Paths of Westholm
Half Orc Dragon Disciple
Drig is a slave. Now I do not mean he is simply a slave at the moment, attempting to free himself from his master, Drig is and always has been a slave. It is his nature. He has known nothing else and does not wish to know anything else. He was born as a slave, he will die as a slave, and though he currently is without a living master, his duty as a slave goes on.
As a child Drig worked in a mine. His earliest memories all revolve around hauling rock in and out of the tunnels. When he turned eight he was large enough to begin digging himself. Drig was always strong for his age and he enjoyed the relative simplicity of his life. He would wake, and work. He was good at his work, and from this he took pleasure. Drig knew he was owned by a Drow, but he had never seen him. There were many others in the mines, dwarfs, orcs, humans, other half-orcs, and even an elf or an occasional Dark-elf who has bet with his life on the wrong hand.
His life continued like this until he turned 14. One day he was down in a deep tunnel mining, as usual, when his pick came across a fissure. It is important to note that this mine was not a mine for ore, or any other reason common folk traditionally mine. This mine was in the deep recesses of Valdoreth. The Drow believed there might be some sort or residue left inside the mountain or some essence of magical power which would allow them either greater understanding of the Cataclysm, or power over the chaotic nature of the magic released that day. Because of this mining was a generally uneventful affair, the tunnels ran deep, haphazard, occasionally coming across natural caves which would then be examined by a village worth of slaves before they continued with their digging. But on this day the fissure in the stone which Drig found was different.
When his pick hit the wall, the wall seemed to bleed. Thick ooze began seeping out of the recesses of the rock. He of course called over his foreman, the Drow who was in charge of the mining team that day to show the abnormality in the stone. Immediately he was instructed to keep digging, break into this rock to release this ‘foreign’ substance. This might have been exactly what they had been mining for. With each strike more liquid began to appear, running thicker and faster with each swing, eventually a slave further down the cave began to scream as runoff began running over her feet, dissolving them to the bone. The foreman realized the danger too late and as he began to run out of the cave the wall burst open and the entire tunnel was filled with elemental acid dissolving the entire mining troop.
Now Drig is hardy, born with ridiculously thick skin and luck outweighing the best gamblers. The acid did not seem to affect him as bad as the others. He was hit full on with the initial torrent and it threw him up the tunnel with the force of the hydraulic pressure. But he was able to swim up the tunnel far enough to pull himself to a small acid-less rocky outcropping. Of the 100 some slaves 9 managed to pull themselves free, and all were suffering from horrible burns, missing limbs, blindness, or other debilitating conditions. Drig was the only survivor able to walk, he had only suffered severe burns over his entire body, forever dying his skin a deep rich forest green and removing all semblance of hair growth on his body.
When the Drow found the tunnel full of maimed slaves they were ecstatic, they had finally found some semblance of the elemental magic in the tunnels they had been searching for. The injured slaves were useless to them now, and they had plenty more working in other parts of the mountain, so they sold them in their slave market, marked down because of their condition. This was the end of Drig’s time with the Drow, he was bought by gruff looking human by the name of Fenris for 58 gold pieces.
Fenris was a wandering trader in slave flesh with a particular interest in pit fighting. All across the continent there was an underground network of slave fighting which appealed to the more bestial inhabitants of the country. In some cities it was far from underground and the main reason individuals would visit the city. In Drig, Fenris saw the potential of a crowd stealing fighter. Here was a half orc essentially morphed to look like the perfect monster. He was a deeper green than any other orc or goblin anyone had seen, and his skin was so rough and thick from the burns it looked more like a hide than normal skin. Immediately Fenris began to exploit this appearance by branding slave tattoos all over Drigs flesh as ornamentally and stylistically as he could to make him look even more bestial and intimidating. Now slave tattoos were common, they simply would be used to mark who the slave belonged to, their talents, and notable services they had accomplished. A knowledgeable slave trader could look at a naked specimen and tell you their entire ownership history, and know exactly what they were good at, so they knew what they were buying. Drig was covered in declarations of his brutality, ferocity, strength, speed, cunning, as well as large tattoos on his back naming him more beast than intelligent being.
With all this Drig was content. He enjoyed his time with Fenris, the outside world was light and large, with much more about it than the caves that he had known. The only issue was that with all of this pomp of his being a monster, he knew little of fighting. Fenris realized this early on as all of his practice fights involved Drig getting beaten to submission. Fenris assigned his oldest fighting slave, Curen, to teach Drig his techniques. Now the life as a traveling pit fighter was not an easy one. Slaves were lucky to make it into their 20’s let alone become old enough grow a few grey hairs and Curen was one of those slaves. He had survived battle after battle, to the extent that the other slaves would joke that you could count the number of tournaments Fenris had entered by the number of scars on Curens arms.
