Buruk

Bigger, faster, stronger, meaner

Description:

Towering half-orc, covered in scars and tattoos.

Bio:

Buruk was born at the point of a sword. His mother was a fleeing colonist that an orcish raider caught up with. In such cases, the custom is to cut the child's throat and hope the poor girl learns to forget someday. But when the captain drew a blade on her baby, she ordered him back. She ordered him wrapped and named him in the orcish custom, for the sound of his first full-throated growl.

She snuck away with Buruk as soon as she healed. She knew of a logging village deep in the mountains that few roads reached. There she claimed to be a war widow, raising a war orphan, and swore the boy would grow up decent as any man in the village if only given the chance to. For a time, they got away with it. The villagers grew more comfortable with their green neighbor over the years, especially when he grew strong and useful. As a youth, he could perform jobs that once required a team of men. But the half-breed's rising popularity got under Sol Beachum's skin, who had been the village's favorite son before Buruk matured. When his green rival beat Sol to the wineberry branch at the Blossoming Festival, Beachum could take no more.

Beachum whispered that their war widow showed peculiar interest for an orcish child, and that Buruk's features were not entirely unlike a man's. The notion was whispered around the village until it grew into rumor and hysteria. Buruk was tricked into confessing his parentage and caged like an animal. His village made him watch while his mother was burned as an abomination. Then they locked a collar around his neck and arranged the order each farmer and logger would get their turn to force labor out of their half-orc.

That night, Buruk was forced to sleep in view of his burned mother. As he wept, he felt a thudding in his ears, in his chest and soon through the whole of his body. He exploded into his first bloodrage, bursting through the bars and chains. Seeing the world rimmed in red, Buruk stormed from house to farm to mill and back, murdering every man woman and child he had ever known.

 

As the sun came up, Buruk blinked and found himself shoving what was left of Sol Beachum into the blacksmith's forge. When he discovered the carnage that his scattered memories hinted at, he fled into the mountains. After a few day's travel, he was lost, starving, delirious and easy prey for a band of human trappers. The bound him in nets, fed him ground drooproot and branded him with a price of forty pieces. 

He was sold to a mining company from the south that had grown rich selling ores to Freeport. He was cast into the mine that men called Glendur's Burrow but orcs called Ku Makor, which means "shared shame" to most clans. Generations of orc slaves toiled under the mountain, entire lines had been subjugated. Orcs were born into lifetimes of hard labor. They were kept on starvation rations, and extra food was divided among loose prison clans depending on performance in pit fights that were an open secret to the guards. Allowing them this bit of warped orcish culture helped keep order and tended to cull out weak slaves. They didn't mind placing a few bets, either.

Faced with starvation, Buruk quickly learned to hold his own in the pit. During a fight, he saw some of the gambling guards hurry to escape an approaching captain. Seeing that the guards might have something more to lose than coin, Buruk had an idea. He colluded with some clanmates and respected rivals to rig a series of fights and so spread out the extra rations that no orc's belly was ever quite full. Over the next few months, tension mounted in the mines as hunger gnawed at the orcs. Buruk then approached a guard who never missed a match and offered to rig the next fight in exchange for a feastday banquet.

The match ended as the guard requested, and the feast was granted. Buruk demanded that it be served in the guard's mess, which was in view of a few passages between cellblocks and mines. Starving slaves were led past the obscenely large meal in the guard's mess, but did not see Buruk and his co-conspirators hidden in the kitchen. Angry talk rumbled through the mines, and soon the guards were beset by orcs demanding food. Once the riot began, it spread like brushfire. The guards were overwhelmed, and Buruk pressed through the chaos with his allies for the surface. 

Ku Makor was overthrown. Orcs scattered in every direction. The orcs Buruk escaped with had some wilderness experience, and they made their way towards Freeport. They meant to catch a ship in the port city, but word of a general bounty on orcs marked for Glendur's Burrow beat them there. A band of men attacked, killing Buruk's companions and triggering his rage. Ten of the dozen men lay dead when Buruk was at last brought down. Doubting they could get this ferocious prisoner back to Glendur's Burrow by themselves, so they sold him to the Freeport arena instead.

 

Orcs died in the arena daily, so Buruk was first used in mundane events. They set him loose on condemned prisoners, mostly. But the sheer savagery of these executions exhilarated the jaded Freeport audiences. Witnessing the bloody spectacle in the arena in parallel to the spectacle Freeport's nobles made of themselves in watching it, disgraced philosopher Murathanes was moved to write "The Mad Orc of Freeport," a study on the basic cruelty that no social class seemed able to escape. But the violent tales of Buruk's slaughters Murathanes framed his arguments with were the only part of the book that got any attention. The book was read far and wide, but few even acknowledged it as a scholarly work. Buruk's spreading fame inspired the pit masters to place him in grander matches.

Arena grand champion Brusq took over Buruk's training. The minotaur transformed the half-orc from killer to warrior.  At his side, Buruk learned the great axe and the spinning chain. He learned how to read and misdirect his enemies. After using his new skills to destroy Bjorn the Giant-Slayer in front of a packed house, Buruk’s notoriety exploded. He was used in the most high-profile events and rented out to noble women on occasion. Warriors came to Freeport to challenge the new champion, and Buruk’s star rose a little higher with each one he tore apart.

Though a champion, Buruk remained a slave. Though he had been indulged with some superficial trappings of autonomy, no decision was truly his own. So when the arena masters decided it was time for a match between the rising champion, Buruk, and the grand champion, Brusq, neither had any choice but to go through with it.

Buruk wasn’t sure if he had either the ability or will to bring down his master, or how far his master meant to take the fight. But moments after the battle began, these decisions were stolen from them as well. A black crossbow bolt zipped from the stands and brought Bloodhorn down. Clamor engulfed the arena, as thousands of wagers suddenly fell into dispute. The devastated Buruk was drug back to his cell.

 

There were no more fights. Not long after the assassination, an order came from on high to close the arena. The fighting slaves were quickly auctioned off, and Buruk was chained to a wagon headed for his new master’s lands. But a chance encounter on the road with a band of adventurers saw the wagon destroyed and his transporters slain. For the first time since boyhood, Buruk was free.

Layers of intrigues had brought the adventurers who helped free him together, and Buruk was soon pulled into their affairs. Loose in the baffling world of man, Buruk resolved to seek out his master’s killer. When he found it was none other than Arun, an elvish assassin who he was traveling with, the half-orc realized he would take no satisfaction from merely breaking the instrument that killed Bloodhorn. Revenge meant slaying he who gave the order, but his name was hidden deep in the intrigues of Freeport.

Though most clues came from sources Buruk could not trust, he began to suspect that the conspiracy went as high as the Regent, Waspin. Buruk returned to Freeport’s underbelly in an attempt to unravel the mystery, but was transported thousands of years into the past along with his companions. Since then, Buruk has found the world has much deeper problems than his own need for blood. But he has not forgotten his vow to do Bloodhorn honor and just as in Ku Makor, Buruk quietly watches for an opening to make his escape and have his revenge.

Buruk

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