This entry is part 21 in the series Orcs & Elves

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I’ve so much prep to get done for the Fumanor Campaign that if I don’t do it here, I’ll never get it done in time…

With this post, the regular Orcs and Elves series resumes. This content didn’t exist in the original draft, but I felt it necessary to show the Orcish events during the Third Dwarfwar. With the next part, the narrative streams merge…

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Chapter 52

Clan Wars I: Tribal Loyalties

In modern times, there is an almost-universal common structure that is fundamentally replicated across all tribes of the Orcish Clans. Each tribe has a chieftain, selected in a manner traditional to that tribe and clan. He may be the strongest warrior, the best tactician, the son of the previous chief, the most skilled hunter, or even the most-feared member of the tribe, or something even more exotic – a few are even selected democratically! Beneath that chieftain is his strongest rival, the Warblade; in some cases, this is the head of a rival faction within the tribe, in others it is the second-best achiever in the same field as the chief. He is positioned close to the chieftain both so that the chief can monitor his strongest challenger, and so that the rival is in position to take immediate command if the chief falls. As the expected heir, the relationship between this leader and the chief is always a defining characteristic of the tribe’s traditions and character. Beneath this warrior and held still more distantly from the reigns of power is the number three, and he is the complimentary choice to the chief’s primary successor; where that successor is second within the chief’s faction, the number three is the head of the strongest rival faction, where the successor is the head of the strongest rival faction, the number three is the second strongest member of the chief’s faction. This position’s title translates as Conservator or Preserver, and it is his role to ensure the loyalty of the tribe to the Chief, and the loyalty of the Warblade to the tribe. If both Warblade and Conservator challenge the fitness of the Chief, he is considered overthrown unless he preserves his rule through single combat with the Conservator – normally to the death, though some tribes permit this contest to end at first blood. Surrounding this trio are the chief’s counselors; the most senior of the Axeblades (warriors), the most senior Huntsman, the most senior of the Craftsmen, one tribal member chosen for their wisdom and steady judgment, and the most senior Priest. Some tribes add a further position, the Custodian of tribal memory and tradition, others consider this part of the Priestly responsibility. In addition, the chief may appoint up to three ad-hoc positions on the council; some choose yes-men, some choose those with differing viewpoints to their own, some choose these on whim or on favors. Always, the goal is to have an uneven number of members of the council, so that the Chief may hear all sides of an arguement before deciding.

Beneath this leadership, Orcish society is strictly stratified. Sharing primacy – sometimes equally, sometimes with one dominant over the other – are the Axeblades and Hunters. These are followed by the Axemakers, who make weapons for the tribe; the Shieldmakers, who make the armor; the Wallmakers, who make the huts for the tribe to reside in; the Leathermakers; the Metalsmiths; the Netmakers; the Potmakers; the Scribes (not all tribes have these); and the Cooks. All other crafts are beneath the Cooks. Somewhere within this hierarchy – the position varies from tribe to tribe – are the Tribal Memory and the Theocracy. Sometimes, these last are stratified into subgroups of different rank in an independent hierarchy. Within each of these groups is a sub-hierarchy, and it is considering those that the unified structure breaks down completely. In some tribes, an experienced Axeblade or Hunter may rank superior to one or more other crafts, in others, he ranks only ahead of those of equivalent rank and experience within the other fields of the tribal hierarchy.

In the years immediately following the diaspora that resulted from the rebellion against the Ogres, there was no such tribal unity of structure. Tribal structures varied dramatically, and the only common ground was found in relative terms along clan lines. Within Orcish Theology, there were three primary schools of thought, and these were reflected in clan primacies.

