Sanga 'The Ox'
Sanga is a black haired, brown skinned giant, about 6’9" and close to 300 lbs. His head is wrapped in a red silk scarf and his grim face is scarred from battle and tribal rituals. He wears gold hoops through his ears and septum and heavy gold chains around his neck. His wide-collared sky blue silk vest is worn open and tucked into a wide leather girdle, from which hang a long-hafted, curve-bladed axe and a long, curved dirk. His wide green silk breeks are gathered below the knee and his feet are bare.
Character Name – Sanga, “The Ox”
Concept – Bosun, Savage Islander.
Lifepaths – Born Peasant, Hunter, Village Guard, Black Giant, Corsair
Age – 28
|PTGS||Su: B4||Li: B7||Mi: B9||Se: B10||Tr: B11||Mo: B12|
Skills – Axes B5, Bows B3, Brawling B4, Command B3, Guard-Wise B1, Hunting B2, Instruction B3, Intimidation B5, Knives B5, Monkey-Wise B1, Mutiny-Wise B1, Observation B1, Orienteering B2, Sea-Wise B2, Ship-Wise B1, Silks-Wise B1, Stealthy B2, Strategy B2, Tracking B2, Two-Fisted Fighting Training
I have searched for a year with no sign of Lilit. I will help finish this demon business so we can move against Lord Brondolay.
I have trained my men into a fighting force, but to be the best we need the best weapons. Before we leave the Isles of Magmo I will get Dwarf-made weapons for my freedmen.
- Never suffer a fool.
- Always question authority.
- Always enter Fight! In Aggressive Stance.
Gear – Finery (Fine silks, gold jewelry), Light Axe, Dirk, Leather Bracers
Reputations – 1D Savage Fighter
Lady Lilit Atmora, ex-lover and traitorous Sea-Witch, captain of The Pearl
Jubal, monkey, ex-companion to Lilit
Traits – [Char]Boastful, [Char]Flashy Silks, [C-O] Hunter-Gatherer, [Dt]Low Speech-Primates, [Char] Ritually Scarred, [Char] Robust, [C-O] Sea-Legs, [Char] Thug
|Weapon Type||I||M||S||Add||VA||WS||Strike Dist|
Character Name – Jubal
Concept – Sanga’s monkey companion
Age – 12
|PTGS||Su: B2||Li: B3||Mi: B4||Se: B5||Tr: B6||Mo: B7|
Skills – Begging B1, Brawling B2, Climbing B3, Foraging B2, Forest-Wise B2, Fruit-Wise B2, Observation B2, Shinies-Wise B2, Sleight of Hand B3, Stealthy B3
- Sanga is my friend and rescued me from the cruel witch-lady. I will do my best to serve him as long as he protects me.
- Always Fight! In Defensive Stance.
- Always pocket unattended shinies.
- Always watch Sanga’s back.
- Alarmist Trait: Shout when surprised or hesitating.
Gear – Clothing
Lady Lilit Atmora, ex-owner and creepy Sea-Witch, captain of The Pearl
Sanga, Bosun of The Adventure
Traits – [Dt] Alarmist, [Dt] Simian, [C-O] Dense Sinew (Pow vs.), [C-O] Efficient Climber, [Dt] Fangs, [C-O] Coat of Fur (Health vs. cold and wet), [Dt] Low Speech-Primates, [Dt] Small Stature, [Dt/C-O] Prehensile Tail (C-O Speed, +1D advantage to Brawling or other appropriate situations)
|Weapon Type||I||M||S||Add||VA||WS||Strike Dist|
Sanga ‘the Ox’ was born amongst the jungle dwelling Itaro tribe, on a small island floating free in the Ostward Sea.
Though he was the youngest of his siblings, by the age of 12 he had outgrown them all. Even before the age of manhood, Sanga was already an accomplished hunter and could hold his own with any of the tribe’s warriors. He had learned the ways and speech of the apes of the jungle, who the tribesmen viewed as their ancestors and spirit guides. Some believed that he would one day take over as chief of the tribe and lead them to many victories over their rivals.
