Just what is Orctober? I asked myself that very same question! The Urban dictionary defines it as a celebration of all things orc in October. I honestly have no idea of its origins beyond that. I follow the talented artist Claudio Pozas on Facebook and he posted a piece of art about #Orctober. It invited people to draw, sing or write about orcs. I found it an interesting challenge! Orc have never been my favorite fantasy species, so this was an interesting exercise for me. Also, I needed something to distract me from the post Hurricane María woes.
Once I had decided to participate then there was another problem. I can’t really draw that well (look at the following image and you’ll know!), so drawing for the challenge was out of the question. My singing is even worse. What else could I do? Write!
My version of an orc!
For the past six days (at the time I write this post), I’ve been sharing my #Orctober 2017 in social media. I’ve collected my first six contributions to #October on this post. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll collect the following days in a similar post. I welcome your feedback and invite you to join in in this month long orcish celebration.
#Orctober day 1 Orc Barbarian
Kurgen Bloodbathed is a legendary warrior of the Graahak Tribes, called the Fell Swarm by the humans inhabiting the Sunfrost Bay. Kurgen led the fierce Blood Drinkers, the most savage and vicious warriors of the three tribes. After becoming warlord in the summer of 172 AC Kurgen raided the Sunfrost Bay all autumn, and the tribes spent that winter in control of the trading posts of Kiltlen and Vurjaan. The armies of the Duke of Roses ended the invasion and drove back the Graahak into the Frozen Peaks. The Blood Drinkers took back the body if their fallen leader and ate his body as to gain his ferocity and pass it on to their sons. To this day the most barbaric orcs are said to channel the spirit and ferocity of Kurgen Bloodbathed.
#Orctober days 2 Orc Shaman, and day 3, Old School Pig Headed Orc
What’s Orctober you ask? Well I did not know about it until Claudio Pozas shared an image with the prompts for the month some days ago. It seems some people merge the drawing celebration of inktober with a celebration of orcs and have orctober. I admit to knowing very little about it, except that in Claudio’s post he invited people to paint, sing, or write about orcs, and with my need to just think about something else besides hurricane recovery, I’ve taken on the challenge. Since I missed day 2 of #orctober yesterday, I’m catching up by posting about the topics for days 2 and 3.
“You want to know about fearsome Yrigtren the War Chanter? Well of course I know that story!”
Yrigtren One Arm, the War Chanter, was a descendant of the Blood Drinkers who feasted on the body of the fallen hero Kurgen Bloodbathed 38 years before. Unlike his ancestor, Yrigtren was born during times of hardship for the Graahak tribes, one of the fiercest storms to strike the Frozen Peaks in the tribe’s memory, he was the runt of his litter, the smallest of the four whelps. The lone female would have likely been left to die, but Yrigtren had been born with an atrophied hand. The shaman told his concubine to take him out into the snow and crush his head. She took the baby out but could not bring herself to do it. She simply left the screaming whelp out in the snow so Yrigbum, the screaming god of the unforgiving snow would take him. But someone else found him…
The savage snow apes of the high Frozen Peaks had been driven down from their secret cities in the great cliffs and they found the baby. One of the females of the snow apes adopted the baby orc and he grew up among them. It wasn’t until his fourteenth birthday when the future War Chanter would meet another orc.
By then he was tall and strong, and the smiths of the snow apes had forged him a mighty arm of fire metal. When a daring band of orc dared into the high peaks of the snow apes, the young orc led. The orcs were captured and the orc that would come to be known as Yrigtren one Arm, the War Chanter learned of his people. He learned the Graahak tribes were broken and scattered. He also learned of their proud tradition and the stories of their old conquests. He asked the snow ape king for his blessing and in the company of a lone survivor from orc band, he traveled to the lands of his people.
There he faced the shaman of Yrigbum who had told his mother to kill him. Despite the shaman’s magic, the might of the young orc and the secrets he had learned from the viziers of the snow apes, was unmatched. He killed his father and was named Yrigtren, son of the howling wind. Four years later he would become the War Chanter of the Graahak tribes and in 230 AC he would begin his march from the Frozen Peaks into the lands of the Duke of Roses.
“You are right, this wouldn’t have happened if not for Secher One Eye, or as he was known in the fighting pits of Roumdel, The Swine. So, let’s not get ahead of ourselves…”
Let’s get this out of the way. The orcs of the south are different from their northern brethren. While the northern orcs roam free in the mountain ranges and the tundra, the southern orcs were long ago driven from Irgenia by the founders of the Roumian city states. Some were enslaved, others escaped into the wilds or hid in the underground ruins of the dwarven empire. These orcs are noticeably shorter and generally not as big as northern orcs; because of their pronounced, flat noses, and their grunting speech, it should be no surprise that the roumians call them savage pigs.
