Dark Sun - Legacy of Kings
Sarok of Ihlathimen
Short, broad mul wearing light armor and carrying a totemic spear.
Sarok is short for a mul, standing barely 5’9", but weighs as much a a mul several inches taller. His body is corded with muscle, giving him a solid, unbreakable look. The majority of his strength comes from the healthy diet he enjoyed in Gulg and the hard work of patroling and tending the city-state’s forest. Bald and mostly hairless, Sarok does grow a long topknot of hair that he keeps neatly groomed and braided as a matter of pride. From his hours in the Athas sun, his skin is deeply bronzed, making the green-gold tint of his eyes stand out even more against his flesh. Covering his bald head and thick limbs are a myriad of tattoos, some fresh but many years old. Most are abstract shapes, geometric patterns, or other runic-style symbols, reminescent of his dwarven heritage. The way he will sometimes trace out a particular pattern indicates that each has a story that he associates with certain emotions or situations. Combined with the habit of stroking a hand through his topknot when he’s deep in thought, Sarok can often take on a pensive look, rather uncharacteristic on the squat mul.
One might think being born in Gulg to a feared judaga and a fated nganga would mean a life of privlege for a mul like Sarok. What it really meant was that from the moment he was born, he had a legacy to fulfill. His birth had been arranged by Lalali-Puy, mating a trusted human woman in her service to one of the fiercest mul judaga’s in Gulg. His mother Taina’s funeral was held the day after he was born, the dagada saying their farewell to another who would become one of the Oba’s mystics. Ruskan, Sarok’s father, spared little attention for him growing up, leaving his care to the communal upbringing of his family. Ruskan would make appearances between great hunts or skirmishes with Nibenay, just enough time to berate Sarok for one perceived failure or another. One of lesser spirit might have broken, but Sarok only grew surer in his resolve to prove himself. One thing that was ingrained in Sarok’s upbringing was devotion to Lalali-Puy, Queen of Gulg.
Sarok worked hard and pushed himself for the family, herding the dagadas’ animals, farming the lands of the forest, and fighting in skirmishes against Nibenay and others who would see the sanctity of Gulg broken. The day that changed his life came at age 18 when his request for an audience with the Oba came. A year before, a member of another dagada had neglected his farm, causing a blight that infected animals that Sarok’s people used for labor. Sarok’s tenacity and foresight enabled him to bring proof of the neglect directly to the Queen, who resolved the issue in his favor. While it earned him the animosity of another dagada, it also brought Sarok to the Queen’s personal attention and a few months later, the summons – for it was an invitation in name only – came to join the Paper Wasps, a clandestine organization of advisors to the sorcerer-queen. For the next 2 years, Sarok’s sharp wits, keen insights, and eagle eyes kept him one step ahead of those who would act against Gulg. Sarok’s advice to the Oba helped shape several policies.
He was made the queen’s eyes and ears to the Ihlathimen Dagada, a dagada of mostly druids, shaman and other primal practitioners. Sarok integrated himself into the dagada, befriending the leader, a goliath druid named Doraga. Lalali-Puy’s policy against the spirits of the forests was rooted in the rationale that they were ‘evil’ and meant harm to Gulg and its citizens. During his assignment, Sarok learned from Doraga and the others, even going so far as to become tied to the spirits of the land and befriending the protector spirit, Mathghamhain. He was told legends of the Shrines of Athas, areas of primal power scattered throughout the lands. It was said, according to Doraga, that the power of these Shrines could be used to restore Athas to its former beauty, but that the keys to finding and using the shrines had been lost through the ages. Each shrine was dedicated to a particular element or Great Spirit and each was hidden from those who would seek to subvert the power. Part of Doraga’s teaching was of the Sorcerer-Kings and their extermination of many of the races of Athas. Unable to believe his Queen capable of such genocide, he chose not to believe at first. However, the stories ate at his resolve and soon, he found himself wishing to speak with these other races, to learn what he could to help restore their place in the cycle.
Over time, his devotion to the Queen had competition in his newfound devotion to the land and its spirits. While he was still loyal to the Oba, his advice came to be tempered by his experiences, and though he never admitted to the Queen that he had begun studying primal magic, it was obvious something had changed. He even suggested that he lead expeditions to bring these wayward races to Gulg to settle. When Lalali-Puy sent Sarok to the Crescent Forest to investigate the Lostspears, he knew it was a test. If he survived, it meant he was working with the spirits and would be judged and dealt with; if he died, it meant he was innocent and would be vindicated. Either way, he knew that the Oba’s trust in him had faded and she was not prone to reinstatement.
His doubt of the divine providence of the Oba increased as he encountered spirits who were not ‘evil’ or trying to kill him. He survived as best he could, avoiding Nibenay patrols and Lostspear Halflings, using the very land as his guide and protector. The spirits of the forest responded to his requests and he was able to call upon them more readily. Eventually, however, he was captured by the Druids of the Crescent and taken to their leader, Barazin. Recognizing a kindred soul in Sarok, Barazin took him in and trained him. By now, Sarok assumed that the Queen would think him dead. Over time Sarok shared his teachings and learned more of the ancient races of Athas and the Primal Shrines that might one day be the salvation of all creatures. He devoted himself to the elements, becoming an Elemental Priest, and giving himself over to the spirits even as he forsaked his previous life. He learned to bring forth another spirit of Athas, a desert sand elemental spirit named Gaineamh. When news of Kalak’s death reached the forest, Barazin sent Sarok to the city to learn what he could, but to be wary of Gulg spies.