One day when Sanga was nine, he was hunting alone and came upon a desperate scene in the forest. A light skinned, bearded man in flowing, brightly colored silk clothing faced a snarling leopard. Both combatants streamed blood from several wounds, and as Sanga watched the leopard pounced upon the man, savaging him with vicious jaws. Unthinking and heedless of the danger, he drew his bow and let fly a sharpened wooden arrow, piercing the beast through the neck. It reeled screaming toward him, but the sound gurgled in its throat as its lifeblood drained from the fatal wound. The huge cat collapsed heavily before the dazed and badly wounded man, who peered into the dimness of the forest around him, finally noticing the boy. They watched each other warily for a few moments before the man, no longer buoyed by the adrenaline of combat, suddenly convulsed with the pain of his wounds and staggered backward against a tree, slumping to the damp, blood-stained forest floor.
Sanga approached cautiously, carefully studying the wounded man, who was unlike any he had seen before in dress or appearance. The boy was fascinated by the colorful silks and the shining gold jewelry, as well as the strangeness of his hair and skin. As he drew close the man looked up at him, meeting his gaze with cold, pale blue eyes. Though pained, there was steel in that look and for a moment it held Sanga motionless. However, when the boy held his ground and did not look away, the man gave a fierce grin and grunted something coarsely in a strange tongue. He fumbled for a small scroll case at his belt and held it forward, offering it to the boy. Feeling a strange compulsion, Sanga reached out and grasped the case, warm and slippery with the man’s blood.
The man took his hand suddenly in an iron grasp and held him firm, murmuring strange words as his eyes took on an otherworldly sheen. Sanga felt strange forces tugging at the corners of his mind and had the sensation of a weird, eerie music just at the threshold of hearing. He felt himself being carried away, losing the sense of his surroundings, when suddenly it stopped and he was brought sharply back to awareness. He stood still before the wounded man, his hand clasped firmly around the case. The man looked different now, drained and weakened, though his steely blue gaze was undiminished. He spoke no more, only stared fiercely at Sanga until finally his eyes clouded with the hazy shroud of death and the boy’s hand slipped from his grasp.
Sanga stood for several minutes staring about the clearing. He knew that he should be frightened with everything that had happened, yet he felt strangely unaffected. He looked back down at the dead man in the colorful silks and noticed the fine steel hatchet where the man had dropped it when he fell. He picked it up, gazing at it in awe. Never had anyone in the tribe held a weapon such as this, and now it was his. He looked over at the leopard where it had fallen, where he had killed it. It was his, too. He gazed back at the fine silks, now torn and stained with blood.
The boy returned to his tribe wrapped in a cloak of flowing silk, wielding a fine steel ax and carrying the head and paws of the leopard, which he had taken as his trophies, sure they would win him great praise as a powerful warrior of the tribe. Yet when he returned, he smelled smoke and death, and heard moans and wails coming from the clearing ahead where the grass huts of his tribe had stood. He came upon a scene of carnage and despair. All that remained of his tribe were the old and infirm, infants, and a couple of badly wounded warriors. Slavers were a constant threat to the smaller island tribes. The ones who had attacked the Itaro had killed all of the adult warriors, taken the women, children, and young men captive, and left only the infants and children too young to fend for themselves in the care of the old and infirm of the tribe.
- * *
Sanga had come to Lanipal five years before aboard a merchant ship that had come to port in the coastal village of Banjar on the island of Pan. He had worked in the village as a guard to the chieftain since the day he had travelled there with his grandfather to trade skins gathered by the Itaro for goods from the village, at the time of year when his island’s meandering path brought it close to the Floating Land of Maior.
At thirteen years old, he was already well over six feet tall and as strong as any man in the tribe, and his reputation as a fierce hunter had spread throughout the neighboring region. When he arrived in the village, the chieftain took notice of him and immediately offered him a position in the village guard. Sanga saw the wealth and foreign goods that the Banjar possessed and was reminded of his encounter with the strange man in the forest and his desire to escape the microcosmic world of tribal life. He accepted the position, to the dismay of his father who nonetheless could not argue his son’s decision for fear of angering the chieftain.
