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A wandering orc's tale/s

Started by Tarkah, December 15, 2017, 02:23:59 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Advance warning, this is several stories in one thread!
I will probably try to collect most things that I write here in this one topic for the sake of keeping the total number of topics to a reasonable amount.
The starting point is the outset of the reboot campaign, and covers what happened during it from one orc's point of view. And also whatever ends up happening afterwards!


Part 1, Stonetalon

The midday sun shone down on the mountains and valleys of Stonetalon, finding its way into the many scattered nooks and corners of the region.
In one of these, a considerable number of orcs had been stirring since late morning, replacing the frantic activity of the pre-dawn hours with the more sedate tasks of camp life.
Wounds had been seen to,  the bodies of the night's attackers had been burnt, and scouts and guards had been sent out to make sure of the camp's safety. Most of the orcs had tried to find a few more hours worth of rest, however, before the day would wait for them no longer.

Atar'ka had found herself a place by one of the less busy cooking-fires that had been lit around the camp, working her way through a meal of water and dried meat as she thought back on the recent days. For the umpteenth time since it appeared in her hand, she was looking over the letter that had started all of this.

" You are in danger."
" See to your blood kin should you have any."
" I have enclosed a map that shall lead you to a desolate camp in the Stonetalon Mountains. Meet me there."

This and more it had said, along with the name of an orc she did not know nor had ever heard spoken before. Since then however, she had become familiar enough with Kozgugore Feraleye. By name if not in person at least, since the mysterious chieftain had yet to appear before them.
-He alone- had yet to appear. His warnings seemed to have brought the orcs of an entire scattered tribe together as well as reached the hands of complete strangers, like herself.
The nature of the threat he claimed held its hand over them was also still unknown, even if the thin red wheal across her throat was tangible enough proof that it was real.

Could this Feraleye possibly know about Hamok, or was the ancestors-cursed spirit with its mockings and threats only one of several hidden foes?
Many times now had she asked herself that question, and the doubts whether she was right to be here or if she was wasting time better spent elsewhere was wearing her patience thin. Coming here had gained them nothing.  Until last night's attack, that is. An enemy had revealed itself, and now she would have answers. It was for that reason that she had chosen to follow the tribe after all, these Red Blades, when she had chance upon them out on the plains. Answers would serve her better than to carry the warning to others, only to then wait for the unknown to strike.

And now they found themselves in this camp, waiting to know more. A different camp to the ones she had known through the years.
Not the purposeful and practical war camp, filled with soot and work and bellowed orders.
And far, far from the camp of a warband, filled with in-fighting and posturing for the eye and favor of a self-styled "chieftain".
It was more like the campfires of a group of wanderers that she had grown used to in more recent times, only on a much larger scale. And yet there -was- order and purpose,  the tribe looking to what appeared natural or past leaders as orcs were split up in groups and put to use in different tasks.

She had come here poorly prepared, with barely a weapon to wield and little enough in the way of armor or supplies other than what she could snatch up as she set out.
She had little enough idea of what was moving against them, or how to face it.
She was alone and surrounded by orcs who still were strangers to her, with no clear purpose or role among them.

And yet, she felt more at home here than she had done in a long time.
With these orcs she would find a purpose, she would find her answers.
And remain a stranger no longer.


Part 2, The Barrens

They had gone in a circle.
Looking out from the roof of the abandoned burrow and across the familiar dusty plains the the Barrens, Atar'ka wasn't sure whether to laugh or curse at that fact. Their journey to the abandoned camp in Stonetalon, and their following stay there, had seen more than a week pass since they set out and now they found themselves back almost where they had started out!

Almost, at least. They had come here of all places.
Glancing back over her shoulder and down the stairs into the shade of the burrow, she couldn't help but to scowl. The same accursed burrow as the last time she had gone chasing answers and vague clues on the plains. Was this fate, or some sort of joke?
At least this time, she wasn't forced to stay holed up inside and lick her wounds, waiting for strength to return.

"Useless thoughts..." she muttered and faced outwards again, looking around the makeshift camp that had sprung up as the tribe settled in. That was then, and this was now. Similar perhaps, but so much different as well.
The Red Blades were gathered in various groups, busying themselves, and she was impressed at their refusal to sit and brood. The one called Halftusk was staging spars in front of the gutted burrow, while the shamans had gathered of to one side, no doubt to discuss their findings from the mine. She had heard their brief retelling of what they had found, but she knew nothing beyond that.

Still...demons? Though if that was what they faced, much became clear. Clearer, at least. The assassins, their fanatical zeal, the summoning... All of it sounded just like every other rumour or tale of cult filth and their doings that she had heard before.
At this rate, she wouldn't have been surprised to find Morkhana among the number of their hidden enemy. If she -was- it would have explained much...but no. That one was as dead as the assassin they had burned last night. Whatever foes lurked behind all these questions was a new threat altogether. That much at least had become clear so far.

And now, they would go to seek new answers with the centaur. She had never had anything to do with the clans of the plains, and wondered if they could be bargained with like the ones further south, among the Needles.
Not that it mattered.
The Red Blades seemed to have caught the scent now, and she much doubted if they would settle for anything other than finding their chieftain.
Nor would she. He still owed a lot of answers, after all.


