Dwork and Pherdy
The story behind the team of Min and Max
This story is set…
Just west of the merchant city of Yatar, where lived a pack of “peaceful” Uwe Kobolds. I use the word peaceful in the sense they did not kill and or eat everything that was not also a Kobold. Exiled by the Matthian Clan that ruled the Larch hills for their socialtheistic belief of non-dragon heritage they set up trade with the scores of travelers and dealsmen coming and going to Waterdeep, Neverwinter and Yartar all on the Evermoor road. It seems they gleaned it was more profitable (and safer) to actually trade wares with the high traffic then to ambush them in traps like their brethren
Now although there was the summer camp along the road for merchant trading of pelts and the boiled Karknuts that they seemed oddly skilled with, there was a main lair never to be seen by visitors.
The main reason for this was they are very aware that the practice of slavery was not much welcome in most the Feylands and slavery was an industry to them. Well you see, them Karknuts are not easy to cultivate and migrant workers cost way too much in these harsh times. And as they had an old saying…”whips are cheaper then wages”
So during the winter months the “gathering” raids was performed in the brutal fashion of the mountain clans. Attacking small snowbound villages or settlements. Taking everything that they can pillage, and destroy anything they cant. Making sure to leave no witnesses to tell tale of their raids.
Such carnage lasted for many long decades always the blame pointing to the proud Matthian’s who would rather fight then defend accusations about raids against the lesser non-dragon folk. It provided a good source of sundries and most important a very good way to procure children as slaves without anyone to come looking for them!
In the normal Kobold slyness it was a good working system. Slay the parents, eat them for food, take all their possessions, divert the truth, and mold the child’s life with fear and pain into unquestionable servitude and free labor. That was until Vexivth Rex came into power.
Vex being the 7th broodling in 4 generations of clan leaders was particularly vicious even for a Kobold. Having slayed all his brood before even 12 summers passed, his role as Lair leader was assured. Unable to wait he poisoned his father and declared himself Rex after forcibly taking his mother as brood mate.
Having such a horrendous mindset was his undoing tho. He found other uses for the slaves that generated income and amusement. He had court performers and artist for gluttonous parties. Pitted the stronger workers into gladiator style death matches and forced the females into a multiracial brothel. Out of this life of hell came an unexpected friendship between one of the jesters and one of the pit fighters.
The Story of Dwork Min…
Dwork was born small even for his race but made up for it in his bigger then life antics. Having been taken whilst still very young he has no idea about who his parents were or where he is from. He knows nothing of his childhood but the hell of the slave pens.
At first he used to just run messages and small items back and forth the camp getting to know everyone. But being too much the runt to be of any true use as a slave they decided not to waist any more time on him. So when he was 10 Vex decided to play a game and let him lose in the main courtyard for target practice of the slingers. Not realizing his doom he thought it a game and danced a twirling back step to doge the hurled stones.
His dancing amused those gambling on his life and more important it amused Vex earning him the role of a jester and the freedom to roam the camp as wished as long as stayed the goof. After being called “the mini one” for many years the camp soon just started calling him “Min”
But he always had the feeling he was meant for something better and felt much capacity within him and always he desired to be free and rise above his station. He had an insatiable interest in anything anyone would talk to him about. With his freedom to roam the camp he always found a way to be near the storytellers or any that would share a word to a laughing child
In truth his biggest danger was not from the kobolds but the other slaves. Those that was jealous of the freedoms that Vex’s favoritism brought brutalized him by taking advantage his small stature. Most his meals were taken by force and he was often made to sleep in the dung piles. When in the pens he learned to hide and keep to the shadows to prevent the constant beatings
Dwork looked at this as just another thing to learn to get past and he grew durable in both his body and mind every action a lesson to him. Most important he learned the skill of learning. Not having the resources to focus himself on any one subject he strove to learn anything about everything.
He learned to play music to help him escape the turmoil, he learned to tell the stories instead of just listening, he helped the slingers make their potions learning the ingredients, and he helped the ritualist prep for the raids his prying mind paying close attention to the draco-magi. He delved into the embodiments of arcane magics but without a true teaching or even books he was forced to use his music as his tool to focus the powers.
Another thing he learned was hope, and to see a possible good in all things.
It is this ability to stand aside from doom, death, and despair and look at things from several perspectives that still drives him today.
The story of Ferdinand Max…
Ferdinand was born bad, meaning in many ways. The red full moon was believed an ill portent of a doomed future. His mother died soon after his troublesome birth and sensing the wrongness of the missing mother he was a brayer. Day and night he bayed looking for the nip to suckle and his father so unable to help that he would drink himself to sleep. Being the motherless son of a boozing father he earned the label “doggie” and was in many fights and scrapes growing up acquiring a mean disposition at an early age. Finding little good in the world he fed on his distaste of the world and all those in it but for his older sister that would sometimes sing to him to calm him.
