Biggut by Kah



19 June 2016 at 22:17:20 MDT

A long-running character of mine I've never gotten around to getting drawn until now.

Biggut claims to be a Paladin in service to the Beer God. In addition to the absurdity of their even being such a god, he hardly looks the part of some holy warrior either. Despite his massive, oafish figure - he actually has a surprisingly soft and welcoming demeanor, eager to solve any dispute he's faced with with diplomacy, booze, and the occasional bit of manhandling. Having sworn off the use of more traditional weaponry, he wields heavy twin flagons, his 'cups of plenty', which replenish with seemingly endless amounts of sanctified booze at his command, perhaps lending some legitimacy to his claims of devotion after all. While he may seem intimidating at first, he's actually a pretty big pushover, and even the most flimsy of sob stories will have him bawling his eyes out and pledging to help any who ask for his aid.

Art by the super-spectacular Min!

The very image of a typical, brutish and barbaric tribe of Gnolls, the Blackbelly Gnolls operated in the western plains of the land, carrying out their races favored tradition of outsourcing labor by way of slavery to any traveling merchants or other tribal humanoids unfortunate enough to cross their path. In truth there was very little to distinguish the Blackbelly Gnolls from the uncountable hordes of other Gnollish tribes that occupied the scrublands. They drew their namesake from the primary coloring that many of the tribe's leaders had sported through the generations, darkened abdominal regions, which often grew fat as the leaders grew lazy and corpulent upon the backs of their slaves. While this trait did not grace every member of the tribe, there was not a single leader through the years that could count himself without the telltale markings.

Biggut was born as the largest of his litter, and thus was expected to become a great hunter and slavetaker for the tribe. Lacking the mark of leadership, he was instead destined to be subservient muscle for the Blackbelly Gnolls, but as he grew, it became clear that he didn't have any knack for hunting, and proved too slow for the capture of slaves. He was eventually forced into one of the lowest jobs on the totem pole, the watching and maintenance of existing slaves. This role was not seen as glorious, nor was it desired for its ease (as Gnolls tend to favor positions that allow them to slack off, of course), as he would be made to feed, wash, and tend to the wounded or sick slaves without rest. What little respite he did earn was often squandered as his spiteful kin would lay their own duties upon him so they themselves could take a break.

Biggut spent his formative years in this rut, growing from a wee gnollcub into quite the large adult looking after the tribe's slaves. He loathed the work, and grew to despise his tribe, almost feeling as much their slave as the prisoners he saw to. Careful internal examination led him to sympathize more and more with the slaves over the years. He began to treat them with an unprecedented level of comfort and care, and many of them would confide in him, begging for their release, either in escape or death. He could not grant these requests, for fear of punishment at the hands of his own tribe, but with each passing season, the temptation grew on him. In his contact with the slaves, he learned a great many things. He learned of the outside world, of the many cities that had risen, the mighty races that stood united between them, and the powerful gods they paid homage to. He learned the common tongue, rudimentary parley from a group of captured diplomats, and the art of deceit from a charlatan priest (and despite this, remaining himself as gullible as ever.

These lessons were not lost upon him. He began to use these skills to manipulate the tribe, merely testing the waters at first, negotiating better food and conditions for himself and the slaves, and once managing to forge a promise of ransom payment that allowed a captured family of nobles to leave their service. His skills would not truly be put to the test however, until the night of the blood moon, on his seventeenth year of life.

Another nearby tribe of gnolls, the nomadic and enigmatic Ghostface tribe, descended upon the Blackbelly when they were particularly fat and happy, and unsuspecting of danger. The Ghostface tribe were both known and reviled for their infamous deeds and countenance. Taking the guise of ghosts upon themselves, they painted their faces with chalk dust, which almost seemed to glow in the eerie moonlight of the blood moon, and cackled blood-curdling, howling laughs that reverberated echoes of abject terror through the very bones of their victims. The tribe was infamous for its penchant of preying upon other Gnollish tribes, taking captive as many as they could, and committing most heinous acts of debaucherous cannibalism upon those who fell in battle. The Ghostface gnolls took especially sick pleasure in their kills, ritually defiling and consuming the dead in the most hedonistic manner imaginable.

As the Blackbellies reeled from the assault, wholly unprepared for a midnight skirmish, orders came down from the leader to kill the tribe's slaves. If the Blackbelly were to be routed, they would at least prevent the Ghostface ranks from growing any further. Biggut was sent to slaughter his charges, the Gnoll advancing with trepidation, cogs spinning in his head as he tried desperately to find another way out of this. He was met by two others of his tribe that lusted to spill blood, eagerly taunting and threatening the tribes' slaves as they awaited Biggut's arrival to open the cages. The slaves cowered and huddled together as they awaited their doom, a deep revulsion and sadness swelling within their keeper as he gripped the blade he'd been given for the task.

The two predatory gnolls come for a bit of bloodsport lay crumpled on the floor in the stead of the slaves they wished to gut, the slashes through their backsides more than enough to rend the life from their wicked forms. Their blood now coated the prisoners they sought to slaughter, as Biggut choked back tears for his brothers. He had thought it would be easier, having watched them take countless lives. He had expected a cold calm, or at the very least a quieting of his heart as he did the deed. Before long, his heavy, wet sobs carried throughout the whole of the tribegrounds, tears flowing like waterfalls as he swung that blade with the fury of the departed, cleaving open the cages before him and allowing the slaves to scramble out to their freedom in the confusion of the skirmish. Many of the more able slaves clamored for scraps of weapons or armor to secure themselves as they escaped. Were it not for the exceptional care they'd been given, the would likely be too atrophied to even run away properly, much less take up arms.

