The Orcish Hordes and the clans that make them. A short overview of the Warriors of the sun.
By Brother Toth of the Gray Council.
There are many names that have surfaced ever since the first Orc raid attacked a settlement.
Greenskins, savages, monsters, slavers, barbarians...noble?
Ever since the Blight first appeared, the greenskinned warriors have discarded their (mostly) violent ways and are one of the mightiest fighters that have faced down a Immortal herd.
Orcs think little of the other races, save the trolls with whom they share a strange kinsmenship, and do not suffer insults lightly.
Orcish culture is very secretive and most of the information gathered here was gained from Orcish Outcasts, goblin merchants and the one open minded orc who was willing to share her tale. In this short excerpt I will shed a light on the Orcish people, both for good....and ill.
According to legend, the Orcs believe themselves to be descendants from the sun. When the world was created it was a big ball of fire that eventually cooled down. When it cooled it became like ice. The sun took pity on the earth and send down it's children to warm it. Dragons.
The dragons warmed the earth with their hot breath and thus life began. Trees, water, rocks and the other races came from the frozen ice and were given a place.
However the orcs themselves are not made out of Alundrian soil. Rather they believe that they were made from scales shed by the dragons and made mortal when it touched the ground, thus descended from the sun.
Hence most orcs life in the desert close to dragon nests.
Most scholars at the Citadel believe this is not possible and Orcs are actually a strange offshoot of troll who adapted to the desert habitat. However some do believe the connection to the sun is very probable since of all the races on Alundria only Orcs can access fire magic.
The first recordings of Orcs was a century after the First Troll wars, although it was plausible earlier encounters were possible as to the outsider Orcs could have been seen as shorter trolls and some distant desert human tribes did have trade or conflict with the orcish people but both sides mostly kept their distance.
Untill what would be called the Second Troll war, the Orc clans were mostly fighting either each other or themselves for fertile lands and domination for the desert breeds a hardy and violent people. It wasn't until one Orc was strong, smart and brave enough to slam the chieftains heads together and pointed to the more lush and fertile lands south. That Orc to this day is loved by the greenskins and despised by descendants of those who survived his onslaught.
Under the Warchief Gorvar the Dragonrider, the Orc clans of the isle of Oasis sailed to the main continent and began raiding the northern lands. Many human castles, dwarven strongholds and elven forests burned as the Orcs took gold, slaves and anything else of value for their own. Soon enough other orc clans native to Alundria joined left their own deserts and joined the Horde.
Unlike the more slow musclebound trolls, the orcs were smarter, faster and struck wherever they could. It is estimated that ten percent of Alundria's population died during this Second Troll war.
Gorvar was a skilled tactician who learned from his mistakes and took advice from his Troll allies who had more experience fighting the forces of Order. Prince Shrah, a Trollok (The hybrid of a orc and troll union) who led the largest troll tribe at the time, became Gorvar's confidant and second hand man during this time.
Were it not for Thane Brunhilde of the dwarves, Queen Morganna of Gryphon's Crown and Sea King Morgan of the Pirate Armadda, the Orc Horde would've conquered half the continent. But Thane Brunhilde who slew the Warchief in a aerial battle at Ravenspire and thus broke the Orcs' morale.
With the death of Warchief Gorvar, the Horde scattered into different clans all across the continent and many sailed back to Oasis with many Chieftains fighting each other to grasp what little remained of Gorvar's Empire.
In the years that followed they got close to rallying some of the clans and did call themselves Warchief but none of them got as close as to conquering Alundria as Gorvar did.
The Orcish clans
There are many orc clans and to many to count. Each clan has its own customs and rites. Some clans fully focus on one aspect of orcish life such as raiding or worshipping the sun or rearing lifestock while others do all of the above. Most orcs burn their dead while others offer their dead bodies to the local dragon to feast upon. Some even allow non-orcs to join the clan such as Trolls, Goblins and Trolloks. One legend even speaks of Thorgal the pinkskin, a human barbarian who once assumed the chieftaincy of one orc clan and took a orcish female to wife and was the scorn to the nearby human lords who had wronged him.
