The Obsidian Spire
Half-Orc Thief. Unlike most, his Orcish heritage is not obvious, possibly because the other half is Elvish.
Standing in the coffle of prisoners, shackled by wrists and ankles, I began to reflect on how I’d come to this station. Just as I was getting a good reminiscence on, some mewling, tear-streaked, pitiful excuse for an Elf was half-carried, half-drug past us into the Chamber of the Vine.
I smiled to myself, the fellow probably imagined that he was going to be drawn and quartered or decapitated in the Chamber out of hand. Obviously, he hadn’t been paying attention to current events in the fair city of Winecrest. Which brought me back to how I’d gotten here.
Growing up in the Winecrest ghetto is rough for anyone, it’s even rougher growing up as a half-orc and particularly when the other half is Elven. All the baggage, none of the bulk. Lucky me. I must admit that my mother, even in her thirties, was striking the fact she was all Orc did nothing to lessen her appearance. I could certainly understand how my wine besotted whoremonger of a father would have been enthralled by her. It was unfortunate that his lust could only keep him with us until just after my fifth birthday.
With no adult male in the house, things went from bad to worse and I truly think I would have died to some “prank” pulled by the other denizens of our building if not for Rognor. His parents claimed he was all theirs just another half-orc kid running around, but it was clear that he was all Orc and nothing else. He was five years older then me and by 11 years old was bigger and stronger then most adults in the neighborhood. Why he liked me, I never did find out. Maybe he figured we were the outcasts among outcasts and everybody needs someone to get their back. Rognor gave me seven years of no beatings, no teasing, no having the grocery money stolen. It was actually the most peaceful and serene time of my life.
That all changed when our local crimelord, Articus, decided that he wanted Rognor to join his enterprise and help run the protection rackets in our little part of Winecrest. Rognor really was a decent guy, but not the sharpest blade in the rack. He told Articus that not only did he want to work for him, but that if his group started moving into our neighborhood that he would ‘do something about it’. So Articus killed him. Right in the middle of the street, just after lunchtime and nobody saw anything. The local guards didn’t care, just one less half-breed to worry about. I cared.
It’d taken me six years to get my shot. When I was fourteen, I joined up with Articus and his goons. I ran numbers and kept watch when more serious business needed to be taken care of. I watched and learned, and then I heard that Winecrest was starting to offer prisoners an option. To go play soldier in the old Keep on the Borderlands, or to do your full sentence.
Last night, there’d been a huge brawl at the Half Standard tavern. Articus was there with two of his boys along for protection. Even today, it still wasn’t clear who or what started the fight so the Guard had just rounded up everyone there and marched us off to the jail. Well, everyone except Articus who had carelessly slipped and impaled himself through the heart on a knife. I knew that eventually someone that had worked for Articus would figure out what happened, and I couldn’t be anywhere in Winecrest when that happened.
The Magistrate pointed at me “One year in prison, or service in the Borderlands?” he snapped. “I’ll take the Keep” I replied. Time to move on.