Ours is the story of many of the great tribes. The legends tell of inspired leaders, striking their own in the wilderness, building their fledging clan to glory and conquest. The legends tell of heroic acts and great deeds, or bravery and cunning. But I know that many of the great clans started because of fractured tribes, regrouping after the great enemies beset them with steel and cannon. There is much honour in the old ways, but I fear that the glory of the orcish crafters—leather and ironbone, obsidian and raw strength—has met its match against the industry of the dwarves and humans. We fight to bring glory to those who have fought before us, but the humans and dwarves do not fight for honour; they clad themselves in metals that were not from glory in combat, and while it shames them to do so, I cannot argue its effectiveness.
I know all this, and I know that many—nay, most—of those who head into the wilderness are never heard of again. They achieve glory and honour in fighting the elements and the great foes, but all that remains of them now is a shattered spear or rusted arrow-head amongst a circle of stones.
But I speak none of this to the others. Despite our homelands being shattered, they are eager and believe they will be the stuff of legends. I look across the barren wilderness and our meagre supplies, and I hope that they are right.
Ours is a band of misfits. No families, no homes, and nothing to lose. There’s Vyctryx, an impressive olog, rarely seen, and twice the size of any other in our band; pure muscle and strength, she is the most fearsome thing I’ve ever seen. In our journey through the wilderness we raided a village for supplies, and she flattened the helm—and the head—of a human warrior with a single strike of her maul. She has appointed herself as warchief, and none dare argue with her decision.
CptCrunchy and Mahrgell are proficient bow-snagas, quick on their feet, and quick with their wits. Once upon a time some tribes regarded snaga poorly, but all of those tribes have since fallen from their beliefs. While not as fearsome with an axe, most snaga seem to have an agility that still makes them deadly foes. Alas, they seem to suffer from the mental affliction that plagues bow-orcs everywhere; I know not why archers choose to forget their arrows, and I know it’s not ours. I’ve walked the dreams of the leaders of the dwarves, and seen their frustration as crossbow-dwarves use their weapon as if it were a mere club. Mahrgell has proven to be handy with a pick, and CptCrunchy with a pen, or so he claims.
Theog is a fine orc. Skilled with a spear, brave in battle. I believe he will go far. We have need of a carpenter, and while none of us have any experience in those ways, Theog has stepped up to that role admirably.
Tarkuul is our tribal crafter. Knowledgeable in the old ways, I’ve been impressed by her work. Theog and Vyctryx are clad in her lamellar armour, and Theog wields an obsidian spear of Tarkuul’s design. She does not have the same lust for glory in combat as others; or maybe she does, and she brings that about through the weapons and armour she creates.
SageEthereal is another dreamwalker, we found her wandering the wilderness, like the rest of our band. She is skilled in the ways of healing, and I am delighted by her company and conversation.
Our new home is secluded. Cold, forested, it reminds many of our number of home, whatever homes we had. We have some basic weapons, some leather and tools, some food and drink, but not much. Despite it being spring, the snow is still thick on the ground, and the river is frozen. In summer it may thaw, and we may go raiding upon it, but for now it provides us nothing, not even fish or fresh water. But these lands are rich in game; ones worthy of a hunt, there are signs of great beasts here, larger even than Vyctryx and her giant maul.
We strike camp at a bend in the river, and as we strike flint to steel for a fire, a star shoots across the sky. I know from my dreams that our destiny is close, and the heavens have given us a sign. The others feel it too. We set about digging a space underground to protect us from the elements, and we discuss The Circle and its design:
While the design varies from clan to clan, The Circle has always been the way of the taiga orcs. Each orc has their own hollow, and as new clansmembers arive or are born, the circle is expanded to accommodate them. The hollows are not just a place to live, but a place to demonstrate skill and worthiness. Every clansmember has a workshop, their own accommodations, and their own trophies, where they display the greatest of their accomplishments. When their day of glory arrives, a celebration is held for their ascent to the Fields of Battle, and their remains are interned amongst their trophies and masterpieces, and sealed for good. The greatest of clans have many rings of great warriors who have ascended, and the surface of such circles have the greatest of shrines.
We dig the first layers of The Circle, but we also sink a shaft to see what may lie below. The stars have indeed shown favour upon us:
Obsidian! The cooled blood of the earth! The greatest of warriors have caskets made of this black glass, and it has long been crafted into the sharpest of claws and macuahuitl. But that’s not the only discovery that awaits underground. We breech a cavern complex not far underground. It has fresh water, and a great deal of mineral wealth:
Above ground, CptCrunchy shows the bravery of the clan. While felling a tree, he is set upon by a monstrous cat. The size of a giant, but CptCrunchy shows no fear, and wounds it, but not without his own injuries. It is a great honour for him to have his blood spilled in combat upon the grounds of our new home.
Theog hears the sound of battle, and is quickly upon the scene, disabling the beast quickly with his spearorcship:
There are more of the enormous cats in the woods, and even though they tower over her in size, Vyctryx quickly proves her worth, slaying two of them:
The skulls of these beasts are incredible; Theog tells me that even while unconscious, the spirit of his beast clung to its body despite dozens of strikes to the skull. It was only when Vyctryx crushed it with terribly force did it eventually die:
This is a great day for us, the giant cats shall provide us with meat for many months to come, and their remains shall continue to be honoured as they are fashioned into much needed armour and decorations. Their skulls shall be fine trophies indeed for CptCrunchy, Theog, and Vyctryx.
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