Trials of Two Cities
A ratfolk drill sergeant and the former commander of Ogre Squad during the war
Alignment: War does not care for good or evil, but learn a little discipline or you’re not pulling through! (Lawful Neutral)
Race: Ratfolk, sir! But one who put my family’s hoard to good use!
Class: I’m a drill sergeant, sir! Someone has to whip the troops into shape, so why not someone who already has fighter training? Being in this city and surviving its threats have also put me in a Guardian’s position! I also seem to have developed some… kind of water powers….
Height: 3 feet 9 inches. But needing to jump on a chair to deliver a speech means nothing!
Weight: 87 pounds. Nothing light about me and my frame, which helped me fit in as a military type.
Languages: Common, Elven, and Dwarven for dealing with allies, and Orc, Goblin, Giant, and Undercommon for interpreting enemy messages. Thanks to the whole incident with this city’s graffiti, I’ve actually been picking up on Aklo too… it was only the written version at first, but an actual encounter with creatures from beyond and Jezura’s words have given me a speaking knowledge as well.
Proficiencies: I’m a soldier and I’ve got the meanness to prove it! But that’s not all. I learned a lot faster than my fellow soldiers so I had a bit of extra time to learn weird knowledge – like that one time a book nerd was talking to me about using bat guano to break formations.
Equipment: Apart from a few odds and ends, only two things worth mentioning. First is this iron club, meant to break legs and smash armor – though I hear other places use these things for sports. Second is this prized armor I’m wearing – it draws the heat away from me, and few armor suits can be worn on a hot summer day like this without issue.
Special Traits: Whoo-ee, do you stink! No, seriously, I’ll remember you more easily by how you smell, and a good whiff of a battlefield can clue me in on what the enemy’s planning. My war experience means I can get quite a few people to listen to me and follow my lead – which may improve as this trial goes on. And can you not back me into a corner for these interviews? I tend to snap and lash out when I’ve got no means of escape.
Strength: Lot of people have it in their heads that rats are weaklings. That is complete bullhonkery – I can swing a club with the best of you humans, and it’s only going to get better from there. (15+1)
Dexterity: There’s a traditional convention that says you’re not pulling acrobatic stunts in armor. I say SCREW THAT – cartwheels aren’t THAT hard in this stuff! (14)
Constitution: A mile a day kept the grim reaper away during the war, that’s for sure. I’ve also outdrank recruits triple my size before. That endurance is kind of necessary, especially with Willard’s cooking and the strain my new magic powers put on my body. (18)
Intelligence: Top 10 of my graduating class! How else would I have been selected for officer training? (16)
Wisdom: …I need to stay strong for the people. Seeing the bizarre laws only reaffirms my need to keep a grip on my mind. As for the smells… wait, I’m getting a scent of… are those two in the house about to- hey! HEY!! Job says you’ve gotta put this on first! (13+1)
Charisma: I… I think I’m getting a better grasp of how to talk to people outside the military. This town’s doing some good for me. (11+1)
Look, I know a lot of you people still have it in your heads that we ratfolk are vile, backstabbing scavengers. For the last time, those are only the ones exposed to demonic influence! We’re more hoarders and tinkerers, with a love of jewelry and complex devices.
We’re also the one race you never want to try to back into a corner, as some bandits found out the hard way when I was eight. They should have known better than to attack my family… especially the way that one lifted my mother. That prick bled out in less than a minute… broke my teeth going after him, though. My family was oddly silent for about two weeks after the attack. Then the knights came, undeterred by me swinging the bat in their direction – one of them even lifted me up like I was his kid.
That’s when I’d learned the worst – I had no family. They’d been dead since the bandits swept through… even my baby sister, who I’d been holding when the knights barged in. For days after that proclamation, I was dead too… alone and unloved. The bandits had stolen my family from me. That’s when it hit me – what if I made myself part of a new family? The knights who rescued me kept trying to direct me to the orphanage, but I was not backing down – the orphanage was not how this was going to end, even if they were a caring family. I needed more. Eventually they caved to my insistence and let me join the army.
Now, joining the army at eight, they don’t put you on the front lines right away. I had a lot to learn – about combat, about culture, about even basic manners. I was an errand boy for the knights for years learning as much as I could – enduring a lot of abuse from fellow pages in the process, even getting a few nicknames. Like “Slackline”, which I decided to take as my last name to reflect the fact my old family was gone. Nobility’s a bunch of sheltered twits when you get down to it – there were a few as determined as I, but that’s it. When they felt I’d learned enough from them, I was sent off to the military academy – where I was again sneered at by the vast majority of the students. Except this one elf guy, Thaddeus Niequist, who was actually studying to be a combat mage. I didn’t have the upbringing or patience to truly learn magic, but I did learn one trick by cribbing off his notes for a few months – that trick being how to get a message across to whole rooms, which proved valuable when answering to my teachers despite the jeering.