The Orcs who raid mostly use the native wolves as their mounts, much like how humans use horses. They produce the Wolf Riders and Wolf Chariots that perform devastating charges against their foes. Orc children are raised along with wolf pups, creating a bound between orc and wolf. Their shaman tend to the wolves and speak to the Wolf spirit to guide the Pack.
These Wolf Packs are constantly on the move, going from settlement to settlement. Either the settlement pays up food and riches to buy off the pack or face the consequences.
Those who follow the path of flame are called a Dragon clan. They live near their namesake and it is from them that the Orcs know how to cast fire magic. The Dragon Brigade are Orcs who offer the dragon wolf meat and survive it's hot breath in a bizarre ritual that unlocks the fire within. Not many survive this ritual but those who do are the strongest firebenders Alundria has ever seen, being able to set a Immortal herd ablaze by themselves.
From these few only another few are able to commune with the dragons and ride them.
A orc on a dragon can lay waste to a entire army singlehandedly, the need to burn everything in sight being the same thought both rider and dragon share.
Another type of clan is the clan of the boar. The closest we can describe them as are farmers. They rear lifestock, such as pigs, and tend to food as a way to pay off other clans or feed other clans during a Horde march.
They also tend to stay in fertile areas and grow barley for ale. They are considered the 'weakest' of the clans but even they have battle hardened warriors who can fight off a raid of human knights.
The last type of clan is not really considered one by the other orc clans. These are often led by Outcast Warchiefs and live outside of the desert and settle in swamps or forests, rather in-orc like places. Each of these chieftains and their clans have removed themselves from orc lands for different reasons ranging from exile, having found food elsewhere to befriending the other races, especially those who befriended those of the races of Order.
A orc clan works on the same system as the humans do with slaves at the bottom, followed by free orcs to warriors who protect them to Shaman who lead the spiritual things to Chieftains who run the clan and then Warchiefs who lead entire Hordes.
Despite appearances the Orcs are quite democratic and once every fortnight, or when there is a emergency, the clan gathers in the main tent and any free orc may raise their voice to any concern.
Any free orc can also challenge a chieftain to become the next chieftain however for the sake of avoiding chaos it can only happen once a year. However these battles tend to be one to the death and most Chieftains have earned that place for a reason. Chieftains and Warchiefs can be of either gender.
This concerns some clans although others do tend to have a hereditary line of succession going on much like most nobility found in more civilised lands.
The slaves are a very delicate subject since according to the rules of the Grand Alliance slavery is banned and every Alundrian from human to elf to dwarf to goblin to troll to orc has to follow it. However since it is hard to follow up on all cases and most orc slavers and goblin pirates have become crafty enough to avoid inspection, slavery still exists though not as much as it used to be back before the Blights.
Slaves range from all sentient species found in Alundria and are often used as domestic servants, builders or warriors and unlike free orcs do not have a vote during a meeting. However the visage of a slave wrapped in chains and being tormented by orcish masters is a thing of the past. Although the person in question has lost his/her freedom, a master looks after his/her slave like a valued possession. If you do not take care of your possession you do not take care of yourself and that could be seen as dishonourable.
For a slave there is also a chance for promotion as some are named overseers for their hard work and become free orcs (even if they are not orcs).
Shaman rule over the spiritual side of orcish life and commune either with the spirit of the wolf, the dragon or the sun directly. They tend to stare at the sun for long period of time and the most ancient of orc shaman tend to be blind as a result (though they tend to see it as a badge of honour).
They preside over every orc birth and death and make sure the soul of the orc returns to the sun or finds it's way do the child. The shaman also often serve as advisors to the Chieftains with sometimes the two becoming a mated pair or share a bound in friendship or blood.
Orcs tend to eat most food find in deserts, which is very little. They eat scorpion, locusts, grain, oasis fruits and of course boars that they raise themselves.
Because of their friendship to goblin pirates they often trade coin or other valuables found in the desert to eat exotic food such as bananas, pineapples and the dodo bird.
Orcs believe in reincarnation, as such that the soul first came from the sun along with the dragons, finds its home in a orc child and returns to the sun upon death.
Some orcs who do extraordinary things such as epic battles, uniting orc clans, befriending a dragon, finding a fast amount of drinkable water and so on are called Paragons of the sun and are seen as the finest in orckind.