Secher was captured by treasure hunters who raided an orc nest in some lost dwarven ruins and was sold as a slave in Roumdel. A local lord down on his luck purchased him and sent him to his gladiator stable, sure a fierce orc would turn his luck around. The pit master soon discovered Secher was not a savage fighter soon after he lost an eye in training. Still Secher survived and the pit master had seen something in him. Secher was not physically powerful or especially savage, but he was canny and fast. The pit master knew how to present him, and he trained him in underhanded and dirty fighting. Secher became known as a treacherous gladiator, known to exploit his enemy’s weaknesses, prone to betray his partners for his own glory, thus earning the nickname, the Swine.
So successful was Secher one eye that his master became a rich lord and the orc was able to purchase his freedom. But the decadent roumians considered themselves too civilized to allow a savage pig to live among them and Secher was exiled. He became a mercenary in the frontier, eventually serving with the Sea of Swords mercenary company during the War of the Petals for control of the Duchy of Roses. Even after all these he never felt welcome among the humans, in his old age Secher One Eye travelled to the Frozen Peaks, seeking perhaps kinship among the orcs. It was there that he would meet Yrigtren and bring down the Roumian Empire.
“Buy me another ale and I will tell you the story of how Secher became Yrigtren’s advisor.”
#Orctober day 4 Orc Assassin
Continuing my written participation in #Orctober. As in previous days I must credit Claudio Pozas for posting about this and inspiring me to participate.
“Refreshing! That ale hit the spot… Where was I? Oh yes, Secher and Yrigtren’s meeting.”
By 228 After Crowning, by human reckoning, Yrigtren One Arm had become War Chanter of the Graahak tribes and subjugated many of the other orc tribes in the Frozen Mountains to his will. The chieftains came to him for guidance and to receive his blessings which made then nearly unstoppable in battle. This fact had not gone unnoticed by the vassals of the Duke of Roses in and near Sunfrost Bay. It had also caught the attention of Secher One Eye who journeyed into the Frozen Peaks to meet this great leader.
Of all the tribes that the Graahak had dominated were the Hill Runners, among the southernmost tribes in the Frozen Peaks, often derided by other orcs for their warrior’s propensity to father weakling half-humans in the prisoners they captured on their raids south. The Hill Runners had been beaten into submission and their leader Bundrek resented the power the Graahak and especially Yrigtren held over them, and he made a secret deal with the human nobles of Sunfrost Bay to rid both of their problem.
It was with a hunting party of Hill Runners that Secher made his way into the Frozen Peaks. The old orc gladiator was certainly past his prime, but he was still a canny opponent, and Bundrek saw and opportunity in him. The southern orc wanted an escort to the tribal lands of the Graahak to meet their War Chanter. He sent an envoy of guides and warrior to escort Secher in his journey.
In this band Bundrek sent his son Burag with a gift for the War Chanter. Secher travelled for four weeks in the windswept, cold and unforgiving mountains until he reached the sacred vale of Yrigbum the howling orc god of the unforgiving snows where Yrigtren the War Chanter, shaman of the, Graahak made camp. Burag asked for an audience, and after all in his party had surrendered their weapons, they were granted passage into the shaman’s tent. There he introduced Secher, who in turn regaled the War Chanter with the storied he had heard of the shaman and his own life story. Yrigtren seemed unimpressed with this strangely civilized elf who barely spoke their language.
Burag impetuously interrupted the southerner and presented Yrigtren with a statue his father’s warrior had captured from a human merchant. A fearsome dragon carved in ivory with red gems for eyes. Burag brought the statue to the shaman, when a dagger pierced his neck. The orc barely gargled in his own blood before falling to the floor.
Secher stood there, bloody dagger in hand, as the tent exploded around him. Burag’s warriors jumped at him, the War chanter’s bodyguards protected their leader and grabbed Secher. The old pig nosed orc was moments away from being torn to pieces when the War Chanter struck the floor with his fire metal arm. The dark metal rippled with red bands dancing over its surface, in the joints sparks of fire flashed in the dark tent, the sound it made when it hit the floor silenced and stopped all in Yrigtren’s presence. He stood and pointed at Secher and simply said, ‘Explain.’
The orcs holding him released him and Secher walked over to the carving of the dragon laying on the floor. He squatted and pushed the dragon’s paw with the tip of his bloody dagger. The carving came alive, unravelling with strange mechanical clicking, the size of a dog it danced in the floor seeking its target. Secher grabbed Burag’s body and threw it at the clockwork dragon, it pounced, biting the body and coiling around the neck. Its red eyes flashed and it exploded in a conflagration. Burag’s head was a smoldering cinder.
