Anakh is an ogre who has done bad things in the past, but is mostly a very easy-going, trusting person. He has been a servant through much of his life and always tends to take orders rather than give them. I don’t play him as “evil” at all, though he lives in Freeport, he’s just a regular guy, and like he always says – “Dem dorfs an’ pallydans always be hatin’ me, what I ever do to dem?” He tends to be very protective of the ogres that live in Big Bend, downtrodden by the city and so the only people he really hates are those like the Knights of Freeport that he views as adding to their plight.

I wanted to write something that told a bit about Anakh’s background, for a long time he was a favored servant of an eccentric dark elf, and I knew he probably did a lot of things he wasn’t so proud of back then. So that’s what led up to this story.

Needs Must

“My poor body, madam, requires it: I am driven on by the flesh; and he must needs go that the devil drives.”

All’s Well that Ends Well, William Shakespeare

Several years ago:

Anakh walked around the corner of the blocky stables, nodding a brief hello to the stableboy and a few other servants toiling in the summer heat. The ogre was broiling in his hardened leather armor, but didn’t complain. He headed for the gate where a few guards lounged in the brief shade offered by the wall. One of them, a Kerran, looked up and grinned.

“Anakh, got another mission, eh? The boss is on again, assassins after him, you know, the usual. He’s paranoid.”

Another guard, a troll, grinned nastily, revealing teeth filed to points, “Mebbe so, but his coins clink well, and you be hoppin’ like a frog when he call, Kerris!” The kerran just growled in response.

Anakh paused in the shade, not returning the remarks. The boss was on again, though. He almost always was, these days. But Anakh knew the truth, there were assassins, he had seen and touched them, and left them dead. He looked up at the tower, not too tall, but decorated in swirls and swoops of obsidian, a nice building, though the decorations had cracked and fallen off in places and the whole thing had a look of barely contained neglect. He dusted himself off and headed toward it, the domain of his master, Vyro T’nak, sage, scholar, and part-time eccentric.

As Anakh trudged into the hallway leading to his master’s study, he heard Vyro’s voice, magically thrown somehow. “Ah, Anakh, come in, my good boy. I’ve got a task for you.”

Anakh opened the door with a click, and walked in just a little, before halting, “Master, I be comin’..err, I come like you asked. How can I serve you?”

Vyro T’nak was an older Tier’dal, spare, almost gaunt, and surrounded by parchments and books, as usual. “Yes, but what did I tell you about your accent? I taught you to speak well, it’s important, it makes a good impression.” He dusted his hands and looked Anakh over, frowning now, “You know, they’re after me again. It’s the bastard Vansa again, I’m sure of it.”

Anakh stood as straight as he could, “I be..umm..I am listening on the streets, like you said. There be rumors, but nothing substantial yet.” He bowed his head, “And I’m sorry about de language, it be…umm is hard, with all the ogres around, and the street talk, it’s easy to fall back into my old ways, before you found me.”

The Tier’dal nodded, “It’s alright, my boy. You’re doing very well. You hear the things an ogre can, but I hear much more. This time, we’re going to get the jump on whatever killers Vansa will send, I’ve found out where they’re staying!” He rattled around in some papers before finding a small note and offering it to Anakh. “Go there and clean the place out, don’t give them any warning, or mercy. They’d give you none.”

Anakh took the paper and nodded, “It will be done as you say, master. Is there anything else?” When there was no response, he bowed and left the room. As he walked down through the tower, he checked the address. Carver’s Street, a bad area, full of villains. This wouldn’t be the first time he had done tasks like this for his master, after all, Vyro had trained and educated him, and made him his favorite and most capable servant, so Anakh did all he could to obey his orders.

Anakh armed himself, wore a chain vest below his leathers to turn any knives, and otherwise prepared himself as best he could, before setting out that night into the bustling streets of Freeport. It was a twenty minute trip to the rancid darkness of Carver’s Street, full of dank taverns, shady characters, and those who couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. He checked the address, and confirmed it with an Iksar with mottled and diseased looking scales.

“Shinies? For the help?” the Iksar asked, and Anakh gave over a silver.

Anakh headed up the stairs in the tenement building, crowded, but good cover for assassins, no one would think to look for them here. He found the door, off on its own down a narrow hallway, with no one around. He readied his knife, and knocked.

His training always stressed quick action, moving fast and violently stunned people, they couldn’t respond until it was too late. He hoped it would work on these trained killers.

An ogre opened the door, and barely had time to grunt “Yah?” before it was over, Anakh’s knife slammed into the ogre’s neck fast and very hard, and he fell. Anakh sprang past, into a side room, to see a female ogre, standing up with some kind of sharp instrument in her hand. He let the knife fly at her, and moved to the side, following up with a punch to her arm, then as she fell, he broke her neck. Retrieving his knife, he saw fallen from her hand….knitting needles?

He didn’t have time to think, but bounded into the next room, and saw a small ogre girl-child, holding a small stuffed animal of some kind, staring at him wide-eyed. “You gon’ take Bun-Bun?”

Anakh was stunned, and reeled back, almost dropping his knife. He saw it now, this wasn’t a nest of assassins, the address had been wrong, or the intelligence behind it. This was…he had killed…an innocent family. And yet, he had his orders.

Anakh replied slowly, “No, I’m not here for dat, little one.” His mind raced, what to do? He couldn’t go back without completing his orders, not betray his master. But yet, these were innocents. He thought for a long moment, with the little ogre child just staring at him, then he steeled himself.

He was just a knife hand, wielded by others. He had orders, he needed orders, he was a good servant. Almost not knowing what he was doing, he picked up the little girl and crumpling to the floor, sat her on his lap. She didn’t speak, and then his hands on her neck, he twisted, hard. He placed her gently on the floor and picked up the fallen animal, a badly stuffed rabbit, Bun-Bun. He wasn’t sure how long he sat there and wept.

The next morning, Anakh returned to the tower, and told his master the job was done. No details needed.

Present day

Anakh returned to his small and crowded inn room, back from another trip into the desert. He was much stronger now than he was in earlier years, but he was different too. His master dead years ago, Anakh had been on his own, but found friends and welcome in surprising places. Anakh dumped his pack on the floor and took off his armor, enjoying a cool sip of ale as he sat in his single chair. After a few moments he went to the mantel, where among the trophies and bric-a-brac accumulated from an adventuring life, there was a small stuffed rabbit, cloth torn and grimy. He picked it up and set it on his chair and smiled, “Bun-Bun, I be in de desert for a week, an’ I got some stories to tell! You like dis one, it be about fightin’ pirates!” The ogre continued to drink his ale and tell his jokes and stories to the rabbit, as if to a small ogre child, until he fell asleep, to dream of snow.