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ID: 8223


July 5, 2015, 4:12 am

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What price pragmatism?

Author’s notes: This is a made-over character from a borderline villain (at most a henchman) in an abandoned (Chinese) online novel that I had the (mis)fortune to read. The other characters are also taken from the same novel but almost completely made over by me in terms of personality and relationship dynamics. However, I have basically taken out certain events or plot arcs from the original work as they are with minimal adjustments. For that, I would like to give full credits. The original work can be accessed here.

Urooj reluctantly moved forwards with the crowd that rushed to greet the Usurper as a hero come home. The imbeciles, they don’t see him for what he is, or rather turn a blind eye to it- choosing to wallow ever deeper into the false hope and false faith he leads them onto . Thoroughly disgusted, Urooj strode away. Those damn Permansi cowards, too efficient in picking off grubbing from helpless wretches but outrageously incompetent against the upstart Munladin and his ragtag band of troublemakers! It looks like I would have to start putting in place mechanisms to contain them myself. The balance cannot be broken.

With brisk strides, Urooj strode down the long corridor towards the Inner Sanctuary, acknowledging the courtesies accorded to him by junior Temple Knights with the barest of nods. It did not take him long to arrive at the heavyset door that was his destination. It showed some signs of wear now but it was still a resplendent sight. Urooj closed his eyes and breathed deeply in the subtle fragrance given off the Tanmaree wood from which it was made of. As he did so, he felt a calmness taking hold on his mind and a fraction of lightness enter his soul. Re-opening his eyes, he looked onto all those things dearest to the Heagas and their Lady, the spanless and nurturing Diety of the Earth, that were carved on it with loving care and reverence. Out of habit, he kept his sight fastened on the figure tending Earth- the symbolism for practicality. Yet, at the corner of his vision lies another symbolism that he yearns for with his heart and soul. He closed his eyes before his sight could stray and knocked five times, timing each knock precisely according to that dictated by customs.

“Come in.” A kindly voice said from within.

Urooj crossed his arms in front of his chest, the honorary greeting for a high ranking priest of the Lady.

Father Khoury signalled for him to put his hands back down. “There’s no need for such formality when it’s just the two of us.”

Urooj did not reply but Father Khoury could see that he visibly stiffened. Observing this, he sighed and said, “Do as you wish” to which he received a brief nod.

“Any more reporting of Permansi raids?” Father Khoury asked.

“No sightings from any of the outlying oases…” and then Urooj seemed to add as an afterthought, albeit hesistantly, “Father.”

Father Khoury smiled and let out a long breath in relief. However, it was destined to be short-lived. In fact, the words he heard from Urooj next made his heart leap.

“We have to pull back the patrols from the outlying oases.”

“Is there no other way, Urooj?” Father Khoury’s voice shook as well as his hands. “It would mean that the next Permansi raids will take whoever they have a mind to. These are our people, Urooj.”

“I’m afraid so, Father. Oasis Sancalah is showing signs of being over-populated again. If we cannot spread these extra mouths to the outlying oases…” A slight tremor had entered Urooj’s voice by now but soon it became steady again. “We have to maintain the balance.”

“Aye,” Father Khoury was forced to consent and then he fell silent.

“The Usurper’s back,” Urooj told Father Khoury in a tone bordering of being curt. Then he made the honorary gesture for leaving. Within a few steps, however, he turned back his head to say, “I think it’s time that we do something about him.” He turned back his head after these last words and walked resolutely out of the room. He did not see- or rather would prefer so, the torment that had come into his father’s eyes.


Urooj (wo-roo-ji) is in his thirties. Tall and well-proportioned, he cuts a dashing figure. He is moderately handsome, with a firm nose and mouth that gives him character. He seldom smiles. His eyes give away nothing.

In the eyes of a random Heaga:

Urooj is respected among his people. Being head of the Temple Knights, he does have a tendency to hold himself aloof. Most see him as the ultimate image for seriousness- taking himself and his duty seriously to the exclusion of all else (including the welfare of common Heagas)

In the eyes of his fellow Knights:

All agree that Urooj is a dedicated man, loyal to both the Lady and what he sees as his ‘duty’. There is also no disputing the fact that under Urooj’s leadership, the Temple Knights had reached the height of their power and influence. Yet, quite a few among them felt the yearning for a time gone past when they were more ‘at one’ with their people, when duty did not have to involve laying down the dignity of a Knight and the conscience of a man. Indeed, a time when being a Temple Knight was less a life of chore with high prestige attached and more of self-fulfillment as a Heaga man and warrior. A selected few among these could still remember a different Urooj back then- less imposing as a man/leader and just prone to smiling as any Heaga youth of their ages in those golden years of their lives.

