About 'Horrible' Harold Grimsley
'HORRIBLE' HAROLD GRIMSLEY CR 3
Harold stands somewhere close to 7' tall and fills out every inch of that height. His face has been pummeled so often that most of its bones are no longer in their original locations. His often broken nose is squashed upon a face ugly enough to make most women faint if they ran into him on some dark street corner. He keeps his red hair shorn short for both appearance and to keep it from being used as a grappling tool for any assailant. Opposed to his hideous looks, Harold always dresses sharply. His big form would normally burst most suits so he has all his apparel custom tailored. A pressed jacket, vest, white undershirt and trousers matching the jacket are his normal wear along with a well-kept collection of bowler hats.
The people of Ustalav are a nation haunted by their past. It is so traumatic that it bleeds over into the present. The sins of forefathers and tribulations of grandmothers are the realities of the sons and daughters. The night is still a very dangerous place and strangers are seen as bearers of calamity.
When the Whispering Tyrant finally was subdued by the Shining Crusade and his forces routed, not all of the lich’s forces were laid to rest. The orcs of the Hold of Belkzen retreated to their holes and strongholds but would rise up numerous times over the years to cause their neighbors grief. One of the more recent uprisings would see the tribe of Three Fangs sending raids deep into parts of north and western Ustalav. The orcs were their normal merciless selves: villages were razed, men were slaughtered, and women were raped.
It was thus that Harold came into the world, an unwanted child in a nation that abhors abominations. His mother’s village was destroyed, a burning husk on the horizon, as she and the remaining survivors made the long trek to a neighboring village for assistance. Many of the women sullied during the raid committed suicide in the months after, some from their own inability to recover from the trauma and some from the pressure from the community that they were now tarnished or carried seeds of evil in their wombs. Harold’s mother was a bar wench in her previous life and too tough, or mean as most of the village’s men pronounced, to cave in and end her life. Instead, she pulled up her new roots and headed across the country to someplace that no-one would know her name or the father of the thing growing in her.
Eventually, Harold’s mother settled in Caliphas, the capital, taking up her previous profession in such a seedy joint that she ended up being little more than a prostitute that served ale. A month after moving to Caliphas, Harold was born prematurely but already the size of a very healthy baby boy. His crude features, a mockery of a human’s, were repugnant to his mother and all the difficulties she had endured from his conception to her voluntary exile were placed solely on his shoulders. To say that Harold had a hard life growing up would not encompass the cruel, stark reality of the situation. He was tormented by the neighborhood children, spat upon by their parents, then when he ran home to escape it all, his mother would beat Harold raw and call him names such as ‘Abominable Spawn’, ‘Aurochs-face’, and ‘Her horrible mistake that she should of fed to the dogs when he was born.’ The last name would stick, at least partially, as it shrunk over the years until he was just being called ‘Horrible’.
By the time he was five, Harold was the size of most ten year olds. As the abuse buried beneath his course features grew, it fermented into a deep and terrible rage at the world. The first time it erupted to the surface he broke an older boy’s arm in three places. The resulting beating by the boy’s father and charges filed with the local guards would set the tone of the rest of Harold’s youth. He was in and out of cells or hospital rooms, his face constantly swollen, black and blue, or marked by his often broken nose. His mother could care less what became of her son thus he was raised on the streets more than at home.
Between the ages of thirteen and fifteen, Harold was working with a local gang as an enforcer, breaking bones or shops of those that didn’t pay protection money. This life would take a change of course one night when he was supposed to tear up the antique shop of an older man who looked like he hailed from Tian Xia. The old man, Cho-lum, was supposed to be asleep when Harold broke through his door and started shattering his merchandise but instead he was up doing some late night cleaning in the shop. Already towering well over six feet tall at age fifteen, Harold wasn’t too worried about the little old man and didn’t even know anything was wrong until he came back awake on his back with the sound of guard whistles carrying through the open door.
Cho-lum was still sweeping the store nearby as he told Harold that a nice young man such as himself should show more respect to his elders and neighbors. At a loss for words, Harold was beginning to stand when the guards arrived and took him into custody. The old man didn’t file any charges but Harold was held for a few days just because of his long record as a troublemaker.
Harold would return three more times to Cho-lum in the following week, the first in anger at the little man ruining his job which ended much as his first encounter did. The second visit had Harold still angry but also weary, ready to catch the old man at whatever tricks he was playing. A blur of arms and legs later, Harold was shaking his head clear in a cell again. The third time, Harold returned, asking the old man how he kept disabling him so easily. Cho-lum told Harold it was as easy as disabling a mounted knight in armor, one must merely trip the horse and let the momentum of the big beast and its heavily armored master do all the work. Harold left the old man’s shop with much to digest after a conversation that lasted over an hour.
The next day, Harold returned and learned a bit more from the old man, who enjoyed having a younger fellow around to regale with stories and occasionally help move the heavy object or two. For three years, Harold visited Cho-lum as regular as clockwork, learning what the old man had to teach in pieces. Now most would have cause to fear that teaching a boy, that was filled with anger at everyone, these skills would make him a threat to every innocent person he might encounter, but somehow, Cho-lum had a calming effect on Harold even when the old man would pop the half-orc on the head in admonishment for doing something wrong.
At eighteen years of age, Harold lost the first person he ever thought of as a friend when Cho-lum passed away from old age. Set adrift again in the city of Caliphas, he started to migrate back to his old acquaintances and employment. However, with new insight in his view of the world, Harold found it hard to do the acts of petty, or otherwise, crime that his ‘friends’ wanted him to do. He made numerous new enemies as he started telling them to sod off and instead started to hire himself out as muscle for local businessmen whom had issues with the gangs causing them grief. He made a name for himself amongst the dregs of society, living up to his moniker ‘Horrible’ as most would scurry away to their dens of ill repute if so much as word got out that Harold was on the job.
It was during these years that Harold met the Professor. Visiting Caliphas to lecture at the local college, the Professor was also interested in the rumors of vampires stalking the streets at night. This would lead him into some nasty places that would have seen his throat slit just for the change in his pockets if he hadn’t had the foresight to hire a local tough to show him around the area. Thus Harold came to be in the temporary employ of the Professor, even pulling him out of one sticky situation when they actually did encounter a vamp who was seducing a young lady, a party the Professor accidently interrupted in his haste. Harold was sure he had a few gray hairs by the time the Professor left the city finally. It was strange and with some hesitation that Harold opened the letter from the Professor’s estate that arrived a few months later.