What follows is a brief look at the species of orcs and their surroundings from my comic, The Errant Apprentice. It’s a happy bit of fiction to explain some things going on in the story. I also thought it would be fun to show how much backstory there is that you may never really see.
You can read EA at this link.
Lying between the Gelstun Sands and the Hovath Plains is an area where no living creature travels on purpose. It is known as the “Ill Defined Area of Doubt and Uncertainty”. Most people call it the Land of Uncertainty due to the length of the name. Both are accurate. During the period known as the Debasement, The Land of Uncertainty became highly unstable. Reality bent and shifted and could destroy anything that entered in a moments notice. Occasionally a strange creature, such as the Thormps, would come out of it, but nothing major. The biggest problem was that the Land of Uncertainty cut off access to Tir Na Nog and the true rulers of the Everywhen. Only the Wee Folk could cross it safely.
Many ages ago a creature emerged from the Land of Uncertainty and in such alarming numbers people feared an invasion. These were the orcs. A brutish, green skinned race of behemoths with a violent nature and little respect for anything. They took over the Hovath Plains and pushed a fledgling Empire of Man toward the coasts. A semi-permanent border was established at the Hovath Mountains. Not due to treaty or agreement, but because the orcs just couldn’t be bothered to climb them. They’d run into the giants and cyclops and just said “Screw it. This is home now.” Occasionally a raids would occur on both sides and the entire situation remained tense. Each side waiting for the other shoe to drop.
A millennia passed before anything changed. Abruptly, the raids stopped on the orc side. Human raids into orc territory increased at first, but still no retaliation from the orcs. Then an emissary arrived. Humanity met the first of the High Orcs. They were fairer than the average orc and smaller in size. They were also shockingly intelligent. A peace treaty was quickly arranged with very simple terms. All agression between the two races would cease on two conditions. First, arranged marriages between the High Orc Houses and the Human Aristocracy. Second, tutors where to be provided upon request for the High Orcs. With that, the two empires have had a lasting peace for years.
The orcs are a unique species in that they are going through an observable evolutionary phase. The genetic recessive of intelligence is beginning to become more and more dominant. While many species would fear the newer and more advanced among them, the orcs practically worship the High Orcs. They see them as a divine gift from the Greenman and a chance to become more.
For what it’s worth, the High Orcs are helping this evolutionary step along. In short, they are running a selective breeding program to increase their numbers. Intelligent orcs are picked up by testing them with games like chess and allowed to breed freely and are sometimes brought into the High Orc Houses. Humans to marry into the Houses are highly sought after and are pampered beyond belief.
Strangely, the orcs have developed into an agricultural society. The High Orcs initially encouraged them, but the general orc population grabbed the ball and ran with it. They love growing things and are gradually making the Hovath Plains fertile. The still continue to have wars between the local Lords, but the wars are very organized and mostly used as an outlet for orcish aggression. After a war, the involved areas see peace for prolonged periods and huge jumps in agricultural development. Humans that have observed this see it as senseless war, but in actuality it has saved the orcs as a race, preventing them from completely obliterating themselves.
The masses are ruled by a series of local Lords and Ladies. These make up the Orc Houses. They in turn are pledged to support the Emperor or Empress. The shocking thing is the level of devotion they have toward each other. As stated, the Houses war simply to get it out of their subjects systems. Beyond that they get along better than most of the Human Aristocracy.
What does the future hold for this species? We don’t know. All we know is it should be quite interesting, what ever happens.