Curen was insanely disciplined. He believed in strict training, both mentally and physically, constantly. Every day Drig would wake up before the dawn, run for an hour before eating his breakfast. The next 3 hours were spent fighting with Curen before the caravan was ready to move. Next came the most grueling part of the day, Curen made Drig work with the the horses pulling the slave wagons. At mid-day he ate, then would fight for another hour, continue to pull the cages till they reached their destination, before discussing tactics and meditating to achieve calm and perfect control over his mind.
Drig had always been strong, but soon he was a beast in more than just name, he was a perfect physical specimen, almost ready to be entered into pit matches. Not only was he in the pinnacle of health, but his training included Curen’s personal brand of fighting theory. Curen had survived for as long as he had not through just out fighting every combatant, but through utilizing any means necessary to win. Curen was a dirty fighter; he would taunt, spit at, backhand, and backstab every chance he had. Winning was at the utmost importance, because in this profession, if you lost, it didn’t matter how honorable you were, you died.
When Drig was finally ready for his first match Fenris brought him to the ring in a cage. Drig was told to snarl and roar as they dragged him to the pit, they wanted the audience to fear and hate him. When he was finally let into the ring he was facing a fully armored knight, while he was naked except for a loincloth and unarmed, for what need did a beast have of armor or weapons. The fight itself did not last too long, Drig immediately dropped to the ground and grabbed a handful of dust, on the first charge of the knight Drig dodged to the side of his blow while throwing the sand into his helmets eye slots. After that the fight was one sided, the knight couldn’t see Drig as he jumped around the ring pummeling our armored friend till finally the combatant fell to his knees and yielded. Drig did not kill his first fight, not through his own choice, when the rival slave owner saw his property give up he ordered a volley of crossbow bolts to put an end to his poor business investment. Drig was the winner.
For several years this was his life. He traveled with the caravan, fought when they found a city with enough of a population to warrant a good fight, and trained whenever he wasn’t fighting. Drig fell in love with the discipline and simplicity of his life. It was hard, but he was good at it. This all changed when Drig competed at Bran’s Cross.
Ban’s Cross hosts one of the largest fighting arenas in Westholm, largely due to it being the center of so many trade routes. Every year they also hold a tournament hosted by the local lord to commemorate the cities heritage. This year Drig was going to compete as the champion for Fenris. Every fight promoter (or slave owner for that matter) is allowed to enter in their own champion for contest, the last several years Fenris had submitted some of his better traditional champions as there is no award for showmanship in this contest, just success. This year he figured Drig would compete, Drig had been performing very well, in the outlying fights, and had progressed to being an actual force to be reckoned with instead of merely a crowd pleasing gimmick.
The first few rounds of the tournament went well; Drig easily dispatched a dwarf who was better protected than a rock by tripling him then pummeling him to death while he couldn’t get up, and went toe to toe with surprisingly competent and mean-spirited goblin. The final match of the day was against a monster of an orc over 7 feet tall with an axe nearly as long. No matter how fast Drig was his opponent seemed to evade him and be far enough away that Drig couldn’t hit but the axe was still in reach. Exhausted and bleeding Drig was almost beat when all of a sudden he felt a rush of energy flood his system. His entire body seemed to burn, he felt like he could barely contain himself, with a scream he charged his opponent and connected a direct punch strait to his gut.
This punch not only ended the fight, but it changed Drig’s life forever. As his fist hit the stomach he initially felt huge resistance, like punching a brick wall, then everything yielded. Not only did Drig punch through the orc’s stomach, but following with his strike, acid had blossomed surrounding his fist and eaten through the body of the combatant. His punch literally dissolved his challenger. Now magic was known and accepted in Bran’s Cross, if begrudgingly, as the city was not controlled by the Dunnish, but they were definitely not overly comfortable with it, and combatants were not allowed to use magic. Fenris was disqualified, and asked to leave the city immediately or face civic punishment.
After being run out of the city Fenris had no idea what to do with Drig. Drig was now useless to him as a pit fighter, for magic is outlawed in this fighting circle, but as he could not control his magical abilities at all, he didn’t even understand what he had done, he couldn’t utilize him as a spell caster. However an answer came to him in the form of a curious audience member from the tournament.
