Oringard part 1

On the eastern fringe of Damir is the vast forestland of Oringard.  Named by the dwarven immigrants who fled the kingdom of Paia, it means “Natural Fortress.”  Although it lies within Damir’s borders, it is a realm all to itself.  It is almost two hundred leagues long and just shy of a hundred leagues deep.  It stops up against the Golden Mountains in the north, and trails off into the barren land of Basmah in the southeast.  Oringard touches five different lands: Damir, Gronde, Kasmoon, Nubrince, and Basmah.  Running through the forest is the curvy Paia River in the south, and the much shorter Mourning River in the north.   

Legend has it that the forest is the creation of Hovaia, a dryad queen, who planted the many trees and shrubbery to shield the land from mortal invaders.  Despite her best laid plans, the forest was inhabited for several hundred years by the wood elves, a nomadic people who built tree houses and lived off the forest.  It is rumored the wood elves knew Hovaia and worked with the dryad queen to keep other mortals out.

Of course this did not work.  After the kingdom of Paia (a dwarven kingdom) collapsed during the Chaos War, thousands of dwarves ventured north to discover the vast forestland which they would so aptly name.  They began to settle the forest, burrowing into the hillsides, chopping trees down to lay foundations for small communities.  The dwarves had a network of villages spread about Oringard but they did not occupy all of it.  They left Hovaia and the wood elves to their own realm and interests.

For two hundred years the dwarves controlled much of Oringard, dedicating most of their time to mapping the forestland.  The maze-like paths of the forestland can be deadly to any person who isn’t familiar with them or doesn’t have a map.  The trees are thick and some areas look similar to the next.  Getting lost in Oringard is easy and a common occurrence; trails become overgrown with foliage, creeks dry up, trees fall over and block paths. 

There are plenty of creatures in the woods, but a lot of the big predators have been driven out or killed by the orcs.  Bears, wolves, and wild cats are still common, but the forest used to feature sasquatch and hippogryphs.  It was also home to a nest of gryphons.  The gryphons kept to themselves for several hundred years, even after the high elves invaded the forestland and drove out the dwarves and wood elves.  It wasn’t until the orcs took over Oringard that the gryphons were forced to leave their nests and go elsewhere.

The high elves infiltrated Oringard around 350 ACW, defeating the dwarves in the 2nd War of Damir and forcing them out of Oringard.  The high elves took over much of southern Oringard, built large townships and began to blaze trails all over the forestland.  Believing the dwarves would one day return and try to take Oringard back, the high elves set up a series of booby traps along several false trails that led to their town centers.  The wood elves either assimilated with their High Elven brethren or left Oringard all together. 

Descendants of the fallen elven empire at Jeriko embraced the rule of their leader, Prince Iteph, who was a very distant cousin of the royal bloodline, but the only known survivor who could be linked to the elven monarchy.  In their time in Oringard, Iteph had children who went on to establish a royal line.  But because of the massive orc invasion that would come a hundred years later, most of the records concerning the descendants of Iteph were lost.  When Kalliste gave her prophecy that an elven king would be born amongst them, many figured it would come from Iteph’s lost lineage.

Doves of Merrimont

The white doves of Merrimont have been part of the city since its inception, a hundred years after the Chaos War.  Even the templar Lyndon noted that the doves there were extraordinary, as they communicated to him through telepathic powers.  Many see the doves as the city’s eternal guardians, but no one has been able to decipher what exactly they’re protecting.  It is thought, by the humans, that the doves are protecting riches beyond imagining.  However, the doves rarely communicate to humans, preferring the elves who moved into the Merrimont region in 460 ACW.  

Telepathic powers are found in some animals but not exclusively in particular species.  In other words, not all doves have telepathy but the doves in Merrimont do.  The doves seem to congregate around the city’s main and largest archway, the Dovial Arch.  Superstition over the Arch circulate from bird droppings landing on citizens passing under the archway.  It has been noted that anyone who is pooped on is doomed to die within a year’s time. Because of these deaths, many in Merrimont are fearful of the doves and believe they may have powers beyond telepathy.  In 721 ACW, an elven mason was utterly convinced the doves were evil and needed to be killed.  The stone mason managed to shoot down seven doves before he was arrested and later executed for bearing weapons and using deadly force within the city (elves were not allowed to have or use weapons within Merrimont until the Farm and Riot Act of 772 ACW).

