The End of the Beginning
It always started the same way.

He was sitting in Trubik's hut, surrounded by bone fetishes and vapors from the old witch doctors cauldron. Trubik was humming an old orcish lullaby as he cut into a rabbit and laid its entrails out across the circle they had scratched in the floor. Gryne always felt peaceful when he watched Trubik work his magic like this. There was a quiet primal power to these rituals that made the noise of the rest of the world dim and fade away. Just as he finished laying the last of the rabbit's guts along the lines of the circle Trubik looked up at him. Half of the old orcs face melted off as if he was being held up to a fire, and as he opened his mouth to speak blood gushed from his slit throat. "YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE, GO BACK."

Now he was running, away from shapes that shifted to and fro from a multitude of small green tangles of arms to giants made of metal to a swarm of leering laughing faces. Where was he running to? Where was he running from? Father's hut loomed up out of the darkness, he could feel the creatures chasing him closing in. He ran inside, crying out for mother. He ran left (no idiot go right she's always to the right) and burst into a side room calling out to her. He heard her respond in Taldane from the cooking pit (to the right told you) and spun around to run to her. He had to (stop) make sure she was (stop and LISTEN idiot) safe. She screams something (LISTEN) and before he had time to register something large and heavy (DAMN YOUR EYES WHAT DOES SHE SAY) hit him on the back of the head and everything began to spin as he fell...

fell..

fell..

falling...

Why couldn't he stop falling?

"Are you going to sleep all morning greenskin?"

Pork started awake in a cold sweat. There was an olive skinned human looking down at him as he lay in his hammock. Pork shook his head as he realized he was Gryne and grunted in response. The human snorted at him, "You been asleep all voyage. Figure you wanted to at least be on deck when we pull into port. We about a half mile out, captain wants you and you pig off the ship moment the gangplank hits dock you hear? No more trouble from your employers after that, you tell them yeah?" This time Gryne actually spoke, "Yeah ok sure. We'll be on deck with our stuff in a second. Let me wake up for gods' sake." The sailor huffed and made his way up the ladder leading to the deck. Gryne rubbed his face and he gathered his wits. The same damned dream again, they were getting worse. He knew that falling sensation at the end was a bad sign, you don't fall that long in a dream and not wake up. Groggily he nudged Pork awake with his foot as he gathered his belongings in his pack and slung it over his shoulder. Pork stirred and opened one eye to stare up at him. "Didn't sleep well either eh buddy?" Gryne muttered as he double checked that all of their gear was accounted for. "C'mon, lets get up on deck. In a bit we'll be back on good ol' dry land and we can maybe find us something to eat that isn't hard tack." The boar piglet snuffled in an agreeable tone.

After picking their way through the cargo hold and heaving Pork up the ladder, the pair stood atop the deck of the merchant vessel Sunray staring out at the rapidly approaching coastline. The port city of Wati loomed before them, its docks buzzing with activity as the sunrise lit the morning air. Gryne wandered across the deck of the Sunray dodging between moving sailors, Pork following close at his heels. He dropped his pack down and gripped the ships rail with one hand as he knelt to scratch Pork's head with the other. "Well buddy," Gryne said as he watched dock workers scramble to prepare for the Sunray's arrival,"it's the start of a new day. New beginning for both of us right?" He looked down at Pork. The piglet was giving him that odd knowing look again. "Sometimes I wonder if it's the magic or if you actually speak Taldane..." Gryne muttered as he scratched Pork's chin. Gryne looked back up at the docks and heaved a sigh. All of this had happened so fast. From the pits to the streets to the alleys to who knows where. Now here he was, the lone paying passenger on a cargo freighter arriving in a ciy he'd never heard of in a country he didn't know existed to find and sell artifacts to men he'd never seen. Some spirit quest this was turning out to be. What was it Trubik had always told him? "When lost in the spirit world, focus on the self. Focus on the how and why of you, and the rest of you will fall in front and show the way." "Focus on the how and why huh?" Gryne said under his breath. He let his mind drift back, how had he come to be here?

