This one took me a while to write - his English is weak, and he spent a lot of time in introspection while we were talking. But here it is, along with a smattering of Orcish mythology and philosophy. Enjoy!
The massive warchief swung his axe, howling his victory as another tiny human head was cleft from its body. ‘How weak these humans are,’ he thought, ‘it’s almost an insult to his prowess to fight them!’ All he had to do was howl his battle cry and they fell away like fat from a roast boar!
Another and another, as Kral’gathna mowed down the tiny, weak humans. The blood from their flayed bodies mingled with the sweat from his muscle, and he howled again in exuberant rage. He felt his mighty ramrod swell between his legs, aroused by the joy of blood and slaughter. His Orksha concubine was going to be given plenty of seed tonight!
Finally the onslaught of child-like humans waned, and he looked around him at the field of gore. So many! How can so many feeble, pink humans hope to challenge the world’s mighiest Orc Warchief?!
Kral’gathna strode over the bodies, kicking or crushing the occasional survivor. He swung his axe through the air in triumph, howling his battle cry.
Soon, too soon for his liking, General Shug’orna blew his trumpet to signal an end to the fighting. The Warchief, captain of a legion of ferocious warriors, shook his axe over his head in mock frustration. But he knew that rules are rules, and an Orc does not disobey his General. He kicked savagely at a body and swatted the head away with his axe, and turned to wade through the carnage to the camp. Crows and vultures were already circling overhead, eager for the chance to feast on the rewards of battle.
The Orcish longhouse was filled with smoke from the fires, the smell of roasted meat, and the sweet-citrus-and-leather odor of Orcish sweat. Platters of meat were piled high on wooden tables and beer and ragash flowed freely as the Orcish army celebrated another victory.
At the head of the longhouse, General Shug’orna roared with laughter at a joke from one of his commanders. He took a swig of ragash from his tankard, clapped his huge hands together and climbed up to stand on the table. The General was already over eight feet tall and as broad as an ox, but he wanted to make an impression on his troops - and his victims.
“Akrah!” he roared, stamping a clawed foot on the table. "Akrah!!"
Eventually the noise of celebration subsided as the army’s attention was directed towards the huge, green-skinned general.
“Today,” he said proudly, “today we fought as Orcs are born to fight! Today, we brought the human town of Moonrise Shoals --” he stumbled over the name, and it sounded like ‘Moonways Hole’ - "to it’s knees! The humans know they are no match for ONE Orc, and an ARMY of Orcs brings the human ‘warriors’ death and despair!"
The army exploded in thunderous applause, stamping their feet and clashing swords and axes together.
“This day,” he said, “calls for a celebration! Thu’garakh! Bard!” After a moment a lone, slender Orc approached the head of the hall, carrying a Zu’krah, a six-stringed harp with a drum at the base. General Shug’orna stepped off the table and sat down as the bard tuned three pegs and cleared his throat.
He banged on his drum, the strings of the harp resonating like a wail on the wind.
"Ash’raht looked upon the void
And saw a world in making,
And knew she could bring life
Where the land and sea were waking.
And she drew life from the earth
And blew into it first breath,
And let the beasts of land and sea
Know life, and age, and death.
Ash’raht sang for her world
As the living beasts grew,
But deep beneath the ocean caves
Spawned creatures dark and new.
The Titans arose and claimed the land
Theirs alone for the taking,
So Ash’raht made the First Orc
To challenge the beasts awaking.
She used fire and thunder,
Blood and iron and rage,
Gh’orthanc Titanbane rose
And called his army’s war to wage."
Thu’garakh paused and looks around the room - everyone knew the next verse and they were eager to join in the song.
“And the mighty ORCS did rise!
With FIRE in their eyes!
And they BEAT the Titans raw!
And demanded, GIVE US MORE!”
The longhouse shook with the exultation of two hundred Orcs pounding on the tables and singing in unison.
"And Gh’orthanc saw his armies,
Defiant, strong and bright,
And knew that no living thing
Could beat the Orcish might.