During many of the wars, such as the 10th War of Damir where Merrimont was put in siege by the orcs led by the warlord Phumbaas, the doves served as scouts and messengers for the elves.  The doves only seem to speak to a select number of elves, including certain elven nobles.  Many elves try to tap into the secrets of the doves by feeding them or cooing at them, but typically the doves fly away when such obvious bribery is offered.  It is rumored that the doves were friends with Kalliste, the blind seer, and that it was they who gave her the prophecy about the Slayer.  Kalliste never mentions the doves at all in any of her works, but the rumors continue to circulate.

In elven lore, doves were the favorite animal of Troix, the Angel of Valor.  It has been passed down from legend that Troix had a special relationship with doves, and they would speak to her and no other.  In her battles, Troix used the doves to spy on enemy outposts and armies, relaying the size and readiness of the opposing army.  When Troix was killed in battle, abandoned by her allies, it is said the doves dispersed and were never heard of again.

Merrimont part 1

Located strategically between the Blue and the Paia, two of three main rivers in Damir, is the elven city of Merrimont.  The name “Merrimont” is not elven, but human.  In 102 ACW, a massive party of immigrating human pilgrims, led by the great templar Lyndon, passed through the flower fields and grassy knolls of southern Damir.  Because of the flower fields and the small hills, it was named “Merrymont,” later spelled as “Merrimont.”

Flanked by the two rivers, the soil and ground seemed to be prime farmland that could be cultivated.  A large group of Lyndon’s followers broke off and decided to remain behind to farm and establish a human township in the fields.  Lyndon himself admired the ground but wanted access to the sea so he pressed ahead. 

Early on, it appeared the humans had found the perfect place to settle.  The fruit orchards provided plenty of food, and the humid climate added to the growth of their crops.  However, human irrigation technology was lost in the Chaos War.  Knowledge of cultivation was low, and the people were forced to learn anew.  Among the lost knowledge was how to properly dam a river.  After about ten years, the Blue River flooded the settlement and most of the outlying farms.  Five years after that, the Paia did the same.  The floods were catastrophic: dozens of people died at a time, houses and crops washed away, livestock killed. 

Feeble attempts to dam the rivers failed miserably, as the flooding continued to wreak havoc on every new settlement the humans built.  Still, for over a hundred years the humans in Merrimont gutted it out and kept rebuilding after each flood.  Then in 221 ACW, both the Paia and the Blue flooded simultaneously, wiping out the township completely, killing hundreds, destroying farms, crops and livestock; the people there were reduced to nothing.  The humans were fed up.  Every time they harvested a good crop it would flood.  Every time their livestock began to bear young it flooded.  Every time. 

By 240 ACW, virtually every human left the Merrimont region, convinced that the area could not be properly settled because of the rivers.  They went north, many settling near Mt. Whitehood and establishing a human outpost there.  Others went to Proudhill in the west.  But the fields of Merrimont were deserted.  Only a handful of human farmers tried to stick it out. 

Around that time the elves had successfully entered Oringard from the south and pushed the dwarves out.  The war between the elves and dwarves was technically the 2nd War of Damir.  It started when the elves, in search of a homeland, were given permission by the dwarves to pass through Oringard on their way north.  However, the forest proved to be just what the elven wanderers were in search for and they decided to stay and settle.  The dwarves took exception and began hostilities.  Eventually the dwarves, who had been mining up north, decided to retreat there and give up the forestland.

But in 461 ACW, over two hundred years later, the elves got a taste of their own medicine when the orcs of Nubrince entered Oringard and attacked.  The elves were too spread out and unprepared for an attack coming from their eastern border and scattered.  Iteph, their royal prince, did not escape and he and his family were massacred.  The elves that did manage to escape found themselves following the Paia west to the flowery fields of Merrimont.  In 469 ACW, the elves learned through the few human farmers that lived in the area that the land was called Merrimont and the elves decided to establish themselves there. 

The new elven township sent shockwaves across all of Damir.  Due to their location, the elves were now southern neighbors to the humans, who had established Whitehood as their primary domain.  Under their new king Bandrian I, the humans saw the elves as potential threats and fortified the hills (later called the Rossi Heights) above Merrimont.  However, many humans did not initially feel threatened by the elves, knowing they had settled in a region prone to flooding and would soon be wiped out.

