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The Path of Cunning

Started by Kozgugore, March 21, 2021, 10:39:51 PM

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  ¤  Orcish Lore  ¤  Orcish Timeline  ¤  Red Blade History  ¤  Red Blade Culture  ¤  Great Spirits  ¤  Red Blade Ranks  ¤  FAQ  ¤ 

When Sharguul revealed himself to the clan he spoke of the dangers that lurked in this world and the next, dangers that he could not see or understand. In Akashok’s name he called for the Path of Cunning to be reinstated into the clans foundations. Together they would learn of these threats and protect not only the Red Blade Clan, but his father’s pack from any harm. Thus Sharguul the Unborn, imposed his Dark Fang and Blackfur onto the Path of Cunning. The Path of Cunning now preaches three virtues, Devotion, Protection and Subtlety.

Devotion: Those who follow the Path of Cunning must be devoted to Sharguul and his teachings in protecting the clan at all costs. It’s often referred to as the Word of Sharguul, a divine purpose that the orcs must follow blindly. In doing so they will receive Sharguul’s blessing and his undying loyalty.

Protection: The stalwart protectors from the shadows, a follower of the Path of Cunning must always safeguard his clan and pack. Unlike those in the Path of Strength, the Path of Cunning protects the clan from outside threats by gathering information or even laying counterintelligence. Enemies of the clan have been known to suddenly disappear without a trace.

Subtlety: ‘Subtle like Sharguul’ is a phrase now common with the Path of Cunning of the Red Blade Clan. Like the shadows in a dark room, its orcs are there but not seen. Never rushed, hidden, waiting for their unsuspecting prey. Then, when the time is right, the orcs strike. Be subtle, be like Sharguul.

Cunning, deception and subterfuge; the Dark Knives, or Gul'thauk in archaic orcish, are most at home in the shadows. The Gul'thauk's duties are numerous. Though orcs typically place great value in honour and honesty, subterfuge is sometimes a necessary evil to get things done. In concert with the Varog'Gor, the Gul'thauk discreetly ensure the tribe's safety through scouting, gathering intelligence and research. Whether poring through ancient tomes or interrogating the enemy, the Gul'thauk must use all their cunning to win the day both on and off the battlefield.

The Gul’thauk must also show their devotion and faith in Sharguul. A Gul’thauk should never lose sight of the Path of Cunning’s new divine purpose. Daily chores revolving around the Wolf of Death are commonplace amongst those in the Path of Cunning. Like the Nag’Ogar and Gosh’kar, the Gul’thauk is split in to four ranks, each rank an improvement on the other. Eventually through experience they may become a Shadow, the highest rank available in the Path of Cunning.

Progression as a Gul'thauk:

The first step as a Gul’thauk is as an Acolyte, this is where the orcs will learn the fundamentals of what it means to go down the Path of Cunning. Acolytes will be introduced to the great wolf spirit Sharguul, discovering faith in this heavily religious side of the clan. The Varog’Gor will test this new found faith to see if they speak the truth, Sacrament of Death will be needed to advance to Stalker. Those that throw away Sharguul’s teachings will be exiled and will have to seek refuge in another path. Only those with the strongest devotion to the cause will remain.

“He came to me, his fur and fangs the blackest of black. His eyes like a winter ice, glowing white. I followed the great wolf and noticed his paws left a shadow imprint in the ground. He walked between worlds, guiding the lost towards the after-life. I have now passed on thanks to his aid. He deserves your devotion my love, I will be here waiting for you on the other side! We shall see each other again. Blessings to you, Sharguul!”
- Lover's letter

Those who have proved devout will have advanced to a Stalker, this is where the Gul’thauk truly becomes the Dark Knives. The Varog’Gor will now train the Gul’thauk to become Darkcloak. They will actively engage in showcasing their skills in deception, subterfuge and tracking. “Three must fall!” is a common quote heard amongst the orcs when referring to the Stalker, none outside of the Path of Cunning truly understand what this means.

”I saw it! It came at night all in black! People say that I’m lying or making it up! Like a shadow, he killed the noble. There was nothing I could do! Why won’t anyone believe me!? I didn’t kill that noble! Get me out of this prison! Aaah!”
- A witness

The faithful Darkcloaks, to have achieved this rank you would have had to prove yourself time and time again. Darkcloaks are the veterans in the Gul’thauk and the Varog’Gor know they can rely on the Darkcloaks to keep order in the clan. The Darkcloaks are known to investigate the faithful and eliminate heresy among the orcs, ratting out the non-believers in the clan. The Gul’thauk training now goes down a more philosophical route, how far can the Darkcloak bend the code? Would they sacrifice all else for the clan and the pack? How far would they push the boundaries to protect those they loved? The impossible questions would need to be answered if they wish to advance to Shadow.