Gryne was born in the Hold of Belkzen, the son of an orc warrior named Rosk and a human slave named Mira. Rosk had taken Mira in a caravan raid, and less than a year later Gryne came into the world. Gryne's memories of his early years mostly revolved around his parents. He understood Mira was, to put it lightly, not happy with her situation, but she had treated him well enough and he had loved her like a mother. His father had been a mixed bag. Rosk had taken the typical orcish route of parenthood, taunting his son when Gryne was too weak to fight back against the other orc children. Eventually as he grew Gryne began to observe patterns in the behavior of his peers, and was able to outsmart or outwit his pureblooded orc peers. Gryne remembered clearly the first day Rosk spoke to him with pride in his voice, after Gryne had hunted down and beaten an orc boy he'd been in a fight with over some meat earlier that day. Rosk told him that he had wanted a half-orc son because "human blood gives an orc strength of mind". It wasn't long after, just after Gryne turned 10, the tribe's witch doctor Trubik took notice of Gryne and took Gryne on as an apprentice. Rosk couldn't have been happier, "Shaman's advise chieftains!" he would say excitedly when they ate over their cooking pit. Those two years working under Trubik... they had been some of the most grueling and the most rewarding in Gryne's life so far. Trubik taught Gryne much about the natural world and the spirit world as the witch doctor understood it. Gryne did his best to learn all he could. How to see magic, how to understand the value of loot, what plants would kill you and which ones were good for ritual mixtures, and even some minor spellcasting. They were just starting to cover the process of binding an animal to you as a familiar when the tribe was attacked.

Gryne didn't learn who they were until much later. Some plate mail wearing band call "Hell Knights". A large group of them attacked the village and, to Gryne's knowledge, killed everyone. It was mostly a blur, but Gryne recalled seeing Trubik die dueling with a man who was throwing magic fire, and his father's headless corpse lying in front of their tent. Oddly what truly bothered Gryne the most, and what he had been having dreams about recently, was when he ran to go find mother. She had shouted to him, but whether she was shouting because she was trying to warn him of an attacker behind him, if she was scared, or if she was shouting to his attacker to rescue her, Gryne couldn't recall. That one moment had stuck in his mind for four years.

Over four years of cages. He awoke in a cage on a cart, which became a cage in a city. As far as he knew someone must have seen him and bought him, because after another very long cage bound cart ride he was thrown into the cage that would be his home for the next 4 years,in the fighting pits. Gryne was familiar at the time with the idea of pitting slaves against each other in fights for entertainment. They did it often enough in the Hold of Belkzen. But he'd never considered it could be done on a scale like this. A massive underground dungeon full of animals, monsters, and slaves like him, dragged out day and night to fight each other to the death for the amusement of a bunch of pale skinned laughing drunken humans. Gryne was lucky. His instincts from the fights with gangs of orcish children trying to beat him to death with rocks didn't just keep him alive, they made him boring to watch. Gryne would run, hide, dodge, and do anything but give the crowd the bloody spectacle they wanted. After about a year of this Gryne became a staple of the pits, the young half-orc that would be dragged out on slow days as a sort of comedy routine. He was pitted against the dumber or weaker slaves and animals that had just been brought in so the crowd could laugh as a little green boy scampered under the legs of a much larger man before climbing up his back and throttling him with his chains. After almost 4 years in the pits he'd been around long enough he was even on a poster. One of the guards showed him one day, Gryne was depicted running away from a tiger in a comical fashion in the background of a placard depicting some of the more famous fighters of the pits. 

Cheliax. Gryne never wanted to see the place again. He'd learned their language eventually. The language the crowd often spoke in. Just so he could understand the jeering. Gryne figured eventually his owners would either get tired of him and pit him against something that would just outright eat him, or forget about him one day and let him starve in his cage. Then Pork came along. Six months ago a baby boar that had been caught when the guards went on a hunt was put in the cage next to Gryne, and after a few days Gryne had managed to befriend it. When one of the guards walked by and saw Gryne feeding the boar some of his food he laughed and told Gryne not to waste his time, "Kid, that thing is as good as Pork." Thus Pork received his title. After a week or two of confiding in the little piglet Gryne felt like he'd made his first real friend since as far back as he could remember, and the guards noticed that. In hindsight it made sense, Gryne was more of a comedy act than anything. Why not pit him up against the animal he seemed to like and let the crowd laugh as he was forced to either kill it or let it gore him. Death by piglet, it'd be hilarious.

