Most who dwell in this war-ravaged world have abandoned the notion of
fate, for every day the toll of conflict reminds them that uncertainty
prevails and chaos reigns. Ask an avian or a human about fate and they will
most likely laugh in your face. Pose the same inquiry to an elf or a gnome
and the answer will almost certainly be much different. Those whose lives
are long and whose experiences are vast see patterns. Some have even
learned to assign significance to events that others would overlook.
And so we begin the tale of an orc - a being born to be crude and lowly,
ferocious to a fault - with this in mind. It was dusk on the first Day of
Taekir War, during the Celestial of the Tolerance that a wizened and cruel
wizard heard a commotion on the docks of Darkhaven and looked down from his
balcony on the Misty Lane to see what was transpiring...
The Depravity of Orcish Affection
It was during the bloody orcish reign of Alzinghul, one
of Darkhan's dreaded Disciples, that a pair of orcs found
themselves fleeing westward. Their raid upon the Ronus'
barge was a success, and they raced through the mixed crowd
completely ignorant of what, exactly, they were carrying.
Gold, jewels, and an assortment of archaic artifacts which
Tremblefist had specifically demanded: a ruby which cast
green light, a lantern that burned with frostflame, and a
peculiar obsidian orb that cast no shadow.
The pair were mates, though that's a rather loose term
amongst such a disloyal race. Let's just say they liked
making "muk-muk," as it's called in their village. Despite
their weak bonds of union, the fact that the female was
quite pregnant was complicating things. She was slowing
them down. The male could take the booty she was hauling
and easily ditch her. For him it would mean greater fame
among his kin and boons from both Alzinghul and Tremblefist
(most likely, he could hold off being used as fodder, or as
a sacrifice to Thrakburzug, for a few more months)...but,
he really liked making muk-muk with her. Aside from killing
and eating (and setting things on fire) not much else made
him happy. So, he did the sensible thing...
"You is make us slow like fat dwarfs!"
"No fault me! Is you muk-swine in my gut!"
"Wise Brizgub has smart plan. Will make you fast again!"
At this point, they were drawing quite a few stares.
"Tell plan! Make fast before us get caught by sultan-man's
With a grin that the filthy bastard couldn't resist, he said
"You give good lup-lup when back at hut?" His sly glance
downward towards his crotch indicated to any fool that he
was talking about a rather one-sided version of muk-muk.
A look of disgust mingled with anger, followed by defeat
raced across the female's features. With a consenting grunt
she gave in.
At that instant Brizgub turned, and with brutal shig-ru
force delivered a ferocious blow to his mate's abdomen
that would have killed a less hearty being outright. An
ear-shattering, bestial snarl followed by a wet thud upon
the wooden planks of the dock heralded Taor Blackeye's
arrival into the world.
Before the female could gather her wits, and quell her
desire to murder her mate, the aforementioned wizard
had arrived on the grisly scene. His uncanny perceptions
were instantly riveted to the stuffed sack of treasure
now laying in a heap by the aborted orcling. As the
female's survival instincts kicked-in and she realized
the ingeniousness of her mate's plan, she began to
reach for the sack (not the baby). Her hand never reached
A searing pain suddenly wracked her arm as the bones
within twisted and snapped. The transmutation was potent
magic - something orcs tend to fear and covet greatly.
They bolted as the wizard uttered the words 'wagg uizug,'
shrouding himself, the orcling, and the treasure beneath
a veil of obfuscation.
The Wizard's Inquisition, Part I
Orcs grow incredibly fast. Faster, even, than avians.
Some scholars say that this "rapida vitae" was infused
by the creators of the orcs - ancient, unnamed, dark
Gods who wished to overrun the fairer creations of their
benevolent opposition. Other believe that it was an
unintended side-effect of the demonic contaminants
which seemed to find their way into the species. Still
others argue the wildly unpopular theory that it was
a trait that "evolved" as the orcs needed to outnumber
their enemies in order to stand a chance. Of course,
in most places that kind of talk would get a person
beheaded, so it was seldom brought-up. Whatever the
case may be, it is unanimously agreed that the orcish
brain does not keep up with the grueling pace of the
orcish body. Through various tests it has been deduced
that the average intellect among the species is roughly
that of a human child between the age of seven on the
low-end to fifteen on the high-end.