However, this did not happen.  The elves knew of ways to dam the rivers, create waterways and proper irrigation, and minimize the flooding damage.  As a people, elves  often have a natural knack when it comes to cultivation and agriculture.  Within twenty years of establishing a township, the elves blossomed in agriculture and farmland.  Although the rivers still flooded, the preventative measures the elves took kept the damage manageable. 

Orcs part 1

There is perhaps no other organized race as feared or as disliked as the orcs, also referred to as “beastmen.”  Tall, muscular, and athletic, orcs have the signature build of a warrior.  Even their skin is thick and not easily pierced, rough like worn leather.  Their skin comes in multiple colors from black to blue to orange.  Orcs can range between 6’0” to 8’0” tall and weigh between 250 and 450 pounds.  They have very pronounced jaw lines, with jagged teeth and protruding canines, pushed up noses and big ears.  Orcs are capable of growing hair over their entire bodies but tend to shave it all off except on their heads (they believe it hinders them in combat).  The most defining physical characteristic of the orc is its bone-spikes.  Orcs have an unusual skeletal system in that their bones do not stop growing and will continue to grow even after the orc is fully developed.  Thus, the bones can pierce through certain points of the skin like antlers, only throughout the body.  The most common places for bone-spikes are on the top of the skull, neck, jaw, spine, elbows, wrists, knuckles, shoulder blades, and cheek bones.  During the Trials of Adulthood, to prove they’re ready for war, orclings will cut their bone-spikes and chisel them sharp.  The process is excruciatingly painful but helps develop a certain level of pain tolerance while turning the orcling’s body into a weapon.  These bone-spikes can be used in hand-to-hand combat, and gives the orc a natural advantage. 

To many of the other races, orcs have a complicated social and political system, but in practice it is quite simple.  Orcs believe in a higher power, and that in all things they take orders from somebody, even if that person is dead or in spirit form.  The orc political system has similarities to that of a confederacy.  There is one central power that governs the many clans that have spread out across the region- the Orc High Council.  While the many clans do not work together and stay in their designated areas, they all answer to the same Council.  Working separately gives the individual clans a sense of identity and independence from each other; however they’re all essentially an arm of the Orc High Council. 

The Orc High Council is a committee of orcs who have been deemed “gifted” and  given a place of honor at the Great Temple at Nubrince.  Gifted orcs are identified at a young age by the Sheshua.  Orcs who can move or read things with their minds, make things appear or disappear, and most especially speak to spirits and visit the Spirit Realm are considered “gifted” and set aside to become future High Council members.  Because of their powers, these orcs are deified: they are worshipped and offered sacrifices.  There can be anywhere between ten to fifty members on the High Council at any time.  Gifted orcs are the most educated of all orcs, but focus is paid to controlling their powers and tapping into spiritual energy.  The High Council is held in such high esteem because of their ability to communicate with their ancestors, upon whom the orcs have fastened their religion.  These communications are done through dreams and induced hallucinations from certain substances.  However, the orcs do not see them as hallucinations but as visions.

From the Great Temple in Nubrince, the Orc High Council rules all the clans that fall under their supervision.  They routinely send messengers and members of the Sheshua to each clan giving them instructions.  Each clan is treated differently by the Council, as some are more advanced militarily or are further along in numbers.  Orcs never consider joining two clans together to make them stronger.  To do that would insult the ancestors of the weaker clan by erasing their destined conquest and insulting that for which they sacrificed their lives. 

The creation of the Orc High Council is relatively new in orc history.  Before the Chaos War the orcs were ruled by a monarchy, but then the orcs discovered magic and were able to summon spiritual power.  This dark magic gave certain orcs an advantage over others and led to those magical orcs being treated differently.  Orcs do not believe in challenging a superior but to reward and deify them.  Orcs admire strength, power and success, as they believe it is the key to global conquest.

Orcs have a fundamental belief that the world belongs to them, and there is no room for the other races, who are populating while depleting their earth’s resources.  Their goal is then to either suppress or exterminate the Juhas (the other “inferior” races), take back the earth, and populate so the earth will continue to live for eternity.  It is their belief that only the orc people can correctly husband the earth because it was created, after all, for them and them alone.  The other races are not seen as equal sentient creatures but as vermin, akin to how other societies view thieves and rapists.  This intolerance the orcs have for the other races drives their lust for war and genocide.