The Red Eye clan favored the philosophies of Gruumsh and his mate Shargaas; they were hunters first and foremost, ill-tempered and willing to go to war over an impertinent glance. The Red Eyes were migratory, building only temporary structures; every season, they would move from one hunting ground to another, with a new tribe of the Red Eye clan settling into the vacated territory. This summer, one tribe might hunt wild cattle; in autumn, they would hunt deer; in winter, Elk; and in spring, game birds and fish. A complex series of interlocking migratory patterns resulted. The most common conflict was caused when one tribe lingered in a given hunting ground longer than the incoming tribe were prepared to wait. In the Red Eye clan, the Hunters were considered superior to the Axeblades save in times of war. Aided by troglodyte “allies” and with captured Minotaur slave labor, the Red Eyes held dominance over the Orcish conquests in the direction of the Sunrise. One of their most defining characteristics was the belief that permanent structures were disrespectful of the Gods, to be destroyed at every opportunity. The Red Eyes are a strictly honorable clan – so long as the treaties they honor favor the Red Eyes. The moment this changes, or appears to change in the eyes of the Red Eyes, they adjudge the other parties to have nullified the treaty and will act in what they perceive to be their best interests. Perhaps the most redeeming feature of the Red Eyes is that they are incapable of holding a grudge; once past their immediate fit of pique at the betrayal of a treaty, they are quite happy to negotiate a new one – from a position of strength, of course.

One race to whom the Red Eye trolls relate with genuine pleasure are the Trolls, who they consider to be Lieutenants and scouts in Gruumsh’s army. Isolationists even to their own kind, and each the equal in battle of a gross of trained Orcish Axeblades, despite using only the weapons afforded them by nature in the case of the Green and Horned Trolls, they are treated as chance-met royalty and welcome guests by the Red Eyes.

Sidebar: Trollkinds

Trolls are at best a quasi-stable race in terms of their biology. From whence they originated, none know. There are four primary kinds of Troll: Green, Spiked, Stony, and Black, to name them in descending order of size. Green are the most common, strongest, largest, and have tough leathery skin and sharp nails to augment their regenerative abilities. Spiked Trolls add sharp horns, but are smaller and slightly weaker, with thinner hides; they are nevertheless more dangerous, having greater regenerative capabilities than the Green. Adept at climbing and at living on seemingly nothing in snowbound mountaintop regions, the Stony Trolls are the rarest, and are rarely encountered in more temperate altitudes save in winter; their hides are thickened and toughened to the point of being like rock, but they have less endurance and can be active for only short periods of explosive activity, and are weaker and smaller than the Spiked (even disregarding the extra height of the latter’s horns). The fourth kind are the Black, whose hides are thinnest, but whose regenerative powers are the most substantial of all; while they have lost the natural weapons of the first two Trollkinds and the thickness of the Stony Trolls, they are also the most dextrous and nimble, and by far the most intelligent, and their hides have a dark black-green patina. Only a matched pair may mate, and one in four such matings will result in a Troll of some other Kind than its parents. For a pairing of Green Trolls, these abnormal offspring are Spiked Trolls three times in four, and Black or Stony in equal frequency the remainder of the time. For the other kinds, the most frequent “sport” is a Green Troll, also by a ratio of three-to-one, with the other kinds equally represented amongst the remainder. Why it should be so is another mystery; it does not appear to have an environmental trigger, though this may simply be the result of inadequate data from which to draw conclusions.

When a Red Eye tribe grows too numerous to be supported by the available hunting grounds, it will divide into two tribes, at the direction of the chief. Depending on his personal attitudes, he may choose to expel the weakest members of his tribe, or may strive to expel political troublemakers, or may attempt to equalize strengths between old and new; much depends on his own insecurities and how close to the end of his reign he is. The new tribe must seek out a new hunting ground for itself and insinuate itself into the complex dance of migrating tribes; rarely, they will come across a tribe which for whatever reason is under-strength and overrun it, but more often they will need to migrate to the edge of Red Eye territory and attempt to seize a place for themselves by force.