While it is certain that Taor is exceedingly bright
for his kind, it was unclear to Alazhin Vin'Dathul
just how much so. It had been a decade since that
fateful day on the docks when Alazhin had been lucky
enough to come across those two marvelous artifacts
and the battered, premature orc. Often he had wondered
about the tiny obsidian sphere that was so regally
enclosed in such an ornate little chest. It seemed
as though it should have had some kind of power, but
even his conjurer allies within the black coven could
not ascertain anything special about it. They did,
however, point out something odd about Taor...
...he didn't cast a shadow.
With that unsettling fact in the back of his mind,
the drow had prepared an examination to determine
exactly what was going on with his pet. In a dank,
soot-laden cellar somewhere in Darkhaven, he
sat across from Taor and gave him a long, hard
look - he had grown very strong, and if not for the
permanently concaved left eye-socket he'd probably
be a good-looking orc (among his own kind, of course).
Alazhin could have healed it, skin-and-bone, after
his father's punch had done the damage, but he chose
not to. He only mended it enough so that his vision
wasn't ruined, and left the deformity as it was for
the sake of "building strong character." Of course,
his drowish nature rather liked the idea of allowing
such a hideous disfiguration to remain. Strangely,
when he had woven the mending magic, the eye was
healed but the white and iris had gone as black
as the pupil. He suspected, correctly, that it was
related to the strange matter of Taor's shadow.
The Wizard's Inquisition, Part II
After a thorough visual inspection, Alazhin began the
inquiry with a battery of questions aimed at determining
the orc's intellectual potential. Taor did exceedingly
well - better than Alazhin had expected. By this age,
Taor's mind should have begun to slow in its ability
to grasp new concepts, but his seemed as sharp as ever.
The real surprise came when Taor uttered, of his own
accord, an incantation that Alazhin had spoken many
times, never guessing the orc could even comprehend the
will needed to make it work...
He said, "uizug." For a moment - a brief, brilliant
moment that defied everything that Alazhin's great mind
could believe, Taor shimmered and faded. But, he was
so startled by it that he jumped out of his chair and
broke the spell before it could manifest.
What did this mean? Alazhin saw the signs, read the omens,
and knew that things were going to get very interesting.
As he stared in amazement, he could not help but notice
that the blackness of Taor's eye had spread ever-so-
Revelations, Part I
"He won't shake the pillars of the earth by his own might,
my child. That's an orc, there. When have you ever known
one to be anything better than a grunting beast? It's true
that he's an enigma, but the question which plagues you...
the reason you risked so much coming into MY House, is the
'why'. Alazhin, you handled the matter with the werebeast
with exceptional prejudice, and so I will reveal what your
paltry coven of magicians was unable to discern..."
The Matron Mother of the First House carried her condescension
on for a while, lashing at the will of the wizard. But, it was
the same old game that every drow woman played, and Alazhin
had learned how to keep his cards from showing a long time ago.
"You have the device, then?"
With a nod, Alazhin produced a familiar ornate chest wrought
of ivory and platinum from within his robe. In silence he
presented it to the Matron Mother, who studied it for a moment
and then slowly opened the lid.
"Do you have ANY idea what this is, you fool?! Thank whatever
second-class deity you pray to that the enchantment has left
this sphere, or I would kill you where you stand!"
He knew the threat was genuine, and not just another part of
the game. Though his blood was beginning to churn and boil
from her insult to his intellect, he realized something
quite incredible...she was afraid of something. He had to
know what could have that effect on such a powerful being as
she. Fortunately, she was already getting to it...
"The ward that was placed upon the chest had a very, very
important role. It was made to keep this from being located.
