A leaf on the wind
Level 2 Oracle
Hush now, be quiet. If you sit, and listen a while in peace, I will tell you a tale the likes of which you have never heard. Look over yonder, there, by the door. Truly, he is too big to be a man, is he not? Indeed, he is not a man at all.
The Southland is brutal. That is the quality that defines it. The forests are thick in the air and thin on the ground because they choke out the light. What lives among the roots does so in the stifling dark. The mountains cut the sky like the ragged blades of titans, their sides pitted and cracked with caves and gullies. In summer the rock is bleached and burning to the touch, the forests more often than not on fire. In winter, the wind howls between the hills like a wolf that will end the world. The snow muffles all other sound, but for the drums. In both wood and stone, the valleys of the Southland are clotted with Orc as if they were old blood gone bad.
Kagath-ragan is a native of the south, and his people roam there still, clutching their ragged flags. He looks, sounds, and smells orcish, but his mother was not of the breed. She was a human slave, captured, broken, and kept by the Fractured Hand’s chieftain as a pet. The tribal shaman cast omens against her continually, but soon slipped upon a blade and was forgotten. It was only when the woman gave birth, under an empty moon, that the warnings were remembered. Speaking in tongues as a too large child emerged. Eyes rolled white. The breeze gone deathly still beneath a sky bereft of all but stars. The chief could not help but breathe relief when the babe came out as good as any, or stop short when one eye of the two blinked back a burning blue. His wyrding mother’s last gasping words, a vehement hex laid upon the night.
Fearful for their future but not understanding the magic at work, afraid to put a knife to flesh directly, the father simply threw the child in with the others, banking that its half-breed heritage would be an almost certain death sentence. But the child did not die. Winters came and went, and weathering every fearful dishonour and punishment of cousin and brother, the child did not die. He brought no more famine or plague than was usual, nor invasion, but he would not die like all the bastard sons of slaves that had come before. Some invisible and nameless thing in the air itself had granted him protection.
Years passed. The wolf howled. The world did not end.
The new shaman was cannier than the one before. As canny as Orcs ever are. Kagath took his trials not as a warrior, but as a shaman. Having been stabbed, beaten, starved, frozen, and put to flame throughout childhood, Torngat hoped that the poison reserved for new shamans would burn out Kagath’s un-orc mind- making him untouchable to the rest of the clan, but a harmless husk nevertheless. None could deny the effect. The half-breed became blind in his darker eye for weeks, was prone to fitting, carved marks into his skin that turned a hundred scars into a complex map, before losing the knife, finding it, and losing it again. He would talk to absent creatures in tongues that none could understand… and was eventually left behind, out wandering in the snow. The moon became empty again. The breeze went still, and then it came back. Kagath had forgotten every detail of his trial, but Torngat was dead, slipped on a blade. There was only one shaman left- untrained and undeniably broken, but the son of the chief, and cannier than the one before.
More seasons passed. The forest burnt, and grew again, and still the world did not end.
Kagath wandered into the hills, and has not yet returned to the South.
How he got here?
That is a story for another time.
STATUS: Last seen saying “I’ll be right back” before scouting ahead in some orc-infested caverns