Soon, however, he learned that village life was not as exciting and glamorous as it had first seemed to the eyes of an untraveled young boy. Though he lived on a much larger island now, his responsibilities gave him less freedom to roam than he had back home. Village life was dull and predictable, the village chieftain was a fool, and his fellow guardsmen were suspicious and jealous of the foreign giant.
The only excitement for Sanga was when the merchant ships from the larger island chains came about once a year, bringing fine cloths, metal tools, and various wares in exchange for whatever furs and shells the village had to offer. Sanga would always listen eagerly to the tales of the foreign sailors of strange lands and exotic riches. What he had once perceived as the wealth and power of the village he soon realized was only the scraps fed to them by the outsiders in their huge merchant ships. Banjar soon came to feel like more of a backwater prison than the island of his ancestors ever had.
So this time, when the merchant ship arrived, seventeen-year-old Sanga stole away from his duties in the village and traded his silken cloak and fine steel hatchet for passage to the bustling port city of Lanipal on the isle of Lan in Maiorager.
His initial amazement at the endless variety of unfamiliar sights and experiences in the city was swiftly overtaken by the realities of life as a penniless immigrant in this ruthless urban ecology, subject to laws of survival more harsh than even the tooth and claw of his native jungle. Luckily, Sanga was well equipped to survive by virtue of his inborn talent and savage determination. He fell in with a gang of thugs and ruffians and advanced quickly through the ranks, becoming well known in the less reputable streets of the city as a fierce, merciless fighter.
The night Sanga met Lilit, she was set upon by a group of thugs in Lanipal’s Lower Quarter. It was a dark night in the waning of Aurum, only a few faint cracks and splotches of golden light escaping from within the god-light at the heart of the world. What a young lady of noble birth was doing in this disreputable hive of murder and thievery, he never thought to ask. Fortunately for Lilit, her assailants were out of their jurisdiction.
- * *
Lady Lilit Atmora, daughter of the Lady Jessa and His Eminence Count Talis Atmora, of Dinmoro in the Floating Land of Xelos, had always been a strange child. From the time she began to speak, it was plain that she possessed strange and unearthly gifts. She often displayed knowledge beyond her years and seemed to know the deepest, darkest secrets of those around her. She was frequently witnessed in tense conversation with what appeared to be empty rooms. Her manner was so disconcerting that her father found himself unable to retain servants to attend to her.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Count Talis did not employ a court sorceror. He was a superstitious man, distrustful of spirits and sorcery. His daughter’s talents left him deeply troubled, yet Lilit was an only child and he had no other heir. His beloved wife was frail and sickly and nearing the end of her child-bearing years. Lilit was her third and only surviving child and there seemed little hope of the Countess ever bearing a son. Knowing the danger posed by a gift left untutored, the Count was left at last with no other option. He sent to a neighboring island for a court sorceror to instruct his young daughter.
The girl learned quickly, displaying an obsession for arcane secrets and ruthlessness in the pursuit of hidden knowledge. She would often spy on her father’s secret counsels and knew all of the hidden ways of the castle. Her tutor was occasionally horrified by her private experiments, and dark rumors circulated among the folk of the castle as local pets and livestock mysteriously disappeared.
In Lilit’s 12th year, her mother was again taken with child. This child, a son, survived and to his great joy, Lord Talis had his heir. When, at fourteen, having grown bored with the meager knowledge of her tutor and hungering for new and darker secrets, Lilit stowed away on a merchant vessel to dark and storm-wracked Tab-Taban, her lord father mustered only a short and perfunctory investigation before giving up the search and breathing a sigh of relief at his good fortune.
The Floating Lands of Tab-Taban circled the Ostward Vortex in the southern reaches of the Ostward Sea, slumbering in the decadent wealth of an ancient and once-great empire. It was a land of evil priesthoods and vast, mouldering libraries full of dark secrets long forgotten by the inhabitants of the brighter realms of Aurum. The hints Lilit found in these decaying vaults of an imminent apocalypse and a great power to be held by the one who possessed the proper knowledge sparked an unholy ambition in the young girl.
This ambition finally led her back north, in the hope of procuring a ship and a crew with which to continue her search for the means by which this impending doom might be turned to her advantage. It was Sanga’s unwitting destiny to provide her with the ship and crew, as well as a significant head start on her search.
