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.

Rossi Heights

The Rossi Heights have been a big part of the community at Whitehood since its inception.  Its name comes from the Du Rossi family: high nobles who were nearly exterminated by Ulric in 700 ACW.  Before given its now famous name, they were simply called the Southern Foothills, because they were on the road south to Merrimont.  The road that connects Merrimont to Whitehood runs through the Rossi Heights.  The Rossi Heights serve as a vanguard for Whitehood as they form a protective shield from the east and south.  The Rossi Heights have their own community, but it is mostly an outpost controlled by the military.  It has been the host of two major wars: the 6th War when the elves invaded from Merrimont in the south, and the 11th War, when Hathar the orc warlord made a run toward Whitehood.  In both cases, the humans won the war.  The orcs of Oringard often send small war parties across the Mourning River to terrorize the Rossi Heights but the hills are very well guarded.

Count Peter Du Rossi (570 – 621 ACW) was a very suave and very direct noble, who was exceptionally picky and confrontational.  He enjoyed swordplay and spent many hours of his youth learning the art of sword fighting.  As a young man, Count Du Rossi looked for every excuse imaginable to test out his skills on Damir’s best and most boastful fighters.  As a young boy he loved running through the flowery hills of the southern foothills to play, and that childhood memory inspired him to hold duels there.  It is unclear how many duels Du Rossi fought, but he claimed in his journal that he slew a hundred men there.  However, estimates from other records suggest the number is closer to fifty.  Whatever the number, Du Rossi was undefeated, and he settled disputes through these duels.  Now-a-days, duels must be approved by a magistrate to prevent any escalation or unnecessary confrontations.

The majority of duels are now fought on one of the hills of the Rossi Heights.  It is considered an ideal setting for a match because the ground is firm but not rocky, soft but not muddy.  It also allows spectators to gather and form a gallery, as the fighters duel high up where they can be seen clearly. 

The Peach Orchards

Up on a northeastern hill outside of Merrimont are the vast Peach Orchards, which were at one time owned by a very wealthy elven noble.  The noble and his family were killed during the 10th War of Damir, during the orcs invasion of the Merrimont region, and the orchards have since become community property.  It is fitting that it is also the resting place of Phumbaas, the orc warlord who nearly destroyed all of Merrimont and  attempted to annihilate the elves

Because of how massive Phumbaas was (eight feet tall and five hundred pounds) they did not bother to move him to the burning pile of the other dead orc warriors.  The elves decided to bury his remains, and not cremate him where he lay for risk of torching the prized peach orchards.  His grave was unmarked, however, and every so often a skull hunter tries to find it to dig up his remains.  But so far nobody has.

As a result of Merrimont’s biggest offender being buried in the Peach Orchards, the grounds are considered tormented and hallow.  Ghost stories of the infamous warlord walking amongst the trees have circulated for over two centuries, but many scoff at this, calling it superstitious nonsense.  However, not even critics can deny that something ominous does occur there during full moons.  Every full moon, a peach tree dies.  Its fruit rots and the soil goes bad, making the spot unacceptable for planting.  No one has an explanation for this, other than the superstition that Phumbaas’s tormented soul is spoiling the orchards.

Despite the haunting, the great Peach Festival is held every summer in Merrimont at the orchards.  It is the largest elven gala in Damir where the social elite and common elves gather on neutral ground.  It is a favorite place for weddings, wedding announcements, and courtships to take place.  The common saying among elven gents associated with the Peach Orchards is: “Take a peach, find a peach, get a peach at the Orchards!”

Orcs part 3

The Trials for male orcs involve a grueling set of tests designed to place the orc correctly in orc society.  It is here that the Sheshua try to determine if the orcling has any special abilities or gifts.  If the child appears to have gifts he is set aside to undergo the Gift Trials, for orcs who might be candidates to become members of the Orc High Council.  Orcs who are born with no magical tendencies or special abilities undergo the Blood Trials, the passage to become a warrior and perhaps a Tron later on.  Orcs who fall in between or it is uncertain where to be placed but appear to be useful are trained to be Sheshua.

