need of more warriors and scavengers."
Greil stands a ways away from the discussion. Having stowed his hammer and shield he stretches his arms to help keep loose as he listens to the troglodyte negotiate with the party. I have nothing much of value to offer he mumbles to himself, The only commodity i usually trade in is strength. turning to the spellcasters next to him, How about you? You got anything to offer or are we just going to bolster a bandit's strength?
Looking down upon his form, Rune just has to speak aloud to his companions the obvious thought running through his head. I have no reason to hold on to any liquids or recreational smoke nor ever travel with it for it would not be able to enter my system. The only way I could offer anything of sustenance for you is if you were a part of my traveling company and needed me to carry some for reserves. Stepping forward to look over the cliff at his allies, Rune speaks to Greil. As you say Greil, the best way I can help him and his tribe is just to add to his strength. Or I do propose that if you have any in your tribe who are willing to learn and are not completely without a brain, I can bestow upon you some teachings in the arcane arts.
Orion thinks serenely for a moment, "Then is seems we are an an impasse," the monk replies, "For we do not have what you want, we have no slaves and poor stores. I would not trade you my food and water, for they are not of much worth to you and I cannot live without them. As for trade goods I carry none, unless you are interested in a rope of silk or throwing blades.
"Though we may see slaves in our travels we can make no promise of their release to your Tribe. And you would not be fool enough to take such a promise.
"I think I carry but one item you may find of true value." at this he produces an apricot from his belt pouch, ripe as when it was picked off the tree, "This is no ordinary fruit. Rune and I found the tree that bore this fruit in a courtyard deep underground. Through shafts of stone the sunlight from the desert above reach the solitary tree, untended and wild for a century. Sacred to the Masters of that temple long without a name, this tree produced but a single fruit in ten springs. But they carry legendary powers of healing, the can bring back from the very cusp of death. Even more that that your tribe might be able to do what I cannot, plant and tend the fruit. Only the long lost Masters know what would happen then. But I'm not even sure if you realize the value it represents, or if you even trust my word." He then folds the apricot back into it's cloth and places it back in his belt.
Watching Ssark for a reaction Orion continues, "So instead I propose this. See to your dead, take their fallen arms and stores. Take your men and leave upon the desert roads that you know, and we will leave on ours. We will set a meeting, a time and a place. If we meet you there with men then they are yours. If no we will have been unable to free any to your Tribe. From then on we hold no bond on each other. I can offer you no more, all I command is that which you see out here in the desert."
Seeing Orion draw the apricot from his pouch, Ssark's eyes widen and his mouth goes into a wide grin. "I have not seen one of those in a very long time." It is clear to all that he immediately recognized the fruit, though he may not actually know its name. "Such things are a valuable prize indeed, but I have never heard of planting one in the ground."
Ssark's brow furrows, and you suspect that the apricot may not be enough until he springs to his feet, "Yes! I will bring it to him!" Looking back at you Ssark explains, "There is a Druid to the south-west of here, he protects an Oasis at the bottom of a ravine. His name is Luscott, The ravine is deep and concealed from sight, but at the bottom there is a spring of water, clear and sweet, and Luscott tends to small bushes and patches of grass in the shade. If anyone can bring that," and he says the word with reverence, "fruit to a tree, it is him."
You seen another light in Ssark's eyes, as if something else had just occurred to him, "We have long sought to water our Raids at Luscott's Ravine, but he fears that we do not properly respect the need of Nature's Balance. With this gift I can convince him that we are true friends. Your offer and insights prove to be a mighty gift indeed."
Ssark's excitement begins to wane as he contemplates the rest of Orion's offer, "When you are in Ix, you can expect many opportunities to lend aid to our enslaved brethren. When you do, give them a scrap of paper or cloth with your Tribe Sign and send them West two days. That should get them to Luscott's Ravine, from there I can return with them to the Tribe. If you wish to meet with me I will wait at the Ravine for two weeks and return there on the New Moon of each Month."
Walking to Orion, Ssark brings his right hand to his mouth and spits into before offering it to Orion to seal their deal.
Standing Orion spits on his hand and takes Ssarks. With his other he pulls the apricot from his pouch and hands it gently to the warrior and says, "May the tree grow tall and the children of your Tribe play in it's shade. Please show him our sign, that we may greet him in peace when we may. And tell him the name of the fruit, if he does not know. It is an apricot."
With that he parts way with the desert warrior with his unconscious men, and the party resumes their passage to Ix.