In the eyes of Father Khoury, head Priest of the Temple of the Lady:

His son Urooj is a man who has used himself too hard. Donning a mantle of callous practicality, Urooj does not let show what he himself has sacrificed for the People. Without dying-like Bahij , Father Khoury thought with a sigh-Urooj had sacrificed himself just as thoroughly, casting aside who and what he was . All for the sake of the Heaga community. Alas, no one sees this sacrifice because none among them has been forced- yes, forced, who else was there left to step into the void when Bahij went off to die a hero’s death along with so many others of the Temple Knights- to ascend as high as Urooj and seen how bleak the view is at the top. Bahij… Now there’s another source of contention between Urooj and those other children of the Temple. They think that he had turned so cold that he doesn’t even find time to mourn for his own elder brother. They are far too young to see and understand that it takes a great deal of asceticism to completely cast aside his own personal identity and consequently trap oneself in a state of festering heartache on a long term basis as Urooj had done. Argh… if only Urooj was born onto a different time….

In the eyes of his ‘nemesis’ Munladin

How shall I start to explain my relationship with Urooj? Despite the gulf now settling between us, I still remember my time as a child and youth when he was the elder brother figure that I had always desired but never attained in my past life. Ah, now you are wondering about my past life- I can see it in your eyes. But that’s a story for another day.

Now… I think he’s catching onto who I am. He can’t call me out in front of our people (they are as much my people now as Urooj’s or any other Heagas. This is my home now, where my heart beats) yet but I think he knows on an instinctive level. I won’t be so hypocritical as to deny that I worry about being exposed. But that’s not the main thing that’s setting us apart. No, it was the underlying life philosophy to our different approaches to the Permansi raids that is destined to clash and then continuously circle and engage. Given a choice between ‘practical’ actions that would guarantee immediate survival and ‘reckless’ gambles that might lead to disaster but could just as equally be our saving grace, Urooj has chosen the former. I, however, choose the latter. For life with dignity or for death.

Additional Ideas (1)

Notes from the author: I see Urooj as not a ‘villain’ per se but more a man ‘driven’ to committing villainous deeds by the penchant to adopt pragmatism to the extreme. In essence, that is not evil by itself. Then again, one can argue that that’s the way it is with most villains that are ‘human’. Despite an avid fan of fantasy, I’ve never had much empathy with the ‘mindless evil’ villain archetype that is rampart in this genre. Anyway, characterization has always been a weak point of mine and in creating Urooj, I’m just experimenting with a villain driven by a trait/motivation that doesn’t normally fall under a stereotype under existing fantasy novels like ambition and the like.

2015-07-05 04:13 AM » Link: [8223#94416|text]
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Comments ( 5 )
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Voted Scrasamax
July 9, 2015, 0:59
I agree, all too often the basic motivation for the villains in the typical fantasy and Disney stories are entirely too simple or are evil for evil's sake, but considering the who the intended audience is, children, the villains exist only for the hero to face and overcome. Their motivations are unimportant so as long as it is in opposition to the hero. AS we get older, we see more and more into the villains, and we understand that there is more than black and white to the world. I like that Urooj is not the traditional villain, that he is simply a man forced into a position, forced to take up a burden that wasn't his and has been shaped to it.

I had a read it a couple of times, there are a lot of 'between the lines' things that aren't explicitly stated, but that makes it all the better, because a stoic pragmatic villain isn't monologing, isn't making grandiose plans and schemes, he's shuffling paperwork and balancing the books, but the values being subtracted and moved are lives.

Voted axlerowes
August 2, 2015, 7:02
I think this is the great NPC, I really like the chief conflict in his story seems to be an over dedication to pragmatism and a lack traditionally vain affectations. "Being a knight use to be fun until Urooj came along." Scras is right there is a lot of inbetween the lines stuff. But what is interesting about this is that it is facts that are all in between the lines, the conclusion regarding personality are all explicitly stated. Good stuff, I like the story too and the I love that you defined the character through different voices.
August 2, 2015, 21:38

The idea for defining the character through the lens of different people who know him (or the revealing character in layers anyway) actually came from Longspeak's Organic NPC sub. I was using this NPC sub as the fore-runner to get me into practice for the Organic NPC quest but yes, this way of creating a NPC sub sort of grew on me as I write.

Voted Murometz
September 15, 2015, 20:46
I'm not sure what I can add that the lads above haven't already. It took me two reads to begin to understand the characters dynamic, but once I got it, I liked it.

I enjoyed the "side-bar" lines as I read this. The casually mentioned places, people, and things. Breathes life into the story.

I guess I'll throw out one random nitpick.

I'd change this line...

"Most see him as the ultimate image for seriousness- taking himself and his duty seriously to the exclusion of all else"

to something like...

"Most see him as the ultimate image of stern self-importance and single-minded devotion to his duty, at the exclusion of all else.

September 15, 2015, 21:02
Actually thinking about this point you raised, I think the way I wrote it, I'm still thinking much pretty as how I saw Urooj but I think you are right in that a common Heaga's view of Urooj is closer to what you wrote. So good catch.



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