NPC Closeup 03/26/2003


Udalamath, Tiefling Ranger



The creature known as Udalamath and his twin Oroleth were bred by the Red Wizards of Thay under the direction of Nevron, zulkir of Conjuration. It was the zulkir's intent to create a pair of assassins to serve as unstoppable twin blades who would remove his enemies with ruthless precision. Their demonic heritage made these twins ideal vehicles for the zulkir's goal, because they possessed swiftness and stealth gained from the infernal blood flowing through their veins. This same demonic nature, the zulkir reasoned, would give him a measure of control over the twins and enable him to ensure their loyalty -- after all, the same spells that could bind a demon could easily bind any other outsider, including a tiefling.

The boys were handed over to a string of cruel teachers who instructed them in the arts of stalking and killing. Udalamath was trained to track their quarry. Oroleth learned to kill from the shadows. As teenagers, working in concert, they seemed to be unbeatable foes. Once they were given a target, the boys would pursue it relentlessly, leaving it nowhere to run or hide until finally they dealt the killing stroke. In one case, when a notable ranger offended the zulkir, Udalamath tracked him over hundreds of miles. Thinking to lose his pursuers, the ranger attempted to hide in a labyrinthine cave network -- only to find Oroleth waiting for him in the darkness.

Udalamath, much more than his brother, delighted in the chase and the slaughter. Once, after weeks had gone by with no quarry chosen by the zulkir, Udalamath grew bored and so stalked and butchered his chief instructor for sport. The twins' training was then, by unanimous consent, declared complete.

Udalamath grew lank and harsh as the cruelty in his soul became apparent in his body. Soon the identical twins were easily distinguishable because of Udalamath's disturbing thinness.

As the twins grew from adolescence into young adulthood, a change came over Oroleth. Always reclusive and moody by nature, he became more and more withdrawn with each passing year. As the amount of blood on his hands grew, Oroleth became more distant from those around him. By contrast, Udalamath's cruel streak grew as time wore on. Each successive murder seemed to make him hunger for more. Frequently, the zulkir had to resort to magical means of restraining Udalamath's bloodlust. Udalamath's boredom grew as he wished for more powerful quarry. He began to look at his brother, the one being who had been his closest companion, strangely. Perhaps his identical twin would provide worthwhile sport, he thought. If only the zulkir would allow Udalamath to hunt his brother.

Then one day, Udalamath's opportunity came. Oroleth, worn out by years of murder and cruelty, stole away from the zulkir's service. Enraged by the boy's disobedience, and fearing that he might enter the service of a rival wizard, the zulkir set Udalamath after him. With barely contained glee, Udalamath took up his brother's trail. The hunt was on.

Oroleth proved a worthy opponent. Udalamath hunted him for years and hunts him still. Through humid jungles and harsh mountains, through blazing summers and frigid winters, Oroleth has always stayed a few steps ahead of his hunter. Udalamath has followed his brother to the trackless northern wastes where, for the moment, his trail has disappeared.

Udalamath is certain that his brother remains alive somewhere amid the drifting northern snows, and he will not rest until he finds him and kills him. He oils and sharpens his daggers every night, making certain that each blade will be ready to deliver the killing stroke. He has a special fondness for his dagger of venom, which he has named Viper, and he will frequently use this blade for the incidental murders he commits in an effort to keep his skills well-honed. He will be just as satisfied, however, if another of his daggers is buried in Oroleth's heart -- so long as he can savor the look of surprise on his brother's face as his eyes dim and his body goes limp, before he even has a chance to realize that he is dead.

About the Author

Ramon Arjona is a software developer with Wizards of the Coast. His poetry has appeared in the Absinthe Literary Review and the Hawaii Review. Ramon also has short stories published in Strange Horizons (www.strangehorizons.com).

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