- * *
“You don’t belong here, girl.”
The fight had lasted only a few seconds. The corpses of the three men lay sprawled in the filthy mud of the street, the streams and spurts of their crimson blood flowing into the foul refuse-filled puddles of the alley, staining them black in the darkness of Aurum. It was a scene all too common to the murderous alleyways of the Lower Quarter.
“I belong here about as much as you do.”
The lavishly dressed young girl eyed him with cool appraisal, seeming entirely unruffled by the grisly scene that had just unfolded before her. She was small, barely over five feet tall, and seemed no older than twenty. Yet something in her manner gave Sanga pause. He gaped mutely for a few moments and then, angry with himself for his hesitation in front of this mere girl, said boastfully,
“I am Sanga, the Ox. This,” he waved a gesture toward the streets of the Lower Quarter, “is my home.”
The girl seemed darkly amused.
“Marvelous. What dirty little monkey pit did you crawl out of, I wonder? You’re no city-born. You have the speech and manners of a jungle savage. Yet you do have a certain primitive charm.”
She peered thoughtfully about the gore-spattered alleyway.
“And one cannot doubt your talent. I think we can do better for you than this, can’t we?”
Sanga glared angrily for a moment, unaccustomed to open mockery. Then a jagged grin slowly split his broad, scarred face, and he laughed, pleased by her boldness.
“Now,” she said, eyes gleaming darkly, in a tone of false innocence, “I’ve had such a fright. I don’t think I could bear to be all alone in this big, dark city at night. Would the bold hero be so gallant as to escort this quivering damsel to her quarters?”
It took Sanga some time to recognize the mix of emotions that accompanied him on their walk that night. Certainly there was the leftover adrenaline from the previous combat, excitement at the promise of wealth, lust for the beautiful young girl who was leading him boldly up the stairs to her room in the city’s finest inn, but there was also something else, something unfamiliar. It wasn’t until the door of the room was closing behind him that he recognized the small twinge in the pit of his stomach… fear. He shook the feeling away with irritation and stepped forward into the room.
- * *
“So, what is it?”
He lay on the inside of his bunk next to the porthole in the cramped, dimly lit cabin. Lilit lay languorously beside him, propped on one elbow facing him, waving the scroll case teasingly before him.
It was three years since they had come aboard the Pearl, he as a mercenary sword and she to replace the ship’s weather witch, who had died of sudden and mysterious causes the day before the ship was to set sail from Lanipal. The captain had been pleased with his luck at finding a replacement so quickly and the terms agreed upon had been quite generous. He would otherwise have risked a huge loss, since it was the beginning of the storm season, when the Ostward Vortex was at its most ferocious and its influence spread the farthest north. A ship sailing without some form of supernatural guidance would be extremely vulnerable. Lilit was very good at her job, and the fighting prowess of the black giant came as an added bonus.
Sanga sat up with a curse, reaching desperately for his most precious belonging, but Lilit was much faster and kept it from his grasp.
“Why, what is it? You can tell me, love.”
In the nearly twenty years since he had come into possession of the scroll, he had kept it secret, poring over it for long hours by candle light, examining its every detail. Sanga had never learned to read, but he had seen the writing of the city folk of Lanipal and some of the other peoples of the Ostward Reach and he knew that this was unlike any of these. Over and over, he had carefully studied the dashes and curves and dots of the weird script as if their meaning would somehow be made clear if he could just concentrate hard enough, but it was to no avail. It was obviously a map, but the shapes on its worn and yellowed surface matched no pattern of islands that he had seen.
He had spent many an hour in the crow’s nest of the ship while supposedly on watch peering through a spyglass up and down the sweeping curve of the horizon toward the glowing haze at the edges surrounding the god-light. Perhaps the lands lay obscured by Aurum in the seas on the other side of the world, or under the stormy shadow of the Ostward Vortex. He did not know, and he would ask no one. He knew with firm certainty that this map held the key to the fame and glory for which he was destined, and he was determined that no man would keep him from it or take that which was his by right.