Unlike most species, Orcs tend to not have set festivals or feasts and they tend to happen when something special happens to the clan or a person within a clan.
A orc marriage between two clans is one such a occasion where feasts, songs, fights and orgies tend to happen. A clan marriage such as this is considered a dull affair unless at least five orcs lay dead.
A orc funeral tends to happen on the same day when the orc dies, for bodies tend to not last long in the desert. Every night the clan does gather around a bonfire and tell stories.
The orcs revere the dragons and see them as the chosen children of the sun where they believe the dragons came from. They believe their kind was born when the first dragon scales landed on the earth and created the first orcs. Elder shamans believe that it is a orc's duty to burn as bright in life so that the earth remains warm like the sun and dragons are doing.
Only those chosen by the sun are seen as worthy to ride on the beasts.
Relations with other races.
Humans: Humanity was the first to suffer from the Orcish raids. As such they hate the orcs with a burning passion, something the Grand Alliance does not take away even as the Blight looms ahead. The northern kingdoms distrust and openly despise the orcs, remembering the destruction Warchief Gorvar left behind during the Second Troll War. Gryphon's Crown was the most adamant in opposing the entry of the Orcs in the Grand Alliance and even when Sanctuary was nearly overrun by the Blight they refused Orcish aid from Queen's Crown. It is only recently in some kingdoms and duchies in the northern hemisphere of Alundria that orcish travellers were allowed inside the kingdom but even so many suspicious eyes fall upon them.
The southern kingdoms seem more open minded and end up hiring Orcish warriors as bodyguards or martial instructors.
One such example is Frekkia the shamaness who trained Lord Harold of House Barnsworth.
Elves: The elves on the continent of Alundria share a similar dislike for the Orcs but in their long years they have learned to forgive such hatred. The elves on the isle of Oasis however have a different relationship with the orcs there. Since the rise of Warchief Gorvar who sacked many elven holds, and spawned the Second Troll wars on the mainland, the princes there feel it is their obligation to keep a vigilant eye on the clans there and made sure via covert means that no such threat like a Third Troll War would ever happen again.
Dwarves; The hatred the dwarves share with the humans for the orcs is deep and many orc names and deeds are scribbled down in a lot of Mountain King's book of grudges.
However some more open minded dwarven kings, such as King Thror of the Iron Crown province, has a friendship with the female Warchief Grella of the Laughing Axes although rumours claim both helped each other rise In their respective ladders by illicit means including robbery, arson and murder.
Trolls; If there is one true friend in Alundria to the Orcs, it is the Trolls of the swamp.
Like the Orcs they share the same skin colour, the swamps being they live in being as deadly as the scorched desert. And before the Blight shared the same enemy.
After the First Troll war, which forced the trolls to retreat back to their swamps, the guardians of the dead had few friends and were the victim of frequent attacks by all sides. It was around that time that the first Outcast Warchiefs came to the swamp and met the trolls. A friendship, forged in common hatred of the forces of Order and warlike culture, was struck and soon enough Troll and Orc warbands roamed the countryside, sacking human villages.
It is during this time the first Trolloks began to appear, a mix of orcish cunning with troll brute strength.
Prince Shrah was one of these creatures and when he first heard of a massive Horde forming in Oasis, he sailed over to ask the Warchief for help and make their enemies pay for past crimes. Even at the end of the Second Troll War, these two races have remained steadfast allies.
Goblins; The goblins have no true friends since their love of coin makes them neutral to any side in any conflict. However several goblin pirates enjoy trading with Orcish slavers and do continue business with them offering special discounts. Ambitious orcs who no longer enjoy desert life sometimes join pirate crews and sate their bloodlust on trade ships the pirates prey on.
Some orc clans however share a almost business relationship with the goblins. The goblins have a rivalry with the dwarves in the mountains and often fight them in the underground tunnels, far away from the accords of the Grand Alliance, for the riches and ores the mountain has to offer and often hire Orcs to fight alongside them.
