Unlike others, Dragash was not desperately screaming and thrashing.
He, orc chieftain of the Dwarfskull tribe, was shackled to the altar of Gruumsh. He did not fear what was to come, because he had prepared for this very day for years in his battles against the dwarves of the caverns above. The tribe shaman towered over his restrained form, raising a ceremonial spearhead and chanting to the One-Eyed God. Right now, he would thrust the stony blade into Dragash’s right eye, scarring him irrevocably, but uniting him with his great god in a way no creature but an orc could possibly understand.
The spearhead came down, and pain filled Dragash’s world. Every muscle of his body hardened to fight it, and Dragash managed to suppress the screams that would spell out his pain and rage. His inner being had to become with the rage of Gruumsh for the ritual to complete!
For uncountable moments that lasted for an eternity, Dragash struggled to remain in control of his body, but unavoidably started arching his spine and bearing his arm and leg muscles against the shackles that held him.
Then suddenly, he felt something soft cover his shaking body. Dragash summoned all of his concentration to open his intact left eye. As his bloodied vision cleared, he saw that something was very wrong. After another wave of pain subsided, he saw the shaman’s slumped form lying squarely over him, a crude spear protruding from the mystic’s back. Dragash’s blurred half-sight wandered around the ceremonial cave, and for a moment, he thought, it was a vision from Gruumsh that the elders had warned him about, a final test of the ritual candidate’s willpower. But there were shouts of anger, the sound of weapons clashing, and the smell of burnt flesh and hair.
Fire was all around him. Traitors! Their enemies had come in this holiest of hours to attack the Dwarfscull tribe?! How dare they defy the laws of Gruumsh?! The pain and the anger Dragash had tried to contain could not be held any longer.
Dragash screamed, calling on his greatest reserves of strength. Calling to his inner power, he tore the rusted shackles from the altars stone. He knew fully well that the ritual was now broken, but blinded by pain and rage, Dragash lept onto the traitorous attackers.
He didn’t know how many he had slain, but all his efforts were senseless. The fire had consumed his tribe and the mushroom cave they had resided in for so many winters. Dragash body was broken and burned, blood still quelled out of his right eye. He could hardly breathe, smoke obstructing his lungs. He walked on, his vision blurred, one or maybe both of his legs broken. He was still fighting invisble enemies, while he walked through the dead burnt bodies of allies and foes alike. Then he finally succumbed, his body giving in to darkness.
Ruff voices towered over him, speaking in words he could not understand. This had to be the great ancestor warriors, the guardians of the realm of the dead. But then huge hands took him and the pain he felt as they lifted him felt very real to him. The hands carried him for ages, and Dragash could see cavern ceilings passing by.
Finally the stalactites of the winding tunnels and passages gave way to a huge domed ceiling lined with crystals glowing in an eerie, somewhat otherworldly blue. Surely this was not the blasted plain of Nishrek, where souls devoted to Gruumsh met in eternal battle.
The ruff voices and huge hands then retreated anxiously. He wasn’t sure what those creatures were, but surely they were not orcs the way they hurried away. Orcs never showed fear. Then he passed out.
When he came to, all he saw was a huge eye in front of him. He raised his left arm towards the great eye, ignoring the pain that washed over his body again. Gruumsh! Judgement was upon him.
He formed unspoken words with his lips, barely a whisper. He pleaded to the eye to forgive him for his weakness during the ritual, but his tribe had to be defended. A salty fluid flowed into Dragash’s mouth from his left eye. At first he didn’t know what it was, but then he remembered a scene childhood when he was beaten by his cave-mother. Was he actually crying?
He stopped talking, and knew that such a weakness could not be tolerated by Gruumsh the unfliching One-Eye, Greatest of Warriors, All-Seeing, and All-Knowing Lord of the Orcs.
Then the eye blinked… – and openend again, staring at him! Was he actually being forgiven? Was great Gruumsh truly this merciful?
The moment this thought ran through Dragash’s mind, a mass of smaller eyes appeared from the shadow of the one great eye he was facing. A big monstrosity of eyes uncountable and huge teeth was hovering above him, right in the cave of blue crystals where the hands and voices had brought him. For the first time in his life, Dragash realized what fear was.
He tried to run. Even had his smashed body responded to his commands, the gaze of the creature paralyzed him and fixed him in his place. Then one of the creature’s smaller eyes, sprouting from a stalk of flesh somehow connected to the rest of the creature, came close to his face.
The eye touched him where his right eye had been before, and the world changed. Milky rivers of flame streamed through septagonal dice of flesh. Dragash was in a place that should not be, never was, and never will be. His consciousness faded away again, broken by the onslaught of surreal images in his brain.
He woke up in the crystal chamber. His vision was clear, his wounds healed to all but a slight ache. He touched his face, and felt that his right eye had been restored. He somehow felt alright.
Then his vision split in two. His left eye saw the world, but his right eye began to circle irrationally around the room. There was a new dimension to his vision he could not yet fully grasp.
Scanning the cavern with his new, otherwordly vision, he noticed big, one-eyed giants standing in the world. The hands and ruff voices, he remembered, as if it happened ages ago. One of the cyclopses stepped forward – or was it sideways? – and said: ‘The eye has deemed you worthy for a great blessing. It shared its infinite wisdom with you by giving you one of his eyes. From now on, orc, you and the eye are one.’
The words rang back into his mind, stirring up memories of a life that was before, visions of a tribe, of brothers, tears, battle, traitors and fire. Then a soothing voice stuck in his brain told him that all those memories were past and long gone. The Eye had given him a new life.
Dragash smiled. As he had always wished, he had become one with the Eye. And he swore he would fullfil its wishes until the end.
In my campaign, Dragash was the leader of a beholder cult. A failed ‘eye of gruumsh’ going ‘ocular adept’. The beholder was able to channel his eye ray powers through Dragash. With the aid of a huge magical crystal, the beholder was also able to control a cyclops tribe stranded from the Feywild in the world’s Underdark. After the players’ orc cleric and orc barbarian (a true eye of gruumsh) defeated the aberrant threat, they allied with the cyclopses and added them to their ever-growing horde of underlings they will eventually lead against the ‘civilized’ lands.