Miguel Quihana was a travelling researcher and wizard, well studied in the arcane sciences. He was originally of Dunnish descent, however his fascination with magic had earned him resentment, hostility, and even outright hate growing up. When he was old enough to live on his own he had traveled the world and ended up with the elves of Shannilar where he studied for years the art of magic. Now in his later years of life he had been traveling the world looking for answers to his questions relating to the current nature of magic in Westholm. It was his goal to fix the magical currents in the world, and spread magic equally for all races and peoples in order to remove all resentment and fear that existed about magic.
When watching the tournament for a little local color and entertainment, Miguel witnessed the fight and immediately was intrigued. How had this brute of a being been able to channel magical power? Where had the power originated? If this creature was magical in nature, where was it from? And many more. Seeing the opportunity to answer these questions he set out to buy Drig, and keep him as a research subject.
Fenris was a thrifty salesman and saw true desire in Miguel, Drig didn’t sell cheap. After a heated negotiation Drig was sold for two thousand gold.
The next phase of Drig’s life was unlike any other he had lived to that point. Miguel was a fair and simple master. He saw little need to utilize Drig unless the need for magical probing arose. This provided complications for Drig. All his life he had had a simple job of one form or another. As a child he hauled rocks from the mine, later he was the one who mined said rock. When he was sold he trained, rigorously, and fought whenever was necessary. His entire life revolved around work, discipline, and duty, the concept of an ‘off’ day did not exist to him. Now that the majority of his days were his own, he did not know what to do with himself.
Initially he trained, continued a rigorous exorcise regiment, but maintaining his current peak of physical fitness did not take more than a couple hours a day. No one traveling in Miguel’s group was an overly accomplished fighter, so his pursuit of further training went as far as practicing fighting techniques by himself. The magical study which Miguel performed on him was his most fulfilling duty, and that would only last for several hours a couple days a week so as not to ‘over-exert’ his innate magical abilities. The tests themselves were simple, largely involving the instructions for Drig to stand still as Miguel watched him. In all honesty they were horribly boring, aside from the occasional chill or burning sensation felt somewhere on his body, there would be no change other than scrutiny and recording of said scrutiny. However, as boring as it was, Drig was necessary, and that was his purpose, to serve how he could.
Drig’s search for purpose lasted for several months as he experimented with different chores; hunting, cooking, and scouting to name a few. However an opportunity came one morning when on his way back from his morning exercise routine he found several scrolls littering the ground to the back of the wagon. Now Drig had of course never learned to read. He could speak both common and orc, as those where the most commonly used languages in the slave tunnels, but these scrolls were of a different language altogether. He returned all the scrolls to their original location, but noticed that several had been stained with the mud and other substances one found on the road. Having a free afternoon Drig collected several blank canvases and some ink and set about copying the figures from one sheet to the other.
The entire process took him several hours and when he was finally finished he noticed that he was being watched by Miguel. Miguel was intrigued, like many before he had assumed that Drig was more a beast than a being. A strong creature with innate magical abilities but little understanding of the complexities involved. Seeing Drig struggle to copy a scroll written in the ancient and often ridiculed language supposedly of the legendary dragons, he realized the true potential evident in Drig. After this Drig became a research assistant for Miguel. He would help out with all of the more physical aspects of the research while at the same time learning to read, and gaining a basic understanding of the nature of the complex magical currents in the world.
Together they travelled the world, examining areas of high magic and low, examining all the different species (even a goblin after Drig had managed to chase him down in his hole and trap him in a net) for inherent magical potential, and attempting to gain a general pattern and scientific reason for the magical inconsistency. The others in the group varied greatly over the years, primarily made up of elf and human wizards and scholars, Miguel’s traveling band represented an escape where those who respected and understood magic could gather to discuss, learn, and generally exist around like minded people.
Drig became a constant in Miguel’s life, his right hand man, and key research assistant. Together they explored and trained Drig’s innate magical abilities so that he could understand and direct his powers, minor though they were, towards what he wished. Always having a greater tendency towards forming balls or streams of acid Drig did not understand some of the more delicate aspects of magic, but he was always willing to work and strive towards better understanding. It was Drig’s dedication which initially sparked an idea in Miguel’s mind which would forever change both their lives.
Dragons had always fascinated Miguel, they were his ‘not so secret’ hobby. Everywhere they went they would search for information regarding magic and then once their research was done, dragons. Miguel believed quite firmly that there was some link between these ancient beasts and the magic of old. No one living had seen a dragon, and most of the legends regarding these magical creatures dated back to the cataclysm. If the dragon’s existence somehow was tied to the consistency of magic, and once all had gone haywire the dragons had slowly died out, maybe there was some knowledge they could find regarding the link between these legendary creatures and the secret to fixing the magical inconsistency of the world.
