- It began on the steppes, a long time ago. A young orc was born to a proud lineage of tnatigai, an orcish tradition of druids that served close to their warlords, offering wisdom and conquered savagery in equal measure. Shiragan was a dutiful student, learning to master the primal realm through teachings passed down to him by his father; as the eldest of his brothers, he was poised to succeed in service to their warlord one day. Expectations were high and discipline was strict, ensuring that Shiragan would be prepared for what would come when the stars were right.
- Battles came and went, and the tribe prospered for a time. The land was rich with bounty, and bands of outcasts and bandits provided plenty of opportunity for the warriors to keep their tusks sharp; but it was the sea that brought the twist of discord. Shiragan was dispatched on a vessel with some of the warlord's finest orcs to aid an ally tribe which was beset on all sides by enemies and monsters. Wary of being so far from home, it was thought that he would bring guidance and inspire the spirits of those who traveled with him, as his father did when he went abroad with the warlord. It was not wisdom that was lacking in the end, or valor - their ship was attacked by a creature from the sea, and despite his best efforts, Shiragan was powerless to save the men or the vessel as it was dragged below the waves.
- He too was pulled into the water, and thought his end had surely come, but a flash of steel sparked the beginning of a different path for him. When Shiragan opened his eyes, he found not a maw of death, but a wild and powerful human woman whose cutlass sliced through the waters, freeing him from the grip of the beast. Dragged back to her ship, the water was muddied with blood and debris, but neither he nor the crew of her small ship were able to spot any other survivors.
- Sailing away from the catastrophe, the young tnatigai was overwhelmed by things he thought he was prepared for - things he thought he understood. His own survival triggered experiences and feelings that were nothing that he had been tutored in, and it tapped into something even more instinctual than he'd ever known. The woman who saved him was ferocious and unrepentant, brave and beautiful. He shared a drink with the crew, but it was her eyes he kept seeking out in the galley as he raised a toast to honor the dead whose bones would litter the sea bed.
- He was in love. He was in trouble.
- As they sailed toward land and safety, Shiragan had the pressure of responsibility lifted for the first time. No one looked to him as anything other than a lucky bastard, and a pair of strong hands to help them get to port. By the time they docked at the ship's destination, he had already decided that he had to return to her, to that feeling, his selfish sin. They made love beneath the moon, and he set off to return home.
- After that, he changed, no matter how hard the young druid tried to hide it. He'd tasted salt air and freedom, a different kind of honor of self-determination. Ridden with guilt, tempted by desire, Shiragan could only hide their tryst for so long, slipping away in the form of a horse or a falcon to cross the steppes to his love when he could. Soon, she could no longer hide their love either as her belly began to swell with a child. Shiragan was elated and terrified, as he could feel his son growing within her.
- Conflicting priorities tore at him - no orc could turn his back on family, to betray them was an enormous dishonor, but what of the family he had made with the human sailor? In the end, he could no longer reconcile the two parts of his life, as his father demanded more of him as tnatigai and his firstborn child came due. Shiragan rode away from home, forsaking one future for the other. Settling with his human wife in a newly built grotto near the shore, he took up the life of a fisherman while Cyrenne was unable to sail.
- Hrusai was born there, an idyll stolen from orc and human, a homestead that grew as he did. Things were hard, but the young half-orc's innocence shrouded many dangers from his eyes. His mother left behind more profitable long distance sailing to stay close to home, while his father brought in fish and birds for market using his ties to nature. As he learned to walk and run, Hrusai spent as much time bobbing on the waves with his parents as he did chasing the cranes that waded near their home. His mother taught him to read the sea and sail, and his father taught him many secrets that belonged to his lineage of tnatigai. Isolated as they were, stray bandits were often chased off by his father as an auroch, or a tiger.
- He was scarcely six when a band of orcs rode upon the grotto that were not bandits at all. Hiding behind his mother's legs, Hrusai watched as his father went out to meet them. Shiragan's father had passed away, and with his passing, their warlord was weakened. He sought counsel, sought the heir that he deemed rightfully his, and had sent Shiragan's own brothers to capture and return with him. Hrusai never saw his father again; there was a struggle, and Cyrenne fled with her son, ignored by the orcs.
- For a time, they settled in the human settlement in the Empire. Hrusai was a rarity, but as he grew he was able to connect with the teachings his father had left with him, scrolls and wisdom that had been passed down, things he had returned to the grotto to recover. Cyrenne held out hope that her husband would return to her, but two years later she got word that he had died trying. Heartbroken and homesick, she packed up their life in the Empire and returned to the sea, earning passage by helping a merchant vessel sail back to familiar lands.
- Life was harder than before, without his father to help. The half-orc was going on eleven when he began to go out fishing on his own, helping earn their keep in the small coastal village they had settled in. People took pity on his mother, whose age had begun to catch up with her. No longer was she able to sail as she once had, and so settling in as a fishmonger, Hrusai could see the longing in her eyes when she watched the ships come and go.
- When he was fourteen, he snuck out on a dwarven barge, putting his knowledge to use for a payday he could bring home to his mother. She was grief-struck and anxious, but couldn't deny their need for the funds. On his own, Hrusai began to fall in love in turn - with the sea. Tempestuous and wild, it spoke to something that he had never fully learned to control or comprehend, the primal part of him that was fueled by his druidic practice. Was he savage or civil? Man, or beast, or something else altogether? He began to navigate treacherous waters in more than one sense, as he used his father's recorded wisdom as a guiding star, exhausting them in his reading and re-reading.
- Years passed. He sailed on larger ships, more dangerous voyages, but no matter where he went the crews couldn't deny how useful it was to have a pair of hands as strong as his on board. Nor could hey snub the wisdom he could glean at times, about the weather, or the tide, or the fishing haul. Something else changed as well, or perhaps it was simply a difference that he grew to keen awareness of, already being different in a very obvious way, as Hrusai became aware of his proclivities. Being at sea for so long, often surrounded only by other men... it was something one didn't speak of, though he began to realize it was neither as common nor as infrequent as varying parties claimed.
- In his own way, Hrusai kept the memory of his parents with him, their lessons and wisdom always in his mind. Eventually he saved enough to make his mother comfortable, and now set forth to find his own fortune.
RAW Paste Data