The biggest moment of triumph is when I graduated at fourteen. Not only was I the youngest of the graduating class and one of the youngest graduates in the history of the school, I was one of the top ten of the class. Thaddeus was the salutatorian and knew how I got there, but other than him, no one saw that coming. I heard quite a few asking at the ceremony: How did a common vermin with no connections get this far? Regardless of the actual answer, Thaddeus and I were approached after graduation, like the rest of the top 10, because the military needed officers and quickly. There was a war going on! Both of us accepted.
Officer training was the first time in years I finally felt wanted, even though the training was quick thanks to the needs of the military. After only a year, they shipped us off – to different fronts. Thaddeus got a relatively cushy job dealing with military intelligence and long-range magic strikes, and last I heard from him, he survived the war and went back to his family for a time, intending on teaching a new peacekeeping force of mages. Me? The military shipped me off to the front lines – the so-called Demon Front, to be exact, where the casualty rate was well over three-quarters. In the first two years of being on that front, I led my men into combat instead of sitting back like a few of my contemporaries, and my unit survived many skirmishes that felled the men around us, earning us the nickname of “Ogre Squad” and me the moniker of “Rat Ogre”. I was used to demeaning nicknames, but the soldiers actually treated it as endearing – we were one of the most discriminated-against units, constantly thrown into the ugliest and most murderous situations, and came out on top. The military actually tried to promote me further in the final year I was in that war, but I refused – going beyond the staff sergeant rank meant not being on the front line, where I knew I was needed.
But then, the war ended. The only time a soldier can cry is when it’s all over, and it was a week straight of tears in my case, knowing a lot of lives had been needlessly thrown away. A lot of kids left in my situation – or worse, those who weren’t going to be fit to escape like me. I knew I had to train others to keep the peace through the countryside… which led to me running into a promising page, Willard Torc. He has more to learn than I did – peacetime is much more difficult on military life than war is – but I did not hesitate in making him my squire. The kid’s a really hard worker, though a bit clumsy sometimes.
It was only a couple months later that I heard they were putting one of the war criminals on trial. I knew I had to see the fruits of the labor I and many others had worked so hard to achieve. What I didn’t know is that I’d be drawn into a city of constant internal conflict, where even the bags are murderous. Not that Willard is helping my case – I’ve had to babysit him quite a bit in this town already, especially with his strange ideas of food. After a few days of the trial, with Nikolin Drakkard as defense attorney, things started looking up – Willard’s learning under an armorer, his pet badger is performing in the circus, and I’m part of the police force… on an investigation with a talking cat and a deliveryman. There was a nightmare incident at the courthouse that we were drawn into, as well, involving a visiting princess and a lot of water.
Something about that nightmare scenario must have awoken something in me, because the next morning after bathing, I could not dry off… and I was dripping water everywhere. Between that, the random water ball I launched while chasing that deliveryman in the sewers, and trying to feel through a driving (and assumedly magical) rainstorm, I knew I had something. After getting the location from Belle, I was able to go get a magic license so that I can use this new power with far less worry… as apparently the magic academy has a habit of producing criminals. They underfund the damn Magic Ward and expect student anonymity – what did they think would happen? Magic’s a serious business!
…however, I seem to have discovered something in the bar that cat bought, the Feline Fidelity. Between that and the laws, this whole city… it seems content to sweep its problems aside rather than deal with them. The web of laws has gotten to the point where no officer can reasonably enforce anything on anyone. No one is allowed anywhere in the sewers or that place below (I know what it’s called, but I’m not saying it in a public interview… yet), yet the undead down there are actively trying to get people to go below. Who knows how long they’ll be before they burst OUT of the sewers and start kidnapping people? Plus, someone could be doing something down there to undermine the city! And the part I discovered in the bar and learned from the cat – a councilor’s request to mine below being repeatedly denied without reason! I’m sorry, that one and the whole ‘no nobles’ thing don’t sit well with me at all – civilization needs to DEVELOP, even and especially if it requires armed guards to do it. I’m finding, for the first time in my life, that defying the rule of existing law is the best course of action.
Though I’m going to make certain I bring everyone back with me – Willard, that deliveryman, the cat… and especially Avot, the one who got the opportunity to go down here in the first place. I think I heard him mention something under his breath about a connection to Rose Marie, the police chief…