You see, this artifact is one of the Eyes of Nar'Khulga...yes,
I sense by your dumbfounded expression that you've never
heard of the Eyes. That is to be expected, for few have. The
legend was old when the mountains were young, but in the first
encounter with the shadow beings who are known as Ccul'gra,
the ancient God, Sarich, defeated their leader,
a dragon wrought of shadow and magic. It is unclear whether
or not Nar'Khulga, the dragon, was truly from the shadow
plane or if the creature was from ours and had made the
First Pact, transforming in the process. What IS known, my
hapless underling, is that in the wake of his destruction
two small obsidian spheres remained - each said to be
possessed of half the creature's essence. Sarich ordered
them destroyed, only to find that they could not be. He
hid them away under the guardianship of his Knights,
but they lost them shortly afterwards."
To his surprise, the mocking tone had almost completely
disappeared. She was getting to the heart of the matter, but
still had not revealed why she was fearful.
Revelations, Part II
After a short refreshment of blood wine, she continued...
"For an Age they vanished from the world, and whoever knew
where they went did not reveal it. It wasn't until much later
that the renegade conjurer, Noliperus, unveiled one of them. He
used it in his dealings with the outer planes, for reasons
we can only guess at. After his demise the Eye disappeared
...until now. You say the orc's parents plundered the
Ronus' barge? It stands to reason that the Eye was seized
by the royal family and hidden away. In any event, the box
has been opened and The Coven has surely sensed it. If you
had brought it to me while it was within the box I could
have made use of it. Now, anyone near it - anyone near your
orc - is likely to disappear by the power of Denadlyr or one
of his pupils."
So, that was it. Denadlyr himself was intent on locking up
the Eye...the situation seemed rather hopeless, with that
"Your orcish pet is just an orc, as I've alluded to. But,
he has a portion of Nar'Khulga's essence. As with all
Ccul'gra, he will hunger for blood magic, as well as evil in its
many guises. You say he managed to cast a spell? That's
remarkable, I will freely admit. To my knowledge, short
of endowment by magical devices, that's never been done.
If he weren't almost certainly doomed, I'd say to encourage
him in that pursuit. Who knows what the crude, ritualistic
power of an orc might become when blended with Blood Magic?
Now then, I suggest you begone, and take this damned thing
With an unceremonious toss of the Eye, the Matron Mother
dismissed the wizard.
The Hunt Begins
Within an expansive, archaic laboratory beyond the edge of
the world, Denadlyr the Aged spelled-out the situation to
his newest apprentice, using well-measured words in every
"You know I think highly of you, Pascimius. Your work at
the planar sanctum is worthy of the...praise and...respect
of the Coven. Back in the...world, you are a potent conjurer.
Yet...you know now that your...journey has only just begun.
I am glad to be your...guide. But, the Coven handles certain
problems that the...mortal world cannot be expected to. And,
if ever one of our own were to use their power irresponsibly
it falls to us to take care of it. Long, long ago...before
the time of your father's fathers, I had a promising student
who went rogue..."
He told the tale of Noliperus, providing details that none
outside of the Coven had ever known.
"So, you see, I make a point of finding those whose hearts
are pure, when I take on a student. A truly...neutral path,
as is the goal here, is far less likely to succeed when
one's convictions are easily brushed aside for the sake of
personal gain. But, I need not carry on...about that for
now. Suffice to say, the Eye must be...retrieved."
Pascimius spoke at last, "Master, what-..."
"You know how I feel about those honorifics...just call me
Denadlyr. And leave that "Aged" business alone. Why, compared
to a mountain I'm only...an infant."
"As you wish, sir..."
The ancient wizard sighed audibly, but motioned for Pascimius
to continue. In the back of his mind he was secretly proud
of the elf's adherence to respectful habits. It was something
Noliperus abandoned so quickly, now that he thought about it...
"...what of the second Eye?"
"I'm afraid that one is still beyond our sight. As with this
one, we'll have to...wait until its ward is compromised. Or
we could get...lucky. Yes, there's always that."
With an expression of perplexed humility, Pascimius added,
"I would not have thought you to believe in such a thing as
luck, Ma-...sir Denadlyr."
The old, salty eyebrows shot up as Denadlyr said, "My boy,
sometimes luck is your only friend! So, are you up for this
task? You understand the danger?"