Part 3, The Crossroads

The sun was at its zenith, making its way across the sky as it shone down on the Barrens.
Above the camp at the Crossroads, Atar'ka had found a herself some calm atop the watch tower overlooking the surrounding plains.
Sitting on the edge of the wooden platform with her right leg pulled up to act as a rest for her arm, she had a complete view of the camp and those who occupied it.
Not that she watched them very closely. Her reason for coming here had been to clear her head and to order her thoughts. She still swore that she could taste the foul mist from the peak at the back of her throat, even if a night's rest had rid her of the sluggishness that had gripped her thoughts during the night before.
The wind up here would clear her thoughts, and the small keg of ale she had brought up wth her would aid in getting them moving again.
Ale was good for thinking. Much like fire, it gave you something to stare at and focus on while your thoughts worked in peace. The only thing to best them both was work, where her hands did all the thinking for themselves, leaving the thought to fully do as they pleased in the meantime.

Spotting a red-colored figure emerge from the inn below and squinting for a closer look, she recognised it as Bloodpaw, the one the tribe called Rrosh-tul. Thinking back to their talk from the night before made her huff out a dry laugh.
After what had happened the last time she thought to tell anyone about voices and visits from spirits, she had been hesitant to speak up about the voices she had heard in the fog. Being mocked and labeled as mad once had been enough. But Bloodpaw and the shamans had swept aside her attempt at secrecy and been eager to listen. With the other tales among the orcs about what had been seen or heard during their climb, it was clear enough that they needed to gather whatever clues they could. The thought made her bark out another few laughs at herself.
How foolish...
Hiding clues, when they had so few already? She should know better.

Finding her mug empty, she leaned back with a grunt-like sigh as she reached for the keg.
She would stay a while longer, drink and think. Then it was time for words once again, now that they had the luxury of choosing their next move. Whatever the outcome, they had a new destination at least, and now only needed to decide how to reach it.


Part 4, Razor Hill

Atar'ka turned her head, trying to get a good look at the reflection of herself in the bowl of water where it sat balanced on a bench. The wound, hidden now by a matted patch of hair, had bled freely and soaked her hair and covered her face with a red mask. Which was no wonder, the blow itself had been enough to daze and dissorient her during the battle and the blood-loss had left her light-headed as they made their way away from the ruined farm.
She was grateful to be reminded again of her thick skull, which had kept her alive several times before. But she needed to be wiser, more careful, than this. There was no second skin to protect her from the enemy's blade anymore, no shield to stop the blows. She had left those behind when they lost their use and became a burden.

No shield will save you when you are alone and exposed.
No skin of iron will protect you when you are outnumbered and slow.

She had been forced to learn this, and forced to adapt.
But now! How different the battle had been, and how familiar.
The chaos, the press of orcs, the cries of battle...
This was what she remembered but had needed to forget. This was a time to bring back forgotten tools!
A night of being reminded it seemed, which she gratefully accepted.

The grin that had crept up on her during these thoughts faded into a scowl however, when she thought of the reasons for the battle, and of the outcome. Closing her eyes as she wiped away more of the blood with a soaked piece of cloth, she thought back on the night's events.
Their mysterious enemy, who brazenly had come to meet them in disguise only to then fall on their backs in an ambush...
The chaos that followed, and the death and injuries caused by the stampeding kodo...
And almost more mysteriously, the sudden appearance of Kozgugore Feraleye and his narrow escape from death in the burning farm...

The tribe had carried their chieftain and other wounded into the inn when they reached Razor Hill, gathering close together to guard and to mend. They had been tense during the hunt for answers, but now…
If Feraleye went to his forebears this night, the tension would snap, and ancestors knew what would happen. It was for that reason that she had gone down into the burrow instead, after she had gathered water and cloth. Better that she saw to her own wounds when they had enough death and blood among their own. Better that she kept away from where it was not her place to intrude.

Come morning Feraleye would either be alive, and no doubt share the answers he had promised them when he had the strength to speak. Or he would be dead and the answers gone with him.
For now, all that any of them could do was rest and wait.



The night sky was vast, its dome stretching far far into every direction that she turned to look, with nothing to obscure it or block her vision. And the stars...
Untold numbers of them shining down with cold pure white-blue light, more of them than she ever remembered having see. It was beautiful.
This must be what Old Nights looked like, long ago when the world was young and wild. Which world however, she was less sure of. But whether it was their ruined home or the one that they had come to call home in its stead, the certainty of what she was seeing was there in her mind. The certainty that only dreams bring.

And yet...
She knew that it was no dream. She was wide awake. And she knew that there was no sky, only the stone of the cave's roof and walls. A vision, then..?
She was no shaman or seer and what she knew about such things was easily measured, and would amount to pitifully little, but what else could it be? She had no memory of ever seeing a moon like the one that had dominated the sky with its radiant glow, nor any memory of the silver-coated wolf that had sat beneath it as she howled.
She had noticed little at the time while the battle still raged, but had overheard enough since then to realise that many, if not all of them, had seen and heard it as well. It couldn't have lasted more than a moment, but the vision had invigorated them, given them strength to overcome the cult's trap, and saved them from death.

Atar'ka slowly opened her eyes to look at another sky, with other stars, both of which were familiar enough and that she knew well to be real. But if she would close her eyes again, she knew she could will the memory of the vision into view once more. She expected it to fade with time into something less vivid, and leave mostly questions behind. Always questions…
The curse of someone more used to thinking with their hands.

This one however, she had vowed to leave unanswered.
Questions was not what you owed, when you were snatched from the jaws of death.
It was gratitude.