Julip 12th, 3174 KE1
- For the
first time, I have chosen to leave the city of Khevahn2
, our fair
capital, to seek adventure in the open world. I have heard many tales of the
great, open world beyond the walls, and I have stood upon the ramparts and
gazed at the seas of waving grain many times. Tomorrow, I will set forth. I
feel both a great longing and a great dread for this moment. Surely three years
in the guard and two more fighting in the arenas3
have prepared me
for anything that I shall encounter in the wilds.
- This morning, I walked out through the city gates and
saw the city from the outside for the first time in my life. New City4
the small community that has grown along the King's Highway5
up against the walls, and the poor quality of the buildings lends credence to
the law requiring that all homes be built of stone or brick within. The flow
of traffic to and from the city is astounding, with carts and wagons loaded
with grains and vegetables of all kinds moving into the gates, and wagons
filled with cloth, pans, and other things made in the city. Such a pressing
mass of humanity made travel slow, but allowed for many conversations with those
moving along with me. I heard a strange tale of horrible creatures to the South,
but I think it is just a folk tale of the people. This evening I camped in an
opening with a group of farmers who told me that the tales are true.
Superstition must run rampant among these farmers.
- I have decided that south is as good
a direction as any to go. Besides, that follows the course of the Green
River, and I have always longed to see the seaport cities of Hurness and
. While I wait for the farmers to break camp, I have
decided that I will follow them to their village four days south to look
into these wild tales of monsters.
- Late this afternoon a group of
struck at our group, obviously not expecting a group
of farmers to have a trained warrior with them. I can't believe they were
so bold as to strike within only two days march from the city walls. Five
of them struck in a wooded area, and even with my skill it took all I could
do to bring two of them down before the leader called them off. I left him
with a throwing knife in his shoulder, a wound I hope he won't soon forget.
The farmers were tremendously grateful, though I fear that they will try to
marry me off to some plain farm-girl when I arrive at their village. One of
them told me that the brigands like to strike as close to the city as
possible so as to capture supplies before the farmers use them. They seem to
think that I am the answer to their "monster problems."
- A second day of boredom has led to
the edge of a valley. Below us a small village sits among fertile fields,
its small houses sending up the smoke of cook fires within. It seems an
idyllic place, save for the vast burn upon the south end of the valley. One
of the farmers referred to it as the "Old Sweeney Place." Apparently the
"monsters" had burned it to the ground and the fire had swept through many
of the fields around it.
- Late night, perhaps early morning, the
monsters came to the town. After a filling, if plain, meal, I had put up for
bed in the hayloft of a barn. I awoke to the sound of gruff voices in the
farmyard. To my surprise when I peered through the hay door, I saw six
creatures in the yard. At first I thought them some kind of brigand, but they
spoke no language I had ever heard, and their faces were drawn into long snouts
with fangs. From their motions, it became clear that they were debating
something, apparently whether to enter the house. Between them I saw that the
farmer's dog had been killed with a spear, and I realized that a seventh
monster was on the ground field dressing the kill. I realized then that they
intended to take the dog for meat8
, and I almost gagged from the
revulsion. It must have been then that the farmer awoke for a light flared
in a window of the house, and the creatures all turned and ran from the
. As they left, their heavy calls to each other sounded
like "ork." I went to the house and told the farmer what had happened. When
I went back to the barn, I realized that the dog had been taken.
- I spent the day tracking the "orks"
through the fields. I have come to realize that there are quite a number of
these creatures, for there are a phenomenal number of tracks in the area. After
speaking with the farmers, I found that many had lost livestock recently, and
the dogs especially seemed to have been hit hard10
. There were only
a handful of dogs left in the entire village. As revolting as it seems, the
orks must have a taste for dog. The tracks have led mostly to the south, and
tomorrow I shall see where they lead.
- My hand still trembles from what I have found.
I have already sent a farmer to the west to seek help from the king's garrison
stationed in Shul'gen11
. Today I followed the tracks from the raid
last night to find the home of these creatures. To the south I found a group
of caves hidden by a line of trees12
. Truly, it was these trees
that saved me from detection, for before the caves was a great fire surrounded
by these creatures. Roasting on spits above the coals were great pieces of meat,
some beef, some horse, and of course the shanks of dogs as well. Around the
fires were gathered a great multitude of these creatures, at least two dozen,
perhaps more. They moved in and out of the caves, indicating that at least an
equal number remained hidden13
. Even worse, females of the species
walked among them, hideous to behold with their dirty green-brown skins, they
wore rags of untanned hides, offering little, if any, modesty. Children ran
naked among the group, and the overall filth of the children was appalling14
The men as well seemed unconcerned about hygiene or any sense of cleanliness
at all. Although they wore some forms of limited armor, most of it was ill
fitting, and the ring mail and studded leather all showed rust and verdigris.
