[PA] World's Largest Dungeon
Dragonborn Battlemind and Tribute from Vailin
10 extra trail rations
9 Gold pieces
- Butchering (15 minutes / Medium creature, results vary)
When Thortar was growing up, his father told him that to be free, one must be strong, and one must be fast.
“But the Old Mother is weak and slow, father,” Thortar said. The Old Mother was the matriarch of the tribe.
“She is now, son, but only because she was strong and fast enough to live that long. She has had a lifetime of freedom, and has surrendered it to the tribe. She has bound herself to the service of all of us, so that we may benefit from her wisdom.” Thortar’s father grinned. “And I would not call her weak or slow in her presence. She is free enough to make you regret saying such things.”
To the Rashaaki, freedom is everything. Once you have passed the rites and become free, you could choose to do anything you wished. You could return to the tribe and chose your title there; or leave to find another tribe, as free men were always welcome, though to fewer titles; or perhaps even choose to venture Beyond and find a freedom there previously unknown. Choosing a title meant giving up some of your freedom, for the responsibility that the title bestows, but the giving was of your own choice and was yours to reclaim when you saw fit.
The tribe moved with the herds, and with the seasons. Other than those of the Rashaaki – other tribes related to them – Thortar saw few outside the hundred-some members of the Tr’ssi, as their tribe was called. Some would leave with other Rashaaki once a year to go trade with Those Beyond, but Thortar was never allowed to go until after he became a free man.
Among the Rashaaki, arcane magic was essentially unknown. Rarely, there would be an individual born called a Spark. Those Beyond would call them a Sorcerer. But they are few indeed. Likewise, in the dense wilds where the primal spirits are immeasurable in number and strength, there is little room for the gods to find purchase with an individual. The Rashaaki give thanks to Io for birthing them, but beyond this there is little recognition of the divine. The spirits of nature and the ancestors are those who keep the free safe.
As Thortar grew, he knew that there were those stronger and quicker than him. He knew there were those born with gifts beyond him, but he also knew that gifts could be squandered. He would go out and try to match the accomplishments of those who were his better, because he believed that if he tried enough times, he would become just as strong as those who could succeed the first time. When he did succeed, though he would come home later than the others, he still succeeded all the same, and a prize hard-won, he felt, was greater than something easily grasped. But he knew that when the time came to earn his freedom, he would no longer have the ability to try again and again. He would succeed, or he would die.
During the rite of the free, Thortar discovered his true strength. The troll he fought was strong, but it only hit Thortar once. Then, Thortar found he could simply… not be where the troll’s strike was. Even when the troll tried to grab him, he found he could simply will himself to not be there. He had found some new power within him, and it allowed him to be free, even moreso than he had expected. Once he had returned and taken on the title of protector, he found that no enemy could keep him pinned down, and that he could take on multiple threats at once, when even his fellows might have shied away. Thortar consulted the Old Mother about this, and she confirmed what he had believed for some time now – his mind was so strong that it added its strength to his body, such that he was given the honor of trading with Those Beyond while still in his first year as protector.
While the Rashaaki traveled to the edge of their lands to trade, it was explained to Thortar by the others that during this time, one of the Rashaaki had to go with Those Beyond in order to represent their people in a great trial. That those who went helped keep not only the Rashaaki, but the entire world, free from great evils. As with all things, no one would be forced to take this burden, but several expressed their willingness to uphold it. Several tests were performed, and the most worthy were given the chance to argue why they should be allowed to go. Thortar pointed out that he had only recently earned his freedom, and that his assumption of the burden would reflect most positively on the Rashaaki, that they would give so much to ensure the freedom of others was protected. So it was that he was allowed to take this burden of becoming their “tribute”, as Those Beyond called it.
Thortar’s convictions are strong, and he remains confidant in himself and his abilities. But he is not without fear, or doubts. He does not know what being this tribute will require, only that those who assume the title never return to the Rashaaki. He is unused to all these new races, with their strange habits and appearances. But he knows that if they have also taken the title of tribute, then they must have been free men, indeed.