Everyone knows of the uneasy truce that exists whenever a Half-Orc seeks to reside in a non-Orcish village. Bartering, gifting, and sycophantic obeisance characterize the Half-Orc’s attempt to ingratiate himself into a community of strangers. Despite living peacefully in the area for generations, the Half-Orcs know their place. Drūl and his twin brother, Brūn, were no exceptions. Raised above their father’s blacksmith shop in the Orange District, both brothers were raised to speak the ancient Orcish dialect only when no other races could be seen within earshot. Whenever a customer entered the shop, immediate Common pleasantries fell from all of their lips. The feeling persists in their bones that they are one knitted eyebrow or pursed lip away from being chased out of their home by an angry mob, even while no villager in their lifetimes even hinted at such prejudice or fear. Nevertheless, the fear of persecution runs deep, and Drūl grew up hearing the motto “Nar kriran rak” more times than he could count. Roughly translated, it means “Do not slash at streams” – a Half-Orcish adage that suggests moving peaceably through the worlds of other races, rather than showing one’s more vicious nature.

In fact, Drūl’s parents, Ullag and Folid, had cultivated quite a trade for themselves in the more artisanal section of the Orange district. While other quarters of their loop were barely clinging to their livelihoods, Drūl’s father had built an enterprise of finest metalsmithing, and was often hired by Yellow, Blue, and even Purple District dwellers to hammer the most intricate pieces of weaponry, guaranteed to be individually crafted and befitting the unique personality and needs of its owner. Brūn and Drūl heard many times over the importance of the Half-Orcs to the development of sword, shield, and armor. While the Half-Orcs themselves need none, their expertise in battle lends them a deeper understanding of such defensive needs, and greater credibility in the eyes of those purchasing from them. To have a Half-Orc with such masterful skill at the design and the creation of these pieces is not to be trifled with, and Ullag lives more comfortably than most in the surrounding abodes. Both Drūl and his brother Brūn learned the family craft, and both have some degree of skill in it. Their family creed, passe down through generations of smithy ancestors, is “Stral thrakuubuk” – “The flint shall bring bread.” However, only Brūn received his father’s blessing for his quick adaptation to the world of metallurgy and smithy work. His prowess became a tool by which he could make his twin’s life as miserable as possible, in a competition for acceptance and success that only Brūn himself wanted to undertake.

Drūl was more sensitive than most Half-Orcs, and often heard relatives and family friends speak of the boy as “too human”, despite his hulkish appearance and brute strength. While Drūl apprenticed at his father’s hand, as expected, he never harbored any interest in continuing or expanding the family trade. Instead, Drūl would pore over the precious metals and gems that were inlaid into the finest weapons, and would think about their beauty and the clinking call they made when he jangled his rough hands through them. He developed an intense hatred for his brother’s mocking laugh, taunting him for letting the molten metal cool too quickly while he was lost in the swirling beauty of the metallic rainbow it made against the flames. Soon he found his only defense against his relatives’ disappointment was an onslaught of fury, irrational and undesirable, but the only reaction that seemed somehow to prove his worth to any Orcish blood that might course through him. At any rate, his tormentors seemed mollified that he possessed some strength of body and character, and his most malignant enemies swelled as they fed on the destructive forces their insults provoked. And rather than grow out of these rages into a Half-Orc capable of remembering his place and keeping up expected appearances, Drūl grew ever more likely to respond to a slight on his character – or a slight, real or perceived, on his fantasy world of color and sound – with a wild cyclone of violent frenzy.

It was with these dark energies that Drūl was set out to a mutt-cart station with a wrapped parcel bearing a set of daggers for a nobleman in the Blue District. As he neared the gates with his delivery, he heard the most alluring sound he had ever been privy to in his young life. A man was singing, alone, without payment or hope of profit in any way. His hands moved and squeezed a studded leather bellows, and this produced music the likes of which Drūl had never conceived of as he labored over the bellows at his father’s blacksmith range. Drūl, without forethought, moved closer to the sounds. He closed his eyes and emitted a throaty growl of pleasure. He reached out to hold the sounds, bring them nearer….and when the sounds stopped, Drūl snapped out of his reverie to discover the pressed corpse of the man, crushed to death in Drūl’s own eagerly clasping hands. To his left, Drūl heard the sounds of a guard regiment beginning a patrol, as Drūl’s hands dripped with his crime.

Drūl’s panic overtook him, and he blundered off down a dark alley and hid with the man’s body, hot tears streaming from his eyes as he shook the beautiful man and willed him back to life. When the man’s cold flesh began to gray, Drūl realized he must hide his crime, or face the banishment of his entire race. His was the crime that the ancestors warned against, the indignity that would prove the entire clan barbaric and unfit to live with others….perhaps unfit to live. Stuffing the carcass in a rain barrel, Drūl pawed through what few possessions the man had carried. With the 100 gold pieces he found, he could easily escape and find a way to save his family. He took the man’s leather bellows and a strange set of chisels and mallets in a rucksack. In the man’s tunic, he found a very fine wooden box, quite small, with a miniature portrait of a beautiful human lady in it, and the name “Faythe.” Drūl made an oath in that moment to find this “Faythe” and return the box – one day, far in the future, perhaps through his offspring, after he had secured safe passage for himself and was assured of safety. With that in mind, he determined to flee to the forests outside of the red district.

His journey has already been underway for many moons, and he has benefited from his keen eyesight. Finding a tunnel beneath the roads seemed to be a tremendous boon to this secretive traveler, had he not stumbled across this band of unlikely compatriots, who now hold the power to determine whether or not the socially-stunted, gruesome-appearing, delicate-natured fugitive will be able to escape without being the catalyst for a bloody, savage, and long-expected war on his own kind.


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