"I'll make preparations for my absence at the sanctum. They
will have questions, but I don't think it will be a problem.
How concerned should I be with the orc's guardian...this
"You should be...very concerned. I've sensed his power to be
equivalent to your own. As you know, I cannot intervene
in this...matter directly. Certain balances must be...upheld.
My setting foot on the Prime would upset things. The...fallout
would be horrendous. Perhaps in another age I could have..."
"Say no more, sir. I understand!"
Blood & Sand
During the third night of the Day of the Alliance in the
Celestial of the Tolerance Alazhin and Taor raced across the moonlit
sands of sorrow. The wizard had come up with a plan on
his trek back from the Underdark - he knew that the orc
had the Ccul'gra's essence within him. He very much doubted
that any of Nar'Khulga's sentience remained, but the power
contained within him was, in a way, not unlike the divine
power of the Gods - it persisted, waiting to be harnessed.
However, Alazhin was well-versed, and had studied the
history of Serin in depth. He had no desire to be
consumed by the power, only to be possessed and eventually
destroyed by it. No, he'd let Taor have that pleasure,
and would be more than happy to direct him to do his will.
All this and more was on Alazhin's mind as set out for the
stronghold of the Legion. He believed that the only way to
shield Taor from the Coven's eyes would be to hide him
where similar power already resided. It would be like tossing
a golden coin into a great pile of similar ones, rather than
having it by itself. It was a good plan...
Before them, a sliver of silver light cut through the night
air. Turning and expanding, it became a shimmering door, and
from within stepped a cowled figure in grey. To Alazhin's
alarm, a roaring fire elemental seethed through the tesseract,
followed by a furious angel. The figure spoke...
"By order of the Coven, you will release that creature into
my custody, drow. I am prepared to use whatever means necessary
if you should refuse."
Alazhin recognized the accent. Not only was this interloper
challenging his power, he was an elf! It took only a moment
for him to lash out with his first spell - tearing the flesh
of the arrogant elf's face! Pascimius reacted swiftly, sending
his servitors after them both. Alazhin began weaving a spell
to flatten his dimensions, but the elf had already surrounded
him in faerie fire. Already, a hail of magical missiles was
raining down upon them...the elf was good. Very good.
The drow had a few tricks up his sleeve. In an instant he
was holding a strange talisman wrought with symbols that the
elf would have recognized, if he had been closer. Just as the
elemental's flames began to scorch them both, he brandished
it; in a flash, the flames were banished back to the Winter
As Alazhin began brandishing it a second time, Pascimius
was uttering a strange incantation bearing the name of Denadlyr
himself. The anchoring spell rendered his dismissal impotent.
In a brief, terrible moment the enraged angel was upon him.
With defeat imminent, Alazhin turned to Taor and uttered
a word of recalling...
...It was the last time Taor saw Alazhin alive, and the first
time he had ever seen the village in the outskirts of Greginsham.
Standing over the battered drow, Pascimius asked, "Why did
you do that? Why did you send the orc away?"
Alazhin spoke through a gurgle of blood, "F-f-fool elf! You
will suffer before it's all over! T-Taor is the most c-c-
cunning of his race, and by the Gods he will live to see
you crushed!" He began laughing in that insane, agonizing
way that happens when a villain has reached his end.
"The orc...Taor, as you so name him...he can't hide from
me, drow. In a week - perhaps two if he's lucky - he'll
be rounded up."
Through the fitful laughing, Alazhin replied, "He already
knows how to hide from your sight. Til then, I k-k-know
he can elude y-y-...."
With one last gurgling croak, the wizard passed from this
world into whatever Hell was waiting for him.
On the outskirts of the Greginsham, in a far mountain village is a bizarre
structure - part hut, part workshop. In his longing for some
shred of the life he has always known, Taor was recreating
Alazhin's laboratory as accurately as he could. Instead of
the delicate, precise tools of a drowish mage, he had to
make-do with the materials available. Where Alazhin had beakers,
he had mugs of dung-clay. When scalpels were needed, he worked
with an axe or a sword. When a lab rat was called for, he would
use a dwarf (there were lots of them and, generally-speaking,
orcs tend to hold rats in higher regard). I can't tell you if
Taor actually achieved anything of an arcane nature in his
experimentation, but he was feeding that hunger within him as
best he could.