The Titans kept on coming
Each bigger than before,
But the Orcish armies met them
Declaring Titans WAR!
And the mighty ORCS did rise!
With FIRE in their eyes!
And they BEAT the Titans raw!
And demanded, Is that all you got? GIVE US MORE!
From ages past until today,
Orcish might defends the land,
For no Titan was ever born
That can withstand Orcish hand!
Other folks grew from the land,
Humans, elves and many more,
Frail and thin, pink and weak,
They need Orcish might and sword!
And the mighty ORCS still rise!
With FIRE in our eyes!
Our foes FLEE the Orcish roar!
And we say, STAND and FIGHT, you bunch of pathetic, snotty nosed, weedy little crying-for-mommy lilac-sniffers,
ORCS bring WAR!!"
The whole longhouse erupted in cheer - the last verse was different every time Thu’garakh sang it.
The evening’s festivities lasted for hours, with drinking and feasting and fighting, and General Shug’orna awarded his War Chiefs Kral’gathna and Razh’nak spoils from the siege at Moonrise Shoals. Razh’nak claimed a golden goblet in the form of a stag’s head, a polar bear cloak and a small wooden chest full of people’s teeth. Kral’gathna set his sights on a matching set of ivory cups, a large iron shield and the claws of an ancient Titan.
“Aha!” he said, holding up the claws, each one as big as his immense hand, “these will be magnificent! In three days time, my son Bal’tazhk leaves the nest to join the army of Orcs! And he deserves his nobility. Feast, for the coming of the mighty Bal’tazhk!!”
“To Bal’tazhk!” the army roared in unison.
“Why does Bal’tazhk have to leave us, Maman?” the Orc child asked. She had bright, lime-green skin and ginger hair, and she tugged jealously at Bal’tazhk’s hand. “I don’t want him to go!”
“It’s his time, Cha’khri. His Orcsha came here when she had his father’s seed in her belly, just like yours did, and she stayed here until Bal’tazhk was born. Like all Orc children, you live here in the nest until you’re older. The battlefield is no place for a Cha’khri! Bal’tazhk is old enough now, he’s spent a whole year training in warfare, now he can join his father on the war field.”
“Maman?” the child asked after a while.
“Who is my Maman?”
“Well we all are, greenling. Every Orksha here is your Maman!”
“No I mean which Maman is MY Maman? Whose belly was I in?”
“Oh, silly, nobody remembers that. We are all one big family. We know who your Orknas is, that’s Thu’garakh the musician.”
“I know who my Orknas is, but not my Orksha?”
“That’s right, Cha’khri. And when you’re older, you’ll become an Orksha and carry someone’s seed too. It’s our way.”
“Can Orksha ever join the Orknas on the battlefield? Like where Bal’tazhk is going?”
“Sometimes, but its very rare.”
“I wanna be an Orknas! Big and brave on the battlefield, fighting Titans. Why does Bal’tazhk get to go?”
“Because he has a tusk, little one.”
“Like a pig?”
“No, not that tusk.” The Maman pointed to the place between her legs. “That tusk. Orknas have a, we call it a tusk.”
“That’s silly. Bal’tazhk, don’t you think that’s silly?”
“What, silly that I have a tusk?”
“No, that Orksha can’t be warriors!”
“It’s our way, little one,” the older one said, “Orcs follow the rules.”
The Orcnest had grown slowly, organically, over centuries. Originally a series of immense caves on a sea-scrubbed island, the nest was protected from view, provided shelter and warmth, and one had to know where to look to find the entrance. So few non-Orcs had ever seen Orc children or knew the location the nest, the rumor had become legend that the Earth Goddess just spat out full-grown, battle-ready Orcs whenever she needed them.
The Orcs have never tried to correct this misunderstanding.
Bal’tazhk collected his few belongings and joined the other Orknas leaving the nest. He’d spent the last year of his nest-life training for war, learning different weapons, different fighting styles, strategy and metallurgy, some magic and some healing techniques. Now it was time to prove himself, time to be someone his father would be proud of.
