From The Field Journals of Jerrad Telivan

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.

Julip 13th - 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 butts 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.

Julip 14th - 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 Baytor6. 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.

Julip 14th - Late this afternoon a group of brigands7 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."

Julip 16th - 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.

Julip 16th - 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 yard9. 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.

Julip 17th - 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.

Julip 18th - 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 owner15. 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 quiet village16.

Julip 19th - 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 way.

Julip 20th - 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 Luckily, 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. We 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 comes soon.

Julip 21st - 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 them all27. 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 journal?

Julip 22nd - 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 shafts30. 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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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 750,000.
  3. 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 competitors.
  4. 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 firestorm.
  5. 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 walls.
  6. 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 varied culture.
  7. 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.
  8. Orks will tend to treat almost any animal as possible food. They have voracious appetites, and hold no special respect for one animal over another.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Shul'gen is a small garrison town on the main north-south highway of the kingdom.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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 durable adults.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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" views.
  24. 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.
  25. Orks possess a thick hide that offers much better protection than human skin. The skin has the basic feel and properties as tanned leather.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Orks will use bows to fight. In fact, they'll use any weapon that they think will give them an advantage in combat.
  29. 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.
  30. 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 sword.