Seeing the confusion Secher began to explain that he had seen such things before in Roumdel while he was a slave, old dwarven tricks learned and reproduced by human artisans. Then he realized none around him understood him, he had spoken the tongue of the humans he had grown up speaking all his life. He simply pointed at what remained of Burag and said in orcish, ‘Orc assassin.’
With that Yrigtren realized Secher understood his enemies in ways he did not, and the old orc began advising the War Chanter about the humans to the east and south and more. While the War Chanter wanted to strike at the Hill Runners and the humans, Secher tempered his furry and convinced him that his enemies expected just this, and that the secret to victory was doing the opposite of what your enemies expected.
“Just what their plans were and what they did together is a tale for another day. Rest and be packed in the morning. I will continue this tale on the road.”
#Orctober day 5 Orc Necromancer
The next installment of my written participation in #Orctober. Shout out to Claudio Pozas because his post on this subject and art for #Orctober inspire me to do this. So, I’ll hand it over to our narrator.
“Oh, the road… The possibilities it brings. Leaving behind civilization and wondering forth into the wilderness. Be so kind and pass me that wineskin. Stop pestering me, I’ll continue my story. No, today I’m not telling you the story of the Battle of Death Garden. To get there you need to know about someone else.”
In the distant past, during the heyday of the Roumian city states, their priest launched a great proselytizing crusade from Irgenia into Gersania, Hirinia that the locals called Issinia, Rustvan and as far as Sasseren and the coasts of mysterious Undan. It was thus how many mortals converted to the faith of the Great Founders. It is hard to continue worshiping the gods of your ancestors, when the priests of these foreign gods can perform miracles you’ve never seen.
Not everyone welcomed these missionaries, in Sasseren they were thrown to the snake pits where the desert clans locked the first men corrupted by the thu-ben. In Rustvan their chief of chiefs had his horsemen trample them, only to convert when they saved his favorite wife from a mortal wound she suffered in a duel. This did not stop them, they continued their crusade, and one of the unlucky ones wondered into the Dry Sea north of Rustvan. In this enormous, barren and dangerous valley lived orcs and ogres renowned for their savagery. Learning of his arrival to his lands, an ogre overlord sent his warriors to fetch the priest.
Bloodied and broken the priest was brought before the ogre overlord, who demanded to be shown the secrets of the gods. The priest to no avail told him that their gift would not work on his giant-tainted blood. The ogre did not believe him and by the end of the interrogation the priest was near death, the ogre ordered him thrown to the war wolves and was done with him. A lowly orc warrior crawled in the darkness to find the priest, and there hunched in the darkness, she heard the words the priest whispered to her before death finally took the human. That orc learned the secret of divine communion, the pathways the Founders had crafted from beyond the mortal world where open to her, distant powers whispered to her their secrets and rituals. This lowly orc became first shaman of her kin!
But orcs were tainted by their role in the Great War of Heaven and Earth, while they did not bear the blood of the god’s ancestral enemies, the giants, their nature had been darkened and twisted by their yoke. Thus, the darker powers from beyond found converts and believers among the orc. This shaman was granted power by these powers and she in turn showed other orcs the way of her patrons. One of the powers the orc came to worship was Gernellian Lady of the Dead, Mistress of the Undead!
The powers of Kurgen Bloodbathed his Blood Drinkers came through the blessings of Gernellian. One of Kurgen’s concubines was a powerful shaman of the Lady of the Dead. She showed him the rituals of blood magic which allowed the Blood Drinkers to feats on the flesh of their enemies and gain their strengths. When Kurgen had died she has been spirited away by warriors loyal to him, knowing full well that a new leader would kill Kurgen’s concubines and children. Her descendants hid among a small tribe of devout followers of Gernellian. The shaman of that tribe was renowned as a great orc necromancer. The ravines and paths leading to their tribal lands were said to be guarded by fallen orcs risen from the dead, and foul spirts under her command.
The old gladiator Secher One Eye learned of this and other tales when he earned a place in Yrigtren the War Chanter inner circle after saving his life. He had argued vigorously in opposition to immediate retaliation against the traitorous tribe that had attempted to kill the great shaman and their human allies. Yrigtren had amazingly listened to him and granted him three days to come up with a plan. Secher had tried to learn all he could of the orcs of the Frozen Peaks, their stories and traditions, and when he heard to Merkigra Whisperer of the Dead, he had his plan!
“We’re near the river crossing. Help me off this mule. I’ll continue this story once we are across.”