Another young Orc joined him as Bal’tazhk prepared to board the ferry, a barge built over the skeletal remains of a long-dead whale. He turned and looked back at the nest, the only life he’d ever known.
The ferry pulled away from the island, headed for new lands.
“Excited, are you?” the other Orc asked. He looked out over the sea, one hand steadying himself on a huge, bleached rib.
“Very! I can join my father in battle. And the orcs did rise, with fire in their eyes…”
“You definitely have the look of a warrior, Bal’tazhk! Pink little humans will fall away at the sight of you!”
"Ha ha, thank you! My hand will swing a mighty axe such as the world has never seen!"
Bal’tazhk studied the horizon, hoping to see an Orcish battle somewhere. He was only nineteen years old, but already stood well over seven feet tall and weighed close to four hundred pounds. His wide head and broad chest looked as imposing as his tree-trunk legs and sinewed arms. He would be a mighty, ferocious warriors, slaying enemies by the hundreds at Kral’gathna’s side!
The ferry landed a day later, where Bal’tazhk and several others were met by an Orc battle squad. The young Orcs were each given simple armor and a well-used axe, and shown to a temporary longhouse made from timbers and leather hides. Nervous human servants presented huge platters of meat and casks of ragash to welcome the new arrivals to the camp.
“Now THIS is how we welcome our newest warriors!” roared Kral’gathna with pride, “To’Khrannok! Xyr’akha! Grid’kha! Nagazh! And Bal’tazhk! Let me look at you!” The war chief stood before the young Orcs, examining them like a drill sergeant. He held his son at arm’s length and turned the young Orc this way and that as if he were inspecting livestock at an auction. "Good, Good! You will do Gh’orthanc Titanbane great honour! Slaves!! Attend my son in the armor I have made!"
Three humans bowed as they approached, carrying armor that was almost too heavy for them. They undressed Bal’tazhk in front of everyone, and gave him massive armbands and shoulder plates, armor across his stomach and a huge shield that took two humans to lift. One came bearing a sword, which Kral’gathna held with ease.
“Your weapon defines you, Bal’tazhk. Your teachers tell me your skill lies in the blade, so I give you Lan’ghashka Bloodspill. May it serve you well! And finally, my prize to my own champion.” He held up the two Titan claws, which had been fixed to a brooch. Kral’gathna wove the brooch into his son’s braided hair, so the claws framed his face like tusks even larger than his own.
"Now! When you stand before a foe, it will see those and know the mighty Bal’tazhk can not be defeated by Titan fang or claw!"
Bal’tazhk bowed, a little self-consciously, and stepped aside so other warchiefs could similarly dress their champions.
The air was filled with the stench of burning flesh and rotting meat, and the ground was slick with blood. Humans and High Elves were fighting a losing battle against an army of Orcs; the immense green soldiers swung their axes and howled their battle cries, reveling in the chaos of war and carnage.
Kral’gathna swung his huge axe and cleaved yet another pink human head from its shoulders and paused to watch the spray of blood from the artery splash against his son’s armor.
“Another!” he howled in triumph, "humans are NO match for the might of an Orc battle chief and his son! The human gods will be days sorting out the souls we send them!"
Bal’tazhk nodded as he thrust his sword through yet another chest, killing yet another nameless soldier. He was covered in sweat and blood, his pulse was racing and his reflexes were as quick as the wind. But somewhere in his mind, a tiny voice was telling him this wasn’t the only way to victory.
The battle raged on another hour, another hundred or two hundred Humans and Elves fell to Orcish might. Finally General Shug’orna sounded his war horn, signalling an end to battle. The Orcish army regrouped, and a few Human survivors huddled together amidst the field of blood and fallen soldiers.
Warchief Kral’gathna and his son joined the other Orc legions at the General’s camp, where they assessed the battle so far.
“Tremendous victory!” Shug’orna bellowed, "the tiny Humans have no chance - by nightfall, Hatchell’s Watch will be ours! Shug’orna, take your son and your legion and engage the Humans on the south front. They shouldn’t give you any problem. Warchief Mha’tragg, you follow the river to their supply route. Let the waters run red with Human blood!"
