Ranger of Tet
Zhoushen stands over the crib, holding his knife to the infant’s throat. He wanted nothing more than to rid his family of this monster, but he knew it was wrong. His father’s words carried great weight, “The world really is black and white, the gray area is just an excuse for good people to do bad things.”
Zhoushen’s father was Lin Stormblood, Sheriff of Tet, a well respected ranger who patrolled the Frostbite Forest. Zhoushen idolized his father. He wanted to be a ranger when he grew up, just like his father. Now, at just 12 years of age he is faced with the greatest moral dilemma of his life. Kill this monster, or accept it as his half-brother…
Zhoushen had been the only child of Lin and Kiku Stormblood. They were a happy family, well known and respected in town, and moderately wealthy. Lin was the provider, and Kiku ran the household. Zhoushen learned archery at a young age, eager to be able to shoot as well as his father. On some occasions, Lin would take Zhoushen with him into the Frostbite Forest and show him how to track wild beasts, forage for food, and take note of where hunters and trappers were working their trade. Zhoushen enjoyed these trips with his father, trying to learn everything he could, so that one day he could be just like him.
When Zhoushen was 10 years old, the family was expecting their second child. An unexpected, but welcome surprise. However, several weeks before Kiku was due to give birth, something happened at the home. Zhoushen didn’t know that Kiku had caught Lin having an affair, and in her turmoil, she ran out of the home in a frenzy. Devastated at what had transpired, Lin told Zhoushen to follow her, and bring her home safely. Zhoushen was concerned for his mother, and was eager to accept this quest from his father. However a storm was brewing, and this excursion would prove to be much more dangerous than Lin could have expected.
Zhoushen followed his mother, who ran recklessly out over the eastern bridge and into the Frostbite Forest. Zhoushen knew that she loved the outdoors and often sought comfort and solace being outside the safety of the town. She was not acting like herself, though.
Zhoushen followed, curious where she was going. Concerned about the storm that was brewing, Zhoushen knew that he needed to get her home soon. Once she was away from the town, she sat on a tree stump and began to cry. Her cries turned to pain though, as she clutched at her belly. Something was wrong with the baby. Zhoushen ran to her aid, however he was not strong enough to move her. She said the child was coming, and they didn’t have time to seek help. The storm was intensifying rapidly, and Kiku was going into sudden labor. Zhoushen had to help deliver the baby, several weeks premature, in the middle of what would end up being one of the nastiest storms that Tet had ever seen. They both breathed a sigh of relief when the baby was delivered, and let out its first cries of life.
Zhoushen’s relief at having successfully delivered the child quickly dissipated. Kiku’s screams of pain had attracted a warband of orcs. There had been rumors of orcs around, but not this close to Tet. Zhoushen drew his bow and shot at one of the orcs, hitting him in the shoulder. The orc wasn’t expecting this, and was infuriated. The blow was not fatal, and the orc drew his own bow and prepared to return fire.
If it wasn’t for a bolt of lightning that splintered a nearby tree just a few feet from the orc, Zhoushen would probably have died that day. As it was, the lightning distracted the orc just enough to influence the shot. The arrow whizzed by Zhoushen’s ear, missing him narrowly.
Kiku tried to run, but she was in too poor of a condition, she merely forced the infant into Zhoushen’s arms and screamed at him to run. Zhoushen clutched his baby brother to his chest and ran back to Tet.
When Lin found out what had happened, his face went pale and he went out into the Frostbite Forest. He confirmed the presence of orcs, and sadly that they had taken his wife with them. They feared they would never see her again.
Lin Stormblood assembled a group of soldiers and over the next year he tracked down every orc he could find in the Frostbite Forest and slew them. Eventually, he found their camp, and Kiku as their prisoner. He brought her back to Tet, but things were different then. She was pregnant again, and things were not the same between them.
The Stormblood family had a second chance and they made it work. Both parents agreed to keep the half-orc child she would give birth to. Zhoushen didn’t understand why, but Lin kept the child as a reminder of his failure as a husband. Kiku loved the child regardless of who his father was. Zhoushen hated it.
From the day that his mother was taken, he hated orcs. He despised them. This creature that would share his home was part orc. It even looked more orc than human. It’s cries at night were not the cries of a human brother like Shandian, and thus when the little monster finally fell asleep, giving his parents a much needed rest, Zhoushen crept out of his room to stand over the crib, knife ready, wanting to cut the child’s throat.
He had no idea how long he stood there. Wanting to do this, but knowing it was wrong. He’d be in trouble, sure, more trouble than he’d ever been in for his entire life. But at least they’d be rid of this thing. He never heard his father wake. He didn’t know how long he’d been watching him. But his father spoke quietly to him, “He’s your brother, whether you like it or not. He’ll look up to you, and you’ll teach him the right path.” Lin went back to sleep, and Zhoushen slowly put the knife away.
As the family grew up, Zhoushen continued to train with his father, and became quite the marksman. After another 7 years as a ranger, Lin retired from his duties, and took on a role as advisor to Lord Nayang Ku. Zhoushen had been accepted as a ranger, and traveled for days at a time in the Frostbite Forest, tracking down criminals who thought they could hide from the law. He kept his eyes open for any sign of Orcs, wanting to find some so that he could further avenge his mother.
Zhoushen was hard on his youngest brother, but he tried to show him the right way to do things. How to handle a blade and a bow. How to survive outside. But Zhoushen never truly accpeted him as a brother. Now, Zhoushen is an experienced ranger, and both of his younger brothers are reaching adulthood. Some citizens from Tet have gone missing, and Zhoushen has been tasked with finding them. This quest goes outside the scope of his job as a ranger, and his brothers want to join him. Now, he’ll see how well they’ve come along.