Now Lilit held his most precious secret in her small white hand, just out of his grasp. He looked at her face and saw the expression of amused curiosity that he knew masked an inexorable determination to discover the truth of this new puzzle. He knew that he no longer had a choice in the matter. What Lilit wanted to know, she would know.
Reluctantly, Sanga recounted the tale of his meeting with the wounded man in the forest of his ancestors and showed her that which no eyes but his had seen in all the years since.
When Lilit first beheld the map she went suddenly still, examining it with an expression of surprise which Sanga had never witnessed on her face before, followed swiftly by another look, which struck a chill into Sanga’s heart. As suddenly as the look came however, it passed, and Lilit was her accustomed self, tossing the scroll casually his way with a shrug.
“Not worth the shiny copper piece the poor fool doubtless paid for it in some fish-stinking bazaar. Such follies are the perpetual doom of clueless adventurers. It hardly even seems worth pitying one so stupid as to fall for such a ruse.”
Sanga knew she was wrong, but was relieved that she pressed him no further. When she left, he carefully rolled up the discarded scroll, replacing it in its case and hiding it behind a loose plank in the wall underneath his bunk. Convinced that his secret was still safe, he put the memory of the sudden, chilling look on Lilit’s face out of his mind- the look that would in future days come to haunt his dreams.
- * *
It was night and Sanga stood in the close darkness of the captain’s cabin with the iron tang of blood in his mouth and nostrils and its warm stickiness coating his arm and the ten inches of polished steel in his massive fist.
“Well done, my love.”
The voice came from the darkness in the direction of the bed, past the leaking corpse of the captain. A sudden light shone from a lantern on the wall and he stared in shock at Lilit’s naked form reclining across the silken sheets, spattered in the captain’s blood.
“What is this?” he hissed, in anger and confusion. This was not according to their plan, and what was she doing naked in the captain’s bed? A fury rose in him and his breast swelled in a deep breath as he raised the crimson knife in his fist.
“This, I am afraid,” she said with a pitying smile, “is the end of your usefulness, my dear Sanga. Our time together has been a gift that I will carry always in my heart- right next to this.” She stroked his scroll case, lying in front of her on the sheet. “So many gifts you’ve given me, my love.” She smiled wistfully and then let out a frightened shriek, and the sound of heavy boots echoed down the corridor outside.
In a blind fury, he moved to bury the knife in her pale flesh but found himself suddenly restrained, her gaze upon him like a steel vise squeezing him tight until he thought his heart would burst. A moment later, several crewmen burst through the door brandishing flashing steel, shouting vile curses at the sight of the scene in front of them.
Lilit lay across the corpse of the captain, sobbing as the men faced Sanga angrily. She looked up.
“Kill him.” She proclaimed, in a tone of command.
Sanga sprang at the lead crewman, the man’s cutlass clattering to the floor along with his severed hand as the pommel of Sanga’s dirk made a ruined horror of his face. As the men behind him hesitated in fear, he bowled into them, scattering them along the corridor, his blade flashing heedless to left and right in arcs of spattering crimson.
He made his way to the deck, opening the belly of the steersman as he sought to block Sanga’s exit from the hold. As the man stood stupidly gazing at the writhing mass of gray snakes that had suddenly taken the place of his midsection, Sanga pushed him aside and stepped onto the deck and found himself facing a thicket of blades and pistol bores. He leapt to the side as shots rang out, one heavy lead ball leaving a gash along his ribcage, another lodging itself in his shoulder. He scanned the deck, desperately seeking some escape from the fate that vile witch had planned for him, but of course there was only one way out.
It was a stormy night with at least ten miles of choppy seas between the ship and the nearest land, and Sanga had no chance to get his bearings. But he had no choice. As, of course, the witch had well known.
As he prepared to leap from the deck he heard a screech from above and saw something hurtling toward him from the rigging. It was the small furry form of Jubal, the monkey Lilit had bought from merchant of exotic wares at a port in Aluwu a couple of years before. She delighted in dressing him up in frilly clothes and making him dance for treats and ordering him to fetch her things that she wanted.
The monkey clung to his arm and screamed in the Low Speech of his kind,
Sanga vaulted over the railing and into the cold, wet darkness, vowing that someday, if he survived, he would return for vengeance and to reclaim what was his.