I can tell you, however, that he did find something to satiate
that unending lust for magic and evil - mage blood. This was
realized during an experiment (more of a torture session) where
Taor was doing a bang-up attempting to extract wizarding secrets
from a kidnapped elf. Unfortunately, the elf was a mere apprentice
and could only divulge a few secrets about some minor invocation
spells. Taor was...disappointed, and when an orc is disappointed
things get destroyed (then again, whenever an orc is happy, things
also get destroyed), and so it was no surprise when his anger
resulted in the savage bludgeoning and death of the elf. Now, we
all know that orcs like elf blood, but there was something more
at work here; Taor could see colors in the blood. Hues of violet
and cyan, gold and green danced before his eyes, and in those
languorous moments he felt more alive than he ever had. For the
first time he realized how faded the world normally was to his
eyes, and upon drinking the delightful crimson ichor, Taor felt
content. He was filled with bliss, and the haze upon his blunted
orcish wits seemed to clear.
After a few hours the haze returned, and with it an even greater
frustration because for a moment he was something more, and all
that remained was the realization that it had been taken away.
Determined to reclaim his fleeting glory, Taor resolved to
devour wizard blood until magic flowed through his own as it did
theirs. In his quest for power he began to pray to the God
to whos ways of battle he looks up to the most: Sakuragi.
As an aside, Taor has become an expert at avoiding the conjurer
who has, at this point, hunted him unsuccessfully for years.
What neither realizes is that there has been a third party
meddling just enough to keep Taor alive, and yet remain unknown.
Whilst hot on the trail of a deceitful wizard named Vyun, Taor came upon
his prey at the Drkshtyre Woods. They had already drawn each other's blood
and Taor intended to finish the job. He shouted a challenge, threatening to
hunt the wizard and his companions unless he answered it. As Vyun's form
returned from that of a translucent shadow, Taor believed he was going to
magically whisk himself away. In an instant his bloodlust drove any notion
of restraint away and he charged. Vyun fell in a pile of lifeless,
twitching gore. Before the echo of his dying scream had subsided, Taor had
fled the scene.
He got his man or well - a gnome, and while the adrenaline was still surging
through him, that was enough. But, a wretched feeling was slowly creeping
over him remorse. Not for the life of the mage, but for abandoning his plan
to keep violence away from the member of his warband in honor of Orcs.
But it was too late. Other members had turned on him and the battle against
all odds swiftly ensued for Taor. He swung his mace left and right, plowing
his way through the mass of enemies, hunting down a ranger called Luc whilst
attempting to cover himself with his shield against several foes. A bestial
druid named Kayn followed Luc's demise, but then Taor slipped. A grave
mistake was made. Succumbed in a blood-crazed hunt, he became reckless,
unaware of his own mortality and was swiftly beaten into submission.
Realizing that making a mere internal vow was not enough to keep his savage
instincts in check, Taor has learned that an orcish contract must be scribed
in blood, bound with threats, and sealed with pain. He will apply this
knowledge to himself, and wherever else a bargain needs to be made. He
needs to be in control... Until his "gift" once again takes over...
The Conflicting Mission
Taor would find a way into the Sakuragi's favor. But, since Taor was
rejected from the Legion, the condition was that he must, at some point,
attempt to gather his own warband and destroy the Ccul'gra on their home
plane. For Sakuragi is a jealous God and would rather destroy the source of
blood magic leaving his loyal lackey Taor the last one to carry it's potent
rather than risking a chance of his rival Denadlyr gaining control of it.
How this would be done is far beyond Taor at this time. Perhaps it was with
that in mind that Sakuragi proclaimed he would grant him the strength needed
to assemble a Horde if he succeeded in proving his worth. If and when Taor
manages to gain a toehold, he intends to learn as much as possible about the
blood magic - like any orc, he wants to manipulate the situation to his
advantage as much as possible. He's not terribly keen on the notion of
destroying the Ccul'gra, as he has essentially had their essence within him
all of his life and is scared to lose his "gift" once Ccul'gra is destroy.