Kral’gathna and Bal’tazhk made short work of the already-demoralized Human army, and quickly had Hatchell’s Watch under Orcish control. But during the siege, Kral’gathna noticed that his son was slowing down, taking longer between attacks.
“You’re not getting weak?!” he demanded, “you are the mightiest of the Orcs! In no time you will outrank even myself!”
“No, father, I’m – I’m fine!” he swung his sword with a grimace and a terrified Human soldier tripped over his own spilling entrails, screaming for death or mercy. Bal’tazhk studied him for a heartbeat, then slit the man’s throat with his boot knife.
Later that evening, the Orcish army was gathered in the longhouse for a celebratory feast. They honored the warriors who had fallen in battle and wished them a quick journey to Gh’orthanc Kha, the eternal battleground. Feasting and drinking continued, and then Kral’gathna called for silence.
“This,” he said loudly in his gravelly voice, “was a great day for the Orcs, a great day for WAR!” He paused until the clamoring died down. “My own son, Bal’tazhk, proved himself a mighty and vicious warrior on the field of battle!” He said the words slowly, enunciating every syllable, his eyes never leaving his son.
“And to him goes the greatest triumph of this war, an arena battle between the fierce Bal’tazhk and the captured General of the Humans army, a weak little man called Donman! Bring out Donman and his wench!” Tables were cleared away and pulled aside, and Bal’tazhk was ushered to the quickly-made arena. He drew his sword and swung it experimentally, unsure who he’d be facing. A curtain was drawn and two Humans were showed out onto the arena floor. The man looked tired and grim, his face marred with dirt and blood; and the woman at his side was wounded and terrified. They were both naked, their wrists bound with coarse rope. The man, their General, clutched his sword although he already knew the outcome. The woman, unarmed, clung to him and wailed, her eyes begging mercy.
"Bal’tazhk! Strike down your foe, and claim the day’s victory - this is the defeat of the Human’s army!!"
Someone pounded a wardrum, and Bal’tazhk stepped forward. This would be so easy, he could kill them both in an instant.
Donman swung his sword as best he could with his wrists bound, trying to keep himself between the woman and the ferocious, huge Orc standing before him. The Orc wore Titan’s claws framing his jaw, and iron shoulder plates and vambraces.
The Orcish crowd cheered, eager to see blood and slaughter, as the uneven pair faced each other for combat. The woman tripped and fell, spilling to one knee, still screaming in terror.
Bal’tazhk studied them both for a few seconds - the terrified woman, the grim, resigned man. They both knew death was imminent, they were merely there to be toyed with before the slaughter. He looked from the man’s sullen, emotionless face, to the roaring crowd, to the sword in his own hands. He glanced at his father, who watched with a gleam in his eye and nodded at the scene about to unfold.
Bal’tazhk walked calmly toward the woman, who cowered back shaking, until she was too scared to move. He raised his sword and cuffed her on the back of the head with the hilt, and she fell forward unconscious. Bal’tazhk steadied her and lowered her to the ground, then turned to face the man.
“I’m sorry,” the Orc said, unfamiliar with the language, “she should not have to witness this.” Donman glanced from the Orc to the woman and back, and nodded.
“I suppose we should…” he started to say, standing up.
“You fight with honour,” Bal’tazhk said softly, leaning close, “you should not die like a caged dog.” He handed Donman a small, sharp knife, while the Orc army waited impatiently for the carnage to begin. “Tell your god, no Orc has killed you, Donman.” Bal’tazhk held the Human close, using his body to block the view of the knife. Donman nodded once, and held Bal’tazhk’s eyes with his own. He grunted, quietly, then fell dead to the ground.
Bal’tazhk stepped away from the corpse, leaned over the unconscious woman and quietly slipped his blade between her ribs.
He stood to face the roaring, impatient Orcish army and his own father’s stare, his eyes glowering with rage.
"I expected SLAUGHTER! You were WEAK! You should have killed them like ANIMALS!"
Kral’gathna stormed the length and breadth of his tent, his anger so livid it was almost a living thing.
