Uraug Backbreaker

Half-Orc Monk

Description:
Bio:
Uraug Backbreaker was on her way home from work as the sun came up over Elturel. She was part tavern wench, part bouncer, and not paid well enough for either job, let alone doing both. But she did it for her mother. And because no where else would hire her. Even the cloistered seamstress guild wouldn’t take her in, the home of orphan and runaway girls for centuries. Uraug couldn’t even fall back on the oldest profession known to women the world around. The ones who would hire /her/ would only want her for sport. The kind of sport that would get her killed, or worse.

On her way home that gorgeous morning, she detoured to pass by her favorite shops on High street. It was much too early for nobles, or even the shopkeepers who serve them, to be out and about. She could window shop, and dream in peace. Shop window after shop window was filled with all of the beautiful things a Lady of the court could need. Then she saw her own reflection in those windows. Tall, with broad green shoulders, and black dreadlocks reaching down to her mid-back. She was dressed in a tatty, faded brown shift dress that reached to her knees, with worn leather boots which bore the evidence of generational hand-me-downs. She moved slightly to hide her reflection behind the mannequin in the window. The dress would have been much too small for her, but from this angle, it looked like she was wearing it. She let her mind drift to the Grand Ballroom, sweeping through the spinning dances of the court, a prince leading her around like a prize.

Her reverie was jolted by a sudden harsh voice at her side. “Move along, /Trog/.” They had come alongside while she was daydreaming, staying out of the reflection on purpose, probably. But the interruption of her lovely night out, combined with the filthy slur of her people caught her off guard and she simply reacted. She spun and hit the man in the temple with the back of her fist out of pure reflex, and regretted it instantly. The man- no, the city /guardsman/ crumpled like a sack of potatoes on the walk, and his three friends grinned at her, drawing billy clubs and showing their ugly, tuskless mouths to her.

-

She woke up in a cell, staring up at her father, Graktol. She knew his green face well, in spite of the pounding in her head, and the inability to straighten her left arm. She was confused and tried to sit up, but the pain in her arm shot through her and made her fall back again. “Dad? Where are-” He closed his eyes briefly while his face was still close to hers, and then his eyes darted to the side where she could hear movement. Suddenly her father barked a cruel laugh and shoved at her, hurting her arm more. ‘It must be broken,’ she thought.

“Ahahaha. This girl thinks I’m her /daddy/. Hey, how d’ya like /that/, boys?” He asked the room, standing up.

Able to see more clearly, she saw they were in the orc cell in the jailhouse. Half a dozen other orc-men shuffled around in the space. The whole place smelled of straw and dung. They laughed when her father made his announcement, and one of them approached, still laughing.

“Hey, maybe she wants a /new/ daddy, huh?” The stranger made to push past Graktol, but Graktol’s fake-smile faded and he grabbed the other man by the throat.

“Back off, asshole, I said she’s /mine/.”

Uraug silently cursed herself for being such a fool. Calling her father by title in the jail cell they shared would only multiply their problems. Things were just starting to heat up as the others chanted for her father and the interloper to fight, and the bailiff came stomping down the hall, his ring of keys jangling at his hip. Everyone calmed down and backed away from the door as he unlocked it.

“C’mon, you,” the guard said, stabbing a finger in Uraug’s direction. “I /told/ them putting a bitch in here would just rile up the rest. We don’t need this, and the one you hit don’t wanna admit ta gettin punched out in one shot by a girl. It’s your lucky day, now get the fuck out.” He hauled Uraug out of the cell and shoved her to get her moving back down the hall. She didn’t make the mistake of glancing back at her father. That would have just made it worse for him.

Out front in what passed for lobby, Uraug’s senses were assaulted by all the details she missed on the way in. Piss soaked floorboards, vomit caked in the corner, and decrepit individuals like herself here to post bail for their loved ones. She almost started to think being knocked unconscious was a blessing, but she had to wait her turn with the clerk to get her things back. She was sure her purse had been lightened.

One man ahead of her in line caught her attention. He was massive, and packed with muscle. He wore boiled and studded leather armor, with a short sword on one hip, and a longsword on the other. After haggling with the clerk for nearly a quarter hour, they came to some agreement on price, and the bailiff escorted the mountain of a man down toward the cells. Uraug was briefly curious about the man’s purpose, but ultimately it just meant she was one person closer to getting her stuff, and going home. Her mother would want to know dad was locked up again.

