I’m going to warn you up-front that this is another dark story.
In the fourth Dominions novel (Riled Dogs), there’s a particularly nasty character called Garrick—the type of villain who enjoys torture, and who uses pain to get what he wants. He’s ruthless, and any who go up against him must have a certain kind of strength—not physical, but deeper. They would need their own kind of ruthlessness, or brutal practicality.
This story, Stronger Than Death, is based around this idea, and you can read it here. But don’t expect a pleasant ending.