Warchief Gorvar: Also named Gorvar the Dragonrider, is the first Orc Warchief to gather many orc clans and create a Horde. According to legend, Gorvar was born in a Boar Clan and lived a simple life with his wife and children. It was a hard life but a honest and good one. The deserts in Oasis were lawless and every clan was out for themselves and the particular year when his quest began was the driest ever recorded in Orc history. One day on a warm summer's day during a drought, a Wolf Pack attacked the clan and slaughtered most of the boar clan and took their food.
Gorvar and a few others who were off herding their boars away from the clan were the sole survivors of this clan, his wife and pups did not survive. Despite being lowly Boar clansmen, their rage made them true orcs and thus the small warband went off on their quest for vengeance. However rage could only help so much and after a few skirmishes Gorvar knew more was needed to defeat the Wolf Pack.
They made their way to a dragon nest and demanded justice. If she was truly a child of the sun she would not lay by and let orc kill orc. The dragon Serpentera, a old wyrm, found the orcs amusing and their souls burning with righteous fire and performed the ritual on them. All of them became what one day be called the Dragon Brigade. With their newfound powers, Gorvar and his clan killed and set aflame to those who murdered his family and kin. After his bloodlust was sated, a revelation came to mind and offered the survivors a choice. Join him or die. The surviving Wolf Pack joined and became the first members of Gorvar's Horde.
In time, the Orc Clans formed a Horde with Gorvar as Warchief, the first to do so orc history. Under him, no orc attacked another orc and all clans aided each other in food and war. He took several wives from prominent clans and sired a new line of chieftains in this golden age of heroes. In admiration, Serpentera offered her youngest son as a mount to Gorvar, her son's need for violence being in sync with Gorvar's need to expand his territory.
It was in this time the Trollok Prince Shrah travelled to Oasis to see of the tales of this Warchief were true. When the two met, it was on the field of battle as Shrah and his trolls aided In sacking the last of the elven strongholds that opposed Gorvar's entry to the sea. This bound forged in battle made Shrah sure that Gorvar was the hero the trolls needed to take revenge for the crimes committed on them after the First Troll War.
Now named the Dragonrider, Gorvar was told by Shrah of the fertile Alundria to the south and rallied his forces. After a few practice attacks on native human villages and elven forrest homes, Gorvar led the Horde across the ocean and began a war which would be called the Second Troll War. In ten years time, nearly half of Alundria was embroiled in this war with the Dragonrider, a war he was winning.
Thankfully he died during the battle of Ravenspire when he was thrown off his dragon by Thane Brunhilde and her Gryphon riders and his Horde fractured. No orc was able to get close to amassing a Horde as large as Gorvar's.
Ushnotz: A member of the Dragon Brigade and a veteran of many battles in the Second Blight.
As a young orc he along with a fellow orc in his village were chosen by his chieftain to go to the dragon Belron to commence in the Dragon ritual. Although he was the child of two members of the Brigade, he did not expect to survive the ritual. Not only did he survive the ritual, he became one of the strongest members of the Brigade and gained glory and valour in many battles against the Blight across Alundria. He became a hero to the orcish people and even was named a paragon of the sun, siring many orclings across the kingdoms.
After many years, he retired and became a slaver in Oasis until one day he disappeared and was replaced by another slaver called Gorvar during a slave uprising.
Warchief Grella; Chieftain of the Laughing Axes and Warchief of the Orcish Horde in the Iron Crown Province.
Born as a Desert Maiden, Grella was a warrior who in her early career came upon a dwarven convoy carrying a prisoner. Being hired by the locals goblins, Grella attacked the convoy and ended up freeing the prisoner. That dwarf was a noble called Thror who repaid Grella with a favour, a list of locations with easy targets from a rival dwarf clan. Grella's warband became very rich and powerful and her rise to Chieftain and then Warchief was only a matter of time.
Ciara; A small orcling girl from Shadows Barren also known as the little desert jewel. Ciara followed a orc warband who were send to Fog's Fen to clear the Immortals who had taken over from the native trolls. She brought in many wolf pups, looked after the wounded and the wolves and inspired the orcs to fight even harder against the Blight, for if a orc pup would stand up against a big monster, surely a orc warrior would do as well. During the battle when she was in danger, the warband rallied around her like a banner and slew the Trailblazer and his trolls down to the undead man. The warband had her as a mascot ever since.