Except they made the mistake of telling Gryne the night before. Out of desperation Gryne attempted something he had no idea how to actually do, he tried to make Gryne his familiar. The process was supposed to involve Gryne utterly dominating and crushing the will of the animal meant to serve him, so that he could force his soul upon it. Instead Gryne had offered his soul to Pork, sort of extending his spiritual hand in friendship, and bizarrely Pork took it. Immediately Gryne could feel a connection with Pork, but as he sat their covered in ritual runes he had drawn in his own blood Gryne realized something was wrong. The connection was too open, there was a "drift". He could feel a little bit of himself floating into Pork and a little bit of Pork floating into him. Not good, but it worked. The next day when they were taken into one of the smaller arenas to entertain the crowd on an off day, they made their move. The crowd'slaughter quickly turned to screaming when Gryne picked Pork up and slung him into the face of a guard, then leaped the wall and bit the throat out of another. From there it was a blur of angry guards, doors, then alleys and streets. For three months Pork and Gryne had fled through the underbelly of the city, and just when it looked like the guards were finally closing in on the latest hole they had crawled into the pair were pulled off the street by a man dressed as a merchant.

Gryne didn't trust the half-elf who saved them and brought them into his home. He refused to give his name, and for the first day wouldn't even explain why he was giving them shelter. But after they had eaten and slept the guard had yet to be called, and at dinner the next evening the half-elf finally explained himself. He said that he was part of an organization that benefited from helping escaped slaves such as Gryne and his porcine friend escape from the city (which Gryne finally learned was called Westcrown). They would be placed on a ship due to leave port in a few days which would spirit them fsr away from Celiac and the reach of it's authority. All they asked in return was that they disembark at a city called Wati in the country of Osiria and run an errand for them. Apparently they were allowing some old tombs in the city to be looted so the looters would sell the artifacts they found back to the city and stimulate the economy. The half-elf's organization stood to benefit greatly if those artifacts were sold to certain buyers within the city. By signing up for one of these looting teams and ensuring the treasures went where they needed to go Gryne could pay them back for his "rescue". Seeing no better option, Gryne agreed.

It had been another three months since they boarded the Sunray. The sailors hadn't been happy to have them aboard but as long as they stayed belowdecks and didn't get in the way none had complained. Without much else to do but think, Gryne had come to some conclusions. He wasn't about to exchange one kind of shackles for another. This was his first taste of freedom in years and he didn't want his mysterious rescuers to be able to claim he jadn't paid his debt. When they landed he and Pork would sign up for this organized looting event and get thr treasure to the right buyers as quickly as possible. But that didn't worry him nearly as much as the dreams. He had botched the ritual to bind himself to Pork, he knew that much. The strange lucid moments when they overlapped each other were becoming more common, and Gryne couldn't help but dwell on the horror stories old Trubik had told him of summoners and witches who ended up as one soul with two bodies. From what Gryne understood the both of them dying horribly was the best outcome in that case. So, to prevent that, Gryne had decided that this journey the two of them were on was going to be a spirit quest. Trubik had always espoused the importance of going on journeys of spiritual self discovery to aid in defining yourself in the spirit realm, and Gryne couldn't think of a more important thing to do now than define what he and Pork had become. Perhaps by labeling their travels as a spirit quest and Pork his spirit animal they might be able to strengthen their bond into something solid instead of a horrible twisted mess of consciousness.

Gryne was snapped out of his reverie by the loud thunk of the gangplank being lowered into place. As he and Pork stepped off the ship he inhaled deeply. This new country smelled hot. There was a dryness in the air that suggested the morning sun was about to make the day a lot warmer. Looking down at Pork he shrugged his pack onto his shoulder, "Well Pork, you're the spirit animal. Lead us to our destinies." To Gryne's surprise Pork actually nodded and began sniffling his way through the crowd. After watching him for a moment Gryne threw up his hood and moved to follow, "Or at least to our next meal..."

The pair were quickly swallowed up by the crowds of Wati.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6tu4wWSbnIs
Viewable by: Public
0 comments