If they were able to recreate the essence of the dragon inside of one with the inherent magical abilities of Drig, they would be granted a better understanding of how the magical currents related to living things. If it worked it would both prove a link to the dragons of old and magic, while also presenting a being that had the same relation to magic as a dragon. Once this process was complete they could use Drig to help discover the means to solidify the magical currents in the world.
When this idea was proposed to Drig, Miguel was shocked to hear his simple response of ‘of course’. This was a potentially life threatening procedure which had countless risks not even considered, but while Miguel had come to see Drig as more of an associate and friend, Drig still saw himself as a slave first. He was devoted to doing what his master wished, and while he both loved and respected him, his first priority was to serve.
In preparation for the procedure Miguel developed two magical objects to help with the transformation; A short robe (in appearance it seemed more a light jacket) which would help focus the inherent magical powers, and a girdle which would help stabilize Drig’s body, helping him withstand the inherent physical changes which were bound to appear.
When the day of the experiment came the troupe of wizards and scholars, numbering close to 30 individuals at this time gathered in an area of high magical energy in the planes between Laketown and Dunnsdam. All preparations had been made, and a large platform of obsidian stood in the middle of their testing ground. A circle of wizards, who would be involved in the process, stood surrounding the platform headed up by Miguel himself. As Drig mounted the platform he had the sudden realization that this one act of his was more important than anything else he had ever done. If this experiment was successful he could finally feel accomplished, and maybe relax with the realization that be had successfully completed his duty to his master.
Drig was strapped to a mount on the center of the platform and the casting commenced. At first the changes were minor, Drig noticed that he felt both stronger and more powerful, while at the same time agile and light as a feather. Then he began to feel burning all along his body, exactly like he had five years earlier when he had thrown that fateful punch. Then he grew. He felt himself doubling in size, felt wings tearing out of his back and felt his arm growing long and his fingers sharpening. Then, when he felt that the buildup of magic was finally coming to a point, he felt a sharp pain in his chest.
Looking down he noticed that with his amazing growth all of a sudden an arrow had appeared in his chest. Also, not only had an arrow appeared in his chest, but three of the wizards had fallen to the ground littered with shafts out their backs.
A group of Dunnish knights had heard of this wizards circle and had deemed the deed ‘evil’. They had ridden out to find a group of wizards chanting around a monster and had decided very quickly that the only safe course of action was to kill everyone present. This they did, with rigorous attention to detail.
After the circle of wizards was broken Drig felt all the magic in him dissipate. This created such a shock to his system that he fainted straight away. In his dream that followed he was a Dragon, flying high above the countryside carrying on his back Miguel. They flew over lakes and mountains, forests and swamps. Then finally far in the distance they saw the mountain of Valdoreth. Miguel leaned towards Drigs ears and whispered ‘That is where you’re from, that is where you will find yourself, but only once my work is done’ and immediately Drig woke.
He was surrounded by devastation; Miguel’s entire travelling troupe was dead. He saw several corpses of Dunnish knights as well, but it looked like the element of surprise had been with them and the wizards had not been able to rally themselves for a fight until half their number was already dead. Drig pulled the arrow out of his chest and saw that he was still shrinking into his normal self; it seemed that the entire raid had taken place while he looked like a monster that had died with the first arrow sent into his heart. Crawling through the wreckage Drig searched for Miguel.
Eventually he found him. It looked like Miguel had lasted after the initial wave, he was braced up against the wagon, speared to the cart with one of the longest spears Drig had ever seen, yet surrounding him were 3 dead knights covered in welts and burns. Drig remembered his dream and at that moment decided that from then on out he would take no other master, he belonged to Miguel. Until Miguel’s research was done Drig would continue, he would search out new wizards and scholars, and travel the world until he or someone else was able to understand the magic of this broken world, and fix it.
Drig took stock of his possessions; he still had his girdle, but his robe had been removed, likely stolen by one of the knights, he would need that back. He collected a backpack with basic supplies and several javelins which littered the ground. Then he walked forward and pulled the spear from Miguel’s gut. His job was to continue Miguel’s research, but looking down at the soldiers he realized he had another goal he needed to do first. All the knights bore the same symbol on their tabards shields and capes, a wolf holding the sun in its mouth. Before his finished Miguel’s experiment, he was going to shove that spear into that wolf’s mouth just as it had been shoved into Miguel, and if need be, he’d stick it through the sun first.
• Masterwork Long Spear
• 5 Javelins with quiver
• Backpack with bedroll
• Water skin
Gifts from Miguel:
• Belt of Physical Might (+2 Str/Con) - In Drig’s possession
• Robe of Arcane Heritage - Stolen by the Dunnish