“You are a battle-trained ORC! You were born for WAR! And yet in the simplest battle of all, you were a COWARD!”
“No warrior deserves to die like a caged dog!”
“They are HUMANS! They are nothing BUT caged dogs!! You are a mighty ORC! My own son is a COWARD!” He raised his fist to strike at the younger Orc.
Bal’tazhk grabbed his father’s wrist and held the blow from coming down. “That Human, Donman, was a noble warrior. On the battlefield, he was my equal! I let him die with his dignity intact.”
“NO HUMAN IS YOUR EQUAL!!!” Kral’gathna roared, “You are an ORC! You are stronger than TWENTY Humans!”
“Stronger, yes! But every warrior fights for a cause, otherwise it’s just violence! I must --”
“You must remember your PURPOSE!” Kral’gathna shot back, “Orcs were born to bring WAR!”
“Orcs were born to defend against the Titans, father,” Bal’tazhk said, trying to keep his calm, “We defend the world against destruction!”
“Orcs FIGHT because we are BORN to FIGHT!”
“You ask WHY? NO Orc asks WHY we FIGHT! We fight because we are ORCS!” Kral’gathna stood staring at his son, his fists clenched. “Wait. Here.” He said finally, and left the room.
Bal’tazhk shook his head, trying to remember what he’d learned in the nest about honor and responsibility.
After a moment Kral’gathna returned, dragging a frightened Wood Elf by the hair. He held her up and examined her with disgust, then dropped her like a rag and threw a knife for Bal’tazhk to catch.
“Prove to me you are a true Orc,” Kral’gathna said scornfully, “kill this animal.” The Wood Elf pleaded with her eyes for mercy.
“I will show you I am a true Orc,” Bal’tazhk replied, “But I will not kill without reason.” He let the knife fall to the ground, still staring at his father.
“You do not NEED a reason! You are ORC, it is your nature to kill. Gh’orthanc created Orcs for WAR, or has my son forgotten his mythology?!”
“Ash’raht made Gh’orthanc, who created the Orcs to DEFEND the world against the TITANS!” Bal’tazhk shot back, “Not to destroy it!”
“Gh’orthanc made the Orcs to KILL, because death is part of life!”
"NOT ALL THE TIME!"
Father and son stood glaring at each other, neither one moving. Between them, the terrified Wood Elf sat very still and wrapped her arms around her knees, afraid to move.
"Kill the animal! Because she is weak. Because you are ORC. Because Orcs obey the rules. Because I am your father and your War Chief and I command it!"
Bal’tazhk grabbed the knife and flung it aside. “She has done nothing to me, I have no reason to kill her!”
“You will kill --” Kral’gathna started to say, then paused for a long time, staring at his son. “No, you won’t, will you. You are weak. Look at Xyr’akha, he shows no weakness in battle! He is bold! You, you are - you are nothing.” He smacked scornfully at Bal’tazhk’s groin. “No strength in your tusk, either, I wager. You are dead to me.” He paused, thinking. “I renounce you,” he said finally, "You are no Orc. You are not my son. You are NOTHING to me! You are a disgrace. You are D’hza’nos! Outcast! Gh’orthanc turns his back on you."
Kral’gathna reached for the Titan claws framing Bal’tazhk’s jaw, then stopped. "Keep them. Maybe one day they’ll remind you what it is to be a warrior."
After a moment Kral’gathna seized the screaming Wood Elf again and twisted her head from her neck, and threw the body at Bal’tazhk.
“THAT is the Orc way. Now go, you disgust me.”
Alone and confused, Bal’tazhk wandered the world for five years. His travels took him from Nex’andra, where the rivers flow uphill to a rainbow of whispering cloud, to the cavernous Klat-an-falu, the desert under the sea.
He fought giant creatures with as many eyes as mouths, and danced naked on the rim of Vali’an’Riq, the living volcano.
He learned the poetry of the Axian Pandas, the combat skills of the Simasa, and the skill of healing-for-many from the Priestesses of Shiassa.