Orcs who are larger and much stronger and intelligent are considered candidates for becoming a Tron (a superior orc) who answers only to the warlord.  Trons help the warlord with strategy, organizing legions, arming and prepping their warriors and controlling the clan in general during times of war.  The majority of Trons are above seven feet and are athletically built for intense warfare against a variety of opponents.  To become a Tron an orcling must first pass the Blood Trials.  Depending on how he scores, a warrior can be given Tron status, but this is the exception to the rule; most become standard warriors.  Trons are exceptional warriors who are candidates for becoming the future warlord of their clan.  Becoming a Tron automatically means annual breeding rights with the females.

Orcs are taught not to fear death but to welcome it.  Suicide, however, is thought to be a coward’s end, while death in battle is considered glorious.  Orcs who have been badly wounded or have become too old are honorably put to death.  Orcs believe that when a warrior dies honorably he goes to the Great Mountain, which is the gateway to the Spirit Realm.  The Spirit Realm is the collection of the greatest warrior souls, where they serve as ancestral guides to the living.

The orcs of Oringard are one clan of the Orc High Council of Nubrince.  It is not unheard of for clans to go rogue and break off from a High Council, such as was the case with the orcs of Kasmoon, who conquered the upper half of the divided ancient kingdom of Paia, then appointed a king and fashioned an entirely different orc society separate from the High Council.  The Nation of Oringard is among the much larger and more successful clans who adhere to the Orc High Council of Nubrince.  The orcs were triumphant in their invasion of Oringard, driving out the elves in 460 ACW.  However, early on in their history, the orcs of Oringard began to squabble over what land to conquer next.  Most wanted to press west into Damir, where the ground could be cultivated, yet a segment of their people saw the Golden Mountains as a place to take refuge and launch attacks from higher ground.  This division caused a civil war within Oringard, one that lasted nearly forty years and decimated the clan.

The orc civil war within Oringard ended with the losing clan wishing to drive north to go rogue, defying the High Council, which ruled in favor of the orcs staying in Oringard and eventually conquering Damir.  Heading north, this rogue orc clan stumbled upon the dwarven fortress of Gilstad in 525 ACW and attacked it, launching the 7th War of Damir.  But the war was brief and the orcs were badly defeated.  Forced to retreat, their shattered army went north into the Golden Mountains and were never heard from again.  The orcs that stayed behind in Oringard spent the next seventy years forced to re-populate and rebuild defensive structures that had been totaled during the civil war.

The orcs did not make headway against Damir until the warlord Phumbaas, who organized the first ever massive orc invasion to cross the Paia and marched west toward Merrimont, the city of the elves, in 601 ACW.  The 10th War of Damir changed the land and gave the orcs tremendous confidence that they would eventually take Damir, despite the loss.  Even with Phumbaas’ defeat, the orcs had made their point: they were to be a thorn in Damir’s side for years to come.

Mal Orah-

The warlord and/or his Trons issue battle commands through the beats of orc drums.  The Mal Orah, which means “Death Charge”, is a command given to attack with maximum effort.  Typically, the Mal Orah is sounded for a full verse before the orcs actually charge, as a means of intimidating their enemies prior to assault.  The Mal Orah consists of slow beats that gradually get faster and louder until they are done in rapid succession.  The Death Charge is described as deafening, as the orcs usually use an abundance of drums, which beat together at once.  The Mal Orah is also used as a form of distraction, the noise making it difficult for their enemies to communicate.

Shogue Language-

The native tongue of orcs everywhere is the Shogue language.  The orcs refused to adopt the Druish language, yet it was still learned in some circles and is still taught among orcs of high positions such as Trons.  Considered the language of the Juhas, orcs only speak Druish rarely or for reconnaissance purposes.  Shogue is a slow language, as it is more important to pronounce the word than to speak it quickly.  Partly due to their militaristic society, orcs want to ensure that their words are heard and understood.  Because Shogue is relatively simple and slow it is among the easiest languages for other races to eventually master.