Outside, in front of the jail, Uraug went through her things and confirmed the one gold coin she’d sewn into the lining of her purse, the only gold coin she had ever possessed, was indeed missing. What gentlemen though! They had left her the copper. She spat a curse in the language her mother had taught her in so many mind-numbingly painstaking lessons, and started to head for home, but just then the heavy doors of the jail burst open. Out came the huge man, but right behind him was her father, in manacles. Uraug ran to the pair, big the bounty hunter held up a meaty hand to stop her. “Don’t, girl,” he said in a tired voice. Later, it would occur to Uraug that the big man hadn’t called her ‘trog’, ‘green-skin’, or ‘pig’. As far as she could tell, he was just a light-skinned, burly human man, but anyone can surprise you sometimes.

Uraug begged the man, literally on her knees, promising him all the money in their house, anything and everything, just to let her father go, but even in the act she knew it wouldn’t work. The man fixed her with a surprisingly gentle look, and places a meaty hand on her shoulder. “You got no idea how much gold your da’s worth, girly. This ain’t personal, and I’m sorry. But he’s comin’ with me. You follow us, and I’ll have to knock you do-”

“Never!” Graktol cried, crashing into the man from behind. The bounty hunter took one step forward from the attack. Graktol was nearly a head taller than the man, but the bulky muscles made him more than a match for her father. He jerked Graktol’s chains and in a flourish, Graktol was on his back, on the ground, chains pinning his arms against his chest.

“Don’t do this, pops,” the man said. Uraug had sprung forward to protest as well, but he knocked her to the ground with even more ease. She sat with angry tears in her eyes, while the hunter hauled Graktol to his feet. He spoke to father and daughter then, “It’s a ‘live’ contract, pops, not dead. And it ain’t for an execution. Dunno what they /do/ want you for, but someone’s got a real hard-on to see you again. Get through this, and maybe you’ll get to see your family again one day. Make this difficult on me? Well, lets just not make this difficult, yeah?”

They left on horses, and Uraug stumbled home in a daze. She choked out an explanation to her mother of what happened through bouts of sobbing and her mother did her best to console her daughter, but it was a difficult night for them. When it came down to it though, in the darkest part of the night, Uraug knew, she KNEW she was the only one who could help her father. She pictured it in her mind, tracking them, coming on the bounty hunter in his sleep, and slitting his throat. She imagined it a dozen different ways, but every scenario included the successful rescue of her father. She packed a travel sack, raided the meager pantry for some trail food, and left without speaking to her mother about the plan.

Running through the night streets, she left through the only gate that made sense based on the direction they were headed earlier in the day. She was dressed in warm clothes, with winter nearly upon the region, and she kept up a trot to help keep warm. Miles out of town, the road in question began to wind up into a mountain pass. Uraug forced herself to stay calm, and reasoned that the bounty hunter would have wanted to put the pass behind them before nightfall, and continued her march up, determined to not fall any farther behind. She was traveling alone, she was young and healthy, she figured she could catch up with just one night of hard marching.

As she ascended though, the pass became harder and harder to see. This was a road she had only heard of, having never traveled far herself, and soon the snow was so deep, even the cairns were buried. Inevitably, she lost her way. When the sun was coming up, she was deep in the mountains, unsure of the way forward, or the way back. She spent all of the next day rationing her food, and maintaining as much of a march as she could, given the deep snow and lack of direction. By the time the next night fell, Uraug finally had to succumb to utter exhaustion. She arranged some branches to make a lean-to shelter, made a fire, and somehow managed to survive the night, though unaware of the permanent damage already sustained to her toes.

In the third morning, she awoke to being prodded with a stick. The prodding was relatively gentle, but she rolled to her feet in a flurry, ready to defend herself. Or, she would have, if she hadn’t been nearly frozen through. Instead, she flailed, rolled, and landed hard on her frozen butt. Looking around, she saw she was met by three human women in heavy furs, wrapped head to toe, with just faces peeking out of fur-lined hoods. These three were accompanied by another woman, a half-elf, dressed only in loose traveling clothes, and open-toed sandals, walking without sinking into the snow. Uraug was so cold she could barely speak, but when the women offered to help her, she nodded her acceptance.