The Bleeding Sword clan favored the teachings of Ilneval and his mate Luthic; while they hunted and raided, they also maintained herds of meat animals. They would settle in a region for several years, until their herds had depleted the immediate region of preferred foodstuffs, then move on. Usually, when a tribe vacated a region, another would replace them, one with herds accustomed to a different dietary requirement. These transitions were times of high ceremony; formal introductions were made to the new arrival’s bugbear neighbors, feasts were held, and a general air of celebration accompanied the move. While they lacked the violent tendencies and bloodlust of the warlike Red Eyes, they made up for this deficit with numbers, cunning, and unified tactics. They also possessed a rudimentary sense of honor, treating their bugbear neighbors as true allies; when they went to war (usually against this or that tribe of the Red Eye Clan), they frequently invited their Bugbear neighbors to join in, employing them as shock troops in exchange for first choice of the spoils looted. This arrangement was quite agreeable to the simple and belligerent Bugbears. In the Bleeding Sword clan, the Axeblades received primacy of position, and were as close as Orcs came to a professional military class. One of the few things they had in common with the Red Eyes were the use of captive Minotaurs as slave labor. The Bleeding Swords dominated the regions to the sunset; while their dwellings were temporary structures akin to those of the Red Eyes, they tended to be more elaborate and better constructed, and often they would carry semi-portable domestic improvements with them to their new home ranges when the migrated, while leaving the essential core of their dwellings for the incoming tribe to occupy or destroy as befitted their needs. This infuriated any neighboring Red Eye tribes, who would often raid for the express purpose of tearing down the semi-permanent structures (and to express their unhappiness at not being invited to the migratory parties). The Bleeding Swords hold grudges against individuals, and are reluctant to trust an oathbreaker, often demanding surety in the guise of the firstborn son of the treacherous leader. They educate these hostages to good behavior in their own philosophies and treat him as a mis-educated but otherwise respectable individual; they will happily return such a hostage when the old leader dies, together with any mates and servants that he has acquired while a member of their tribe. While such returnees might succeed in taking their father’s place as tribal leader only one time in ten or twenty, each such success converts another Red Eye to the cause of the Bleeding Swords. Just as frequently, the returnee will be subjugated to a new leader, and will pass on information on defensive vulnerabilities that the Bleeding Sword tribe have overlooked, resulting in the Bleeding Swords being overrun and their leadership being replaced with a Red Eye; overall, the relative populations remain balanced, but there is a constant migration back-and-forth between the two populations of technologies and fresh genes as a result.

The Bleeding Swords have similar practices to those of the Red Eyes when population pressures grow too great. However, their veneration for the promises of their leaders means that they cannot expand in the direction of those lands held by their allies; while occasionally, they can join an understrength Bleeding Swords tribe, it is more common that they will need to expand into the lands currently held by an enemy – whether that be Elves, Humans, or (more likely) the Red Eyes. Population pressure thus gradually pushes the Red Eyes further to the Sunrise over the generations.

The third major Orcish Clan at this time in history are the Mailed Fists. Devotees of Baghtru and Yurtrus, they hold the enlightened philosophy that the other races have reasons for everything that they do, and while those reasons might not apply to their tribes, if the Orcs copy the practices, they might find other ways to benefit from the practices. In particular, the human practices of architecture, fortification and agriculture found resonance with the Mailed Fists. They remain as predominantly carnivorous as the other Orcish tribes, but agricultural practices permit them to maintain large herds of food animals. Since these techniques are incompatible with a migratory lifestyle, the Mailed Fists surround their crops and herds with fortified walls, and centralize their populations in simple cities of stone and earth. The most enlightened and culturally advanced Orcs, they elevate the Priesthood and the Keepers Of Memory to positions of superiority within their clan, and value cleverness and education more than either of the other clans. To the other Orc Clans, they are considered stupid, like their patron deity; by attaching themselves to one piece of dirt, they trap themselves; by elevating the weak (scholars) over the strong, they make themselves so weak that they need walls to make up the difference. Hated by both the other clans, the Mailed Fists are content to reside within their walled cities and fortifications while the tides of an impermanent world come and go outside. An almost ritualistic pattern quickly evolved in relations between the Mailed Fists and Bleeding Swords; when a Bleeding swords tribe migrates into a location neighboring a Mailed Fist settlement, it is almost certainly for the first time in a generation that those particular tribes have been in contact. As soon as the migratory celebrations have concluded (and the participants recovered), the Bleeding Sword tribe will attack to test the defenses of their Mailed Fist neighbor. If the attack succeeds, the settlement is deemed unworthy of survival and is torn down, the crops flattened, and the herds and survivors seized. Almost a hundred more times more often, the settlement, having anticipated the attack, will repel it with ease, and will then be able to negotiate peaceful cohabitation between the tribes for as long as the Bleeding Swords remain in the vicinity. The terms will vary with the personalities of the leaders concerned, and could be anything from a simple live-and-let-live to a full mutual-defense accord. Most commonly, an accord somewhere between these two extremes results, which regulates limited trade between the two. There are two factors which steer negotiations toward this middle ground: The fact that each treaty is considered a fresh start by the Bleeding Swords tribe, and the fact that the Mailed Fists have long memories, hold grudges, and talk to each other, which brings the established reputation of the Bleeding Swords tribe into play. Of course, the Mailed Fists are more likely to strike trouble with any nearby Red Eye clans, who regard the Mailed Fist tribes as weak and blasphemous. Nevertheless, if the fortified township holds firm, it can win a grudging respect from the Red Eyes, who will then use the opportunity to have their own scholars educations’ broadened, and who will trade crafts, ores, and other commodities with the townships – until the Red Eyes next grow irritable, of course.