Several pieces of armor showed the fatal wound that had dispatched its original
. After observing their violent interactions for nearly an
orb, I crept away as quietly as possible, though I doubt they could have
heard me with the boisterous ruckus that they engaged in. I fear that the king's
guard will not arrive in time, as it will take at least three days for them to
arrive. With at least forty warriors, these orks would quickly overwhelm this
- Last night two of the farmers decided to attack
the orks as they raided their farm. The result was disastrous, as both farmers
fell and the orks took their wives and children. Even more horrible was my
discovery that the women and children were taken, not as hostages, but as food17
If the consumption of the dog was horrible, surely this is the stuff of nightmares.
Even worse is that these creatures are no less cruel to their own kind. The farmers
succeeded in horribly wounding three of the orks, and their companions simply
slit the throats of their own wounded18
. Such unbelievable cruelty
is so alien to me I cannot fathom it. Today I gathered all of the farmers
together and we have worked out a plan of defense. We spent the day building
defenses for the town, setting up spike lines to the south, and stationing men
with bows and arrows along the southernmost buildings. We have fortified one
of the farmhouses and moved the women and children to that building. I hope
that we can hold for another two days, and I pray that the guard is on their
- It was a night of horrors for the village. The
orks drove their own children before them to search for defenses and many of
the small creatures impaled themselves upon the spikes at a full run19
Many of the farmers paled to see these small creatures kick their lives out
on the end of a spike. I made sure that the archers held their fire until
the warriors approached the spike wall. When they began to hack through the
spikes with axes, I had them loose a volley into the leading group. Four of
the creatures fell, but the rest quickly withdrew from the field20
For a long while it was quiet and then a house on the west side of the town
burst into flames. They had circled around our defenses!21
it was a house where the village thinned, and the archers at the fortified
house were able to pick off another three of the beasts. Apparently they
retreated, for there were no more attacks while the villagers brought down
the flames. For the rest of the night we heard the howls and cries of these
orks in the distance22
. There was no sleeping during the night.
We spent the day repairing defenses and were shocked to find that during
the night, the bodies of the fallen orks had been taken23
extended the line of spikes around the entire village, save for the road
from the north. There we barricaded the road with wagons. As night falls,
we can only imagine what horrors will face us today. I pray that help
- The night was worse than before. The
attack came early and from the west again. The orks were wary of the spikes and
skirted the range of archers, walking in and out to test our range. Their
eyesight must be phenomenal because they were dodging arrows in light that left
them as no more than shapeless blobs24
. As we concentrated our
forces to the west, however, the real attack came from the east. The creatures
spread oil onto the spike ring by stealth and then set them ablaze, the fire
quickly spreading to the fields and nearby houses. The spikes, being mostly
old barn wood, caught fire and burned down quickly, and we were hard pressed
to stop the fires from consuming the houses. While the ring still burned, the
orks came through the fire itself!25
Dark, evil monsters crashing
through the flames, striking down all in their paths. They fought mostly with
broadswords and some axes26
. Others used simple clubs, and I realized
from their tattered garb that the women were fighting alongside the men! Two
of the males fell before my blade before one of the women smashed a club down
on my shoulder. The blow left my arm numb, and I was forced to merely block
with my shield and use it as a club when possible. As the feeling returned
to my arm, I was left staggered by the waves of pain that washed up and down
my arm. Somehow I kept my sword through the blow and the pain, and I dropped
three more orks before they withdrew through the flames. Four more men were
down, leaving only fifteen men to defend the town. My shoulder was not broken,
but the blow had badly bruised it and it became stiff and almost useless for
work. It is difficult even for me to write these words. That morning a family
chose to pack their wagon and leave for the north. Although we warned them of
the danger they demanded to leave, having already lost a husband and two sons
to the Orks, we could hardly deny them. To our horror, they had barely passed
the first rise when a group of orks, hidden by the grass, attacked and killed
. We could only watch from a distance as they slaughtered
the horses and wheeled the corpses away on the wagon. Our spirits have fallen,
and there is a general consensus that we will not last the night. It is hard
to believe that less than a week ago I lived within the safe walls of Khevahn.