Orcs in Age of Thunder:

  • Kazul
  • Gozma
  • Noxima
  • Crohl
  • Mogabi
  • Mutawa
  • Morgon

Orcs part 2

The Orc High Council does not become involved in war; they simply sponsor it by granting a warlord to each clan.  This is only done by the High Council’s unanimous approval for the individual clan to go to war.  A warlord is selected from amongst the individual clan’s class of Trons.  The warlord is then given complete control of the clan during a time of war and is free to run the war however he wishes, using whatever methods necessary to achieve success.  The warlord has absolute authority of the army- not even the Orc High Council can interfere while the war is ongoing.  Afterwards, depending upon the success of the warlord, the High Council will determine if a new warlord is needed or not.  Generally speaking, if a warlord fails in his objectives he is removed, or if retained he is asked to restructure and reform the army in defensive positions.  

A warlord, although given full authority, is under constant pressure from the Orc High Council, which demands victory followed by victory.  It is uncommon but not unheard of for a warlord to go rogue from the High Council and to even try to use the army to march on Nubrince and dissolve it.  To maintain their control over the individual clans and keep tabs on any given warlord, the Council relies on the Sheshua.  The Sheshua are the right hand of the Orc High Council.  They are bodyguards and agents who are dedicated to the preservation of the High Council’s authority.  The Sheshua operate outside the parameters of orc society and warfare.  They do not engage in war and do not have to adhere to any laws made by the warlord during a time of war.  They answer only to the Orc High Council.  Sheshua are skilled, observant, nimble, studious, and highly intelligent as well as motivated guardians of the High Council. 

The Orc High Council uses the Sheshua for everything.  This includes spying on warlords and reporting any suspicious actions that might indicate that a warlord is preparing to rebel against the High Council.  Warlords are not oblivious to the Sheshua, and are often accompanied by them, and they are usually treated as observers.  However, the warlord has no authority over them and cannot order them to leave.  The Sheshua are also protected by laws that prohibit any wrongdoing done to them.  A member of the Sheshua dying under suspicious circumstances will result in an increase in the Sheshua presence, who will investigate the death for foul play.  If foul play is determined, and it is linked to the warlord, that warlord is then stripped of his title and will face a horrific and humiliating death sentence.

The Sheshua are also moderators of orc society.  They monitor distribution of food, breeding, and orc placement.  Orcs have no fundamental understanding of monetary compensation or the purchase of items or bartering.  There is no money in orc society.  All essentials necessary to live are provided to every orc via the Sheshua, which includes food and medicine.  The Sheshua also control the Breeding Temples in Nubrince, where females are taken to breed and nourish the young.  There is no marriage in orc society, no romance, no courtship, no family.  The women, when old enough, serve as a harem to every orc warrior who has “earned” a month of breeding with the females.  The warrior then makes his rounds to a different female a day, looking to impregnate each of them before returning to his clan.  Warriors chosen are usually those who have fought with honor (meaning they killed a lot of Juhas) or Trons.  The Sheshua chooses these warriors, sometimes from a list provided by the warlord or Trons, or by their own observations. 

Women have a limited role in orc society.  The common misconception among the other races is that orcs mistreat their women, beating them and defiling them, when in reality orc women likely live more comfortable lives than the majority of women from the other races.  Because orcs see their women as “replenishers” for fallen warriors, the mistreatment of their women is not permitted.  Orcs do not believe in abusing their most precious commodity.  Instead, orcs keep the women well rested, well fed, relaxed, groomed, bathed, and pampered in order to prep them for breeding and later pregnancy.  The Sheshua protect and provide for them. 

However, women are only valued in orc society as long as they can breed.  When a woman becomes too old or infertile or if she is born deformed or incapable of breeding, she is summarily put to death as she is not considered useful to orc society.  Thus, an orc woman’s life is a gilded cage: full of comfort but trapped with no way out.  After a successful pregnancy, the orcling is nourished by each female with her milk until the child can walk.  Once the child is considered functional without a mother (age 2 at the earliest) the Sheshua whisk the orcling away and prepare to put it through the Trials, unless it is born female (it then stays in a separate temple until it is ready to breed as an adult).  Orclings reach full maturity at about age sixteen for females and twenty for males.

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.