He was a very bitter child and the night the kobolds swarmed the camp he did not bother to wake his father. He strolled out into the street and silently watched all those around him cut to pieces and the tents burned down. He felt oddly detached from the horror of it even when his father ran out of the burning tent his sister close behind. Smoking and burned already his father in great pain did not even feel the spear as it passed thru him. It took several chops from the blades of the invaders to get him to drop. They did not stop till his father was un-limbed and assuredly dead. His sister did not die right off either, they tried to capture her for the brothel but he fought back. This earned her a club to the head then while she lay there hemorrhaging from the skull the beast had their way with her till she moved no more.His seething silence wile standing in the road was mistaken as a form of retardation and he was figured to be a prime slave taken back to the camp in chains. Years passed and always little was thought of him as his constant silence and baleful looks earned him little consideration long as he did his work. He took focus of his lot in life in the breaking of the quartz stones with hammers and the chopping of the karknut pods that hid underneath with his axe. His anger fueled him into a great beast of strength and dangerous violence even at a early age. After killing a full-grown orc with his empty hands over a simple scrap of rotten meat. Vex took advantage of the beast and put him into the fighting pits to make sport of the calf. But the bullock had a bloodlust that surprised everyone, and partnered with a countenance to live thru the hack and fray of combat he climbed the ranks of the gladiators with zeal and Ferdy became at home with his life, such as it was. His prowess with his brash swinging style earned him the nickname “Max the Axe”
Most brothers are born, some are made…
Wile training in song and story Min would often practice by himself in the back area of the cave away from the bully slaves. As per chance Max would oft be nearby also wanting to be away from everyone for different reasons. The songs helped calm the minotar to sleep reminding him of his sister and the only good thing in his life. In fact he would find the inner rage within him often gone when listening to the bardic refrain and finally some solace to his life.
In return Max gave portions of his fighters meal to the always-starving halfling. They soon learned of the other advantages they could offer each other. The Bard using his court appeal to dramatize the glory fights of the minotare, making him a local favorite and earning him advanced training in the art of death. Max used his brawn to protect the weak bard in the slave pits.
Soon they became fast friends and learned that even in such an evil place trust and hope can be found. Even their names came from each other, as no slaves actually knew their own names and they wanted more then just the nicknames given by the slave masters. The fighter gave the name Dwork (meaning small idiot in minotar) to the bard and he in return named Ferdinand from a story about a dumb cow he to read to the kobold kids.
Yes I said he read books to the Kobold kids. Dwork knew his life only meant how well he kept Vex entertained and he strove hard to learn many crafts. Learning Draconic was easy (it’s the only language spoken in camp) and the arts of Song, Dance, Juggling, and Comedy was actually fun. He tried to teach what he could to Ferdy, as the mino tried to learn him what he could of battle tactics and the killing of others but it soon became obvious that they where very different in not just looks but in nature as well. After the fight with Mauk it was apparent that they needed each other and a strong bond formed between them such as they think themselves to be brothers and friends beyond death itself.
Oh yea the fight with Mauk..
After awhile it became normal routine for those seeking peace would come to the back caves and lay and listen to the music lost in their own thoughts. But there never being no true peace in a slave pen this only lasted till Mauk (one of the adult pit fighters and a vicious hobgoblin) and his gang of goblin hanger-on’s moved to the area and started Dominating the others. Well that was tillhe tried playing his own version of “catch” with the halfling. After throwing Dwork hard against the rock wall he urinated on him to the laughing of the ever-present goblin pack.
His fun was cut short as he was slammed from behind and knocked to the floor. With a roaring bellow that froze the goblins in fear the minotar simultaneously kicked the laying Mauk in the head and mauled the nearest goblin across the face killing him instantly.
The noise did not go unnoticed and the Kobold slave masters were fast upon them dragging them apart (but not until Ferdy got a few more shots in). But by now both the fighters were in a blood rage so Vex decided to let them finish it in the pits. And why not make a few coins from it wile at it, after seeing in the eyes of the mino the same uncaring focus of aggression he himself had, he bet heavy upon the smaller calf.
By the time of the fight Mauk regained his composer and shook off the dizziness from the hoof kicks. He was mad as hell and was going to teach this retarded bullock a lesson never to be forgot. Armed and armored they where released into the pit and Ferdy instantly charged head down and horns first. But Mauk was ready this time and side stepped the rushing beast bringing the haft of his hammer down upon its head. The blow was strong and this time it was Ferdy that was knocked to the ground and the Hobknocker in the advantage. The young bull tumbled and fumbled to get a chance to upright himself but the rain of blows from the hammer was breaking bones and taking a serious toll. He felt his death soon upon him and prepped himself wishing his hell of life would at least end fast.