This night shall tell all. Who knows whether I shall write again in my
- The sun dawns as I write this, and I have
never been happier to see that golden orb. Last night the Orks came again, fighting
with bows they took from the wagon28
. Two men fell from the arrows before
we even saw the orks around the village. I had great respect for their aim given
only a half day to learn their use29
. Then they simply began to attack
from all around the village. Knowing that our numbers were depleted, they knew
that they could not be stopped at all points. We were forced to retreat to the
fortified house with the women and children and fought with our backs literally
against the wall. This gave the Orks pause, but only long enough to bring their
archers forward and begin to take shots at us as we tried to dodge those deadly
. We had finally grouped for a charge, my own shield already
feathered with three of their black fletched arrows when we heard the sound from
the north. At first we thought it was more Orks, but then we realized it was the
sound of the wagons being overturned! The King's Guard had arrived! Most of the
Orks fell before them, the rest fled. Even as the day dawns, the Guard is
mustering to wipe them out at their caves, the path to which I laid out for them.
As the sun sheds its light over the scene of our battle, I realize now that this
world is larger than I can imagine, and I have much to learn. Who would have
believed that such terrible creatures as Orks could exist!
KE - This is the standard date reckoning used within the Great
Kingdom. In modern terms it is usually thought to mean "Kingdom Era", but it
actually predates the founding the Great Kingdom by over 800 years and is in
the Old Tongue, "K'roth Ekar," which roughly translates to "World Fury," the
cataclysm that wiped out the ancient nations of Kroth.
Khevahn is the capital city of the largest nation on Kroth,
the Great Kingdom. Over three thousand years old, the city covers an area of
over 600 square miles and is encircled by a heavy wall on all sides. As the
seat of the Great Kingdom, it includes garrisons of over 50,000 troops and has
a permanent population of over 350,000, with an additional transient population
of up to 150,000 more. Two rivers feed into the docks and harbors, which lie
completely within the walls of the city. The city is surrounded for miles by
farmland and small villages that feed the city itself. The city and its
surrounding villages have a total population, at any given time, of about
The arenas are similar to gladiatorial contests, but are not
fought to the death except for the resolution of duels. However, all of the
weapons are real, merely blunted or padded to provide experience for the
New City is a group of small villages that have sprung up
outside the walls of Khevahn as a sort of land-based "seaport". These small
villages let farmers trade their goods outside of the city at only a slight
difference in profit. Since many farmers dread the vast city and its endless
labyrinth of streets, this provides a great service to the farmers and provides
a modest living for these merchants who can amass goods to somewhat control the
supply of goods to the city. The
reference made to the "Old City" requiring all construction be of stone is a
guard against rampant fires within the city. Since a building of stone won't
catch fire easily, the law prevents the old city from being destroyed by a
The King's Highway is one of six broad roads that lead away
from Khevahn. In theory, they are regularly patrolled to protect the people,
but for all intents there are large sections of the road that are sparsely
patrolled once the traveler has gone more than a day's journey from the city
These two cities flank the main waterway that leads to Khevahn
where the river joins the great western ocean. Each city flanks the mouth of
the river on one side. Since these cities represent the first port of entry
into the largest nation on the planet, they are renowned for their vast and
Brigandry has recently become a problem along the highways in
the Great Kingdom. As the riches of the people grow, more and more want to take
it by force. Since the penalties are very high for highwaymen (usually death
carried out by the officers in charge), there is very little crime near the
city of Khevahn itself. But as the city has grown, farmers from farther and
farther away are being made "rich" by trading with the city itself. Thus the
brigands have found a wider and wider circle from which to steal the wealth
of the city.
Orks will tend to treat almost any animal as possible food.
They have voracious appetites, and hold no special respect for one animal over
Orks in small or unsure groups are almost always cowardly in
their dealings with people. If they don't think that they have a clear margin
for victory, they will run rather than face a superior, or even an equal force.
The term "ork" in the Orkish tongue would translate to "run away," thus making
their human name rather derogatory.
In this case, the Orks are actually showing a good sense of
planning. Our young adventurer has failed to realize that dogs represent the
most primitive form of security system available. With the dogs eliminated,
there is no early warning for when an Ork enters the area. The fact that they
also represent food is just a bonus to the Orks.