”That Darkcloak makes me proud to be an orc, he died with honour protecting his clan, his family. He had the heart of a giant! It was like watching the old Red Guards of legend. We live because of him. One orc died on the battlefield to save many. That is how it should be!”
- Orc survivor

The Shadow are the Gul’thauk excellence, they are feared by orcs because of their reputation. They are among the deadliest of killers and their devotion to Sharguul holds no bounds. The Shadow has gone above all else, mastering the three virtues, Devotion, Protection and Subtlety. They are the pinnacles of the Path of Cunning and the Varog’Gor trusts them to perform the most dangerous of tasks. Their training however isn’t over. Legends speak of a final task the Varog’Gor will give. Rumours say the final task can’t be completed in life...

”If you ever see a Shadow in the corner of your eye, some say you can see Sharguul, walking with them in life..."
- A scholar's insight

The Varog'Gor are known as some of the finest that the clan has to offer. Old orcish for Wolf Claws, the Varog'Gor are the eyes and ears of the Chieftain, remaining a constant vigil over not only his safety, but also the clan's. In addition to the clan's safety, they also ensure that the clan's customs, laws and codes are upheld by each of its orcs. In the event of a conflict within, it is the Varog'Gor who ensure law and order is maintained. The same goes for external threats, however. Be it bigger threats or the more subtle ones, the Varog'Gor are always on the lookout for the things that may threaten the pack's security.

Due to their dedication to the clan and its Chief, Varog'Gors are expected to put everything aside in favor of both. In exchange, they earn the respect from those inferior to them, serving as an example for others to strive for. To help them with their duties, Sharguul, son of Akashok restored the Path of Cunning to the clan, entrusting the Varog’Gor to lead it in his name. There is no direct path in becoming a Varog’Gor and only those worthy enough are chosen by the Chieftain, the Nag'Ogar, Gosh'kar and Gul’thauk are all eligible in joining the Varog'Gor.
Kozgugore Feraleye - Chieftain of the Red Blade


Path Progression

Acolyte - Teachings of Zeal completed
Stalker - Teachings of Loyalty completed
Darkcloak - Teachings of Death completed
Shadow - Teachings of Shadow completed

Reports may be handed in either in-game at the corresponding Elder or via a written IC report. Every final task must be reported at a Clan Meeting. If there are no corresponding Elders available for an extended amount of time, you may report to the Chieftain or another Elder as well.

Teachings of Zeal

Student of Death

Task: Just as Sharguul gets to know the orcs he ferries to the Shadowlands, a Gul’thauk must also know their fellow orcs. Speak to at least three orcs of the Clan and learn of their history and family. Write a report outlining each detail that you learn.

Requirement: Casual RP and IC report

Black Garb

Task: Hunt a wolf of your own choosing and craft a ceremonial garb to show your devotion to Sharguul. The traditional garb of Sharguul is black, but the choice is yours as to what kind of item you choose to fashion from your prey. Others may accompany you on the hunt, but the final blow must be your own. Provide a short report of the hunt.

Requirement: Casual RP / event and IC report

Dance of the Dead

Task: Study the Sacrament of Death and learn how to carry it out. Then, practice the Sacrament by hosting an event that either honours one or more fallen orcs or ancestors, or by hosting a general ritual to Sharguul for the rest of the Clan to witness. Provide a report of your ritual.

Requirement: Event and IC report

Teachings of Loyalty

From the Shadows

Task: Gul’thauk are the eyes and ears of the Clan. Organize at least three different kinds of scouting missions or set out to gather other forms of intelligence that are relevant to the Clan at that time, such as an enemy they are facing at a campaign. Recruit at least two or more fellow orcs to accompany you on the missions. Provide a report of each mission carried out and the intelligence learned from them.

Requirement: Casual RP and IC report

Urban Subterfuge

Task: Orgrimmar is the heart of the Horde, and much mischief goes on within its walls. Organize a mission to Orgrimmar in the interest of the Clan. This mission may be to gather intelligence, retrieve an important asset, close a trade deal or otherwise, but may not involve any violence or disturbance of the peace. Provide a report of this mission undertaken.

Requirement: Casual RP / event and IC report

Three Must Fall

Task: Hunt down three criminals who are sentenced to die in Sharguul’s name. A criminal is considered anyone who has trespassed any laws on the Code of Akashok. To do so, lead at least two or more missions of subterfuge for your Gul’thauk or, if possible, other orcs, so that they may bear witness to you performing these three sacrifices to Sharguul. These missions may involve sabotage, kidnapping, ambush, poison, assassination or other such activities, so long as they result in the dispensation of justice on behalf of Sharguul and the demise of his prey. Ensure each mission carried out makes use a different one of the aforementioned methods and a different kind of strategy. Provide a report at a Clan Meeting of each mission successfully carried out.