However, never has there been a more willing thrall to a God than Taor is to
Sakuragi, and so he will do all that is asked if only to gaze once again at
the spirit of the Acid.
Orcs and Gods - It's a hate and hate relationship
After rummaging through the drawers of a big wooden cabinet, after another
successful raid, a curious parchment peaked Taor's interest.
The scroll read:
Orcs are dystheists. They believe that gods are apathetic at best, and
blatantly hateful at worst.
Orcs believe that the gods hate the world, and they hate orcs most of all.
So it is no wonder to them that the gods speak through violence (After a
battle, one would see the orcish blood-druids and shamans moving through the
battlefield, reading the future in spilled claret. They crawl through the
grass on all fours, like dogs, their faces pressed to the ground, nostrils
flaring.) And pain in different body parts. (A shooting pain in the leg is
an omen for cowardice. A dull ache between the shoulderblades foretells the
betrayal of a close friend and so on.)
The gods speak through scars. For an example, a proficient shaman can
examine the scar. Are they clean? Are they mottled? Is the scar raised?
Discolored? Does it follow the curve of the body, or does the flesh
struggle against it? Orcs do not trust a person without visible scars, just
as humans might not trust someone who refuses to reveal their name.
Orcs are the great iconoclasts. To them, the gods are either powerless or
great destroyers of the orcish race. After a warband conquers a city, each
orc will relieve themselves in the largest temple.
The gods of orcs are either ignored or hated. (Though typically cowardly,
orcs aren't big on fear of gods, even when they should be.) The gods aren't
worshipped. They are appeased. Or they are bargained with, like merchants
in the marketplace.
When you see a group of orcs chanting in one of their temples, they are not
scared or reverent. They are angry, because gods are the only opponents
that cannot be cut with an axe.
Temples make orcs angry, and anger makes orcs want to kill something. And
even the apathetic gods, who can sometimes be reasoned with, are only ever
asked for prowess in combat, because nothing else is worth praying for.
Nothing else is worth making the promises that gods demand. Blood for the
blood god. Skulls for the skull god. They often follow God Sakuragi for
their way of life matches the gods expectations to the fault.
As an example, a typical orcish prayer to the Blood God Davairus after a
victorious battle would be:
'Blood feeds the hungry earth. Blood makes the grass grow green. Blood has
washed your brow and your dogs have lapped it up. Now leave me alone. '
Orcs hate their gods almost as much as they hate themselves. This is
because the gods hate them. They believe themselves to be cursed: with
stupidity, with ugliness, and misfortune. How else could they continually
lose wars to those who are so much weaker than them?
- An orcish research by Dr. Wilfried Fheesticks, Anthropology
Professor at the Gnomish University"
For a long, tense moment your attention is snatched by a frightful
creature, as the disgusting stench permeates the air. Standing head and
shoulders above most denizens, the harsh features of this orc seem to
promise brutality on any that stand between him and whatever he may want.
His face, painted with venomous, unfiltered malice - the trademark of his
kind, is a living chronology of pain, bearing scars upon scars - curiously,
his left eye-socket looks to have been caved in by a heavy blow. Somehow
the eye still functions, though it has gone completely black. The strange
inky ichor has tainted the skin around it as well, spreading with the
steady, merciless intent of a plague. His agape mouth is filled with a
myriad of crooked, and broken teeth which appear to be rotting, as his
irregular breathing comes out as a series of low growls. Though two long
tusks, unbroken in his life still jut from his lower jaw. As you take stock
of his strange characteristics, it becomes evident that this orc seems to
have something he shouldn't - control. Where one would expect to see rage
and madness in the eyes, this one has a will of ice and steel. With his
mane of murky black, the tattered mantle of furs, and the multitude of
ghoulish talismans affixed to his person, he looks notably different from
the orcs seen elsewhere.