The Mailed Fists were the first subculture within Orcish society to contemplate the race as a whole, and most of the unity within Orcish Theology and society is due to their influence. The other Orcish clans have long forgotten that the Minotaurs they use as slave labor originate as captives of the Mailed Fists, who established an alliance between themselves and the underground Zazhashum following raids from the settlements against the fortified positions of their former masters, the Ogres. For that matter, the other clans refuse to acknowledge that the race was ever humbled by service to the Ogres; selective recollection serving the pride of their leadership at the expense of historical accuracy. Captured Ogres can earn their release from The Mailed Fists with ten years slave labor, enabling the Mailed Fists to take advantage of the natural capabilities of the Ogres. Such conflicts always begin when an Ogre Magi begins growing too ambitious, and leads a strike into Orcish lands with the intent of reestablishing their empire; the Ogres, schooled by the Drow, cannot bring themselves to ignore the fortified settlements, and instead besiege them, normally resulting in the defeat and capture of the Ogres. A punitive expedition against the Ogrish positions in the mountains then follows, which ultimately pushes the Ogres into violating their promises to the Minotaurs with sheer weight of numbers (Ogre Magi being even less trustworthy than Drow or Red Eye Clans), resulting in the Ogres facing a two-front war. The Minotaurs, having even shorter memories than the Ogre Magi (but being inherently honorable within the bounds of their ritualized agreements), and finding common cause with the Mailed Fists, ally with them. Caught in an impossible situation, it isn’t long before the Ogres are forced to accede to terms, which they will honor (for about as long as it takes the sun to set, though lip service may last considerably longer). This arrangement is actually to the benefit of all three races; The Orcs receive the labor of the Ogres, which strengthens their defenses against other Orcish tribes and against the next Ogre raid; the Ogres are able to expand their numbers, and also receive an Orc-oriented education and training, because the Orcs are sustaining part of their total population through agriculture; the Minotaurs receive the benefits of trade with the Orcs, and their protection and assistance should an Ogre Magi cast covetous eyes in the direction of their tunnels, which happens at least as often as a raid into Orcish lands. By bleeding off the most aggressive of the Ogres and diluting their propensities through age and hard labor, the Mailed Fists actually stabilize all three populations.

Chapter 53

Clan Wars II: The Gods Move Amongst Us

It was in the 12th year of rule of the Red Eye Clan leader Zalgan that Gruumsh descended from his Palace In The Sky to inspect his people. The tribe threw themselves to the ground in supplication when he pronounced his displeasure at the Red Eye’s tolerance of the fortified cities and townships of the Mailed Fists; “These are not the way a true Orc should live,” he declared. After inflaming the populace of the tribe to an extreme beyond any they had felt previously within their memory, and instructing them to rouse others of their clan and march on these “sites of corruption and purity of evil”, he returned to his Throne warning that if he had to return again before this “monstrosity was abated” he would be angry beyond measure.