Requirement: Event and IC report

Teachings of Death

Teachings From Beyond

Task: There is a deeper spiritual aspect to the Path of Cunning than just being cunning. Educate yourself in Sharguul’s ways or in the ways of our enemies by familiarizing yourself with Shadow, Fel, Light or any other form of foreign magic. You may decide for yourself in what manner you wish to control said magic, be it by simply learning of its many aspects or harnessing some manner of ability or spell yourself. You may find assistance in doing so however you wish, such as by gleaning knowledge from enemies or allies alike. Ensure it does not trespass the Code of Akashok, however. Finally, host a lesson on what you have learned so your fellow orcs may share in your knowledge. Provide a report of your findings to a Varog’Gor.

Requirement: Casual RP / event and IC report

From Beyond the Grave

Task: To dabble with necromantic or corruptive spiritual magics is to deny Sharguul's will. Yet even as threats such as the Scourge have been defeated, agents of undeath and dark shamanism alike still roam the lands. Track down a threat to the Clan or the Horde within the lands that dabbles with undead or other corruptive magics and put an end to their dealings. Bring a party of at least three or more orcs with you to ensure the job is done. Provide a report of your mission.

Requirement: Event and IC report

Shattered Souls

Task: There are many souls in this dark world who do not yet know the peace of death. Track down a troubled soul who remains stuck on the mortal plane and ensure their passing into the Shadowlands by performing the Sacrament of Death or any other means necessary to sever the ties that hold them linked to the mortal plane. Ensure there are at least three or more orcs present to assist you in the undertaking. Provide a report at a Clan Meeting.

Requirement: Event and IC report

Teachings of Shadow

Mark of the Master

Task: Decide upon a speciality to focus on by which you might aid not only yourself, but the rest of your Clan as well. Educate yourself and learn of your chosen focus, such as potions, poisons or any other kind of tools by speaking to others who are knowledgeable of the matter. Finally, host a class on your chosen focus to teach your fellow orcs. Provide a report on your choice and your motivation for it.

Requirement: Casual RP / event and IC report

Blood for the Unborn

Task: Be the embodiment of Sharguul’s Shadow by setting an example for your fellow Gul’thauk. Lead at least three missions of subterfuge for your Gul’thauk or, if possible, other orcs. These missions may involve sabotage, kidnapping, ambush, assassination or other such activities, so long as they do not strictly trespass the Code of Akashok. Provide a report of each mission successfully carried out.

Requirement: Casual RP / event and IC report

Crimson Calling

Task: Host a small campaign that aims to deal with a threat to the Horde or the Clan. This campaign must consist of at least three or more events. Provide a report of the campaign’s results at a Clan Meeting.

Requirement: Campaign and IC report

Sacrament of Cunning

Task: The final step to becoming a Shadow of the Path of Cunning. A Varog’Gor will help guide you into the spirit realm, where you will venture out to meet with the first Varog’Gor of Clan Redblade, Drag'nash the Devourer, who will set you on the final challenge to become the best among Gul’thauk.

Requirement: Officer-led event
Kozgugore Feraleye - Chieftain of the Red Blade


Oath of Sharguul

Through Sharguul’s Dark Fang, we silence those who mean us harm.
Through Sharguul’s Blackfur, we protect those we love.
Through Sharguul the Unborn, we devote ourselves to his word.
Sharguul, walk with us in life as we walk with you in death.
Now we are the shadows that watch over the clan and pack!

Culture of the Cult of Sharguul

The focus of Sharguul rests upon the acts that have to be done and deeds to be committed that others do not wish to do. They are recognised as a necessity if lives are at stake from the clan. To do what is right, but might stretch the code of Akashok, is what Sharguul approves of in his followers. Rather than having these deeds carried out with malice, spite, or heartless convictions, the claws of Sharguul strike with the wellbeing of the clan in mind. His following holds no place for those that have ill intent and seek to misuse his patronage.

Unlike those who thread in the steps of Vrull, Sharguul seeks no recognition for the deeds done. Whilst they are not celebrated, not even in private, they do not go unremembered. Those who do follow him often have a list of acts which have been carried out even in violation of the clan's tenets, to remember what has been done as others will not. They do not take credit, nor do they take the blame, they always work in the shadows.

Many who worship Sharguul come from different backgrounds, although all do casually offer a half-thought prayer or draw the symbol of Blackfur when speaking of death. Piety is strong when his followers dabble in his areas, but they quickly push away the spectre of death when they are mingling in everyday life.

Some of the more extreme followers actively oppose the undead that wander both the ranks of the clan and the Horde, as that does go against the cycle and keeps the spirits of the fallen from passing on to the realm beyond.