Shul'gen is a small garrison town on the main north-south highway of the kingdom.
Orks prefer the solid cover of caves to houses or other structures. The solid
rock gives them a feeling of security. Orks also prefer to remain in wooded
areas, partly because of the cover it provides, but mostly because they are
too lazy to gather things like wood from any distance.
The description our young adventurer provides is very common
for an Ork tribe. About forty males and sixty females. The number of young
varies, but should be about 50 for a tribe of this size. Such groups will
sometimes have a shaman, although this group did not. There will be a strong
leader Ork for a tribe, although he doesn't appear in this journal.
The women are often clothed only in scraps, being considered a
second class of Ork, not worthy of good clothing or upkeep. The children are
even less important and are often killed by adult males who are annoyed or
angered by a child. With a short gestational period, a female can produce an
offspring in only four months, so there is little, if any, regard for the
child's lives. It is thought that such a harsh upbringing makes for more
The males of a tribe (except the shaman) will take whatever
armor they can find from fallen foes, and fallen companions as well. The armor
is never kept with any care and is almost never cleaned. Sometimes the tribal
leader will have a set of armor that is kept up by his concubines but it is
unusual. Orks have a great respect for battle, and clean and shiny armor is
armor that hasn't been used in combat.
The ratio of forty warriors against two-dozen farmers is about
right. Orks have no illusions about the fact that they will likely die in a
fair fight and prefer the odds to be in their favor at least two to one unless
they are defending their homes or some site that is sacred to them.
Our chronicler may or may not be right. Some Orks do take prisoners in order
to torture them for information. However, Orks also consider that they are
superior to all other species, and make no allowance for sentience as
a reason not to eat the dead. There are scattered tales of Orks taking small
children and training them as spies to get information on human establishments.
The wounded are considered as unclean. A warrior who falls in
battle is revered; one who dies in a bed is reviled. But the wounded were not
smart or tough enough to survive combat unscathed or with, at most, a minor
wound and are simply killed. They were not warriors. It is also obvious by
this attack that their stealth methods are no longer effective and they shift
their tactics to more open attacks.
With little regard for the lives of their young, it would be
natural for the Orks to use them to clear traps, much like driving sheep across
a minefield. The children accept this because they know that to balk means
certain death at the hands of a warrior.
Once the Orks realized that there was a superior and
unreachable force within the spike line, they withdrew to regroup. They had
noticed that there was not a complete ring of spikes and came up with the
strategy of outflanking the group of archers and their line of spikes.
This kind of strategy is not unusual. While not brilliantly intelligent on
average, Orks are more than capable of plotting strategies. In this case
they realized that the south end of the village was defended and they would
need to move to a different side to have any chance of penetrating the village.
The Ork's scouting forays into the village would have given them a good
estimate of the number of able bodies that could be placed against them and
realized that a large number of those would have been manning the southern
region, opening the rest of the village for attack.
Again the Orks are cautious to the point of cowardice. Why attack a superior
force? Instead they withdraw and hoot and shout to assure that the villagers
get little sleep and will be tired and unable to fight well the next night.
The Orks would retrieve those who fell in battle because they died a warrior's
death. What is done with those corpses depends on a particular tribe's "religious"
Orks can see into the infrared, allowing them better vision
than humans at night. This allows them to dodge the arrows when they need to.
In a truly dark situation, this form of vision can only see the dim outlines of
a creature or object that radiates heat. The vision is also in black and white
and cannot be used for anything like reading at night, since the page would be
of an even temperature.
Orks possess a thick hide that offers much better protection than human skin.
The skin has the basic feel and properties as tanned leather.
Orks prefer short, heavy weapons. This amplifies their
strength without making note of their slightly slower speed. Basically built
like stout, slightly short humans, the Orks tend to be powerful if somewhat
less agile then a similar human.
Orks may be warriors, but they know the value of a good
ambush. There is no dishonor in killing an inferior species, and that's exactly
what they feel they're doing here.
Orks will use bows to fight. In fact, they'll use any weapon that they think
will give them an advantage in combat.
It's unlikely that the Orks had never used bows before. It's more likely that
they simply let their bows deteriorate due to poor handling. The fact that they
already had arrows available to use with the bows is a good sign of this.
Again, the Orks would rather fight from a distance with an advantage than try
the direct forward, frontal attack. Obviously it's a lot less dangerous to pepper
an enemy with arrows from a distance than to attack an opponent head on with a