Approximately one moon later, Ilneval emerged from the Caverns in which he dwelled and went amongst the Bleeding Swords, who had begun to wonder if it was possible to treat with the Elves, whose nature seemed akin to the sensibilities of the Mailed Fists to them. They received him with deep bows and adoration, and he basked in the warmth of their unquestioned fealty, praising them for their perceptiveness in accommodating both consistent reality and the constancy of changing circumstance. He then warned them that his father had begun to slip into his dotage, and had determined to exact punishment apon his worshippers as a means of punishing Him for his role in past disputes between them, particularly in regard to the fidelity of the Mother Of All – for Gruumsh had confused him with his Brother, Baghtru. Gruumsh had gone to the Red Eyes and told them to pretend to make war against the Mailed Fists in order to move their forces into position for a general strike against the Bleeding Swords. They might even come to the leaders of the Bleeding Swords and demand that they join in an alliance against Mailed Fists, the better to lure them into position to be betrayed; the Red Eyes could not be trusted, after all. Morbag, the clan-chief of the Bleeding Swords, then revealed that he had received just such a demand from Zalgan, his peer amongst the Red Eyes, and had been wondering what it meant, and how best to respond. Together with Ilneval, he and his council of advisors – Clan government reflected that of each tribe, though the council members were drawn from different tribes – mapped out a strategy. Without actually promising to join with the Red Eyes, they would begin to march into the positions that they would occupy if they were doing so; when the Red Eyes began their misleading attack on the Mailed Fists, the Bleeding Swords would strike into the vulnerable rear of the Red Eyes and seize their territories. With luck, the entire Red Eye “infection” would be excised from the body of Orcdom like a pustulent limb, for this time they had gone too far. When Ilneval was satisfied with the plans for turning the deception of the Red Eyes against them, he returned to his caverns to continue watching for other betrayals of his principles and children by Gruumsh.

By season’s end, the townships of the Mailed Fists had begun noting unusual behavior on the part of the Bleeding Swords. They appeared to be migrating with unprecedented frequency, and apon arrival near a settlement of the Mailed Fists, the new tribe (no matter what their past reputation) they forewent the usual token assault apon their defenses – but also forewent the usual negotiating of treaties and migratory celebrations. This puzzled them so greatly that Clan-Chief Agronak and his Warblade Goral joined with the Clan Shaman Kudja to beseech Baghtru to enlighten them. Baghtru, normally one to keep a low profile, deigned to emerge from his citadel in the Frozen Wastes and go to his children, who greeted him as they would a father-figure and sage advisor, with profound respect but little show of fealty. This pleased Baghtru, who was not as ostentatious or insecure as his father or sibling, and he advised them that both Gruumsh and Ilneval were engaged in a complicated web of deceit woven by Luthic, the Mistress Of Betrayal. The object of this plan was to humble both of them and leave her in supreme command of the Sky, Matriarch over all she perceived, for her personal hunger for power was no less than that of her first husband. In this she was like Lolth, Queen Of Spiders, whose Drow had manipulated the Ogres into using the Orcs as pawns in the past. In fact, he whispered, he had suspicions that Lolth was another daughter of the All-mother. He was not the strategist that his younger brother was, but the tactics seemed clear enough to him. The Red Eyes would attack the Mailed Fists, seemingly in alliance with the Bleeding Swords, but this alliance would then be apparently betrayed by the Bleeding Swords, who would rush to occupy the Home Ranges of the Red Eyes. They would then approach the Mailed Fists with promises of treaties made in good faith; together the two Greater Clans of the Orcs could expel the Red Eyes from the Orclands, driving them against the Elves, and renewing the war that had been instigated by the Ogres when they were under the control of the Drow. With the destruction of most of the warriors of all three Clans, the women would step forward and form a matriarchy, subjecting all Orcs to spiritual emasculation, and leaving her own primacy amongst the Gods unquestioned. The Bleeding Swords might even suggest diplomatic overtures to the Drow from the Mailed Fists, seemingly out of common interest, for the Elves were the enemies of All due to their arrogance and smug assumption of superiority, but in reality to accustom the Orcs to the notion of a Matriarchy. The only possible escape from this web of deception was to occupy a position of strength. Their townships must be remade, with stronger defenses than ever before, forming an anvil against which the assaulting forces could only break and falter; and an outside force must be recruited and assembled to serve as hammer, crushing both Red Eyes and Bleeding Swords against that Anvil. The Mailed Fists had been tolerant of the other clan’s shortcomings and imperfections for long enough; now it was time to bring them to heel, or be subjugated from within.