Dwork on the other hand never gives up hope; he was soul shocked to see the events before him all because someone sought to protect him. He wished with every fiber of his being that the bull would not die. He prayed to gods he didn’t know existed, and he focused all his will into the wish Ferdy would just get up and kill the vile cretin.
Mauk was in his glory; he had his revenge soon and the respect and standing regained from this insolent whelp of a cow. He knew well the signs of an opponent that has given up and paused the final deathblow to play to the crowd, inciting them into yells and jeers and the accolades deserved him.
Dwork thankful for the extra second poured his past life into his will, feeling the reverbance well up inside him he sent his force into a single though, and spoke the words as if they had power to change reality itself. “BE WELL AND GET UP!”
Ferdy didn’t know how or why the warmth in him got there. Nor how Dworks command filled his head, but he felt bones instantly mend and gash’s close and the strength of hope fill him. Surprisingly enough he felt his axe still in his hand being still very weak and hurt he rolled out using the wall to stand,. Whatever this miracle this was would probably not save him but he was going to get one last swing on that basterd hobgoblin before he died!
The crowd dropped in silence seeing the mino rise from the floor, dripping blood and one arm hanging lose by only by the skin and crushed bones. Mauk spun to see the sight and even he was a second’s pause in shock of the apparition before him. Ferdy swung at the mighty fighter with his one good arm but Mauk was better then that. He deflected the weak blow easily with the haft of the hammer. Raising that hammer high he knew he was still going to get his deathblow on his enemy.
Dwork was amazed, he felt the power within him heal Ferdy and it was like pure joy but to naught did it come seeing as the mino was to die anyway. Still rushed with his power he again sent it into Ferdy this time with all his anger of the years of hell. He found the same anger inside the mino and mixed it lending great power and focused all this into one more command “HIT HIM!”
Ferdy felt the power charge into him, felt his weapon arm grow strong and felt all the angered force snap into him, and he swung. He swung low to high up under the raised arms of the mighty Mauk and when he hit he felt that power in him shoot to his axe and split the chest open, flinging Mauk into the back wall slapping his skull hard into the wall.
Mauk was dead before his bloated body even hit the floor. The fight was brutal, it was bloody, and it was profitable. So Vex was happy no matter how it was won.
Freedom is never free…
In all of this time Vex’s greed got the best of him. He broke the clan rule of inviting strangers to the clan cave. Other vile cretins come to bet on the fights, have drunken parties with debase entertainment, and of course the appeal of the brothel. Such was his mistake in thinking the big secrete would stay silent!
The order of Arawai in Yartar was as present as they where in most all the cities of Feyland. The whispered word of the kobolds slavery of children was enough to incite them into drastic action. Many strings were pulled to launch a military campaign against the Kobolds. The Waterwarden commanded a bright up and coming captain to lead a confident force of heavy troops but as the night of the attack came and they found that (in true fashion) the Kobolds had many traps prepared to stop such an attack.
As the soldiers tumbled into the ropes and nets they were doomed before the first sword was even swung. Drunk with hubris Vex ordered the pit fighters released to kill the few that escaped the traps. Dwork implored Ferdy to turn his bloodlust to the slave masters freeing the other slaves to help overrun the kobolds wile Dwork cut the nets to release the soldiers. It was bloody mess at the end and regrettably no trace was found of Vexivth or his top men at arms.
With the slaves rescued and the camp destroyed the soldiers returned to the city victorious but wounded in pride. Owing a dept they gave the slaves to the Temple clerics with hopes they would raise them and the event never spoke of again lest there be shame on the City guard. The temple agreed and tried to house the slaves. Dwork took to his saviors with apt reverence and continued his thirst for learning of all things. And it seemed Arawai took a likening to this tiny man with a big soul and bestowed the blessing of the healing ways.
Ferdy on the other hand did not fare so well. Not much promise for a wayward Mino that knows little more then the chopping of another person into tiny bits. Ferdy was content doing odd jobs of strength and spending his time lying in the fields smelling the flowers. Twas only a matter of time till a fateful day when a brace of drunken dwarfs thought to make a fun evening of provoking the church going mino with the silly name and flowers in his hair. After killing them both with a simple table leg the magistrate decided to have the Ferdy put to the death as a danger to the world at large.
Dwork hurried to the master of arms, the once captain of the embarrassed soldiers and begged his assistance. The captain helped save the Minotar in payment of the dept owed but added his own price of them leaving Yartar and promising to never come back or risk the Captain loosing even more honor. He was bid to take the Mino to Waterdeep and find a life there where they would not stand out in a large crowd and Ferdy having nobody else to trust in the world of course agreed to go.
And so the story of the Brothers Min and Max has begun.