--

The monastery the women brought her to was truly a jewel in the mountains. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the valley was a warm, green oasis, several miles long, and about a mile wide. Up at one end of the valley, built partially into the side of the mountains, was the massive, square granite structure. Dorm style rooms, kitchen and cafeteria filled the wings, while the middle was a large open courtyard where most lessons and sparring took place.

Desperate as she was to find her father, it would take weeks for Uraug to fully recover. Arriving at the monastery, their physician determined she would have to lose the smallest toes on both feet, because they were already frostbitten beyond recovery. By the time those wounds had healed, she knew her father was much too far away to track. She wanted to see her mother again, but her despair was so great, she didn’t have the energy to travel even that far. Living with the people of the monastery though, she began to learn their ways, and grow a curiosity about the philosophies and beliefs of the order.

She came to know them as the Order of the Hidden Hand. They had orders tucked away in quiet corners around the world, but they all shared a common goal. Their membership was comprised almost entirely of women, a fact which is directly related to their Tenets.

1. Members of the Order shall always seek bring the darkness into the light, holding back the tides of evil.

2. Members of the Order shall protect any woman and child they are able to protect without revealing the nature of the Order.

3. Members of the Order shall work surreptitiously to further the state and status of women everywhere they travel, to improve the condition of women worldwide.

--

Days flowed into months, months flowed into years. Uraug was welcomed at the Monastery, something she was patently unused to, which made it so much harder to want to leave. The masters (mistresses, really) taught her everything she could learn. They taught her how to make use of the dexterity and wits that served her so well wenching at the tavern. She almost never spilled a tray, even when dodging the cruel pinches of patrons in the bar. This translated well to the type of fighting they taught, where fighting ‘smarter’ was far more important than fighting ‘harder’. She learned much about the world, through the lens of her Order of course, but she started to gain a broader perspective on things. She came to the conclusion that her father must be in a debtor’s prison, or indentured servitude, for instance. Situations that could be remedied, if she was resourceful, and patient. She also learned how she could improve her mother’s life in a dozen different ways, even staying in Elturel.

All of these factors culminated in another life changing decision, after she was approved as a monk of the Order, in the first degree. She could stay and train as long as she wanted, they said, but going out into the world would be much more productive. She could even pursue her own goals, as long as she kept to the Tenets of the Order. So she made a much more measured and thoughtful decision to leave this time, but packed well, and left in the summer. She would seek out her mother first, get news of her father, and go from there.

On the road home, she ended up traveling with a small caravan, but the bard traveling with them had many wild stories to share about the Corkscrew Mines of the Glitterark Mining Consortium nearby, and the Gem hidden within. He claimed to even know the secrets of some of the puzzles inside, though apparently he had never ventured within, himself. But he shared the secrets over campfire each night, which was entertaining, but Uraug kept her ears peeled for any kernel of truth. If she could enter the mines and obtain the Gem, she would be able to buy off her father’s debt, and put everything right with her family. They might even be able to convince a magistrate to let a family of half-orcs purchase some land, and a title, if the money was great enough. It would secure their family line forever.

When she got home, the first thing she discovered is another poor family living in her old house. Her mother was long gone, and no one in the neighborhood knew where she went. She looked up some of her old friends in the neighborhood, sleeping where she could, night-to-night, before she finally shared her ‘leads’ on how one could succeed in the Corkscrew Mines of the Glitterark Mining Consortium. Her friends thought she must have already gone, because the plan was just the flimsy hope of a crazy woman. Finally, she set out on her own, and had an adventure after all. Nothing went as she planned, of course. The whole trip fell apart quickly, but she did manage to escape with her life, and a bag of talking bones.

Now all she has is a harrowing story which no one but her newly reconstituted friend believes, the elven wizard woman called Vogel. She finds solace in friends new and old, and goes along with the plan to see if they can help that village up west. Her family is missing, so anywhere but Elturel is a step in the right direction.

Uraug Backbreaker

Rascals of Elturel theHappyAssassin