#Orctober day 6 Warcraft Orc
I’m here for day 6 of #Orctober. As usual, tipping my hat to Claudio Pozas whose art got me interested in #Orctober to begin with. I apologize for mistakes on these. I usually write them on the phone, at night, currently with no power, so please accept my apologies ahead of time…
Today’s topic is one of those complicated ones. I know about Warcraft of course, payed some of the original strategy games. Only played WoW once! Saw the movie, and did not like it. So, to work around this I’m cheating a little. You’ll see.
“And that’s how we lost the mule after you went under the water… No! Stay down, get yourself dry. Let me continue my story.”
Secher One Eye presented his plan to Yrigtren One Arm, the War Chanter. While the chieftains scoffed at the southern orc’s suggestion Yrigtren listened intently. Secher proposed an alliance between the Graahak tribes, their allies, and the Death Speakers, the tribe of Merkigra Whisperer of the Dead, shaman of Gernellian Lady of the Dead, Mistress of the Undead.
The orc gods are fickle and petty, tribes that follow one deity often clash with those that follow others. Yrigtren was a shaman of Yrigbum, the Screaming God of the Unforgiving Snow. Such an allegiance would certainly be hard to arrange. But Yrigtren understood the brilliance in Secher’s plan, who smiled smugly at the gathered chieftains. A smile that quickly vanished when the War Chanted tasked him with arranging the pact.
Secher was sent with an escort of Yrigtren’s most loyal orcs. The paths to the Death Speaker enclave was treacherous, and Secher more than once regretted journeying into the Frozen Peaks. Attacked at camp while resting by rotting orc corpses who would not remain down once felled, almost convinced him that his mission was folly. But eventually Secher One Eye and a handful of his escort made it into the cave where Merkigra Whisperer of the Dead gathered her tribe. Her tribe eerily silent around the entrance, their faces painted black, the stench overpowering, hard to tell who was alive and what was an animated corpse.
Sent alone into the depth of the cavern, Secher looked in amazement at the young orc standing before him in the smoke-filled grotto. Unlike the tans, dark browns and green common in orc complexions, the young ragamuffin before him had pale, pinkish skin, her hair wild, unkempt, a sickly white yellowish color, he could see her veins like snakes pulsating under her skin. He had heard stories that Merkigra was an older, matronly, albino orc woman, but this girl was barely and adult, yet her eyes betrayed a much older soul. They glowed a strange eerie reddish green.
In his woefully inadequate orcish Secher began explaining why he was there. He regretted not practicing the language of his people more, and what he knew bore the accent of his southern origin. He tried to explain as best as he could the benefit of the alliance he proposed. Merkigra responded in perfect roumian, speaking the human trade tongue as a native, her voice far too deep and gravely to be the voice of a child. ‘I learned of you plans in her entrails, and it is a good plan. That is why I put on a new skin.’ Secher looked at where the girl pointed and saw the body of an old albino orc woman, her abdomen open, her entrails strewn about the cave.
Merkigra Whisperer of the Dead traveled back with Secher to meet Yrigtren One Arm. Accompanied by her protectors, orcish warrior priestesses and the shambling corpses of their fallen sisters, her arrival caused a stir among the gathered tribes, but the two shamans joined in common purpose. Thus, the first part of Secher plans began…
Bundrek of the Hill Runners, who had conspired with the humans and sent his son Burag to assassinate the War Chanter, waited nervously. If Yrigtren was dead he would have heard about it, but the tribe lands of the Graahak remained quiet. He had neither heard from Burag nor received a ransom demand; his people had not been attacked. The humans had sent emissaries, but Bundrek had turned them away. He brooded in his tent late at night, sending away his concubines, when a lookout shouted of an approaching party. Had his son arrived? Bundrek put on some pelts, grabbed his axe, and trotted out to find out.
The chief of the Hill Runners and his orcs cautiously approached the hill from which the lookout had called out, but could not find him. Then he saw him, down in the path between the hills, Bundrek recognized his son’s silhouette. Burag and his warrior had returned. He led his tribespeople down to meet them. His warrior urge caution, but Bundrek realized his mistake too late. His son walked slowly, slouched, and then the stench hit them! Too late because the animated corpse of Burag and his orc warrior suddenly ran to them, their hungry mouths agape. The Hill Runners fought them fiercely, but the undead can fight until they are torn to pieces. Burag’s animated corpse feasted on his father. The just dead rose up and joined the hundreds of dead orcs marching down into the Hill Runner camp under the command of Merkigra Whisperer of the Dead.
From a nearby hill Yrigtren the War Chanter watched the fires and heard the screams as his enemies died in agony. He turned to Secher One Eye and told him ‘You know much about warcraft orc. You shall be my advisor in the coming war!’
“Together these two would sow fear in the hearts of men and reshape the kingdoms of the world by their actions. But that’s a tale for tomorrow. For now, rest. I don’t like that cough.”