Desert Roads, Desert Choices
Thod was a tall, bald Mul who fought with nothing but his fists and feet his entire, brief life.
Thod was born in a slave pen owned by House Jarko in Balic. Once he was weaned off his mother’s milk, the slavers took him from the muls who sired him, and placed him in a cohort of future gladiators. Although he quickly showed that he was aggressive enough to fight in the ring, any fight trainer who tried to place a weapon in the young Thod’s hands was met with a flurry of punches and kicks. Rather than break the stubborn young slave of his disdain for weapons, Thod’s masters decided to train him in the ways of unarmed combat. His trainers taught him to rely on nothing but the power of his own hands and feet.
Thod’s first bouts in the lower rungs of the Criterion showed his promise, even against well-armed foes. These bouts also gave Thod his first tastes of open air, and gave him a sense of his own strength. The single-mindedness that Thod had given to learning to fight was now moved to finding his freedom. He quickly became a thorn in the side of his masters, teaching himself how to pick or break his restraints. He also learned how to endure the harsh punishments meted out to him after each escape attempt. It was in these moments, however, that Thod discovered a new joy of the fight; he was not fighting for glory, money, or because he was told to. For the first time, he was fighting for his life and his freedom, and a defeat in defense of that was far sweeter than any victory in the tawdry ring of the Criterion.
Each escape attempt brought him closer to freedom, but also brought a harsher beating. One night, after breaking his chains, picking the lock on his cage, and peering around every corner to evade capture, Thod was met at the door to House Jarko’s slave warrens by the trainer Marok, who showed him the way of the fist and the ring. A fellow Mul, born in captivity, Marok had earned some small measure of freedom by agreeing to groom future slaves like himself. Marok was the closest Thod knew of a mentor and a kindred spirit, but no man, woman, or beast would stand between him and a door to freedom. After Marok offered Thod the chance to become a trainer himself after a few more years in the ring, Thod beat his teacher to death with his bare hands.
Thod found his newfound freedom sweet, but daunting. Not having any skills beyond that of his fists, he sought a way out of Balic, where he might be out of the reach of House Jarko. The first opportunity he found was escorting a caravan across the desert to Tyr. His first task as a free man completed, he set out on a grander quest to find a mysterious artifact, which was protected my many taints. Thod punched many of the taints, but was eventually overpowered, petrified, and set on fire. A couple times. Thod may have died free, but at least he also died horribly.
Though Thod’s life was short, as long as children strike each other in the perineum, Thod will never truly die.