Male Orc Barbarian
I don’t know if the gods hate me or favor me. I don’t remember much of my early childhood other than flashes of time with other orcs that were associated with torment and a lot of pain. One evening after a particularly savage beating, a male orc woke me from my slumber and guided me away from my dwelling and out into the wilderness. We traveled for a few days until mountains could be seen in the distance. He gave me some food, water, and a ridiculously large and heavy axe, and told me to walk towards those peaks and over them, and if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll live.
So I walked. I don’t know for how long, but my food and water were gone before I reached the mountains, and I wandered through them for many days after. That is when I was found, cold, hungry and alone by what I would refer to as my father, Yakob, an aging and kind fur trader. He brought me, near death, back to his cabin where he and his wife, Leah, nursed me back to health.
Yakob and Leah were good people. Although their lives had been tough, they didn’t resent their life or have any anger. Indeed they could see beauty in the world where others saw only ugliness. And so it was with me. I have three vicious scars running across my face, as if I was clawed by a giant bird, making me look even scarier than an orc (or half orc or whatever I am) would be otherwise. But to me, it appeared they saw right through my appearance to the individual I was underneath my skin. They raised me, an orphan orc, as a son. The child they never had.
I was not an easy child. I know this now. I had a bad temper and was prone to fits of rage. Maybe it due to being abandoned, maybe it was due to my heritage, but sometimes when I would get frustrated, or angry, or hurt, I would fly off the handle. My vision would turn red, and I would end up breaking and smashing things. It was hard on them, but they never gave up.
They taught me how to speak the common tongue. Leah taught me how to prepare food and a little bit of reading and writing. Yakob would take me out hunting with him. He taught me how to catch different types of game, to shoot a bow, to set snares. But what he really taught me was patience and self-control.
Yakob would take me every month to the local village to sell the furs we had collected and pick up supplies. I didn’t realize how different I was until we started going. People would stare at me, particularly the kids, when I wasn’t looking directly at them and then divert their gaze when I did. At first it made me angry, but Yakob taught me that they were just afraid of things that are different, and in this area, people still remember the orcish raids and hold resentment because of it. He taught me to look from others point of view and understand why they acted like they did.
They were peaceful years. A complete reversal of my earliest memories. I grew quickly, and after not too long, I towered over my parents. Yakob and Leah were good parents, they turned me into the individual I am today, a good and caring one.
Yakob didn’t wake up one day. He passed away quietly in his sleep. We were both devastated. For a couple months I took over Yakob’s duties, hunting for fur and food, chopping wood, and repairing the cabin. But the furs began piling up and the supplies, particularly salt, were running out. Leah was too old to leave the cabin, so I needed to go to town alone for both of us.
It’s one thing for an orc to walk into a human town escorted by a known and respected man. It’s another to walk in alone. It was immediately clear that the people, even though they knew who I was, were not comfortable with that. The stares became leers, no longer diverting their eyes. It felt threatened by those eyes looking at me, so I quickened my pace to the tanner we usually sold the hides to.
When I entered, he looked at me and asked where Yakob was. I told him he had passed away two months ago, and that I was now selling the furs for his wife. He paused for a moment, smiled a bit, and then asked what I had for him. I showed him and he offered me 3 gold pieces for the lot. I was shocked. We normally got more than 5 gp for all of these furs! It was immediately obvious that he was taking advantage of Yakob being gone! He was taking advantage of me and Leah! He saw that I wasn’t happy, and gave the excuse that fur trapping has been very plentiful lately, but I knew it was a lie. I wanted to punch him in the face, but restrained myself. We needed the money and I had no other place to get it.
I took the money and left the hides, storming out of the place and slamming the door behind me. I sometimes forget my strength, particularly when angry, the wood door behind me shattering when it hit the frame. The noise was loud and attracted all the wrong kinds of attention. Immediately groups of men stood and walked towards me.
It was not pretty, words were said and then punches were thrown. I broke at least a couple noses before they finally got me to the ground. There they kicked and punched me while I lay there, until finally someone yelled for them to stop. They dragged me, limp and bleeding to the center of town, where they put a manacle on my ankle that was fastened to a post by a chain, and secured both my hands to a length of wood behind my back.
There they left me. Every few hour a man came to give me water. I begged him to let me go, that I needed to get back to Leah, but he was either deaf or did not care. The night was cold, and without a blanket, I had to stand up and move around to stay warm. I shivered uncontrollably. If I had lay down and fallen asleep, I probably would not have survived.
The following day, as I sat against the post barely awake, two men came for me. The taller of the two drew a sword, and told me that if I attempted to run away, he would run me through. The shorter man unlocked the manacle around my ankle and then withdrew. With my arms still bound, I stood up and faced him. I did not like the look in his eyes. So I did what anyone would do, I ran.
I ran fast. I can run really fast normally when not this motivated, and today I was running for my life. I ran, with my hands still tied to a piece of wood behind my back, for hours. All the way back to the cabin I ran, not stopping to rest or catch my breath. And when I got there I fell through the door, my legs and body finally giving up. I lay on the floor for minutes without moving.
I would have laid there longer if not for the silence. Something was wrong. The cabin was quiet, and cold. It should never be quiet as Leah was always there. And then I saw her, unmoving, slumped against the table. I called her name and got up and rushed over. I nudged her with my arm but she didn’t move. She felt, stiff and unnatural. She was gone.
I don’t know if it was because I did not make it back that night, or if it was just her time to go, but I was angry I was not there for her. It wasn’t fair. Thankfully there was enough heat left in the fire that I was able to get it going again. I used the fire to burn through the piece of wood between both my wrists, and once it was separated, untie my bindings. I buried Leah next to Yakob. And then I cried.
When the tears dried up, I went back to the house where Yakob and Leah raised me and collected my few belongings and axe. Then I spread some oil through the place and lit it aflame.
I didn’t know where to go. North lay my past, so I went south. I traveled wide around the town that caused me so much pain, and then joined back up with the road. I traveled for several days, bypassing villages, occasionally passing travelers on the road. I could tell most were uncomfortable once they got near enough to realize what I was, though none threatened me. I gave those passing me a wide margin when they got close, I didn’t want to talk to anyone just as much as they did not want to interact with me.
On the fourth day I arrive at Illian’s Crossing. As I approached the gate, a guard called out asking what my business was in the town. I yelled back that I was looking for work and a place to stay. A group of armored men came out, hands on the hilts of their swords, and ordered me to give them my axe, which I did, and then pushed me forward rudely inside the gate house.
Once in, they asked me again what my business was. I noticed the flier on the wall, so I told them I wanted to join the militia. They laughed, and ask why I thought they would let an orc join a group trying to protect people from orcs. In retrospect, it was a pretty dumb thing for me to ask. They tied me up, and left me there, under guard, for a couple hours while they decided what to do with me.
It was then that I got to meet Prince Labaid. I did not know who he was at the time, but he interviewed me and asked my story. I told him about being abandoned, and how I was found by Yakob. I told him about Yakob and Leah raising me, teaching me how to hunt, and the common tongue. I told him that they had recently died of old age. I left out what happened at the village. He seemed to be satisfied by my story. He asked if I knew orcish, which I do, and what I would do if I encountered an orc raiding party. “Kill them” I said. He seemed to be satisfied with that answer too.
And now I find myself in a room with the strangest lot of beings I’ve ever met. Men and women, some with pointy ears and some no taller than my hip. It is a strange group, by something just feels RIGHT about it.