But through all his travels, he knew his journey would bring him back to the world of Humans, Elves and Orcs.
Bal’tazhk felt a sense of responsibility; he had killed so many, but did not consider himself a killer. He was a fighter, yes, an Orc warrior. But he had a conscience, and did not want to be remembered for killing indiscriminately, for blindly following orders. His own peace of mind demanded more of him than that. He wanted to go to the Human lands, meet the Humans, her to know them, and possibly atone for his killings, if they would accept him.
So six years to the day after he was branded D’hza’nos by his father, Bal’tazhk stood before the Stronghold of Corellia, the center of Human might and strength.
He thought about the wars he’d fought, the Humans he’d slaughtered. Would these people welcome him? Would they recognize him? Would they arrest him - or execute him - on sight? Only one way to tell. He swallowed the lump in his throat, and stepped to the huge door.
He banged on the iron plate and a hatch slid open. A small face peered out then briefly shrank back at the sight of the huge green Orc.
“I seek hospitality,” he said in what he hoped was a calm Human tone.
“Do you have - have a name? What shall I t-tell Commander Grey?”
“Bal’tazhk! The Orc!”
“Bal, Bul,” the Human said, struggling with the word, "did you say Bold-Tusk?"
Bal’tazhk paused, remembering his father’s last insult before he was declared D’hza’nos. Outcast. ‘Your tusk is weak! Xyr’akha is bolder.’ What a thing to be named for.
"Hm. Yes. Yes, the name is Bold-Tusk. Tell your War Chief, the Orc Bold-Tusk would join your cause."
The hatch slid closed, he heard muffled voices, then the door was unlatched and creaked open. A handful of armed men stood before him with swords drawn. He could have vanquished them all easily, but he wanted to greet the Humans on their terms, not his own. He held his hands up by his sides and stepped through the doorway, entering a Human military Stronghold for the first time in his life.
“Follow us,” one of the Humans said warily, "no tricks."
Bal’tazhk nodded and let himself be led further into the camp. Camp, nothing! He saw a castle, towers, farms, blacksmith’s shops, even mines! This was a small town!
The eight foot tall Orc was led into the courtyard, past a troop of soldiers performing a group fitness exercise, to the front doors of the castle. Someone must have run ahead to warn the General, because as soon as they arrived the doors swung open and a bearded man holding a formidable-looking hammer stepped forward. Bal’tazhk may have thought little of Humans or their tiny weapons, but this hammer was something to be proud of.
“My name is Richard,” the Human said, “I understand you wish to join our ranks.”
“I wish to learn your ways,” Bal’tazhk replied slowly, “I want to understand. To know who it is that Gh’orthanc made my people to defend.”
“I understand there is a war between your people and mine,” Richard said with reluctance, “and that the Orcs have taken Hatchell’s Watch.” He watched as Bal’tazhk stiffened, and continued. “That is a war on another continent, between different armies. Here we have our own battles to fight, and not against Orcs.” Richard turned and headed along a pathway toward a square tower, walking with the assurance that whoever is with him will follow. “A dark wizard is our nemesis today, and yes, your strength and skill would be welcome. Boldtusk was it?” The Orc nodded, secretly amused that everyone who called his name - in their language - was calling him ‘Erection’.
"You’ll be pleased to know, you are not the only Orc in our ranks. We have a couple of others, younger than you I think, who found their way here. Nashgar!"
The Human called and waved, and another Orc loped up the pathway to stand before Richard and the newcomer. He gave Bal’tazhk a quick bow.
“This is Bold-Tusk,” Richard said, and Nashgar stifled a laugh. “Nashgar was rescued by our troops when a ship - made from the bones of a whale, is that right? - was destroyed by a Titan three years ago. He was brought to us a refugee. Nashgar, see to it that Boldtusk - why is that funny? - is settled in, will you?“
Nashgar nodded, and turned to face the taller, older Orc.
”…and the Orcs did rise,” he whispered, “with fire in their - uh huh.”
“Gh’orthanc take you!” Bal’tazhk said, grinning.
“Welcome home, brother. These weak little Humans will need our help.”