Male Gnoll Barbarian (FC) 6
Fort +10(+13), Ref +6, Will +5(+7)
==SKILLS== (24 points)
* Fire Resistance 1/-
* Animal Fury (Ex): While raging, the barbarian gains a bite attack. If used as part of a full attack action, the bite attack is made at the barbarian's full base attack bonus –5. If the bite hits, it deals 1d4 points of damage (assuming the barbarian is Medium; 1d3 points of damage if Small) plus half the barbarian's Strength modifier. A barbarian can make a bite attack as part of the action to maintain or break free from a grapple. This attack is resolved before the grapple check is made. If the bite attack hits, any grapple checks made by the barbarian against the target this round are at a +2 bonus.
* Reckless Abandon (Ex): While raging, the barbarian can take a –1 penalty to AC to gain a +1 bonus on attack rolls. The AC penalty increases by –1 and the attack roll bonus increases by +1 at 4th level and every four levels thereafter.
* Strength Surge (Ex): The barbarian adds her barbarian level on one Strength check or combat maneuver check, or to her Combat Maneuver Defense when an opponent attempts a maneuver against her. This power is used as an immediate action. This power can only be used once per rage.
It is time for me to accompany the Gnoll gladiators again. As I always do before a trip to the gladiatorial arenas, I muse upon my short life and wonder if I will do more than just die upon the blade of some opponent.
For most of my life the only memories I have had involve pain. My parents choose my name, Grall, because it is Gnoll for “desert hunter”. Not quite what they had imagined for me I am sure. Did they think of anything except for hurting other? You see my Gnoll parents were slavers. My first memories were of the beatings I received for not following my parents instructions or learning the humans language of trade. My early experiences revolved around results of my parents attacking travelers through the desert, capturing them and selling them in the Fleshfairs of Okeno. As is with life in the cruel desert it didn’t take long before the tides were turned on my parents and their little clan. This group of traders were prepared for us and sprung a trap on the raiding party killing my parents and most of the other warriors. The mercenaries tracked the raiding party back to the camp where I and several others stayed with the packs and animals.
They killed most of the others and beat me into unconsciousness. It wasn’t any less than I deserved in their eyes and I can’t really blame them. We were there to capture them and sell them off as slaves or kill them and take their goods.
When next I awoke I was a slave myself, being sold in the very market I had seen my parents sell the humans and Halflings that we had captured. Although I was only eight years old, when the slavers found out I could speak common as well as Gnoll I sold quickly. My new owner, Al’ Versa, introduced himself to me in his opulent house. I stood there upon his marble floor bloodied and still recovering from my beatings. He was a huge sweating human, with fists like maces, who looked at me as if sizing up a nice gazelle or a delicious piece of Caraba fruit. He quickly grabbed me by the throat and proceeded to beat me half to death. As he beat me he said as a Gnoll I couldn’t be trusted, but as I was a pup he would allow me to live for the moment at his pleasure. It wasn’t long after that that I found out that my master’s parents had been killed by Gnolls and I was to be one of his “outlets”.
The next 6 months was a blur of beatings or being thrown in a pit with wild animals to fight it out. This was often used as entertainment for some of his guests. If I was gravely injured, Al’ Versa would have his house administrator Pimdar, who also happened to be a minor cleric of Abadar, heal me from the brink. Suddenly Al’ Versa became bored with beating me on a whim. He decided that he needed grander entertainment, and wanted more Gnolls to suffer. He was a man of great intelligence, but also great vices. From his harem to his sports he lived life richly. Al’ Versa decided that a fun distraction would be to buy some adult slave Gnolls to enter into the Gladiatorial games in the city. Adult Gnolls who can speak common are expensive but plain Gnoll warriors are much easier and cheaper to come by. He had me after all to translate for him, his little “pet”.
Al’ Versa proceeded to have a small training group of cells made at his estate and went out and bought 5 Gnolls. My people are dangerous and unpredictable but Al’ Versa knew they also have a great desire to survive. When the Gnoll slaves arrived he decided to teach them the best way he knew how. He took the weakest Gnoll out of the group (who he had purposely paid little for) and proceeded to tortured him to death over 10 long days. I had never seen my master relish so much in the death of another creature. I never bothered to learn any of the Gnolls name, I figured we would all join the one he made an example out of soon enough anyways. A warrior named Hakim was hired to train the rest of the Gnolls for the games. I would watch, learn, translate, and help control the Gnolls. Hakim was paid to make the matches more fun to watch as my master prepared to put the remaining Gnolls into the games. Of course he also wanted to make money off of his new investments and thereby allow him to buy more when we were killed off. Hakim was a master of the Falcion, a large scimitar favored by many guards of Katapeshi nobility. They would make a grander display for the games.
It was during this time that the one small glimmer of hope came into my life. This is when I met the young niece of my master, Haleen. She had started visiting her uncle almost every week and looked at me often with curiosity in her eyes. I couldn’t blame her, who keeps a young Gnoll around their house as a pet. I dared not look her in the eyes as my master might kill me for it. It was on her third visit that she approached me. My master was out on a trading expedition and would not be back for almost a week. She seemed almost unafraid of me. By this time I was 10 and almost 6 feet tall and 200lbs of pure muscle. She talked to me through the bars from the other side of the cage to the fighting cells. I answered her questions cautiously, never wanting to offend her in case it got back to Al’ Versa. She asked about who I was and what I did in the house. How did I come to be here, how did I learn common. There were so many questions but there was also something about her, maybe it was the pity in her eyes that at first made me want to hate her. But everyday that week she would come back at the same time when I was not training or working with the other Gnolls to learn more about my life. She even began to tell me about herself. There was a great confidence about her. I listened with caution, waiting for her trap to be set so I would get punished and thrown back into some pit to fight something. It never happened. She began to bring me exotic treats from the house and tales about the outside world. But when her uncle came back, things went back to normal. She couldn’t dare be caught socializing with me. She would start coming by again every time that my master would leave his house for more than a day. I actually began to believe she wanted to keep me from getting into trouble. Each day that Haleen came to my master’s house I started to find things hidden in my pallet. When I returned from working with the Gnolls I would find things such as treats or small things for me like bandages for my cuts. One day I found a shiny charm in my pallet. I was later to find out that it was actually a prayer symbol to Sarenrae. I asked her why she would give me this and it was then that she told me that she thought that there was good in my heart and that Sarenrae would redeem me and show me a path to freedom. I didn’t believe her and initially scoffed at what she told me but she continued to work on me over the coming years.