The populations of middle era Fumanor (small version)

Previously provided in part 10, this map may make the considerations of possible allies clearer. Click on the thumbnail for a large version in a new tab.

Much thought and debate was then expended on the consideration of who those possible allies might be. The Gnolls were too few in number and too remote, and were blocked by the Goblins; Humans had the numbers, but were also blocked by Goblins to the Sunset and Elves to the Sunrise; Dwarves were warriors to respect, but were themselves embroiled in a conflict with the Elves and had no forces to spare; Ogres and Minotaurs were already allies, but too few in number to sway the outcome; Bugbears had the ferocity but were already allied to the Bleeding Swords; an approach might yield allies but might also tip their hands; the Troglodytes were poor warriors and already enmeshed in the Red Eyes clan; that left only the Goblins themselves and the Drow as possible allies. The Drow were untrustworthy and too manipulative, and the Clans had nothing the Goblins desired. Where, then could they find the hammer to their anvil?

Chapter 54

Clan Wars III: Fueds Of Blood

The Mailed Fists had little time to consider. From our priviliged position, it should be clear that the puzzling movements of the Bleeding Swords were the final positioning of rival forces before the initial strike of the Red Eyes against the townships one spring Dawn.

The roles of the allies should not be neglected by anyone seeking to understand the course of this conflict, for these were instrumental in the tactics employed. The Red Eyes were allied to the Troglodytes; standoffish, warlike, subterranean creatures of lizardish disposition. Their instincts are stillness and striking without warning, preferably from a position of concealment. They make ideal sappers. While the Orcs maintained ranged fire apon the forces manning the walls of the fortified townships, their allies threw up breastworks for defense and concealment, and then began to dig pairs of tunnels. Breakthroughs to the surface were timed to coincide as nearly simultaneously as possible. A third of the Red Eyes forces followed down one of each pair of tunnels. The Troglodytes emerged, killed the nearest defender, then dove down the second tunnel, clearing the way for the Orcish forces following behind them. The defenders fell back from the Red Eye onslaught in places and repelled it in others; several defenders, in an excess of zeal or desperation, pursued the Troglodytes down the return tunnel, only to find the Troglodytes and the bulk of the Red Eye forces waiting for them behind the breastworks. Far from being a defensive structure, their sole purpose was to serve as a trap for the defenders. In any attack in a fortified position, casualties of six to one are not unexpected; so successful were these tactics that the Red Eyes initial assault achieved a kill ratio of three-to-one; but it was a tactic of surprise that would be far less effective a second time, and which had failed to overrun the defenders. The casualties were nevertheless horrific; of the 220,000 Red Eye clan forces, 31,000 were killed on the first day; of the 200,000 defenders, 90,000 were obliterated. That only left the attackers a two-to-one advantage – not enough to ensure a victory, but enough to ensure a protracted conflict. The Burning Swords, 480,000 strong, would have made the difference between a costly success and eventual failure, bringing the ratio of attackers-to-defenders to over 5 to 1.

