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Rusko of Kroog
Rusko was born in the prosperous city of Kroog, capital and seat of power to the powerful nation of Yotia. Rusko lived a rather quiet life, developing a small interest in simple artifacts during his early years. As his life progressed, Rusko came to own his own clock making shop, which enjoyed limited success among the other shops of Kroog. Rusko had apparently passed through his prime and would now enjoy a quiet life, all the while dreaming of greatness. Everything changed when the Argivian appeared.
Young Urza appeared in Rusko’s quiet shop one day, asking for whatever work he could find. Urza had attempted to earn pay as a scholar or guildmaster, but was unsuccessful at every turn. Rusko admitted that he needed some extra help these days and agreed to sign Urza on as his apprentice. Rusko eventually came to learn that Urza had recently been in the employment of Tocasia, an Argivian archaeologist made famous for her excavations of ancient Thran relics. Upon further prompting, Rusko learned that Urza’s younger brother Mishra had also been employed by Tocasia, but a tragic event led to their departure.
Little of this mattered to Rusko, however. The simple clock maker was more interested in his new apprentice’s mastery of clockmaking. Urza was a tireless worker, never shirking in his responsibilities. Indeed, Rusko had a hard time getting Urza to do anything but work, and often had to force Urza to take leaves of absence from his job.
One day, a national celebrity graced Rusko’s tiny shop: the Princess of Yotia, Kayla bin-Kroog, had arrived with questions about her broken music box. Rusko was ecstatic and, not knowing the slightest thing about music boxes, turned the box over to his newest apprentice. Urza quickly found the source of the problem, and the princess was hurriedly on her way. Rusko vowed that great things would soon happen to this shop because of the princess’s arrival. Urza, however, simply shrugged and returned to his work.
“You must have ice water coursing through your veins, lad. That or such beauties are ten for a copper in Penregon.”
Rusko tried to get his new pupil more interested in everyday concerns, and the festivals of Kroog seemed a good place to start. One such festival had the entire country in an uproar. The Princess Kayla bin-Kroog, daughter of Kroog’s notorious ruling warlord, had suffered a terrible loss. Her groom-to-be, a wealthy man from a nearby nation, had suffered a shipwreck and was pronounced dead. The warlord, wanting a male heir before he passed away, declared a national contest to win his daughter’s hand. Whoever could move a mammoth jade statue from one end of the town square to the far end would earn the right to become prince consort and future ruler of Yotia.
Rusko forced Urza from his tireless work in order to view this spectacle. On the opening day of the ceremony, absolutely none of the contestants were able to budge the statue even one millimeter. Rusko was enraptured by the spectacle before him; Urza was less so. One thing did manage to capture the apprentice’s attention, however: an ancient book that was included in the princess’s dowry labeled Jalum Tome. Urza came to the conclusion that this was an ancient Thran relic and declared that he would win the contest in order to view it. Rusko thought the lad had been working too hard.
“And I want to fly to the moon, and kidnap the harem of the Pasha of Sumifa. I’ll even settle for my head to hurt less after a night of drinking brandy. But I don’t expect it to happen. That’s rule one in lifedon’t expect the impossible, and you won’t be disappointed.”
Urza immediately set to work on plans for a mechanical humanoid, which he called su-chi. To build this machine, Urza would require parts that would not come cheap. Rusko was incompliant until Urza provided the clockmaker with plans for a flying machine, which he called an ornithopter. Months passed and Urza’s machine became closer and closer to looking like a mammoth humanoid. At last, Urza was finished, and produced from a chain around his neck a red glowing stone. Urza held the stone to the creature’s face and it immediately began moving under its own power. Rusko came to find that this stone was the Mightstone, sister stone of Mishra’s Weakstone.
Rusko entered Urza in the festival, still unsure about his artifact creature’s power and his apprentice’s sanity. Urza was allowed to move the statue using only the power of his mind, a declaration that had much of the town in an uproar. Urza unveiled his creation and used it to move the jade statue from one end of the town square to the other. The crowd, Rusko included, erupted in cheers. Urza had won the contest. Or had he?
The warlord and his closest advisors had returned to their castle in order to determine the validity of Urza’s success. Rusko saw his chances for greatness diminishing. Urza, too, was distraught. Rusko had no choice but to request an audience with the warlord. Having been granted a brief audience, Rusko explained to the royal warlord that Urza’s abilities were unlike any he had ever seen. He gave the warlord Urza’s plans for the flying machine, which greatly heightened the warlord’s approval of the young Argivian. Upon at last asking his daughter’s advice, Kayla stated that she would perhaps enjoy being married to the handsome and intelligent Urza.
Urza and Kayla bin-Kroog were married soon thereafter, while the appreciative warlord allowed Rusko a job as consort to Urza, the land’s new high artificer. Rusko maintained his job with dignity, commanding the respect of those who had neglected his talents in the past. Urza continued developing masterpieces in artifice, including the ornithopters, su-chi, and healing Amulets of Kroog. However, Urza’s and Kayla’s marriage was fragile, often driving the princess away from her husband. After a time, Urza came to employ a brilliant young apprentice, Tawnos of the Jorilin Coast.
For Rusko, things couldn’t be greater. He had at last come into the greatness he had dreamt about for so long. However, little did Rusko suspect that his pride would lead to Yotia’s downfall.
The Yotian borders, the Sword Marchers in particular, were under constant attack by the neighboring desert tribes known as the Fallaji. These savages were relentless in their struggle to reclaim the Sword Marches, which the warlord had captured in his younger days. Urza was pressed into coming up with a suitable defense based on his artificial designs. The Argivian neglected his duties as one of the warlord’s chief advisors, leaving these matters in Rusko’s care. Rusko provided the idea of using goblin powder, a high explosive substance, to inflict heavy injuries on the Fallaji horde. When dropped from an ornithopter, these bombs would be devastating, ending a battle in almost no time at all. The warlord approved Rusko’s ideas, and set to work on holding a parlay between the Fallaji and the kingdoms of Yotia, Argive, and Korlis.
Weeks later, Rusko learned that the parlay had been a complete and total disaster. Fighting had erupted between the warlord and the Fallaji qadir, with the young desert noble taking the life of Yotia’s monarch. What’s worse, Urza’s brother Mishra had apparently taken his place as the qadir’s chief advisor. Rusko’s own plan of dropping bombs from Urza’s ornithopters proved almost worthless, as Mishra’s titanic dragon engine swatted ornithopters from the sky like gnats.
Things were looking bad for peaceful relations between Yotia and the Fallaji, and it is here that Rusko’s name drops from the pages of history. Rusko probably survived until the time of Kroog’s destruction at the hand of Mishra’s dragon engines, but this is only speculation.