For the next 4 years I worked with his Gnolls, seeing them honed to fight in the arenas. By this time my master was on his 3rd set of Gnolls. I discovered over this time that our trainer, Hakim, was a master of a special type of mental focus that allowed you to set free and focus your inner rage. He called it the “Savage Wind”. He had been training the latest Gnolls to learn this technique and the crowds loved it, screaming Gnolls savagely tearing apart their adversaries with great blades, always taking mighty blows themselves and sometimes just shaking them off! Al’ Versa was smart enough to not let the Gnolls grow too powerful though. He would decide after a Gnoll had paid for himself and the others upkeep for a few months that he would put that Gnoll up against some type of fearsome creature in the arenas like an Ankheg or one of the Katapeshi Lions. The payout would be great the Gnoll happened to win and would established his fighting Gnolls as a popular event. Even if the Gnoll did win, he would usually be permanently injured in some manner and Al’ Versa could put him down since he was no longer of any use to him. He wanted to Gnolls to suffer and die, but not before they made him richer. It was his version of revenge on my people.
It was during this time that my belief in the shiny little charm that Haleen had given me, the symbol of Sarenrae, began to take shape. It seemed when I focused on it that I was happier, I was calmer. My people are the creatures of Lamashtu, but does that mean that we are all like my parents and the other raiders that kill for pleasure? Are there not humans that worship the monstrous one as well as well as Asmodeus, but does that make them all alike? Maybe I could be different, maybe I would be free?
On my 15th year life changed for me again. Al’ Versa was growing tired of me. I was too big to beat and I was bigger than most of my brethren and another slave trader had told my master that he expected I would be one of the biggest Gnolls he had ever seen.
Surprisingly, my master had me fight some weaker opponents in low quality matches. I grudgingly took down my opponents, but often dragged out the matches to help impress the crowd. I wasn’t a crowd favorite but I could at least keep their attention without too many boo’s.
When Al’ Versa returned he was furious. Not only were all of his Gnoll gladiators dead, but his niece was somehow associating with a Gnoll. When he called me into his house I was sure I would die right then, right there. He looked like a man that was ready to strangle a lion. But to my surprise, Haleen was also standing there. I wouldn’t die like a dog in front of her so I held my head high and looked Al’ Versa in the eyes.
I found out from Haleen that she was banned from ever seeing me again, it was part of the deal she had worked out with her uncle that allowed me to live. The only time I would hear from her was when she would write to me and drop a note over the wall at the same day/time/place each week. It was the only good thing left in my life that I looked forward too. I prayed to Sarenrae in secret for the will to continue as each day passed the same, one without her.
I continued to work on my concentration and I was finally able to pull myself into the “Savage Wind” for the first time, and I was starting to do it when I would like as with most of my brethren. My mind remains unfocused as I think about the last few months…
Haleen’s last few notes had been strange leading up to the last one I received from her over two months ago. In that note she told me she was going away and to forget about her. She didn’t seem herself in any of these last few letters, something had to be wrong. Sometimes she rambled on in the note; I wasn’t sure what she meant some of the time. How could I forget about the one thing in my life that I care about! I was crazy to find out what was going on but how could I ask? I finally decided that I would rather die that not find out what was going on. I approached Hakim and asked him about Haleen. A concerned look came over his face and he told me that she had disappeared. He didn’t know much but told me that Al’ Versa was looking for information about her and asked me if I knew anything. I admitted that I had heard from her a few times after the incident with the killers via letters but had no idea what had happened to her. I showed him the last note she had written to me. It was my last link to her, I had to throw all of the others away, afraid that someone would find them. I really didn’t want to give it to him.
Two days later I was in front of Al’ Versa. He looked old today. He had been loosing weight lately and the other Gnolls believed him to have the wasting sickness. “Well Grall, it seems that you can’t leave my niece alone, I should kill you where you stand.” Coughs wracked him for several minutes before he was able to continue. “Enough of that though, I have found out something about my niece. Through magical means I have found out that Haleen is in the vicinity of an old ghost town named Kelmarane. It will also interest you to know that I have also found out that the Pactmasters of Katapesh are looking to revitalize an old trade route to Osirion, and a band of mercenaries and guards is gathering to go out and supplement forces already in place near the ruined village of Kelmarane. The village is said to be infested by gnolls and haunted. I still don’t trust you but I think you can help, or at least that is what that stupid cleric of Abadar believes. He divined that you will help her as you can and mean her no harm. If that Cleric is wrong I will wring his neck as well as yours. I have sold you to a man named Garavel who is heading up part of this force. As part of your sale you are to help his forces in retaking Kelmarane, but your main mission is to find Haleen. I am not sure what she means to you, I don’t want to know, I would probably kill you if I knew. If you are successful in helping to bring her back alive I have authorized Garavel to give you your freedom. Find my niece Grall, she means everything to me.”