It came as a considerable surprise to the attacking clan when, at sunset of the first day of battle, the Burning Swords, led by their Bugbear strike forces, abruptly charged away from the locations in which they had been carefully positioned by the Red Eyes. The strategy formulated by them was simple – they were to bottle the defenders up and prevent any flanking moves by the defenders while the Red Eyes led the assault. As they had been led to expect, just beyond the range of vision of the defenders, the Red Eyes had a hidden second wave waiting, another 250,000 strong. While this force might ensured victory if the battle against the Mailed Fists were genuine, if they were to fall apon the Burning Swords from behind and with surprise, they would have decimated the followers of Ilneval – which is what those followers had been warned was their true purpose on the battlefield, while the Red Eye forces already engaged prevented the Burning Swords from escaping to the flanks. The Herders would have been shoved up against the walls of the fortified town and slaughtered, even if the inhabitants stayed out of the battle.

It was twilight when the Burning Swords unleashed their bugbear allies on the unsuspecting Red Eye reserves. With surprise on their side, and superiority of numbers approaching 2 to 1, Victory for the Burning Swords force was practically a foregone conclusion. If they had chosen to do so, they could have engulfed and annihilated the Red Eye reserves, but their strategy was more long-term; so they concentrated on simply punching a hole through the reserve’s lines and then flooding through the gap to seize the territories and non-combatants in the rear lines. It cost the Burning Sword clan 10,000 of their best and 500 of their bugbear allies, but they inflicted 25,000 casualties on the Red Eye reserves, slaughtering a full ten percent of the waiting forces at minimal cost. The bloodiest day in Orcish History was followed by the bloodiest night of battle in that History.

The Red Eyes were infuriated by the betrayal of the Burning Swords, but were mindful that the destruction of the Cities was a Holy Commandment. They didn’t have the forces to pursue both objectives; just as had the Mailed Fists, they began to run through the litany of potential allies, and like the Mailed Fists, they soon realized that there was no-one. They could perhaps call apon their friendship with individual Trolls, but even that would not be enough to claim victory in both battles. It might be just enough for them contain the forces within the walled towns while the bulk of the army pursued the treacherous Burning Sword clan, but defeating them would cost so many lives that they could not hope to overrun the towns and safeguard their tribal lands.

To the Mailed Fist clan, the treachery of the Burning Swords was like a gift from the Gods. It transformed their situation from one of total desperation to one with a slender hope of a ruinous victory. The Burning Swords had turned out to be the allies that they needed so desperately, to their total surprise. Perhaps their long relationship with the Burning Sword clan had borne unexpected fruit after all; but until they had a clan-wide peace agreement, and no Red Eyes at their city gates, they would remain wary. The war was but one day old, and already two of the combatants had been on the receiving end of deadly surprises; who could tell how events might proceed from this point? While they awaited developments, they would continue to reinforce their walls as best they could, and would work to devise a defense against the sapper tactics of the Troglodytes which had proven so costly. And then they would pray that the next surprise would not disadvantage them as much as had the first of that blood-soaked day.

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The Ongoing Elvish Glossary

I’m going to forego this while our attention is focussed on the Orcish side of the story, as the Elvish Language has no relevance to that part of the narrative.

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Next time: Nightmares are given flesh, the Orcish Gods join the brouhaha, the Huyundaltha find themselves in the middle of a powder-keg, and the unlikeliest of all possible alliances – all in Chapters 55-58!

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Orcs & Elves Series:
  1. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 1
  2. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 2
  3. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 3
  4. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 4
  5. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 5
  6. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 1-4
  7. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 5-10
  8. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 11-14
  9. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 15-17
  10. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 18-20
  11. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 21-23
  12. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 24-26
  13. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 27-28
  14. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 29-31
  15. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 32-36
  16. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 37-40
  17. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 41-43
  18. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 44-46
  19. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 47-51
  20. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Orcish Mythology
  21. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 52-54
  22. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 55-58
  23. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 59-62
  24. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 63-65
  25. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 66-68
  26. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 69-70
  27. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 71-73
  28. Who Is “The Hidden Dragon”? – Behind the curtain of the Orcs and Elves Series
  29. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapter 74
  30. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 75-77
  31. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 78-85