The human fighter (Jeremy) walked in because he wanted a drink and didn't have enough ceramic for a whore.
The halfling bard (Brian) walked in to celebrate successfully making it across the Tablelands from his home in the Forest Ridge. Tomorrow would begin his hunt for weird new plants and creatures to use in his poisons and alchemy.
The mul psion (Mark) walked in because the bar was open.
The … dog… (Larry) walked in out of curiosity.
There weren't many other patrons. It must have been a slow night. Just a thri-kreen, and no one really knows how to talk to those insect brains. So Mark, Jeremy, and Brian start to chit chat. It's clear from the outset that they have nothing in common and Jeremy's racism is just about piss someone off. The dog just watches to see what happens next.
As they argue and enjoy spicy bowls of stewed lizard and kank honey, a slave bearing a pot of stew crashes into thri-kreen. Hot broth sprays everything, soaking all their clothes in stinging heat. The soaked thri-kreen clacks in irritation. Seeing the accident, the innkeeper Timrol blusters over and berates his slave. He orders free drinks as recompense for the PCs.
“Clumsy oaf! I curse the day I bought you! My greatest apologies for this slave’s graceless behavior. Name his punishment., whatever amuses you!”
Mark, being a former arena slave, isn't particularly impressed with the slave's treatment and tries to get the innkeeper to lay off. The thri-kreen helpfully suggests that he could eat the slave if that is appropriate. The dog tries to nuzzle and comfort the boy before he is whipped back into the kitchen to fetch the proffered round of free drinks. When he returns, the boy passes out the drinks, scratches the dog behind the ears and leaves as quickly as he can.
After downing the drinks, no one notices that the thri-kreen isn't talking anymore. Then Jeremy's head hits the table. Mark and Brian feel really disoriented but remain conscious. There was something in those drinks! Timrol returns to the main room accompanied by a gang of dwarven toughs. "It would have been easier for you if you'd just passed out like those two, but no matter. Take them."
The dog initially attempts to flee but is cut off so she, Mark, and Brian attempt to beat back the assault. One by one they join the rest in unconsciousness. The hard way.
The PCs awake in jolting, rattling darkness, and are bound hand and foot. They are in the back of a wagon. Jeremy, Mark, and Brian recognize the thri-kreen in the wagon with them but not the very attractive woman in a red cape just coming around or the Elf scowling at them from as far away as possible. She (Larry) tells them all to stare someplace else and that they smelled better when she was a dog.
After several minutes, the wagon stops and the tarp is pulled back. The wagon sits outside the gates of Draj, on the main trade road leading away from the city and right outside the trade compound for the trading company House Tsalaxa. The group sees Timrol the innkeeper taking money from an Agent of the house. When the deal is done, Timrol heads back toward the city gates without a second look and the Agent calls for the wagon driver to pull up behind 3 other wagons that are beginning to pull out from the compound. One other wagon contains slaves. The final two are filled with trade goods. The Agent mounts one of the other wagons and the caravan is off.
After taking stock of their situation, the PCs understand that they have only their clothes. All of their equipment is gone. Their hands and feet are cuffed and chained with short chains of giant's hair rope making movement difficult. The wagons have only a rudimentary cover, and once the sun comes up they'll be pretty well exposed. They are truly up the silt creek without a paddle.
The first day in the wagon sets the stage for their ordeal. The slaves are only allowed out of the wagon twice a day under heavy supervision to take care of bodily functions. Food is meager and water is the minimum necessary to survive. Any attempts to escape from the wagon is punished with flogging. They never learn the names of any of their captors. Questions are ignored the first 2 times. A third and any further questions always results in a beating. Mark, having only just escaped his slavery, is driven nearly mad with being back in chains. He provokes their captors at every turn and winds up spending large amounts of time unconscious from beatings.
The first full day of travel brings the small caravan to Bitter Well. They were headed east and north, not west and south toward the rest of the Tablelands. That didn't bode well.
No one is interested in buying slaves here but there is active trading of goods. The PCs are not able to entice anyone to help them and receive more beatings when they try.
The caravan leaves for Ket the following morning and the trip takes two and a half days. The whole way north, the road lies right along the coast of the Sea of Silt. A few times, off in the distance, the PCs see a true giant, wading up to its chest in the Silt, but the behemoths are not interested in the small caravan and never approach the shore.
During the hours chained together, Brian, Jeremy, Mark, and Larry learn that the elf's name is Kyloth. But aside from the fact that he has intricate tattoos on his forearms, they learn nothing else. The thri-kreen calls itself kkjsdhf'ie,nfizn (but the q is silent). Conversation grinds to a halt.
When they arrive at Ket, the farmers need more field hands and bargain hard for all the slaves, but the Agent won’t drop his price low enough. In the end, half of the slaves (including kkjsdhf'ie,nfizn but not the PCs) are traded for enough of their grain to fill one of the wagons. All the remaining slaves are packed into the same wagon which makes things more uncomfortable.
The following day, the caravan leaves early. They overhear their captors talking about pushing to reach Fort Ral by nightfall. They do make it but the hour is so late, the slaves are let out to do their business and then promptly locked back up for the night. They stay in Fort Ral for a full day, trading with the garrison and other traders. The addition of a couple of slaves to the bunch forces the redistribution of the cargo and spreading the people over two wagons again. In the shuffle, one of the original slaves tries to escape due to the mental strain. In his attempt he manages to kill one of the guards before he is put down and executed. This puts the Agent in a very bad mood and he gives the slaves only enough water to avoid dying during the night but no food.
The next morning, the wagons pull out and continue north and east, but no one hears a destination and none of the party even knew anything existed up here anyway. They are all also suffering from malnutrition and dehydration so they aren't thinking particularly deeply about anything.
After two days on the road, they reach the walled compound of Azeths Rest.