Biggut stumbled onto the battlefield, still bawling with the darkness of the deed he'd done, swinging that blade ineffectually at the Ghostface menace. Had he more presence of mind, he might have thought to escape with the slaves, but presently he didn't feel himself deserving of life any longer. In the confusion of the dark and dreadful battle, a blade struck his side, downing him as the carnage only intensified around him, now helpless to look away from the sight of his brothers being savagely ripped apart and devoured, amongst other carnal befoulments. The Gnoll managed to crane his head enough to see his attacker before the blackness took him, glimpsing not a vengeful Blackbelly, nor a marauding Ghostface, but instead a slave, one of the very prisoners he had just freed had stuck him down, before vanishing into the night.

As Biggut dreamt, awaiting death on the battlefield, he could not shake his mind from this phenomenon. When he awoke, he found himself in the possession of the Ghostface tribe, one of the few survivors they had scavenged to serve as slaves of their own. As the gnoll began the hard labors he had seen his own charges perform for years, he grew silent and introspective, speaking not a word for his entire stay with the Ghostface. His mind sought peace; answers. Why did this happen? Was in punishment for slaying his brothers? Perhaps the slaves simply could not see in the dark of the night, not as the gnolls could, and had struck at him blindly? No, not this, he thought. This was just. This was what he deserved for a lifetime of enslaving others, of allowing the heinous actions of his tribe to continue. It was his reward for a life of evil.

But yet he lived. This part he pondered with even greater amazement. If his actions were truly deserving of death, then he would have met it on the battlefield, no doubt. But he did not die there, and had not died here, in the service of new masters. He looked upon the faces of those enslaved alongside him; other Gnolls, both from his tribe and abroad, as well as other races unfortunate enough to be taken by the Ghostface. They should not suffer this prison, this hell, not as he did. The conditions here were deplorable, much as the Blackbelly slavetender before him had run his shop. The warden was lazy, neglecting his slaves and letting them waste away. This would not stand.

Biggut learned more of the Ghostface, of the foul 'gods' they worshipped, gods in much the manner as many other deities feared and worshiped by the Gnolls, often the slightest magical or natural phenomenon they could not explain, given the pomp and circumstance of godhood. He learned of his warden, of his weaknesses. He was dim, even by Gnoll standards, which had earned him this role. With all Biggut had learned, of the nature of the gods the Ghostface worshipped, and the tricks he picked up from the slaves he once tended to back home, it was simple to trick the warden to believe Biggut's false signs of divinity, to fear the wrath of the Ghostface gods, to let his captive free, to not notice the blade destined for his gut until it was too late.

With the warden dead, Biggut found not peace, but turmoil. He was brought back to the night of the blood moon, the blood staining his paws. The tears flowing from him with wailing sobs as he freed the prisoners. It had all happened again, but this would not abate him. He freed the rest of the prisoners, escaping the Ghostface camp under cover of the sun, while the lazy, nocturnal fiends slumbered. He left the lives of both slaver and slave behind that way, blazing a trail of his own tears towards freedom. Rumors spread from the escaped slaves, of the blubbering buffoon that saved them from a life of captivity, howling tears all the way back to civilization.

In the years that followed, Biggut drifted. He found the only place a Gnoll could take in society to be a sellsword, and even then he'd only be accepted on the very fringes of the most cavalier settlements. Years passed as he scrounged for whatever work he could find, defending caravans, dungeons, vaults; whatever was in need of dumb muscle. Often he'd find himself without coin for his toil, his employers reviling his kind far too much to give them honest pay. He eventually grew to forgive himself for his past, at least enough to move on with his life for now, but failed to find any form of permanent closure. The fact that such brutal slavers still existed in this world gnawed at the back of his mind, but he did not believe himself to have the strength to oppose them. He eventually carved out a reputation for himself amongst mercenary circles, as the strange, bulbous Gnoll that preferred to resolve matters with words than with blades. He earned the begrudging respect of a few comrades, and was invited to join them for a round of drinks at the behest of a tavern whose livelihood they had preserved in their work.

It was then that he tasted ale; real ale. Not the paltry swill that the Blackbelly had imitated, nor the liver-rot that lowly mercenaries such as himself would often scrounge, but honest-to-goodness draft brew. It was as the nectar of the gods to him. The Gnoll downed flagon after flagon of the stuff, at the encouragement of his fellows continuing until he blacked out with a full belly after a tremendous night of rejoicing. Then the Alemaster spoke to him.

With booming voice and godly countenance, the immaculate form of the Alemaster appeared before Biggut. His head still dizzy with the effects of the brew, he could find no words to describe the awe or splendor he found himself in, and instead only listened as the Alemaster spoke. The godlike being wished for deliverance for the common people, to free them from bonds of both poverty and enslavement, so that all might embrace the wonders of alcohol, his gift to the mortal realm. Biggut was given geas, a quest to set forth unto the land, to free any he could find from the tyranny of servitude, and to construct a mecca, a monument to the Alemaster, a glorious temple of ale in which all are welcome to embrace his gifts.

Biggut awoke to find the prophetic vision already hazy, and mysteriously without any hangover from the previous night's drinking (while his fellows were incapacitated for days). He looked about in confusion, desperately wanting some proof for what he had witnessed. There he found a tome he'd never glimpsed before, with only its first two pages written. It claimed to be the Alemaster's Almanac, text nearly illegible, describing the tenants that those who follow the Alemaster should adhere to. Taking this sign as divine providence, Biggut decided that this is what he would dedicate his life to, to helping finish the Alemaster's Alamanac, and to follow the divine wisdom imparted to him in his vision. He set out at once to make his way in the world, with renewed vigor in his newfound purpose.

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