Just like how there are two sides to the Unborn, there are also two names for him; Dark Fang and Blackfur. Those who follow his way of sticking to the shadow and guarding the clan from the outside and the inside, refer to him as Dark Fang. Those who tend to the fallen and seek the safe passing of those who have perished often call him Blackfur, for it is the colour of the pelt you see when you pass on to the next realm.

Proverbs of the followers

One hand is used for giving - Much like the duality of the spirit, this phrase contains just that. It is used as a salute to those around, but also dubs as a warning. Those who utter the words have their motivations remain a secret, and a gift in one hand may be offset by a threat in the other.

If you cannot lie, speak the truth - In a faith of secrecy and duality this phrase is used both as an insult and as advice. Lies are often laced with the hints of truth, it is what makes them more believable. It is a phrase often said when the thin veil of lies has been pierced by the insight of the speaker.

By the blood and the word - Often used as an oath and promises for secrecy to be taken to the grave, swearing that only Sharguul shall hear it in person (and only once the person making the oath has perished), or that he will claim the oath-maker early if he breaks the promise of secrecy. It is often accompanied by the touch of a finger and a thumb to the sides of the neck (as if choking), followed by kissing or licking the first two fingers of that hand.

Three must fall - A commonly heard phrase among orcs who train to become Stalkers of the Gul'thauk. Outsiders to the Path of Cunning don't know the true meaning behind it, but it's often spoken as if to signify an important goal.

Subtle like Sharguul - Advice commonly heard among the Gul'thauk. Just as Sharguul is the quiet shadow that follows every orc unto death, the Gul'thauk are like the shadows that remain unseen, waiting for their unsuspecting prey. Gul'thauk often recommend one another to be as 'Subtle as Sharguul' when heading out on missions or when parting ways.

The Sacrament of Death

The Sacrament of Death is a ceremony that blesses the fallen on their journey to the after life, the Gul'thauk will learn all about death by preparing a deceased body, crafting a pyre and performing the Sacrament of Death ceremony. This task should remain with all Gul'thauk throughout their tenure in the Path of Cunning as it's one of the most important sacraments in the path.

Steps for the Sacrament of Death:

- The Deceased Body

Cleansing the body will require it to be cleaned and mended where it can be, the body will need the markings of Sharguul painted on it or carved in to it by one of the Varog'Gor's Fangs of the Unborn. The latter will be determined by a Varog'Gor's alignment as it could be deemed disrespectful. The deceased's personal belongings should be placed alongside them, this includes any armour or weapons they will need in the after life.

- The Pyre

To prepare the Acolytles will have to collect wood and then they will have to craft pyre from scratch. Herbs will be needed for cosmetic reasons that revolve around preserving the body.

- The Sacrament of Death

The pyre will be ready by the start of the ceremony. All orcs are asked to gather. Once they are all there, silence will be asked and they will be greeted with a small prayer, to ask for Sharguuls attention.

Sharguul, Spirit of old
Hear these words, hear my cry
Spirit from the other side
Blackfur, Dark fang
Cross now the great divide

Tender to the ones that die
Your guidance do we ask
Honor us with your shadows
For this important task.

Following the prayer, some words may be spoken about the orc laid to rest on the pyre, such as their name, rank, how they fell and that they will next be honoured. Others may be invited to speak if they wish, or to lay down their offerings. Tradition dictates that any mate or closest loved ones may have the first honour.

Next comes the cutting of the palm. If the orc being laid to rest is a full member of the clan, following will be said:
"[Name], we hold you to your oath. Your duty to us is done, Akashok looks down upon you with pride, our clan ancestors will welcome you. Your oath is fulfilled, and we thank you."

If a New Blood of the clan is being laid to rest:
"[Name]. With this we recognize you as a [brother/sister] in blood. You fell in service of the clan and we will honor you for this. May our ancestors welcome you on the Plains."

After that, the black fur will be laid over the body with the following words:
"Black fur, for protection on the road to the next place. Sharguul, embrace this Orc and safely guide her to her ancestors, her loved ones, so they may take her in their midst."

Atop the black fur, a dark wolf fang will then be laid upon the chest.
"Dark Fang, to give the strength for the journey ahead. Sharguul, protect this Orc and safely guide her to her ancestors, her loved ones, so they may take her in their midst."

Finally, one of the Gul'thauk or a Varog'Gor will bring a burning torch. The mate or loved ones are asked if they wish to have the honour to light the pyre or not - otherwise the Gul'thauk or Varog'Gor will do so. When the pyre is put afire, the following words are spoken:
"Sharguul, we release this spirit to you. The one whose feet are stilled and the one who laughs with us no more. To you we say, our love was with you here, and goes on with you now... to that place where you rest and take delight. Blackfur, Dark Fang will guide you. May his paws lead you along the path, to that place where all is fresh and green. Where lovers, friends and ancestors wait with open arms to greet you."
Kozgugore Feraleye - Chieftain of the Red Blade